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posted by Teresa Coles Oct 18,2017 @ 05:05PM

20 all-nighters, 20 points of light.

I knew this day would come, and I knew I wouldn’t be ready for this CreateAthon Eve post.

How could I possibly describe in any slightly elegant way what it has meant to be part of CreateAthon for 20 years? So much has changed since that first crazy all-nighter in 1998, when a tiny band of us held our hands, hearts and breath together and dove into the literal creative darkness on Lady Street. We had no idea if we could do it. We had no idea if we could finish. We didn’t know if the work would be passable, much less great.

Then morning came, and with it, the light that would forever change us.


A glorious reminder of all that’s possible, come CreateAthon morning.

If you’ve ever been a CreateAthoner, you know what I’m talking about. I’m not gifted enough as a writer to convey it in one sentence or two. So indulge me as I default to a list of 20 CreateAthon touchpoints that have lifted me up and brought me through these long and lovely nights. No doubt, you have your own.

  1. The first handshake with a nonprofit director in a pre-CAT briefing session.

  2. A TV shoot that made a star out of a young gymnast with Down syndrome.

  3. Sneaking downtown at 3:00 am to get a Snickers because someone had the bright idea to outlaw junk food during CreateAthon II (never again).

  4. The obliteration of job titles in 24 hours – “everyone’s a creative during CreateAthon.”

  5. The first tear that was shed in a CAT client presentation, and every precious one that has fallen since.

  6. Having my Jay beside me, from the very first CreateAthon forward.

  7. The Djoliba Don West African dance troupe pounding the pavement outside our door.

  8. The notes, emails and hugs from clients who have stood behind this work, always. Including the client who showed up to make pancakes at midnight, just ‘cause.

  9. The birth of the pochure — because we couldn’t afford a brochure AND a poster.

  10. All the RP family members who have delivered cookies, brought the kids by for a visit, run errands, and put up with our pre-CreateAthon stress.

  11. Hearing “what I can do to help?” from your teammate at 5:00 am.

  12. Getting my hair dyed onsite during CreateAthon because you just can’t have bad roots visible for 24 hours straight.

  13. Little Bit, who will forever be our CreateAthon pup.

  14. Grits in the morning, and the people who make it their business to get them to us. God. Bless.

  15. Our friends from the advertising and design community who pitched in to help us when our RP team was very small and we wondered if we could even have CreateAthon that year. You know who you are.

  16. The ride with Cathy to the office the morning of CreateAthon, and the ride home, when we always declare the reasons why “this year was the best CreateAthon ever.”

  17. The greyhounds that pranced through our office and reminded us why rescuing them mattered.

  18. All of the RP alumni who have come back to participate.

  19. The look on a newbie CreateAthoner’s face when he sees the reaction of a CAT client during the presentations.

  20. Peyton and Tom: the one who makes us laugh, and the one who makes it happen.

I could go on well past 20, but I’ll stop and encourage all my fellow CreateAthoners to take a moment and recall the things that have carved a space in your own hearts. My thanks and gratitude to you for being a part of this journey, and for teaching me what it means to go down a path that is lit with the purest of intentions.

Until tomorrow,


posted by Riggs Partners Sep 19,2017 @ 03:30PM



Six South Carolina nonprofit organizations will be the beneficiaries of pro bono marketing and communication services provided by Riggs Partners during its 20th annual CreateAthon®. The 24-hour marketing marathon effort will begin Thursday, October 19 at 8:00 a.m. and conclude the morning of Friday, October 20.

Organizations selected as CreateAthon clients this year include:

Auntie Bellum

Columbia Children’s Theatre

Girls Rock 

Greenville Family Partnership

Heroes in Blue

Lexington Interfaith Community Services

“It’s hard to believe that our little idea called CreateAthon is now a national nonprofit approaching its 20th year of helping nonprofits in South Carolina and across the U.S.,” said Teresa Coles, president of Riggs Partners and cofounder of CreateAthon. “Local nonprofits throughout America race to help others in times of need. We’re proud to do the same for them by helping them expand their impact, strengthen their operations, and achieve greater financial security.”

 Sun Solutions will again donate printing and production services for marketing materials developed for Riggs Partners’ CreateAthon clients.

posted by Stephanie Owens Aug 16,2017 @ 11:27AM

Shoestring Budget? Challenge Accepted.

Over the weekend, I attended the District 3 Leadership Conference with my fellow AAF of the Midlands board members. And while I was eager to learn how we could improve our organization and take advantage of bonding as a board, I was most excited to hear Rich Stoddart, CEO of Leo Burnett Worldwide give the keynote at Friday’s dinner.

He didn’t disappoint.

However, amidst laughter at Allstate’s Mayhem campaign and the entire room’s battle against tears when watching Always’ #LikeAGirl viral video, I felt that familiar feeling of dissatisfaction. That awful little voice we all know too well when we see mega-agency creative, whispering these crushing words: “most brands don’t have that kind of budget.”

I mean, come on! An ostrich flying to an Elton John song while wearing Samsung VR goggles! The music royalties alone would give most of us a heart attack.

Then Rich crushed that little voice.

Take two minutes to see how:

How much did it cost, you ask? Around $37,000!

The results? “Van Gogh’s Bedroom” sold out immediately, generating massive PR and a 250% increase in online ticket sales—the highest attendance of any exhibit in 15 years.

So, what is your excuse? What is mine? With so many low-cost digital options available at our fingertips, it is up to us to figure out a way to engage our audience no matter how big or small the client’s budget.

posted by Courtney Fleming May 18,2017 @ 11:13AM

Down the Digital Highway

The minute you think yourself an expert, you're falling behind. There's always something more to learn or test. This is especially true for those who specialize in digital aspects of the business (thanks algorithms). Regardless, it’s essential to remain curious.

At Riggs Partners, we resist the myth of expertise and believe that the perennial beginner always has more to gain. Sometimes putting that into action means subscribing to an industry publication. Sometimes it’s watching a webinar. And sometimes it’s renting a minivan and going on a road trip.

Come Monday, myself and several coworkers will be caravanning to Digital Summit Atlanta. Here we will listen and learn from some of the brightest minds in marketing and communications. The sessions will cover all facets of the business today: content marketing, design, email marketing, emerging trends, analytics and data, UX, video, social media, mobile, search and strategy among many others.


If you’d like to follow along, check out the conference Twitter page and its hashtags: @DigitalSummit_#DSATL, #DigitalSummit

We'll be reporting back with some of the things we learn in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

posted by Kevin Smith Apr 19,2017 @ 04:19PM

The Greed Trap


The most revolutionary products fulfill a previously unmet need. I recall my first iPod. I never considered that every cassette, album and CD I had ever owned might fit in my pocket. With the iPod came the end of a lifelong search for the ideal music storage vehicle. 

Once they breakthrough, great products work to maintain their established beachhead. That means refining or evolving their products or services to continue to solve people's problems. In the best instances, these are problems people didn't even know they had.

In my case, now that I had all my music in my pocket, why not add my calendar, address book and phone to the mix. This kind of focus endears brands to us and forms tribes of loyalists. This is the path to category leadership, and with it comes imitators.

Next comes a crucial intersection:

  1. Take the difficult route: Continue to solve different but related problems. Limit profits by budgeting for major investments in top talent, research and development and the launch of new product lines.
  2. Go mass: Sacrifice the affinity of your base by making your product or service more affordable, thereby growing your audience.
  3. Take advantage of new revenue streams: Allow your product or service to become a means to other passive income. This typically involves taking advantage of your customers' needs or weaknesses instead of continuing problem solve for them.

Very few companies choose option A. It's not just because it is difficult; the allure of ever expanding profits is just too great. Businesses become so obsessed with growth that they cause their own undoing. I call this the greed trap.

The proliferation of social networks, constant texts and email notifications has tethered us to our cell phones. Data plans, streaming content and constant communications have lead to an "always-on" lifestyle. Adults and children alike have a growing compulsion for screen time. Being away from our phones causes separation anxiety. We are addicted – and the resulting behavior is pretty ugly.

In the 1950s and 60s people walked around smoking. There were ashtrays everywhere: on elevators, in cars, in hotel lobbies, bars and restaurants. Instead of smoking, what do you see people doing in these same places today? The smartphone industry isn't solving problems anymore; it's creating them.

The greed trap is a failure to think strategically and act responsibly. It happens when companies and their leaders stop thinking about their clients and focus on themselves. Eventually, the result is backlash. We're just beginning to see this with cell phones, and I predict a serious increase of it in the future.

Here are three questions you might consider when planning for your organization:

  1. What problem does our company solve for its clients?
  2. How would our customers be impacted if your organization closed its doors?
  3. What common customer issues in our space remain unsolved?

Asking yourself, your colleagues and your customers questions like these are the key to sustainable growth and customer retention. Take the time to answer them and your next step will be profitable for both you and your customer.




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