All posts by Lexi Book

How to Make the Most of Your Nonprofit’s Content Strategy

Lexi

You’ve built your brand, seen success in your agency and now you’re wondering how to use your talents to give back to your community. Pro bono work is a professional form of volunteerism that uses specific skills to provide free services to organizations that couldn’t otherwise afford them.

So, why pro bono?

  • Build your agency’s repertoire
  • Enhance your own portfolio
  • Boost CSR and team morale
  • Create a better relationship with your community

So, if there are so many benefits to doing pro bono work, why aren’t more agencies doing it?

Working with a nonprofit can be difficult. Tight budget restrictions. A need to create brand appeal. Standing out amongst a sea of competition. You name it. Solving these challenges requires creativity, the right mindset and determination.

In 2016, our agency had the chance to work for a client pro bono. Here’s how we surpassed those challenges to create a cost-effective and creative campaign that benefited our client.

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Find Your Medium.

With any type of content or advertisement, one of the first steps is figuring out which medium is going to be the most effective and appropriate option to use.

While traditional media like TV and radio have larger target audiences, that doesn’t mean that they’re the most economical or effective mediums out there.

  • Buying a TV spot in Buffalo can cost up to several hundred thousand dollars.
  • One 30-second radio spot costs $71 in Buffalo, N.Y.
  • It’s difficult to target specific demographics with TV and radio.

That’s where the beauty of digital comes in. By focusing on social media platforms and digital content tactics, you’re able to target a niche group located in a specific area code, all while saving your client money.

The Situation: Kenmore-Tonawanda Meals on Wheels (KTMOW), a local nonprofit that serves meals to elderly and disabled persons, needed to differentiate themselves from their well-established competition — but didn’t have the budget to run a giant ad campaign. Our content team set out to create cost-effective content that would entertain and inform our audience, differentiate KTMOW from the competition, and ultimately drive donations and volunteers.

Create a Plan for Content that Connects.

Americans are exposed to 5,000 ads a day. People are quickly turning on their ad blockers and scrolling past spam-like content without giving a second glance. As content marketers and storytellers, we need to do more than just create content that sells a brand: we need to create content that promotes a lifestyle.

The Quinlan team focused on creating blog posts that emphasized healthy living habits and offered advice that was relevant to both our targeted audience and our clientele.

By creating content that connects and influences, rather than promotes and sells, you can humanize your brand and begin building a valuable relationship with your consumers.

Evoke Emotion.

Think about the last time that you saw an advertisement about a charitable organization: how did it make you feel? (Chances are, not good). Between sob-inducing SPCA commercials and heart-wrenching ads depicting starving children, the guilt is inevitable.

It is beneficial to create this kind of emotion-eliciting content — which is why every agency tries to pull on your heart-strings. However, there’s so much more to emotionally driven advertising than just guilt and empathy.  After all, you’re trying to get your audience to reach for their wallet, not their tissue box.

Instead of guilt, we went with an emotion we’re much more familiar with: humor. After analyzing our demographic, we decided that the best route to take would be to craft a video marketing campaign that reminisced a late night talk show. Entertaining and lighthearted, the video used humor to emphasize key information and help KTMOW stand out from the competition.

Make the Most Of Promotion.

Maximizing engagement and brand awareness on a tight (or nonexistent) budget is difficult. Posting organic content online and on social media might be free, but it’s often unsuccessful without the assistance of paid promotion. Here are some tips on how to successfully promote your content without breaking the bank:

    • Attract the right type of people. Don’t waste money trying to reach every person age 18-65 in your area. Pick a specific demographic and stick to it. We chose to target people who lived in Kenton, had an affinity to similar charities and nonprofits and had a general interest in eldercare.
    • Create a call-to-action. Since you can’t donate money directly on a Facebook ad, make sure you provide your audience with a link to direct them to your website.
    • Prioritize your content. Be honest with yourself about your content. Not every blog post or digital ad has the potential to go viral. Prioritize the most engaging content and then focus your budgeting efforts towards that.

By following these promotion rules, we were able to reach over 41,000 people within our target area, within a budget that would have cost us at least 10 times the media spend. So yes — nonprofit content strategy can be just as effective as it is cost-effective.

How have you increased brand awareness for a nonprofit? We’d love to chat. Tweet us @QuinlanCompany.

10 Things You Need to Do In Buffalo this Winter

Lexi

As Buffalonians, we’re winter pros. We’ve survived the Blizzard of ‘93, the December Storm of ‘01, the October Surprise of ‘06, and the North American Winter Storm in ‘14. So, chances are you already have kitty litter in your truck, bags of salt piled on your front porch and your snow boots readily available.

But, even the most seasoned Buffalonian knows that one of the most difficult tasks in the winter is simply finding new things to do. As riveting as Buffalo is, it can be pretty easy to let the weather, icy roads and warm booze keep you cozy on your couch.

So, we’re here to help. Here are 10 things you need to do in Buffalo this winter.

1. For the Southtowners: East Aurora Carolcade

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When: Dec. 17th, 2016 7pm
Where: East Aurora Carol Cade

As our good friend Buddy the Elf would say: The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear. Join East Aurora’s carolers on Main Street for the 44th Annual Carolcade — a night of singing, Santa Claus visits, hot chocolate, donuts and holiday joy.

This year the town is looking to break a Guinness Record for largest outdoor caroling event. So come sing your heart out! (And did we mention there’s no open container law in East Aurora?)

2. For the Seinfeld lovers: Festivus

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When: Dec. 23, 2016 at 8:30 pm
Where: Hydraulic Hearth

Hydraulic Hearth and Community Beer Works are once again teaming up to throw a Festivus party unlike any other. Attendees can expect feats of strength, airing of grievances, an Elaine dance-off, costume contest, Seinfeld trivia and, of course, an unadorned Festivus pole.

Food and drink specials will begin at 8:30 p.m. and complimentary snacks will also be provided.

3. For the party animals: Brew Year’s Eve

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When: Dec. 31, 2017
Where: Buffalo RiverWorks

Ring in the new year with some of your favorite local breweries at RiverWorks Brew Year’s Eve. The event features a sneak peek of RiverWorks Brews exclusive first sampling, a champagne toast, hat, noisemakers, food and dessert stations, beer and wine stations and much more.

Pre-sale tickets are $110 per couple (or $65 for the single peeps) and can be purchased on Buffalo RiverWorks website.

4. For the outdoor adventurers: Winterfest

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When: January 12-15, 2017
Where: Town of Tonawanda facilities

Craving a holiday challenge? Town of Tonawanda Youth, Parks and Recreation’s annual Winterfest may have everything you need. This five-day event has everything from firework to ice skating, Kan Jam tournaments, magic shows and much more.

There are plenty of activities for all ages, including wine tasting, adult dancing and children’s outdoor games.

5. For the wine-lovers: Niagara Icewine Festival

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When: Jan. 13-15, 20-22 and 27-29, 2017
Where: Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls (close enough, guys)

‘Tis the season for drinking wine. You might as well make it festive. Enter: the 22nd Annual Icewine Festival, a three-weekend long wine festival that celebrates Ontario’s own Icewine.

The festival’s events include wine samplings, comedy festivals, musical guests, food pairings (what’s better than chocolate and wine?) and cocktail competitions.

For the fanciest of wine lovers, tickets for the all-inclusive Icewine Gala cost $185. For the rest of us, an individual experience costs $10 per event or $40 for the three-weekend discover pass.

6. For the family friendly: Chillabration

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When: Jan. 13-16, 2017
Where: Canalside

Between ice skating, ice bicycling, friendly curling competitions, karaoke and trivia nights, and open-mic nights featuring the talents poets, comedians and local musicians, there’s no shortage of festive fun to be had on any day of the week at Canalside.

If you’re looking for some post-holiday fun, Chillabration at Canalside is a family friendly, four-day celebration. Take part in dinosaur skate featuring artifacts from the Buffalo Science Museum, ice sculptures, children’s programming and crafts, amusement rides, ice skating performances, live music, food trucks and more.

7. For the foodies: Buffalo Soup-Fest

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When: Jan. 28, 2017
Where: Buffalo Niagara Convention Center

There’s nothing like a hot and flavorful bowl of soup to warm you up after a long day in the cold weather. If you don’t think one bowl of soup can fill the void in your stomach, we’ve got the event for you.

Buffalo Soup-Fest offers 75 different types of soup from 30 different restaurants. While the 2017 menu hasn’t been finalized just yet — we’re pretty confident it’ll be a good line up. Last year’s soups ranged from Beer Cheese Soup and Buffalo Chicken Ramen to Blazing Bison Chili and Pierogi. There’s a flavor for everyone.

Tickets are $5 for entry and soups can be bought with “soup bucks” (which can be purchased for $1 each).

8. For the beer enthusiasts: WNY Winter Brewfest

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When: Feb. 3, 2017
Where: Tonawanda Castle

Craft beers are having their moment — and WNY Winter Brewfest is all about celebrating our favorites. Attendees are able to sample some of Buffalo’s best beers, hard ciders and seasonal IPA’s. And, since beer pairs nicely with games, you’ll be able to play a few rounds of giant beer pong, giant Jenga and other activities.

Tickets ($45 a person) are limited, so if you’re interested in tasting craft brews all night, make sure to book your ticket quick.

9. For the animal lovers: Buffalo Zoo Polar Bites

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When: Feb. 23, 2017
Where: Buffalo Niagara Convention Center

Buffalo is bringing back Buffalo Zoo Polar Bites – another winter fundraising event that is sure to be entertaining. Guests can expect a fun night featuring basket auctions, food samplings from some of Western New York’s favorite restaurants and a meet and greet with some of the zoo’s ambassador animals.

Tickets are $30 presale and $40 at the door and include admission, unlimited food samplings, two drink tickets, free parking and more.

10. For the ski bums: Penguin Paddle

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When: Feb. 25, 2017
Where: Holiday Valley

On February 25, slide down a ski slope on your stomach for one awesome cause.The Holiday Valley annual Penguin Paddle raises money for the Lounsbury Adaptive Program, which is an adaptive ski program for people with disabilities and military veterans.

Tickets range from $1 to $5, so grab a drink, gear up in your garbage bag and spend the day sliding and skiing.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Buffalo during the winter? We’d love to know. Tweet us @Quinlancompany

5 Popular Podcasts You Should Download Right Now

Lexi

Last week, Michelle Miller Levitt, CEO of Too Much Neon, Buffalo’s first professional podcast service, visited Quinlan to discuss the impact of podcasting on content marketing. We learned a ton about Too Much Neon’s services — and even more about the benefits of podcasts.

Let’s talk podcasts

According to Edison Research, 98 million Americans have listened to a podcast and over 20 percent of Americans listen to podcasts once a month — that’s the same percentage as Americans that use Twitter! With over 60,000 podcasts on iTunes and counting, it’s clear that podcasting is in it for the long haul. So… let’s talk about it.

When you think about it, the growth of podcasts is easy to understand. This content marketing gem is:

  • Easy to produce
  • Available and applicable to all industries and niche groups
  • More intimate than video
  • Great for commuters and multitaskers
  • Simple to integrate with your existing content strategy

“Since the growth of on-demand companies like Netflix, people have a different set of expectations from other organizations,” notes Michelle. “Consumers now expect content on demand, and podcasts deliver on that expectation.”

This has resulted in companies needing to act more and more like media companies, which requires the implementation of interesting and engaging video and audio content. Enter podcasts as marketing tools.

“Some of the most popular podcasts are upwards of one to two hours long and people are regularly consuming this content,” Michelle notes, “so the idea of being able to spend an hour providing valuable content to your listeners, while building up your brand is extremely appealing to businesses.”

Advertising in podcasts

Due to the personalized nature of podcast advertising, listeners actually prefer to hear advertisements in podcasts than many other traditional media forms. In fact, 45 percent of listeners visit a sponsor’s website and 42 percent are willing to try a new product or service. That’s the beauty of auditory storytelling: your audience feels a more authentic connection with your brand, leading to stronger relationships and a greater sense of trust.

As a form of entertainment, content marketing tool and advertising platform, podcasts offer endless benefits. Want to learn more about Buffalo’s professional podcast studio, Too Much Neon? Have an idea for a podcast but don’t know where to begin? Contact Michelle and her team. They’ll get you off to a rad start.

In the meantime, we’ll leave you with a list of binge-worthy, popular podcasts to get started with.

Social Pros

Average Show Length: 45 minutes

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Winner of the best podcast at the Content Marketing Awards, Jay Baer from Convince & Convert and Adam Brown from Salesforce, sit down each week to interview social media practitioners from a variety of brands, like Dell, Ford and ESPN. They cover important trends in social media marketing, insightful tips and the skills needed to be successful with social media.

Best For: Anyone looking to develop stronger social media skills.

Why You Should Listen:

  • The podcast is applicable to all marketers, from novices to the self-declared social media “experts”
  • The hosts always ask their guest for one specific tip on how to become a “social media pro”
  • The show is professional without being bland or boring

99% Invisible

Show length: 15 Minutes

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Roman Mars, the host and producer of 99% Invisible, funded this incredibly popular podcast on Kickstarter, as a way to teach people about the “hidden design” in all things.

Best For: Architect nerds and design enthusiasts, as well as anyone who is intrigued by the hidden and unexpected history behind the items that you use every day.

Why You Should Listen:

  • Roman’s voice is soothing, comforting and captivating all at once
  • Includes dynamic audio content from other videos and news sources
  • Makes you feel a little bit smarter every time you listen to it

Entrepreneur on Fire

Average Show Length: 30 Minutes

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Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas, is a daily podcast that interviews entrepreneurs about the process of starting their business. Dumas focuses on his guest’s worst entrepreneurial moments, the steps they took to make their ah-ha moment into success, and the important lessons that they learned along the way. The podcast has over 1400 episodes featuring entrepreneurs such as Barbara Corcoran, Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin.

Best For: Any professional who is looking to create their own startup, find ways to influence their current workplace, or just need a bit of daily inspiration to get them moving.

Why You Should Listen:

  • The “Lightning Round” at the end of every episode gives the audience a ton of insight
  • The length of the show is perfect – not so long that the information is dry or boring, but long enough to get an appropriate amount of information from the guest
  • Dumas captivates and inspires his audience every episode

Invisibilia

Show Length: 60 Minutes

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Invisibilia, a podcast about the hidden forces behind human behavior, ideas, assumptions and emotions. Lulu Miller, Hannah Rosin and Alex Spiegel combine storytelling and scientific research in a way that makes you question the way that life works.

Best For: Anyone who loves connecting with other people, questioning social norms and exploring the mystery of the human mind.

Why You Should Listen:

  • Amazing characters with bizarre stories and backgrounds featured in every episode
  • The show’s hosts will have you questioning your sanity and the world around you
  • Feels incredibly immersive for a podcast

WTF

Show Length: 60 Minutes

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A millennial’s Howard Stern, comedian Marc Maron interviews celebrities and other comedian guests on his weekly podcast, WTF. Notable guests include President Barack Obama, Katie Couric, Amy Schumer, John Oliver and Louis CK.

Best For: Someone who loves the appeal of tabloid gossip, but craves more substance and raw emotion in their entertainment.

Why You Should Listen:

  • Maron’s interviews go from being hauntingly depressive to hysterical and personable in minutes
  • There is a huge range of interviews to listen to (761 and counting)
  • The non traditional interview format makes you feel like you’re really getting to know each guest

QUINLAN PODCASTS: (Yeah… you read that correctly)

Field Recordings

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Show Length: 30-60 minutes

Yep. Quinlan’s creative director, Frank Conjerti, started Field Recordings with the infamous Ben Kirst, to recognize the often overlooked talents of local musicians, writers, entrepreneurs and athletes. We might be a little biased, but if you’re interested in listening to genuine and funny conversations with some of the less-acknowledged Queen City contributors, Field Recordings is worth a listen. You’re welcome for the shout out, Frank.

The Devil’s Due

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Show Length: 60-90 minutes

Believe it or not, it doesn’t stop there. Quinlan’s senior web developer, Drew Celestino, is a casual podcast pro himself. Co-host of The Devil’s Due, Drew and his co-host talk about the Netflix series, “Daredevil” and other series such as “Luke Cage” and “Jessica Jones.” The show delves into the comic book world featuring geek culture news, listener questions and interviews. That’s not all — Drew is also the sound engineer and the web guru for his podcast.

Which podcasts are you listening to? We’d love to find out. Tweet us @QuinlanCompany.

Meet Our Fall 2016 Interns!

Lexi

It’s September, which means that school is back in session, and interns are once again roaming the office at Quinlan.

This semester we’ve welcomed two interns, Becca and Alexis, into our graphic design and content marketing departments. These girls have already jumped headfirst into their work and have been assisting in designing mockups, crafting social media posts and writing content for our team.

Becca Warthling
Graphic Design Intern
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Rebecca is finishing up her last semester at Villa Maria College, where she is completing her bachelor’s degree in graphic design. Before scoring this internship, Becca interned at Sarahphoto and Fourthidea. Currently, Becca is working on assisting our designers with their projects and completing mockups for clients.

Why Becca is studying graphic design:
I enjoy the creative freedom that you receive in the field, as well as the large amount of job openings there are around Buffalo.

What she hopes to get out of her internship:
I really felt like I could expand my knowledge and learn a lot from this company. (Quinlan is) well known and they have great designers on board to learn from.

What she wants to do after graduation:
I would like to find a job local (around the Buffalo area) in graphic design. Right now, I am hoping for an agency job.

How she spends her time outside of school:
Playing sports, shooting photography, spending time in the country or trying to make new food.

The one place she’s always wanted to travel:
Ireland.

If she could have any profession in the world it would be:
Hmm, food connoisseur – I love food and would love to be able to travel all over trying different things.

An interesting fact about Becca:
I Irish danced at Rochez Academy for 10 years.

 

Alexis Book
Content Marketing Intern
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Alexis Book, a senior at Canisius College, is finishing her bachelor’s degree in communications, with a concentration in integrated marketing. Previously, she interned at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. This fall, Alexis will be working on managing social media accounts, drafting blog posts and writing SEO content.

Why Alexis is studying communications:
I love learning how people interact with the world around them and what motivates them to act a certain way. Not to mention, you use communication in every field, so I knew it would be helpful no matter what field I go into.

What she hopes to get out of her internship:
I really hope to gain valuable insight about agency life and work on developing dynamic content for Quinlan and its  clients.

What she wants to do after graduation:
I want to go to graduate school to study integrated marketing and management for nonprofit organizations.

How she spends her time outside of school:
I probably spend half of my time doing club work and extracurriculars, and the other half inside of Tex-Mex restaurants.

The one place she’s always wanted to travel:
I’ve got too many places on my bucket list to pick just one!

If she could have any profession in the world it would be:
I would be the next Ellen Degeneres.

An interesting fact about Alexis:
I can sing the alphabet backwards.

Welcome to the team, ladies!

Want to learn more about internship opportunities at Quinlan? Make sure to contact us or Tweet us at @QuinlanCompany.