Advocacy & marketing go hand-in-hand

(A Ready. Set. Share. contributing post on HandmadeinPA.org)

On Monday, April 30th, three of us from the office headed to Harrisburg for Citizens for the Arts in PA’s first Arts & Culture Legislative Visits Day.   It seems we end up in Harrisburg at least once a year to do visits and while it is not the favorite part of my job, it is a necessity.

We had appointments with four legislators and/or their staff, and so we headed around the capitol building armed with our fact sheet from Citizens for the Arts and our own information piece.  Our first stop was Senator Scarnati’s office.  While we were not able to meet with the Senator himself, we did spend 20-25 minutes chatting with members of his staff.

Just prior to leaving the office, we asked the staff what they appreciate seeing from us and how we could be best prepared for these periodic visits.  Facts and figures summarized on one sheet was the number one answer, as expected, but the second item suggested was something creative that talks about who we are (we handed out a small, colorful booklet created by one of our staff).  Legislative staff, especially in the capitol offices, are often approached by many organizations who they just don’t work with on a daily basis and who they’re not familiar with.  And the best part of the visit – as we were leaving, a staffer (a male staffer) commented on the “artisan jewelry” I was wearing.  The necklace was made by Paul & Cathy Stalker of Tioga, PA – a town within the Senator’s district.

This scenario repeated itself throughout the day and ended up being a great advertisement for not only Paul & Cathy, but also small artisan shops in general and thePA Artisan Trails (Paul & Cathy are members of the PA Wilds Artisan Initiative).

It was also great to see tables set up by the PA Artisan Trails Initiative, the PA Guild of Craftsmen and several Guild members.  All reinforcing the information we had shared with legislative staff, particularly comments on economic development and partnerships with tourism and museum folks.

A day of advocacy also became a day of marketing.

Don’t forget the personal touch

(A Ready. Set. Share. contributing post on www.handmadeinpa.net)

So much of what we focus on in communications and marketing these days is focused on social media – what to do, what not to do, statistics, and infographics.  But don’t forget the most powerful tools out there – face-to-face conversations and word-of-mouth.

Over the past two months, my colleague and I have been going out to visit with various community groups to test our version of what we think our community knows we do and what our community actually thinks we do.  And while most of the time what we think the public knows about us is, in fact, true, there have been a couple incidences where people did not know information that we felt was common knowledge.  Not a good thing when trying to develop support.

No matter how many press releases we put out; no matter how matter articles (with pictures) our local newspaper carried; no matter how much posting on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter; no matter how many e-Newsletters or e-Postcards.  The information was either not getting to them or not sinking in.  But since starting the face-to-face meetings, the interest and response has been exciting.  People have come to us, rather than us going to them.

So, no matter how much I love technology and know the power of using social media and other electronic forms of communication, I will always bow to the effectiveness of a face-to-face talk and the power of word-of-mouth.  The point to my ramblings…don’t forget to get out of your studio every once in a while.

Keuka Lake wineries host Viva Italia!

(An Examiner.com post, 3/30/12)

The eight wineries of the Keuka Lake Wine Trail will hold their second event of the year, with the Italian-themed “Viva Italia!” on March 31 & April 1.

According to a Keuka Lake Wine Trail representative, “Event attendees will sample a delicious variety of dishes prepared with high-quality ingredients and wineries will make recipes available to enjoy at home. A preview of the event menus includes pasta e fagioli, gorgonzola tortellini, roasted red pepper polenta, zuppa di scarola, pistachio biscotti and lemon-almond cookies.”

Hunt Country Vineyards will feature a Tuscan-style penne pasta with their Classic Red.

Hunt Country Vineyards, for example, will be serving Tuscan-style Penne Pasta with their Classic Red, bread with a fig almond spread from The Gracious Gourmet, and almond cookies made by local baker Cheryl Zimmerman (Branchport, NY) featuring locally-made apricot jam from Los Gatos B&B (Penn Yan, NY)

Down the road at Heron Hill Winery, visitors will enjoy a dish featuring the Emilia-Romagna/Bologna from the northern Italy region in a Penne Bolgnese recipe created by Blue Heron Café Director Mike Oliver paired with Heron Hill’s Game Bird Red.

Tickets for the event can be purchased at any of the participating wineries for $30 for both days or $24 for Sunday only.  Each ticket holder will receive a souvenir wine glass.  Event hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

For additional information, contact the Keuka Lake Wine Trail at 1-800-440-4898 or info@keukawinetrail.com.  Or visit them online at www.keukawinetrail.com.

Retreating to the PA Wilds

(A Ready. Set. Share. contributing post on www.handmadeinpa.net)

This week my work schedule includes a multi-day meeting at the Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park, so as I retreat to the PA Wilds, I’m also retreating from the topic of marketing/social media to share the wonders of the Inn with you.

The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park (Howard, PA) opened its doors in September 2010.  The Inn is the first State Park-owned full-service lodging facility located in aPennsylvania State Park.  The Inn was built with nature in mind and features “green” amenities and an ecological design featuring: reduced stormwater runoff; habitat restoration; native, water-efficient landscaping; a 2,800-gallon rainwater harvesting system; and lots more Park-friendly designs.

But perhaps one of my favorite aspects of the Inn, other than the fabulous views of Foster Joseph Sayers Lake, is the use of local artists’ work throughout the interior.  From the main lobby which features a glass mosaic by Dave Haring of Cat’s Eye Stained Glass to the bird prints by Ned Smith (20th century Pennsylvania artist and naturalist) found in each room throughout the Inn, the Inn offers a true local flavor not found in most lodging facilities.  The butternut wooden fireplace mantel in the common room was handmade by Briar Hill Rustic Furniture along with oak frames by Elkwood Arts and two large wooden chainsaw-carved sculptures by Appalachian Arts.  The inclusion of these items was a big step for the State Park system – and for that they get a big two thumbs up!

Mantel by Briar Hill Rustic Furniture

Glass mosaic by Cat's Eye Stained Glass

So, on these warm March days as you start daydreaming about summer vacations, be sure to include our own Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park!

Chainsaw carving by Appalachian Arts

Finger Lakes wineries greet Spring with March events

Check out my latest article posted on Examiner.com:  Finger Lakes wineries greet Spring with March events!  Tons of fun events around the Lakes in March! Enjoy Trail events on Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga Lakes plus lots of event on the wineries.    Check it out!

Timeline: It is coming

(A Ready. Set. Share. contributing post on www.handmadeinpa.net)

In the ever-changing world of Facebook, another significant change is coming very soon for business pages – Timeline.  A new page format already in use on personal profiles will soon be implemented for Facebook business pages (February 29th to be exact).  Not sure what Timeline is?  Check out my profile: Jennifer Swain Carlson

This change represents a great opportunity for businesses, but in particular, arts-based businesses.  The new format relies heavily on the visual and gives artists a great opportunity to really highlight their work.  The new format also allows users to post things along the “Timeline” of their life or work.

In my work with the Bradford County Regional Arts Council, I’m already starting to think how I can use that for the organization’s advantage.  It seems that it will fit perfectly with our upcoming 100th and 125th anniversary celebrations for our historic theatres.  Rather than posting photos of the theatres in one large album, I can place them along the Timeline to show an accurate history and progression for each building.  The possibilities for telling the story of each building, and the organization overall, are exciting.  In a sense, it becomes an online scrapbook.

For an artist, think of how you can show the progression of your work over the years.  By placing images of your work along the Timeline, your page visitors can get a sense of how your work has evolved and even events that had an impact on your work.  Still not sure?  Check out this Mashable post with projections of what the new Timeline could look like for some of the major brands.   Still not ready?  Have no fear.  It is anticipated the roll-out to the new format for Pages will be a gradual process, as it has been for Profiles.  If you haven’t yet switched to the new Timeline for your Profile, take the jump and start getting used to how it works.  And start reading up on the new format.  This post from Inkling Media has some great tips.

Organizing Your Facebook Life

(A Ready. Set. Share. contributing post on www.handmadeinpa.net)

Feel like you’re spending your life tracking down fellow artists or favorite sites onFacebook?  Create Lists – a practice I already use in Twitter (where it’s called “Searches”) to get a quick overview of the chatter on specific topics or by specific groups. The idea, and knowledge, to do this on Facebook came to me today in a Social Media Examiner post shared by fellow communications pro, Carol FingarSocial Media Examiner is a great site to follow for social media tidbits.

Creating Lists on Facebook is a good way to group Pages or Friends so you can take a quick look at their status updates without scrolling through your main news feed. It also helps ensure that you will see the post, since your main news feed uses Facebook’s mysterious algorithm to populate your news feed.

If you’re like me and have clients or customers related to a specific region or topic, you can sort those folks out as well. To keep my sources for generating stories related to the PA Wilds together, I created a list to include the following folks:

• Olga Gallery, Café & Bistro
• Yorkholo Brewing Company
• Revitalize Mansfield
• Curt Weinhold Photography
• Pennsylvania Wilds Artisan Trails
• Flemish House Art Gallery
• ECCOTA

And if you have Friends and Pages that you want on one list – you can do that too! Just create the list from Friends and then add Pages, or vice versa. There is also an option in the top right of the list page to add individual Friends or Pages, rather than choosing from a list. Also in the top right corner of the List page, you can manage your list by adding/removing friends/pages, deleting the list, renaming the list, and even choosing which types of status updates are shown on the list.

And don’t worry, you’ll still have your normal news feed!

Relaxing at the Wine Salon

Each January my husband and I plan a trip up to the Finger Lakes – typically Seneca and/or Cayuga Lakes – to do some wine tasting and shopping.  The trip originally started out as an Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event, since it was a holiday for both of us.  This year, however, it was not a holiday for me, so we decided to go on Sunday.

It was Bargain Bash Week and Pasta & Wine Weekend along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, but it was still a relatively quiet day in most of the tasting rooms.  We started out at Silver Springs Winery, then headed on to J.R. Dill Winery, Atwater Vineyards, Red Newt Cellars, Kings Garden Vineyards, Wagner Vineyards, and Damiani Wine Cellars.  Our main mission for the day was to take advantage of the quiet tasting rooms and Bargain Bash specials, but I was also set on having lunch at the Red Newt Bistro and trying their Wine Salon, which I had heard so much about.

We did a quick tasting at Red Newt with a very pleasant and knowledgeable staff member (whom we kept staring at because he could’ve been my nephew’s twin; they even have the same name!) before heading in to the Bistro.

We ordered the Wine Salon menu option and our server, Emma, walked us through the choices of food for the Tasting Plate and wine selections.  It was a simple process: choose 3 entrees from a list on the blackboard, then choose three wines from a list of 20 Red Newt reds and whites.  The meal also came with a signature salon salad, crostini and concord chèvre.  If you’re not sure what to pair with what, don’t worry.  We relied on Emma for some suggestions and she did a great job.

For my three food items, I chose the Maple Smoked Trout, Flat Bread Pizza (with roasted garlic spread, artichokes, spinach and “Dilly Girl” Cheddar) and the Fresh Pasta (crab, chèvre, and carmelized shallot ravioli with roasted garlic cream sauce).  My wines were 2008 Pinot Gris – Curry Creek Vineyard, Red Eft, and 2010 Pinot Noir.

Kip, who loves to fish but isn’t a big fan of trout as a food, chose the Manchego, Flat Bread Pizza, and Fresh Pasta.  His wines were the 2007 Gewürztraminer – Curry Creek Vineyards, Red Eft and the 2010 Pinot Noir.

Combined with the Signature Salon Salad (hydroponic greens, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, white beans, and balsamic vinaigrette), the crostini and concord chèvre, it was a very filling meal in a very relaxed atmosphere.   And keeping with Red Newt’s focus on local, many of the items in our meal were sourced from local growers and producers: 

We talked, shared food and wine samples, and enjoyed the fantastic view of Seneca Lake.   It was the perfect meal for a great day on the lake.  I highly recommend stopping in and giving the Wine Salon at Red Newt Bistro a try.  Or, if you’d like a full meal, try their Winternet Cafe or dinner at the Bistro (serving again for the season beginning February 9th).

Developing a Content Calendar

(A Ready. Set. Share. contributing post on www.handmadeinpa.net)

It’s a new year and time to start thinking about where you want to go with your business over the next twelve months.  One tool to help pull things in to focus is a Content Calendar (Let’s refresh with the Wikipedia definition of Content Marketing: “all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases.”)

Content calendars help you navigate the year ahead with not only marketing, but also general scheduling.  There are lots of ways to develop your Content Calendar – the key is to use something that is easily edited.  I use Excel.

To get started, pull out a 2012 calendar and start entering your shows and exhibits and any ideas of content related to those events that you could share. And leave space so that its easy to add more ideas – this is not a one-and-done exercise.   For example, if you’re attending the Pennsylvania Guild Fine Craft Fair in Philadelphia in May, what are topics you could use?  The show is around Mother’s Day – what products do you have that would be great for Mom?  Share your favorite gift received, if you’re a mom, or the gift your mom loved most.  The show is in Philly – what are some hot spots that you would recommend?  Favorite gallery, restaurant or theater?  What else is happening in the Philly area that weekend that you love or would recommend?  Remember, this isn’t so much about promoting you/your work but rather sharing information.  But do remember to invite people to stop by your booth during the show (and give them the Booth # when you know it).

Next figure out where and how you can use that information.  I set up my calendar with events/topics down the left column, methods across the top.  For each event/topic, I have a column for: Print Ads, Press Releases, TV Ads, Email Blasts, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Then enter the date you need to complete the task or want the information shared and the angle that you’re going to use.  And don’t feel that you have to use each method for every event/topic.

Developing a Content Calendar is also helpful in making sure you don’t overbook yourself or book things too closely together. Adding holidays to the calendar will help you see dates that could affect your normal tasks, like sending out a press release in time to meet print deadlines.

There are lots of resources out there.  This post, “How to Put Together an Editorial Calendar for Content Marketing” by Michele Linn, was helpful to me.

Finger Lakes Wineries Gear Up for January Events

Check out my latest article posted on Examiner.com:  Finger Lakes Wineries Gear Up for January Events!  Tons of fun events around the Lakes in January!  And, in my mind, one of the best times to visit the wineries.  My husband and I will be headed up this coming weekend for our annual Bargain Bash trip to Seneca Lake.  Another of our favorite events is Between the Lakes.  Check it out!