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posted by Apprentices Oct 29,2015 @ 04:06PM

CreateAthon Recap: Healing Icons and The Therapy Place

CreateAthon week has officially come to an end, but we're still basking in the just-after-CreateAthon glow (and possibly the just-after-CreateAthon leftovers, too) here at the WECO. Even during client presentations, it can be hard to fully grasp the impact of CreateAthon because you're running on fumes after more than 24 hours of work.

Now that we've had time to rest and reflect, we're excited to share some of the outcomes of our annual all-nighter. 

Healing Icons allows cancer patients and survivors to focus on the mental and emotional side of healing through guided art classes. For this client, we were tasked with developing a marketing plan for the online course that the organization plans to launch next year. With this goal in mind, we developed a detailed blog and social media strategy, community outreach plan, and landing pages for their website, like the one pictured below. 

It was important that the work we delivered truly embodied the concepts of healing and self expression embodied by Healing Icons. Many of the materials were complete with original watercolor paintings in order to capture the authentic sense of the art.

The Therapy Place is Columbia's only nonprofit pediatric therapy center. The Therapy Place came to us with the goal of launching a $1.5 million capital campaign to complete a facility expansion on the lot beside their existing space. The newly-purchased lot will eventually be home to an additional building and the Midlands' first inclusive playground. 

During CreateAthon, we developed a campaign handbook for The Therapy Place to assist them as they launch their capital campaign next year. We also prepared a case for support and a donor card (seen below) to use as part of the corporate phase of the campaign.

As always, CreateAthon far exceeded our expectations. It's easy to get caught up in the craziness when it's 4 a.m. and you're struggling to stay awake and wondering, "how will we ever finish in time?" But somehow, it all comes together in the end. 

We are so fortunate to have gotten to work with these incredible clients for CreateAthon 2015. We can't wait to see how they use our work in the future.

Stay tuned to this blog in the coming days and weeks for more sneak peeks at our CreateAthon work.

posted by Kevin Smith Oct 28,2015 @ 08:00AM

How We Spend Money

1920s: We outspent ourselves.

1930s: Then we spent nothing.

1940s: We spent only when necessary.

1950s - 1980s: After that, we spent as instructed.

1990s - 2008: We outspent ourselves -- again.

2008 -  2010: Then we spent nothing.

It may have been a cycle, but it isn’t anymore. It’s not that “this time is different.” Every time has been different to a degree. I don’t believe we are in the midst of a modest recovery that will ultimately culminate in another glory decade or two.

I believe the next phase is: “We started caring how we spent.”

The number of brands connected to causes or giving back or being more sustainable is growing by the minute. That’s a trend. I hope it continues. But there is a broader and likely more permanent business context.

Companies that articulate and demonstrate a clear purpose are succeeding. Some might be charitable in nature, but this is not a prerequisite. Given pervasive marketing, given that we are all time-starved and attention-impaired, consumers are choosing to spend money with companies that demonstrate clarity.

Kick Starter announced last week that it will not sell or go public – ever. They are committed to helping fund creative projects, and see reporting to shareholders as a potential distraction to that end. Southwest has held true to its mission of democratizing the air, and stands by the slogan: “bags fly free.” Meanwhile, CVS made the decision to focus on its customers’ health and stop selling tobacco products. As I write this, several of our local network affiliates are providing uninterrupted coverage of Columbia’s tragic flood. They’ve decided to focus on their primary purpose as an affiliate – reporting local news.

This is not marketing, but purpose-based decision making. This is leadership. Clear business decisions driven by a company’s mission and core values. These decisions may at first seem counter intuitive, but they provide clarity both internally and externally. The outcome is loyalty and profit.

Our marketplace has never been more crowded and communication channels have never been more fragmented. Most marketing programs have become a scattershot of tactics. In this environment, purpose and the clarity it yields brings customers in the door and keeps them coming back.

A recent Gallup poll found that only 28 percent of employees strongly agree with the statement "I know what my company stands for and what makes our brand(s) different from our competitors." The same poll found that when customers can see alignment between a company’s purpose and its behavior, they give it twice the share of wallet.

Given this dynamic, I am shocked at how few companies have a clear sense of purpose. Mission statements and core values abound, but they are most often anything substantive. If one of your company’s core values includes integrity, this most likely includes you. Basic honesty is not a core value. Being “best in class” or “providing excellence” is not a mission. A committee of employees assigned to work on the mission statement typically leads to general platitudes on which everyone can agree. Unfortunately, committees rarely offer organizational clarity or existential intent.

Ask instead: Why were we created? What would be lost if we were gone? You and your coworkers have to know why you show up each day, beyond making money. In doing so, I believe you’ll make a whole lot more of it. 

posted by Teresa Coles Oct 21,2015 @ 01:25PM

The quiet gifts of CreateAthon

Eighteen years later, and it’s CreateAthon Eve yet again. As with Christmas or any other holiday, it astounds me how quickly the calendar pages roll off to unveil our 24-hour pro bono marketing marathon. The weeks of how will we ever fit it all in preparation at Riggs Partners have come and gone, leaving us with a few quiet hours to situate our hearts and minds on what matters most with this endeavor.

Without question, we will have our A-game firing on all cylinders to produce meaningful marketing and communications strategies for eight nonprofits. We’ll meet the Herculean challenge of delivering inspired creative materials that execute the vision behind those strategies.

But that’s just here at Riggs Partners. Thirteen other agencies across the US and Canada will be holding CreateAthon events right along with us, bringing the pro bono marathon movement to their communities. All told, CreateAthon partners are serving 98 nonprofits this week. Ninety. Eight.

CreateAthoners circa 1998, during the very first CreateAthon event

Then there are the stories that will be told this week, of how CreateAthon has grown from a side project here at Riggs Partners to a sustainable nonprofit organization. You can check this national story out in none other than the Chronicle of Philanthropy, in an article released just today. I can assure you this kind of national attention never crossed our minds when 11 of us pulled the first all-nighter for charity in our old Lady Street offices.

This friends, is just the surface. In these last hours, I’m reminded of the five things CreateAthon really accomplishes inside of everyone who bumps into this 24-hour vortex of good.

  1. Connectivity: CreateAthon has given us a door to interact with some of the world’s most exceptional people, those nonprofit folks who devote every day of their lives to social causes we too seldom consider. Imagine our lives without these friendships. 

  2. Self-Discovery: We come to know a bit more about the stuff we’ve made of during CreateAthon. Most importantly, how the right energy within us can help us transcend any challenge that’s staring us in the face. 

  3. Empathy: CreateAthon brings us to the doorstep of humanity, forcing us to open ourselves to a vulnerable, emotional and passionate state of mind. This is where the truth resides, and where meaningful communications are born. 

  4. Humility: We understand this is not about us, our strategic expertise or our creative prowess. It’s about service to a cause that is bigger than ourselves.

  5. Love: CreateAthon teaches us to see clearly the gifts that we all bring to the table. It abolishes titles and departments, and catalyzes us as teammates in ways that can impact the way we work together the other 364 days of the year. 

So to every CreateAthoner far and wide, young and old, veteran and virgin: I bid you a peaceful night, and the promise of a day that will forever change you.

posted by Apprentices Oct 19,2015 @ 11:10AM

Donate to Central Carolina Community Foundation Flood Relief Fund



As National CreateAthon week commences and our beloved city works to rebuild, we were called to do a little something extra. This Thursday and Friday during CreateAthon, we’ll be holding a pledge drive with all proceeds donated to the Central Carolina Community Foundation’s Flood Relief Fund.

If you are interested in donating, please consider sponsoring one of your favorite CreateAthoners (listed below). Remember – we’ll be working all day and night, and you can decide how much you’d like to donate for each hour we’ll be working (i.e. $1, $2, $5 per hour). If you're interested in sponsoring a CreateAthoner or even making a flat donation, just click the image below. When filling out the donation form, make sure to put the total amount you'd like to donate – so if you want to give $1 per hour, you'd put $24 as your donation amount. Oh, and make sure to put “CreateAthon” along with the name of the person you’d like to sponsor in the field marked “how’d you hear about this fund?” (i.e. CreateAthon – Teresa Coles).

Have questions? Email or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter

posted by Cathy Monetti Oct 19,2015 @ 10:12AM

CreateAthon, Flood Relief and Good Business

This date marks 28 years since the Monday morning I first opened the proverbial doors of C.C.Riggs, the advertising studio that has become today's Riggs Partners. It is a truth that astounds me even as I look back across the decades to the girl I was then: an optimistic, energetic, enthusiastic copywriter who wanted nothing more than to do great work for clients I admired and whose companies I believed in. What a blessing it is to be young and eager, that is the thought that occurs to me now, thousands of projects, hundreds of clients and a wealth of talented employees and co-workers later.


Something else occurs to me as well. It's the honor of doing the work itself, the trust placed squarely in your hands by those you serve in doing it. This week it will be our honor to serve eight nonprofits as we joyfully take the reins in solving their marketing and communications challenges during our 18th pro bono bonanza, CreateAthon. We'll work around the clock (AKA without sleep) from Thursday at 8am until the last presentation Friday morning. It is intense, terrifying, and exhausting to take on such a challenge and I expect these emotions will be doubly true this year as our hometown of Columbia, South Carolina marches on through the early days of recovery following last week's devastating, historic flood. Nevertheless we asked each other this question.

Could we do more?

The answer is yes. So for the first time ever, RP CreateAthon volunteers are seeking pledge donations for each of the 24 hours we’re working with 100 percent going directly to flood relief via the Central Carolina Community Foundation Flood Relief Fund. Directions and a link for donating are below.

It's a small thing, we know. But as evidenced by CreateAthon--and by the evolution of a small creative studio founded in 1989--little ideas often turn into gigantic blessings that impact the world in surprising ways.

Thanks for being part of it. Your sponsorship, or even a simple share of this post on your networks, will help so much.

CreateAthon 18, here we come!




posted by Will Weatherly Oct 15,2015 @ 08:37PM

Introducing Our Final CreateAthon 2015 Clients


It’s shocking how much weight a simple word can hold. For patients, it is a word that lingers in nearly every thought and feeling throughout the long journey of treatment.

Healing Icons uses creativity to fight cancer. For nearly 20 years, professional artist Heidi Darr-Hope has been teaching art-making to cancer patients as therapy for the psychological stresses of battling cancer.

During CreateAthon 2015, we’ll be helping Healing Icons with the planning and materials necessary to launch a new online course, making Heidi’s unique style of healing available at a global scale.


The Therapy Place is the only nonprofit pediatric therapy center in the Midlands of SC. Providing well over 250 hours of therapy to 100+ children with disabilities each week, The Therapy Place has outgrown its current space.

With hundreds of children on therapy waiting lists around the state, The Therapy Place has put a plan in place. They’ve acquired an adjacent property, and are primed to begin their first-ever capital campaign to support construction of a new building and the Midlands’ first ever accessible, inclusive outdoor playground.

But $1 million dollars is no small sum. During CreateAthon this year, we will be creating this capital campaign from the ground up, from campaign plans to campaign theme to supporting graphics and more.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words—a sentiment Global Pencil Project founder Maria Vick would agree with wholeheartedly. In fact, it was a photo of a young boy in Africa clutching a broken pencil that led Maria to establish the program in 1998. She saw that something as simple as a pencil could make a tremendous difference in the life of a child. At its core, the Pencil Project is about providing every child with a quality education.

The Pencil Project collects and distributes pencils (and other educational materials) and mails them to children around the world. Each pencil collection drive is matched with a needy school in the country of the donor organization’s choice.

The 100% volunteer driven Pencil Project is looking to elevate the organization’s profile through professional marketing materials that lend credibility and position them for growth. During CreateAthon, we will be developing a logo, letterhead package, poster, leave behind, and maybe even a few surprises!

Our final CreateAthon client is Epworth Children's Home. Epworth has served children, youth, and families in Columbia since 1865. More than 70 staff members offer comprehensive services to meet emotional, physical, educational, and spiritual needs of all children who are placed in their home.

The work we'll be doing for this client is unique. We will be working specifically to develop a photo library for Epworth to use in its future marketing materials. During CreateAthon, we will collaborate with photographer Jeff Amberg to capture Epworth's truly uplifting spirit – particularly through photos of their beautiful 32-acre campus in the heart of Columbia.

CreateAthon is just a few days away, and we can't wait to get started on the work we'll be doing for these deserving organizations. Knowing that our work will benefit clients we admire so much makes it that much more rewarding.

posted by Kelly Davis Oct 14,2015 @ 03:24PM

The need has never been greater

It’s always so interesting to see the variety of CreateAthon clients that we are serving in any given year – from organizations that support the arts and education to those that serve children, pets, people with disabilities, people with cancer, etc. It’s really mind-boggling to think of all of the great work that is being done in our community, and of all the people who need help from these organizations.


The historic and tragic floods that washed over our beloved city last week also remind us that the need for these services is great. Everywhere we turn, we see nonprofit organizations in our community stepping in to help people and communities impacted by the floods.

While in the early days of the aftermath, the main focus has been on ensuring that people’s basic survival needs are met – clean water, food, clothing, hygiene, etc. – we also know that there have been isolated incidents of crime, assaults and desperation. The long term effects of experiencing and witnessing the devastation will linger, and will lead to the need for mental health services, counseling and healing. This is where the nonprofits in our community will shine in meeting these needs – but also where they will continue to rely on the financial and in-kind support that our community has always provided them.

It’s one of the reasons why I’m grateful that CreateAthon is coming up next week. It will be a wonderful opportunity for us to serve eight organizations in our community and to know that we are helping them build capacity for the future. Here are two clients for which we’ll pull the all-nighter on October 22-23:



Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands [] advocates for and supports survivors of sexual assault and abuse and educates the community to identify and prevent sexual violence.

While people may know them as one of the 14 rape crisis centers in our state, they may not be as knowledgeable about the extensive prevention and training work that STSM does in their four-county service area in the Midlands of South Carolina. Their violence prevention and professional development curricula are considered best practice programming. During CreateAthon, we will work on marketing strategies and collateral material to increase the number of schools and youth-serving organizations that engage STSM in providing these programs to middle and high school aged youth.



Along that continuum, another of this year’s clients is the Death Penalty Resource & Defense Center, whose mission is to promote fairness, reliability and transparency in the criminal justice system for people facing the death penalty in South Carolina. They accomplish this by offering resources and support for lawyers tasked with representing a capital client; representing individual clients; advocating for policy reforms; and educating the public.

While an exceptionally serious subject, our first meeting with this client was very inspiring. We were struck by the level of passion and conviction they have for the issue as well as the holistic representation that they offer not just to death row inmates, but also to their families. They also brought to light the staggering data about people on death row and how they bear out many societal stereotypes about race, ethnicity, education, mental illness and other issues.

While we know this one will challenge everything we know and believe about the criminal justice system, we also look forward to helping them articulate a vision that helps more South Carolinians view capital punishment through a different lens.

posted by Courtney Melendez Oct 13,2015 @ 10:17AM

Business as Usual

I’ve seen some heartbreaking things over the past week. Our community has seen devastation in our own backyard that I struggle to describe as anything other than surreal. Through all the heartache and tears, I’ve seen the incredible spirit of this community come together in amazing ways this week. Whichever direction you look, everyone is helping someone.

So, even though it’s tough to get back to “business as usual,” I’m super-grateful that the “business as usual” agenda next week includes CreateAthon—our annual undertaking that helps very worthy, local nonprofits. Here’s a sneak peek at two of the organizations we’ll be working ’round the clock for on October 22.



HALTER, a therapeutic horseback-riding program, has served residents with disabilities in Spartanburg and surrounding counties since 1987. Located on the campus for the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind, HALTER provides sessions that run from early spring through late fall each year.

 Currently, HALTER is gearing up for a $1.2 million capital campaign that will raise funds needed to enclose their covered arena and extend therapy sessions year-round. The campaign will also allow the program to add classroom space for pre- and post-therapy sessions, horse stables, volunteer changing rooms, storage space , and spectator seating for competitions such as Special Olympics. Exciting, right?! We think so.

 HALTER has asked us to develop collateral to support their fundraising goal. Our efforts during CreateAthon will focus on updating their logo and creating fundraising collateral that will ignite their campaign.


Able SC, a Center for Independent Living (CIL), provides an array of independent living services across 23 counties in South Carolina. Focused on empowering people of all ages with all types disabilities, Able SC does everything it takes to help individuals reach and maintain their highest level of independence.

Thankfully, Able SC already has several things going for them. Their brand is established, and they have a powerhouse staff that tirelessly advocates and leads by example. Now, they’re thinking bigger. Our CreateAthon team has been tasked with developing a statewide campaign focused on communicating the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. Collateral and communications will target South Carolina employers, and will likely include deliverables such as outdoor boards, brochures and posters.


To learn more about these two incredible nonprofits, log on and check out HALTER and Able SC And, be sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter as we work CreateAthon magic starting at 8 a.m. on Thursday, October 22. We can also be found using the hashtags #RPCreateathon and #CreateAthon.

posted by Apprentices Oct 07,2015 @ 03:41PM

The Power of Good

It’s been a tough week for Columbia and South Carolina in general. Our state has been stretched thin. Columbia native and NBC reporter Craig Melvin said it best: “Some lost everything. Pretty much everyone lost something,” when 5.8 trillion gallons of rain fell across the Palmetto State.

In the aftermath of the destruction that we’ve experienced, I’ve witnessed incredible things. Namely, an astonishing sense of community, stronger-than-normal enthusiasm to help others, and raw desire to get involved with relief efforts—more specifically, to actually get out and do something. Tragedy feels a little bit different when it hits this close to home.

Over the last 48-hours, I’ve seen people come together in more ways than I could’ve ever imagined. The offers for donations (both monetary and material), cleanup assistance, free services, and shelter have been astounding. Perhaps most touching, however, is the way that people are reaching out to one another just to say, “I’m here for you.”

Our community is combatting this damage with the only force that’s strong enough to do so: good. So here’s to all the volunteers, first responders, friends, neighbors, donors, and everyone else who is making a difference. Thanks to your good, kind hearts, we are able to fight proudly through this time of adversity. The power of good is what makes Columbia #FamouslyStrong.

Image courtesy of Experience Columbia, SC




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