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posted by Teresa Coles Oct 31,2012 @ 06:48AM

A Billion + Reasons to Believe

Earlier this month, we had the honor of officially welcoming A Billion + Change and the national movement for skills-based, pro bono service to South Carolina. Along with our friends at the Central Carolina Community Foundation, we hosted a gathering of 60 or so bright-minded business leaders with the intent of starting a dialogue in South Carolina on the benefits of skills-based volunteerism.

We Riggs folks are always up for a conversion about pro bono, and the Billion + breakfast was a great way to share our belief in skills-based volunteerism as a means of corporate social responsibility. But my new best Twitter friend Paul Klein unearthed a whole new perspective in his Forbes post this week by stating “social change isn’t the responsibility of business, it is the result of business.”

That’s what A Billion + Change is really all about: helping American businesses understand that the fastest and most profound way to create results in the community is to give employees the opportunity to put their best business skills and talents to work for nonprofits. In doing so, they help NGOs and NPOs build the kind of capacity and intellectual resources they need to build sustainability and move their missions forward.

We’re thrilled with the enthusiastic response from the A Billion + Change event, and we look forward to sharing more news very soon about the South Carolina companies that are taking the pledge to create or expand their own skills-based, pro bono programs. As always, we believe South Carolinians will rise to the occasion, expressing our collective belief in doing the kind of work that matters most.

posted by Apprentices Oct 26,2012 @ 03:30AM

On 25 years ago.

In celebration of our 25th Anniversary, we ask:

It's Fall 1987 again. Where you hanging out this weekend?

Cathy Monetti

Kevin Smith
I'll probably go to the Spartan High game Friday night. My friend Russell is having people over to his basement Saturday night. Beer and Pictionary, again.

Tim Burke
Gauley River, West Virginia

Maria Fabrizio
I'm wearing a pumpkin costume and a diaper, going door to door with my parents asking strangers for candy. 'Cause I'm 2.

Julie Turner
At Spring Valley High School a lot (at a football game, writing for the next issue of the Viking Shield newspaper and working on upcoming student activities), working at the Peddler's Porch gift shop, and hanging out at The Pond after dark. Will probably also visit Columbia Mall to get some new black stirrup pants or a Camp Beverly Hills sweatshirt.

Kevin Archie
Somewhere in a crib in Jackson, Mississippi with all my stuffed animal homies.

Ryon Edwards
In college at USC -- if there was a home game, I was there.

Will Weatherly
In my crib. (The baby kind. Not MTV.)

posted by Apprentices Oct 19,2012 @ 03:30AM

On State Fair food.

As the State Fair draws to a close, what's your can't-miss culinary delight?

Julie Turner
This is like asking a mother to pick a favorite child. Quite impossible.

Maria Fabrizio
mini donuts! mini donuts!

Cathy Monetti
gotta be the corn dog

Will Weatherly
Fiske French Fries – salted and doused in malt vinegar.

Kevin Archie
fried mushrooms

Teresa Coles
Corn dogs and lemonade!

Kevin Smith
Fries with vinegar

posted by Julie Turner Oct 16,2012 @ 10:39AM

The Power of Music and Casting

Last week I was working on a quick video project with our pals at Mad Monkey — who as usual — just blew the ball through the stadium and out of the parking lot. This project wasn’t huge by any means but it reminded me of two things I adore about video and TV production.

First, music. The right music ratchets up the quality of any project. It doesn’t have to be scored or go through sound design although that’s always delightful to have in your budget. In fact, the music chosen for my project was stock, but it was ideal for the feelings it radiated: light and youth. The first time I heard it I liked it. The third time, I loved it. When I laughed to the editor that I couldn’t get it out of my head, he said that was actually a good very sign the music was right.

Even better was the handful of times this stock music fit our onscreen graphics like a glove. That synchronicity is gift you rarely achieve without the work of a highly talented sound designer. A highly impactful phrase of onscreen text that’s punctuated by music easily carries twice the power. In the edit suite and on consumers’ TVs and computer screens that togetherness is pure magic.

The second thing I love about TV work is great casting. One of the finest examples of ideal casting we’re currently enjoying is Allstate’s Mayhem — Liz Lemon’s pager wearing, scumbag of an ex-boyfriend, Dennis (Dean Winters). It’s casting so perfect I practically purr when a spot comes on.

You can have stellar casting in local spots, too. Those folks at Mad Monkey have an uncanny knack — dare I say talent — for finding THE talent that fits your concept even better than you imagined. Around the time of my edit, they’d just released a new campaign of lottery spots that have awesome casting. The office worker is my hero all the way down to his beige socks.

Working last week I was reminded that even a smaller-scope project can feel bigger when you sweat the details. When you work with smart, highly attuned professionals like Mad Monkey, they key in on even the smallest points.

Music and casting aren’t just steps in the production cycle. They should be wielded to their full effect. They are as important as the words and images that accompany them. They are light and shadows that can turn a good concept into something far better: a TV spot that’s actually worth remembering.

posted by Cathy Monetti Oct 10,2012 @ 05:55AM

How a Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha Turned Me Into A Marketer

It was one of those perfect Charleston weekends, the sort that makes you wonder why you don't getaway more often. Two glorious days filled with time to relax and recharge, a new locale, a changed perspective. Then Sunday morning, just before hopping back on I-26 toward Columbia, we stopped at Starbucks for Indulgence Coffee.

I knew what that magic cup would hold for me long before I made my way through the front door.

Nonfat Pumpkin Spice Latte Grande, No Whipped

It was finally October, after all.

We approached the counter, and right there in the form of Free Sample was this:



That sounds good, he said, and I nodded in agreement. Wanna give it a taste?

Oh. My. Goodness. And just like that my Nonfat Pumpkin Spice Latte Grande, No Whipped became a Salted Caramel Mocha Grande, and I loved every sip.

Why do I share this story here on this marketing blog? The Free Sample strategy is nothing new, after all. I share it because of what I did next.



With hardly a second thought I snapped a photo, then posted it to my Facebook page. With that simple act I personally endorsed a new seasonal Starbucks flavor to my more than 600 Facebook friends—and 14 people reinforced my commentary.

That, my friends, is social media pay dirt for a brand.

What a thrilling time this is to be a marketer. What a remarkable time to be a consumer!

And how incredibly powerful it is when the consumer becomes both.

posted by Teresa Coles Oct 01,2012 @ 11:46AM

Prepping Nonprofits for Pro Bono

It never fails. Post CreateAthon, we find ourselves contemplating a certain set of questions related to the work we develop for nonprofits during 24+ hours of caffeine-injected, creative madness.

“Will they really be able to execute this work?”
“How can we know this work will be successful?”
“Should we enforce more upfront parameters?”
“Was this nonprofit ready for us?”

We’re not alone in this line of thinking. Every company involved in a pro bono initiative wants to know its investment of time and professional expertise will make a real impact within the nonprofit organization it supports.

But just when these questions began to creep again in this year, we were greeted by a brand new book from our friends at Taproot Foundation that begins to put it all in perspective. Aaron Hurst and company have put the question of nonprofit readiness to the test in Powered by Pro Bono, a guidebook designed to help nonprofits prepare their organizations in a way that can attract and make the most of pro bono service. The book clearly defines the difference between “getting some free stuff” to integrating pro bono service as a highly strategic tool to help build capacity in a nonprofit organization.

Why should nonprofits care? Every day, more and more companies are developing pro bono programs that allow employees to put their professional skills to work for social good. The flip side of that demands nonprofits must prove themselves as worthy beneficiaries, and it’s not enough just to ask for help: They must be able to both articulate a compelling case for support and demonstrate their ability to act on the pro bono counsel and deliverables they receive.

Every nonprofit that ever hopes to secure pro bono services would be wise to read this book now and immediately put its principles and resources into action. It’s a gift to every nonprofit that recognizes the power of pro bono and has the chops to bring it to bear within their organization.




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