KMK Team

Our full-service advertising and communications firm employs an extremely talented and passionate team of industry experts.

Mother's Day Mayhem

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Mother’s Day proved some businesses have been more adept than others at adjusting to accommodate COVID-19 online ordering, curbside pick-up and delivery. Red Lobster had a lot of clean-up to do after the recent holiday, proving now more than ever, it’s important when things don’t go according to plan that businesses protect their brand with good PR and customer service!

Red Lobster CEO Apologizes for Mother’s Day Mayhem

Public relations crisis management counsels that brands should own their mistakes promptly, apologize when there are victims and communicate how they are making things right. Red Lobster’s CEO Kim Lopdrup did that yesterday.

For many Americans, the tradition on Mother’s Day is to give mom a day off from cooking. As a result, it’s a big day for restaurants. It was this year, too, though nearly all orders were take-out, of course. Unfortunately, Mother’s Day 2020 became a problem for some restaurants and several Red Lobster locations in particular.

Some restaurants, including Red Lobster, ran specials for Mother's Day, but failed to anticipate how much demand there would be during the pandemic. For Red Lobster, Sunday was its biggest online day ever. As it turned out, the restaurant's online systems accepted orders that staff ultimately was unable to fulfill. With all orders online, demand projection should have been doable. That was not the case.

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Working Together, Apart: How to Survive Working from Home

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Working remotely can present challenges and obstacles if you’re not used to it... especially when you’re a part of a creative team like KMK. We’ve taken the last 4 weeks of quarantine to hone in on the tips and tricks that work for our team!

Lots of Virtual MeetingsEvery Monday, KMK staff members hop on a virtual staff meeting to go over the past week, provide updates on projects and get a look at the week ahead. While this is the only company-wide meeting we have each week, team members are breaking off in individual virtual meetings to chat about projects as well.Be Available and Respond QuicklyWhen you’re in the office, it’s easy to run to your neighbor’s office to see if they had a chance to look at your email... working from home makes that a little more difficult. Make sure you’re available to answer phone calls and emails in a timely manner. Our rule of thumb at KMK is 30 minutes!Stick to a RoutineIs your favorite part of the workday popping a k-cup into the Keurig to brew your morning cup of coffee? Used to eating lunch at noon? Keep it up! Just because you’re working from home now doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your favorite parts of the day.Don’t be Afraid to Pick Up the PhoneIf you feel like it would be easier to talk through a project, task, or just have a question you feel can’t be conveyed properly through email, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to call your coworker... they’re on the clock, too!Set Goals and Crush Them!Staying on task while working from home is, understandably, harder for some. An easy way to keep projects moving along is to set project goals, big or small! Set reminders in Outlook or a common project space like Basecamp or Slack.Bring Your Pet (or Kid) to Work!Just because we’re working from home doesn’t mean that life stops from 9-5... We have kids and pets and, dangit, they want attention just as much as our clients do! If your coworker’s dog decides the 9 am conference call is the best time to sing the song of its people, use it as an opportunity to connect with your coworker instead of criticizing.Check Your Internet SpeedIf your internet seems slower than usual, check your routers! KMK Communications Specialist Sarah Mitchell thought it was her provider, but after further investigation, found out her router needed replaced! Now she’s up to speed (get it... internet speed)!
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Searching for a Little Google Algorithm Know-How

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At least one time every month, KMK hears this question from a prospective client, “Why isn’t my website ranking higher in the search engines?”

A loaded question, for sure.

Our firm’s solution is to ask more questions like: What keywords and services are you searching for? Do you know if your customers are using those same terms? What SEO and online marketing are you currently doing? How often are you updating your website? And the list goes on...

The most important factor, however, in Google rankings is Google itself. Each year, Google makes hundreds of changes to its search feature. Some years, those changes number in the thousands. Many of them are minor but occasionally they are major algorithmic changes that significantly affect search results.

Click here to discover the major Google algorithm changes that have had the biggest recent impact on search results.The morale of the story? SEO is an ongoing process. It doesn’t happen overnight and if you stop doing it, your SEO tactics will eventually not work because Google has changed its algorithms enough to affect your site’s rankings.

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So, your emails are being blocked?

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Do you send email newsletters and announcements to your customers?If so, do your subscribers sometimes tell you they’re not getting your emails? It happens more often than you think and, most of the time, you have no way of knowing it unless the recipient checks their junk or spam folder.

There are some things you can do, however, to help prevent your emails from going unread even before they land in an inbox.

Watch your language. We’re not talking about curse words, although you may feel like including a few of those when your emails continue to go undelivered to inboxes. Spam filters look at an email as a whole and set limits for certain criteria. If the email hits that limit, it won’t get delivered. Things that can increase your chance of sending “spammy” content include frequent, random capitalization or an email composed entirely of capital letters. Watch for any strange spacing or excessive white space, poor spelling, and scam-like subject lines (i.e. fast, free money).Spam test your email. You should always test your email blast before you send it out to make sure it looks and sounds the way you intend upon delivery. In addition, run your email through a spam test like MessageLabs or Spam Assassin.Ask subscribers to add you to their safe sender list. Most major email providers like Gmail, yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL use automatic filters to detect unwanted email. They analyze past emails, who sent them, how the recipient interacted with them and more trigger points to label an email as spam and prevent its delivery. Ask your subscribers to add your email address or domain to their safe sender list. The best time to do this is in your introductory email or to your subscription confirmation page.

Finally, ask your I.T. professional to authenticate your sending domain, and don’t send from a free webmail address. In this case, there is a bit of truth to the adage of, “you get what you pay for.”

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Top 5 Tips for Building Your Personal Brand

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When looking up the word “brand” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, you’ll find eight definitions – in the marketing world, brand holds one meaning. A client’s brand is the foundation of all projects, designs and messaging developed in-house. But, what about personal brands? That’s right, PEOPLE have brands, too.

We’re not talking Kylie Jenner’s line of Kylie Cosmetics, we’re talking a public image, reputation and/or identity of oneself. Think about it... politicians, professional athletes and Hollywood stars have brands... so, why don’t you?

Here are our top 5 tips for building your personal brand:

Invest in YourselfInvesting in yourself doesn’t always mean spending money. Take time for yourself and:

Set goals!Attend classes and seminars!Invest time in YOUR creativity!

Know What You Stand ForIn a world constantly telling us what to believe, decide what YOU believe in and why. Start by asking yourself these questions:

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So, You're Looking to Hire a Marketing Firm... Now What?

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So, you’re looking for a firm to handle your creative and communication services... but where do you start? How do you know if one firm is better suited for your company compared to another? Selecting a firm for your specific needs is unlike most business purchases. The choice will ultimately affect consumer perception and any future business.

As a firm that has successfully handled hundreds of clients over the past twenty years, we can give you a little insight on the work it takes to hire an external addition to your creative team.

WHAT & WHENBefore reaching out to a marketing communications firm, determine a set of objectives your business is looking to accomplish. Sometimes it goes beyond needing a new website or increasing public relations. A set of creative professionals can help you meet your objectives by giving viable suggestions that will aid in your business’s success.

Second, set a deadline. Keep in mind, different projects require more time than others. Allow for more than ample time for production. Extra time helps accommodate review sessions and a few rounds of edits that will likely occur.

Before diving in, set a budget. Continue to be upfront about your budget when meeting with agencies. A budget will let them know what they have to work with and allow for an honest conversation on whether or not your budget is reasonable. Be prepared to potentially scale back your wish list or increase your budget, as needed.

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The Top 5 Reasons PR Opens the Door of Your Business to New Customers

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The phrase “if you build it, they will come” might be a good mantra if you’re expecting ghosts of businesses past to show up, but, more realistically, a new (and old) business shouldn’t count on an open sign to garner business. That’s where public relations can step in.

Here’s our top five reasons why every business can benefit from PR.

Build Brand AwarenessDon’t count on gaining customers or clients if people don’t understand what your business does! A press release announcing your new business venture is an important first step in business ownership – but don’t think it stops once you’ve officially opened your doors and taken in your first customer or signed on your first client. Public relations allows you to keep your name in the game, so to speak, and allow current and future customers to know what you’re all about (and that you’re still all about it!). Send out information about new inventory, new staff, new services, new hours...anything that offers a new perspective on your business and how you can continue to expertly serve customers!Generate Business LeadsAre you lucky enough to have a solid group of customers or clients you see or hear from on a regular basis? Great! But, what about all of the potential customers who may not even know you exist? Public relations is a great way to garner new business through a blurb in the newspaper or a newsworthy interview on TV that ties into a current event, new offering or human interest story.Gain Message ClaritySome company names dominate the market, but have you ever caught yourself asking what the brand actually does or stands for? Message clarity can grow and sustain a business, helping communicate why people should trust your product or work rather than someone else. A skilled reporter may even ask you the questions everyone wants to know but you didn’t realize they wanted to ask!Stay RelevantYou had your ribbon cutting a while ago! Now what? A new business can’t ride on the high of a giant pair of scissors forever – that’s where PR can elevate your business and keep you relevant in the eyes of your customers and potential clients.Reduce CostsYou mean we’re telling you PR can actually help you SAVE money? That’s right! When you learn how to take advantage of earned media, you’ll discover how valuable the PR you got in the news yesterday was compared to what you spent on your last commercial. The right balance of paid and earned media can help you effectively push out your product highlights and your expert status and specialty in providing it.
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The Company “Intranet”… Trending Once Again

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In this digital age, many companies, both large and small, have some form of intranet, including our company.

Why?

At KMK, we found building a customized intranet for our firm grew from our team’s desire to have ONE secure platform that managed multiple pieces of information, primarily, data related to the websites we build for our clients.

We just finished programming our intranet and it holds a variety of crucial information all in one spot including:

• Client contacts• Client website information• Client hosting account details• An estimator for website proposals• A log to track backup dates for clients’ websites...and much more information, including security-related items.

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Joomla... say what?

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Joomla. It’s not a misspelling of Jumanji...or a new Star Wars character...or a new jelly bean flavor.

It’s a content management system (CMS) that helps companies change information on their websites, similar to Wordpress and Drupal. KMK uses it when building our clients’ websites, and apparently, we’re in good company.

Joomla powers many business, entertainment and government websites around the world including General Electric, Ikea, Porsche, Nintendo, Michael Phelps, the United Nations, and many governmental organizations in the U.S. and around the globe.

Why did those entities (and our own) decide to use it for the backend of their websites instead of other CMS options? Here’s the answer:

• It can handle large amounts of traffic• It’s flexible, allowing straight-forward set-up for simple to advanced websites• It’s easy to manage; training for our clients takes minutes, not hours• There are many components available that are open source and can be easily customized• Joomla doesn’t restrict the addition of independent, fully customized components• Joomla frequently releases updates to its platform, making it easy to keep our clients’ sites safe from hacking vulnerabilities

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Typecasting Creatives

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What’s Your Creative Type?While working in the creative industry, you will inevitably encounter all kinds of creative personality types. When given a task, creatives have their own way of approaching it, executing ideas and problem solving. Their own style. It’s often said that creatives “think different” as Apple coined the phrase in 1998, during its campaign, urging its audience to do just that. But what does that mean? Adobe’s Create magazine, devoted to graphic design and communication design, developed a quiz to help shed light on those “creative” personality types.Adobe explains it this way: “The Creative Types test is an exploration of the many faces of the creative personality. Based in psychology research, the test assesses your basic habits and tendencies—how you think, how you act, how you see the world—to help you better understand who you are as a creative...” Its goal is to help you better understand yourself and how you work best with others.

Adobe explains that these personality types aren’t black and white labels and many people may have more than one core type or the type can change during the creative career. After reading that, my curiosity was peaked! What would this test say about me? What would it say about my teammates? Only one way to find out! I challenged my KMK teammates to take it, and when I took it, the results were spot-on!While no one fits perfectly into any one characterization, it does help you discover the overriding slant of your creative being! The test also suggests the other creative types best suited for personal collaboration and learning.ADOBE CREATE’S CREATIVE PERSONALITY TYPES:The Artist: Seeing beauty, creating beauty.The Thinker: Deep thoughts, big questions.The Adventurer: So much inspiration, so little time.The Maker: Committed to your craft.The Producer: Process is power.The Dreamer: The power of imagination unleashed.The Innovator: Move, shake, disrupt, repeat.The Visionary: Imagining the impossible.

The Results?Our KMK team is diversified among thinkers, makers, producers, dreamers and visionaries. It’s a good mix of innate creative traits and external problem-solving skills to drive our ideas while balancing it with results for our clients.Want to discover what creative type you are? Check it out: https://mycreativetype.com/

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How Strong Is Your Brand?

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As a designer, part of my job is to keep up on the latest trends in design. The industry is always evolving, and trends come and go, but that doesn’t’ mean you need to compromise your existing branding to start from scratch. Recently, some of the largest brands recognizable to the common eye have taken a new approach, starting with their logos. Brands including Starbucks, Nike, MasterCard, Shell, Apple and McDonald’s have removed wording from their logos over the past few years. Did you even notice? I would bet a Venti Caramel Macchiato you didn’t! That’s how strong their branding is. We recognize them without the words under their strongly crafted corporate identity.

McDonald’s has now taken this approach a step further. Yes, it’s possible! How about an advertisement without a crisp image of the product? You heard me right. They’re breaking a Cardinal Rule of good design – always use a “good” image, right? After all, you want your product to shine! That begs the question, what makes a “good” image? McDonald’s is proving beyond a doubt that some rules were meant to be bent, if not completely broken. In the traditional sense of the word, their latest campaign launched in Puerto Rico, only uses very blurry images of their products. Blurry? Yes, blurry, and it works!! These impressionistic images they use stand apart from the pack by dialing down the intensity of the message and focusing only on the product. We instantly see a large fry, Big Mac, and a very recognizable Happy Meal box. Hungry yet?

Titled 'Say No More,’ this campaign knows that the Golden Arches' red and yellow color scheme and its products speak for themselves. It relies on just a vague approximation of its food to wet people's appetites, and really, what more do you need? Depending on your viewpoint, this is either a testament to the success of the brand, or a worrying comment on consumer habits. Or a bit of both.

    

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It's Been 20 Years...

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KMK turned 20 this month. Doesn’t seem like that long ago when I say it out loud but when I look around, things sure look different.

Back then, when we produced TV commercials for clients, I’d get in the car and run out to the TV stations to drop off a video tape copy to each one. It got me out of the office and feeling productive, mentally hitting the “done” button when I’d finished my media trek to the west side of town. Not the same feeling today after I email the link to some “cloud” somewhere, hoping it arrived safe and sound.

What I have learned in 20 years is the more things change, the more they stay the same. (My dad used to say that and I never believed him. Until now.) It’s really all about understanding the message that needs to be communicated. Whether on TV or online or somewhere in between.

That’s where KMK shines.

We’re a small group of really creative people committed to getting our clients’ message in front of the right audience, no matter the medium. Medical, industrial, educational, governmental...it doesn’t really matter what industry. The basics of communicating “why you need that product or service” remain the same for our team.

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Does your Agency Stand Up to the Test?

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As KMK Media Group approaches 20 years in business, there are some things that have made it stand the test of time. It’s a combined skill set among our team that centers around some core “rules of thumb” when developing work for our clients.

Whether it’s an ad campaign, new website, press release or social media calendar, clients pay KMK to produce results and those results happen when we keep a few simple rules in mind.

K.I.S.SWe can kiss good copy goodbye if we forget to “keep it simple, stupid.”  TOO WORDY gets you every time.  Write copy…let it sit…re-read it and take out every non-essential word. Stick to what’s important and try to communicate with visual elements rather than words.Poor ReadabilityAs a designer, typography can be pretty complex.  A good standard is to use 50-60 characters or less per line…online or offline. Anything more than that and your eye wanders, diluting your message.Too Many FontsLimit yourself to 2-3 fonts MAX. If you need to change it up, try different weights of a font rather than switching font styles so your design remains legible and looks cohesive.White Space is Your Friend It may be an imaginary friend, but it makes your end product look so much more attractive, helping focus the eye on the main message.Get a High Resolution Image If you’re going to use a photo or logo in a printed piece, make sure you use a high-resolution version. Don’t have one?  Ask your designer to create one.  It’ll be well worth the relatively minor investment in having a crisp, clean outcome rather than fuzzy results.

Every creative piece your agency (or in-house designer) produces should stand up to these general guidelines.  If they don’t, it’s most likely having a negative effect on your R.O.I.

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KMK Designs Marketing Materials for “I Bike Rockford”

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KMK Media Group, a marketing communications firm, designed several items for I Bike Rockford, a local organization comprised of bicycling enthusiasts who share information about biking events and advocate for better cycling conditions in the region.

KMK designed a canvas tent, pull up banner, and other materials to help the organization promote itself at bicycling events like this weekend’s Cycle on 2nd. For more information on I Bike Rockford, go to www.ibikerockford.com.

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Google Search: “dogs in the office”

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Each morning as I head to work, I say “see you later, pup” to my 15-pound dachshund, Olliver. He doesn’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing. What he does know is that nine hours later, I return home smelling like another dog.

Cue Riley, a golden retriever and KMK Media Group’s very own office dog. You can usually find Riley taking a nap outside of his mom’s office, but when we have a meeting in the conference room, Riley is there. Tail wagging like a fan, head in any lap that has committed to scratching in just the right spot.

How does Riley’s presence benefit the way I work, you ask? According to a recent study done at the University of Southern California, pets in the workplace reduce stress and nurture productivity. For example, during a meeting held this week, Riley came over and plopped his head in my lap – immediately after the meeting, I opened up a new Word document… and here we are. As a matter of fact, I credit Riley in the completion of this blog post.

While he might aid in the productivity of fellow employees, pets at work also benefit overall employee health, improve employee retention, and alleviate loneliness. For some, coming to work to a wagging tail is just as important as going home after a long day to a family pet greeting you at the door. As for Olliver, that includes a very detailed sniff down.

So, there you have it! If you already have a dog in the office, tell us how much you love it! And if you don’t have a dog in your office, well… what are you waiting for?

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To Drone or Not to Drone.

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Years ago, when video went from analog to digital, a whole new world opened up for video producers.

Rooms of expensive video equipment went by the wayside, replaced in part by a single personal computer that was easy to use and maintain. The technology shift was a dream come true for small start-up companies with little funding for capital expenditures and a major headache for existing, full-blown video production houses. The result? The tools of the trade might have changed but the end product was relatively the same.  That technology trend has continued…buy a nifty new tool, wait six months, and buy a better one for less. The same is true for one of the coolest tools used in video production today – the drone.

Drones have been around for several years, just not always cost-effective to use. But now the floodgates have opened. Depending on what your personal level of “expensive” looks like, there’s a drone for every user. This adds a whole new layer to video production and how it can be used for marketing.

The same rule applies, however, in using a drone for video production versus using a different type of camera. You get what you pay for…both in equipment and the skill level of the operator. From shooting to editing, scripting to graphics, when done well the drone footage can significantly enhance your final product and tell your story from a different perspective.

Check it out! http://kmkmedia.com/drone-services-video

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You Know It’s Time for a New Website When...

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I think we just celebrated a record at KMK.

...a record for the longest stretch between the first website we designed and developed for an organization and its 2.0 version which we were just hired to program last week, nearly 15 years later.

The organization is a long-standing non-profit we’ve supported and enjoyed working with, and we are thrilled they’ve deemed a web redesign part of this year’s budget. It’s long overdue but we understand that marketing desires and line items in budgets don’t always add up.

Eventually, though, a website can drive down your bottom line down due to lost opportunities.

The worst part? You might not know it’s happening unless a forthcoming prospective client tells you they eliminated your company because your website doesn’t measure up.

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Can Small Businesses Benefit from Influencer Marketing?

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For months, I’ve been increasingly fascinated by both the capabilities and caveats of influencer marketing. Last week, Kylie Jenner posted a tweet expressing her disappointment with the Snapchat redesign.

One day later, shares of Snap closed down six percent which translated to a market value loss of $1.3 billion. Sources debate whether to credit Kylie with the drop, but either way it’s an intriguing coincidence.

Numerous others are annoyed about the redesign and over 1.2 million people have signed a petition asking Snapchat to remove it. While the change to the app improves exposure for advertisers, users are frustrated and find it more difficult to find the content they actually want to see, stories uploaded by friends.

In direct response to the petition, Snapchat said it would soon be adding tabs to make it easier to locate stories. Zooming out, it has likely been the backlash from multiple levels of influencers that contributed to this resolve in less than a week. Celebrities, bloggers and other micro-influencers had the clout to help the petition go viral.

The most well executed mainstream marketing campaigns are strategic enough to incorporate influencer marketing at the global, national and regional levels. For example, the film industry often rounds out marketing efforts by incorporating private screenings to influencers within their target audience.

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Let's Talk Strategy: Will You Be Ready for Q1?

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Fall is official and fourth quarter is fast approaching on October 1. This can be a chaotic time of year for businesses and organizations as they are challenged with balancing various priorities including year-end campaigns, auditing, employee reviews and more. It can be so overwhelming that strategic planning for the year ahead gets put off or left behind. Developing your marketing strategy in Q4 is a sure way to finish the year strong.

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5 Simple Branding Tips to Make Strong First Impressions

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As the newest member of the KMK team, I find myself in first impression mode as I engage with my new colleagues and introduce myself to the firm’s clients. More than a remarkable resume, intriguing business card or firm handshake, strong first impressions stem from solid branding efforts.

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Who We Are?

KMK Media Group is a full-service communications firm focused on helping businesses succeed through consistent creative, message and tone.

What We Do

Our services include award-winning design, web development, social media management, video production, public relations, ad campaigns and more!

Where to find us?

Address
716 North Church Street
Rockford, Illinois 61103
Phone Number
815-399-2805
Email Address
info@kmkmedia.com