In the Office

Congratulations to Amy Jones!

We are pleased to announce the promotion of Amy Jones to associate account executive. Since joining our family last year, Amy assisted the public relations and social media efforts for clients including Georgia-Pacific Professional, FMI, SQFI, Candy Cottage, Family Business USA, The Wine Feed and KIOTI Tractor.

In her new role, she will be responsible for managing day-to-day media relations, community relations and event marketing activities for her clients, as well as supporting the execution of strategic public relations and social media marketing campaigns.

We love her energy and drive. And, we look forward to her being a part of the Howard/Merrell family for a long time. Congrats Amy!!

Take a peak a her release.

Kaitlin Hughes Joins the Team

Welcome to Kaitlin Hughes!

Kaitlin joins us as an Account Coordinator. In this role, she helps coordinate social media and public relations projects for a number of clients. She manages and monitors social media, conducts media relations, writes press materials and supports events.

We are excited to have Kaitlin on board and that she has brought her creativity and analytical skills to the agency. For more information on Kaitlin, check out her release.

Are You the Account Supervisor for us?

We are searching for an energetic professional who can lead PR and Social Media efforts for clients as well as grow and nurture a great team of junior folks. Must be a strategic thinker, team leader, efficient multi-tasker, strong writer and good communicator. Previous agency experience preferred.

Candidate should have experience developing, managing and executing multi-faceted B2B and B2C campaigns which include national media and blogger outreach, newsletter development, social media management, product launches, executive visibility efforts, corporate communications and event management.
Knowledge and experience with crisis management and media training a plus. Experience with personnel management and growth required.

Will be responsible for managing day-to-day traditional public relations and social media activities, and collaborating with the agency’s other internal departments to execute fully integrated communications campaigns.

Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree, at least seven years relevant marketing experience (post graduation)

Do you fit this description? If so, send your cover letter and resume to sstyons@merrellgroup.com

New Client: BioResource International, Inc.

We are excited to be named agency of record for BioResource International, Inc. (BRI), an agricultural biotechnology company that is harnessing the natural power of enzymes to develop sustainable solutions that help feed the world. We are working with them on website enhancements, email marketing, public relations and social media services. BRI selected us to help increase brand awareness and market share. More »

Amanda Frasca – Welcome to the Family


We are excited to welcome Amanda Frasca, who has joined us as an Associate Account Executive.

Amanda focuses on daily public relations and social media efforts for a number of the agency’s clients including Aquatic Life, Solair® Shade Solutions and Fantastic Sams®. She is working closely with other departments to execute strategic and comprehensive campaigns that include media buying and planning, advertising, market research, digital work and other branding efforts. More »

The Importance of Internships

When in high school, I was not happy that the boys’ sports teams would get coverage in my town’s small paper, but the girls’ teams would not. So, I called the editor of the paper to let him know how I felt. His response? The paper would be happy to cover girls sports, but did not have enough folks on staff or the money to hire a reporter to cover that beat. So, I volunteered to write about the girls’ games and matches at my high school (selfishly, I covered most of the sports I played) throughout my senior year.

Though becoming a “reporter” started out as a way to promote girls’ high school sports, it made me realize how much I enjoyed writing, and spurred my desire to go to journalism school. I also realized how important it was to gain professional experience…even if it was unpaid.

While in college, I worked at different companies doing a variety of tasks, so I could get exposed to many areas of marketing communications. I wrote radio copy, conducted research and employee relations work, supported events and press conferences, wrote press releases, articles and speeches, and provided all sorts of administrative support for the folks I worked with at the different organizations. As a result, I learned what types of jobs I liked and did not like, what types of organizations I liked to work at and those I didn’t, and had a general idea of what career path I wanted to take. I worked at five different organizations during college and got hired by one of them after graduation.

Since internships really helped me, I felt it was important to start a formal program at Howard, Merrell & Partners. Now more than eight years old, our program has evolved. In order to ensure interns have the best possible experience, we have a checklist of activities interns should accomplish during a semester. We also invite interns to participate in team meetings, lunch-n-learns, and brainstorming sessions (as long as they are not proprietary and/or involve sensitive client information). We also encourage all interns to ask questions and seek advice from anyone in the agency. The key is for these college students to have a positive experience while interning here. Sure, they do some admin work, but they also get some first-hand experience that is truly educational.

When possible, interns who have stood out after a semester of interning get offered part-time positions with us while they are finishing their college education. And when we have open entry-level positions, former interns are always the first folks we interview for jobs. While we can’t hire everyone who interns here, we are proud that dozens who have interned here have gone on to marketing communications positions at organizations around the country.

We’re proud of our internship program, and look forward to the program continuing to grow.

For more information, check out the recent article in the News & Observer about our internship program.

Partnering with Fantastic Sams

We are very excited to be representing one of the world’s largest full-service hair franchises, Fantastic Sams®. We were recently chosen as the agency of record for Fantastic Sams, Eastern North Carolina region. More »

Local Art, Local Artist

Ann Neely, a former art buyer at HM&P and one of the agency’s favorite artists, is currently being featured in the Greenville Museum of Art. Two of Ann’s paintings were accepted for the show, “A Visual Journey through North Carolina,” which runs through April 28th.

One of these paintings is the rear view of a beautiful historic farmhouse in the Louisburg area. The second is a painting of a mansion on Blount Street and is one of Ann’s most favorite places. http://gmoa.org/features/

Our Newest Client: KIOTI Tractor

KIOTI Tractor Logo

We are pleased to announce that we’ve been selected by KIOTI Tractor to be their agency of record. HM&P is providing a fully integrated communications campaign for the US and Canada.

Operating in North America since 1985, KIOTI focuses on compact tractors and UTVs, which is the fastest growing segment of an industry that retails nearly 200,000 units annually. KIOTI is well established in North America, with a network of over 300 dealers, but desires to take its current success to the next level. That is why they have contracted with us. The compact tractor marketplace, particularly in the US, is aggressive, with more marketing communications being leveled at consumers than in any other region of the world. Seeking an integrated marketing and communications partner, KIOTI carefully selected HM&P to help drive sales and capture market share.

As a first step, we worked with KIOTI to create a tighter definition of the KIOTI brand and targeted audiences, developed a new brand platform (which is a unique tool created by HM&P) and implemented a fully integrated marketing plan, complete with advertising, interactive, media planning and buying, as well as public relations services.

A cornerstone of the plan is an engaging and dynamic KIOTI website – http://www.kioti.com – which we both designed and built. KIOTI’s target is the “rural lifestyle farmer”, folks that farm as a lifestyle choice not a vocation. Knowing that the target audience is well-educated and web savvy, we designed the website to adapt to every type of web technology – tablets, smartphones, desktops, iPads and more – and employ the ease of navigation based on VOC (voice-of-the consumer) knowledge that makes the web most effective.

As agency of record, HM&P is in the process of designing a new creative look and tone, one with personality and distinction that will cut through the clutter of the marketplace. The far-reaching media plan leverages a limited budget for maximum efficiency, effectiveness, and a surprising amount of value-add. The PR campaign efforts entail strategic media relations, tradeshow publicity and thought leadership efforts.

Perhaps KIOTI’s CEO Peter Kim provides the best summary of HM&P’s role with the company:

We intend to achieve significant growth in the next two years. To do that we need an advertising and PR partner that is capable of vision, dedicated to excellence and committed to cost effective options. HM&P is the perfect choice for us.

For more information about the HM&P-KIOTI relationship, check out the press release.

Leveraging Opportunities at Tradeshows

As my colleague wrote in an earlier post, most marketers have a love-hate relationship with tradeshows. They surely have a purpose, but can be a drain on time, money and resources if a company does not take full advantage of the opportunity. What’s the opportunity? Your customers, partners, prospects, media, bloggers and other key influencers are all there.

So, what should your company consider doing at a tradeshow in addition to buying booth space and staffing it every hour of a show? Here are some ideas:

Tradeshow booths are great places to network, but make sure you venture out to get the most benefit from a tradeshow investment.

Face-to-Face Meetings – Schedule meetings with media and bloggers just like you would with customers and partners. These meetings are a great way for influencers interact with key spokespeople, see products and show off your booth. Don’t forget to leverage any local media opportunities – you may not be in this market for another year.

Press Kits – Bring press kits to put in the press room. Press kits should contain information about your company as well as current news.

Press Conferences or Press Breakfast – Have something to announce and/or showcase? Media and bloggers from all over the country gather at tradeshows. Much better odds to get them together at a tradeshow than at a standalone event.

Videos – Since many of your customers, partners and other influencers will have gathered at the tradeshow, consider scheduling time to video them – videos can be used for sales meetings, in internal communication

vehicles, on your website, and/or for social media.

Research – Take advantage of the captive audience. Conduct research right on the tradeshow floor. You can then use the research for social media, PR and/or internal development.

Speaking – Many tradeshows have educational sessions where attendees can learn about trends, hear points of view on issues and even get a sneak peak at a new technology. It’s worth checking out if there are any speaking opportunities you or your colleagues could pursue.

Sponsorships – Look into sponsorship opportunities at the show. There may be an opportunity too good to pass up.

Other opportunities to consider? Advertising, signage, parties, guerilla marketing, and much more.