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  • Writing Company Blogs: Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

    Access to the blogosphere means anyone can become a journalist. Unfortunately not everyone is a good one. The cost of traditional publishing prevents most hacks from inflicting their drivel on the public. Unfortunately there are no such restraints online. As a result, fact checking, grammar, and basic civility sometimes take a back seat to self-expression. Because blogging is such a personal activity, we’ll focus on using blogs to sell something. Keep in mind, writing for style and meaning are just as critical for blogs as with print. Maybe even more important, because once it’s on the Internet, it’s never going away. More people can see it, share it, comment on it and love it or hate it. Remember, once it’s posted it will last forever.

    Here are some other purposes of blogs for business or pleasure;

    Informational blogs:
    Pick any topic but make sure you do your research. Make sure the facts can stand up if you’re making a claim. Cite your sources and be clear when you’re stating your personal opinion.

    Company blogs:
    These should reflect a more human side to a company or brand beyond a recitation of features and benefits. Perhaps personal stories, unusual facts or other information that makes the reader want to like the company as well as buy its products.

    Cultural insights:
    Maybe you have some expertise with certain ethnicities, age groups, neighborhoods, or hobbies that you’d like to share. Marketers may be able to use your information or it may just be entertaining to a general audience.

    Technology updates:
    Geeks read what other geeks write. Maybe you want to share what you saw at the Consumer Electronics Show. Or you tried the next killer app. A lot of people want to know what’s the next big thing.

    Industry specific blogs:
    You may have some information to share about what’s new in any given industry, including advertising. You can discuss what’s in and what’s out and look like an expert in your field. It’s amazing how many blogs start with “The 10 hottest trends for _______.” It works!

    Creative rants:
    It’s OK to vent, just do make it clever and entertaining. Give solid reasons for your criticism beyond, “That really sucked.”

    Travel blogs:
    Reveal hidden details the ordinary tourist never sees. Talk about the people you’re encountered and share their stories. You may encourage someone to explore the world or just entertain the armchair adventurer.

    Writing: blogs:
    These can range from random musings about anything and everything or they can be very focused about specific topics. More than any of the above, they must be well-written. Double and triple check everything before hitting that send button.

    Here are a few tips to make your blogs more interesting, relevant and searchable.

    Ask don’t tell:
    Perhaps you lead with a provocative question to draw readers in (refer to chapter 8 discussion of headlines). Or you close with a thoughtful question that encourages comments.

    Think visually:
    Visuals attract readers. Review chapter 6 for basic design and web design trends and find something that’s compelling and relevant to your message.

    Promote yourself:
    Your blog may have it’s own Google+ or Facebook page. That’s a perfect place to promote your latest post. It will generate more comments and help your search rankings. Tweets can also encourage visits to your blog.

    Support other bloggers:
    Use social networks to comment on other blogs and retweet other blog posts occasionally. Your support will be reciprocated.

    Study blogs you admire:
    Find some blogs you really like and follow them for several weeks or months. Discover what makes them consistently interesting, well written and meaningful. Then interact. Let them know you value their effort. A lot of the motivation behind blogging is ego. We all seek validation.

    Adapted from Advertising Creative: Strategy, Copy, Design, 4th edition, Tom Altstiel and Jean Grow

    Watch for Advertising Creative,
    4th edition–January 2016.

    For more detailed information about how to maximize the impact of company blogs, contact Bill Elverman, Vice President/Public Relations Director at PKA Marketing.

    Twitter: IndustrialPrGuy

  • Pigging Out for a Great Cause

    It all started when a few guys gathered to watch a Packer game and passed the hat to help a friend in need. Seventeen years later that simple act of kindness has grown into a major fundraising enterprise that supports dozens of non-profit organizations in Ozaukee County. To date, over $480,000 has been given to human service, special needs and scholarship charities.

    Mel’s famous Pig Roast has been the centerpiece from the start. Thousands of pork lovers wait all year to pig out with Mel at his famous outdoor feast. In addition, Mel’s Pig Roast Charities runs many other events throughout the year including a softball tournament, music festival, bowling tournament, golf outing, motorcycle rally and a 5K run/walk.

    In the last few years, PKA has been the primary supplier for all the creative advertising materials including logo design, posters specialty advertising and many more creative pieces that have helped promote Mel’s Pig Roast in the community.

    PKA created and printed a 48” X 96” banner with our Epson Stylus Pro 9800 printer, Left to right: Tanner Hahn, PKA digital media specialist, Tom Stanton, Mel’s Pig Roast Charities and George Wamser, PKA production art manager.

    PKA created collateral and banners to promote the other fund raising events for Mel’s Pig Roast Charities.

    [blockquote text=”More than $80,000 was raised for local charities in 2014.” text_color=”#2b2b2b”]
  • Color Counts: how to make sure you’ve picked the right one

    Starting with the basics, think of colors as primary or secondary, warm or cool, and complementary or contrasting. From a designer’s point of view, here are two key points:

    • The human eye is most comfortable looking at warm colors.
    • Complementary and contrasting colors should work to visually enhance your strategy.

    Whether you’re using warm or cool colors or engaging complementary or contrasting colors, you also need to keep in mind the social and cultural connotations attached to each color. Just as with words, colors can have multiple meanings. Think of the social and cultural meanings of each color. Then weigh those meanings against the brand, the colors associated with the brand, and its competitors. Also consider your audience’s sensibilities when making color choices. Finally, remember color may be applied to many elements of a layout: type, line, and backgrounds. Visual images too have an expressed color palette.

    Adapted from Advertising Creative: Strategy, Copy, Design, 4th edition, Tom Altstiel and Jean Grow


    Data source: “The Psychology of Color in Advertising”


    For more detailed information about correct color choices contact Bruce Prom, President/Senior Art Director at PKA Marketing.

    Watch for Advertising Creative,
    4th edition–
    January 2016.

  • The beat goes on

    Ten-year old Grant Schoen was a perfectly healthy child and an exceptional athlete. In 2013, when he stayed home from school with a low-grade fever, he took a nap and never woke up. The doctors said he died of SCA (Sudden Cardiac Arrest). Grant’s parents, Jeff and Tammy Schoen, founded HeartSafe Wisconsin, Inc. to help educate people about life-saving CPR, encourage the placement of AED’s (Automated External Defibrillators) in public facilities, and to provide youth heart screens for otherwise undetected heart problems.

    HeartSafe Wisconsin reached out to PKA Marketing to help spread their message. We developed the logo and slogan: Get Smart. Save a Hearth. The PKA creative team also wrote and designed a brochure/direct mail piece that tells the HeartSafe Wisconsin story with a call to action for contributions.

    Working with local business leaders and a local hospital, the PKA team created a series of promotional material for HeartSafe Awareness Day in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. The event provided free youth heart screening, CPR classes, blood pressure checks, and information about a heart-healthy lifestyle. Materials included a banner, posters, and HTML emails.

    HeartSafe Wisconsin is working to increase awareness of SCA throughout Wisconsin. To find out more, visit

    Logo Design

    PKA created a distinctive logo and memorable slogan for HeartSafe Wisconsin.



    This 8-page brochure can be used for handouts at events and for direct mail.



    These posters tell the Heart Save Wisconsin story and encourage community involvement.


    eMail Campaign

    PKA created this HTML email graphic to promote Heart Safe Awareness Day.

  • Native advertising vs. content marketing

    Sometimes it’s hard to draw a line between native advertising and content marketing when we talk about everything in the abstract. The main distinction is that native advertising is usually designed to sell something before the consumer gets the content he or she seeks (think of a sponsored email); while content marketing gives away that content, and over time, the consumer builds a relationship with the brand (think of a monthly online magazine). The disadvantage of native advertising is that some consumers perceive it as a sleazy gimmick and hate it even more than straightforward advertising. The downside of content marketing is that warm and fuzzy relationships don’t always turn into sales, especially if your competition is warmer and fuzzier.

    Adapted from Advertising Creative: Strategy, Copy, Design, 4th edition, Tom Altstiel and Jean Grow


    For more detailed information about how to maximize the impact of content marketing, contact Bill Elverman, Vice President/Public Relations Director at PKA Marketing.

    Twitter: @IndustrialPrGuy

    Watch for Advertising Creative,
    4th edition–
    January 2016.

  • The Seven Deadly Sins of Copywriting

    NOTE: The following segment was written to help writing students improve their craft. But it’s helpful advice for anyone who writes advertising copy, web content or public relations material.

    We call these the Seven Deadly Sins. When you see them in your writing, make a brief confession and do penance by rewriting. Even experienced writers commit these sins. As with other transgressions, you can’t feel guilty until you know it’s a sin.

    [icon_text box_type=”normal” box_border=”no” icon_type=”normal” icon_size=”icon-large” icon_position=”left” title=”Advertising-ese” text=”Write the way people talk, eliminate clichés, useless phrases, keep it conversational (read out loud).” image=”4664″][icon_text box_type=”normal” box_border=”no” icon_type=”normal” icon_size=”icon-large” icon_position=”left” title=”Bad taste” text=”Watch for sexist, racist, offensive language and symbols. If it feels wrong, it probably is.” image=”4665″][icon_text box_type=”normal” box_border=”no” icon_type=”normal” icon_size=”icon-large” icon_position=”left” title=”Deadwood” text=”Weed out weak, redundant, unnecessary words and phrases. Keep the flow of thought moving.” image=”4666″][icon_text box_type=”normal” box_border=”no” icon_type=”normal” icon_size=”icon-large” icon_position=”left” title=”Generic Benefit” text=”Provide consumer benefits in terms they understand. Appeal to their lives. Lead with strongest benefit. Is one benefit so strong that it is the central truth or one thing about this product?” image=”4667″][icon_text box_type=”normal” box_border=”no” icon_type=”normal” icon_size=”icon-large” icon_position=”left” title=”Laundry lists ” text=”Don’t list features without reference to what they mean to the consumer. Weave benefits into the ad and prioritize them based on the consumer’s point of view.” image=”4668″][icon_text box_type=”normal” box_border=”no” icon_type=”normal” icon_size=”icon-large” icon_position=”left” title=”Poor grammar” text=”Watch for errors in spelling, punctuation and verb tense. Know the rules and when to break the rules. Use fragments if it improves readability.” image=”5395″][icon_text box_type=”normal” box_border=”no” icon_type=”normal” icon_size=”icon-large” icon_position=”left” title=”Wimpy words” text=”Use power words, active voice, short simple sentences. If it doesn’t feel strong, it’s not.” image=”5396″]

    Adapted from Advertising Creative: Strategy, Copy, Design, 4th edition, Tom Altstiel and Jean Grow

    Watch for Advertising Creative,
    4th edition–
    January 2016.

    For more detailed information about copywriting, contact Tom Altstiel, Vice President/Creative Director, PKA Marketing

  • Digital Tools for B2B

    Many B2B clients adopted the Internet long before consumer brands. Email, banner ads and text links do the pushing to encourage customers to respond. Incentives, special offers, discounts and other sales promotion tools facilitate the pulling through the next stage of the pipeline. Whether it’s used strictly for information or for direct selling, the Internet provides B2B marketers with tremendous advantages over “traditional” media, including the following:

    • Provides more detailed information that you can’t fit into an ad.
    • Shows streaming video, animation, and interactive media.
    • When used as part of an integrated personalized direct mail program using PURLs, it can build customer relationships faster than with traditional methods.
    • Includes links to co-op partners and/or affiliated companies.
    • Provides updated product information such as spec sheets, catalogs, parts forms, and troubleshooting guides that can be downloaded.
    • Delivers company news; announces new promotions and special offers.
    • Sets up merchant accounts for direct sales.
    • Identifies dealers, shows their locations, and provides links to their sites.
    • Tracks inquiries, builds databases, and establishes customer relationship management (CRM) programs.

    The following table, adapted from a presentation by B2B consultant Holger Schulze, shows the new world of B2B marketing communications.

    Adapted from Advertising Creative: Strategy, Copy, Design, 4th edition, Tom Altstiel and Jean Grow


    The above table shows a direction, not a destination for B2B marketers. While few companies embrace all the above trends, we are moving away from the old “spray and pray” approach–throw as much stuff out there as we can afford and hope someone gets the message. Marketers who take advantage of new technology will forge stronger, more personal relationships with customers with measureable results.

    When building a B2B site, don’t forget the three things you need to accomplish—get them to come, get them to stay, and get them to come back. When you want to drive customers to your site, trade ads, direct mail, articles in trade publications, banner ads on other sites, and all the other tactics used in business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing apply. As far as keeping them there, the focus should be on education, motivation, and generating action, not entertainment. Even if viewers feel like playing games, watching videos, and reading blogs, chances are their bosses would rather see them downloading specs, comparing prices, and saving time on the web. When you want to get them to come back, it’s the same as with consumer sites—keep the content fresh and let them know you have a new product or service worth checking out. Businesspeople are looking for updated sites that offer a wide range of web-based tools for sales leads, direct mail marketing, telemarketing, and CRM.

    Watch for Advertising Creative,
    4th edition–
    January 2016.

    For more detailed information about digital design for B2B sites contact Temo Xopin, Digital Art Director, PKA Marketing (; Twitter:@TemoXopin. For information about B2B marketing, contact Bill Elverman, Vice President/Public Relations Director at PKA Marketing (; Twitter: @IndustrialPrGuy

  • B2B and Social Media: Barely Scratching the Surface

    Many B2B clients were slow to embrace social media, and too many still consider it a sideline activity. As with B2C marketers, the biggest challenges are (1) understanding the potential of social media for business and (2) committing the personnel and time to make it work.

    A lot of companies limit their use of social media to handling customer complaints. As long as unhappy customers are willing to vent on Facebook or Twitter, the companies feel they need to address the problem, calm down the complainer, and let the rest of the world know they are concerned. To do that effectively, a company needs to react quickly and take the right tone. That kind of instant, online customer service is certainly important, but it barely scratches the surface of social media’s potential for B2B marketers.

    Content marketing is a perfect match for most B2B clients. Their customers are hungy for information, but not necessarily ready to read or hear a sales pitch. Some of the most common content in B2B landing pages, microsites, blogs and social media marketing includes:

    Adapted from Advertising Creative: Strategy, Copy, Design, 4th edition, Tom Altstiel and Jean Grow

    • Photos
    • Videos
    • Webinars
    • Infographics
    • Infographics
    • Presentations
    • White Papers
    • Case Studies
    • E newsletters
    • Research reports

    The customer profile, product and content dictate which social networking platform to use.


    Infographic by L. Habermehl

    For more detailed information about how to maximize the impact of social media for B2B, contact Bill Elverman, Vice President/Public Relations Director at PKA Marketing.

    Twitter: @IndustrialPrGuy

    Watch for Advertising Creative,
    4th edition–
    January 2016.