Category Archives: Featured Articles

The Structure of Social Media

Which department should oversee social media activities?

By Terah Brossart Guest Columnist

More companies are investing budget and resources into social media, making it a hot spot in the job market right now. At the same time, many employers are trying to determine which department should manage their company’s social media presence—public relations, marketing, both, or neither? According to a new survey by The Creative Group, it’s a tough question. When advertising and marketing executives were asked which department is best suited to oversee an organization’s social media efforts, the response was divided: 39 percent of respondents said public relations/communications and 35 percent said marketing. Only 15 percent said customer service.

Corporate social media encompasses many things—posting updates and engaging with followers, responding to customer questions and complaints, and monitoring and measuring the success of campaigns. Each of these tasks requires different skill sets and is likely best handled by different departments within an organization.

For example, a customer support team may be best equipped to respond to complaints on social media since they have experience addressing similar queries by phone or e-mail. Marketing may handle activities like paid advertising, contests and other social media promotions since they have experience reaching a company’s target audience. PR may be best suited for disseminating information on social media channels, much as they would with press releases, bylined articles, and media or blogger outreach to communicate a company’s key messages. For this reason, no one person or department should “own” social media; it’s more strategic to create cross-departmental work groups that can tackle social media piece by piece.

Here are a few tips to help companies delegate social media activities:

Make it a group effort.
There are many aspects to corporate social media—including posting updates and engaging with followers, responding to customer queries and complaints, and analyzing activity—and it’s a lot for one person, much less one department, to handle. Create cross-departmental work groups to manage social media activities, leveraging the strengths of different teams. Also be sure to establish clear success metrics and accountability for reaching them.

Scout for internal talent.
Identify current employees who have expressed an active interest in social media and can help drive the effort—whether from a strategy, execution or maintenance standpoint.

Communicate best practices to all employees.
Even if you plan to rely solely on a select group of people to represent your brand via social media, all staff members should be provided with company guidelines regarding posting content, managing feedback and handling negative commentary. Employees equipped with these best practices may become your company’s strongest brand ambassadors, even if they’re tweeting and posting from a personal versus corporate account.

Bring in reinforcements.
Social media moves at lightning speed and your current staff may not have the time or expertise to keep up with the constant activity. Bringing in highly skilled freelancers who have experience developing, launching and managing social media campaigns can help alleviate the workload and provide outside expertise your team may lack.

There are many aspects of social media and it’s a lot for one person, much less one department, to handle. Creating cross-departmental work groups maximizes the strengths of all teams involved. Bringing in freelancers with social media skills can also be an effective way for companies to support social media activities and gain access to skills they lack internally. Lastly, companies may want to consider working with a specialized staffing firm to identify top social media talent quickly.

Terah Brossart is a division director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing firm placing interactive, design, advertising and marketing professionals on a project and full-time basis. The company has offices in major markets across the United States and in Canada, and offers online job search services at Contact the Seattle branch at 206-749-9046.

Breakthrough: Five Tips for Brand Messaging That Resonates in today’s Marketplace

By Caryn Herder Guest Columnist

What is your brand message to the marketplace? You can probably describe your product or service, but what about your connection with the customer? A lot of brands fall short when it comes to developing a brand message that describes their reason for being.

In my experience, I’ve learned that the best messages are those that most closely align with your audience’s needs and desires. You have to know what your relevancy is in the marketplace—and understand what messaging your audience is willing to accept from you.

The key is to place the value on your audience—not the brand, product or service. This is an easy mistake I see many marketers make all too often when starting the process of developing key messages.

Here are some of the top considerations I use with my teams when developing brand messages for today’s ever-changing marketing landscape.

Be open to hearing others’ opinions.
Throughout this process, you have to be willing to let go of paradigms. Start fresh. View your brand through the lens of your audience. How do you do that? It’s certainly easier said than done. Listen to your customers and partners, but don’t ignore your internal stakeholders. Ask questions and be willing to go where their conversation leads you. This is where the role of an agency can be particularly helpful, because it provides trusted counsel, honest opinions and validation to help back you up with your peers.

Understand your marketplace position.
Before you can define your brand, you have to understand the market. What are your obstacles? What are your points of distinction? A colleague once told me, if you don’t have a hammer, then you’ve got to have a sharp nail. Meaning, if your product or service doesn’t have any clear distinction in the marketplace, then your creative and messaging has to be spot-on to resonate with the audience.

Be patient.
From start to finish, a messaging development project can take anywhere from two to six months, depending on the complexity and audience. Try to think of this undertaking as pre-production. Once your messaging is aligned, your entire creative process will go much smoother.

Anticipate how messaging could impact business strategy.
Message development research findings often force internal discussions at a higher level about product and overall business strategy. If you’re successful in bringing knowledge, it’s going to empower your teams to do more dimensional work. Think about the impact and value that comes from having your sales and marketing teams aligned in a message that speaks directly to what your audience wants to hear from you.

Remember to refresh.
When you’re developing your message, consider your audience not only in the immediate period, but also try to forecast for the short term and long term. We like to think that if you develop messaging that truly sticks with your audience, it can last for up to 18 months, depending on the industry. Once you have your starting place, it’s also much easier to update your messaging as products change and markets evolve.

Message development is certainly hard work. There’s no cookie-cutter approach that can be applied to every industry, product and service. Each project has its own unique consideration set. But that’s also what makes the effort and the results so rewarding.

My last piece of advice for marketers who are considering a message development project is to make sure you have senior-level executives conducting your research. Just like I don’t believe in cookie-cutter approaches, I also don’t believe valuable research can be found from a scripted conversation. You need to know which questions to ask and where to guide the conversation to build trust and rapport with the audience you’re seeking to learn from. After all, that’s the key to developing relationships with your audience through your marketing messages, too.

Caryn Herder is the director of strategic planning at CMD, a West Coast marketing agency based in Portland.

American Advertising Awards: Annual competition gets a new name

As retailers gear up for the holiday season, Puget Sound advertisers, agencies, suppliers and AAF Seattle are preparing for their industry’s biggest “holiday”—its largest advertising competition.

This year, that competition sports a new name.

The ADDY® Awards, in which more than 40,000 entries compete annually at three different levels, is now the American Advertising Awards, and the call for entries for the Seattle area competition went out November 14.

The new identity is more than just a name change, according to James Edmund Datri, American Advertising Federation president and CEO.

“The ADDY Awards began as a local program,” says Datri, “and one of its great strengths has always been that it offers a creative competition at the level of the local advertising market. It’s the only major awards program that offers recognition for the best work in hundreds of small, medium and large-sized markets.

“But as the competition has grown, the marketplace has become a more global one. And the ‘local’ feel of the competition has overshadowed the fact that this is the largest—and we believe the toughest—competition of its kind.

“This is a celebration of the best of the best in American advertising, at every level, and the competition’s leadership felt it was important that the brand better reflect that.”

At the same time, Datri says, it’s important that local clubs be able to maintain the traditional value of the ADDYs, which became a nationwide competition in 1968. “Clubs across the country will still refer to the award itself as the ADDY award,” he says.

Work is entered in the American Advertising Awards through one of the AAF’s network of more than 170 local advertising clubs, such as AAF Seattle. At the local level, work is judged in more than 70 categories, along with the best creative in that market.

Last year’s Seattle ADDY competition drew more than 400 entries from over 70 individuals and organizations. Almost 100 Seattle winners were forwarded to the next level of judging against other winners from AAF District XI in one of 15 district competitions. Renee Peterson, AAF Seattle president, says, “In many markets, including Seattle, the awards gala is the local club’s biggest night of the year.”

In the third judging stage, District winners then advance to the national competition, whose winners are announced each June at AAF’s ADMERICA! national conference. Last year, five Seattle entrants brought home National ADDY honors. They were Cole & Weber United, Creature, GreenRubino, Keith Rivers Films (now Workhouse Creative), Rally and Wong, Doody, Crandall & Wiener.

The three-level competition is unique to the American Advertising Awards, as is its inclusion of students.

“Our student competition really mirrors the professional competition,” says Datri. “Other major competitions have a stripped-down version, or limit the students to a predetermined case. The American Advertising Awards offers students much more opportunity.” Last year the competition saw nearly 6,000 student entries nationally.
AAF Seattle’s call for entries will go out November 14. Entry deadline is January 10 with judging scheduled for February 8 and 9. The AAF Seattle awards gala will be held in mid-March.

The competition is open to both members and non-members of AAF Seattle. For entry details, visit

The American Advertising Federation is the nation’s oldest national advertising trade association, and the only association representing all facets of the advertising industry: advertisers, agencies, media and suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AAF acts as the “Unifying Voice for Advertising.” Its membership includes corporate members comprising some of the nation’s leading advertisers, advertising agencies, and media companies.

The Heart of the Matter

By Fred Canada Guest Columnist

Deciding to buy or sell a business is an emotional act. You can dispassionately step back and view spreadsheets and numbers, but in the end, making that critical decision is more heart-based than head-based.

But in spite of the fact that the decision is emotional, it’s best if the process is still business-like. When we’re approached by someone who wants us to sell their business, we send them a list that includes all of the items that we’ll need in order to appraise and sell their company (such as tax returns, company history, profit and loss statements, etc.), but we also send an emotional checklist that can be just as important for sellers to consider before making their move:

• Are you ready to face the reality of not owning your own business? If you need to work for someone else after you’ve sold, it could be difficult after years of being your own boss.

• Staying on for a short transition time will most likely be required with new owners who are unfamiliar with your business. They’ll need to be trained. But a deal that includes staying on indefinitely as an employee might be difficult for you.

• What is your business really worth? Because your heart is wrapped up in it, you may believe that your company is worth more than it really is. It’s a good idea to have your business appraised so that you know where you stand. We recommend an evaluation at least every five years.

• What about employees? That’s the biggest concern that we hear from business owners: What will happen to them, especially those who are long-term and loyal? In some instances, new ownership may choose not to keep them, but sometimes key employee retention can be included in the selling agreement.

• It’s always best to have someone represent you, regardless of which transition you’re attempting, even if it’s a sale to a family member. Actually… especially if it’s a sale to a family member. We’ve been witness to some pretty intense sibling and parent/offspring meetings that had us shaking our heads and wondering what their Thanksgivings look like. An impartial third party is always a good idea.

• Transactions proceed most smoothly when egos are checked at the door. There’s a lot of healthy self-esteem involved in being a business owner, but when it comes time to seek a buyer—in spite of the fact that the decision to sell is an emotional one—it’s best to rein in your ego.

Fred Canada is co-founder of The Quincy Group, celebrating 10 years of small business consulting and brokering. You can find out more at, e-mail him at, or call him directly at 206-459-1820.

Rosey Awards Coming Soon – Get Your Tickets!

Thursday, December 5, marks the annual Rosey Awards, a ceremony celebrating the best advertising and creative work produced in Portland and Southwest Washington in the last year. Submitted entries had to have been published, posted, or aired for the first time between June 1, 2012, and May 31, 2013.

Presented by Portland Ad Federation and Grady Britton, the Roseys have been awarded every year since 1957 to honor creativity and original thinking. Three levels of awards (the coveted Rosey Award, the Award of Excellence, and the Award of Merit) are given out in a variety of categories, ranging from print to Web to TV to mobile and beyond. The judges will collaboratively pick one Best of Show winner from all the entries.

Find out the winners at this year’s Rosey Awards ceremony. Here are the details:

Date: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Time: 7 – 10pm
Location: Yale Union (800 SE 10th Avenue, Portland)

For more information, visit or

Pike Place Market Campaign Racks up Accolades

PRR’s acclaimed Pike Place Market “Thanks to You” campaign has won a trio of prestigious Summit Creative Awards, the Seattle agency just announced. The awards include a Gold honor for community relations program, a Silver for the Market Must-Haves video series, and a Bronze for print marketing materials.  

More than 5,000 entries were fielded from around the world across 22 award categories. Company names were withheld from judges—creative professionals from seven countries—during the assessment. Entries were evaluated on innovation and creativity, strong execution, and the ability to communicate and persuade. Only one Gold winner was selected in each category.

The “Thanks to You” campaign was intended as a show of appreciation for the longstanding support of Seattle residents. In 2008, they approved a six-year property tax levy to fund a $68 million infrastructure upgrade of the iconic market. Pike Place Market tapped PRR to thank the taxpayers for their support, remind them of their fruitful investment, illustrate the infrastructure upgrades with the appropriate messaging, and encourage future visits.

“We came into this project with a modest budget, tight schedule, multiple audiences and ambitious goals,” said Kelly Lindsay, the Market’s director of programs and marketing. “With PRR’s creative solutions and sensitivity to the Market’s iconic—and irreverent—character, we developed a campaign that both celebrated and educated visitors about the renovation. Together, we formed an unstoppable partnership that achieved everything we set out to do—and then some. Kudos to PRR for a job well done!”

Facets of PRR’s month-long campaign included media relations, social media, partnership outreach, and a public installation detailing the repairs made. Nearly three million people were reached through 47 media stories, 10,000 brochures, partnerships including one with the Seattle Sounders FC, a video tribute, two special events, customized thank-you cards, and more.

For more information, visit

Why Storytelling is the Natural Next Step in B2B Customer Marketing

By Mandy Emel Guest Columnist

People are natural storytellers. For centuries, storytelling was the primary way that cultures around the world preserved their traditions and kept their customs alive.

Over the last few years, B2B marketers have strayed from one of the most natural, easy ways to influence an audience—the art of storytelling. It is as though metric-packed case studies have replaced the purposeful narrative. Many marketers have been so focused on metrics, proof points, efficiency and buzzwords that they’ve lost sight of the fact that customers are human beings who crave a good story. It is no surprise when they stop reading.

Good news.

The art of storytelling is making a big comeback and regaining relevance in B2B marketing. Major corporations and marketing professionals are realizing that metrics and value propositions alone will not resonate powerfully with their customers. Customer engagement begins with emotion, and there is no better way to make that happen than by telling a meaningful story.

One sign of the shift to storytelling is the blurring of lines between B2B and B2C marketing.  Storytelling requires human-to-human—rather than human-to-product—connection. Most professionals who market directly to consumers understand that we live in an “attention economy.” You have to give the customers something they can relate to on an emotional level, and you have to do it early in order to have a fighting chance of holding their interest.

B2B buyers are not so different from consumer buyers—both demand that your story is “better” than the previous brand’s story, more so than ever before. This is why B2B marketers must change the way they engage their customers.

To be clear, purchasing decisions in B2B marketing are not purely emotional. Rational buying triggers are still important, and savvy marketers know that buying decisions are not made in an emotional vacuum. But storytelling can provide an essential human context, so that a customer who is leaning toward making a rational purchase decision also gets the sense that it “feels right.”

Let me illustrate with a telling example—the Halo 4 Big Data story. The Halo franchise is an award-winning global entertainment phenomenon. Halo 4 is the latest release of an epic sci-fi adventure that achieved more than $220 million in global sales in its first 24 hours, and attracted more than 4 million players in its first five days after launch. The Halo case study focuses on data mining to gain insights into player preferences and behavior. This could easily have been a dry, jargonistic and data-driven story, but marketers were able to turn the case study into a huge success by making a few tweaks to the format and highlighting the dramatic and emotional elements that epitomize a good story. The focal point was a five-week, free-to-enter online tournament with 2,800 prizes at stake. The marketers emphasized the big challenge faced by Microsoft’s 343 Industries team, which needed to quickly process and analyze massive amounts of raw data in order to be able to produce stats, update player rankings and support a daily e-mail campaign designed to increase player retention. Could they succeed? Read the customer story to find out.

Compared with the next most popular case study published by Microsoft on the same day, the Halo 4 customer story received 3,357 percent more views: 3,995 views vs. 119. Of the 102 case studies published by Microsoft in March 2013, the Halo 4 story was viewed 7.5 times more than the second-most-viewed case study. The Halo 4 customer story also accounts for 26 percent of all views for all 102 case studies published by Microsoft during that month.

The lesson the Halo 4 story teaches us is clear: Proof points and metrics are important, but marketers shouldn’t let them consume the entire tale. Purely rational stories, absent of the human elements of dramatic tension and emotional impact, are forgettable and do little to build loyalty to your brand.

Here are five rules to help you bring your customer stories to life:

Tell your story the same way you would tell it to a friend or a colleague.
Too many B2B writers revert to formal corporate language. Instead, write as though you are having a conversation with an old college friend. Use buzzwords and jargon sparingly; make the story fun to read. It’s not a matter of “dumbing down,” but rather a matter of being approachable and establishing a connection.

Don’t just tell your customer’s story. Tell their customer’s story.
In B2B marketing, there’s an unfortunate tendency to focus on your customer. Remember that your customers have customers of their own. How does the use of your products and services impact your customers’ customers? If your customer is saving money by using your solution, why not highlight how that is also benefiting their customers?

Create suspense.
“Once upon a time, everything was perfect, then it got even more perfect.” Is that what engages readers? Not likely. Tension is part of everyday life, and readers expect it in a good story. You don’t have to advertise your company’s shortcomings in order to create tension. Instead, talk about real business challenges where the outcome is uncertain, and then bring us along as you overcome those challenges.

Encourage readers to see themselves in your story.
Even the traditional case study can engage readers if it’s a personal account of what “someone like me” experienced. If buyers can see themselves as the protagonist, they’re more likely to take action. One way to make that happen is to incorporate universal themes to connect with your reader—overcoming adversity, or the perseverance and ultimate triumph of the underdog. Give readers a reason to see how your story ends, and give them a reason to cheer when it’s over.

Get out of your comfort zone. Try something new.
Yes, it’s easy to structure the customer stories the same way again and again, but that isn’t likely to ignite curiosity or evoke a strong emotional response. Even if it’s the same story, it’s possible to tell it in a new way. Keep those “messaging” documents in the drawer and focus on writing the story you want to tell. Why are you passionate about your organization? Why should others care? How is your product transforming the industry?

There’s a reason storytelling is one of the most ancient forms of communication. People not only connect to good stories—they remember and retell them. If you make your customers the heroes of the stories you tell them, your products will sell themselves.

Mandy is an account director specializing in digital projects, content creation and customer experiences at Metia in Seattle. She has developed relationships with clients around the world, and has experience managing digital tool development and global launch programs. Mandy’s team has worked with thousands of customers on clients’ behalf, and manages customer-facing projects across multiple channels, industries and geographies. In addition, Mandy has been recognized by the Microsoft Enterprise Partner Group for best practices in the customer reference field.

Victory in Salem


Landmark legislative session breathes new life into Oregon production industry.






It was a bumpy, exhausting, arduous ride—but for those in the Oregon production industry, it was well worth it.

On July 8—the final day of the 2013 legislative session—the House of Representatives passed House Bill 3367 to increase the state’s film incentive, known as the Oregon Production Investment Fund (OPIF), from $6 million a year to $10 million. This is $2 million less than what Governor John Kitzhaber, an ardent supporter of the bill, had been pushing for, but is still a major win for the local film industry.

The journey wasn’t smooth sailing for HB 3367, which was comprised of several expiring tax credits, including the film incentive, the earned income tax credit, and the Oregon Cultural Trust tax credit, among others.

Just six days prior to its passage, the bill appeared dead when Senate lawmakers failed to reach a “grand bargain” on increasing tax revenue and cutting pension costs, which would have helped fund the tax credits. But during a meeting of the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee a few days later, several local industry professionals spoke of the film incentive’s importance to the state, helping to change many committee members’ minds. The Senate amended the bill from $12 million to $10 million, and the bill was passed by a vote of 22 to 8. The following day, the last day of the legislative session, the House of Representatives concurred by a vote of 50 to 9.

Since its inception, OPIF has attracted many productions to the state, such as Grimm, Leverage, Portlandia and ParaNorman, among others, but a higher incentive cap means more—and bigger—productions, which equals more jobs.

And not only does the bill increase the annual cap of OPIF, but it expands the local filmmaker program (Indigenous Oregon Production Investment Fund, or iOPIF) to include “Media Production Service Companies,” such as post-production and video game development projects. It also lifts the threshold for out-of-state projects to $1 million of spend in Oregon. For iOPIF, the spending threshold will now be $75,000 on the low end, and up to the first $1 million of a project. The bill will become law on the 91st day following adjournment sine die (early October).

Two other bills passed during the session will also positively impact the local industry. HB 2505 directs money to the Oregon Business Development Department, including a program called the Oregon Innovation Council. The Oregon Innovation Council provides funding for several initiatives, such as the Oregon Story Board (OSB), which is designed to grow and incubate the state’s digital media industry. Funding for OSB should begin later in the fall.

Finally, the passage of SB 836 means that film, TV and theatrical professionals are no longer required to obtain a cosmetology license as it applies to working on productions.

Vince Porter, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Film and Television, called the legislative session “transformational.”

“This past legislative session will prove to be a very important one for Oregon’s film, TV and digital media industry,” said Porter. “Not only will we be able to attract more productions with the increase in the incentive, but we will also be able to further work with the local digital media industry through the creation of the Oregon Story Board. More jobs, more local infrastructure and hopefully more local entrepreneurial developments.”

For more information, visit

WF Incentive Films Wrap Principal Photography

Two Washington Filmworks production incentive projects wrapped principal photography this summer.

The first, 7 Minutes, wrapped in June after shooting in Everett, Washington. Written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Jay Martin, the action-drama stars an exciting mix of up-and-coming talent such as Luke Mitchell (Neighbours), Leven Rambin (The Hunger Games), Zane Holtz (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and Brandon Hardesty (Bucky Larson), as well as seasoned pros Kris Kristofferson (Blade), Kevin Gage (Heat) and Jason Ritter (Parenthood). The film was produced by Jacob Estes, Jacob Mosler, Jim Hart and Rick Rosenthal, in association with Whitewater Films. This production is the second feature film that Whitewater Films has brought to Washington State in the last two years.

7 Minutes tells the story of a once-promising college athlete, his drug-dealing brother and their ex-con friend who embark on an ill-fated heist. As each minute of their simple plan unfolds, the action spirals closer to a tragic conclusion.

“The production was based in Everett, where the combination of urban and rural settings within minutes of each other made for a very attractive production center and central location,” said producer Rosenthal. “Everett city officials were incredibly helpful. Their positive attitude and unbelievably proactive cooperation made the budget of our indie film go a long ways. With picturesque locations and solid film crews, the lure to shoot in the Pacific Northwest is strong, but it was the 30-percent incentive from Washington Filmworks that helped make an unbeatable case for filming in the state.”

Washington State Senators and Representatives visit the set of Laggies on July 1. Lynn Shelton is pictured at right. (Courtesy of Washington Filmworks)

Meanwhile, another WF incentive project, Laggies, wrapped after filming in the Puget Sound region throughout June and early July. Laggies is a feature film directed by Seattle-based Lynn Shelton (Touchy Feely, Your Sister’s Sister) and written by Andrea Seigel. The project stars Chloë Grace Moretz (Dark Shadows), Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean), and Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2). Laggies is produced by Alix Madigan, Rosalie Swedlin and Steve Golin from Anonymous Content, and Myles Nestel from The Solution Entertainment Group. The film tells the story of a woman who dodges her long-term boyfriend’s marriage proposal by pretending to be at a weeklong seminar, but she is actually hanging out with high school girls. The woman must struggle to decide what will really make her happy while reliving the highlights of her high school days. This production is the first feature film, and third project, that Anonymous Content has brought to Washington State since 2009.

Laggies filmed key scenes in several Puget Sound region municipalities, including Seattle, Shoreline, Kenmore, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Renton, Bellevue and Bothell. The bulk of production took place in Seattle and featured numerous locations and neighborhoods in the Emerald City.

“I have been delighted, in every respect, by the experience of shooting Laggies in the beautiful city of Seattle. Everything—from the application for funding assistance, the support of Washington Filmworks, through the actual shoot—was an effortless, joyous experience. I loved shooting in Seattle. The crew was simply outstanding in every aspect and the locations we secured were perfect,” said producer Madigan. “It was also wonderful to spend time in this great city, which has much to offer.”

7 Minutes and Laggies are two of 90 projects WF has approved through the standard funding assistance program. These productions represent an estimated $213-million economic impact statewide since the Washington Legislature created WF in 2007.

Change Agents: CMD Credits Ability to Stay Ahead of Rapid Change As Key to Success

A difficult economy. A rapidly changing industry. An ever-evolving business model.

For any agency, trying to survive the turmoil of the past few years has been challenging at best. Yet CMD, one of the leading marketing agencies on the West Coast, credits these factors as key to its success.

CMD recently reported one of its most successful quarters in the company’s 30-plus-year history, achieving record-setting revenue and profit since the beginning of 2013. In the past three months, the agency has added 10 new hires and promoted 6 employees. CMD continues to expand its regional presence, with offices in Seattle and in San Francisco. It has added top talent and new services, including a strategy and solutions group, responsive design capabilities and a metrics and analytics division.

Most importantly, CMD has broadened its client portfolio, netting a number of new accounts and clients. With roots working with some of the largest global technology brands and experience in the housing and manufacturing segments, the agency has used its knowledge to the benefit of new tech sector clients such as ASUS and leading consumer brands such as Expedia.

“Rather than resist change, we’ve embraced it,” said Phil Reilly, president of CMD. “Our successcan be credited to the fact that we’ve never been afraid to evolve our model to fit what clients need.”

Change Comes Second Nature

Phil Reilly

Change comes naturally to CMD, which was founded in the days when CD-ROMs were considered innovative, and at the time, the agency focused heavily on providing training services. As marketing strategies evolved and technology increased, CMD stayed on the forefront by working with clients considered leaders and innovators in their respective fields. The agency began incorporating new services, increasing its creative talent pool and shedding old ways of doing things. Constant evolution became part of its DNA.

Now with approximately 150 employees, Reilly says CMD is big enough to invest and build out services that have the most significant impact on clients’ marketing needs, but small enough to be nimble when it comes to instituting change rapidly. Today, the agency offers digital, advertising, design, social media, PR, paid media, film and video, events, promotion and content marketing, and metrics and analytics.

“We’ve always been a big believer in having more than one arrow in our quiver,” said Reilly. “We invest in and build out areas that we believe will have growth potential and the biggest impact on clients’ marketing strategies. It’s easy to get distracted in an industry that’s changing so rapidly, so we focus on how to deliver the most effective campaigns possible for the client’s investment.”

Increasing Competitiveness in a Tough Economy
CMD credits a tough economy for being a catalyst for change and helping the agency succeed. The agency moved from being heavily concentrated in the housing segment before the economic downturn to effectively broadening its client base and concentrating on technology and other leading business-to-business and consumer brands. Additionally, CMD saw early on that data and analytics would play an important part in how marketing expenditures would be budgeted for and determined moving forward.

“Every client looks for return on marketing investment and how it impacts the bottom line—and that becomes especially important in a down economy. That’s why we’ve focused on things like adding a strong analytics department, which put us way ahead of the competition and helps reassure clients that their dollars are working as hard as possible for them,” said Reilly.

According to Reilly, it’s that ability to maintain a competitive edge and focus on the company’s core values that has allowed the agency to grow and change the definition of what it means to be a “creative” agency.

“In the old definition, being a ‘creative agency’ meant producing creative ads,” said Reilly. “At CMD, we believe the true meaning of creative is the ability to understand and implement the right combination of effective solutions that motivates an audience to take action. It’s a balance of both art and science. And that’s the agency of the future that CMD is excited to help pioneer.”