Archive for Marketing and Communications

Ohio Mid-Market 100 – Top Ohio Companies in 2018

Middle market companies drive the Ohio economy. According to the Ohio State University National Center for the Middle Market, middle market companies constitute only 3% of the US companies but account for 1/3 of all US jobs. The Montrose Group, LLC, a Columbus, Ohio based economic development and public policy consulting firm, annually develops and publicizes the Ohio Mid-Market 100 list to recognize growing and successful Ohio middle market companies producing high-wage jobs. The Montrose Group, LLC is partnering with the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Ohio (CCEO) to develop the 2018 Ohio Mid-Market 100 list. For 100 years, CCEO has been the central organization for local chambers of commerce executives to network and participate in critical professional development activities. Local chambers of commerce remain where business leaders gather to work together on common business, economic development and public policy issues for the improvement of the community. 2018 Ohio Mid-Market 100 companies must meet the minimum qualifications list below and come from a diverse geographic background across the state.

2018 Ohio Mid-Market 100 Minimum Qualifications:

  • For-profit Ohio-based business
  • Headquartered in the Buckeye State
  • Business pays above average wages, exceeding the national average of $17/hour
  • Business has revenues ranging from $10M to $500M
  • Growth of 20% accumulated over the past 3 years

Get Your Board on Board as Brand Advocates

An engaged board member can be your organization’s greatest ambassador and advocate. How can you ensure your board helps elevate your brand?

In my experience at a Chamber, non-profit group and State agencies, I’ve seen all levels of board and commission member involvement. Some members may be counted on to show up at meetings or write a required check; those are integral contributions to an association. You’ll also find some gems out there; individuals with a passion for your organization who are willing to go the extra mile on your behalf. They are your ambassadors. Your champions.

These are busy people though. Gaining and keeping board members as brand advocates often comes down to making their participation as turn-key as possible. The Montrose Group offers these four tips to get your board on board with brand marketing and PR.

Ensure They’re in the Know

First make sure your members truly understand your organization’s mission. If you don’t already conduct a board orientation, get one on the calendar. Bring in representatives of key departments to share an overview of their responsibilities, and provide the members an opportunity to ask questions.

Then, arm the members with tools to help them advocate. Some organizations I know provide pocket cards with an elevator statement and other key messages—handy for the board members to distribute or refer to when the opportunity arises.

Get Social

By now nearly every professional is on LinkedIn. That’s a great place for your board members to showcase their involvement with your organization.

Ask them to add their board position under the “organizations” section of their profile. There they can include the organization name (which will link back to your company page on LinkedIn), the position, and the time period of their service. In the notes section, they can add boiler plate copy about the organization, as provided by you.

In addition, encourage them to follow your company page, connect with key employees, and strategically share organization news and milestones using their status updates.

To make their involvement even easier, provide members with sample messages to share. You can do this on a monthly or quarterly basis, or to promote initiatives or special events. Make sure to provide images for interest and links to drive visitors to your website. You can even consider hosting a LinkedIn training session for the board.

For those more socially active board members, don’t forget about Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, too.

Make the Case with a Letter to the Editor

Looking to generate awareness for an important issue or respond to a news event? Well-crafted letters to the editor can help your voice be heard, especially if they are written by an influential board member with an expertise on the topic. For efficiency sake, your PR team can help draft the letter for the member’s approval and ensure publication submission requirements are met. Be sure the letter is to the point, effectively uses the board member’s “voice,” does not overtly promote the organization, and is timely.

Bonus: after they are published, letters to the editor make perfect content for social sharing. Ask your board member and his or her organization to share it, too.

Leverage Their Resources and Connections

Chances are the members of your board are a powerful and connected bunch. Associations and organizations with smaller budgets can often leverage their board’s clout beyond typical duties.

For example, does one of your board members have an in-house printing facility? See if they will donate your next batch of marketing collateral. Do they have an in-house video team?  Is there an opportunity to promote your organization on the company website? Can they connect you to resources via their suppliers or vendors?

Encourage your board to think outside of the box, and you may discover ways to stretch your resources.

And a final reminder: say thanks. No matter how your board engages, be sure to express your appreciation for their time, talent and treasure.

Want more marketing and PR tips? Check out the archive on our blog.

5 PR Lessons We Learned from Mom

Many years ago, as I flipped through the recruitment brochure from Ohio State, I came across the field of public relations in the long list of potential majors. I had no idea what it was. I asked my mom for clarification. As it turns out, she had worked in the PR department of an airline, before I came along. She relayed with passion stories from what was her favorite job.

The rest is history. Thanks, mom!

Now with two decades of experience, I can look back and realize that much of what we do in PR centers on lessons we first learned from our moms. In honor of Mother’s Day, let’s discuss the top five.

Listen up.

Moms implore us to listen to them, to teachers, to other authority figures. True listening is a skill that will go a long way. Stephen R. Covey said “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Because public relations is all about relationships, the understanding part is key. Listen intently and understand others’ perspectives, don’t just hear.

Think before you speak. (Or type.)

Never before has it been so important to push the internal pause button before we speak. Your mom probably told you “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Not many abide by that mantra. We’re a reactive society. Don’t say something, hit send or push publish only to regret it later. Our words can live forever on the web. Yes, we have to work quickly in PR, but be thoughtful, too.

Read lots. Then read some more.

Mom (and dad) read to us every day growing up. Reading stimulates your mind, grows your knowledge, and inspires creativity. It also can help you be a better writer. Keep reading and learning– books, blogs and industry publications. (I’m a fan of PRSA’s Public Relations Strategist.) When you’re on the go, “read with your ears.” Podcasts are a great source of information and inspiration, too.

Shift shoes.

“Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” We’re all busy. I get that. But lift your nose up from your screen and consider those around you. In the office, consider the perspectives of your boss, colleagues, clients and stakeholders. In other words, develop empathy for others. This might be the most important skill in PR. It’s highly valued in leaders, as well.


Moms juggle lots of plates. As a working mom and PR pro, I do. It’s hard to keep them all in the air. My mom was (and still is) a master list keeper. Today there are lots of tools and apps to help us stay organized. Trello is my favorite project management tool. But be sure to approach your “to-dos” in a strategic manner. To invoke Covey again, “put first things first.” Tackle the most important priorities before anything else. Delegate where you can. And remember, it’s OK to say no sometimes.

There’s plenty more where these come from. What PR lessons did you learn from mom?

Six Pro-tips for Media Pitching

For years now, we’ve heard thought leaders proclaim that the press release is dead. Is it?

Maybe it should be. But I happen to have a family member in the media, and I asked him about the situation. He estimates that on any given day, 95 percent of the emails he receives are press releases. That’s a lot of inbox clutter. Most of which is deleted on arrival.

Adding to the level of pitching difficulty is the fact that the number of media outlets and journalists sadly gets smaller and smaller. What can a communicator do to breakthrough and get covered?

Be Relevant

This one should be obvious. Make sure what you’re pitching is truly newsworthy, and take time to understand the specific journalist’s area of coverage, the news outlet, and its audience. My family member is a sports reporter. Yet he is bombarded with releases on everything from new food products to political candidates. On occasion, he’ll forward a message to a colleague who might be interested in the release. More often than not, those messages are quickly sent to the trash folder. Don’t add to the clutter. If for some reason you are sending a pitch that is not obviously within the recipient’s beat, explain why you think it might be a fit.

Be Personal

In almost all cases, I’m not a fan of mass distribution methods. Rather than “spray and pray,” personalize your messages. “Relationships” are the crux of PR, after all. Ideally, build those before you’re pitching. Relationships should be mutually beneficial. Send journalists tips for stories not related to your business, congratulate them on well-deserved awards, follow them on social media and share their stories, and find other ways to keep that line of communication open.

Be Creative

Make sure your email subject line stands out as your recipient scans through his or her inbox. Can you tie your pitch to current news or to an upcoming item on their editorial calendar? Include an interesting statistic? You’ve got a second to capture their attention, but also ensure your message is truthful and—never misleading in any way.

Be Succinct

When you’re battling against hundreds of other messages, it pays to keep it short and sweet. After all, we’ve already established that journalists are on email overload. Cover the five Ws in a sentence or two. The reader will tune out if it’s much longer. Bullet points work, too.

Be Visual

It’s a visual world, so think beyond the written word when you send a pitch. Whether you’re targeting a print publication, blogger, radio or TV, chances are, they are looking for images to enhance their stories. Find ways to tell your story with graphics, photos and videos—and you’ll be helping the journalist do his or her job, too.  Embed the links within your email. Do not include attachments.

Don’t be overbearing

Again, think about the volume of press releases and pitches journalists receive every day. More often than not, you won’t hear from them if they are not interested. The journalists I know tell me it’s OK to send a follow-up message. I generally will wait a week or so to do that. Just say no to phone calls and voice mails though.

How will you approach your next pitch? If you need to clean up your press release format, try this template we like from HubSpot.

And remember, Montrose Group is here to help with your marketing and communications programs. Contact us to learn how we can elevate your efforts.

4 Reasons to Nominate Your Organization for Awards

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You’ve probably noticed that we’re in the midst of the award season for the entertainment industry, with all its glitz and glamour. When it comes to the economic development industry, you might say our “Oscars” are the IEDC Excellence in Economic Development Awards.

This program distinguishes the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, as well as the year’s most influential leaders. Winners will be recognized at the 2016 Annual Conference in Cleveland this September. And the call for entries is now open. The early bird deadline is April 8, and the final deadline is May 13.

Is your community or economic development organization planning to submit an entry? If you haven’t considered it, we offer four reasons why awards can be an important part of your marketing and communications strategy.

Opportunity for reflection

Submitting an award entry is a perfect time to step back and analyze your accomplishments of the last year. What projects or programs stand out as successes? Which ones can be improved upon? As you compile your nomination, you’ll likely be required to provide measurements, which also are useful as you determine future direction. For example, the IEDC Excellence in Economic Development Awards application will require that you share details about the impact of your project, its effectiveness and any tangible and/or intangible results and value added.

Third-party validation

When your community or organization receives an award, it serves an automatic boost to your credibility. Rather than tooting your own horn, you can showcase that industry peers and experts judged and endorsed your work. As an award recipient, you can spread the news of your honor via social media, in a press release, in your publications, on your website, etc.

Community advancement

Everyone loves to be associated with a winner. When you receive an award for excellence in economic development, it creates a definitive competitive advantage. Use it to bolster community pride and enhance your retention and attraction efforts.

Employee and volunteer recognition

Economic development is a tough business. Your team works every day for the betterment of your community. Why not give them a reason to put a feather in their caps? Nominating your programs and partnerships is a great way to celebrate their successes—and build morale. Consider the IEDC’s leadership and honorary awards in categories such as young professional, public service and citizen leadership for truly exceptional individual contributions.

Don’t be afraid to get the recognition you deserve. If you need assistance with your community’s marketing and public relations initiatives, contact us for more information.

In addition to the, IEDC Excellence in Economic Development Awards, the Mid-America Economic Development Council and Ohio Economic Development Association also host award programs. Watch for details on their nomination process later this year.

Montrose Group, LLC Adds Marketing to Services, Expands Team

_DSC1763-crop-sm2Clients of the Montrose Group, LLC can now receive expert marketing and communications counsel and services from the firm thanks to the newest addition to our team. Michelle Bretscher, APR, has joined the firm as director of client marketing.

In her new role, Michelle will create and implement marketing and public relations programs to advance clients’ organizational goals tied to economic development, policy, and business development opportunities. Services will include message development, media relations, social media, stakeholder communications, content creation, communication audits, event planning, speech writing, and collateral development.

“This move demonstrates the Montrose Group, LLC’s commitment to helping our clients grow and succeed by strategically expanding our service offering,” said David Robinson, principal and founder, Montrose Group. “Michelle is a respected marketing and communications industry veteran, and her experience will be a valuable asset to our clients.”

Michelle comes to the Montrose Group, LLC with more than 20 years of experience. She previously served as vice president of marketing at the Columbus Chamber and also held positions within agency, corporate, and state government organizations. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University and is a member of the 2011 class of Leadership Columbus. She has served on the board of the Central Ohio Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and earned the APR designation from that group.

Contact Michelle at to learn how the Montrose Group, LLC can assist with your marketing and communications needs. You can also connect with Michelle on LinkedIn and Twitter.