Archive for August 2012


Don’t let Marketing-Speak Drown Authentic Communication

Posted on August 22, 2012 by John OReilly

As marketers and communicators, we all bring a sophisticated and practiced eye to storytelling. When communicating with customers and media, we think and rethink both the message and the manner. This is as it should be. But during this cycle of refinement, we must remain vigilant that our marketing speak doesn’t drown authentic communication.

Authenticity. It sounds so simple. You know it when you hear it. Yet in business today, it can be so difficult to achieve. Is this because we’ve forgotten how effective an honest exchange can be? Is it because it is harder and riskier to drop the “should” and focus on the “is”?

Tony Radcliff, VP-offerings/marketing at Uponor

What drives authentic communication? A dialogue with your customers that involves active listening. Recently, I was privileged to participate in the biennial Uponor Convention: a two-day event that the company’s customers actually pay to attend, so they learn about how the manufacturer is engineering new solutions to help them be more competitive.

This year, Uponor management realized the meeting delivered an ideal opportunity for an authentic conversation.  As VP-offerings/marketing Tony Radcliff told attendees in the opening session:  “At Uponor – you ARE our friends. In the next few days together, honest exchanges can strengthen our bond and create a shared success. Our businesses are dependent upon each other as we move forward in this slowly, but surely improving economy…[W]e are hear to listen – to lay the foundation for an ongoing collaboration that hopefully erases the feeling that anyone here is in this alone.”

This brand promise embodies the relationship Uponor – and most other suppliers – seek with their customers. Radcliff’s next words offer the type of authentic communication that brings the brand promise to life:

“I don’t want to be presumptuous. There is a feeling in the Uponor organization that we haven’t been as attentive to our customer relationships and connections as we aspire to be. In fact, some of you folks in this room may have had some less-than-stellar experiences with Uponor during the past several years. We may well have some reparations to make. If so, we start today.”

Think we have total control over how our messages are perceived? Not so much any more. Consider the recent campaign waged by one teenage girl against Seventeen magazine. Sick to death of images of perfect, look-alike models, issue after issue, she took to Facebook to say “enough.” Her lone voice soon became a groundswell of thousands of Seventeen readers demanding that the magazine present a more authentic view of American teenage girls. After weeks of silence from the publisher – and news stories on nearly every network – the magazine did the only thing it could: engage in a meaningful conservation about content with its readers.

Owning an authentic message about your product – your “brand promise” – is an everyday job for everyone in an organization. Commitment to this dialogue makes responding in a crisis so much simpler and effective.


American Standard Answers Call to Re-Invent the Toilet

Posted on August 15, 2012 by Nora DePalma

American Standard’s toilet prototype for the Gates Foundation toilet fair features a sealed trap, to prevent flies from spreading disease, and requires only one liter of water per “flush” to operate.

UPDATED: See exclusive feature in the NJ Star Ledger.

Also visit our photo gallery of the Reinvent the Toilet Fair.

American Standard was highlighted today by several media outlets, including the Chicago Sun-Times, for their participation in a unique competition funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at reinventing the toilet. Utilizing research grants from the Gates Foundation, competitors are working to create a toilet to be used in the developing world that will operate without requiring electricity or plumbing infrastructure, while costing no more than five cents a day. Around the world, over 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation, and every year 1.5 million children die from preventable diseases caused by poor sanitation - a problem this competition is working to change.

View the video linked above on the Chicago Sun-Times website to see the model created by American Standard, which requires only 1 liter of water per “flush” as well as prototypes from other competitors.


Uponor Receives 2012 Efficiency Partner Award from Xcel Energy

Posted on August 15, 2012 by Jacqueline

Uponor recently received the 2012 Efficiency Partner Award by Minneapolis, Minn.-based Xcel Energy® for its outstanding efforts in curbing electric consumption in manufacturing operations. The Efficiency Partner Award honors those who participate in Xcel Energy efficiency programs to lower their energy costs and reduce their impact on the environment.

“We were accepted into Xcel’s Process Efficiency Program in 2011 and made significant reductions to our electric consumption over the past year, reducing it by 1.8 million kilowatt hours,” says Dan Hughes, Uponor Real Estate and Development Manager. “In addition to the significant energy-cost savings to Uponor, this level of reduction benefits the environment by eliminating the equivalent greenhouse-gas emissions of 243 passenger vehicles per year.”

According to Hughes, the Xcel Process Efficiency Program is a holistic approach to energy management, identifying opportunities for improving business practices associated with energy management processes in addition to identifying potential technical energy-efficiency opportunities that reduce consumption.

Uponor currently has Xcel-funded studies in process for even more reductions and is anticipating qualifying for the award in 2013 as well. For more information about Xcel Energy’s efficiency programs, visit


American Standard Launches Product Training Laboratory for Hands-On Education

Posted on August 14, 2012 by Nora DePalma

A new American Standard Product Training Laboratory in Piscataway, NJ. enables in-depth training and best practices instruction on the installation, troubleshooting and repair of residential, commercial and institutional products and technologies.

The 1,600 sq. ft. hands-on education facility is designed for plumbing showroom managers and sales consultants to learn about the product design, engineering and performance testing behind the extensive range of American Standard products.

For more information on the new facility, view the complete press release for the American Standard Product Training Laboratory or email us.


What Brands Can Learn From the BlogHer 2012 Expo

Posted on August 8, 2012 by Nora DePalma

New York, NY — Last week, I provided a preview of BlogHer 2012. Now comes the report on the creative brand engagement strategies I saw at this conference and expo that attracted more than 5,000 blogging women:

Pfizer arranged for a select group of BlogHer 2012 attendees to take a dance class with the famed Rockette’s at Radio City Music Hall.

Most creative booth execution: the launch of Lysol Power & Free. They had two comedians, including one with a guitar who made up funny songs on the spot about all the bloggers, all ending with the same bouncy chorus repeating the product name over and over. Lysol was among several exhibitors who had places for bloggers to sit and recharge devices drained by all the tweets, Instagrams, and Facebook posts going on. There was a full bottle of Power & Free in every one of the 5,000 attendee bags.

Best all around: Pfizer. They had the largest expo floor footprint, but not all in one spot. They engaged with us in different ways—including my personal highlight—a dance lesson with the Rockettes in the rehearsal studios backstage at Radio City Music Hall. The experiences were different, but all were focused on a consistent message about wellness and aging. We were encouraged to visit their new website,

See more in the slideshow. In the meantime, here are five tips that building products brands can learn from the powerhouse marketers at BlogHer:

1.    The vibe is very much “girls weekend away,” so the more fun, the better. Informational booths had the slowest traffic, while massages, manicures and fun places to take pictures had lines and crowds.

What do manicures have to do with computer accessories? Nothing. Manicures have to do with building relationships. Make people feel good!

2.    Giveaways and contests were the second most-popular attraction, as were food samples.

3.    Make it easy to share, provide images and video…and don’t forget your logo.

4.    Flattering images will be shared. Does-this-make-me-look-fat pictures will not. Think about this when you ask bloggers to wear your t-shirts.

5.    Start the dialogue and use it to create conversational content. (See the Pfizer Get Old wall in the slide show.)

The creativity behind the brands at BlogHer12?  Nearly all the agencies on the scene were public relations agencies. Not ad agencies, not brand shops. PR people get this influence-building thing.  When it comes to blogger relations, it’s advantage: public relations.

Update: Our report from BlogHer was also highlighted on the PR Weekly blog. Follow the link to view the post and access additional BlogHer coverage.



BlogHer 2012 Presentation: 10 Things to Maximize Your Social Media Expertise

Posted on August 7, 2012 by Nora DePalma


From BlogHer 2012, slides from the seminar “10 Things You Can Do Now to Maximize Your Social Media Expertise,” by Stacie Tamaki, Chris Lam and Nora DePalma.

BlogHer 2012 - 10 Things You Can Do/Social Media - Tamaki, DePalma, Lam - Aug 2012 from Christina Lam
BlogHer 2012 panelists Staci Tamaki, Nora DePalma, Chris Lam

Staci Tamaki, Nora DePalma, Chris Lam

Additional Resources
Chris gives some additional great tips on her blog, including five social media management dashboards she recommends.
Read the live-blog from BlogHer of the session.
Stacie has a link to a downloadable .pdf  of social media resources on her blog, The Flirty Blog.

Uponor Teaches All-girls Tech Camp About PEX Systems

Posted on August 6, 2012 by John OReilly

The girls not only learned about PEX in plumbing, fire sprinkler and radiant systems, but also how fun it can be to make hula hoops with the product.

“Women can be plumbers, too!” exclaimed Uponor Customer Trainer Steve Swanson to a group of 200+ young girls learning about PEX on Aug. 2 at TXT 2012, a week-long exploration camp for girls promoting the worlds of technology and science.

TXT 2012 (short for Teens eXperiencing Technical education) offered interactive workshops focusing on areas of business, design, transportation, industrial, science, health and technology. Swanson, along with Uponor Training Manager Wes Sisco, were invited to speak about crosslinked polyethylene (PEX) tubing and its use in radiant heating and cooling, plumbing and fire sprinkler systems, as well as show the girls how to make ProPEX® connections — and even make hula hoops with the tubing.

“Being that training is at the core of who we are at Uponor, we were thrilled with the opportunity to teach the next generation about PEX,” says Sisco.

The program was held at Dakota County Technical College (DCTC) in Rosemount, Minn., from July 30 through Aug. 3, and included training performed by the college faculty. Linda Foster, director of Instructional Technology at DCTC and the organizer of TXT 2012, says she started the program because she wanted girls to know that it is okay to explore career opportunities in the trades, get dirty and be smart.

As a mother of two daughters, Foster says, “I wanted my daughters to have professional opportunities not limited by gender stereotypes, and I want other people’s daughters to know there are opportunities beyond traditional female careers.”

For more information, visit:


Uponor Named Manufacturer of the Year Runner-up by Manufacturers Alliance

Posted on August 3, 2012 by John OReilly


Bill Senum, Project Manager of Operations at Uponor (right), guides a group on the Manufacturers Alliance Tour of Excellence at the Apple Valley, Minn., facility.

Uponor was recently named runner-up Manufacturer of the Year for mid-size companies in Minnesota by the Manufacturers Alliance, an association providing peer-to-peer training, education and resources which allow Midwest manufacturing companies to continuously grow, improve and stay competitive.

In addition to the recognition, Uponor was also asked to be one of two companies on the Manufacturers Alliance Tour of Excellence on July 31, 2012, to showcase its outstanding accomplishments in operational improvements. (The other company was Eaton Corp., headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minn.)

“Employee contributions toward Lean results are creating a benchmark not only within our industry, but among our manufacturing peers as well,” says Jeremy Barth, manufacturing manager, Operations, at Uponor. “Our employees deserve the recognition for increasing our brand image and visibility in our community.”

The Tour of Excellence at the Uponor North American headquarters and manufacturing facility in Apple Valley, Minn., included topics on Tier Management, Continuous Improvement (CI) Boards, A3 projects, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and Manufacturing Execution System (MES).


Brand Engagement Lessons from BlogHer 2012

Posted on August 2, 2012 by Nora DePalma

Blog Her Speaker BadgeThis week, I’m attending and speaking at the annual BlogHer conference in New York for the first time.  What is BlogHer12? A gathering of 4,000 blogging women, each of whom has a circle of influence ranging from the hundreds to thousands to millions of friends, fans and followers.  BlogHer women are considered to be so influential that Martha Stewart and Katie Couric are keynoters, and President Obama is beaming in by video to say hi to us.

BlogHer12 is the flagship event of the BlogHer publishing network, which has a monthly audience of 40 million. BlogHer content is very much like a classic women’s magazine (except for the food, fashion and beauty pictures—they are over on Pinterest).   BlogHer brings these highly fragmented circles of influence together in an efficient way for brands to reach key influencers.

Unlike the Mad Men days of placing a clever ad in a woman’s magazine, brands at BlogHer12 are investing in an experience.  Similar in many ways to a trade show, with conference sessions and an expo floor, the action at BlogHer—and many other blogger events—doesn’t stop at the edge of a 10 x 20 booth. Check out how some of the top brands are courting us:

Starbucks asked us to tweet our favorite beverage from their menu for a chance to be invited to their Starbucks Suite to preview their new Verismo® home coffeemaker.  (I tweeted my fave grande nonfat caramel macchiato and scored an invite to their suite for a tasting Saturday morning.)

Pfizer has arranged a workout with the Rockettes. The Rockettes.  At Radio City Music Hall. New York is my town. There’s no way I’m not doing this and sharing the heck out of my experience socially, giving Pfizer all kinds of impressions in my social network in exchange for making a childhood dream come awkwardly true.  Then they booked me for a head and neck reflexology session and the chance for a one-on-one meeting with a dietician.

Carpet One Floor & Home is doing a Spill Bar. They are serving Spillatinis while demonstrating a stain-resistant carpet. We can also get pedicures while listening to the Accidental Housewife, Julie Edelman, on keeping your home “clean enough.” Then we can step into a special photo booth so we can share our experience on our social networks.

NGOs are there as well, seeking our advocacy. I had the opportunity (but not the fitness level!) to do a real Army boot camp. The Centers for Disease Control want to talk to us about reducing salt in our diets. See more brands here.

What does all this mean for your marketing planning? Abrams Research just reported in their 2012-2013 Luxury Guide that consumers who connect with a brand on social media spend 20% to 40% more money than those who don’t. It also states that young, affluent consumers care more about a brand’s narrative than its price tags.

How will it play out in real life? Stay tuned for my report and photos next week.


Here’s my panel and my co-panelists!

10 things to Maximize your Social Media Expertise
Friday 1:15- 2:30pm
Stacie Tamaki moderates a conversation with Chris Lam and Nora DePalma about ten actionable, achievable things you can do right now to bolster your social media expertise and make yourself a more attractive candidate for any social media job, gig, or opportunity.

Stacie Tamaki, The Flirty Girl

Chris Lam, What I Run Into