Tuesday, November 26, 2013

History of the Hashtag

What started off as a modest symbol for “number” on the keys of the telephone has risen in only six years to be one the strongest marketing tools of the 21st century, connecting hundreds of millions of people together. But what is it about this hashtag symbol that makes it so powerful for public relations, marketing and advertising firms?

Social media marketing has skyrocketed to become a necessary element in any business’ brand. Reaching your company’s target audience through a strong online presence has never been easier, yet strategy is still crucial. Hashtags make messages more searchable; similar to a mini search engine optimizer within just 140 characters. By using the symbol, keywords associated with your industry become more than just words, but turn into hyperlinks that millions of potential consumers can easily find. Thus, creating the opportunity for countless digital impressions.

The hashtag also crosses virtually every medium. It can be utilized on social media platforms such as its origin, Twitter, as well as Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and Flickr. The hashtag is also always making its way into non-interactive mediums like billboard messages and commercials. By using this symbol as a tool for brand awareness, business-to-business or business-to-consumer interaction is effectively elevated.

This infographic from Offerpop, sourced from PR Daily
documents the short but influential history of the hashtag.

Interested in learning more about hashtags as well as the benefits of social media marketing? Please feel free to post your questions and comments below, or contact the ECPR team at info@eberlycollardpr.com.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Julia Molloy Enlightens Atlanta Designers with 7 Secrets of Top Luxury Interior Design Firms

On November 13, the ECPR team partnered with the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC) to help reveal the 7 Secrets of Top Luxury Interior Design Firms, presented by our good friend and the design industry’s leading business expert Julia Molloy, president and CEO of Molloy Management Group. As the premier operations and luxury branding specialist in the design industry, Julia works with design company CEOs and owners to increase their efficiencies, develop business plans, boost profits, and connect with a more affluent clientele. Her company, Molloy Management Group, Inc., specializes in advising design professionals how to develop luxury brands and build celebrity statuses.

With many years of experience in the field, she has determined seven distinct patterns, or traits, among her most successful, high-end designer clients. With the opportunity to present at ADAC and share her proficient knowledge with interior designers and showroom managers based in the South, Julia presented one of the most engaging and applicable sessions we have ever had the pleasure of attending. The audience members widely seconded this sentiment, with rave reviews following the event.

For those who work in the design world and were unable to attend, we have highlighted a few key points of relevant interest, stemming from Julia’s presentation, 7 Secrets of the Top Luxury Interior Design Firms.

Julia Molloy presenting the
“7 Secrets of Top Luxury Interior Design Firms.”
What is Luxury?

It all begins with the question, “what is luxury?” Julia defined luxury as the ability to “satisfy every need and go beyond the ordinary into the realm of the extraordinary. It is about elevating the mind, body and spirit.” Luxury must be developed inside an organization before it can start providing luxury as a service and viable reference to clients. The seven secrets provide the necessary elements to becoming luxury internally, and then servicing with luxury externally.

Luxury Starts from Within

In terms of internal business operations, a design company’s brand vision sets the foundation of what it stands for and provides. Brand Vision should be instilled in a firm’s staff as well. As soon as employees are hired, the company structure must be set to evoke brand-aligned staff members and a true sense of internal organization.

Clear roles and accountabilities must be established for each teammate, with centralized and easily accessible information that requires limited presence of the principal designer when needed, allowing for a streamlined approach. There must be short-term tasking and team meetings where everyone can discuss their completed, current and upcoming tasks. From there, documentation of regular company practices and forms should occur, whether internally or in the field. This will help uphold the standards of quality and efficiency for the company.

“Designers and showroom managers visit ADAC
for Julia Molloy’s presentation.”
Branding and Public Relations are Essential

Once the brand vision, company structure, and documentation processes are solidified, then brand development can start to take shape. Branding should authentically reflect a design firm’s key characteristics. The key characteristics are a firm’s “navigational compass,” which directs the decision making process and, ultimately, aligns all actions to the brand vision.

Top luxury interior design firms place public relations and press as high priorities. A publicist can help a designer become an active and renowned figure in their community, which will help them gain popularity and publicity. Design firms and their public relations teams should develop a list of targeted publications, websites and blogs for submitting the designer’s well-planned media kit and build relationships with all of the publications’ editors and writers. If an interior design firm desires the most return on investment, it will work with a reputable public relations firm who specializes in the industry.

Luxury Has the Potential to Grow and Evolve

A brand and business development team such as Molloy Management Group, and an industry-experienced, full-service public relations firm like our own Eberly & Collard Public Relations, can help take a firm from its “start-up” phase to celebrity standing.

Active public relations and press coverage help design firms remain present, known, seen, heard, and available.

According to Julia, when an interior designer’s clients see his or her name published, it makes them feel good and say, “That’s my designer!” This equates to an elevated position and feeling for the client. As a result, the client acknowledges the luxury of the design firm, even after the project has been completed. In turn, this can generate customer loyalty and referrals. Coming full circle, the purpose of public relations for a designer involves positioning the designer as a “go-to” expert resource for creating both beautiful and useful living spaces, but also to provide the client a truly luxurious experience.

These are only a few of the tips provided by Julia Molloy. Her knowledge is impressive and vast; to learn more, visit the Molloy Management Group website at www.molloymanagement.com. To view other events at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, visit www.adacatlanta.com. For more information about Eberly & Collard Public Relations, visit our website at www.eberlycollardpr.com.

Our most sincere thanks to Julia for enlightening the Atlanta design industry, and our appreciation to the highly talented and devoted staff at ADAC for hosting the event.

Members of the ECPR team with Julia Molloy of Molloy Management Group
and Amy Musarra of ADAC.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Object Lesson in Architectural Record

The November 2013 issue of Architectural Record features six noteworthy buildings set on university campuses across the country. The article titled “Object Lesson” is about the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture built by one of its own, while combining the campus’ historical elements with modern flare.

Fay Jones School of Architecture - University of Arkansas
When the university was granted $10 million to update the School of Architecture, it came with a very tight schedule, requiring initial plans to be submitted within weeks. With the limited amount of time available, school leaders turned to its own architectural department.

A combination of old and new
Marlon Blackwell has been a professor at the University of Arkansas for over twenty years and serves as the current chair of the architectural department, all while owning his own private firm. His firm, Marlon Blackwell Architects, created a minimalist design for the Jones building and added a four-story 35,000-square-foot attachment to the current library.

Click here to view the building's blueprints.
By fusing the old structure with the new wing, the distinct architectural languages and building methods are made clear. The building has new studio, classroom, and administrative spaces, and also features a 200-seat auditorium, model shops, a gallery, and a rooftop terrace. In addition to the architecture department, the building houses the landscape and interior design departments. Completed in August 2013, the overall project was 90,955 square feet and cost $32.4 million.

Learn more about the Fay Jones School of Architecture.
Below are companies also involved in the development and construction of the Fay Jones School of Architecture. To see blueprints and learn more about this project or the other six university educational facilities featured in Architectural Record’s November issue, click the photo below.

Click here to learn more about the six university buildings.

Architect: Marlon Blackwell Architect
Associate Architect: Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects
Engineers: Kenneth Jones & Associates; TME; Development Consultants
Consultants: Crafton Tull Sparks; Clarkson Consulting
General Contractor: Baldwin & Shell Construction Company


Roofing: Johns Manville Roofing
Green Roof: LiveRoof
Fritted Glass: Viracon
Glass Doors: Oldcastle Building Envelope

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Furniture Today’s 2013 Consumer Buying Trends

Furniture Today is a leading news source for furniture industry market analysis, product trends, and retailer and manufacturing news. Recently, the magazine released its “2013 Consumer Buying Trends,” stocked with statistics varying by region, buyer demographics, amount spent, and specific populations. For furniture manufacturers and retailers, this informative information is crucial for business advancement and potential new product development. Stemming from the report, below we have dissected some key points for observation in the upcoming quarters as well as provided marketing tactics for each trend.

2013 Consumer Buying Trends
Master Sales for Master Bedrooms

The master bedroom is the inner sanctuary of the home and it is evident that homeowners are not skimping on the expense of their serenity. In 2012, U.S. households bought $8.8 billion-worth of master bedroom furniture, where all the buyers spent a median of $599. Midwest households spent the most with a $999 average, while Northeastern households spent the least with an average of $525.

Baby Boomers comprised two-fifths of all buyers in 2012. Younger Boomers (ages 49-57) spent a median of $849 and Older Boomers (ages 58-67) spent the most, a median of $1,549.

In 2013, 5.5 million households plan to buy master bedroom furniture. Adult Millennials, currently ages 18 through 32, are 65 million strong and are excellent master bedroom prospects for 2013 because many are in the process of designing their own homes and personal spaces. Comfortable luxury is the desire of most Millennials. Strategic marketing catered towards these interests can boost a company’s revenue significantly.

Master Bedroom Trends
Casual Dining for Millennials

Millennials love to eat out, but it appears that many more are opting for dining in the comfort of their own backyards. This year, 4.1 million consumer households plan to buy casual dining furniture, with Millennials and Young Boomers purchasing at considerable rates. In 2012, on average, Millennials spent $199 and Young Boomers spent $349. The highest amount of buyers came from the middle class, with incomes between $50,000 and $99,999.

When creating a marketing strategy, it is important to not only consider the consumers’ age and income, but also the location of the buyer and the purpose of the product. The South spent the most on casual dining furniture with a $299 median, while the West spent the least with only a $99 median. Targeting a specific region can help cover a large demographic efficiently. 

Casual Dining Trends
Millennial Entertainment

The commonplace of flat-screen TV’s and household gaming equipment caused the peak of entertainment furniture sales in 2004 and 2006. In 2012, the top-selling case goods product and the fourth-most popular furniture product overall was entertainment furniture, with 5.2 million U.S. households investing an estimated $5.5 billion in retail. By generation, Millennials (ages 18-32) and Generation X (ages 33-48) are the best prospects for buying entertainment furniture in 2013.

Last year, Millennials spent an average of $199 on entertainment furniture and Generation X spent $225. As many retailers and manufacturers are aware, casual dining and entertainment furniture go hand-in-hand for providing comfortable luxury items for the home. Marketing products to specific age groups allows the consumer to purchase products that are well-suited for their own lifestyles. Once that vision is seen and accepted, then a sale can be made.

Entertainment Furniture Buying Trends
Trend spotting is meant to raise awareness and inspire action. Targeted strategic marketing can help address these new findings. We hope this revealing information sparked our furniture retailer and manufacturer followers’ interest and drives toward exponential business growth.