Redesign Underway

stacey-rynders-2014If only I never had to sleep – how much I would accomplish! It seems, however, that my body mandates rest. As a result, I’ve neglected this site for far too long. Should I be in conversation with a client, I would use it as an example of exactly what not to do. So, I’m finally addressing this embarrassment and revamping the content and design. Watch for changes in the coming weeks!


Ricardo’s Expanding Selection

ricardos-mvlogoI love to cook, but I’m always making stuff up in the kitchen or following a recipe once.  And, I’ve realized that I’ve forgotten a few of the basics, such as making sauces.

So, I’m excited to see that local, 20-year-old restaurant Ricardo’s Italian Cafe is starting a monthly cooking class in their kitchen with Chef Mark Adams. Each month Adams will teach a new Italian cooking technique, so watch for more to come from this fun and friendly eaterie in Lafayette Square. Here are the details:

February Class: The Art of the Sauce
Cream, Pesto, Tomato & Wine sauces

When: Monday, Feb. 22
What: The Art of the Sauce
Cost: $50/person (this includes some wine)
Where: Ricardo’s Italian Cafe, 1931 Park Avenue
Class size limited to 12 people.

Also, check out Ricardo’s regular wine dinner options. In February, Michelle and Mark Adams are hosting the Mardi Gras Food and Wine Fete. This is the menu:
When: 6:30pm, Monday, February 8
What: Four-Course Tasting
Cost: $35/person plus tax and gratuity
Where: Ricardo’s Italian Cafe, 1931 Park Avenue
RSVP to Michelle by Feb 5 via phone at 314.421.4833.
Space is limited. Credit card required for reservation.

First Course
Creole Chicken Wings with Dijon Peach Sauce
2008 St. Peyre Picpoul de Pinet
Coteaux du Languedoc, France

Second Course
New Orleans Crab and Corn Bisque
2007 Amiral Dubroca Bordeaux Blanc, France

Third Course
Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Sausage
2005 Chateau Desclau Bordeaux Superior, France

Fourth Course
Cajun Bread Pudding with Praline Sauce
2003 Volante Late Harvest Zinfandel, Napa, California

SCOSaG Rock Band Party

RBFlier_Front When: 6-10pm, Jan. 16, 2010
What: Family Friendly Rock Band Party with Live Music
Why: Benefits SCOSaG
Where: Tin Can Tavern, 1909 Locust Avenue

Break out your inner rock god with a night of Rock Band and rock bands. Play the highly addictive Rock Band I, II and Beatles on a Wii upstairs and see live rock music down stairs!

An all-ages event from 6 pm to 9 pm, parents and their children are invited to play Rock Band upstairs and jam and sing along with everyone’s favorite singer songwriter/camp counselor, Celia from 6 to 9 pm.

After 9 pm the party is adults only and features bands from 9 pm to 1 am including Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship, Karate Bikini, and the Illphonics. The evening will be rounded out with a DJ set by Matt Fernandes, who writes the blog Rock Candy for the Post-Dispatch and DJ Tanner from the hip-hop group Pandelerium and formerly of St. Louis rock legends–The Spiders and The Choir.

All proceeds stay in Saint Louis and support arts programming provided by SCOSaG.

f/3 at Mad Art, including fave photog Geoff Story

geoff_story_pic Two of my favorite things – Mad Art Gallery and Photography. The show f/3 opens at Mad Art Gallery and features three artists Leah Oates, Shawn Michelle Smith and Geoff Story. Opening reception is from from 7-11pm tomorrow night, Oct. 2, 2009. The show runs through Oct. 27.

Geoff Story is one of my favorite photographers with a talent for capturing people – whether as a freelancer or as the associate creative director at TOKY Branding + Design. I’ve unwittingly been on the other side of his lens more than once, and though i hate being in front of the camera, it is his work that I chose for my Facebook profile pic. This is a show to check out!

Stalwart Marketing Keeps Local Wholesale Company Moving Forward

THP09_coverDespite the looming recession and constant negative forecast for retail companies, Washington, Mo.-based wholesaler The HomePort Collections (THP Collections) has maintained a steady course in regards to its marketing and public relations efforts. The company not only improved the quality of its 2009 annual catalog but continued to expand its selection with new items released in August 2009 … just in time for the Summer New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF). As a result, THP Collections received strong sales results at NYIGF.

A young wholesale company, heading into its fourth year, THP Collections has maintained the advice of many business experts. Content to hold a steady path throughout the economic downturn and remain cautiously optimistic about the market, THP Collections is preparing for 2010 and maintaining its public relations schedule as opposed to cutting the budget. The new items abound and the catalog is already in the works… and the media continue to call to spotlight products.

(A portion of THP’s collection is for sale through its retail boutique at – check it out.)

There’s a billboard at the exit on my way home each day that reads, “Recession Economics 101: Bill Gates started Microsoft in a recession.” I’m voting for positive thinking with a hearty congratulations to THP Collections on its success at NYIGF.

The Tapper v. The Listener

coolcatHave you ever tried to tap out a song beat to a friend, then you have the friend guess what you are tapping? It seems so obvious to you what the song is, because the music is playing in your head. Your friend, however, only has the benefit of your tapping… and it turns out that only one in 40 can guess a tapped out tune correctly, at least according to dissertation research by Elizabeth Newton in 1990.

I think marketing experts and many business owners are often The Tappers in the scenario of building a brand message. Sometimes we forget to think about the end user. Recently, I was The Tapper with a client. I was so excited about a project and crafted some copy that featured good flow, strong page-to-page transitions and really elevated the brand level… or so I thought. I was out to impress the CEO of the company, my boss, any future judge for copywriting. Well, my boss liked the copy. The client reworked it… a lot. It is a very recent dagger to the heart, but a good reminder. When telling a story, especially a brand story, it is important to consider what it is like to be The Listener. It helps if you can paint the tune with your marketing message instead of just tapping out noise.

Here are some tips from Made To Stick on how to effectively develop your marketing or public relations message:
1. Keep it Simple.
2. Add the Unexpected.
3. Be Concrete.
4. Be Credible.
5. Be Emotional.
6. Make it a Good Story.

This is the example that the authors, Chip Heath and Dan Heath, provide in the book. When President John F. Kennedy spoke about traveling to the moon, he didn’t use his CEO voice and declare, “Our mission is to become the international leader in the space industry through maximum team-centered innovation and strategically targeted aerospace initiatives.” Not quite. President Kennedy kept it simple, and made a call to “put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.” That’s not such a fancy statement. But it captivated a nation … and many beyond. That’s a successful message.

Internet: Too Much Free Speech?

PhotobucketYesterday brought the news that Google was being forced by a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice to reveal the identity of an anonymous blogger, who was “talking trash,” about Canadian-born model Liskula Cohen on a blog called Skanks in NYC. The blog has since been taken down, but the samples I’ve seen of the copy were truly pure trash… upped by the ante of anonymity.

In the many discussions about the role of the Internet on how we as a society receive our news, there has been much discussion about accountability and reliability. As a communications strategist, I’ve talked to many clients about the need to be more aggressive about negative online commentary about their business. The Internet has changed the rules because it makes it so easy to publish anything – true or false.

In the case of Liskula Cohen, she argued that she should have the right to sue the blogger for defamation, because the blog posts undermined her credibility and made it more difficult to get jobs. I can see this as viable. Hollywood seems to run scared at the first sign at a little controversy. Note how Michael Phelps was dropped so quickly for possibly smoking marijuana.

The larger question, however, is how accountable should bloggers be? Frankly, I have to admit to being biased. I’m trained in journalism from the University of Missouri of Columbia where entire classes are dedicated to libel and slander. One wrong fact in a news story and your grade dropped a letter – this includes a wrong phone number. So, while I like the Internet’s ability to share so much information and to bring the world to your fingertips, I admit that I’m not so fond of the anger- or hate-motivated speech that happens on the Internet.

Where is the line? And how can it be adequately enforced? Share your thoughts!

Connect to Clients with Casual Video Clips

A friend queried me on twitter about the video hosted at The friend is a photographer, so the 20-minute marketing promo for Over[Exposure], a company aimed at helping photographers market themselves, was particularly relevant. However, I found the information that the author provided to be solid tips for any aspiring entrepreneur. AND, I found the simplicity of this video, a great concept, for those looking to interact with their online audience.

The video, which I think is a bit long, encourages business owners to:
1. Focus on doing the thing you do best.
2. Do some soul searching into what makes your work unique.
3. Connect with your audience and keep the communication forum open … ALWAYS.

I agree with all these points. And to the third point, I think the ThinkBigArt video does a great job. The author is casually and specifically offering informational advice to his prospective audience. This can be done simply with your phone or a friend’s phone.

Check out the YouTube video my friend Emma made to promote her latest creation – Snap Stories. Emma’s demo provides a casual how-to that is driving sales with wholesale and retail vendors. And it cost her very little in production.

Now, if I had a fancy video-capable phone, I would have posted my own sample. But, it remains on my dream list. For all those out there with an IPhone – use it to promote your business and network with your clients. It’s a cost-effective way to stay connected with clients while building your online presence.

Make A New Media Strategy

wikiI am a definite advocate for strategizing and planning your social media marketing before jumping head-first into these forums with your business at risk. For the most part, social media can be harmless, but it also puts your business and brand image online for a full exposure.

Janet Jennewein provided me with a great resource for helping clients define and determine an online strategy when she informed me about New Media and the Air Force at a recent GIMA event.

Here is my favorite list of guidelines:
1. Don’t Give Classified Info.
2. Stay In Your Lane (of expertise).
3. Don’t Lie.
4. Give Your Opinion!
5. Always Identify Yourself.
6. Safety.
7. Beware of the Image You Present.
8. Use Common Sense!
9. Don’t Be Afraid To Take Calculated Risks.
10. The Enemy Is Engaged.

These are great general guidelines to follow when developing your social media strategy. However, I also suggest that you determine which social media tools best meet your objectives and test a few sample postings with friends, vendors and clients before maximizing your Web site with SEO or sending links out to the twitterverse.

Please share any tips and tools you have for developing a new media strategy.

Twitter: Second Largest Web Site Traffic Driver

twitterI’ve sat around at dinner parties debating whether or not Twitter is a passing fad that will be gone in a year or a social networking tool with some muscle. I’ve been arguing that it is great for directing people to Web sites… And yesterday, a TechCrunch tweet confirmed that I was right. Twitter is now second to Google in driving Web site traffic. The prediction is that by next year, Twitter will outpace Google in this category.

Currently, Twitter is growing at a rate of 30-40% per month. In the last year, the number of users has grown from 1.1 million to 32.1 million. I’d say that these are some stats with some muscle.

How do you feel about twitter?