Pittsburgh Brewing Marketer of the Year

Pittsburgh-brewing-brandmill-iron-city-marketing-awardBrandMill’s marketing partnership with Pittsburgh Brewing Company (brewers of Iron City Beer) helped earn the iconic brand its first Marketer of the Year Award (Consumer Products) from the Pittsburgh American Marketing Association. In BrandMill’s 11-year history, the Pittsburgh marketing firm has earned four Marketer of the Year and one Grand Marketer of the Year Award (performance-based) for its clients!


BUILD TRUST, IMPROVE PRODUCT AND INNOVATE
For the past decade and more, Pittsburgh Brewing Company has undergone multiple ownership changes, bankruptcy and moved its brewing operations 60 miles outside of Pittsburgh to City Brewing in  Latrobe, PA generating a ton of negative feelings and record low sales over many years for this historic Pittsburgh based brand established in 1861.

PITTSBURGH-BREWING-PIRATES-LANDING-BRANDMILLHowever, new Pittsburgh Brewing CEO Brian Walsh felt the time was right to drive favorable awareness about the brand because through his team’s hard work, relationships had been positively re- established with its wholesaler and distributor networks (10+ new sales people on the street vs. 1-2 over the past few years); the new contracted brewery operator was producing a higher quality consistent product (due to more modern equipment); relationships with Pittsburgh’s sports teams (Pirates, Steelers, Penguins) had been reignited and the brand was about to launch a new “craft” line under the name of Block House Brewing.

PITTSBURGH-BREWING-PIRATE-CAN-PRESS-KIT-BRANDMILLMARKETING COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY
With a low, limited budget, BrandMill was charged to create a low cost/high impact “WOW” Communications Strategy to excite the media and regional beer drinkers and to show that Pittsburgh Brewing was here to stay and getting better. Pittsburgh Brewing wanted to demonstrate (offer proof) to its customers and prospective/lapsed customers that they should be proud to know that the brand was back to its exciting innovative times and wanted to re-earn its trust as the favorite beer of Pittsburgh Nation. One press announcement would not suffice and a flurry of media executions was required.

THE FOUNDATIONAL IDEA – PITTSBURGH BREWING COMPANY’S PRESS KIT PLATFORM
BrandMill decided that Pittsburgh Brewing needed a “Press Kit Platform” to communicate and integrate its multiple messages and created a low cost 4X-hit Press Kit Platform. All targeted Pittsburgh Regional Media would receive low cost/high impact (size, color, content) press kits (4x – repeatedly – over 4 consecutive months) to guarantee readership, interest, curiosity, follow-up and coverage.

PITTSBURGH-BLOCK-HOUSE-BREWING-PUMPKIN-ALE-CHOCOLATE-BOCK-BRANDMILL-PRESS-KITPittsburgh Brewing’s Press Kit Platform enabled it to generate quick and extensive favorable brand awareness throughout Western Pennsylvania about the brand’s new product launches of its Pittsburgh Pirates (baseball team) themed cans; its new Block House Brewing (Craft Entry) Brand (i.e., Pumpkin Ale and Double Chocolate Bock); and, its new Red Hot Iron beer to further extend and enhance its brand recognition of the favorite beer of Pittsburgh Nation!


LOW COST, LOW TECH, HIGH IMPACT IDEA
The uniqueness of this Media Kit/s (platform) is that it’s an ‘old school’ low cost and high impact effort wrapped inside a unique platform of four consecutive new brand launches.

BrandMill used common plastic and cardboard mailing tubes to safely transport glass bottles of beer along with a press release and related elements (mnemonic devices) to the production of each beer brand – i.e., themed Pirates cans, Pumpkin Spice candle and Blockhouse key to “unlock the flavor of the Pumpkin Spice brand, and Chocolates and Chocolate scented candle for the Double Chocolate Bock and Red Hot candies for the Red Hot Iron brand.The press kit platform demonstrates to the media the care and seriousness that Pittsburgh Brewing is taking with its announcements – a flurry of positive, exciting and innovative news that the media needs to take notice, because their readers/viewers/listeners will be greatly interested.

 

PITTSBURGH-BREWING-RED-HOT-IRON-BRANDMILL-PRESS-KITFLAWLESS TECHNICAL EXECUTION
The color, graphics, messaging and “surprise and delight’ contents of the Press Kit Platform set it apart from all other communications pieces the media typically receive such as a boring, 1-D press release. The unique sizes of the mailing tubes demands that the recipient open it and discover what’s inside. And, the media thought the effort was clever, fun and interesting and drove their interest in our Pittsburgh Brewing’s NEW NEWS!

 

CAMPAIGN RESULTS
Pittsburgh Brewing’s Press Kit Platform led customers to basically say that, “Wow, it’s great so see Pittsburgh Brewing is back to doing exciting things – I can’t wait to see what’s up next!”

PITTSBURGH-BREWING-MEDIA-TOUR-BRANDMILL

Pittsburgh Brewing earned tremendous regional press coverage from both Print and Broadcast channels. Pittsburgh Brewing’s CEO was interviewed extensively on local business talk shows via Pittsburgh’s CBS and NBC affiliates) channels. Pittsburgh Brewing’s Social Media channels (primarily Facebook) surged to improved performance/traffic by 40%+ with a tremendous, enthusiastic response and without broadcast or print advertising support!Pittsburgh Brewing’s Press Kit Platform helped it to increase its sales throughout Q2-Q3 while the major American Style Lager brands (Budweiser, Coors, Miller) earned negative sales for the same time period throughout the region. In fact, its new Block House Brewing Pumpkin Ale brand sold out in record time!
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BrandMill Helps 86 Breast Cancer

For nearly 10 years, we’ve been a supporter of the American Cancer Society and its mission of celebrating more birthdays throughout western Pennsylvania. We’ve participated as a Board Member, Marketing Committee Chairperson and general volunteer.

However, this year is shaping up to be one of our more meaningful, gratifying and fun years as we’ve helped the Pittsburgh Region (New East Central Region) more effectively promote its Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Event.

The NFL and locally the Pittsburgh Steelers are huge ‘Strides’ supporters. And a year ago, we proposed the idea of using popular (and future NFL Hall of Famer – if we had a vote) Steelers Hines Ward as an event spokesperson asking people to help, “86 Breast Cancer!” Note: The number 86 is Hines’ number. FYI – to “86 something” means to get rid of or eliminate.

Well, this year the Steelers and Hines agreed and helped the ACS air a unique Public Service announcement with Pittsburgh’s NBC affiliate WPXI-TV and news anchor Peggy Finnegan (a breast cancer survivor) to “86 Breast Cancer” which is what number 86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is striving to do – and encouraging Pittsburghers to do!

Note: Hines and Peggy are joined in this first picture with American Cancer Society Regional Vice President Glenn Callihan.

Over and above the ’86 Breast Cancer” idea, we’ve supported the ACS brand as its Facebook marketing coach, initiated a sponsor meeting with the local Chevrolet Dealer Marketing Group of Pittsburgh (who raised nearly 15% of the total donations to date) and set up a television interview on Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA-TV s Pittsburgh Today LIVE show.

Tim Colussy, Corina Diehl, Glenn Callihan, Kristine Sorensen

We’re always excited to work alongside brands to help them maximize all of the storytelling opportunities they have available to them and show them the way so they can even do it more effectively themselves. And, they are!

And as a result, I’m happy to report that the American Cancer Society’s 2nd annual Pittsburgh Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk held on October 29, 2011 on Pittsburgh’s North Shore (just outside of Heinz Field) involved more than 3,000 walkers and helped raise nearly $300,000 – nearly twice the amount raised in 2010.

Participants included teams from Western Pennsylvania corporations, businesses and organizations that formed Making Strides teams, as well as participation from individuals, including breast cancer survivors, family members and friends.

Of course, the fight is not over yet! Donations will continue to be accepted in order to help the American Cancer Society reach their fundraising goal. Donations can still be made online at cancer.org/stridesonline or by calling 1.888.227.5445.

Proceeds from Making Strides Against Breast Cancer support the American Cancer Society’s life-saving breast cancer research, education, advocacy, patient services, and community partnership grants for women in Pittsburgh.

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Pittsburgh’s Priory Hotel New Wing Celebration

We love working on Grand Openings, Grand Re-Openings, New Product Launches and more!

Next to having your own baby, it’s got to be right up there in terms of great days if you love marketing and public relations like we do!

There’s just nothing like holding a special exciting event to kickoff a brand’s ‘NEW NEWS!”

And, it truly comes down to what YOU make of it.

Public Relations is an art that’s not practiced enough in our opinion for lots of reasons.

The biggest reason is because it’s hard work and most people don’t like to “bring it” and put the time in that’s necessary to do an exceptional job.

The second big reason is that the majority of brands are simply boring and adequate and have no interesting stories to tell.  What a shame.

We’re honored to work with lots of great brands such as our good friends at the Priory Hospitality Group.

And, when they asked us to help them kick off the grand opening of their new wing we jumped at the opportunity.

In the picture above, we had all of the key people responsible for getting the Priory Hotel’s new wing open for business such as co-owners and operators John and Suzanne Graf, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, key employees and the architect, builder and interior designer.

The $2.7 million expansion of The Priory added 17 rooms, a 70 percent expansion of the hotel’s capacity. Located in the Deutschtown section of the North Side, the hotel expanded into a building leveled by fire two years earlier.

This picture is a great representation of a Grand Opening done right.

We kept all of these key figures and media appraised of the opening event far in advance with our custom “Countdown to Go” grand opening list and started months ahead of the event to make sure we didn’t miss a detail and to ensure that our execution was flawless.

The result?

We achieved widespread media coverage in Pittsburgh’s major daily and community newspapers and all television networks.

And, as important, we earned the continued respect, endorsement and marketing partnership from the Priory and the Graf family.

Here’s a link to an online story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

It appeared on the front page of the Local News Section of the paper and is just one of several pieces of media coverage we earned.

As you prepare for 2012, think about the meaningful stories you can share with your local media and customers.

If you don’t have any, get to work on some. If you do, start planning – well in advance – to show and tell them!

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Colussy Chevrolet’s Place in Americana

Chevrolet will be kicking off a huge celebration in early November for its 100th Anniversary.

And, what many people do not know is Pittsburgh’s unique role in Chevrolet’s history courtesy of the Colussy family.

Check out this story by Teresa Lindeman which we earned for our newest client Colussy Chevrolet on the front page of today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Business Section – Colussy Chevrolet, A Place in Americana.

Chevy Runs Deep In Pittsburgh, PA

Congratulations to brothers Tim and Jon Colussy who now lead the third generation ownership of Colussy Chevrolet in Bridgeville, PA for their well deserved recognition. Chevrolet’s oldest dealership in America is now in its 93rd year of operation since 1918.

It’s true when they say that Chevy runs deep. Chevy runs deep in Pittsburgh, PA and a little deeper in Bridgeville, PA.

P.S.: Here is the first Road We’re On’ video from NYC’s Mother ad agency in preparation for Chevrolet’s 100th anniversary.  It’s the first in a series and features Bridgeville, PA and Colussy Chevrolet.  Enjoy – it’s excellent.

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Best Amusement Park for Kids and Families

Idlewild and SoakZone Best Park for Kids & Families

All of us at BrandMill are happy to report that one of our super clients – Idlewild & Soak Zone in Ligonier, PA (about an hour drive from Pittsburgh) – is now open and operating its 134th season of summer fun and has made a huge splash with its new water park attraction, “Wowabunga” Family Wave Pool.

New Wowabunga Family Wave Pool

 

Wowabunga features intermittent waves suitable for both younger and older guests as well as a “beach” area perfect for guests looking to soak up the summer sun. See awe-inspiring cirque entertainment all summer long at Cirque Extreme – Under the Big Top and enjoy the following special events – all included with the price of admission – and with free picnicking too:

  • June 13 – 17 & June 20 – 24 – BOGO Days
  • June 19 – Firefighter/EMS Family Appreciation Day
  • June 27 – July 3 – Showcase of Stars
  • July 4 – Fireworks
  • July 5 -8 – Antique & Classic Car Show and Parade
  • July 11 – 15 – Mister Rogers’ Neighbor Days
  • July 18 – 22 – Meet the Marvel Comic Super Heroes (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America)
  • July 25 -29 – Christmas In July
  • July 31 – Cheerleading Competition
  • August 12 – Italian Day Festa
  • August 22 – 26 – Car Load Days
  • October – Hallowboo!

For more details, check out this recent video on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today LIVE featuring Park Spokesperson Jeff Croushore.

About Idlewild & ZoakZone

Founded in 1878 as a simple picnic ground along the Ligonier Valley Rail Road, Idlewild & SoakZone is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and third-oldest in America. In addition, it is rated the best kid’s park in the world by Amusement Today magazine and the best park for families by the National Amusement Park Historical Association. Idlewild features seven fun theme areas such as SoakZone Waterpark, Story Book Forest and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe.  Seasonal operations run through Labor Day and “Hallowboo,” a Halloween-themed event, takes place in October. Idlewild is part of the Palace Entertainment family which hosts over 13 million visitors annually at 40 locations across the country.  With 8 theme parks, 11 water parks and 21 family entertainment centers, Palace is the largest operator of water parks and family entertainment centers in the nation. For more information, call 724.238.3666 or visit http://www.idlewild.com and http://www.palaceentertainment.com.

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Gateway Analytical – CSI of Pittsburgh

Congratulations to our super new client Gateway Analytical in Gibsonia, PA on its public grand opening this week. We’re proud to say we earned some well deserved publicity for the “CSI of Pittsburgh!”

A subsidiary of Pittsburgh’s ChemImage, Gateway Analytical provides advanced analytical testing for the forensics (police, FBI, etc.), materials science and pharma industries, and helps each to speed up their testing and reduce their costs.   The company offers services that relay vital information about product quality and investigate regulatory noncompliance issues-all things that are more relevant today and more important than ever before because of America’s growing concern regarding health and safety.  Plus, an increase in government regulation over the safety of consumer products will increase the need for testing laboratories such as Gateway Analytical.

Along with the ceremonial ribbon cutting led by PA Congressman Jason Altmire, the grand opening included guided tours of the new 3,000-square foot facility, and brief remarks from industry experts and community leaders, including representatives from PA State Senator Jane Orie’s Office – Ashley Sisca – and from PA House Majority Leader Mike Turzai’s Office, Mike Hritz.

Check out this awesome feature story (and video) for KDKA-TV by Rick Dayton.

Here’s more from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review and the Pine-Richland Patch. More to come.

All of us at BrandMill were proud to part of Gateway Analytical’s special day and it’s history!

Photo: Dr. Ryan Priore, Jim McGlone, PA Congressman Jason Altmire, Dave Exline, Mike Hritz, Ashley Sisca, John Belechak and Dr. Oksana Olkhovyk

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The Priory Hospitality Group

Grand Hall Front EntranceThe Priory Hospitality Group (http://www.thepriory.com) properties consist of the Priory Hotel a 24-room European-style boutique hotel on Pittsburgh’s North Shore rated the best in Pittsburgh by Zagat Survey® (fifth edition); Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory (http://www.pittsburghsgrandhall.com) located adjacent to the hotel and situated in the former St. Mary’s German Catholic Church, which offers a breathtaking space for weddings, banquets, parties, charity events and gatherings of all types; and the award-winning Priory Fine Pastries (http://www.prioryfinepastries.com) custom bakery. In addition, it is a leader in the revitalization effort of the National Register District of Deutschtown.

For several years, BrandMill has served as a marketing consultant and coach for the Priory and the following are a few of the ways we have built its brand image and record level sales despite a poor economy:

  • Recommended that all future branding efforts be harnessed underneath the Priory Hospitality Group banner and that John Graf be positioned and highlighted as the leader of this family owned and operated hospitality brand,
  • Created a unique sales funnel reporting system and sales travel path to increase closing ratios
  • Built an email marketing system that earns open and click through rates far above industry averages. The system now utilizes video – driving open rates to record levels
  • Built a Social Media Marketing platform via a Blog, Facebook, YouTube and future Twitter executions
  • Earned considerable press coverage for the brand
  • To profitably build sales in the winter, developed a record breaking Winter White Wedding sales and marketing concept
  • Built a new website for Priory Fine Pastries, increasing website hits, search engine traffic and overall web visibility tremendously
  • Built Priory Fine Pastries a Social Media Marketing platform via Blog, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr

Through competitive shops and industry research, led Priory Fine Pastries’ development of a new product line of bigger and better pastries, cupcakes, cookies and cakes wrapped into its 5th Anniversary.

Press Coverage

November 24, 2009 – Priory Fine Pastries celebrates 5 years of business with the biggest cupcake in the city
June 19, 2009 – The Priory hotel on Pittsburgh’s North Side making plans to expand

June 2009 – Accidental Innkeeper, John Graf, Makes the Priory a Stand-Out Pittsburgh Hotel
December 1, 2008 – First mates: Weddings for military couples may be rushed but don’t lack class
June 12, 2007 – The Priory Hotel: A Perfect Pittsburgh Wedding Reception

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New iPad Wine List Rocks

I got my new iPad back in May – a moment in time I’ll always refer to as my “Christmas in May” and am having a love affair with it.

Sure there are things about the iPad that I wished it had, but the positives outweigh the negatives.

When I started to play with the iPad, I started to think thought long and hard about how we can apply it to improve our client’s business.

We do a ton of hospitality marketing work and this past summer, one of our great clients, Kevin Joyce owner of The Carlton Restaurant in Pittsburgh had closed his restaurant for two months for a much needed remodel after 25 years in business.

Kevin called me to go over some new ideas to kick off the new restaurant with a bang –  especially since his reopening was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, August 18 – opening night of Pittsburgh’s new Consol Energy Center with a concert by Sir Paul McCartney.

One of my first thoughts, was what could we do to:

  1. Reaffirm the fact that The Carlton has the biggest and best wine lists (15+ year Wine Spectator Award winner) – Great Wine is a big USP for the restaurant
  2. Complement The Carlton’s new 450 bottle wine library – the restaurant’s soul
  3. Showcase the fact that The Carlton offers the best wine dinners in Pittsburgh

In a snap, we thought, “Create an iPad Wine List to replace The Carlton’s 45 page paper wine list.” Using an iPad wine list would create a “halo” effect of flawless contemporary execution of the Carlton’s 45 page paper wine list and separate them even more so from the pack of restaurants they compete against.

As an aside – I know I may be biased, but I think The Carlton i the best restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh and I thought that fact to be true long before I started working for them…anyway…

Instinctively back in May, we Googled “iPad wine list” and could not find any U.S. restaurant using iPads for menus, but we found a great story about an Australian restaurant that swapped out its menus for iPads.

Kevin and I must have been doing a “Vulcan Mind Meld” at the time, because when we called him, he said he saw the Aussie story  and was ready to rock.

Our iPad wine list is not as aggressive as the Aussie menu – we prefer to walk before we run with the wine list first then potentially move to the food menu – but I can tell you that the iPad has significantly improved The Carlton’s brand image of Pittsburgh’s premier dining and wine establishment and improved wine sales too – customers love it!

We’ll soon cut a brief video explaining how the wine list works, but know these things:

  1. The iPad can be used to help lift your business
  2. Look for products and/or service executions that create brand “halo” USPs
  3. It’s better to phase in technology improvements to your business to flawlessly execute and gain an immediate WOW from your customers before someone else comes along and steals your marketing thunder and you look like a market follower and/or a “me too” brand**
  4. Great clients make great marketing firms

**Note: In the time we started to work on and launch The Carlton’s iPad wine list, there have been major news articles about iPad wine lists in use at Central Park South Gate restaurant (7.2.10),  Bones in Atlanta (9.13.10), III Forks in Jacksonville (8.11.10), but hey The Carlton had the first iPad wine list in Pennsylvania! More news to come as we continue to improve our iPad wine list effort.

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BrandMill Clients Win Big at Restaurant Gala

‘m proud to announce that two BrandMill clients, John Graf of the Priory Hospitality Group and Kevin Joyce of The Carlton Restaurant both won two of the three most distinguished awards from the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association.

John won the Wilmer S. Lapp Keystone Award and Kevin won Restaurateur of the Year!

Our Winter White Wedding Campaign for the Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory lifted sales an amazing 433% and our new Web site, Blog and email marketing campaigns for The Carlton have driven Web site views nearly 1000% – yes, not a typo – that’s driving one thousand percent Web site page views!

All of us at BrandMill are proud to be partners with these two super brands and gentlemen.

Photo: L-R – Kevin Joyce, Stephen Wayhart, John Graf

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American Marketing Association – Pittsburgh Chapter

AMA InsertAs president of the Pittsburgh American Marketing Association (http://www.amapittsburgh.org) for the 2007/08 season and members of the programming and communications teams, Stephen Wayhart led the 63 year old Chapter into the record books by building the largest membership of Pittsburgh marketing executives in its long history and achieved its highest increase in Revenue-to-Expense Ratio of 122+%!

AMA Pittsburgh Chapter goals were met working under an aggressive “Raise the Marketing Bar” Mantra.

The Chapter delivered more member value (3X the number of speakers than prior years), more innovative programming offerings such as Summertime Marketing Mixers, Fall and Spring Marketing Summits (Digital and Target Marketing) and Pittsburgh’s first Marketer of the Year and Hall of Fame event!

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