Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Down with Dust

National Gypsum Company showcased one of its newest products at the CONSTRUCT Show this year, and it certainly caught our eye as we were scouting for trends and insights for various articles. The company’s ProForm XP® Ready Mix Joint Compound with Dust-Tech was the talk of the show. The product, recently named by Professional Remodeler as on the Top 101 products for 2011, is an all-purpose, vinyl-based joint compound specifically formulated to reduce airborne dust while sanding, and save time with quick and easy clean-up. XP Joint Compound with Dust-Tech can be used for all phases of drywall finishing, texturing, patching, and renovations.

ProForm XP® Ready Mix Joint Compound with Dust-Tech
One notable feature of the XP Joint Compound with Dust-Tech is that it reduces airborne dust by 60%, thus minimizing its impact on indoor air quality. The product also offers superior mold-resistance, and has achieved the highest mold-resistant scores on industry tests.

The product has many applications. It is designed for tape application, faster spotting, complete joint finishing of gypsum board, and can also be used to repair cracks in plastered walls, to texture surfaces, and laminate gypsum board to other surfaces. Several advantages of using the XP Joint Compound with Dust-Tech is that not only does it reduce airborne dust, it also sands without clogging sandpaper, has a low VOC content and is GREENGUARD Children and Schools Certified.

The National Gypsum Company is one of the largest gypsum board producers in the world. Based in Charlotte, N.C., the company has over 40 operating plants throughout the United States and Canada. In addition to producing gypsum board, The National Gypsum Company also produces a wide range of products such as interior finishing products and cement boards. To view the company’s full product availability, visit

Trade magazine editors, contact us with your questions and feedback.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What Twitter Topics are Buzzing in Home, Garden and Design? ECPR Examines

Specializing in home, garden, design, agribusiness, and architecture / building, ECPR team members are devoted to following breaking news in these industries, as well as stories that are part of daily conversations via social media. In addition, our work for clients involves managing their presence and involvement via public relations and through social media. One tool we use to stay up-to-date about topics of relevance is the microblogging service, Twitter. As many of you know, Twitter instantly connects users to what's most important to them—friends, experts, business professionals, favorite celebrities, and news. It is also a great resource for determining the latest industry trends and topics. Our team compiled a select list of what is trending on Twitter in a few of our PR specialty categories. We've also included examples of tweets that are indicative of the evolving trends.

It is important to note, our findings are based upon strategic observation and monitoring of Twitter trends. If you're interest in important and common Twitter subject-matter is peaked after reading our insights, you can follow various statistical Twitter trends at websites such as Trendsmap or Trendistic. Without further ado, here is our list of timely trends divided by category, and, as always, we welcome your comments!

Interior Design and Furniture

Ladylike Luxe – Ladylike design is in. Recently, designers and interior design magazines have been highlighting more feminine home accent ideas on Twitter, from poppy florals to hand-painted furnishings. According to current Twitter trends, design writers say this updated Victorian influence can help infuse coziness and softness into contemporary spaces.

We've seen some crafty repurposing of doilies recently and this charming pendant lamp is no exception:
--Apartment Therapy

Outdoor Furniture

“Living Rooms” for the Great Outdoors – Forget flimsy, nylon-strap furniture on a concrete slab. Today, it's all about creating a well-designed patio that could be thought of as another room of the house. More U.S. families are investing in outdoor rooms where they can unwind amid mood lighting, water features and fully equipped kitchens. As a result, outdoor retreats have also become a hot topic in Twitter feeds as homeowners, designers and writers seek out and share ideas.

Weekly faves! Check out the outstanding #outdoor #rooms inspiring me lately!
--Casa Sugar

Garden and Landscaping

Edible Ornamentals – To maximize the space of their yards, many consumers are turning to plants that can perform double-duty: plants that are both beautiful and edible. Recent Tweets have drawn attention to frilly-leafed herbs, compact veggies and ornamental melons and peppers. Creating a kitchen garden is also economical, as food prices continue to rise.

She's all about cooking with fresh food from the garden. @DigginFood is our #blogoftheweek. Check her out: #gardening
--Birds and Blooms


Eco-responsibility – Green building has gone mainstream, and many products used by green builders are becoming the industry standard. In recent years, green-minded individuals in the construction industry have turned to Twitter to share resources, tools, media, and inspiring content. Some of the recent Tweets we've noticed have included solar heating, drought-tolerant landscaping and composite siding.

In Seattle, work starts on 'greenest' office building
--Modern Eco Homes

Stay tuned for more social media trends from the ECPR team.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Atlanta Event Captures Life after Devastation in the Gulf Coast

Photo courtesy
of Emily Harris
Six years after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, New Orleans is still recovering from the disaster, which wiped out homes and tore apart the economy. Years later, the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico cast another dark shadow over the region. The spill killed wildlife, sea life and the local bayous and swamps. This in turn impacted local fisherman living and working in the swamps. Upon visiting New Orleans for the first time after these devastations, photographer Emily Harris paid a visit to the swamps. In her series, "Marais Sombre Rouge" Harris captured the swamps using a red scale 35 mm film to portray the dark and dreary life these areas have lived through. The images are displayed in a light box installation to further illuminate the idea. 

Harris' work will be displayed at the Carroll St. Café through the month of September. A reception will be held later this month on Tuesday, Sept. 27 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event is part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography, a non-profit arts organization.

Where: Carroll St. Cafe, 208 Carroll St. SE Atlanta, GA 30312
Hours: Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Sun: 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Fri, Sat: 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Phone: (404) 577-2700

ECPR’s Jeff and Don Travel to the CONSTRUCT Show

While continuing their trade show tour in Chicago, ECPR’s Jeff and Don made their way to the CONSTRUCT Show at McCormick Place. The two-day, commercial building event presented by Hanley Wood is geared towards architects, specifiers, engineers, facility managers, building owners, general contractors, designers, and other industry-related professionals. Exhibitors at the show are showcasing revolutionary products, services and technologies ranging from building systems, roofing, lighting, and energy products to finishes, stone / tile, stairways, elevators, concrete products, and much more.
While visiting booths on the tradeshow floor, Don and Jeff stopped to watch a demonstration at National Gypsum’s exhibit. Mundise Mortimer, LEED AP, Manager Technical Marketing, presented a demonstration of the company’s Gold Bond Brand eXP line of products. The line features several products such as the Gold Bond eXP Tile Backer; Gold Bond eXP Extended Exposure Shaftliner; Gold Bond eXP Extended Exposure Sheathing; and the Gold Bond eXP Extended Exposure Interior Extreme.
In addition to touring the tradeshow for new, ground-breaking products, Jeff and Don have been attending a selection of educational seminars. As seen in the photo above, the pair sat in on the High-Performance, Continuously- Insulated Rain Screen Wall Systems seminar presented by Dow and Knight Wall Systems.

Stay tuned for follow-up details and articles for both the CONSTRUCT show and Casual Market soon.

Enlarge the photos by selecting each individual photo.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Casual Market Kicks Off

ECPR’s Don and Jeff are in the Windy City for this year’s International Casual Furniture and Accessories Market. The pair have been scoping out the newest, most innovative outdoor designs and products in the temporaries and permanent showrooms. With over 250 exhibitors at the show, products range from manufacturers of outdoor accessories, hearth and heating products, outdoor lighting, shade systems, outdoor furniture collections, and more.

Jeff and Don have been exploring featured areas such as The Garden Accessories Courtyard. With 10,000 square feet of space, this courtyard features beautiful accessories such as pillows, rugs, pottery, lighting, and tabletop products for outdoor living areas. Additionally, they stopped by the New Product Gallery. The gallery is designed to present a comprehensive overview of new casual furniture and outdoor accessory trends for 2012. Here, Casual Market show-goers are viewing the latest designs, color and fabric trends, innovative accessories, and much more.

To enlarge the images, select each individual photo.
The Garden Accessories Courtyard
Jeff Collard in the New Products Display

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Terra Nova Nurseries Featured in Pennsylvania Gardener

Our client Terra Nova Nurseries was recently featured in the September / October issue of Pennsylvania Gardener. The article entitled “Sustainability: Right Plant, Right Place,” written by Maria Zampini, educates readers on how to plant sustainable gardens. Essentially, a sustainable garden requires little or no maintenance, all the while being eco-friendly. Zampini encourages gardeners to choose native, non-invasive plants that are adaptable in a range of growing conditions and can provide a healthy habitat for wildlife.

In the article, Zampini mentions that hellebores are a favorite plant choice for sustainable gardens, specifically Terra Nova Nurseries’ Winter Jewels Series including ‘Amber Gem’ and ‘Peppermint Ice’. The Hellebore Winter Jewels Series bred by Marietta O’Byrne are double flower strains featured in individual colors rather than mixes. ‘Amber Gem’ is an apricot dream. The blooms are yellow infused and blushed with red, like a ripe apricot; perhaps the rarest of colors in hellebores. This winter plant is deer resistant and shade tolerant, making it an ideal plant for a sustainable garden. ‘Peppermint Ice’ has fluffy, light pink flowers with a rim of dark pink edging; the dark pink on the back of the tepals adds to the appeal. Like ‘Amber Gem’ this plant is deer resistant, drought tolerant and performs well in shaded areas.

To read the full article about sustainable gardening in the September / October issue of Pennsylvania Gardener, see the photos included in this blog post. To enlarge the photos, simply click on each individual photo. Media members, if you’re interested in learning more about Terra Nova Nurseries’ Hellebores Winter Jewels Series for an end of the year article, please contact us by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

QR Codes, Business Information Right Here, Right Now

They've been spotted on movie posters, business cards and on printed business and product collateral. Similar to Facebook URLs and websites, mobile barcodes are regularly popping up in advertisements and all manner of places where online content is desired. The widespread use of barcodes is to help satisfy consumer demand for immediate access to relevant information. No longer do consumers have to wait to get home to find specific information about products they see at retail stores. Recently, comScore, a company that measures digital marketing, found Quick Response (QR) code usage has been on the rise. In the month of June, about 14 million Americans scanned QR barcodes, which comes to a bit over 6 percent of all mobile users in the U.S.

What is a QR code?

A QR code is a 2-D barcode that can be scanned by a smart phone's camera. Once the code is scanned, it could direct users to a website, offer a coupon from a local retailer, show a movie trailer or video and just about anything else that can be linked online. Manufacturers with a lot of product information can now produce proliferate web pages in complete harmony with their product tags. QR barcodes were invented in Japan and have been actively used there for more than a decade. They are making their way throughout North America, with many furniture stores, garden centers, hardware retailers, and other home / garden outlets catching on to the craze. The barcodes look like this:
If you already have downloaded one of the available QR code reader apps to your smart phone, you can use the phone to scan the above code. In doing so, you will be directed to our website’s section regarding social media as an example. Now, imagine the barcode was printed on a tag attached to a new dining table at a home design retail store or to a plant container at a local garden center. Consumers could use their smart phones to scan the QR code, linking them directly to specific online information about the product, its various applications or uses, and related how-to or design insights – all provided to them in an instant from the brand behind the product. Now, that’s Point-of-Purchase strategy like we have never seen it!

How are mobile bar codes applied to marketing?

Mobile barcodes can be useful to businesses by connecting people with each other and to brand-related content. Because QR codes are still relatively new to the U.S., most current ads or printed collateral that contain these codes still have to explain how they work, and the steps the viewer needs to take to access the additional information. The codes can be added to print ads, posters, invites, store front displays, T-shirts, and even to the merchandise itself. The linked information can be specific to a brand or product, containing information such as product details, how-to insights, event details, contest information, customer feedback forms, and so on.

In one retail example, Pottery Barn added a QR code to its fall catalog on a page that featured the Manhattan Leather Armchair. When scanned, it directed consumers to a video that showed the history of the chair and how the designers were inspired by chairs they found in Parisian flea markets. More recently, Home Depot introduced new, interactive plant tags. Buyers can scan a QR code and get in-depth information about the plant, such as how much sun it requires, before they decide to take it home. Mobile barcodes could also be used to build communities on social media channels. For example, some businesses have generated codes that “like” the company’s Facebook page.

As with any successful campaign, a good strategy is key. QR barcodes should provide viewers with a brand experience that is dynamic, exclusive and interactive. The codes should also be easy for consumers to locate and quickly scan. And, certainly, attaining the services of an informed consultant or firm helps create a synergistic approach with all facets of a marketing plan. Let us know, what are your thoughts and questions about QR codes? Do you think they have staying power? Be sure to add your comments below.

Staying up-to-date with the latest digital innovations and trends is important to us, as it helps us better serve our clients. At ECPR we specialize in PR 2.0—as we define it—the convergence of traditional public relations and modern social media networks. To learn more about our social media services, be sure to click here.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Lightweight vs. Normal Weight

How do lightweight concrete blocks (CMUs) differ from normal concrete blocks? Jeff Speck, VP of Sales & Marketing for Big River Industries, the nation’s largest producer of expanded clay lightweight aggregate, sheds light during an interview featured in the April / May issue of The Concrete Producer.

In the interview, Jeff Speck talks about when to use lightweight concrete blocks and when to use normal concrete blocks. Essentially, lightweight blocks can be used at any time, with the exception of very high compressive strength requirements. Lightweight CMUs that meet the requirements of ASTM C90 have all the structural properties of normal weight load-bearing units. The next interview topic includes the comparison of performance between the two, including acoustic properties. Speck talks about the two different measures of acoustic properties, Sound Transmission Class (STC) and NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) in relation to wall thickness and how well a wall absorbs the sound.

Additionally, the interview covers the issue of sustainability. Because Lightweight concrete (LWC) solutions offer improved energy performance, reduced volume of materials, reduced transportation requirements, improved service life, and lower life-cycle costs, the product is more sustainable and green than normal concrete solutions. The next interview topic deals with costs. Lightweight blocks are thinner and lighter, meaning a reduced volume of materials and more efficient costs. The final interview question pertains to how internal curing improves the performance of concrete and how it relates to sustainability.

To read the full Q & A article, view the photos below. Enlarge the photos by clicking on them. Also, the online version is available at