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Compete in Today’s Hot Job Market with Smart Recruitment Marketing

Give your recruitment marketing extra attention as the economy picks up steam because you have competition. Big time. One of my friends has five interviews this week; another has three. If you have put out the Help Wanted sign this post is for you.

Your prospective employees weigh their choices based on what they see, hear, and experience. Now is the time to update employee stories on your website, add testimonials to social media, and prove your thought leadership.

Four Top Tactics for Recruitment Marketing

Branded Content

Apply your brand strategy to recruitment marketing to attract candidates who connect with your mission. Include stories about employees living your mission on your website and on social media.

Use both still photos and video to introduce your employees. You can show employees in the office, at events, and interacting with your clients or students in your effort to show prospects what it’s like to work at your organization.

Social Media
Beth featured faculty members on social media at Cottey College.

Prospective employees also will be attracted to your organization’s thought leadership. When your CEO or PR person writes a column for the paper or your website, that’s thought leadership. When I was with Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois in 2020 I wrote a column for the CEO on the impact of racism. The column further positioned her as a leader and she received several speaking invitations, including an appearance on a St. Louis TV program.

The candidates will see the stories on social and your website when they check you out. Understand that your content will not show up in candidates’ social feeds unless you buy an ad.

Career Webpages

Take a look at your Career webpage. Is it easy to navigate? On-brand? Is your application short enough that people will stick with it until the end?

When I hired staff at Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois almost all of the applicants left the application blank. As a hiring manager, I want to see the full picture outlined on the application. Most application systems allow you to require candidates to complete the application. Make sure you check that box.

You may be tempted to ask for salary history, but don’t do it. Experts say that practice discriminates against women who have traditionally been paid less than their male counterparts. It will turn off your female candidates and maybe the men, too.

For more on career webpage development check out “Recruitment Marketing for the Digital Age: A Definitive Guide” by Vital’s Marissa Comeau. She has many other tips for recruitment marketing in her guide.

Job Board Listings and Reviews

I talked to a CEO this week who was not aware his organization has a lot of negative reviews on Indeed. Not good. You need to monitor reviews everywhere you post jobs and respond when someone posts a comment.

Save yourself and the candidate time by posting the salary range on your position description. I’m talking about a salary range narrowed down to a $5,000 span – not like those some companies list spanning a $40,000 range.

St. Louis nonprofit professionals find jobs on The Rome Group’s career board and the AFP St. Louis website. Both now require salary ranges.

Social Media Marketing

If you want to go out and find candidates don’t rely on posts on social media or your website: buy ads on social media or use your Google grant to advertise openings.

All digital platforms allow you to include a lead generation form. You can offer an incentive for people to fill out the form. Asking them to take a quiz and get their answers often is enough to get folks to fill out your lead gen form. Check out Amy Porterfield’s podcast about using quizzes for more info. Once you have candidates’ contact information, put them on your email list, text them, and call them.

When you gather those leads, you have made it to stage three of the recruitment marketing funnel: interest. The first two are awareness and consideration. If you want help with social media or Google ad management give Beth Hammock a call. Her recruitment marketing will bring in the quality candidates you need to succeed.

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Hammock Communications

Hammock Communications, based in Edwardsville, IL, provides marketing and PR consulting and services for educational institutions and nonprofits across the Midwest. We give organizations more power to set their sights higher.

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Hammock Communications, LLC

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Featured

Improve Your Marketing Photos to Engage Your Audience, Part 1

The quality of your marketing photography makes a big difference in how the public perceives your brand. Great photos will motivate your audience to stay engaged with your content. If your photos are uninspired, readers will pass over your ad or post for something more interesting.

Many nonprofits and educational institutions shoot their own pictures – sometimes a talented photographer is on staff, sometimes not. If you’re in the latter category, consider hiring a freelance marketing photographer for your most important pieces like your case statement, annual report, and website. The investment in photography will pay off because images have much more emotional appeal than the written word. Strategic photography will ilustrate your brand and instill confidence.

I wrote this post in 2016 for another website. I remembered it while I was in a meeting about a St. Louis website that features a carousel of three (not one, but three) photos of the Arch. One of my photography rules is being broken on that site! Feature people, not buildings or monuments. To the hundreds of businesses and organizations in St. Louis with the Arch as your cover photo – enough already! Show-me something inspired.

This post is just as relevant today as five years ago so I am reposting it as the first installment of Greatest Marketing Photography Insights to Engage Your Audience.

Environmental Marketing Photography Beats Studio Shots

marketing photography

What brings a smile to my face? Someone else smiling. Thus, when I opened the 2016 annual report from the University of Missouri Student Affairs Division I laughed with joy.

The publication features environmental portraits of a diverse array of students. No beautiful campus buildings or revered monuments. No trite pictures of students walking through fall leaves. This piece tells stories supporing the Mizzou brand. Way to go, Angela Dahman, marketing and communications manager for Mizzou Student Affairs, and your design team.

Search for a Creative Expression of Your Brand

When I was a development and outreach consultant for the UMKC Honors College, my son Max Hammock and I created a case statement for prospective donors. The cover featured students rowing on the Kansas River. Dean Jim McKusick and I united to promote the nontraditional cover to the rest of the college’s administration. The result was stunning. Eye-catching, surprising ideas win out over students walking on campus any day.

Case statement
Photography: One of the Most Important Elements in Marketing Communications

Want to find more examples? Pick up marketing communications materials from the most successful organizations in your area. On Sunday, I went to Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, the largest United Methodist congregation in the nation. Eleven thousand people attend services there every Sunday. What a brand! My visit was mostly for my own professional development. I had to answer “How do they draw that many people?”

The church’s branding and business-like approach amazed me. And the fundraiser in me had chills as Senior Pastor Adam Hamilton announced the church raised $1.1 million at its Christmas Eve service. All of the money went to charities helping children, including one assisting refugees in Aleppo, Syria. I understood the story and felt an immediate connection to the church’s mission.

When I got home and looked at my welcome packet from Church of the Resurrection guess what I saw? A girl jumping for joy! Truly. Check out the church’s website and you will see lots of environmental photography featuring smiling people.

brand
The cover of the Welcome Packet at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas

Environmental photography is photography outside of a studio with the subjects in their normal setting. This may be a classroom, office, church, or any other place that is outside a photographer’s studio.

Creative directors envision the best photos to illustrate brands and tell your stories. I will work with your marketing communications team, including your photographer, as a creative director for your important projects. If you need a professional photographer, I will bring one in for you. The difference in your product from engaging a creative director and professional photographer will delight you and get you the results you want.

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Nonprofit Marketing Pros: Seize Opportunities in the Post-Pandemic World

My experience looking for a new church got me thinking about the opportunity for nonprofit marketing teams to attract new members in the post-pandemic world.

I went to church in-person for the first time since last spring on Sunday. When I moved to Edwardsville, Illinois in June 2020, I decided to go to church through Zoom until the pandemic ended. With two vaccines protecting me, I was eager to get back to one of the staples of my life – being in a church community.

Using my digital tools, I researched churches near me and decided on one based on my past experience. Our Lord’s Lutheran Church in Maryville, Illinois, celebrated Pentecost outdoors in its Chapel in the Pines. A nice breeze blew across the shady spot, I liked Pastor Darla Ann Kratzer’s enthusiasm, and I met a woman with whom I have some things in common. I will be back.

I was able to check out the church because of its digital marketing, including an up-to-date website, Google listing, and Facebook page. Our Lord’s Lutheran Church’s digital tools include video online, an excellent way for prospective church members to see what they offer, and that impressed me.

Apply this story to your mission and you will see how opportunities abound in the post-pandemic world. People are excited about getting out of the house and engaging with others. They want to get back to their hobbies, learn something new, and take better care of themselves.

Who is ready to join (or rejoin) a gym? I am! The Gateway Region YMCA is taking full advantage of digital marketing. They ran TV ads with a membership special a couple months ago and now they are running Google ads. The ads prompted me to look into joining, and I learned the Edwardsville Y is not part of the regional organization. I haven’t heard about any specials in Edwardsville. There is a new executive director so I imagine he is just getting up-to-speed. I’m a big fan of YMCAs and hope to get over there soon. I need it.

Nonprofit Marketing Needs Extra Resources During a Time of Uncertainty

With COVID guidelines for children in flux, communicating with families in a post-pandemic world can be a challenge. The more you communicate the better. If you need to change course next week, use your digital tools to deliver another message.

Case in point – my daughter, Valerie Love, and her little Girl Scout, Elissa. I have asked Valerie twice about whether Elissa will be going to Girl Scout day camp. Valerie says she hasn’t heard anything about it. We wondered if it is because the Girl Scout council didn’t know if they were having day camp because of the pandemic. How many moms have the same question?

Elissa, six years old, is a Daisy, a first-year Girl Scout, so Valerie has more questions than answers. Do troop members go to day camp together, like when she was a Girl Scout? Or do the girls go solo? When is it? How does she sign her daughter up?

I looked on the Girl Scout council website and see their camp guide that includes how to sign up for day camp. I wonder if they have used digital tools to drive to the guide. Have they posted on social media that it’s available? That’s where Valerie would see it. Have they emailed a link to all parents? Communicated directly with volunteers to inform them about day camp registration and how to engage their girls?

There is no such thing as over-communicating when attracting participants or donors. There are barriers, however.

Is your organization staffed to take advantage of the many digital tools available when communicating with families? Do you have an adequate digital marketing budget?

Social Media Leads List of Preferred Digital Tools

As a nonprofit marketing professional, you need to meet their audiences where they are. A recent survey by Sprout Social found

“90% of executives agree social will soon become the primary communications channel for companies to connect with existing and prospective customers.”

Sprout Social

I have gotten some excellent results with digital marketing and am happy to help you with yours. I will create your ads, target the audience online, and monitor the ads. The beauty of digital marketing is that you can do A/B testing, a process in which you run two ads on the same topic and see which one performs better for a week. Then, you drop the second-place ad and run the first-place one for the duratin of the campaign. I will do this for you. Soon, you will see the results you want in the post-pandemic world.

My Mother’s Day post lays out how to create a marketing and communications plan. While the post is geared to entrpeneurs, nonprofit marketing pros will benefit from following the process I shared.

I’m wishing you great success with your nonprofit marketing in the months and year ahead. Again, I am happy to help you. Your initial consultation is complimentary.

Communications Hierarchy: 5 Steps to Strong Post-Pandemic Relationships

The result of following the Communications Hierarchy was on full display in my office this week. My intern Mariah Wilson, from Alton, Illinois, returned from her Commencement ceremony at Lipscomb University in Nashville full of smiles. Her choice to attend Lipscomb illustrates the power of one-on-one communication.

College Graduate Illustrates Power of the Communications Hierarchy

“My brother’s friend went to Lipscomb,” Mariah Wilson says. “I also knew about Lipscomb because it is a Christian school and they participated in college fairs at youth group events I attended.”

Mariah knew the Lipscomb brand because of recruiters’ participation in college fairs (large group events). Then, when faced with the decision of where to go to school, she received the social proof from her brother’s friend (top-of-the pyramid communication).

We have become so dependent on communicating from quarantine many of us are out-of-practice at getting to the top level of the communications hierarchy, says Kris Tenny-Brittian, senior strategist with The Effective Church Group.

With most communication online we definitely didn’t have as many chances to interact in ways that nurture rewarding relationships.

Honestly, we were off-track about communication before the pandemic. Coworkers tried to solve problems via email. Family members texted on topics that needed to be a conversation. And new tools like Slack created divides between the adopters and the old-school emailers. Thus, I’m happy to revisit the topic of the Communications Hierarchy and share tips from other communications gurus.

The Communications Hierarchy guides us when we have questions like “When do I email someone instead of calling them?” “If my organization buys more digital ads will our donors give more?” And “Can we skip the large events that take so much time plan and cost so much money?”

The Communications Hierarchy illustrates how message-delivery systems build upon each other.

Walking Through the Communications Hierarchy

Our goal is to build one-on-one relationships that result in investments in our organization, referrals, and engagement. Some people think sending a mass mailing or posting regularly on Facebook will get those results. They won’t. Here are the steps to follow.

  1. Build brand awareness with mass communication. This includes social media and blog posts, advertising, mass mailings of email, newsletters, magazines, and letters, podcasts, and earned media.
  2. The next level of communication is large group. I don’t think webinars and Zoom events count, but you may disagree. I want to see people on your campus, or on-site at your nonprofit, interacting with you and those you serve. You are welcoming them into your family in a non-threatening way by inviting them to an event. Make sure to show off who you are with remarks and visual aids. For educational institutions, commencements, graduations, football games, and band concerts count as large group events, so make sure your brand is on display at those activities.
  3. I’ve had great success with small group events for both cultivating and stewarding donors. At Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s Botanical Garden, we had a series of dinners for prospective campaign donors before public concerts in the gardens’ chapel. We invited people who were members or on the mailing list that we knew had capacity. Some highly qualified prospects attended then returned for our next small group event. I’ve also planned dozens of gift announcements for university donors. The announcements are a combination of a press conference about the gift and a reception for family and friends.
  4. Many development directors send letters to individual prospects introducing themselves before they call them. This personal touch is important even if the director doesn’t reach the prospect. So are print invitations to events. Phone calls are much more productive than emails, although individual emails fall in this category, too.
  5. One-on-one communication is the goal in building relationships. While in-person is best for reading body language and sharing experiences like meals, video calls work when necessary. They definitely save time and money.

In “Why Word of Mouth is So Important.” Megan Mosley, a contributor to Social Media Today, wrote

“Connect with consumers, as opposed to ‘collecting’ them. You want real fans and supporters. The more passionate your fans are about you, the more likely they’ll share you.”

Megan Mosley in social media today

Your students, alumni, and parents are your best recruiters and drivers of donations. Communicate with them consistently at all levels of the spectrum.

Digital ads on Facebook, YouTube, and Google allow you to target your audience by location, age, gender, and interests. Hammock Communications will manage your ads and create your videos so you can focus on your mission.

Internal Communications: So Many Choices

Tools like Slack, Teams, and Sharepoint have sped up communication internally. They also leave some people wondering how to reach the right people at work.

Aaron Lynn, an Australian business and operations consultant, shared a communications hierarchy for internal communications that’s pretty useful. weighs urgency and importance. The bottom of the hierarchy is email, which should be sent infrequently. The next level is meetings, followed by tools like Slack, messaging, phone calls, and in-person conversations. He’s not a fan of walking around the office chatting with people, which I don’t agree with. But he’s an operations guys and into maximizing time resources. No one wants the chatting to turn into a half-hour conversation, but most of us have heard good bosses go talk to their staff once in a while.

Aaron has guidelines for personal communications in the same post and those are more in line with what I think. Don’t text difficult conversations. Consider the context and intensity of the information you want to discuss when making a decision on whether to call, text, or meet.

My manager at Mizzou Advancement, Linda L’Hote, taught me to respond to messages in the way the person contacted you. If they emailed you, email them back. If they called you, call them back. This is donor-centric and a great way to lose the guesswork on how your contacts like to communicate.

New Business Owners by Necessity: 6 Steps for Attracting Customers

New Business Marketing

Starting a business is like pregnancy and childbirth. It’s a long haul with a heavy load to carry. Finally, the journey ends in the excitement of new life.

I’ve experienced starting a new business since January, when I relaunched seven-year-old Hammock Communications. This post is for all the new mompreneurs who started businesses in the past year. You have drive, talent, and experience in your profession. More marketing and PR knowledge will set you on the path to prosperity!

First some facts. The pandemic forced an estimated 5 million mothers to leave their jobs. Many were laid off. Others needed to stay home with their kids while schools and childcare centers were closed and couldn’t work from home or juggle virtual work and virtual school.

Earlier this year, Perceptyx, a workforce analysis company, surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. employees and found that “compared to six months ago, 48% of women have become either much less or somewhat less likely to want to return to the physical workplace full-time.”

A Washington Post report on the impact of the pandemic on women said the number of businesses started by women may have doubled in one year.

Data compiled for The Washington Post by the professional networking site LinkedIn found that the share of female entrepreneurs on its platform grew 5 percent year-over-year, from March through November, more than double the pre-pandemic average. LinkedIn’s analysts looked at female members who had changed their title to “founder” during the pandemic.

Washington Post, “The pandemic has been an economic disaster for women. Some took advantage of it.”

I have a lot of empathy for moms dealing with the impact of the pandemic. My kids’ dad and I divorced when my twins were three and my others were 9 and 12. My ex had long periods of unemployment when I had to carry the financial load alone. Plus raise the kids. I was driven to provide for my family and had the ability and experience to get good jobs. My drive took me all the way to Montana for a position as vice president of strategic communications and marketing for the University of Montana Foundation. After four years there, with my twins finishing high school, I moved back to the Midwest to take on my new role as Grandma Beth.

Raising kids and being the breadwinner was tough, but I did it. My kids are in their twenties and thirties and doing great. I realize I was an example for them in so many ways. The twins saw me as a leader when I was Cubmaster of their Cub Scout Pack and when I interacted with colleagues. We hiked, canoed, and skied together. My kids came to work events with me when appropriate, like the time my daughter, a student at Mizzou, traveled to a donor dinner in Denver with me when I worked at the university. I will never forget the day the superintendent of the school district for which I worked told me my kids respected me.

My four adult children give me so many reasons to smile. Chris and Max followed me into the digital media and marketing profession. My daughter Valerie is a wonderful at-home mother of two children. And Colin is in medical school.

Chris, Max, and Colin Hammock and their sister Valerie Love shared some laughs in this 2016 photo.

My point in sharing a little of my story is to let you know you will get through this. There will be some rough spots and there will be precious memories. Whether you are persisting in the position you had before the pandemic or have launched a new business, you’ve got this!

Marketing and PR Basics for New Businesses

You will set your business up for success when you develop a marketing and PR plan that prioritizes spending and the use of your time. I work with businesses to create marketing and PR plans. As an entrepreneur, you may need to make your own, so I’m sharing the basics.

  1. Identify your audience. What is their gender, age, and occupation? Where do they live? What do you want them to buy from you? Do you have more than one audience?
  2. Goals. Determine one to three business goals for the next few years. This may be how much net revenue you want, how many products you want to sell, or development of a new product.
  3. Research. Look at what competitors and similar businesses are doing in regard to how they make their products and how they market them. See if you can find out how others are faring in today’s economy so you have realistic goals. Read journals, LinkedIn, and digital content about your profession. See where competitors are advertising and learn what to expect from your investment in marketing. Join professional organizations where you can form relationships to support you in your journey.
  4. Develop Strategies. Take what you learned in your research to create measurable strategies for meeting your goals. Here are some examples: Obtain 200 leads from digital marketing by December 2021. Speak at 10 civic organizations by February 2022. Attract 500 website visits by December 2022.
  5. Create Tactics. Tactics are the tools we use to support our strategies. This may include running Facebook, Google, or YouTube ads, starting a YouTube channel, contacting civic organizations, staging events, and writing press releases. If you need help with any of these tactics, I can help you.
  6. Evaluate. One of the great things about digital marketing is you will see results right away. Find out how many people saw your ads, clicked on the links, and converted, or took action by completing a form or making a purchase on your site. Evaluate print and in-person tactics by how many people saw your article, ad, or speech. If you have an event, how many people attended? Did they complete a survey after your event? Take all of this information to decide whether your strategies are supporting your goals. Change course as needed.

Follow this six-step system and you will see results and have more sales. If you need some help, give me a call. I provide free consultations and referrals to the right people to help your business grow.

Enjoy your kids on Mother’s Day and every day. And go get ’em with your business.

Churches Get Excited About Marketing to Boost Attendance

Churches marketing themselves has become competitive in this era where people can tune in to church without leaving home. My friends Dr. Kris Tenny-Brittian and Dr. Bill Tenny-Brittian guide church leaders so they invited me to speak on marketing for their YouTube show ChurchTalk.TV. We talked about the best way for churches to cut through the clutter and make real connections with prospective members. If you’re on a church board or a minister this interview segment is worth your time.

Hammock Communications focuses on video marketing , a tool churches can use effectively when sharing testimonials, introducing ministers and ministries. Virtual choirs are wonderful and we will help you with those, too.

Churches rely on likes, video streaming and search tools just like any other business.

4 Compelling Reasons Hammock Focuses on Video Marketing

Hammock Announces Change in Direction

Video Storytelling Expert Beth Hammock

Video marketing is one of the most important marketing tactics of 2021. Beth Hammock, founder and CEO, has decided to focus all the business’s attention on video marketing. Hammock is passionate about video storytelling and she wants to help business owners succeed with video.

“Consider video marketing if you are doing everything you can think of to attract and retain customers, but you’re not getting the results you want,” Hammock says. “You may have a robust email marketing process but open rates are low; your Google ads don’t convert; and you worry about your customer loyalty.”    

Expect Dramatic Results from Video Marketing

Hammock says businesses everywhere are praising video marketing. Results include 

  • Exposure on YouTube, the 2nd most popular search engine with 3 billion searches per month
  • Marketing emails with videos have 300% higher click-through rates according to Wistia research. 
  • Conversion rates can improve 80% if you include a video on the landing page, another company says. 
  • The brand-building impact of video storytelling is priceless.

Video marketing company Wyzowl surveys customers every year about their satisfaction. In 2020 they found

  • 89% say video marketing has a good ROI
  • 83% say it helps with lead gen
  • 87% credit video with increased traffic to their website
  • 80% say video has directly helped them make more sales
  • 95% plan to spend more or maintain their video spend this year

Website optimization company Optinmonster has a lot more facts about the amazing tool that is video marketing.

What Makes Hammock Different

Hammock videos are different because they’re produced by an Emmy-nominated TV reporter and producer, Beth Hammock. Trained by the best at the Missouri School of Journalism, she uses a journalistic style – shooting primarily interview-based content to better tell a video story. 

Her team also uses shooting and editing techniques that make a big difference in the way viewers experience your videos – you will see sequences, more people, and more closeups in their videos. Hammock Communications’ videographers use state-of-the-art equipment and its editors are pros at motion graphics and design.

Take a look at some of the results of Beth Hammock’s video marketing before opening her business in January 2021:

Cottey College saw a 100% increase in conversions after Beth led a redesign of the college’ website that included 13 videos. This meant twice as many leads for student recruiters.

The University of Montana Foundation exceeded a campaign goal of $400 million by 13%. Beth produced a campaign video and donor recognition videos while VP of strategic communications and marketing at the foundation. The donor recognition videos led the donors to give more. One gave $5 million more!

“Beth Hammock is approachable and a pleasure to work with,” says Oindrila Roy, an assistant professor at Cottey College. “She communicates well, keeping everyone informed, and multiple projects on track.” 

Hammock moved to Edwardsville in June 2020 while working as Chief Advancement Officer for Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois. She left Girl Scouts in December then decided to stay in Edwardsville.

“I have lived in the greater St. Louis area for about five years and plan to make Edwardsville my long-term home,” Hammock says. “My daughter and her family are nearby. We all live here because we value family.”

Hammock and her family love going to the Missouri Botanical Garden. This ten-second video shows the impact of video over stills.

Hammock Communications specializes in videos for websites, social media and events. For businesses ready to commit to video marketing, Hammock offers packages that include one or two videos a month. A consistent video schedule will boost a business’s SEO, brand and digital results.

Refresh Your Brand Messaging to Make More Sales

The book New Sales. Simplified by Mike Weinberg inspired me to strengthen Hammock Communications’ brand messaging. “Practice what you preach, Hammock,” I told myself. I outlined our unique qualities in a news release I sent to media and the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce, of which I am a proud new member. Here it is. Please let me know if it rings true for you or if it needs some tweaks. I value your feedback. And if you want help with your brand messaging let me know. I can tell you I feel energized after putting mine together.

TV News Veteran Leads New Edwardsville, IL Public Relations and Marketing Firm

Beth Hammock Draws on 13 Years in TV News and 22 Years as Public Relations and Marketing Leader to Guide Businesses to Better Results 

The owner of a new St. Louis area public relations and marketing firm offers businesses a valuable perspective on connecting with customers. Hammock Communications, LLC, based in Edwardsville, Illinois, is owned and operated by Beth Hammock. Hammock draws on 13 years as a TV news reporter and producer and 22 years as in-house counsel to large organizations to help businesses turn around their marketing and communications. She started her business in 2015 in the Kansas City area, where she has spent most of her career.

“After I moved to Edwardsville to be near my family, I realized how much I like it and decided to put down roots here,” Hammock says. “While I am grateful public relations and marketing can be accomplished virtually, I look forward to getting out and meeting business leaders once the pandemic ends.”

Hammock partners with companies and organizations whose sales are stalled, staff lacks motivation, and leaders have tried everything they can think of to bring in more leads. They have a great product or service, but no one knows about it. Some have in-house marketing and communications teams. This may consist of a couple of people or it can be a much larger team. In most cases, half of the marcom staff has been around a long time and may want to do things the way they always have. The other half likely is inexperienced. They have fresh ideas but do not have a leader to help execute them. 

The in-house marketers may be trying to increase brand awareness using the latest digital tactics or creating sales brochures. They throw money into tactics, but sales still struggle. They begin to wonder whether they chose the right digital agency. There are so many agencies to choose from just like there are a lot of competitors in their industry.

Brand Messaging Includes Areas of Strength

1)  Comprehensive Approach: Hammock conducts marketing and communications audits, then crafts strategic plans for businesses, universities, and nonprofits. She coaches, counsels, and trains staff. She also is available to serve as a fractional chief communications officer or fractional chief marketing officer, meaning she is committed to a business for a set number of hours a week to be the in-house marketing and communications lead. Some businesses have her on retainer for public relations and crisis communications. 

2) Media Relations: Hammock is an accomplished media relations professional who will get your story in the media or help you through a crisis. She has been a spokesperson for the Missouri attorney general, University of Missouri Advancement, the University of Montana Foundation, Cottey College, the Kansas City (Mo.) School District, and Independence (Mo.) School District.

2)  Media Relations Prowess: Hammock is an accomplished media relations professional who will get your story in the media or help you through a crisis. She has been a spokesperson for the Missouri attorney general, University of Missouri Advancement, the University of Montana Foundation, Cottey College, the Kansas City (Mo.) School District, and Independence (Mo.) School District.

3)  Journalistic Content Creation: With a degree and background in journalism, Hammock is an expert in storytelling in all mediums including video production, copywriting, book editing, email marketing, and social media. She bases the content on your brand messaging, finding stories to illustrate your strengths.

4)  Digital Direction: Hammock partners with a local digital agency when clients need a new website, paid search, email automation, and other advanced digital tactics. Hammock serves as creative director for website development, a role which usually falls on the client. She has managed the redesign of several university and college websites and adds incredible value to clients’ web development processes.

People who have worked with Beth Hammock describe her as innovative, creative, adaptable, and productive.

“Beth Hammock is an extraordinarily motivated individual with a conscientious work ethic,” says Oindrila Roy, Ph.D., associate professor of international relations at Cottey College. “She led the redesign of the college’s website and worked with all concerned parties to cater to their unique needs. That she completed the project within 100 days bespeaks of her high levels of dedication, expertise in the area, and ability to produce quality work within a short duration of time. As a part of this project, I worked with Ms. Hammock to update the webpage for my program, and in our one-on-one interactions, I could easily witness Ms. Hammock’s passion for and deep commitment toward the success of this project.”

Hammock also has a dozen years of fundraising experience, mostly at the university level. She was director of development communications at the University of Missouri, Columbia for five years and vice president, strategic communications and marketing at the University of Montana Foundation for four years. Both universities had great success in fundraising while Hammock led development communications. 

At the University of Montana Foundation, she also was special assistant to the president for brand development for 18 months and now taps this experience while working with clients on their brand strategies. She is an expert in building a case for support for fundraising then illustrating it in print and in video. She looks forward to partnering with area universities to help them raise more money with the right tools and messaging.

In addition to higher education, other Hammock Communications specialties include supporting scientists with collateral for fundraising and writing for engineering and technology firms.

Business Relationships Add to Our Quality of Life

Business relationships are top of mind for me on Valentine’s Day. I’m single, so I have to broaden the concept of love. In the business realm, I love people with big hearts. Like Chris Kuban, owner of Chemistry PR and Multimedia, one of my competitors.

On Friday, Chris spent 90 minutes with me – a long time for a first meeting. Chris is the immediate past-president of the St. Louis Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. He reached out to me since I’m also a chapter member and we had never met, me being a recent transplant to this side of Missouri.

He showed me around his cool, well-equipped multimedia operation. Then he told me how he built his business and gave me some great PR tips and ideas. I appreciated his authenticity and generosity.

I think we had mutual motives – to explore how to build a business relationship leading to collaboration. Perfect. I’m a video producer who hires videographers and editors on contract. He said I can hire his team. I have connections in higher education, which is also one of his verticals. We can work together, I told him.

Chris is smart for reaching out to me because connections are the way to build your business. Maybe he contacted me because he has been listening to Jeb Blount’s Fanatical Prospecting over and over. He recommended the book and I’m halfway through it. Look out world!

While new clients are great, business relationships are much more than potential referral sources. Who couldn’t use some support and people with whom to celebrate?

15,000 Connections Lead to Publishing Success

CBS Sunday Morning is my favorite show and today they did it again. A story illustrates what I’ve been thinking about. Suleika Jaouad graduated from Princeton then right away learned she had leukemia. Doctors said she had a one in three chance of surviving.

Cancer survivor Suleika Jaoad, author of Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of Life Interrupted, appeared on CBS Sunday Morning on February 14.

During four years of chemotherapy, Suleika documented her experiences in a column in the New York Times. Fifteen thousand people from around the country wrote to support her. After beating cancer, Suleika drove around the country thanking cancer survivors and other new friends who had written to her. What an act of generosity! Now she has a bestselling book about her journey, Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of Life Interrupted.

Business Relationship Supported Me

I had thyroid cancer last summer and experienced the power of connecting with another cancer patient. Just one, because I didn’t go public with my condition since it was short-lived. I found out I had cancer in May, had my thyroid removed in June, and in July learned the cancer had not spread. Thank God.

The friend who supported me was a professional connection on Facebook. When she posted about her cancer treatment I messaged her. Next thing you know we were talking on the phone. That’s the first time I have met someone on Facebook then talked on the phone! We encouraged each other and promised to be there if we needed to talk again. We haven’t talked since then, but that conversation meant a lot to me. There are so many people who believe in authenticity and quite a few on my social media friends’ lists!

Give Love Daily

My takeaway for Valentine’s Day is to give love. We have the opportunity to do this every day.

When we embrace generosity and authenticity, we often reap unimaginable rewards. As America works to heal our societal wounds, the more connections we make the more opportunities we will have to understand each other and support each other in good times and bad.

9 Savvy Ways to Fete Your MarComm Team on Valentine’s Day and Beyond

By Beth Hammock

When I was in journalism school, we learned about the “care and feeding of your pet producer.” I became a news producer and completely understood what that meant. Producers are behind the scenes. Their jobs are tough and stressful. Treat them kindly and show your appreciation. When reporters and anchors did that, I was on cloud nine.

Valentine’s Day presents an opportunity to love on your MarComm team, in a politically correct way, of course. I suggest this because MarComm teams have been trimmed to the bone in many nonprofits. This is unfortunate because the workload for marketing and communications professionals expanded exponentially with the advent of digital marketing.

Creating an email newsletter involves numerous time-consuming steps. When staff finish the newsletter, they are tackling website design, copywriting, SEO, SEM, video production, print pieces, media relations, and events. Wow! They need some love!

This post includes

  • Last-minute Valentine’s Day ideas
  • Ways to show your appreciation to MarComm teams year-round
  • My experiences that have led me to make these recommendations

Ideas for Showing Some Valentine’s Day Love to Your MarComm Team

  • An email from the CEO to all staff expressing appreciation will be uplifting.
  • If you’re in the office, provide cookies, cupcakes, or chocolate.
  • Order gifts online and have them delivered to your staff members’ homes. Check out Snappy, a corporate gift company, your local florist, bakery or sandwich shop.

Year-Round Ideas to Show Some Love

  1. Provide positive feedback every time one of your MarComm team’s creations crosses your desk.
  2. Show them some respect by recognizing team members publicly for specific actions.
  3. Let your designers, writers, and marketing leaders show their creativity in their work life. This may mean dressing a little outside the norm; breaking a few rules that do no harm; or adding funny memes to your Teams channel.  
  4. Invite MarComm team managers to be part of the conversation. Many feel they are admin staff, simply doing what other managers tell them to. In fact, they are trained to think strategically and would love to be guiding the MarComm process for all teams. Including them shows respect.
  5. Think hard about whether to cut MarComm team members. Ask their opinion and take their thoughts seriously. Marketing and strategic communications staff need time to make excellent products.
  6. Always give staff the benefit of the doubt. They believe in your mission and are doing their best to advance it. When conflict arises, don’t make assumptions. Listen to both sides of the story before judging. Creatives are sensitive people, generally, and appreciate being treated fairly.

My Experience Informs This Advice

My background for this list comes from 20 years as a strategic communications and marketing leader in university advancement shops and nonprofits. It’s been a crazy ride. Sometimes insane. I am a creative, a leader, and an activator. I’m also pretty damn independent. If I think I’m doing the right thing I don’t check first to see if there is a rule against it. Some of the mind-blowing things that have happened to me include:

  • Wishing a team member happy birthday on the Teams channel landed me in the CEO’s office. I learned that per HR we don’t mark birthdays unless asking the person’s permission. This was much different than previous places I had worked, where birthdays were displayed on the wall and there was a monthly birthday gathering. Again, I was an activator. The organization’s Morale Committee began posting birthdays on the Teams channel.
  • As a Chief Advancement Officer, I made the mistake of cutting a communications director position on my team when we needed to cut staff to make the budget. I thought I could make up the loss on my own since I am both a strategic communications and development professional. This was a bad move. The two full-time people in MarComm were constantly under water. Others on the executive team didn’t understand the need for a communications director, and it was hard to make a case when I had suggested cutting it. Like I said earlier, think hard before cutting MarComm positions.
  • I’ve worked places where the leaders know to send an all-staff email the day after a big event. The leaders say thanks and point out a few highlights of the event. We all feel good and move on to the next task. I’ve also worked for leaders where there are crickets the day after an event. What a weird feeling for the team that poured their heart and soul into throwing a big bash. Don’t be the guy or gal who doesn’t thank your staff.

While working at a college 90 miles from Kansas City, I observed Red Friday before a Chiefs playoff game. Everyone in Kansas City does this, and I had worked in KC for 15 years, so it seemed natural to me. I wore a nice Chiefs sweatshirt and dressy jeans. We. the HR director asked me to go home and change at lunch because I was dressed inappropriately. The next Friday, the president decreed a jeans day and encouraged people to wear Chiefs gear. We took a picture and posted it on social media. I had displayed my activator strength, but in an uncomfortable way.

  • Finally, the grand finale of workplace weirdness that goes with my suggestions #6 about giving staff the benefit of the doubt. In Montana, soaking in hot springs in the mountains is a popular activity I enjoyed. One day, the CEO and HR director of the University of Montana Foundation informed me there was a photo on our share drive of me nude in a hot spring with a man. “What?” I exclaimed. “I’m over 50 and overweight. There is no picture of me nude anywhere!” The CEO laughed. There was a photo of me with a man in a hot spring. I was wearing a modest black swimsuit. I had asked my assistant to take some work-related photos off my camera and he delegated that to an IT person, who found the hot spring photo and shared it widely. I was angry and demoralized. The craziest part of it was the CEO and HR director had not seen the photo. Which leads to my point, give your staff the benefit of the doubt, don’t make assumptions, and listen to both sides before judging. Note: The CEO and HR director who were part of this story are no longer with the University of Montana Foundation.

So, my friends, celebrate the good work of your MarComm teams. Treat them with respect every day. And give them a little treat on Valentine’s Day!