The official blog of Nancy Marshall Communications
offering tips, techniques, and thoughts from Maine's PR Maven, Nancy Marshall


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4 Marketing Lessons from the Red Sox 2013 Season

The Culting of BrandsEffective brand building requires creating a network of raving fans who will support you and your organization in good times and bad times. This article by NMC Account Executive Greg Glynn talks about Red Sox Nation, which is a great example of a cult-like following for a brand. The book The Culting of Brands, by Douglas Atkin, analyzes how strong brands are built on the foundation of a strong cult of brand followers.

As a sports fan, I enjoy watching the success of a championship sports team at any level. What the Boston Red Sox accomplished in 2013 was completely different from any other championship sports team in history.

From a marketing perspective, there is a lot we can learn from their season. Based on the Red Sox success, here are 4 lessons related to their season that can help improve your marketing efforts.

1. There is always room for improvement

The Red Sox were the worst team in baseball in 2012 finishing with a record of 69-93. Their team batting average was .260 and their defense allowed more than 800 runs during the season. As a result, attendance plummeted and the team’s consecutive sell-out streak of 820 games came to an end.

In evaluating those numbers and the negative energy that the fans showed toward the team, ownership acknowledged that the current situation wasn’t working—they fired manager Bobby Valentine, cleared out the players and personalities that had high-price contracts and low production (not to mention eating fried chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse). In evaluating the statistics and sentiment from fans at the end of the 2012 season, the organization made significant changes and off-season moves to improve the quality of the players on the team, both on the field and in the community.

In marketing, we always need to be constantly evaluating what is working and what isn’t. The use of measurable tools such as Google Analytics, traceable phone numbers and data from Facebook Insights are just some examples of ways marketers can better understand the numbers that are important to us to decide what might need to change.

2. Adversity can be an opportunity

The tragic events that occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April marked a very sad day in Boston, but in typical Boston and New England fashion, the city rallied and the Boston Red Sox helped in the healing process and gave the city strength.

Boston strong logo
Photo credit:

It was just a few days after the marathon that the Red Sox returned home to Fenway Park from a road trip and superstar slugger David Ortiz addressed the crowd. He said “This is our (expletive) city,” as part of his speech to the fans. It was at that very moment that the team publicly addressed and acknowledged the adversity the city was facing. It was clear from that moment forward the team took on the mission to show the world the strength of the city, the state and all of Red Sox nation. It also led to the slogan “Boston Strong” which turned into the mantra for the team the entire season.

When marketers face adversity, whether it is an underperforming product or negative customer feedback, public relations crisis or sad emotional time for the company, it is important to find your inner strength and find the best way to handle the adversity. While it is never easy, in some cases it might be a defining moment for your business and a chance to demonstrate the passion behind your brand. In other cases, such as a company error or mistake, it means an opportunity to learn from what went wrong and take ownership of correcting it.

Just look at what happened in Boston and how the city rallied. Days after the bombing, The One Fund was created for victims of the Boston Marathon attacks and today more than $71 million has been raised through donations from across the country.

Days after the marathon, the Boston Red Sox organization stepped up and made a $100,000 donation to One Fund Boston and made several more contributions throughout the season through charity events and promotions that raised additional awareness and funds for The One Fund. They didn’t have to raise the money or organize the events they did, but they chose to and that showed their fan base and the world exactly how much the team supports its fans and the city of Boston.

3. Be unique

If you thought playoff beards were only for hockey players, you’re wrong. The 2013 Boston Red Sox proved they could pull off the bearded look and it became a part of their identity all season long. By the unique look, it gave this team an identity that will be remembered forever.

It was originally players Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and Dustin Pedroia that came up with the crazy idea in spring training to grow beards for the entire season. By mid-season, several other players had adopted the Paul Bunyan look and it brought the players fun-loving attitude to the park each night. The players had created a unique sense of chemistry around the beards and the fans of the team adopted it, as well.

The team ownership recognized the marketing opportunity to embrace the look and get fans involved. In fact, on September 18, the Red Sox as an organization hosted “Dollar Beard Night” at Fenway Park and all fans that came to the game with a beard could get a ticket for just $1.

During the World Series, there were even women wearing pink beards, kids wearing colored-on beards and, during the championship parade, even “Wally the Green Monster” was wearing a beard. Needless to say, it caught on with everyone and became a distinctive quality of this team that fans will never forget.

4. Build an emotional attachment to your brand

While this lesson sits at number 4 on the list, it is one of the most important. Branding is a lot about emotion, and the feeling people have about your product and the values of the company.

After the events that took place at the Boston Marathon, the Red Sox players and ownership stepped up and helped the city handle the sadness and adversity by showing their passionate commitment to the community, and in the process, created a strong affinity for their brand because they became immense emotional leaders for the city, region and country. During the course of the year, the team honored several of the unsung heroes, as well as the victims and their families, which showcased the passion of the players and ownership during what was a very, very difficult time.

Visually, the Red Sox brand also became a part of the city’s strength. After the marathon, the team wore patches with the team logo and the word “STRONG” under it the rest of the season. The team put the same logo on the 37-foot-high Green Monster and mowed the logo in the outfield grass for the World Series. All of these were constant visual reminders of what was motivating this team and that this season was bigger than baseball.

World Series Boston Strong ESPN
ESPN.go photo. Credit: ESPN

The emotional climax and perhaps most moving moment that many fans (and non- baseball fans) will remember is when Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes stopped the championship parade in the streets of Boston at the finish line of the Boston Marathon (where the bombing took place just seven months before) and placed a team jersey with the phrase “Boston Strong” and the number 617 (area code in Boston) on it over the World Series trophy as “God Bless America” played over the loud speaker.

This was a powerful moment for the Red Sox brand. At that very moment, it wasn’t what the Red Sox had done on the field that fans were cheering for, they were cheering because of how that moment made them feel.

You might not be able to put a championship ring on your finger like the Red Sox, but you do have the opportunity to find new ways to engage your customers and make them feel a stronger emotional connection to your brand.

Helpful Social Media Policy from Chris Brogan and Julien Smith in their book, The Impact Equation

I spend a lot of time driving my car back and forth to work and to client meetings, usually all around the beautiful state of Maine. As a matter of fact, I put in about 25,000 to 30,000 miles a year. I am so thankful that I discovered Audible, which is an online service that allows me to purchase books that I download to my phone then listen to on the Bluetooth in my car.

The Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien SmithRecently I listened to “The Impact Equation,” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. It was so good, that I plan to listen to it again soon. The authors themselves read their own words. I heard Chris speak in person last year in Portland, and listening to him read his book was like having him sitting next to me in my car, giving me invaluable advice on strengthening business relationships.

The thing I found most helpful was the advice on establishing a social media policy for your business. You may know that at Nancy Marshall Communications, we write strategic marketing plans, which we call The Marshall Plans®, and we include tips on building relationships through social media. This policy will be a helpful addition to our plans.

  1. When commenting, please use appropriate language, the kind of language you would use in front of your kids. Please refrain from curse words.
  2. We welcome on-topic comments.
  3. If you have a negative opinion of our company or any of our people, please feel free to connect with us via our “contact us” page so we can follow up with your comments or concerns.
  4. We welcome your suggestions. We really do want to address your concerns.

Internal Policy for employees:

  1. If there are curse words in a social media post, edit those out, but leave the rest of the comment.
  2. If they are talking about our company or a competitor’s company, do not delete, even if it’s praising a competitor’s company.
  3. Do your best to follow up with anyone who has a complaint, even if you believe they are in the wrong.
  4. Pass on any praise to the appropriate person.
  5. Handling comments or criticism is important to growing the human element of our company.

Thanks Chris and Julien! I am a huge proponent of building your brand by building and strengthening the network around you as a person and around your company. Your book makes a case for this kind of brand-building through relationship building.

Some Changes on the Maine PR Maven Blog

Today marks a new era on the Maine PR Maven Blog. We will no longer have our regular Monday, Wednesday and Friday posts. Instead, I will be posting less regularly and only when I have something worthwhile to share. I hope to continue to profile interesting people, places and events taking place in my beloved home state of Maine.

When I attend conferences or workshops, I will share what I learn and the people I meet on the blog.  If I see you, let me know you are a reader of the blog and I’ll take your photo and you’ll appear right here!

I also plan to share Maine recipes since I enjoy cooking and entertaining.  I enjoy visiting restaurants around the state, and plan to post photos and menus from various restaurants that I visit.

Finally, I will feature books from Maine authors as well as interesting books on public relations and marketing, because I’m a real fan of both categories.

Please visit often and feel free to share your thoughts and comments.  Let me know what you like and what you don’t like.


Nancy Marshall


Melanie Randall: Inspiring Others to Live and Dance Strong

Founder of Live and Dance Strong, and Owner of Dancewear House, Melanie Randall.

Everyone has their own ways of dealing with a loss, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Melanie Randall, decided to take one of the most difficult times in her life, and turn it into something beautiful as a way to process her grief.

Five years ago, Melanie’s father, Richard J. Randall, passed away and she set out to start an event that would help in her healing process. The result was Live and Dance Strong, a fundraiser that serves as a wonderful opportunity for choreographers and dancers alike to come together and deliver a unique dance experience.

Randall says, “Each year the show is different, and we have begun to touch on other people’s pain and grieving process. Cancer has affected so many people. I never dreamed that by starting Live and Dance Strong I would bring hope and empowerment to so many other young women who have lost someone—it’s been very special.”

This year, the event brought their total donations to the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care to more than $30,000 since its inception and for the first time, they paid a special tribute to cancer survivors.

Planning for Live and Dance Strong starts in early winter, and around March Melanie begins to send letters to local businesses, requesting sponsorships and donations for the show. In May, she sends out choreographer applications to studios in the area.

They recently added a concert element to the planning process, by hosting a concert at their home on the lake in an effort to raise awareness and funding within the community. Melanie adds that social media has also made the event easier to put together, saying, “Facebook has made it easy for us to have an online presence, enabling us to connect with choreographers and sponsors we may not have met any other way.”

Even after growing up dancing for Keltie Collins, Andrei Bossov and Genie O’Brien, she never imagined that she would have a career in dance. It wasn’t until she was getting ready to graduate with a degree in English that she considered buying Dancewear House in Hallowell, but after six and a half years, it was clearly the right choice. She says, “I wasn’t really sure that an English degree would prepare me for running a business, but my years in college certainly did.”

Melanie (center) with her Mom, Mary Elizabeth Randall (left), and her fiancé, Scott Lowery (right) following this year’s Live and Dance Strong event.

Most days, you will find Melanie helping young girls find their way on a similar career path. She says, “I spend most of my days with dancers’ feet in my face,” as the primary person that handles Pointe shoe fittings.

So what is her secret to happiness and success?

Randall says, “Follow your dreams—find something in life that you’re passionate about, and keep it close to you, especially when life gets hard. We all have the ability to take a negative situation and make it into a positive one, so don’t ever give up! One person has all of the potential in the world to touch someone’s life and change their own.”

To learn how you can get involved with Live and Dance Strong, please visit,, or like the Dancewear House on Facebook.

Summit Natural Gas of Maine to Debut Green Team at Old Hallowell Day Parade

This Saturday, July 20, Summit Natural Gas of Maine will be participating in the Old Hallowell Day parade. NMC staff has been prepping lots of candy and stickers for parade swag. The parade starts at 10 a.m. and runs along Water Street downtown, and features a variety of local businesses.

Smarties everywhere! The NMC conference room is packed with parade supplies for Summit Natural Gas. Join us in downtown Hallowell on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Join Summit Natural Gas of Maine as they debut their Green Team this Saturday. The Green Team is a group of Augusta-based employees who will represent the company by serving as volunteers at community-based projects in the individual towns Summit serves in the Kennebec Valley.

 See you there!

Protecting Your Privacy and Embracing Facebook Graph Search

There is a lot of confusion surrounding Facebook’s Graph Search, particularly when it comes to privacy. Let us clear that up for you.

Facebook sure has come a long way from its inception almost 10 years ago. A universal theme throughout its existence has been how to maintain one’s privacy, while remaining social.

Many people were already worried about privacy settings and how to control access to their private information—enter Graph Search which makes it even easier for people to search your Facebook activity, and is steadily becoming available to all U.S. Facebook users.

How do you keep your privacy? Up in the right hand corner of your Facebook screen, you will find a padlock. When you click on it, you will be given some choices:

Who can see my stuff?

Who can contact me?

How do I stop someone from bothering me?

When you click on the arrows beside any of these, you will see a variety of options that will allow you to decide everything from who can see any of your future posts (public, friends, friends except acquaintances, or only me), to which messages end up in your inbox, and who can send you friend requests.

Hopefully you already have your profile on lock, but if not, now is the perfect time to explore these settings. Facebook makes it remarkably easy to filter who sees what, labeling people as close friends, friends, or acquaintances, or putting them into another custom list. You have complete control over each custom list’s unique privacy settings.

For example, if you have a vendor list, you can post things that pertain to inventory needs or supplies, and make it visible to only the people on your vendors list. Or, you can create a VIP list, and offer inside scoops to anyone on that custom list.

Facebook lists are a great way to decide the visibility of your posts. By putting people into lists you are able to still make the same Facebook posts, but they will only be visible by the people on the list you choose to share it with.

If you go into your friends and scroll over the bar next to their name, you will be given the option of customizing what you see from them, and labeling them so that you can limit what they see from you.

For example, only the people I label as close friends see every post I make, or every photo I upload to Facebook. Just about everyone else is labeled as an acquaintance, and they will only see posts that I label as visible to “all friends,” which mainly consist of shared articles or my professional posts.

So what does this mean for Graph Search?

Graph Search does not share everything with everyone—it will only share what you allow it to share. So, if you have a post or a photo’s visibility set to:

Only Me; no one else will find it

Friends; only friends (excluding anyone labeled as an acquaintance) will see it in their Graph Search results

Friends Except Acquaintances; only your few and closest friends will be able to find it via Graph Search

Public; it is visible to anyone and everyone on Facebook using Graph Search

If you’re worried about your privacy on Facebook, then you may want to explore these settings.

Graph Search may be scary for some personal profiles—just ask Tom Scott, who created a Tumblr for embarrassing finds via the search engine. However, for businesses that use it correctly, it levels the playing field between small, local businesses and corporate machines.

Business owners and marketers alike are already talking about the ways they plan to use the search to better identify their target audiences (searching what they like, where they go and who they know), recruit new employees, build stronger communities, and acquire new customers.

If you’re a local business, encourage people to check-in or share via Facebook that they love your french toast – encourage them to leave reviews, and post your special offers and discounts on your Facebook page. All of these things will increase the likelihood of your business showing up in Graph Search, leading to you being discovered by more people.

As for personal profiles, it may be time to reevaluate your privacy settings, clean house and limit your past posts.

Em Robertson Makes her Mark with Mprint

Owner and Designer of Mprint, Em Robertson
Modeling the Mprint Honolulu Transit Pendant

New York City, Boston, California, Canada and Presque Isle are some of the places this week’s Monday Maine Maven has called home. Em Robertson is the owner and designer of Mprint jewelry, a Maine-based accessories company.

Robertson says her love for the world of design and fashion was cultivated at a young age. She says, “My mother was a retail fashion buyer and would tell me about her buying trips in New York City. That really opened the doors to the business side of the fashion industry to me.”

The Presque Isle native says that she is “extremely proud” that she grew up a country girl adding, “I think it is one of the main reasons I am so driven and hard-working. Yes, it is really far up north, freezing, and it isn’t filled with endless things to do, but it is a great community that is full of hard-working and supportive people.”

Em’s parents wanted their children to experience different cultures, so Em and her family would travel four to five times a year—trips that she credits for her development of “the travel itch” at a very young age.

However, when it came to making a career choice for herself, Em wasn’t quite sure that fashion was the perfect fit. She stayed local, attending the University of Maine at Orono to study business marketing. During her junior year, she interned in New York City with Macy’s corporate marketing division and she says, “It confirmed the idea that I wanted to continue my education in fashion.”

After graduating, Em spent her summer applying to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and moved to Los Angeles. She says, “I felt like it was a place I needed to conquer. Being involved in such a creative culture and community of talented people made the transition much easier.”

Robertson says, “I had a lot of learning experiences in Hollywood,” but ultimately, she decided to move back to Maine to launch her jewelry collection.

Just a sampling of the jewelry you can find at

The launch of Mprint has been incredibly successful on local, national and international levels, with her jewelry being featured in online stores, magazines and various noteworthy fashion blogs. One of her necklaces even made an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America worn by correspondent Rachel Smith.

The success of the launch is credited to Em’s strong public relations background and the use of social media. She says, “I wrote everyone I knew to start spreading the word and tried to get as much information and product to top editors, stylists and boutique owners to build awareness of the brand.” She adds, “I think Facebook creates an unreal buzz for designers—people can express to their peers what they like, and it opens doors for other people to like the product. The accessibility to this kind of online marketing for a start-up company like Mprint is beyond beneficial.”

According to Em, social media, Instagram in particular, is a great tool for inspiration, too. Em says, “I definitely draw inspiration for my collection pieces by immersing myself in social media sites, but my go-to is Instagram. Maybe it’s because I’m a creative person, but I just feel like seeing an image speaks so much louder than words.” Other sources that inspire are local consignment shops, family heirlooms, street style and nature.

Em Robertson says that social media serves as a vital part of her branding strategy for Mprint.

What’s next for Mprint? Em says, “I’m constantly thinking about ways to expand Mprint, and to grow as a socially responsible brand.” This is why they will be introducing a new hair accessories collaboration in their Fall ’13 collection with a design-driven nonprofit social enterprise that supports women-owned businesses in Rwanda.

You will also find them at one of the world’s largest and most vibrant marketplace tradeshows, AccessoriesTheShow, in New York City next month.

To learn more about Em and Mprint you may check out her website,, like them on Facebook, or follow @Mprintjewelry on Twitter.

The Lunder Collection: A Gift of Art to Colby College

On Tuesday, I had the privilege of previewing the Lunder Collection at the Colby Museum of Art. The space is awe inspiring. I am so proud of my alma mater for having a museum of this significance right on the campus, which is already a beautiful place. This museum makes it even more beautiful and appealing to students, families, visitors and Maine people.

The Lunder Collection makes its public debut Saturday, June 13, 2013 and will be on display through June 8, 2014.

The addition of this collection to the Colby College Museum of Art in July 2013, represents the largest selection of the Lunder Collection since the announcement of the promised gift in 2007. Widely acknowledged as one of the most important holdings of American art ever assembled by private collectors, the Lunder Collection comprises more than 500 objects including works by Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, and James McNeill Whistler.

The debut of the collection will be open to the public on Sunday, July 14, 2013 from noon to 5 p.m.


Public Relations: It’s a Mindset, Not a One-Time Activity

Nancy Marshall, CEO of Nancy Marshall Communications

Three Tips to Generate PR on an Ongoing Basis

I frequently talk with clients who say that they want to do “a little bit of PR.” When I hear that, I sometimes have to bite my tongue so as not to say “there’s no such thing as a little bit of PR.”

Public relations is a mindset. It’s something you need to be thinking about all the time. Well, maybe you don’t need to think about it as much as I do, because I really do think about it all the time (just ask my husband).  But  if you are always thinking about your relationship with the public, and your targeted publics in particular, then you are more likely to experience success with building your brand.

Here are three tips that will help you think like a PR professional:

1. Share helpful information with your targeted publics

Leverage social media—post on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter on how to accomplish something in your field of work.

Give a speech to the local Rotary explaining the latest trends in your industry.

Host an informational workshop for your clients and friends at a local community center in your area of business.

2. Watch the news of the day to see how you might be able to offer expertise.

Recently there was a train crash and oil explosion in Lac Megantic, Quebec, right over the border from Maine. Anyone with experience in how trains work, or the way oil is prone to burn uncontrollably, could speak with authority to the news about this tragedy. Or an expert in psychotherapy could talk about how you should talk to your children about tragic events.  Figuring out ways to adapt a national news story and leverage it for your own PR is called “newsjacking,” and it’s an amazingly effective public relations technique.

3. Look for opportunities to share the news of your business.

Have you hired a new employee?  Send out a press release with his or her head shot. Have you taken on a new client or customer? That’s a good reason for a press release, as well. How about an award or a published article? That’s newsworthy. A new invention, patent, or trademark? Yes, that’s also a reason to reach out to the news media. 


A little bit of PR will do just that:  get you a little bit of PR. But if you are always thinking about how to get your news out there to your targeted audiences and raise your profile with the public, then you are more likely to benefit from increased awareness in the marketplace.

Creating a Catalyst for Change

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” –Mahatma Gandhi

Founder and Creative Director of Katalyst, Kyle Poissonnier

It is one of the most recognized quotes from Gandhi, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Kyle Poissonnier, brings the idea to fruition with the launch of his new Portland-based brand, Katalyst.

Poissonnier first garnered media attention five years ago when he took a thesis project from an entrepreneur class and made it a reality. The brand Elykssor (pronounced elixir) was formed. Essentially, Kyle says, “Someone asked me what I wanted to do. I said I liked clothes, started, and learned as I went.”

It wasn’t until his fourth year in business that the brand began to see any real traction, and so he went back to the drawing board to focus on the direction he wanted to take—enter Katalyst. Kyle says, “I’m taking all of my experiences—wins and losses—into Katalyst. With Elykssor, I found myself doing so many different things. Katalyst encompasses all of them.”

So what is Katalyst? Kyle says that it is based on the idea that “every person in the world affects us in some way,” and that this brand embodies that, by acting as a catalyst for change and enabling people to accomplish their goals as a symbol for confidence and positivity.

Katalyst is a brand that plans to pay-it-forward by developing ‘Katalyst Kollaborative’ communities. While the brand will be developing and selling a variety of clothing, ranging from fitness gear to everyday wear, they will also be providing custom-designed wear for fundraising opportunities.

Kyle says, “I remember when I was a kid the fundraiser stuff was all candy bars and magazine subscriptions—what we offer are custom shirts that are fun to wear, to sell and to bring a community together.”

For example, if a high school athletic boosters program needed to raise money, they would contact Kyle and his team, and they would design a Katalyst-branded shirt with the high school’s logo that could be sold to raise money. In return, that school is added to the Katalyst Kollaboration community.

Last year, the Skowhegan freshman class sold their custom shirts and raised more than $2,500. Kyle presented the shirts to the class, and spoke with the students about pursuing their dreams by sharing his own success story.

At 28, Kyle is the youngest inductee to his alma mater, Husson University, Hall of Fame for his professional success. He has also been featured on a TED Talk and MSNBC’s “Rediscover” for his accomplishment of launching soon to be two successful lifestyle clothing brands.

For all of his success, Poissonnier is humble stating, “I don’t feel like I have an impressive resume—I feel like I have impressive friends and people that have helped me get any type of positive recognition. All of this has happened because photographers, videographers and friends in general have wanted to help me out.”

The support from his friends and other Maine people that believe in the sense of community that encapsulates the state has been incredibly helpful in the creation of his official launch party for Katalyst: State of the State on Friday, July 12, 2013 at the State Theater in Portland.

The event will become an annual party to celebrate the “state” of Maine—the music scene, the businesses, and all that Maine has to offer.

To learn more about Kyle and the Katalyst community, visit their Facebook page today at, or follow Kyle on Facebook, and Twitter, and