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CAM00035Hello! My name is Arantza Calligari and I am one of the new interns here at Pushing the Envelope. I am a communications major, with minors in marketing, advertising and philosophy. I attend Florida Gulf Coast University or, if you watched last season of College Basketball, Dunk City!

I am outgoing, competitive, athletic and love being outdoors. My passion in life centers on the ocean and helping others. My favorite activity is combining my two passions and getting involved in causes such as Surfers For Autism, where I’ve helped children and young adults with autism and related special abilities spend the day surfing and enjoying the waters on Fort Myers Beach. I began as a communication major focusing on public relations; since I am always talking, I figured it was a great fit. Yet when I took my first marketing class, I was fascinated with the thought of building and maintaining relationships; I connected it with my passion of helping others.

As I drove to my internship for the first time, I was anxious and exited to apply the principles I had learned in the classroom to real life situations. On my first day, just hearing Samantha and Tiffany talk to each other about upcoming campaigns for their clients was rewarding. What I’ve learned so far is that knowing a marketing principle and knowing how to apply it is completely different. I feel as if I have so much to learn and I couldn’t be in a better place to do it. I foresee ten weeks of non-stop learning, fun projects and great mentors.  I look forward to gaining experience strategically, working with and utilizing social media to reach S.M.A.R.T. goals.

I am so fortunate to have such an incredible opportunity to learn the ins and outs of marketing and communications. I can’t wait to share this experience and everything I learn with you. Lets get pushing!

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CAM00012For the last year, I have kept telling myself that I have time to find a job, and an apartment, and all things related to graduating and truly becoming an adult and a member of the “real world”. As it turns out, a year goes by faster than one thinks. However, on the cusp of graduation, I can find solace in the fact that I am building a strong resume with Pushing the Envelope.

Before I tell you about my internship with Pushing the Envelope, let me give you a quick tour of…well, me! I was born in Bombay, India, but spent the first nine years of my life in Dayton, Ohio. When I was nine years old, my family moved down to Naples, Florida, where we have been ever since. I will be graduating from Florida Gulf Coast University in the spring of this year (2014), with a major in Marketing and a double minor in Advertising and Information Systems & Operations Management. In my free time, I love reading, traveling, binge-watching TV shows on Netflix (it’s kind of a bad habit), spending time with family and friends, doing anything “arts & craftsy”, playing tennis and watching football. After graduation, I hope to work for an advertising or marketing firm, specifically with something involving athletics and social media!

I am so excited to be joining the team at Pushing the Envelope! I truly believe this internship will help me develop my skills, both in the business world and otherwise. For example, this internship will help me hone in on my social skills including how to work with different clients.

Given that my true career passion lies in advertising and anything social media related, I can’t wait to learn more about the influences social media has on how a company does business as well as the different ways to successfully apply social media on a professional – as opposed to personal – level. In addition to learning more about social media marketing, I am also excited to be exposed to other components of marketing that I know less about, such as PR, branding, copywriting, as well as web design and development. This internship will help me become a well-rounded marketing professional. I think it’s safe to say that when May 10th rolls around, I will have the knowledge I need to walk across the graduation stage with confidence in my ability to pursue my passion in marketing and advertising!

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CAM00009On one of the foggiest mornings I’ve seen in the two years I’ve lived in Fort Myers, FL, I drove to my first day as an intern at Pushing the Envelope. Looking back, it feels like I have been driving here for the past two years, as there were many detours along the way.

As a young girl, I saw silly commercials and terrible magazine adds thinking, “I can do better than this.” Never did I think that could possibly be something I would want to pursue as an actual career. With much trial and error, and possibly more than a few changes in my chosen major, I have finally found what I am passionate about and am excited to be learning from people who share my same passions.

This is actually my second dip in the marketing intern pool; previously doing two summers as an intern in the marketing department at Moss and Associates, a very successful commercial construction company. However, my experiences there were a very different type of marketing. I am interested in exploring the other avenues of the industry, such as the use of social media, branding, public relations and website analytics. After doing my own research, I couldn’t think of any better place for me to learn the ins and outs of mixed-marketing.

Finally, here I am eager to soak in all they have to offer and teach. As a very impressive company, I know that all they have to instill in me will only help me to thrive in the future world of marketing. I hope to take every day here as a new learning experience and never a routine. I am very grateful for this opportunity and would like to thank Samantha, Tiffany and everyone at Pushing the Envelope for taking their time to teach my internship team and me.

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samantha scott, apr, public relations fort myers

 

 

 

 

By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner

It’s during this time of year that we think about the changing of seasons (even though we can’t see it here in Florida), holidays, family gatherings and generally a full work and personal schedule. Do we take time to also think about those less fortunate, right in our community?

Just the CanAt Pushing the Envelope, we do. I don’t share this to brag, but to inspire you and perhaps seek your support. Tomorrow, Friday, October 25, we will kick off our 3rd Annual CAN IT! Campaign, a food drive to benefit Community Cooperative Ministries and those in the community they serve. Our goal is to collect 1,000 non-perishable food items to be donated just before Thanksgiving. Last year we were honored to exceed this goal and helped many people along the way.

This isn’t just a shameless plug, however. Some of you may be wondering, what does this have to do with public relations, marketing, etc. as that’s what this blog is about. It has quite a lot to do with it in fact.

What is your company doing to help others this year? Or dare I ask, what has it ever done? Successful PeopleI wrote a post last year about giving back and the PR benefits. Helping others goes beyond making you “feel good” or providing a momentary reprieve or assistance. If you do a fund raiser, sponsor an event, do a food drive as a business these are all what we call “goodwill building opportunities.” You are showing your employees, your stakeholders, the community in which you live (which likely includes potential customers or clients) that you care and are willing to give up a little time or money for a worthy cause.

If you are in the Southwest Florida community, I would ask you to consider donating to our food drive (here’s your shameless plug), but also to consider doing something on your own too. If you are outside the Southwest Florida market, you can help others too. Maybe there’s not enough time to do it this holiday season, but now is the time to start planning for next year!

Imagine how we could change the world if we all committed to helping just one person. Happy holidays – and happy helping!

 

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Alex Fernandez

 

 

 

By: Alex Fernandez

Internet Marketing Strategist

We’ve all probably heard the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” at least once or twice. It was popularized by a Mr. Bert Lance, Director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Carter administration of the ‘70s.

Just because it isn’t broke doesn’t mean it should remain the same, however.

Anything can be optimized, or made better. Just because something is working well, it doesn’t need to be left alone. This applies to marketing communications just as it does to a nation’s finances, or even simple consumer products.

computer evolutionTake the fan, for example, which Dyson now makes sans-blades called “Air Multipliers” in order to remove an unpleasant effect they call “buffeting”. Most people probably weren’t aware that their fans were “unpleasant” until Dyson optimized the design. Miller Genuine Draft has even optimized their beer can to provide a smoother pour, calling it the “Push Top Can.” Both products weren’t broken, but the brands optimized them to create new marketing opportunities.

It would seem that today’s trend is following the maxim, “If it ain’t broke… OPTIMIZE it!” In some ways, the constant churning of new ideas can come across as cheesy or gimmicky. However, this marketer would much prefer the risk of being gimmicky, over the risk of complacency. While there have been instances of backfire (such as “New Coke”), for the most part, a competitive market demands innovation.

Optimization by PTE

This actually ties in with what PTE does for our clients, right here in Fort Myers, Florida (and beyond). As a marketing communications firm, we are constantly optimizing our communications efforts. In my day-to-day goings-on, I’m constantly optimizing clients’ websites and content strategies. Just last month, we had a client praising us for a high return on the previous month. When awesome things like that happens, it doesn’t mean, “Good enough, you can stop now”… It means “keep pushing the boundaries, because you’re onto something!”

Optimization is what “Pushing the Envelope” stands for in a lot of ways. It involves going beyond doing “what works” and finding new, creative ways to accomplish our clients goals. Optimization also creates the best possible experience for the customer, by providing them with additional value or utility.

How can we “push the envelope” or optimize for you?

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samantha scott, apr, public relations fort myers

 

 

 

By: Samantha Scott, APR

Grand Poobah / Owner

For those of you working for national brands the question sometimes arises, “do we really need a local PR person or local PR effort?” Sometimes the answer is “no,” but sometimes the answer is “yes” and it all comes down to the scenario.

Matt Hyde, President & CEO of West Marine with Mayor Randall P. Henderson, Jr. of Fort Myers (photo credit: Vandy Major)

Matt Hyde, President & CEO of West Marine with Mayor Randall P. Henderson, Jr. of Fort Myers (photo credit: Vandy Major)

One prime example is work we did with West Marine when they opened their Fort Myers flagship store in 2012. An international brand with locations all over the country and existing presence in the Fort Myers market, their communications team sought out local public relations assistance.

Why? They understood the two primary benefits:

 

  1. Having a local PR presence means having people on hand, in the town you’re working in to handle situations as they arise – a face and person, not just a name and email address.
  2. Local PR people have local connections. We know area journalists, media outlets and the market better than any media database could ever know.

Big brands tend to have more people and often times more money to spend on communications and outreach to the markets in which they do business, but it doesn’t always mean they have the necessary, critical connections to journalists, media outlets, consumers and stakeholders that make the biggest impact. We were able to help West Marine because we could pinpoint their audience, the key media that delivered messages to that audience and facilitate other arrangements (music, venue, community participation).

Scott Fischer, CEO & Founder of Scott Fischer Enterprises with members of local media in Huntsville, AL.

Scott Fischer, CEO and Founder of Scott Fischer Enterprises with members of local media in Huntsville, AL.

Local public relations DOES matter for national brands – if they are new to a market, want to foster new relationships or, in some cases, mend relationships with consumers or media. We’ve also been called on to aid in local public relations and crisis communications for national brands when something goes awry at a specific location. In those cases, having someone who knows the surrounding circumstances, mindset of the community and its residents, but can also speak on behalf of the brand is critical.

At PTE, we work with large and small companies, local start-ups and national, even international brands. The opportunities we’ve had (and currently have) to work with national brands are all unique, but have all benefited from a strong, well connected and professional local presence. (In fact we even won awards for some of them!)

If you’re interested in gaining exposure for your national (or local) company, or just want to talk about public relations, get in touch. We’d be glad to help.

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PSBI-AIME-V-4cInterested in getting tips on multi-media communications, marketing strategies, and other insights from inside the envelope? Check out upcoming events Pushing the Envelope will be speaking at by visiting getpushing.com/speaking-events!

We just completed a presentation at the Women’s Leadership Forum and have an exciting series of presentations coming up at the American International Motorcycle Expo in Orlando next month! Stay tuned and we hope to see you soon.

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samantha scott, apr, public relations fort myers

 

 

By: Samantha Scott, APR

Grand Poobah

At Pushing the Envelope we encourage others, including our clients, to really go above and beyond. Go above what your customers expect, go outside the standard norm, try new things, push yourself and try to do the same internally.

That being said, we made a big shift in 2009 when I took over the everyday helm of the business from Derek. Since then, we’ve worked hard to grow the business and with God’s blessing and the support of many you reading this, we have!

OSD MBE CertificateI’m excited to share with you today we’ve taken another leap forward and are now officially Certified by the State of Florida as a Statewide and Inter-Local Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) in the Woman Owned Business category.

According to the Florida Department of Management Services, “State certification is Florida’s premier stamp of approval for minority, women, and service-disabled veteran business enterprises. It is widely accepted across the State of Florida in the private sector as well as cities, counties, school districts, hospitals, water management districts and other quasi governmental entities. Additionally, the certification process is one of the most “user-friendly” applications in the State of Florida.”

We’re proud to serve our community and proud to add to our list of certifications and credentials. If we can help you, just let us know!

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samantha scott, apr, public relations fort myers

 

 

By: Samantha Scott, APR

Grand Poobah / President

Summertime, even the word, tends to bring thoughts of lazy days, rope swings, lemonade and fun times, but we can’t just stop our businesses because of a season change! So, what should you do if your business is in Southwest Florida (or really anywhere) and it’s summertime, and perhaps, business has slowed a bit. Sink into a comfy chair and wait? No! Leverage the downtime to get your marketing in order.

Take a vacation, get a little break in, but then get to work. Summertime is the perfect time to access marketing efforts from the first half of the year and plan for the second half, and even beyond. Here are a few examples of some summertime activities that could help your business succeed and possibly grow in the second half of the year, or in “season” as we refer to it in Southwest Florida.

Take Stock

What did you and your company work on in the first half of the year (increasing awareness, increasing sales, adding services)? What tactics or strategies did you employ (new marketing techniques, public relations efforts, new social media channels)? Was there a plan involved or was it reactionary (did you do it because it was planned or an internal idea or as a result of something in the market)? By taking a few moments, maybe a day and reflecting on what the goals, plans, and ultimately, the outcomes, were from the first half of the year you are better equipped to move forward. Take note of any peaks or valleys (in sales, activity, web traffic, engagement, etc.) and try to determine what caused those – and how you could potentially duplicate or avoid them in the future.

Look Around

When was the last time you pulled your head up from the grindstone and took a look around at your competitors? At your target audience? These are critical activities that often get overlooked as we work “in our business” rather than “on it”. Have your competitors added new services, products or locations or have they pulled back, making more market share available for you? What about your customers? Are they still the same demographic profile as when you started your business or have you (or they) changed?

Measure

With so many measurement systems available these days, many of them free, it still amazes me how few companies use them. While in this reflective time, take a hard look at the impact of your efforts in the first half of the year. We’ve addressed what you DID, now let’s look at what that RESULTED in. Google Analytics would be a good place to start as well as sales. Were there any correlations, peaks, valleys or plateaus? What about staffing? Did you hire or lose staff? Were marketing efforts in full swing until Easter (when the snowbirds started to head north) and then drop off in May? The only way you can truly know the effects of your business development and marketing efforts is to measure them! Get the data, charts, sales figures and determine what happened and where you are currently so you can accurately move forward.

Plan for Your Success

SMART conceptNotice I didn’t just say “plan” or “develop a plan”. I would encourage you to plan for your success. Don’t fall into the cliche “failure to plan is planning to fail.” You got this! Take what you have learned and develop a strategic plan with a goal or goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. It sounds overwhelming, but without a road map you are sure to end up other than where you’d planned. Once you have an outline, apply it to a time line (6 months or even a year) and start assigning responsible parties. It’s virtually impossible to do this on your own, so rally the troops and get people involved. When the business succeeds, everyone benefits, so it’s in their best interest too!

 

Need help or not sure where to get started? We can help! Pushing the Envelope, Inc. offers consulting, needs assessments, planning and a host of other services to help you get your marketing in gear. How can we help you learn from your past and current efforts and develop a strong, strategic plan for the future? Give us a call 239.221.2858.

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Photo By Brian Tietz...Photo by Brian Tietz

By: Annette Venditti

Communications Ally

The new year is nearly upon us and we suggest taking some time away from opening gifts and eating sugar cookies to create your 2013 New Year’s Goals & Resolutions list for your personal and business needs. Each new year is the perfect time to focus on that “to-do” list that is still not done and add some creative items as we move into the new year.

We have put together 13 suggested Goals & Resolutions for 2013, so feel free to borrow these ideas as well as add a few of your own personal favorites:

1. Get Healthy: Personal & Business – We all know one of the first items on everyone’s list every year is to get fit and healthy for the long-term. Keep this one on the list for your own personal health but try a take on getting your business healthy too. How do you do this? Take a good look at your office space and determine if the layout and items in your office are supporting or hindering a healthy and productive environment. Ask your team about ways to improve working conditions like updating office chairs and adding healthy food and drink options for all to enjoy in the new year and beyond.

2. Review & Refresh: Set Goals – Review business goals you set in 2012 and determine what has been achieved and not achieved. Then, set new goals. Create a plan for these newly revised goals with your team to take ensure these goals are met and delivered in a timely manner. Record and track this list as you and your team work on them and follow-up after each is completed to discuss results, lessons learned, etc.

3. Stay Accountable: Support your staff in developing and putting systems in place. Make sure everyone is held personally accountable to making any approved changes that will keep the team motivated and highly productive. Remember to celebrate success often and review, but also measure the one’s that flop to learn how to change the process in the future.

4. Tools & Assets: Revise & Refresh – Have you read your website lately? How about your Facebook page or printed hand-outs/information packets for cultivating new business? Review all your current assets to revise and refresh them over a scheduled period of time so they will be ready for your next big meeting. Don’t forget about updating staff photos and business cards as we do look different after a few years go by and that scratched out, re-written title on your business card is just not good anymore.

5. Measure. Monitor. Reward. - Set up a procedure with all tasks and projects to consistently measure, monitor and reward those involved. These can be used as quantitative date or analytics in your final client report too. Putting checks and balances into place is a great way to see how things are going and to see what worked and what needs to change the next time around.

6. Explore New Media & Technology - Ask your staff – and yourself – to read and research new media and technology on a consistent basis. Things change rapidly and there are always new and better tools and solutions for doing business for you and for your clients.

7. Make The Right Connection: It doesn’t matter who your audience is, but you need to know to whom you’re selling to and make a point to connect with the right people, not just people in general. Most consumers and B2B buyers alike respond to content and ideas that speak to their interests, so take time this year to make that personal connection and let them really know who you are too.

8. Are You Listening? - At every meeting with staff and clients alike, keep in mind the most important concept is listening. Make it your mission to listen more than anything else next year and then use what you have learned to speak and clarify your points and understanding of the task at hand. (You might also review our recent blog on the passive act of communication – listening, too!)

9. Planned Escapes - Everyone needs a physical and/or mental health break during a busy work week. Try setting aside time to grab lunch with co-workers or meet after work for a early evening stop before heading home, just leave your work discussions at the office. These scheduled mini-breaks are proven to keep our minds and bodies in a more relaxed state allowing us to return to work refreshed with increased levels of productivity. On a personal note, make time for a couples or family “stay-cation” over the year, a week or weekend away with your loved ones will be sure to add years to your life and substantially increase your happiness and productivity levels.

10. Pay It Forward: Giving Back - Are you and your business involved in your local community and with your local non-profits? If so, keep up the good work and if not, this is the year to pay it forward and use your successes to reward those who are in the most need. Find organizations that matter to you personally and contact them to find out how you and your business can contribute and volunteer.

11. Seek Answers: Get Educated – Are there areas of your business where you and your staff are feeling you need more information to become better and more efficient? Take the time to commit yourself and your team to continuing education in your specific field of business. Check into local seminars and groups where you can join and share in discussions and feedback. Don’t forget about online media for more educational tools and group discussions.

12. Expand Your Network: Personal & Business -  Are you and your business taking full advantage of business networks like LinkedIn? If not, this year is the year to create a LinkedIn page for your business and yourself where you can make connections with individuals and organizations who may work in the same profession or live nearby. These connections will afford you valuable insight into creative solutions and ideas for increasing productivity, new work tools and networking resources for cultivating and meeting new, potential clients. You will also find this business networking platform adds to your social circle as well as you will find new friends within your connected circle.

13. Big Picture View: Don’t get trapped in the tasks themselves and end up forgetting about the big picture. Be sure to schedule meetings during a project and allow updates on each aspect so there is no loss of view or vision for the end goal. Sometimes walking away for a moment allows our brains to stop and breathe so we can then easily see the issues and solutions

Screen Shot 2012-12-12 at 9.56.17 AMGo ahead and start building your 2013 Goals & Resolutions list today! If you need help with any of your 2013 goals, feel free to contact us. We’re just an email or a call away.

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