Sometimes we make headlines ourselves.
Trozzolo: Community engagement must be top of mind for brands
For brands, community engagement must be top of mind. It's a vital part of public relations and the strategic outreach plan, said Josh Brewster, vice president of public relations for Kansas City-based Trozzolo Communications Group. Not only does it create stronger relationships between brands and their consumers, it also attracts and retains talent, he said.
But for some companies, community engagement can seem "really cumbersome," he said. They fall into the trap of casting a wide net, believing they must be everywhere, he said. But fostering community engagement doesn't have to feel like a "giant beast."
Here are Brewster's tips:
Identify your communities
Brewster describes community engagement as "making an impact in the places your company and employees matter most."
A university community, for example, isn't solely comprised of students and faculty on campus. Its community also includes alumni, board members and mothers and fathers, he said.
Companies should identify communities and opportunities that fit inside their wheelhouse and ones that align with the company's principles. It's about finding the right fit.
"If you're an employer of high schoolers or college students, it may not make sense to focus on a fundraising event for senior living," he said. "But it does make sense to get involved with high schools and colleges with career prep," he said.
Don't get stuck in a rut — be open to to new opportunities for community engagement, Brewster said.
Those opportunities could range from charitable giving to strategic partnerships to neighborhood cleanups.
"It's about how to make an impact in your community," he said.
Another key is quality over quantity, he said.
Establish your purpose
"Why do these communities matter to your company? Where does your company fit in to your communities and how can you help?" Brewster said.
It starts by asking in your communities, he said. If your company wants to help a local school, ask the school what it's missing and how you can make a difference.
"Everyone is looking for help, and companies oftentimes are the ones to help most effectively because they have manpower," he said. "We all know that doing good is such an important part of a company's culture, and especially with the millennial culture, everyone's wanting to make a stronger difference in the community. Establishing your purpose is the best way to get that going."
Empower your employees
It's easy for a company to buy tickets or buy a table to support a charity event, but what's often overlooked is empowering your employees to be brand and community champions, he said.
Give them the resources and time off to volunteer, he said. Organizing group activities also is a plus.
"It's that human element that is really important when it comes to community engagement," Brewster said.
Employees are the company's heartbeat, he said.
"Employees are drawn to work-life balance. They're drawn to corporate social responsibility. They want to do good," Brewster said. "If a company makes it one of their key purposes to make an impact in the community, there is no doubt you will attract stronger and happier employees. Also, people want to work for companies that do good, so it will no doubt improve your company's awareness and your company's reputation. People want to work with companies that do good; it makes them feel good about their partnership, so it's a win-win for everybody."
KC group introduces matchmaker job board for employers and people with disabilities
Jennifer Hertha was tired of “being marginalized and told I can't do something."
Hertha, a woman with disabilities who uses a wheelchair, said there's a danger when employers overlook capable workers out of fear or misunderstanding. Fortunately, Hertha found an employer at UMB Bank who looked beyond a physical first impression and recognized her abilities.
She's now helping to screen — and hire — others at UMB. But she knows she's fortunate.
“Eighty percent of persons with disabilities are not served by the existing employment system," said Rob Hoffman, executive director of the Greater Kansas City Business Leadership Network, a business-to-business group.
The network, which exists to encourage employment of people with disabilities, this month launched a new job site named SHiFT to help match people with disabilities to job openings.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last year that only 17.5 percent of people with a disability were employed in the prior year. That compared with about 65 percent of people without a disability.
The government's Current Population Survey also found that the unemployment rate of people with disabilities — those actively seeking jobs — was double that of people without disabilities. And workers with disabilities were more likely to be self employed and more likely to work part-time than workers without disabilities.
The new job board “is different from a regular job board because it's set up to help both parties pre-screen," said Hoffman. “It doesn't ask what a person's disabilities are, and it doesn't target jobs specifically for the disability community. It just markets jobs that can be done by the people who self identify as candidates."
Web developers at Trozzolo built the site at shift.gkcbln.org, which was made possible by a $175,000 grant from the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council.
Human resource officials at a few Kansas City-area companies helped the business network design the web-based system that provides two ways to connect — one for employers and one for job hunters.
The employer side asks recruiters to provide detailed descriptions of posted jobs and ratings for their physical and environmental demands.
The applicant side asks job hunters to rate their own capabilities in such areas as mobility, stamina, work pace and lifting as well as their communication abilities and the basic education and skills that would be asked of any applicant.
“We're certainly going to use it," Mary Beth Majors, director of talent acquisition at UMB Bank, said of SHiFT. “We can highlight teller positions, call center roles and other openings through a direct link to the disability community without having to go through social service agencies."
Majors, the human resource official who saw Hertha's potential and promoted her, is deeply involved in the Greater Kansas City Business Leadership Network because of her conviction that many good workers are being underused or ignored. Majors hopes other corporate recruiters will share her belief that the SHiFT job board will make good employment matches.
In order to sustain SHiFT, companies will be charged to post job openings beginning June 1; their postings are free until then to introduce the job board. Posting is free, and will continue to be free, for applicants.
“Our goal is to be a service that taps into the talents available within the disability community," Hoffman said. “We want to assist the employment of job seekers who are unemployed or underemployed."
The job board is one part of the business group's year-round efforts to encourage employers to find and hire people with disabilities. The group doesn't guarantee a job match, but through its education programs, it tries to eliminate employers' misconceptions about the costs or difficulties of employing people with disabilities.
SHiFT also includes a “library of inclusion resources" in the Kansas City area.
Trozzolo Honored with National Public Relations Award
Trozzolo Communications Group recently won a Silver Anvil Award at the 2016 PRSA Silver Anvil Award Ceremony in New York City. As the only local agency honored at the ceremony, the agency’s award recognized its accomplishment in reputation and brand management for long-time client TouchNet, a Lenexa- based technology company.
For more than 70 years, PRSA has collected a team of national judges to award only the best work based on research, strategy, execution and evaluation. The PRSA Silver Anvil Award is the most coveted award in the public relations industry.
"It’s an honor to be recognized for our creative approach to business challenges and be named among the distinguished strategic communication firms. We especially thank our client for the opportunity to enhance its reputation and collaborate on ways to make a meaningful impact for their business,” said Jeff Madden, brand strategist at Trozzolo.
TouchNet, a Trozzolo client for more than a decade, was acquired by Heartland Payment Systems, a Fortune 1000 company in 2014. Trozzolo successfully managed communications following the acquisition and helped fuel the growth of the campus solutions division.
“The work touched every aspect of our agency, including internal and external brand strategies, digital, advertising, event planning and community relations,” said Angelo Trozzolo, president and CEO of Trozzolo. “We’re especially proud of our impact on TouchNet’s goals.”
Moving On Up
The best views in the house are now taken. After nearly five years in the Gee Whiz Factory, we have expanded to our fourth floor, thanks to continued growth.
“We predicted growth would necessitate needing the fourth floor within five years. Our staff size is now nearly 50 percent larger than when we moved in,” said Angelo Trozzolo, president and CEO. "With that goal behind us and with space to accommodate another 50 percent growth in staff, the future has never looked brighter.”
Over the past several years in the Gee Whiz Factory, we have been fortunate to continue to collect and retain a talented team as well as garner best-in-class clients. Most recently, we have been engaged as public relations agency of record for McDonald’s Heart of America Co-Op and agency of record for University of Missouri Health Care, among others.
"We love our home in downtown Kansas City, and are proud to be part of its growth and success,” said Trozzolo.
Why Gee Whiz, you ask? Learn more about our Gee Whiz Story.
Prairie Dog|TCG takes on awards season
In the world of healthcare marketing, it’s awards season. And, while we don’t run to our televisions to watch the red carpet arrivals and the acceptance speeches, it is an exciting time for our Prairie Dog|TCG team – and a good reminder of a strong team doing great work for our clients.
The Healthcare Marketing Report sponsors the annual Healthcare Advertising Awards, in an effort to recognize excellent work in the field of healthcare marketing and advertising. In its 33rd year, the awards are the oldest and largest healthcare advertising awards.
Prairie Dog|TCG received 19 awards from annual awards competition, including five Gold Awards for the following:
- Anne Arundel Medical Center in the New Media category.
- Baptist Health in the Radio Single category.
- Cottage Health in the Radio Single category.
- Valley Health in the Total Integrated Campaign category.
- Billings Clinic in the Television Series category.
In addition, the Prairie Dog|TCG team won 14 Silver and Merit awards for various campaigns and projects for hospitals across the country.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for our work. But more than that, it’s an honor to be on this team,” said Jerry Hobbs, president of Prairie Dog|TCG. “It’s exciting to dive into these brands every day, and develop campaigns that really impact our hospitals and the patients that walk through their doors.”
Beyond the Healthcare Advertising Awards, the team received five Aster Awards, a medical marketing awards program hosted by Creative Images, Inc. The recognition includes Gold Awards for Baptist Health’s Urgent Care Direct Mail Campaign and MU Health’s Microsite Project.
“Our team’s commitment to giving our clients their best work every day is undeniable. These awards are proof of that commitment and the excellent work they develop day in and day out,” said Angelo Trozzolo, CEO of Prairie Dog|TCG.
A factory comes to life
The Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City shared Trozzolo’s story of renovation at the Gee Whiz Factory. It’s hard to believe it has been more than four years since move-in day. And now, in just days, the sound of hammers will be heard once again as the agency expands to the fourth floor. Hello, Growth! Read all about it here –
Kuhn & Wittenborn merges with Trozzolo
Kuhn & Wittenborn, a household name in the Kansas City advertising industry, has merged its operations with Trozzolo Communications Group. With the merger, Trozzolo gains several new associates from Kuhn & Wittenborn, adding significant talent and capabilities to its team.
Whitey Kuhn, founder of the agency, joins Trozzolo’s board of directors, and Julie Robinson, Kuhn & Wittenborn’s senior vice president, joins Trozzolo as senior vice president/account group director and a member of the agency’s executive team. The new associates will join the team at Trozzolo’s Gee Whiz Factory.
“We have respected the work coming out of Kuhn & Wittenborn since we opened our own doors. When this opportunity presented itself, we knew it would be a great fit for all of us,“ said Angelo Trozzolo, president and CEO of Trozzolo. “We are humbled Whitey has entrusted us with his clients and staff, and are excited about what this means for the future of our agency.”
Kuhn & Wittenborn, founded in 1978, has long been an established and respected firm within the Kansas City advertising community and beyond. The agency has worked with a broad range of clients, including Government Employees Health Association, Kansas Speedway, the Vanguard Group, Assurant Employee Benefits and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research.
“As we began exploring options for our agency’s next phase, it was critical to find a cultural match,” said Kuhn. “We have admired the Trozzolos for many years. The synergies between our agency cultures are amazing, and our combined strengths will mean expanded capabilities for both agencies’ clients. I can’t imagine finding a better partner than Trozzolo.”
In 2003, Trozzolo merged with public relations firm Blades & Associates to form one of the region’s first fully integrated marketing agencies. In 2008, the agency added Corporate Communications Group to strengthen its strategic consulting and crisis communication practices. That same year, Trozzolo acquired Prairie Dog, a national hospital marketing firm.
With each of these mergers, Trozzolo has added significant talent and expertise to both its staff and its board of directors. The board includes Becky Blades, founder of Blades & Associates; David Westbrook, founder of Corporate Communications Group; Phil Smith, founder of Prairie Dog; and now, Whitey Kuhn.
“Our board of directors is quickly becoming a Hall of Fame of Kansas City business leaders and communicators. It’s exciting for me to have such a strong group of mentors to help strengthen our business and create an impact for our clients and our community,” said Trozzolo.
Trozzolo continues to attract top, senior-level team members
Creative powerhouse returns to Kansas City; Experienced CFO joins the team
Paul Behnen and Rachel Lupardus, CPA, join Trozzolo Communications Group’s executive management team. Behnen is Trozzolo’s new senior vice president/executive creative director, and Lupardus joins as chief operating officer/chief financial officer.
"As we continue to grow, the collection of top-drawer, senior talent becomes more and more important. These team members are helping us not only remain sustainable but thrive. Our future is very bright," said Angelo Trozzolo, president and CEO of Trozzolo.
Behnen leads the creative group and will play an integral role in new business development and crafting the future of the agency, as well.
"I am looking forward to working for a passionate, independent advertising, public relations and branding leader in the heart of the country," said Behnen. "Kansas City is a creative hub, and is at the helm of the great things happening in our industry."
He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and 30 years of experience. He has served as executive creative director for notable national brands including Spirit Airlines, Krispy Kreme, Nikon, Coca-Cola, GE and IBM, to name a few.
In addition, Behnen creative-directed the successful E-Trade "Talking Baby" campaign through two Super Bowls. His work has been recognized by Cannes, Clio Awards, All Communication Arts Annuals, The New York Art Directors Club, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, Adweek, Ad Age, and Creativity Magazine, among others.
With more than 20 years of financial and accounting experience – first as a controller, and the last 12 years as a chief financial officer – Lupardus brings a wealth of knowledge and strong leadership to the team. She was named a CFO of the Year by the Kansas City Business Journal in 2010. As a member of the agency’s executive management team, she oversees all financials and directs all operations.
"Growth starts from within – by improving what you have to prepare for what comes next," said Lupardus. "I am excited to work with our team and continue to make Trozzolo a sustainable, significant business in Kansas City."