Thursday, February 27, 2014

2014 Building and Construction Product Trends

As a public relations firm with clients in the building, construction and architecture industries, it is necessary for us to stay current with the latest trends, news and products within these markets. Builder magazine is one of our go-to resources - from its magazine, website and e-newsletter – we receive daily updates that help keep our team and, in turn, our clients informed. Below, we have provided a few new product innovations and manufacturers for builders. 

Air Vent Inc.

Air Vent Inc. manufactures a full line of attic ventilation products, including durable, high-performance ridge vent systems. Its Pro Flow™ Vented Drip Edge combines venting with a drip edge and is used to provide intake ventilation in homes with little or no soffit area. Air Vent also offers The Edge™ Vent, a shingle-over roof-edge component that provides proper intake ventilation with little or no overhang. It can be used to supplement existing soffit or undereave vents. Both products supply 9 square-inches of net-free vent area per lineal foot.

Air Vent The Edge™ Vent
Azek Decking and Trim

Azek offers low-maintenance products that are impervious to moisture and insects in efforts to limit the hassles associated with traditional wood decking and trim. Its limited lifetime warranty is against fungal decay, blistering, peeling, flaking, cracking, splitting, cupping, rotting, and other structural defects. As an all-encompassing product, Azek’s low-maintenance trim was featured in Money magazine’s “The Carefree House” article and has received rave reviews from various builders and decking companies.

Azek Decking & Trim
Icynene ProSeal Eco

Since 1986, more than 300,000 residential and commercial projects have utilized approximately 3 billion board feet of Icynene spray foam insulation. In response to the demand for more eco-friendly blowing agents, one of its newest product developments includes a 100-percent water-blown, medium-density, closed-cell spray foam for its portfolio of SPF solutions. Icynene says ProSeal Eco is a smarter and more environmentally sound replacement for chemical-based, closed-cell spray foam insulation builder products. 

Icynene ProSeal Eco
If you have used these products before, let us know your experience in the comments below. Also, take a look at our Pinterest page for more great products across all our specified industries.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Three High-Impact Web Necessities to Engage Sales Leads and Prospects

In today’s high-tech world, an increasing number of businesses are advancing into the digital age in order to appeal to younger generations or more tech-savvy audiences. In addition to the aesthetic appeal of a website, there are major characteristics that are either unknown or overlooked when developing (or redesigning) a website. A few of our many services at ECPR include graphic design, website copy and website / blog development to strategically build clients’ websites to be more marketable. As helpful tools, below, our team of experts sheds light on three little-known yet high-impact, website provisions to consider.

#1: Be mobile-friendly for Millennials, and Just About Everyone Else on the Web

According to Cisco Systems, the number of mobile Internet users is expected to reach 1.9 billion by 2015. This means the Millennial generation may not “hear” you if your website is not “responsive.” And, in all reality, nearly all web users today are savvy enough to seek their needed information through multiple digital formats – from desktops to handhelds.

What do we mean by responsive? Our peers at Mashable.com describe responsive as the ability for a website to automatically format itself based on the device on which it is being viewed. As sales increase for tablets and smartphones, so increases the demand for mobile-friendly web design. Now, the question to ask is, “Do you need a mobile web design or a responsive web design?”

With a mobile web design, a devise-user will be automatically forwarded to your mobile-compatible webpage when they attempt to view your main website. This may be useful if you only want to limit capable actions through mobile devices, similar to the differences between online banking websites and their corresponding mobile apps. A responsive design will adjust the main website to fit the device being used. This model is easier to maintain and is a great option for companies that update content often, such as news sites or online retailers.
Photo Credit: Squixa.com

#2: Boost Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This is a race to the high SEO finish line! Webopedia defines SEO as “a methodology…used to increase the amount of visitors to a website.” SEO can be visually defined as a website’s “placement” or “ranking” when the URL is inputted to a search engine. The sites that appear on the first “search results” page have the highest quality of SEO. So, how does a website achieve high SEO?

First, make sure your site is accessible via search engines by using appropriate tags, Meta tags, and commonly searched words within your industry. Meta description tags appear in search engine results pages and give the web surfer an overview of what your site contains. Your Meta tags should be created, generated and posted via Google and other search engines for most, if not all, pages of your website. Title tags appear in the title bar of the browser and are one of the factors used by search engines to determine the content of your page. Using “keyword rich” title tags within a 60-character limit will help search engines locate and rank your page appropriately, according to the web surfer’s search criteria.

Note: Do not excessively tag each page with the same keywords and phrases. This will cause search engines to identify your site as spam, and it could lower your SEO ranking. Make each page unique with relevant content on the page. The content needs to be exclusive within the pages of your site and in comparison to others, especially your competitors.

If writing descriptive tags while using commonly searched words for search engines is not one of your strengths, outsourcing with a company that specialize in web development and copy writing, such as our ECPR team, will benefit you greatly in your SEO improvement initiative.

Click here to learn more about SEO from "SEOman!"

#3: Get Interactive with Lead Capture Systems

Your website’s primary purpose is to create new business or evoke sales, correct? Our tip 3 addresses the fact you can only gain new clients or customers through your website, if the site equates to connectivity and engagement. This is where implementing various forms of lead-capturing systems comes in to play. These systems drive activity between you, your website and its visitors. This method provides two results:
  • Establish and maintain your presence. You do not want your website to become the “click-and-go” site that is easily forgotten. Encourage your site’s visitors to sign-up for your emails, newsletters and whitepapers; follow your social media channels; or to contact you with one-click-to-email for a free consultation or assessment of their needs. This method will make your presence offer value and sustain reoccurrence. Also, when you link your website to your social media channels, or your followers share your information on their own social media pages, it will greatly increase your SEO. Search engines consider it to be a “recommendation” or “verification” of credibility, therefore, moving your company higher on the SEO ranking. So, invite, entertain and encourage interaction on each and every URL you own.
  • Increase consumer or client trust and investment. Consumers or clients display an amount of trust in a company’s competencies when they register to receive e-mails or follow social media pages. There is trust that a service will be provided, whether in the form of informative e-newsletters or blogs, free resources, classes or webinars, videos, or just pure entertainment. Building that trust in these services can affect a new client’s potential to invest in (or purchase products or services) from your business, which is the overall end goal.
    Photo Credit: ProfitBuilderSystems.com
Although web development can be daunting, investing in the assistance to create the best website possible for your business will only benefit your company in the long run, and possibly open up a whole new communicative means to reach sales prospects and leads. If you are a business owner or marketing manager interested in learning more about our web development services or other public relations and integrated marketing offerings, please visit and contact us through the ECPR website. Or, add your comments or questions below this post.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Digging into the 2014 Farm Bill: How the Bill Affects the Agriculture, Horticulture, and Floriculture Industries

On February 8, 2014, President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly known as the Farm Bill, into effect. A new Farm Bill is passed approximately every five years and the latest bill, comprising a staggering 1,000+ pages, will yet again have a major effect on the agriculture, horticulture and floriculture industries, particularly the farmers and growers whose life work is harvesting the crops on which the country depends.

While many in these industries have been keeping a watchful eye on the status of the bill, the complexity of government legislation may have left some without a thorough understanding of its influence on their day-to-day businesses.

Photo credit: Michigan State University, The State News
Farmers and growers, review this concise overview which covers a few of the essential, major components of the Farm Bill our team believes to be most applicable, and learn how it will impact you.

Agriculture: Both farmers and consumers will be affected by the 2014 Farm Bill. The reduction of food stamps has brought about mixed reactions, yet the progress in the food industry delivered by the bill is notable.
  • SNAP, most formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will be decreased to some citizens. However, those still able to utilize the program will have better access to more nutritious food, as SNAP benefits have been doubled at farmer’s markets under the Farmers Market Promotion Program. Addressing the critical issue of nutrition and public health is vital; this program, and others, will drive revenue for regional farmers and lead to expansion.
  •  With only 2.2 million farms producing our nation’s food, and less than 2 percent of the U.S. population working them, the uncertainty of crop yields can deal a detrimental financial blow to farmers. What many experts consider the bill’s biggest attribute to be is a new insurance policy, which will support farmers in times of loss and help risk management. 
Photo credit: Reuters
Horticulture / Floriculture: The reach of the 2014 Farm Bill will go beyond farmers of food; those in the nursery and floriculture trade will see increased funding to several beneficial programs.
  • Are you a grower of Christmas trees? A battle in the long-fought war against artificial trees was won with the signing of the bill by President Obama. A 15 cent tax will be placed on every tree sold and the funds, estimated to total $3 million in the next five years, are being directed to research and marketing to further promote the live tree industry. 
  • Several diseases have plagued the nursery grower industry in recent years, including the fungicide-resistant impatiens downy mildew disease, the quick-spreading boxwood blight and new invasive insects. The Farm Bill will lend millions of dollars more to pest and disease research, among other programs that safeguard nursery production. 
  • Along with fruits and vegetables, horticulture and nursery crops are designated as specialty crops by the U.S Department of Agriculture. The Specialty Crop Block Grant and Specialty Crop Research Initiative will both work to help enhance competitiveness for these crops against staple and highly lucrative crops such as soybeans, rice and corn. The block grant will involve both state and regional industry associations on marketing campaigns, while the crop research aspect will bring the necessary attention to the organic agriculture and horticulture industry. 

Overall, citizens of the United States have a right to nutritious food and healthy crops of all kinds. While some people may not agree with the Farm Bill in its entirety, it is hard to deny the need for funding that will improve public health and wellness. This new legislation is allowing average citizens the ability to buy healthy food and granting hard-working farmers the capacity to grow that food, along with successful plant cultivation that aid to environmental and human well-being.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Evolution of the Residential Kitchen

The growth of several industries is leading to major advancements in residential kitchen designs. With the consistent growth of the organic farming and food market in the United States, homeowners are becoming more and more conscious about their diets, which is also affecting their food prep spaces. In addition, the surge of available “smart appliances” and sustainable building materials in commercial kitchens is evolving even the most basic kitchen appliances, and has crossed over into the residential market. Thus, builders and designers are working to help their clients fashion chic, upgraded and functional kitchen spaces with new and innovative technologies.

K+BB January 2014

In its January 2014 issue, Kitchen + Bath Business shared the latest in commercial-style, sustainable, efficient and wireless technology now being found in residential kitchens.

Double ovens were once exclusive to major restaurateurs and caterers, but now the appealing features of LED screens displaying recipes, cooking guidance and customizable cooking cycles have reached home culinary enthusiasts.

Along with cutting-edge features, luxury and conveniences normally reserved for fine dining are also appearing in residential kitchen designs. While wine refrigerators are not necessarily new to residential kitchens, wine dispensers are providing a new experience for wine connoisseurs. No longer do wine lovers have to anguish over spoiling an unfinished bottle; their favorite Sauvignon Blanc can be easily stored and kept at the perfect temperature, ensuring that it is readily available at the touch of a button.

As all architects, designers and builders know, materials used for the home must fit the specific needs of the client. When it comes to kitchens, countertops are easily the most substantial element. Commercial kitchens have long ago adapted to be both heat- and scratch-resistant, and now both natural and synthetic sourced materials are becoming stylish options for homeowners who wish to utilize this commercial-like durability.

K+BB January 2014 - Residential Kitchens Are Taking a Page from Commercial's Playbook

Keeping up with the latest in home products and technologies to recommend to clients is imperative, and there’s no better way to accomplish the task than attending industry conventions and events.

KBIS, the leading kitchen and bath industry show, and IBS, the largest annual residential housing construction trade event, will co-locate during Design & Construction Week, beginning February 4 - 6, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nev. This year will mark the first time the two premier shows and associations have joined together to exhibit the latest industry products, trends and technologies.

Designers, builders and retailers, don’t miss this opportunity to experience the newest offerings from top brands for all home needs and learn about high-tech and innovative products that can upgrade your clients’ kitchens.

Click here to read the full K+BB article and here to learn more about KBIS.