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client results

Investing in a community, one Slurpee at a time

When your client opens 14 new stores in one city, it’s big news. This week, Alon Brands acquired 14 new stores in the Albuquerque area from family-owned Roberts Oil Company. The acquisition expands the ALON/7-Eleven footprint by more than 50% in Albuquerque, bringing the total number of stores in the area to 38. That’s a lot of Slurpees!

Slurpee

Slurpee

This expansion is part of a significant investment Alon Brands is making in the Albuquerque region. The company just finished remodeling all of its locations in the area and built a brand new store in Rio Rancho (see: Putting the Grand in Grand Opening).

LPR helped Alon celebrate the acquisition and recognize Roberts Oil for its 40+ years in business by  coordinating a ribbon-cutting and Slurpee toast with the Roberts family and the Albuquerque Chamber.

Slurpee Toast

Slurpee Toast

The acquisition story was both newsworthy and interesting to local and industry media, gaining coverage on KRQE-TV, The Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque Business First, as well as Convenience Store News, CSP, and Convenience Store Decisions, to name a few.

We’re proud of the commitment Alon Brands has made and will continue to make to the community and customers in Albuquerque. Congratulations, Alon Brands!

Client Results: Putting the Grand in Grand Opening

After nearly 10 years in public relations, I’ve seen my fair share of grand opening and ribbon cutting events. Giant scissors, mayoral proclamations, radio remotes, free samples…you know the drill. While it all sounds pretty simple, a well-executed grand opening event can be a very effective way to introduce a new brand, business or location to the neighborhood. The results can be even better when you get a little creative, which is exactly what the ALON/7-Eleven team did for a grand opening in Rio Rancho, N.M., last week. Since the new store was unlike any convenience store location the company had ever built, the grand opening had to be just as special.

ALON/7-Eleven ribbon cutting Rio Rancho
ALON/7-Eleven ribbon cutting Rio Rancho

How did we help make it special?

My day started off at the store at 5 a.m. sampling some new products and preparing goodie bags with fresh treats for the local media. ALON ordered these chocolate covered waffle cone cups straight out of Beverly Hills to help launch the store’s new coffee bar. DELICIOUS.

7-Eleven coffee at Rio Rancho grand opening
7-Eleven coffee at Rio Rancho grand opening

Then, I visited local morning shows to drop off samples and spread the word about our grand opening activities. Thanks to the KOB Good Day New Mexico team for letting me hang out at the studio for a while!

Sharing ALON/7-Eleven's grand opening in Rio Rancho, N.M. with media
Sharing ALON/7-Eleven's grand opening in Rio Rancho, N.M. with media

We also did a few live shots from the store with KRQE reporter David Romero.

photo 2
photo 2

But, the fun really started when customers began packing the store and the parking lot to try out new products, enter to win free gas prizes and visit our special guest, five-time Super Bowl Champion Charles Haley.

NFL Hall of Fame - Charles Haley
NFL Hall of Fame - Charles Haley

The event was a ton of fun, but the best part is that thousands of customers came in to check out the new store during opening weekend. That’s the true measure of success.

Client Results: LPR Presents Media Tips to ALON Brands Distributors

At Lewis Public Relations, we count it as privilege to provide counsel to our clients. But we consider it an honor when clients ask the LPR team to share public relations best practices with their clients. On May 8, LPR's Blake Lewis and Christi Chesner presented media relations tips to ALON Brands' distributor network at the Southwest Fuel & Convenience Expo in Fort Worth, Texas. After the session, Blake and Christi had a chance to talk with Donna Harris of OPIS. Below is an article Donna wrote about their presentation. Well done, Blake and Christi!

This article is being reprinted with permission from OPIS and originally appeared in Oil Express. For more information on Oil Express, please visit www.opisnet.com/products/oil-express.aspx or call (888) 301-2645.

ALON provides media relations tips

Fort Worth, Texas – The oil industry can easily get bad press when gasoline prices rise or crimes occur at gas stations. But ALON Brands believes petroleum marketers have some positive stories to tell and the refiner’s public relations representatives provided a tutorial to branded wholesalers at the ALON brand meeting during the recent Southwest Fuel & Convenience Expo here.

“We are storytellers,” said Blake Lewis III, principal for Lewis Public Relations of Dallas, whose firm represents ALON. “We owe it to customers, the brand and the industry to tell the story well.”

One example of a positive story: ALON’s expansion of a scholarship program into an internship program. The initiative provides the opportunity to sell the company and the industry to young people looking for a career and to demonstrate that ALON cares about employees, said Lewis.

At its brand meeting, ALON distributed 14 common-sense media relations tips on a laminated, wallet-size card. The dos appear on one side of the card and the don’ts appear on the flipside:

• Some dos: Gather and record the facts – who, what, when, where and why. Share the information with key team members. Designate one person to respond to the media. Deliver consistent messages. Manage expectations. Correct misinformation. Be honest every day and every time. For additional assistance, contact your brand representative. • Some don’ts: Don’t avoid or ignore the media, get angry or defensive, speculate, point fingers, reveal confidential security or personnel information, or wing it.

Next: Take a peek at ALON’s new form that helps marketers deal with a potential crisis.

Infomart Data Centers taps Lewis Public Relations as agency of record

Lewis Public Relations (LPR), a Dallas-based public relations and strategic communications agency, announced that Infomart Data Centers – one of the largest data center companies in the nation – has selected LPR as its agency of record. In October 2014, Fortune Data Centers merged with The Infomart to create Infomart Data Centers, now among the globe’s most connected, carrier-neutral data centers. Infomart Data Centers reached out to LPR to assist in establishing its post-merger brand identity and advancing the company’s next generation technology story.

Currently focused on four facilities across the country, including Dallas’ iconic Infomart building on Stemmons Freeway, Infomart Data Centers specializes in providing superior connectivity, unmatched performance and consistent reliability to its customers. In addition to Dallas, the company operates wholesale data centers in Portland and Silicon Valley, with a fourth location in Ashburn, Va., expected to come online next year.

“The Infomart is a Dallas landmark, symbolizing our city’s vision to be a major hub for technology and innovation in the United States,” said LPR Principal Blake Lewis, APR, Fellow PRSA. “The newly formed Infomart Data Centers organization brings major technology investment to the North Texas region, and we’re proud to apply LPR’s industry expertise and connections to amplify the brand in Dallas and across the U.S.”

Infomart Dallas

LPR will provide strategic messaging, media relations, industry analyst outreach and stakeholder engagement for the national Infomart Data Centers brand.

“Because of the public relations and strategic marketing work we are already performing within the technology space and LPR’s relationships in the Dallas/Fort Worth media market, we’re the right match for Infomart Data Centers as they begin to define and tell their brand story,” Lewis added.

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About Infomart Data Centers Founded in 2006, Infomart Data Centers (formerly Fortune Data Centers) is an award-winning, industry leader in building, owning and operating highly efficient, cost-effective wholesale data centers. Each of its national facilities meet or exceed the toughest industry standards for data centers in all operational categories of availability, security, connectivity and physical resilience. Recognized for its consistent excellence, Infomart Data Centers is committed to maintaining its reputation of reliability and responsible, best-in-class management and operations. For more information, please visit www.infomartdatacenters.com or connect with Infomart on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Lewis Public Relations Lewis Public Relations is a Dallas-based public relations and strategic communications agency that applies strategic thinking and get-it-done capabilities to a broad range of client challenges and opportunities. Focusing on business-to-business communications, the team combines the knowledge and experience of a large, multinational agency with the agility and value of an entrepreneurial boutique firm. Visit www.lewispublicrelations.com to learn more, or find us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

 

Photo courtesy of Mark Atwood via Flickr

Client Results: McKinstry & Corpus Christi

Today is the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. While everyone generally agrees in doing their part to help protect the environment, sometimes only the big companies with entire departments devoted to sustainability get to show off their good deeds. Here at Lewis Public Relations, we do a lot of little things to help with our fair share. We’re glad to have companies on our client roster that share this commitment. We’re happier still to help celebrate their accomplishments in this area. McKinstry, a national firm specializing in consulting, construction, energy and facility services, celebrated a big win with the completion of their second environmental phase of the Corpus Christi Energy Efficiency Conservation Project. Through water conservation, lighting and other efficiency efforts in 76 different buildings, McKinstry was able to reduce Corpus Christi’s carbon emissions by an estimated 6.6 million pounds and almost 43,000 kWh annually. To put that in perspective, that's equal to 827 acres of trees being planted or 581 cars removed from the road.

Earth Day - McKinstry helps Corpus Christi reduce environmental impact
Earth Day - McKinstry helps Corpus Christi reduce environmental impact

On Tuesday, the City of Corpus Christi was presented a refund check for $87,071.20 for its continued commitment to energy efficiency with the help of McKinstry’s work. Through the Energy Efficiency Conservation Project, Corpus Christi was eligible to participate in AEP’s Texas CitySmart Program, which helps municipalities save energy and money by providing no-cost facility improvement recommendations, and implemented through CLEAResult.

We’re glad to support clients that positively impact local communities, producing big results while also supporting green initiatives in the state and across the country. This was a big win for the City of Corpus Christi and a big win for McKinstry!

You can see coverage - pitched by the LPR team - of the check presentation from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times here: http://bit.ly/1OFZ36o and from the Nueces County Record Star here: http://bit.ly/1HgKSWu.

More information on McKinstry's other projects in Texas may be found here: http://bit.ly/1OC30uE.

(Photos credits: American Museum of Natural History and City of Corpus Christi)

Real Results for the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation

This week was fun week for us here at Lewis Public Relations. As a part of our relationship with Prolanthropy, we get to work with professional athletes who give back to North Texas communities. On Monday, we generated great media turnout at Cook Children’s Medical Center for a donation from the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation. Former TCU, now-Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Andy Dalton and his wife, Jordan, work through their Foundation during the off-season to raise money to provide the children and families with video games and iPads. As they “pass it forward,” their hope is that the kids will find a distraction in these and have a fun way to pass the time during treatments and hospital stays. It was great to see Andy and Jordan bring smiles to these kids and their families.

Before the donation of “Andy & Jordan’s Hub,” we worked to promote ticket sales and coverage of the Foundation’s fundraiser, “Fiesta & Goal,” through earned media. On Wednesday night at Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth, the Foundation hosted 225 guests and media at the event.

Andy and Jordan are doing great things here in the DFW community, as well as back home in Cincinnati. We were glad to partner with them to help make these events a success.

Check out some of our favorite coverage from WFAA’s Joe Trahan here: http://bit.ly/1HheOhS. Also, a big thanks to Mac Engel with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for spreading the word about the event: http://bit.ly/1Hzv3dl.

Photos courtesy of the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation.

The Modern PR War Room

Photo by Ewan McIntosh
Photo by Ewan McIntosh

We live in a world of increasing connectivity and demand for real-time marketing. With a 24-hour news cycle and content being pushed through multiple social media channels, it’s vital to have the intellectual bandwidth on staff to manage the immediate demand. With centralized operations to facilitate rapid and targeted messaging, public relations war rooms can make or break a successful campaign, event or brand.

Preparation and Planning

What makes for an effective modern PR war room?  Preparation and planning are essential. Draw strategic inferences and scheduling cues from previous, similar or competitor events and programs. Was the last townhall, Twitter chat or Google+ Hangout a success? Why or why not?

Is every department or issue area represented?  Do you need surrogates lined up for media hits? Check schedules to see who is available. Ensure all team members and spokespersons have background and appropriate messaging going in. Getting the right team prepped and ready to go should be done well in advance.

Resources

Have as much pre-approved content as possible, including messaging strategy with examples, talking points for spokespeople and digital content with infographics, photos and videos.

Build a timeline, but remember to budget room for spontaneity. Inevitably something will surprise you. Will you have the intellectual, informational and physical resources to provide a thoughtful response?

For rapid response events, what will you need to maintain successful operations for the duration of the event? Equip your team in advance—a live stream, multiple screens to monitor news coverage, pre-approved statements and news releases and maybe even dinner to keep the staff going.

If you don’t have the right team in place with the right resources, your brand likely won’t be on message.

Social Media

How do you win on social media? You’ll need to have a focused strategy for messaging throughout.

Think about who the influencers are and engage appropriately, using replies, retweets and favorites. Does your brand have a frequent complainer on Twitter? It isn’t effective to reply to every negative comment, but you should respond to critics and customer service complaints.

Use apps to maximize your reach. Don’t miss out on opportunities to appropriately exploit innovations of social media like Instagram, Swarm, TweetDeck or HooteSuite.

Having socially savvy people with content and messaging that’s pre-approved equips and empowers your team of digital ninjas with a solid foundation to win.

Metrics and Evaluation

Deliverables should be clearly defined, and feedback should be expected.

Are you trying to beat last year’s social media analytics? Which ones—impressions, engagement or new followers? Defining the goals specifically sets the expectation for success. Doing this will ensure you have someone ready to go on-camera after an event or can push your team to capture a wider audience for digital engagement.

Continuous feedback is important, too. Listen to your team on site so nothing is missed. And before you put the campaign to rest, make recommendations for future operations to help the next event or program be an even bigger success.

Bringing it all together.

Preparation and planning will be the crux of the operation. Focusing on these tips for a modern PR war room should set you with a stellar team equipped to effectively communicate – and more importantly, engage – with your most critical audiences when it matters most.

Photo Credit: Ewan McIntosh

Powerful HAS#TAGS Build PR Results

Although hashtags are still used to accumulate common posts, they’re being used more and more as a means to spread news, ideas or trends – a virtual word-of-mouth, if you will. They have also proven to be a valuable PR tool. In 2013, Baylor University's athletic department used a hashtag to help spread the word and build excitement about an upcoming football game.

Meet LPR: Blake Lewis

This month's “Meet LPR” post features our founder and principal, Blake Lewis. His interview was conducted by Amanda, so prepare for some candid answers...

My First Celebrity Event – What REALLY happens behind the scenes

CWN 5

CWN 5

Before my internship with LPR, I’ve only ever attended an event as a guest. In the few charity events I’ve been to (or, really, seen on TV), everything seemed so coordinated and effortless. People smiled for cameras, guests of honor spoke without nerves and everyone was focused on the benefiting charity.

After working my first charity event, the DeMarco Murray Foundation’s Celebrity Waiter Night, I’ve come to realize that all of those things do happen – but not without a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Here are my two big takeaways: how an event like that is put on, and why we did it.

The “How”

My role leading up to Celebrity Waiter Night was pitching the event to Dallas-area bloggers, where I gained firsthand experience inviting them to attend and following up for both participation and coverage.

On the day of the event, I staffed the celebrity room. (Pretty cool for this sports-loving Dallas girl!) Some things were out of our control, like DeMarco Murray being stuck in traffic when CBS needed to film their live shot. A lot of things, however, were in our control, like maintaining consistent communication between the media and celebrity rooms about when the next item on the agenda was happening.

CWN 3

CWN 3

But the biggest challenge of the evening, I realized, was finding the balance between accommodating the players, guests and media.

The players – the celebrities of the evening – needed time to eat before they began serving the guests and wanted to enjoy the night with their dates just as much as the guests of the event. Meanwhile, the media wanted every possible photo op and detail of what happened, which is why they were invited.

It was important for me and the rest of the team to remain sensitive to everyone’s wants and to try and cater to those wants as best we could.

Although a few portions of the evening didn’t flow as smoothly as we’d hoped, we had to keep two things in mind: the players and media arepeople, too, and there was a cause behind every hectic moment.

The “Why”

When the timing of things didn’t happen the way we wanted, it was important to keep sight of the vision and purpose behind what we were doing.

The planning, arranging, organizing, scheduling, inviting, publicizing, calling, emailing, set-up and implementation of weeks of preparing was all for one group of people: the Dallas-area youth who would receive educational help and resources thanks to DeMarco’s foundation.

CWN 4 a

CWN 4 a

Professional athletes, especially football players, haven’t had the best publicity the past few months. This event came at a crucial time for the NFL’s reputation. Thanks to the media who attended the event, members of the Dallas community had the opportunity to see the players they cheered for, sometimes even idolized, doing good for their hometown.

And, no matter the size of my role, I was a part of helping them do good. To me, that makes my first celebrity event a success.

Probono is Worth the Investment

I started to title this post “Free Time is Worth the Investment,” but no one seems to have much “free time” these days—myself included. But, our company culture allows time for select special projects and organizations that we believe make important contributions to our community and our profession.

Fixing Data Breach PR

Today's LPR blog contribution is a guest post from David Fuscus, CEO of Xenophon Strategies in Washington, D.C. Along with LPR, Xenophon is a member of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN). Read the original post here. “Year of the Retailer Breach” was how Verizon recently described 2013 in their annual Data Breach Report, saying that it “was a year of transition… to large scale attacks on payment card systems”.

Lewis Public Relations: Past, Present and Future

Video is a great medium for storytelling because it combines visuals, voices and messages to paint a complete picture of an organization. To help tell the Lewis Public Relations (LPR) story, our intern, Shelby Tidwell, created this video that explains how LPR began, what we do and where we see the company going in the future. The video provided a fun way for some of the LPR team members to describe the ins-and-outs of agency PR and working at LPR. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1sT3ng6_Tg&feature=youtu.be

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Celebrating a new opportunity for our colleagues at EverittCo and Aars | Wells

Earlier today, EverittCo shared with clients and others that the firm would be merging with Aars | Wells. We’re all looking forward to continuing our collaborative activities in the coming months and years as trusted colleagues and friends. More importantly, we are wishing Mark, Alex and their employees all the best as they take two talented marketing firms and make them one.

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Clean TEAM Initiative: Alon Brands Recognizes Engagement

While one of the big buzz words was “sustainability” in 2011, this year already appears to be the year of engagement… with peers, co-workers, customers and others. From creating desires to visit a FINA/7-Eleven convenience store to extending the customer experience beyond store doors, LPR client Alon Brands illustrates engagement at its best through its Clean TEAM initiative. Clean TEAM recognizes and awards FINA/7-Eleven stores for clean and attractive facilities, as well as top-quality customer service. This program goes the extra mile in recognizing the hard work and persistence it takes to make a store customer-ready.

On Thursday, Feb. 2, a group of Alon Brands employees and FINA/7-Eleven store managers and employees gathered across the street from store #51703 on Menaul Blvd. in Albuquerque to honor winning store manager Christina Lopez. Joined by Trudy Jones of the Albuquerque City Council and Joy Davis of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, company leaders recognized and spoke about the importance of well-run and well-stocked convenience stores to the community.

At the end of the event, Christina received the keys to a 2012 Chevrolet Equinox. This presentation is, in itself, a form of engagement. The award sets the standard for other FINA/7-Eleven stores to strive toward, as well as reinforces the engagement demonstrated by Christina and her teammates.

Going beyond the Clean TEAM event, Alon Brands sponsored a Customer Appreciation Week at all the company’s stores in Albuquerque during the week of the Clean TEAM event, providing customers with discounts and giveaways. This is another form of customer engagement, a key element to creating brand relationships.

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Whether you’re a store manager organizing your employee’s daily assignments or a store employee making sure the store is ready to deliver an over-the-top customer experience, engagement connects everyone together.

Food for thought, from the public relations perspective: The realm of public relations works the same way: employees, professionals and clients are all connected through engagement. Without the buzz word “engagement” in the public relations profession’s vocabulary, our job would cease to exist.

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PR Resident: Being a Better Employee in 2012

This time of year, everybody starts talking about their New Year’s resolutions, and how to start off fresh on Jan. 1. I remember when my family used to gather around the dining room table on New Years Eve, and my mom would pass us each a piece of paper and a pen. I also remember writing down items like “keep my room clean, make more time for health and exercise and keep my grades up.”

As much as I’m a relative newcomer to the business world, I think the organizations of all sizes could benefit from gathering this sort of basic ‘resolutions’ view of their world from team members at all levels as part of planning for the new year. Businesses are collectively about increasing revenue and expanding client bases, but individuals oftentimes ignore or don’t think about how they could make a difference in their business as an individual, and this seems to be undervalued by business leaders, as well.

The right mentality comes when you think “how will (insert improvement here) contribute to my work environment?” Every day is full of assignments, meetings, phone calls, email exchanges, etc., but we don’t take a step back too often to simply ask ourselves how can we better our agency or business?

At LPR, we’re focused on outcomes. We want to generate the best results for our clients as possible. There’s always room for improvement, and here’s a list of a couple ideas to potentially incorporate in the corporate version of New Years’ resolutions:

• Think more consciously about how your time spent is impacting your organization as a whole, especially when factoring in your clients or customers

• Think more critically about how you can improve your work, especially if one or more practices are not generating desired results

• Think more carefully about how you make daily decisions, especially when these decisions and the reasoning behind them will make a big impact

I think the business world, in general, has become too complacent with how things are. What if more individuals chose to be proactive, taking on some responsibility of improving the business in which they work in 2012? Think about how things could be.

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Electrical Improvements Providing Pump Stations with Enhanced Dependability

December 5 Update This week, Irving Flood Control District Section III continues work on preliminary site improvements involving electrical service at the District’s Valley Ranch pump station.

Recognizing the appropriateness of conducting a thorough evaluation of equipment and facilities that were developed more than 25 years ago, the District engaged engineering firm Freese and Nichols, Inc. last year to assess the existing electrical system at the pump station at the Southeast corner of Valley Ranch. Given the age of the equipment and changing electrical codes and best practices, Freese and Nichols recommended replacement and installation of new Oncor-supplied transformers, as well as replacement of switching equipment used to control the large pumps. The firm also recommended several associated civil and electrical engineering improvements at the station.

“This is a major capital improvement initiative for our District, creating greater redundancy in sources of power for operating pumps and other equipment, while paving the way for installation of a back-up generation system for the pump station,” said Kim Andres, Irving Flood Control District Section III president. “While many maintenance and management projects conducted by IFCD 3 are visible to the community – such ascanal maintenance to manage water levels throughout the system – others are less evident. Updating power systems for the pump station certainly is one of those unseen initiatives of great importance to individual and business residents of Valley Ranch.”

A final upgrade to the pump station as recommended by the District’s engineers is the installation of a back-up electrical generator to provide further level of electrical system redundancy. Several options are being considered for this project, which is currently planned for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

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