Connecting the dots for media connections

January 17th, 2014

HARO_logoPR involves strategy, research, media connections and timing, as well as having the right tools to allow you to connect the dots for a reporter looking for an expert or a great angle on a story. We’ve mentioned (HARO), before—a free service where reporters and producers request specific interview sources and list topics they’re writing about.

We often respond to requests for a healthcare expert on HARO on behalf of our parent company, HFS Consultants. As a healthcare consulting company, HFS employs numerous experts specializing in healthcare management, operations and strategic planning.

With a brief, well-crafted email, we connect our in-house expert with the reporter, and the result is a more powerful and credible story for the publication, and more visibility and perception of expertise for our client.

Read the rest of this entry »

Five Marketing Trends to Watch in 2014

January 7th, 2014

vectorstock_1611257editWe’ve gathered trend-related commentary and editorial from respected sources across the marketing communications sphere.  These voices echo the trends we believe bear watching and acting upon in 2014.


Read the rest of this entry »

Using Web Fonts for a Modern, Polished Look

December 30th, 2013

open sans

Web fonts have come a long way in a few short years, allowing web designers a great deal more flexibility in design than when we were locked into choosing between Verdana, Arial, Georgia, Times and a few others. They’re a great option to improve the look of your website.

Typekit and other fee-based services offer beautiful fonts for display on websites and are a great choice for a custom website design; however, if you’re on a budget, Google Web Fonts offers designers hundreds of typefaces for free. We don’t recommend using multiple web typefaces in a site: stick with a couple weights in one or two families to keep performance speedy.

In no particular order, here are some of our current favorites, along with recent sites we’ve used them in.  Read the rest of this entry »

Content Marketing Can Build Your Business

December 18th, 2013

As we approach 2014, many business executives are asking what they can do to get their audiences to notice them. Of course, there is no one answer for all businesses. The most effective strategy is usually determined by clearly defining the target audience of a business, the demographics of that audience and what it has responded to over time.

Deciding Who To Do Business With
For those companies whose audiences do research in order to become well informed before purchasing a product or buying a service, content marketing is often an important element to include in marketing communication outreach. In a study of over 1,400 B2B customers, the Corporate Executive Board found that customers are 57% through their buying process before they make contact with a company. This supports the idea that companies can benefit by having content that helps customers do their research and reach a buying decision.

Content Marketing Elements for Bay Area IT Company
Creating an effective content marketing program takes thought and strategic planning. With our client, Clare Computer Solutions, a San Francisco Bay Area business technology service provider, offering IT consulting and on-demand IT services to businesses, we developed a content marketing program developed around the company’s service areas that repeatedly drew customer interest. The content marketing program focuses on one service area or topic per quarter.

In the first phase of the Clare Computer content marketing program, the focus was on disaster recovery and business continuity.  This topic was chosen because it was evident that the company’s clients were researching and calling with questions about what to do in the event of a network outage, server crash, malware attack and other scenarios.  Elements of the content marketing program included, a white paper, “Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: What You Need to Know,” several blogs on the topic, including one with video, a blog incorporating an infographic, as well as a press release focusing on the company adding Datto SIRIS, a backup, disaster recovery/business continuity vendor. In addition, the company promoted its content via email newsletters, social media, webinars, case studies and lunch n’ learn seminars.


Content Marketing in 2014
In 2014, we will continue with Clare Computer’s content marketing program, focusing on one topic per quarter, beginning with the technology refresh topic, which is very timely as a result of Microsoft no longer supporting Windows XP after April 2014.

Our content marketing work with Clare Computer is an example of how we work with companies to help increase awareness and build businesses. Content marketing will continue to be a hot topic in 2014, and there will be many individuals and companies selling content marketing services.  However, not all of them know how to build and execute an effective program.  Be sure to choose a team that will work with you to define and reach your audience and help your business to grow.

Related Articles on Creating Online Business Success
Creating SEO Programs That Equal Business Success
Get Readers to Your Blog: Content Marketing


New Websites Launched for MPA Networks and the Greater Broadway District

November 13th, 2013

We’re pleased to announce new websites designed, developed and launched by Placemaking Group.

Celebrating MPA Networks‘ 30-year anniversary with a new site and commemorative logo design. Learn more on our portfolio »


Sacramento’s Greater Broadway District’s new website showcases its unique style and eclectic businesses. Learn more on our portfolio »

Six Ingredients to Creating an Engaging Speech

October 31st, 2013

Why are some speakers very engaging and inspiring and others leave their audiences searching for a way to exit the room? What the are the key ingredients to delivering an engaging speech that is persuasive and motivates people to action? Here are six key elements for giving a speech that will engage the audience and keep people in their seats.

  1. Build Interest Immediately
    To grab the audience’s attention right away, begin your speech by telling a story, a humorous observation (be sure it’s in good taste), or a fascinating statistic that relates to your topic.
  2. Present A Preview
    Now that you the audience is attentive, give them a bullet-point overview of what you are going to talk about and what they will learn.
  3. Showcase Your Credibility
    Show the audience that you are a credible source by referring to an actual example of your work that highlights your expertise. Share industry research to let the audience know that you are current in your field. When executives at San Francisco Bay Area business IT consulting firm, Clare Computer Solutions, speak to audiences on topics such as cloud computing, disaster recovery and business continuity, they share real world stories that businesses have experienced.
  4. Show How the Topic Impacts the Audience
    People often attend a speech because they want information on solving a problem, accomplishing a task, or gaining an understanding of a situation or issue. Be prepared to provide how-to information. When Placemaking Group’s CEO, Dennis Erokan, gives his Get Famous speech, he directly  interacts with the audience, helping them to fill out a Branding Blueprint document, providing them with what we call “Brand Therapy,” or  a road map to set them on a path to define their brand, the first step on the quest for gaining notoriety.
  5. Use Social Media
    Add to the audience’s level of engagement, and at the same time earn some free advertising for yourself, by suggesting they tweet information in your speech that they find useful.
  6. Ask Questions
    Before you conclude your speech, take time to ask the audience to state what they found useful and what they learned that they can take immediate action on. After you do this a few times, you may discover specific statements that are expressed by most audiences. List those on one of your final PowerPoint slides and show it following the audience discussion to review and add any further thoughts or ideas.

Speaker Coaching
Are audiences glazing over, or worse, falling asleep when you give a speech? Need help organizing your presentation? Scared to speak in front of groups? Stage fright? Dennis Erokan provides speaker coaching. Call 510-835-7900 ext. 203, or email him at: to schedule your speaker coaching appointment.





Who’s in charge of social media?

October 8th, 2013

SocialMedialogosWho is in charge of social media in your company? That’s a question that is still stumping people all over the country! The Creative Group recently did a survey asking marketing and advertising executives that question. The results were all over the map. No surprise there!

As Erik Sass reported in his blog, The Social Graf, 39% thought that social media belongs in the public relations group. But, 35% thought it should be in the marketing department, 15% thought it should be in customer service, 5% thought the CEO should be in charge, and 6% didn’t know! Read the rest of this entry »

Good Communication and Messaging Can Help Lead to Change

September 27th, 2013

Fear of change is always something that is an issue when you are running a company or a team. This can be tough to deal with when someone new comes into a leadership position or when the world around you needs you to change. Your group usually wants things to remain the same.

The world of healthcare is going through that world of change right now. And what the successful change leaders are doing is making sure there is a lot of genuine communication going on. That is one of the best ways to make cultural change happen.

HFMA_logoLast week, at the Northern California Chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association conference four people dealing with change right now led a panel discussion. The panel included:

* Deborah Aronoff – Vice President, Performance Excellence, Kaiser Permanente, Northern California Region
* Stephen Chun – Managing Director, Lean Consulting Associates LLC
* Cynthia Chiarappa – Vice President Strategy, Children’s Hospital of Oakland
* MJ Marijane White – Director, Performance Excellence at University of California-San Francisco Medical Center

Read the rest of this entry »

Creating SEO Programs That Equal Business Success

September 17th, 2013

For most businesses, SEO or search engine optimization is essential to online success. Businesses offering products or services to the general public, or business sectors that target the public, should implement an SEO program. Companies or individuals  not primarily relying on web traffic to build their businesses, and that are marketing exclusively through direct face-to-face contact, or receiving abundant referrals, might not need to invest as heavily in SEO. However, they can still benefit from an SEO program in order to build awareness of their services.

The reason to invest in SEO is that if potential customers or clients are looking for your type of business, they are going to do a search on Google, Yahoo or Bing. They are going to search via their laptops, desktops or smart phones. They will search with keywords that they think relate to your kind of business, and they will most often search with their location (city or county) as part of the search, as that keeps them local. The results of this search will be displayed by the engines in pages of ten listings on each page. You want your business to be on that first page of results, near the top of the results, as high as possible so that you are noticed most quickly by the person doing the search. And when they click through to your site, you have your first opportunity to sell to them. In addition, visitors assume that since your site is near the top of the rankings results,  you are there because you are among the best.

There are two processes that are key to online business success.

The first of these is excellent search engine ranking. This is your first level of advertising, and that is very important to realize. SEO is targeted advertising, and it is extraordinarily valuable to bringing in new business.

The second process is your site’s visitor-to-customer conversion—the total elements of your site design, copy, call to action, special offers that psychologically convert a visitor to a customer. This is akin to having a brick and mortar environment that is compelling and comforting to your guests, clients or customers–so much so that they want to buy your wares or services. The SEO is a targeted advertising campaign that brings them to your door.

Developing high caliber SEO brings potential customers or clients to your online door because you’re ranked in the top positions on the first two pages of Google, Yahoo or Bing. Achieving that SEO ranking is a true joining of art and science. Art, in that the copy on the pages of your site needs to be written using keyword phrases that people will search for and that the engines recognize as relevant to the authentic service you are providing. Science, in that the engines are coded algorithms, just statements and statements of code that are analyzing billions of pages of content. No human looks at your site to determine how you are to be ranked. The algorithms do that. So SEO science requires an expert knowledge of how to speak to those algorithms.

At The Placemaking Group, we successfully combine the art and science to build effective SEO programs that drive traffic to your website and can result in new customers and increased sales.

Post written by James R. Acker, SEO Specialist

Related posts


A Commemorative Logo Conveys Clear Brand Message

August 30th, 2013

MPA_IT_STRONG_horz_WhiteBorder_WEBIn October 2013, our client MPA Networks is celebrating 30 years of providing above-and-beyond IT managed services to companies in San Francisco and the Peninsula. Business longevity such as this is no small feat for any company and is a key differentiator  for MPA in the highly competitive Bay Area.

To commemorate the event, MPA Networks came to us with a request for a 30-year logo mark they could use on their website, email signature, marketing materials, work shirts and assorted specialty items. We responded with a strong brand message integrated into a logo design that’s graphically impactful and quickly conveys the service they offer and their company’s 30 years of service. The client loves it. We do too.

Our hats are off to you MPA Networks.  Here’s to another 30.


Blog post by Dianne Newton-Shaw, Account Supervisor

Related posts:

Brand Message You Remember

Build your Brand with Video