SUMMER 2011 NEWSLETTER: A SLOW AND STEADY RECOVERY
We know the facts: the past 10 plus years have been the worst in the U.S. economy in modern times. Since December 1999, there has been zero net job creation. Since the 1940s, there hasn’t been a previous decade with less than 20 percent job growth.
The Mid-Atlantic region did better than most in terms of job growth the past decade, thanks primarily to our proximity to the federal government. The Baltimore Business Journal recently crunched the job numbers and showed that Virginia ranked fifth in the country overall for job growth – adding 61,700 private sector jobs in the last decade. DC ranked seventh, adding 42,800 jobs, while Maryland ranked 18th – adding 9,900 jobs.
As the economy begins to rebound, what should business owners do to protect themselves and their employees? What can state and federal agencies do to remain relevant and ensure they meet their missions with a fraction of prior budgets? While many financial and geopolitical factors are outside of our control, here are a few strategies to consider:
- Long-term planning: All businesses and organizations should have a 5-year or 10-year plan that includes contingencies based on growth/lack of growth or reduced state/federal funding.
- Strategic outreach: Focus solely on your target audiences - don’t try to be all things to all people, and use cost-effective delivery resources, such as social media channels, when possible.
- Make networking count: Be deliberate with the events you attend and have a strategy for coming away with new contacts. This Inc. article provides a basic how-to.
- Modernizing communications: Figure out ways to “touch” your stakeholders virtually or directly – and ensure that some of those touch points are not sales-related, but also educational.
- Consider your value add: If you are a CEO or lead a government agency, how can you best position yourself to contribute meaningful dialogue to topics within your area of expertise? You should consider working with a communications expert to conduct a thought leadership positioning analysis.
- Give back: In the private sector, several studies have correlated Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with financial performance. Check out this interesting article: Does Corporate Social Responsibility Increase Profits? There is also evidence that when a company or agency has CSR initiatives, employees are more proud of and committed to their work.
- Laura Van Eperen, email@example.com, 301-581-7298
Client Successes: Maryland Municipalities See 25 Percent of State Highway User Money Returned
VE & Co. joins Maryland municipal leaders in applauding the General Assembly for recognizing the critical transportation needs in the state’s municipalities and including $10 million for the Highway User Revenue Fund in the FY 2012 budget. Governor Martin O’Malley’s proposed budget included just $1.6 million for the fund. Maryland Highway User Revenue is funded through the gas tax and other transportation-related fees and is designed to be returned to Maryland communities for ongoing transportation related projects such as road repair, street maintenance and snow removal. Since 2008, Highway User Revenues for municipalities have been reduced by 95 percent.
VE & Co. is a corporate sponsor of the Maryland Municipal League, which represents 157 cities and towns in Maryland.
Client Successes: VE & Co. Helps Kettler Forlines Homes & EPA Call Attention to Indoor airPLUS program
Brightwell Crossing (www.brightwellcrossing.com), Kettler Forlines Homes’ newest residential living community in Western Montgomery County, hosted U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials in April to discuss its Indoor airPLUS program. VE & Co. partnered with Kettler to invite media coverage of this important event. EPA officials also filmed the construction process requirements to showcase how homebuilders can implement similar building practices and realize the benefits of homes becoming Indoor airPLUS certified.
Brightwell Crossing is among one of the first communities in the U.S. in which all homes are EPA Indoor airPLUS certified. Indoor airPLUS includes a set of material and building process requirements, which along with the EPA Energy Star for Homes program, is designed to improve indoor air quality, moisture control and long term durability. The EPA has made it a top priority to educate other homebuilders across the nation on how to use this energy-efficient technology, featuring Brightwell Crossing as a best practice model.
Client Success: Ride 2 Recovery Sponsored by UnitedHealthcare Supports Veterans Rehabilitation in the D.C. Area
More than 200 injured veterans and their supporters took a six-day, 325-mile bike ride from Fort Myer, Va. to Virginia Beach to support rehabilitation for injured veterans. The Ride 2 Recovery Memorial Challenge was sponsored by UnitedHealthcare for the second year in a row. Ride 2 Recovery, in partnership with the Military and Veterans Affairs Volunteer Service offices, offers service men and women mental and physical rehabilitation programs that feature cycling as the core activity. From indoor spinning training in Warrior Transition Units to multiday, long-distance rides, Ride 2 Recovery helps wounded warriors recover through the physical and mental challenge of cycling long distances.
Marketing Tip: Become a Thought Leader
Are you looking to position yourself or your CEO as an expert? Do you want reporters calling YOU to be quoted for stories? This will not happen overnight! It takes a concerted effort to position oneself (or one’s boss!) as a thought leader. Some strategies to consider:
- Build an interesting platform: You must be able to talk beyond your product or service. Are there trends you can speak to? Can you tie your business into a larger conversation?
- Get Speaking: Use that platform to get speaker placements at trade shows. You may start out as a panelist, but over time, and with an interesting “hook,” you may be the headliner at next year’s show.
- Network, network and network! Show up at local events that you’re expected to be at – but also events that you wouldn’t normally attend. These are often the places where you make unexpected business – or media – contacts.
- Byline it: Trade magazines and regional newspapers are looking for content! Offer to write a monthly or quarterly column. This will get your name out there – and content can be repurposed for your website or shared with customers.
- Use the web: Make a name for yourself using social media tools. Broaden your network on Facebook, use Twitter and follow reporters who cover your product/service (and in turn, they may start following you!) Finally, create a blog to put a “face” on your company.
VE & Co. Launches Enhanced Website
We hope you will take a moment to check out the brand new www.veandco.com. The new design features informative and interactive pages presenting capabilities, service, leadership and more. In addition, our seasoned communications staff will share their thoughts on the intersection of communication and industries such as health care, education, transportation and sustainability in our new blog ve-rac-it-y, www.veandco.blogspot.com.
Search engine optimization was also a goal for our site and you can now find us by typing "Maryland public relations." If you are thinking about optimizing your site, call us for more information.
VE & Co. Welcomes Newest Account Coordinator & Assistant Account Coordinator
VE & Co. is thrilled to welcome our newest account coordinator, Samantha Bolduc. A recent graduate of the University of Maryland, Bolduc obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications with a concentration in public relations. While this is Bolduc’s first full-time PR job, she has impressive experience including internships with 99.5 FM and VE & Co.
We are also pleased to welcome Emily Kleiman as VE & Co.’s assistant account coordinator. Kleiman, a communication major at University of Maryland, hails from Edison, NJ. She has also held internships with the Montgomery County Council’s Office of Legislative Information and Public Citizen.
Wednesday, June 29: Business Card Exchange Lunch 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Potomac Pizza, 625 Center Point Way, Gaithersburg, Md.
Polish your elevator speech at the June Business Card Exchange Lunch. This networking event is being presented by the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber & the Kentlands Downtown Partnership. (Members $20, Guests $45)
Thursday, June 30: What's Next for Association Communications? 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
United Way of America , 701 N. Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Va.
Hear from VE & Co. Vice President Jennifer Strohm and other communications experts at the Public Relations Society of America- National Capital Chapter's seminar: "What's Next for Association Communications?" Discussion topics include social media, online membership engagement, media relations, issue advocacy and more.
The Last Word: "To succeed, you will soon learn, as I did, the importance of a solid foundation in the basics of education - literacy, both verbal and numerical, and communication skills." - Alan Greenspan