PR Agency of Record for South Carolina Tourism

We’ve already hit the ground running as the new PR agency of record for South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism (Discover South Carolina)! Follow along as we #DiscoverSC. 

We worked with South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism before at the James Beard House in New York City and two media marketplaces at the South Carolina Governor’s Conference. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that planning events takes teamwork

SCPRT NAMES SC-BASED PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM AGENCY OF RECORD

COLUMBIA, S.C. Touchpoint Communications, a Charleston-based boutique public relations agency specializing in effective public relations strategies for clients in hospitality, tourism and economic development, has been named the public relations agency of record for the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT). 

“The cultivation of positive media coverage for South Carolina’s outstanding leisure travel offerings, unique Southern flavors and numerous cultural experiences all aid in helping drive visitors to the Palmetto State,” said Duane Parrish, executive director of SCPRT. “Our internal team has exceeded every PR goal we set in recent years, and we are excited to see what can happen when we forge the passion and expertise of our new partners to generate even more attention on South Carolina.”

To support the state’s robust public and media relations goals for both domestic and international media efforts, Touchpoint Communications is collaborating with Mindy Bianca Public Relations, a Pennsylvania-based firm specializing in hospitality and tourism. Bianca is an industry veteran who formerly headed up public relations for the state of Maryland’s tourism office.

For more information on South Carolina’s many tourism offerings, please visit DiscoverSouthCarolina.com.

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About the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism/Discover South Carolina:

Discover South Carolina, the marketing brand used by SCPRT, aims to promote leisure travel and tourism to the state of South Carolina. For more information on the Palmetto state’s 47 state parks, bustling cities, charming small towns, festivals and events, authentic cuisine and beautiful coastline, please visit DiscoverSouthCarolina.com. South Carolina…Just Right!

About Touchpoint Communications:

Touchpoint Communications provides public relations, event activation, social media and paid media strategies for organizations focused on economic development, hospitality and tourism. Founded in 2005, the 100 percent female-owned, Charleston-based firm has garnered regional and national recognition for its earned and social media programs.

About Mindy Bianca Public Relations:

Mindy Bianca Public Relations is a small public relations agency that caters to travel and tourism-related clients – destinations, hotels and resorts, and attractions of all types. Collectively, the MBPR team offers nearly 50 years of experience in various fields of communications. Each member of the agency combines expertise with passion for travel, and they have blended strengths to form a “dream team.”

Marketing Lessons from the Past Year

Resolve to take action in time for it to matter

The new year dawns, as it always does, full of hope and promise. 

2018 marketing tips Touchpoint Communications
It’s a new year and the clock is ticking to take action on your resolutions

If the end of 2017 is any indication, we’re looking forward to a vibrant 2018. But we don’t think anything is guaranteed, so we push forward, daily, on numerous fronts. 

That’s probably true for your business, too. You put your nose to that old grindstone on a daily basis, working toward goals, meeting them, and moving the finish line forward time after time.

Marketing tips for the new year 

In the spirit of new beginnings, we wanted to share a few marketing lessons of the past year, and welcome any you’d like to share:

  1. Market when you’ve got a healthy business on your hands! We’re seeing plenty of coverage in national media about the healthy global and national economies. Hurray! Sometimes, upward trajectories can be so comfortable we pull back on outreach efforts. That’s always a mistake: market while you are healthy, and you’ll be in a better position when things change. 

2. Marketing can’t save the day if you wait too long to do too little. We are huge believers in the value of marketing promotion for just about any business. But we also know it takes time to make things happen. Sometimes, clients come to us very late in a downward cycle, hoping a new website or a few ads can fix what ails them. If that’s you, level with your marketing partner, so they understand what sort of lifeline you’re hanging onto.

3. There is no such thing as sudden stardom. PR, advertising, marketing, social media…they all take a bit of time to build toward your desired outcome. Don’t expect that you can go from unknown to famous in three months. (Infamous, maybe. But that’s not what we want to see happen!)

4. Choose a marketing partner with whom you can be really frank. Tell them what’s happening with your business. Tell them how they are, or are not, satisfying your partnership needs. The best work happens when people are pulling together in a spirit of trust and cooperation.

And that’s it, our Marketing Resolutions check list for 2018. Here’s hoping you end this year in an even better place than you started it!

One80 Place Hosts Annual “Turkey & a $20” Thanksgiving Drive with Help from Touchpoint

This Thanksgiving season, we at Touchpoint Communications are giving back by helping our friends at One80 Place with their annual Thanksgiving turkey food drive. We hope other members of the Charleston community will also give back by donating turkeys (and $20 bills) this holiday season.

It’s time to give back with turkeys! We’re busy gearing up for One80 Place’s fourth annual “Turkey and a $20” donation drive set for next week, Tuesday, November 21. This is a critical drive for the facility that provides food, shelter, and hope to end homelessness and hunger one person at a time, one family at a time – and we are excited to roll up our sleeves and help.

We’ve been tasked with planning and executing a 20-day campaign that will culminate with the Nov. 21 donation event. The goal of the campaign is to drive up excitement and generate donations throughout the entire month.

We’re teaming up with local celebrities, mascots, news anchors and radio personalities to make this festive fundraiser even more successful than last year’s record-breaking day. The goal is to collect 350 turkeys and raise $25,000.

2016 results by the numbers:

  • One80 Place collected 332 turkeys, which translated in 2,600 meals.
  • Collected 1,201 twenties ($20 dollar bills).
  • This enabled 160 people to be able to move into a home, as the funds went toward the security deposit. 

The donated turkeys will:

  • Help One80 Place put food on the table year-round.
  • Feed guests of the community kitchen.
  • Give turkeys to those who are struggling to put food on the table this holiday.

Help us beat last year’s numbers by donating a turkey and a $20 to this non-profit organization on Tuesday, November 21. Can’t make it on the 21st and want to donate? You can do that here.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Holy Cow, Holy Spokes Bike Share Takes Off!

How do you sustain the momentum of a new product or service launch? You focus as hard on the marriage as you do the wedding!

That’s the philosophy we bring to our work with Holy Spokes, the new Charleston bike share that launched in late May. As they prepared to announce a major milestone, we asked the community:

What do 4,700 buttery biscuits, 11,111 glasses of sweat tea and 2,000 pieces of pecan pie have in common? 

The answer is they each total one million calories, the same amount riders burned in just three months since Holy Spokes and Title

Holy Spokes Charleston Bike Share

Partner MUSC Health challenged the community to do so within a year.

Since the launch, Holy Spokes has seen more than 10,000 bike rides traveling almost 25,000 miles – even crossing the Ravenel Bridge.

Touchpoint has helped fuel that success through PR and social influencer outreach that resulted in some great coverage and an ongoing effort to keep people biking.

Social Media Tools All Publicists and Marketers Should Use

It is no secret that social media changed the landscape of PR forever. With 1.94 billion monthly active users on Facebook and 328 million monthly active users on Twitter, this modern-day obsession is impossible for anyone to ignore, especially PR professionals. At Touchpoint, we use social media (mainly Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat) every day for our clients because we recognize users as our target market.

Due to our lack of access to the viral nature of Kim Kardashian’s selfies, our social media content curation is a little more complicated. Here are few tools that we use at Touchpoint to make this vast world of sharing and screen-shotting work for us:

Graphics Grab Attention

Canva makes it simple and quick for us to create polished graphics that are ready to post across all social platforms. It allows us to add text, multiple photos and fun backgrounds. The site even comes equipped with tutorials to make it the most user-friendly image creator we have ever used. Thanks Canva!

Organization for Optimization

Google Sheets is the Excel of the future. This is a really easy way to stay organized, and show-off how organized we are. We use this to coordinate social media content. Once created, the Google Sheet can be shared and edited by multiple users at the same time (don’t worry – there is an undo button in case you happen to be the user that accidentally deletes the entire document…speaking from experience!)

Schedule to Stay A Step Ahead

Hootsuite is a very sophisticated calendar; it’s a digital platform that allows us to schedule social media posts for clients on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We stay a step ahead in the fast-paced social media environment thanks to Hootsuite.

Sharing is Caring

We use the above tools to create social media content that people want to share. Consider this: 84 percent of all social shares are Dark. “Dark social” refers to “content that is shared peer-to-peer through channels other than social media – over emails, chat services and messaging platforms including text messaging.”  Shift Communications notes that this type of social is considered dark because we have no way of tracking the number of times content is shared. This is basically digital gossiping: It’s sharing content without the content creator knowing you shared it. And it’s awesome.

Our goal for all of our clients is to receive as many likes and shares as Beyoncé’s pregnancy post. High expectations…we know. But heck we can dream!

Written by our intern, Sidney Harper.

Social Media Strategy Straight from Facebook HQ

One might assume that I’d return with all of the answers after hearing from a few of the brightest minds in the biz at Facebook HQ for Ragan’s Social Media & Storytelling Summit over the summer. My brief stint in Silicon Valley led to divergent thinking while also confirming what most content strategists already know.

As silly social-media-strategy-touchpoint-cmmunications-sc-blogas it sounds, social media is a lot like weight loss. What works for one person, and in our case, client (business, public figure, nonprofit etc.), may not work for another. There is no easy solution, no magic formula, no shortcuts.

For example, just because Pokémon GO was a phenomenon, tailoring social media posts to include references to the game might not have made sense for your brand. It’s not necessary to jump on every trend. It may have helped increase the social reach of game stores and the like, but does it elevate your business? Or is it an (off-brand) attempt at gaining followers? If the answer is the latter, then this type of post will seem tone-deaf to fans.

It’s important to experiment, but don’t let social content deviate too far from the strategy outlining where you want the brand to go. When creating content, ask yourself, “will this help the client get there?”

Just as you probably wouldn’t lose 10 pounds without paying attention to what you’re eating, you won’t gain a significant number of followers by posting random content. This is where social listening comes in: You have to know what your brand’s followers want to see, and you learn that by following them and incorporating them into your brand’s story.

Strategy relies heavily on trial and error, considering the rate at which the rules of social media algorithms and advertisements develop. These “rules” and best practices aren’t changing by chance though, the consistent shift to content that’s (even more) instant, visually-oriented and authentic is a direct reflection of what emerging generations need to stay engaged.

Generations are refreshing faster and technology is changing monumentally in short time periods. The summit’s first presenter, Jeffrey Eagle of AARP, said that when you’re creating content “Keep short attention spans in mind: As short as it can be, as long as it needs to be.”  

It became apparent by the end of the first two presentations that a pattern had emerged. From AARP’s poignant videos on aging that people of all ages have shared to their own social media followers, to Southwest Airline’s proven success in social listening, certain themes are gaining momentum.

  1. Authentic content performs best, keep things relevant to your audience
  2. Followers want in, give them behind-the-scenes access
  3. Evoke emotions and inspire
  4. Don’t chase shiny objects

Each theme is a world of its own that we’ll delve into in future blogs. Staying true to the strategy with social content will help you decide which “shiny objects” you should experiment with and which you should leave alone. Nothing is more inauthentic than posting for the sake of “fitting in.”

Overall, content that hits a nerve — whether it tickles the funny bone, arouses sympathy or is extremely relatable, has the power to be shared across social channels to viral levels.

*written by Account Executive Emily Portoghese

Two Ears, Two Eyes, One Mouth

blog photoOur friend, Rick Jones (Fishbait Marketing) has lots of great sayings, and one that strikes us as most pertinent these days is: the Good Lord gave humans two eyes, two ears and one mouth –and we should use each accordingly.

Or put another way – shut up and pay attention.

What has us thinking of this happens to be a cascade of recent meetings that had prospective or new client partners bemoaning past relationships with firms that just “didn’t listen.”

We are big believers in the power of patterns, and this one is proving to be persistent. And we think we know what’s going on here. There are cultural and business trends afoot that prompt professional communicators to spend more telling than listening and watching.

  1. Business is good! For many fortunate folks, there is an abundance of opportunity these days. Faced with a surplus of clients, it can be challenging to remain fully present. But we must. Few clients appreciate being “templated. They seek unique, meaningful solutions to their challenges. And those come from really leaning in.
  2. We’re so smart, we’re getting dumb. That’s right, we are all so incredibly plugged in and up-to-date that we are failing to pick up our heads and look around. We seek the Googleable, the benchmarked, the “proven.” And that means we sometimes fail to think anew as often as we should. Not all answers lie within our past successes.
  3. We are possessed by our technology. Email is easy. Texting is fast. Analytics are sexier than gut instinct. But we fail our clients when we fail to pick up the phone or hop on a plane (heck, to even drive a few miles!) and check in with them. Truly immersing ourselves – physically – is one key to “getting” what clients are doing.
  4. Listen for what’s not being said. Sometimes clients are completely forthcoming. They tell us what they need. They ask us for more engagement, more care. We professional communicators fail when we brush off these approaches. Listening is about more than hearing, and seeing is about more than vision. Absorbing intent and taking action – that’s the sweet spot.

Admittedly, we sound a little preachy here. And we must also acknowledge that we don’t always get it right. It’s easy to get swept up in the current of “now” and forget to connect, collaborate and conjure. We appreciate the times client partners are willing to let us know where we fall short.

So how are you engaging – and are your teams trained to really listen, look, and repeat?

Have you noticed a similar pattern lately? We’d love to hear from you!

Phew – Lessons from a Busy Spring

FullSizeRender 2Around here, we’re pretty enthusiastic organizers and promoters of public events. Over the past few months, we’ve had a hand (or all hands, heads and feet in some cases!) in more than a dozen events ranging in size from a dozen attendees to 5,000.

Of course, we approach every event as we do any communication exercise: with a clear goal in mind, and a whole-hearted commitment to exceeding that goal. Reflecting on what it takes to be successful had us considering a list of “must do’s.” We share a few here. And if you would like to know more, we invite you to give us a call to chat about how we can help YOUR next event soar!

  • Set your date early and avoid overlapping with other major local events. This is super challenging in Charleston, where events define our every weekend. But at least be mindful of any events that seem to focus on the SAME audience you seek.
  • Get details out quickly on social media and your website. Sponsors and attendees alike will be visiting you online for Intel. And that continues THROUGH your event, where social listening and responding becomes a critical communication function.
  • Send updates to event attendees on various platforms: social media, e-newsletters, your website. Never underestimate your audience’s desire for information!
  • Clear signage and directions/instructions are a must. The very best event plan can break down simply because logistics were not fully fleshed out – nor communicated. One trick we like is to walk/ride your event a week before, imagining you are a first-time attendee. What “touchpoints” along the way are ideal for communication and illumination?
  • Ensure sociability by strengthening your on-site Wi-Fi signal. Our cultural FOMO has your guests posting their whereabouts and braggies with abandon. But only if they can access some juice. Help them do that!
  • Collect feedback! We find that it is human nature to end a big event and consider it “over.” But that misses the important opportunity to learn and grow and improve. Ask guests what they loved, what they loathed, and anything in between and you will guarantee an even better run next time around!

The Closest Thing to Super Powers

In our ever-changing digital world, social media is a superhero that awes its users with constant, creatively displayed content and instant connectivity. When it comes to harnessing the power of this platform, the closest thing to super powers for a social media marketer is the hashtag.

A The New York Times article, #InPraiseOfTheHashtag, notes that since its birth in 2009, the hashtag has infiltrated one in eight tweets. Huffington Post even claims that the hashtag has changed the way we communicate through tagging our thoughts, i.e.: #HuffPoRocks!

Through my time as an intern at Touchpoint Communications, I have spent a lot of time with this sociable Superman (against whom I feel like Lois Lane).hashtags

Sure, our relationship has had its ups and downs. From navigating through Hootsuite to learning how to convey your client’s brand in 150 characters, I’ve been pushed to work magic – to make content stand out.

And key to standing out is that seemingly humble hashtag. I witnessed its power at this year’s Charleston Fashion Week, when attendees were encouraged to use #chsfw. This hashtag amassed over 15,000 posts and allowed for the event to get social media buzz. Simply clicking allowed others to engage in the event.

I also observed this phenomenon through the eyes of a content creator. Anyone who lives in Charleston knows that the Bridge Run is one of the bigger events in the spring programming. The Bridge Run brings people from all over the Lowcountry to the Charleston area.

And you know what that means? Plenty of eager visitors looking for places to celebrate one of Charleston’s signature events. Social media – studded with hashtags – allowed us to match client restaurants with hungry, thirsty racers. We brainstormed messages that would speak to the bridge runners in a creative way. Our restaurants had wonderful Bridge Run crowds. Now tell me that is not #powerful!

From the integration of the hashtag in our society, culture, and thought process, it looks like the pound sign is here to stay! It is our job as social media mavens to throw on our superhero capes and embrace the #powerofthehashtag.

Written by Aliana Holliday – PR & Social Media Intern

Spot-on – Make That Elegant – Advice From a Fashion Icon

The 10th annual Baker Motor Company Charleston Fashion Week (CFW) strutted into downtown Charleston March 15-19. We were there … providing local and regional PR efforts and having plenty of fun along the way. In preparation, we traded in our flats for stilettos and rustled up some serious fashion press for the week of shows under the tent.

For those who have never been, CFW showcases emerging designers and model talent hailing from along the East Coast. It has become one of the premier fashion weeks in North America.

This five-night celebration under the tents in Marion Square featured more than 40 runway shows, bridal show, Rock the Runway Model Competition™ and of course, the hotly-anticipated Emerging Designer Competition.

We rubbed elbows with top fashion bloggers, the Charleston elite and even one of the biggest icons in fashion – Fern Mallis. She is credited with founding New York Fashion Week and is a celebrated international fashion consultant. We escorted her to a TV appearance at Lowcountry Live, to her book signing at RTW and to the Art Institute of Charleston.

During her appearance at the Art Institute, Mallis turned to hopeful designers to dish out some advice. And was that advice what you’d expect from a fashion titan? Did she tell people to behave like divas? To forget everybody they met on their way up? To pursue fame at all costs?

Nope. Fern told the students and fashionistas: “Be nice!” Simple, elegant and spot-on.

We haven’t stop thinking about this advice since, because it rings so true. Here’s somebody who has built her own successful brand in a tough-as-nails business. As they say on Project Runway: in fashion, one day you’re in, the next you’re out. Fern has stayed in the game a long time, and now we believe it may just be because she combines smarts, taste and niceness. Now that’s a winning collection!

She’s not the only one saying it either. Huffington Post published an article titled, 6 Ways Being Nice To Others Is Actually Good For You which proves that being nice actually has health benefits.

Finally, it may come as little surprise to hear PR practitioners counseling niceness. But truth be told, we’re not all people pleasers in this business. If we’re good at our jobs, we dispense tough love on a regular basis. But if we’re doing it right, we’re delivering it with a spoonful of sugar.

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