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


PLEASE NOTE: This blog has been discontinued.
Please visit for new material from The PR Maven®.


Subscribe VIA Email

RSS Feed
Powered by Google Feedburner



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.

How to Make the Most of your Blog

NMC Account Assistant, Erika Bush

Erika here, and I have a question for you. How many times have you visited a company’s website and thought: I want to know more? I know I feel this way a lot. Press and News pages are great, but if you are claiming to be an expert or giving advice as if you’re the best out there, then I want to know why. Why should I buy from you versus a competitor?

An easy answer: you have a killer blog. The entire team at NMC believes that the key to success is being someone your consumers “know, like and trust.” A blog lets people get to know you and like you, and as a result they trust you.

For me, writing about social media sites is fun and easy. I grew up in a generation that experienced the evolution of social media platforms firsthand. AOL, yeah, I had that and I had an AIM profile page complete with hearts and smiley faces that would later evolve into a customized MySpace page. Then, as soon as I was old enough to get a college email address, I was on Facebook and witnessed it become more public, to the point that the nine-year-old kid next door could have an account if he wanted.

Blogs are one thing that has stayed constant in this frenzy of change. They have existed in some way since the internet began, and while their role is changing, they aren’t going anywhere.

So how can you make the most of your blog? Let me share five best practices when it comes to influential blogging.

  • Create weekly features. If you want regular readers, then you must provide regular content.
  • Keep advertising to a minimum. Most people don’t mind ads down the sides of the content, in fact, we might not even notice it, but we do mind when we can’t scroll until we’ve watched a 30-second ad about something we don’t care about.
  • Engage your readers. Create contests, or link your posts to your social media pages or your business website. Your readers should feel like they are getting something out of reading your blog.
  • Link to previous posts. Not many readers are going to scroll back or search to find a previous post mentioned in a current article, so link to it for them. Keep your readership growing by making it easy for readers to find more relevant information.
  • Acknowledge other bloggers. Blogging is networking, and it isn’t necessarily a competition. Comment on other blogger’s posts and join the conversation. You will be surprised by who may reciprocate.

The key to a great blog is to develop a rapport with your readers and to offer them information that is relevant to what you can do for them. Now, I’m not saying that you should make it entirely about sales and the services you offer, but it should be about establishing yourself as a reputable source of information when it comes to the services you offer.

Finally, always remember that no matter what your topics include, blogging can be utilized as a fun way to enhance your brand.


Hula Hooping, Singing and All Things Nikki Hunt

Nikki Hunt, lead singer and hula hooper of The Nikki Hunt Band

Anyone who lives in Hallowell or frequents the Hallowell scene has heard of this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Nikki Hunt. They know that not only does she sing, she also hula hoops. In fact, her name and hula hoop are almost synonymous—almost as if she invented the thing.

Ironically, the idea was originally brought up as a joke. Her band mate, Sonny True, suggested she bring it on as a floor show since he knew how much she enjoyed hooping for fun. Nikki says she was terrified the first time, so terrified that the hoop never even left the van, but now she says, “The hooping has picked up at shows and if I don’t bring it people ask where it is—it’s been such a hit.”

So how did her passion for performing begin? Nikki Hunt credits her Mom, who got her enrolled in dance lessons very young, and in fifth grade she started voice lessons. Hunt says, “I was frustrated with sports and found myself leaning toward the performing arts.” It was during this time she became heavily involved in the Hallowell and Waterville theater programs.

After high school, Hunt moved to New York City for college. She says that she loved it there, but she felt like she was spending too much time working on everything but her voice.  She eventually left the city and made her way back to Maine. Nikki says it was through this experience that she learned a very important thing about the entertainment industry: “You don’t have to live in New York City, Boston or Los Angeles to write original music and you don’t have to kill yourself, juggling multiple jobs and hundreds of bookings, to pay rent.”

Hunt says that in Maine, she has been able to start her career the way she wants to—in small steps and says, “I’d rather take my time and build a solid foundation than constantly be skating on thin ice.” A part of her plan has been to find ways to build and network with her fan base. “Social media is a phenomenon,” says Hunt. She credits the use of her original MySpace page as a way to branch out to her fans so they could hear her live recordings. This evolved to Facebook where she currently has more than 2,500 friends and fans.

We mentioned in our previous previous post, American Dream in Portland Maine that sending too many event invites via Facebook can be perceived as spamming fans. Nikki started her website for just this reason, “I try not to barrage Facebook friends with event invites,” she says. She adds, “I have a great advantage to communicate clearly with my fans using an email or simply by posting pictures, or a video from YouTube.” She adds that social networking sites can be addicting, so she tries to use them in moderation.

Hunt’s growing success has lead to more interest in who she is, which is why she decided to start an official blog which is set to launch in February. She believes it is important to reach out to fans and to relate to them on a more personal level than Facebook. Nikki hopes that the blog will do just that and help to inspire new material for her and her band mates.

To connect with Nikki, check her out on Facebook or on her website:

Going Mobile: No Longer Optional

Erik Goranson, senior associate consultant at Bain & Company

The world is going mobile!

If you’re as dependent on your smart phone as I am, you know that sense of panic and dread when you misplace your phone.  Every day, people are becoming more dependent on their phones for everything from emails to Facebook updates to gaming and news. People are factoring in that a mobile presence is no longer optional and this week’s Monday Maven Erik Goranson, a senior associate consultant for Bain & Company, an international consulting firm, discusses this trend and the importance of mobile access for businesses.

In our post on PR Disasters, we discussed the evolving media landscape and how fast a single post or idea can go viral. Erik agrees saying, “customers today consume more media and information than ever before and they share that information even faster.”  Even though there is risk in social media and sharing, he adds that if businesses fail to connect socially today they may never be able to reach those consumers again.

His work at Bain includes running the Atlanta office’s Technology Mentorship Program (TMP) with his colleague Just Major. The focus of TMP follows a reverse-mentorship model, allowing the associate consultants to mentor their senior leadership on the latest trends in technology. Goranson says, “when we surveyed the leadership group we found they were most interested in learning more about social media, mobile apps, and search engine optimization (SEO).”

ExpApp allows you to get better seats at your favorite sports events.

This shift to mobile devices and apps is being recognized by Fortune 500 companies and they understand that as this occurs, they are going to need to determine how to incorporate social media into the core of their business models. This is where Bain comes into play. Goranson says, “we live and breathe in a world of data, but we also focus on the qualitative side of the business and social media straddles both realms.” He gives the example that a financial service company shouldn’t be concerned with Facebook likes alone, but in how they can leverage Facebook to better interact with their current and potential customers.

A self-proclaimed fan of social media, Goranson even dabbled in blogging (currently discontinued), but ultimately ended up putting that passion to use with his work at Experience. The company focuses on sports fans and how to improve their experience. Goranson’s role is focused on the start-up’s revenue management and optimization through the development of software, data analytics and strategic price planning.

Screenshot of Experience App on your mobile device.

Since Experience is a mobile-first company, they thrive on page real estate. Erik says that since mobile pages are so much smaller, the key to mobile success is learning to create simple, yet rich Web pages. He believes that a company must have a well-developed mobile page, but should consider an app, too. Goranson says, “apps are perfect, self-contained environments that can handle a lot of back-end processing and offer your customers a better experience.”

So what does Erik say to businesses that are wary of mobile and social media sites? He says, “Bain taught me that data doesn’t lie. My mantra is ABT—always be testing. Data proves that if a current or potential customer cannot find your business online today then you are in serious trouble,” he says.  He adds that consumers are proving to be less brand loyal than ever before. They are quick to bounce to a competitor’s site if they find it more easily accessible. He adds, “you don’t necessarily need to conduct commerce via mobile devices and social media sites, but some sort of Web app or site with strong SEO is no longer optional.”

Erik Goranson is originally from Maine, but currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information or to reach out to Erik feel free to email him at or you can also connect with him on LinkedIn.




Send us YOUR pictures of Maine to enter our new Friday Fab Foto contest!

Branding is as much internal as it is external

Today I spoke at the beautiful Omni Mt. Washington Hotel  to a group from the Independent Schools Association of Northern New England about branding. Afterwards, one of the women in the audience approached me about the possibility of  visiting her school and educating the people on her staff to help them realize that everyone who has contact with students and their families  is part of a school’s brand.  Continue reading “Branding is as much internal as it is external” »

New Year’s Resolutions for PR People

OK. I confess. I have the same New Year’s resolutions for my personal life as I have over the past….well…..maybe 10, 15, or even 20 years! Exercise more, spend more quality time with my family, listen more and better, stop rushing all the time, get organized, and lose weight!  No problem, right?  Hopefully I won’t have the same resolutions again in 2011!

But, on its Daily PR Newsfeed today, had some realistic New Year’s Resolutions. I decided to share them with you here. Many of them apply to what I’m working on with my business, such as updating our Web site and revising our branding. How about you? Do you have New Year’s PR Resolutions?  I’d love to know what they are! Continue reading “New Year’s Resolutions for PR People” »

Greetings from the windy city

My husband Jay and I have been in Chicago for a conference presented by Dave Wood of Agency Management Roundtable.  We’ve been interacting with several other marketing communications agencies which is always stimulating. It’s great to hear what’s happening in our business in other markets across the country. Continue reading “Greetings from the windy city” »

Speaking about Branding and PR to Maine Women’s Network

Tonight I had the pleasure of speaking to a lively and energized group of women at the monthly meeting of the Maine Women’s Network at the Weathervane Seafood Restaurant in South Portland.

As promised, here is my list of ten tips on Branding and Public Relations. I encourage the women who were in the audience to leave comments with their own thoughts on branding and experiences in the realm of public relations and marketing.

Also check out my White Paper on “How to Build a Stronger Brand Image Through Publc Relations,” or my white paper on “Harnessing the Power of Conversational Marketing.” Continue reading “Speaking about Branding and PR to Maine Women’s Network” »