Blog Archives

Chuck Penna


This time of year, articles about marketing trends start to appear. From what I’ve read so far I think everybody agrees on one thing: connecting with today’s consumer is more challenging than ever before. Brands must engage in ongoing two-way dialogue with their target audiences. The brand experience has now evolved into something driven by engagement and share-ability.

Best selling author Rohit Bhargava has curated a list of new business trends to watch in the coming year. Here are two trends that will impact marketers in 2014. To find out more, check out Rohit’s website:

#1: Branded Utility. Companies are starting to create content that incorporates meaningful solutions for consumers, essentially combining marketing and operations activities to increase consumer engagement. An example Rohit used to demonstrate this is a new Charmin app called “sit or squat,” which directs consumers to the cleanest bathrooms when they are away from home. While there isn’t any effort designed to specifically educate the consumer about Charmin, the app provides consumers with valuable and helpful information, and in so doing, creates a positive association with the brand. Two recent best-selling books have popularized this trend, Youtility by Jay Baer and CTRL ALT DELETE by Mitch Joel.

#2: Non-Digital Connoisseurs. Truly enthusiastic consumers want original experiences and are paying top-dollar to get it. An example of this is vinyl record purchases, which despite imperfections are often preferred over the digitally engineered alternative. This desire to have original products has been around for a long time in certain categories (e.g., people who buy vintage cars) but the interest is expanding into other categories and into younger demographic groups.

For more marketing trends, read this article from

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Buckle Up this Thanksgiving

Contributed by Lora Stead

The Thanksgiving holiday offers a delightful tradition of remembering all we have to be grateful for. My list includes chocolate-covered cinnamon bears, Bikram Yoga, mountains, a sweet husband and seat belts. As the holiday season approaches and roads get slick, we can’t afford to skip out on seat belts. Though more people buckle up than not, I have heard many turkey excuses from those who don’t:

• I forget
• I’m only going down the street
• I’m with a safe driver
• The seat belt wrinkles my clothes
• It’s not big enough for me
• I’m not going very fast
• My car doesn’t have seat belts
• I would rather die than be seriously injured
• I don’t like someone telling me I have to wear it
• I don’t want to be trapped in a car
• It’s uncomfortable
• It’s safer not to have it on
• Nothing’s ever going to happen to me

Here’s the truth:

You are 70 percent more likely to survive a crash and be uninjured when properly buckled. Would you be concerned if your spouse, child or best friend took that risk? So why would you?

There is no excuse for not buckling up. Don’t be a turkey this Thanksgiving and buckle up, every time, every drive.

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Holiday advertisements start running the day after Halloween and don’t stop until after Christmas. And every year we whine about how early holiday ads are airing. “Seriously? They are airing already?” Yes, just like they did last year and the year before. I like to think of holiday ads as the female-targeted counterpart to Super Bowl ads. Of course, to break out of the clutter, many companies are trying to find out-of-the-box ways to get their holiday messaging across. Here are some techniques that are already prominent this season.

Prankvertising: While Toys “R” Us has yet to launch any official holiday season TV spots, it did come out with a primer ad at the end of October. It got the toy store chain in front of its target audience without bringing up the fact that the holidays are around the corner. It took a group of real kids and pranked them (check out the video here), resulting in a very genuine reaction. Toys “R” Us has actually received a lot of negative feedback about the ad, which is being called “anti-science” and is  “teaching kids to hate nature.” The kids’ reactions are adorable and totally relatable for most moms. As much as I love the outdoors as an adult, as a kid, I would have given my left arm to skip the hike and go to Toys “R” Us. If you don’t remember what that feels like, then you might need a vacation. This ad is the most viewed video that Toys “R” Us has on YouTube, beating its next closest video out by over 200,000 views.

Hunkvertising: Kmart recently released its first holiday advertisement “Show Your Joe,” which features a hand bell choir made up of hunks. This isn’t the first time that Hunkvertising has been used to target the female demographic. You can find other forms of it popping up all over the place, just take a look at Kraft Foods. This form of advertising isn’t loved by all, but it’s unique, and puts a funny spin on the average holiday ads. Kmart has 1,284,052 likes on Facebook but most of its posts only average about 100 interactions (likes, posts or shares). The “Show Your Joe” ad has 3,896 interactions, showing us that Hunkvertising has an impact on Kmart’s demographic.

Manvertising: Most holiday ads target women because they are most often the ones purchasing the gifts for the family. Of course there are jewelry and car ads that target men during the holiday season but what about brands that need to target men and have nothing to do with gift purchasing? This year, Coke Zero has put out a Holiday Sweater Generator, which allows you to “Harness the power of a thousand grandmothers in the palm of your internet.” (Check out my design above.) The user creates the design and their friends can vote for it by signing in through their social media networks. The winner will receive a manufactured version of the sweater they designed. It seems to be a great way to get that male demographic interacting on Facebook and Twitter, reminding their friends about Coke Zero during the holiday season. Although Facebook user demographics are almost equal number of men to number of women, men are much less likely to interact (Pew Research). This might explain why, despite having 5.7 million likes, the Coke Zero page has a very small amount of follower interaction. Hopefully the sweater generator will up its activity.

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26th Annual Golden Spike Awards
From the opening of I-15 CORE, to managing the largest landslide in mining history, preventing Pertussis, and increasing market share for Utah’s premier grocer, PPBH, in partnership with our clients, won first place Golden Spike awards for the following communications:

  • Bingham Canyon Mine Slide Crisis Management (Rio Tinto Kennecott)
  • Business Improvement Kaizen Events Video (Rio Tinto Kennecott)
  • Clear the Air Challenge Lifestyle Blogger Event (Clear the Air Challenge)
  • Harmons Grocery Stores Media Relations (Harmons)
  • I-15 CORE End is Near Movie Trailer (Utah Department of Transportation)
  • I-15 CORE Social Media Campaign (Utah Department of Transportation)
  • Stop Whooping Cough Pertussis Vaccination Campaign (Salt Lake County Health Department)
  • Stop Whooping Cough Pertussis Poster (Salt Lake County Health Department)
  • UDOT At the CORE (Utah Department of Transportation)

Communication efforts earning finalist awards:

  • Bingham Canyon Mine Slide Social Media (Rio Tinto Kennecott)
  • Click It or Ticket “Secure Cargo” Outdoor Bulletin (Utah Highway Safety Office)
  • Fairbourne Station Promenade Event (West Valley City)
  • Harmons “Why Harmons” TV Spot (Harmons)
  • Harmons Valentine’s Day Campaign (Harmons)
  • Have a Roaring Good Holiday (PPBH holiday card)
  • Mountain View Corridor Media Relations (Utah Department of Transportation)
  • Zero Fatalities “Slapstick” Theatre Video (Utah Department of Transportation)

The Sierra Nevada PRSA chapter judged award entries. Different from most award programs, the Golden Spike awards criterion includes measurable demonstrations of increasing awareness, changing behavior and modifying perceptions.

A record 104 entries were submitted this year for the annual best practice award competition sponsored by the Greater Salt Lake and Utah Valley Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) organizations.

We’re lucky. We know it. Every day we get to come to work and team with smart client partners to help people travel, live, eat, work and play better. Cheers and congratulations to all for a year of great work and results.

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Sheepdoggin from Eric Larson on Vimeo.

Contributed by Patty Clark

Eric Larson, also known as Lars around the office, is a man of many passions. Alongside being one the talented art directors and designers in the office, he also makes a wicked cup of coffee, the reputation of which you may have already heard of if you’ve been in the office. But after hours, one of Lars’ biggest passions is sheepherding.

“Sheepherding is really intense. It’s a complex sport. You have to be obsessed in order to compete. It’s so hard, but also addicting.”

Lars has eight dogs in total, with three currently competing, two in training, and the rest retired or kept as pets. He participates in sheepherding competitively, which involves training his dogs at least three to four times a week with sheep, and sometimes more training sessions without sheep, such as obedience training.

Here’s a video Lars made of his dogs in training.

Lars watched his first competition at Soldier Hollow, and was “super amazed” at what he saw people could get their dogs to do. So he bought a dog, started training and found some people to help him along the way. He’s been doing this for nine years, and now, he’s the one people come to for help.

An example of an event at a sheepherding competition is called the outrun. With the sheep sometimes 400 yards away, the dog must run around to the back of the sheep without disturbing them. Then they must get them to return to the owner in a straight line. Dogs must be able to line up the sheep and separate specific sheep from the rest, and finish by getting them into a pen. Lars says the sheep used in these trials have often never seen a sheepherding dog before, nor have they been led into the pen as done during the trial. The dogs are able to use their eyes to guide and move the sheep, a sort of “jedi mind trick,” according to Lars.

Lars has won several pro-novice competitions with his dog Rex, and even won first place at Hotchkiss. Since then, Lars has retired Rex and is now working with newer dogs who are at about the middle of the pack, including Gin, Coy, Remi, Fern and Jaff. He has several dogs because each have strengths in different areas.

“You have to try different ones because they need to match your personality. If they don’t fit, then you need to find the right person for them. That’s the right thing to do. It wouldn’t be right for me to hang on to a dog if it’s a bad fit.”

Lars also has 14 sheep that he trains the dogs with. A good sheepherding dog is worth about 20 men when you’re in livestock management.

“If I could, I would be a rancher. That sounds like my kind of fun. But I don’t think I can ever give up art direction and design. Animals aren’t the easiest to deal with in photo shoots.”


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Social media signs

Contributed by Jane Putnam

Research, strategy and planning are vital to any social media campaign. Use these six questions in the planning process to ensure your campaign is buttoned up and ready to be a success.

1. What is the purpose of using social media for this campaign or product?
Yes, it seems basic, but it’s so important to always tie it back to the “why” social media makes sense for this particular campaign or product. If you can’t explain why social media is the right medium, you may need to rethink the plan or approach.

2. How will social media contribute to or benefit the overall communication efforts?
Simply put, identify and put into writing the benefit of the social media campaign or efforts. This can be a restatement of your goal.

3. What do you hope to achieve with social media? Inform? Educate? Encourage dialogue? Sell products? Share information?
This will guide the campaign from start to finish and will help in campaign measurement.

4. What will your audiences come to your social media channels to get (e.g., coupons, conversation, etc.)? What does your audience look to you to provide?
Decide what unique offerings you bring or have to offer to your community, and build upon that.

5. What is the staffing plan?
This includes set up, monitoring, responding, community management and analysis. Social media never sleeps, so this calls for weekend and after-hours work too.

6. How will you measure the campaign?
Determine metrics needed to meet the goals and objectives. Consider what resources and tools, including third-party apps and analytics, you’ll need. Also, at what intervals during the campaign do you need reports or measurements?

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Our Interactive Director, Mitch Vice recently celebrated his 10-year anniversary with PPBH and we think that’s kind of a big deal. In fact, Mitch had worked at Proclix Interactive with Partner, Mike Brian for years before coming to PPBH. There, they were pioneering the digital marketing and communication era. Mitch helped invent and design a lot of award-winning applications and technical executions that had never been seen anywhere before. His skill set is very broad and ranges from design to interactive. Mike calls him the “go-to guy when it comes to making something work.” He said, “It may be a concept that is completely new to him, but he always figures it out and creates something flawless.”

The main loves of Mitch’s life are his family and cars. And when I say cars, I mean Fords, they are the true American car, he doesn’t really believe in any other make. Mitch also loves Apple products, he is the proud owner of several older models including the Clam Shell and the Newton. Speaking of the 80s, Mitch is a huge Eddie Van Halen fan and is a great musician himself. He plays multiple instruments and is fighting like crazy to keep the late 80s alive.

Mitch’s experience and work ethic are invaluable to PPBH and we are excited to celebrate his 10 years here.

“You look long and hard to find someone that fits a specific mold in your life and career. I know that if my house caught on fire and I threw my kids out the window, that Mitch would catch them. Of anyone I have ever worked with, I have always known that Mitch would be there, and that he would be able to help.”

– Mike Brian


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I hate to exhaust a business cliché but the quirky tale of two mice and two “little people” searching for cheese (happiness and success) in a maze applies perfectly to the evolving communications field. While the story itself is only about 50 pages of large print, “Who Moved My Cheese” is a best seller because it helps people, especially business people, think more deeply about how to predict and adapt to change. Here is what I imagine the story’s four characters—Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw—would whisper in our ears during client meetings and strategy brainstorms.

Sniff –  “This cheese won’t last forever. Always sniff out new cheese.”

Sniff noticed early that there was a limited amount of cheese in the first “cheese station” he found. Knowing this, he was the first to venture back into the maze to find more cheese, long before his “cheese station” ran out. In the last decade communicators have noticed that online news changed how print and television media could work, mobile devices changed how people advertise and social media changed the way public relations professionals pitch stories. Firms that prepare for such changes are most successful.

Scurry –  “Avoid paralysis by analysis and get moving.”

While Hem and Haw were over analyzing why their cheese had run out, Scurry and Sniff were already searching for new cheese and found it long before Hem and Haw did. Like Martin Luther King said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Sometimes trying to find the perfect solution can paralyze you and corrections needed aren’t obvious until you take your first step.

Hem –  “Don’t get cocky in times of plenty. Manage your peaks and valleys.”

Hem became complacent in his routine of getting cheese from the same “cheese station” every day. His attitude of passive entitlement kept him in a cheese-less state for longer than anyone else in the maze. You need to find ways to preserve cheese and still look for new cheese when it’s plentiful. You will not be capable of finding new cheese until you understand that you are not entitled to it and it will not be served to you by a polished butler on a silver platter—you have to find it yourself.

Haw –  “Imagine yourself with new cheese and enjoy it when you find it.”

In the book, Haw learns how to imagine himself with new cheese before he found it and to laugh at himself. This helped him enjoy looking for the cheese and reduced his fear of looking stupid and failing. Haw asked himself, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” Don’t let fear get in the way of enjoying your job and being awesome at it.

No communications firm or person can do well without being able to foresee and adapt to change. The book says it like this, “If you do not change, you can become extinct!” Let us know what helps you predict and adjust to change.

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