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In each issue of this blog, we discuss essential strategies and tactics for effective marketing and communication. We also will introduce important topics related to our clients’ work, designed to promote increased understanding and awareness of today’s most vital issues.

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Telling Your Sustainability Story

Posted by jfw1mpac7 on April 22, 2014

By Julia Ferguson Wilkens 


Sustainability is often treated as just another marketing fad but, rest assured, it is here to stay and will only grow more important with time.  There is an increasingly desperate need for all of us — individual citizens of the world, governments, and businesses alike — to step up our efforts to care for our natural resources and our fellow man, as these resources dwindle and the world population balloons. Sustainability's importance is rising for consumers and business partners, too, as a deciding factor for which products to buy, which companies to invest in, and which causes to support. Thus, it makes good ethical and business sense for organizations to engage in initiatives to improve their sustainability, and to raise awareness of their efforts among their stakeholders.

How can your organization communicate effectively about your sustainability efforts? Here are a few tips to guide the way.

1. Create a sustainability report that highlights your organization's efforts.

This report can be styled after an annual report, or it can be a simple fact sheet. Sustainability is no longer an afterthought for your consumers, clients, and investors so make it easy for them to see how you are reducing your environmental impact or supporting your community. Impact has loads of experience writing reports that are highly educational and still emotional and evocative, and we'd love to lend a hand if your organization is considering a sustainability report of some kind.

2. Get a handle on green branding rules and regulations.

Environmental labeling can be a land mine for organizations trying to use green claims or endorsements to promote their products or organizations. This primer from the International Organization of Standardization can help you navigate these choppy waters to ensure that you are promoting claims that are meaningful to your consumer and staying within regulations.

3. Above all else, remain authentic and don't overreach in your sustainability messaging.

Let's face it, if your organization is doing anything that creates waste or pollution, you're not helping the environment.  Painting your company as more environmentally friendly than it is for the sake or public relations or marketing is called "greenwashing."  If you're negatively affecting the environment — take responsibility and show how you are taking steps to improve your organization's footprint. 


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Content Marketing

Posted by bc1mpac7 on April 2, 2014

What it is and why you should care


By Barbara Baker Clark

Content marketing is the process of building a relationship with targeted prospects by giving away valuable content. The idea is that potential customers will find value in the content and overcome their skepticism (more on that later) about your for-sale products and services.

Content marketing is so hot right now that an overwhelming number of marketers are scrambling to put together a program. Two recent surveys show just how loud the buzz is:   

  • 93% of marketers (B2B) told the Content Marketing Institute that they are currently using content marketing, up from 91% last year.
  • Marketers (both B2B and B2C) recently told Curata that they spent 30% of their overall budget on content marketing in 2013; 71% of them also said they plan to increase that percentage in 2014.

Content marketing is not a new concept

Content marketing as an outreach strategy is not new; it has been used for decades. Over the years, every time Campbell’s® soup gave away a recipe, the company was engaging in content marketing. Whenever a newsletter publisher gave away a sample issue, it was content marketing. And whenever a service provider gave a presentation to an industry group or hosted an event, it was content marketing.

What is new is the type and reach of content available

The difference today is the number of available format options. In addition to traditional content such as white papers, product samples, events, presentations and reports, marketers can choose to develop:   

  • eBooks
  • eNewsletters
  • Digital magazines
  • Online presentations
  • Social media posts
  • Blogs
  • Webinars or Webcasts
  • Microsites
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Apps
  • Games
  • And more

We also have so many more options for distribution, including social networks, video channels, photo-sharing sites, online communities and niche content sharing sites. And that’s just what’s available currently; new content channels continue to debut regularly.

Content marketing can help you reach more customers

Content marketing is getting so much buzz lately because it addresses increasing consumer skepticism. The average person is assaulted with a barrage of 577 new marketing messages per week and retains less than 1% of those, according to Content marketing is a way to break through that noise and convince consumers that you are the real deal.

This is why content marketing is increasingly relevant. It’s also why so many marketers will continue to invest in it heavily for the foreseeable future.

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Fighting Back Against 2 Killers

Posted by jbockelman on February 18, 2014

Join us in supporting the AMA’s effort to conquer cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes

AMA-img.pngBy Julia Ferguson Wilkens

At Impact, we have always believed in promoting worthy causes and issues. So when we heard that the American Medical Association has launched a major campaign focused on improving health outcomes for two of the nation’s most prevalent issues—cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes—we definitely wanted to learn more.

According to the AMA, these two disease burdens cost our health care system more than $535 billion dollars annually. Even more distressing, cardiovascular disease causes one-third of all deaths in the United States each year; and more than one-third of all adults currently have prediabetes or diabetes.

Check out more of these disturbing facts:

  • About one in three adults—an estimated 70 million Americans—has high blood pressure.

  • About one of every six adult Americans has high cholesterol.

  • Nearly 26 million people live with diabetes in the United States—8.3 percent of the population.

  • An estimated one in three U.S. adults—about 79 million people—has prediabetes.

  • If current trends continue, one in three U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050.

The AMA will begin its work on improving health outcomes by addressing key risk factors for both disease burdens, as well as collaborating with other organizations to develop new approaches for risk reduction and connecting patients to care.

It will also work to support key Federal government initiatives—including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Million Hearts initiative and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program. And it will collaborate with private organizations such as the YMCA and the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins University.

What can you do? Educate yourself about the devastating effects of these diseases and make a personal commitment to get yourself and your loved ones screened. Also, join us in spreading the word to colleagues, family, and friends.

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Error-free Emails

Posted by jbockelman on February 18, 2014

Before you hit send, follow these fast proofing tips

By Barbara Baker Clark

The average office worker writes 40 email messages each day, according to Baydin, creator of the calendar assistant Boomerang. Chances are that several of those messages contain mistakes in spelling, punctuation, or grammar.

Does it really matter? Researchers asked people to assess a sample message from the “HR director of a large accounting firm.” Some participants reviewed a message with mistakes, while others reviewed the same message without mistakes. Other groups reviewed the same incorrect and correct versions but also with or without the common signature line “Sent from my iPhone.”

Results showed a significant drop in credibility for the person sending a message with mistakes. Interestingly, the drop-off was much smaller when the error-filled message was sent with the iPhone signature. It seems we all understand the pressure to act quickly, so we give each other extra leeway when we know someone is responding on the go.

That said the study shows that typos do matter. When we haven’t met the recipient previously, for example, or when we are sending an important document to a large group of people, it’s especially vital to get it right.

In those situations, taking a few minutes to review your message before you hit send can protect your credibility. Here are my favorite quick tactics for spotting errors:

  1. Leave the room. Take a five minute break and come back to it. You’ll be surprised how much more you will “see” after just a few minutes.

  2. Read it aloud. This is my all time favorite proofing tip—especially for uncovering grammar or syntax errors. In addition to spotting errors, you’ll also discover if your tone isn’t as friendly as it could be.

  3. Blow it up. If your email application allows you to enlarge your view screen, it can be quite effective to increase the font size so that you can check your message sentence by sentence.

Of course, these tricks of the trade work just as well when you have more time or when you are reviewing longer documents—such as slide presentations, reports, proposals, and so on.

One final note: Always check spelling on names, several times if necessary. This is arguably the most important element to review because of the poor impression it makes. And although the spell checker typically will highlight names, it can’t tell you if you got it right!

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Optimizing Search Engine Results

Posted by jbockelman on February 4, 2014

Why SEO is so important and what you can do about it

By Barbara Baker Clark

target.pngSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) describes the process of ensuring that a Website or other content appears as high as possible on the lists of organic (or unpaid) results for searches. So why is SEO important?

First of all, millions of people are researching even the smallest decisions on search engines. Companies such as Google are logging billions of individual searches per day. Naturally, it’s in the best interest of companies large and small to appear on those search results, and they need to appear as high as possible to obtain the most traffic—effectively increasing sales and attention.

Someone once said that creating a Website but not investing in search strategies is like building a brick-and-mortar store, but not putting a sign out front. However, it can be a complicated process. Search engines frequently change their algorithms and the intricacies of SEO can be just technical enough to confuse even the most tech-savvy professionals.

At Impact, we’re always available to help companies with their specific SEO needs. In the meantime, here are four important SEO principles to remember:

  • Use keywords. Identify keywords that would direct someone using a search engine to your site. The job of any SEO guru is to identify the most important words and phrases for promoting company services, and then distribute them liberally throughout a Website’s headlines, document headers, URLs, and source code to optimize rankings.

  • Think like a customer. When identifying keywords, ask yourself: “What would my audience search for?” Better yet, ask your audience! Conducting focus groups or surveys are simple but effective ways to ensure that you accurately capture the way your audience thinks about your company’s products or services. You can also check out Google Trends; it will tell you which words or phrases are “trending” up or down lately.

  • For some businesses, it’s all about location. Consider an independent, local retailer: Customers are not searching for a store that is hundreds of miles away. They are searching for specific services or products located in their neighborhoods. So if you’re a local business, make certain to place your address on every page, register with local directories, and use local keywords.

  • Optimize postings, too. Writing a blog or posting a press release? Make sure you include keywords in your headlines and links within your post. Consider using an SEO plugin, which can insert appropriate meta tags and link elements automatically. Some examples include WordPress plugins such as Yoast and All in One SEO.
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