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The Back Deck

Our view on navigating today’s marketing landscape

22 Oct

CMD Earned Media Lands Social Media, PR and Content Marketing Top Honors

PRSA Spotlight Awards | CMD Blog

CMD lands three top honors for stellar work on behalf of two clients in this year’s PRSA Spotlight Awards: Timber Products and Iberdrola Renewables.

Winning a PRSA Portland Metro Spotlight Award is the celebration of that moment when great creative meets serious marketing muscle. Winning entries must wow a committee of judges by demonstrating thoughtful planning – including how sound strategy based on research informs stellar creative tactics and leads to results that meet or exceed stated measurable objectives. Independently and objectively judged by a PRSA chapter in different state, CMD landed three top Spotlight awards (first place honor in the category) for stellar work on behalf of two clients this year:

The Spotlight Award goes to…CMD & Iberdola Renewables, for Social Media

An energy leader with the largest renewable asset base of any company in the world, Iberdrola Renewables was looking to kick start its social media presence and generate goodwill for its product. CMD created a Valentine’s Day campaign that encouraged employees and fans to profess their love for renewable energy by submitting photos to social media with the hashtag #IHeartWind. The campaign surpassed objectives for participation by more than 50 percent, and generated engagement from industry heavy-hitters including GE Renewables and Clean Energy Council.

The Spotlight Award goes to….CMD & Timber Products, for Timberline Newsletter

As Timber’s main vehicle for communicating with its customers, this BtoB newsletter is an excellent example of how to combine thought leadership, education and sales support. Complete with a reader’s study which provided CMD with relevant feedback that helped shape and refine the content, results that caught the judges’ attention included an improvement in reader value scores of more than 21 percent and a 10 percent bump in subscribers.

The Spotlight Award goes to…CMD & Timber Products, for Integrated Communications

Paid and earned media are converging and in this pioneering content creation campaign, the effectiveness of strong editorial + a content hub sponsorship with a key trade publication to drive interest resulted in a 70 percent boost in leads for the company.

CMD Earned Media is one of the top award-winning PR and social media firms in the Northwest, earning more than 50 PRSA Portland Spotlight and Award of Merit honors over the years. The agency also has won a PRSA International Silver Anvil Award, numerous SoMe and IABC awards, plus honors from the American Marketing Association (AMA). Congrats to the team and our clients for creating amazing work and another well-deserved moment in the spotlight.

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17 Oct

Embracing the Bold: Some Brands Go Screaming from Controversy, Others Take Maximum Advantage. Which Strategy is Right?

There’s a truth-ism in PR that the best way to handle an issue is to try to move past it as quickly as possible. But the reality is, that isn’t always the wisest strategy for savvy brands looking to turn a rare spotlight moment into an opportunity.

Take the recently trending #Fangate story as example. Vornado, a fan company, found itself unwittingly caught in the middle of a political and PR high stakes controversy in Florida when former Gov. Charlie Crist insisted on having the little black fan at his lectern during a debate. Political hilarity has ensued.

While the story broke in the New York Times, trended on social and was picked up by hundreds of other media outlets including the Daily Show, what has Vornado done? One @Vornado tweet so far while a virtual hailstorm of unexpected exposure is raining down on them.

We hope Vornado continues to embrace the spotlight because in the PR world, the strategy is known as “duck and cover,” a company’s response to go silent or tread too lightly as conversations blaze around them, very rarely works. And in some instance such as this, it actually would be a huge potential opportunity blown (no pun intended).

After all, what an incredible endorsement that a high profile politician finds the product so useful that he insists (basically throwing a fantrum, as termed in the Times) on taking it with him when the going gets hot.  And in an industry where products are pretty much commoditized, what a once-in-a-million opportunity to embrace the bold and become memorable as the fan that sparked a national debate (literally). While other brands wish, hope and spend millions on the chance to make their content “go viral,” here’s Vornado’s opportunity just waiting to be seized.

The term PR spin doesn’t always mean avoidance or something negative; it means strategically embracing your brand’s opportunities to generate exposure for what you offer in the most positive way possible.

Consider instead if Vornado decides to truly embrace its moment in the spotlight, like bold brands such as Oreo and Fiat have done on social, by going headlong into the conversation and playing along in smart ways.  Imagine the memes Vornado could create, spoofing the Watergate tapes (thieves going after Vornado fans instead), social images with mock campaign creative of Vornado debating the competitors brands – the opportunities are juicy, ripe and just waiting to be capitalized on. That is, if a brand is willing to be courageous, move quickly while news is trending, and come up with a solid strategy.

Here’s to the bold and the brands willing to take risks and seize the right earned media moments. We’re not sure if Vornado will end up taking full advantage of their moment to spin PR and social media straw into gold, but it’s pretty certain that a chance like this may not ever arise for them again.

What do you think: Do you think it’s a wise move for Vornado to capitalize on the PR and social media opportunity right now?

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29 Sep

5 Ways to Make Amazing Content

One of the key takeaways from last week’s NewsCred Content Marketing Summit was this utopic thought: “Imagine a universe where your advertising is free and only shared by people.” The notion came early in the two-day New York conference, but for me, it was the thread that tied the event together.

70% of consumers would prefer getting to know a company through content, while 67% of consumers say content helps them make better purchasing decisions. -NewsCred

70% of consumers would prefer getting to know a company through content, while 67% of consumers say content helps them make better purchasing decisions. -NewsCred

Discovering a clever video or insightful article actually feels like ownership. We’re entertained, or we gain knowledge, and then we can share it to demonstrate our values and to connect with others (think of the happiness gained from sharing P&G’s Thank You Mom ad on your mother’s Facebook page). In that sense, content should behave more like a commodity, rather than just additional marketing “noise.”

Of course, meaningful content doesn’t simply add value to customers’ lives. It also drives trust, engagement, brand affinity, and organic distribution—all good things. But what makes meaningful content? The industry leaders at the conference offered endless insight and examples, and here are five of my favorites:

1. Be an authentic human being. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: I’m a human, you’re a human—and Tim Washer, executive producer, Rich Media Marketing, Cisco (and former writer for SNL) has the stats to back it up: “73% of those who read corporate blogs are people.” (This quote also feeds well into #3.) Brands who provide authentic, human experiences are more likely to make an emotional connection.

Obviously, this concept is especially relevant for social; it’s the place where your brand can loosen up and geek out with customers. One way to be human? Seek out existing relevant conversations and take part in them in a meaningful way. Last year, Honda noticed the #ihatemycar hashtag on Twitter. In response, Honda invited Twitter users to share why they wanted new wheels—and they responded with personalized Vine videos.

2. Say no to selling, say yes to stories.  As a whole, we’re bored with content. In fact, 73% of people surveyed wouldn’t care if the brands they use today disappeared tomorrow (- Co.EXIST). Your audience is looking for stories—and more specifically, the emotional connections those stories create. Newscred shared this stellar example which didn’t leave a dry eye in the room. And telling stories is something we love to do—it’s what drives CMD’s recent ad for Surface which features Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Earl Thomas and other Seahawks players:

3. Make it funny. There’s no faster way to connect with your audience than making them laugh. Humor is positive, it cuts through the noise, and it’s authentic. It’s also highly shareable. (I bet you’re thinking at this moment of a funny video you saw recently; here’s a great one I’ve discovered.)

For the most part, everyone appreciates humor—and it isn’t limited to consumer marketing. Check out this nugget of B2B marketing genius.

This ad hits all the marks: it’s subtly funny, it’s original, and it’s authentic. It also conveys big, meaty ideas in a relaxed, no business-speak way. Tim Washer, the ad’s co-producer (and waiter), spoke at the conference and had another bit of genius to share: “Follow the fear.” If you have a funny concept and you’re afraid to try it…you’re obligated to follow it to see where it leads. Often, the best ideas come out of unusual trains of thought.

4. Surprise and delight. Sometimes the best campaigns feel covert and spontaneous, and when they’re personal, they’re delightful. And when it’s not a campaign—when it’s just the brand’s persona, that’s when things get fun.

Purina hits the right spot by personalizing their responses to pet owners.

Purina hits the right spot by personalizing their responses to pet owners.












Purina is a great example of a brand who listens and joins conversations with just the right tone—and the right creative. Here, they responded to a pet owner’s photo post about their pet by personalizing it.

5. Be useful. Not only will helpful content get more clicks through social, you’ll benefit from search as well. Lists that feature your product (like, “4 Questions to Ask Your Banker”), FAQs, and tips are all useful and shareable. Target’s behind-the-scenes site, A Bullseye View, offers excellent, clickable content, while Louis Vuitton’s The Art of Packing is short, sweet, and yes, very helpful.

target's, A Bullseye View, offers excellent clickable content to its users.

target’s, A Bullseye View, offers excellent clickable content to its users.










Of course, content marketing is more than great storytelling. It’s a marriage of content and data. Just as it’s important to understand your audience at the beginning, it’s crucial to evolve that understanding. Watch analytics to see what’s sticking, what’s being shared, and what your audience is saying when they share.

Which brands do you think are doing content right? Let us know in the comments below.

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15 Sep

CMD and Banner Bank Get to the Heart of the Matter: New Campaign Highlights Real People, Real Stories Approach

As a marketer, what do you do if your industry is viewed by many as a commodity? How do you craft a compelling story to reach prospective and current audiences in meaningful ways?

For CMD and Banner Bank, it’s an opportunity come calling.  With a strategy of being better rather than bigger, doing the right thing by communities and clients, and putting an emphasis on personal service, Banner’s approach flips the switch on impersonal bank stereotypes.

CMD captures the compelling stories of Banner Bank in the recent integrated marketing campaign.

CMD captures the compelling stories of Banner Bank in the recent integrated marketing campaign.

Featuring clients in a fresh, new advertising campaign and digital approach in Boise, Portland and Seattle, CMD is pulling out the stops to highlight Banner Bank’s unique “super community bank” approach. The first ads launched during the season opener of the Seahawks game, and the rollout will include print, radio, TV, digital, outdoor and transit advertising in Banner’s major markets.

“Our new marketing efforts show that for how much we’ve grown over the course of our nearly 125 year history, we’re just as committed to our local community roots,” said Dianne Larsen, senior vice president, director of marketing for Banner Bank.

Stories profiled in the ads include clients sharing how Banner Bank assisted them in helping realize a dream or provided some personal assistance toward reaching a financial goal. Banner enlisted CMD to help with everything from brand strategy and research, creative execution, media planning and buying, social media strategy and management, analytics and much more.

“It was important to us and to Banner Bank to keep the stories real – highlighting the core values that Banner Bank holds when it comes to putting people first, and how that approach helps their customers achieve their goals,” said Steve Cox, CMD creative director. “This integrated campaign effort does just that.”

For more information on Banner Bank’s unique approach, visit


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10 Sep

CMD Goes Big League with Xbox One Fantasy Football Ads, Starring Power Players

Xbox One and the NFL are bringing fantasy football to your TV like never before. And CMD is the playmaker behind the ads that are stealing the spotlight this season.

For the second year in a row, CMD has been tapped by Microsoft to create a massive campaign, promoting the partnership between Xbox One and the NFL.  With a cast that reads like a Who’s Who of future Hall of Famers, CMD produced a series of TV spots and online-digital vignettes highlighting Xbox One’s cutting-edge integration of fantasy football with live football telecasts, gaming and more.

Don’t miss CMD’s Xbox One TV spots that will be released throughout the season.

Don’t miss CMD’s Xbox One TV spots that will be released throughout the season.

With a NFL star-studded cast including Drew Brees, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Demaryius Thomas and Jimmy Graham, each player proved that they are as impressive on set as they are on the field. Each turned in amazing performances, showcasing their ability to smoothly deliver lines while also lightheartedly poking fun at themselves.

The :30 spot starring Drew Brees will run nationally on TV and other prime placements during the 2014 NFL and fantasy football season. The ad also will be featured online via digital placements, the Xbox YouTube channel and various social media outlets, along with the :60 extended version and other digital vignette yet to come.

Check out the ads here and be on the lookout for the other spots to be released throughout the season.

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28 Aug

Campaign of the Week: The Release of Western Star’s Aerodynamic New 5700 Truck

Like a well-sharpened axe, a well-planned teaser campaign knows how to make a clean cut, making a product launch announcement even more exciting.

The anticipation began building as Western Star prepared to release its newest truck model – the Western Star 5700. CMD also swung into action, creating a teaser campaign designed to generate the excitement for the new truck launch.

The teaser campaign is focused on the key elements of the truck- being both rugged and aerodynamic- using an axe as a symbol of Western Star’s heritage in logging.

Western Star releases the official teaser for the new 5700

Western Star releases the official teaser for the new 5700

With the all-new Western Star 5700 being released in September 2014, the teaser campaign is building buzz for this innovative truck that is unmatched when it comes to aerodynamics and efficiency. The CMD team also is creating a microsite, digital marketing content, print ads, banner ads and posters to target truckers and drivers to help support the launch.

The Western Star 5700 campaign is a sharp addition to CMD’s portfolio of game-changing projects.

Check out our new teaser campaign here and watch for the September launch coming soon.

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26 Aug

#TryingStuff: Columbia Sportswear & CMD Step Out of Comfort Zone with OmniTen Jordan Documentary

The new Columbia Sportswear documentary “I am #OMNITEN” is about one thing and one thing only: Trying Stuff.

Trying Stuff captures the mantra of 10 ordinary people who were selected by Columbia for a trip of a lifetime to the Kingdom of Jordan, a country the locals lovingly call “a beautiful home in a rough neighborhood.” The company sent these virtual strangers on an outdoor travel thrill ride together, where they were able to test their personal limits and kick some major firsts off their bucket lists.

Behind the scenes with the CMD crew for the making of Columbia Sportswear’s “I am #OMNITEN” documentary.

From snorkeling in the Red Sea, and journeying through the desert on camel back, to exploring ancient cities, the number of moments outside the comfort zone for the OmniTen participants were too numerous to count. So Columbia and CMD decided to capture them on film instead.

10 OmniTen adventurers. 5 film crew members. 13 days. 2.6 terabytes of footage.

The Jordan OmniTen adventure also became a Trying Stuff moment for CMD filmmaker and master editor, Pedro Peraza. Traveling with the team to capture the spirit of the OmniTen group as they explored this remote part of the world, Pedro got a chance of a lifetime to direct and edit not just the typical :30 or :60 ad or short corporate video, but a complete hour-long documentary.

It was all about pushing the boundaries from that moment on.

“This wasn’t your typical agency shoot. There was no setup, no pre-production,” said Pedro. “Everything was spontaneous. Our goal was to balance how to tell the personal stories of the participants, while not taking anything away from their journey. In the end, we sorted hundreds of hours of footage – from slow motion, time lapse, b-roll and interviews – to capture their spirit of embracing new challenges.”

Part of the thrill of the project was also working with a client that believed in the philosophy from the start. Columbia pushed CMD to not play it safe and to go far beyond the brand to focus instead on the individual OmniTen members themselves.

“This was never about making a corporate video,” said Pedro. “In fact, when we played it safe in the editing process, the client pushed us to dig deeper and take bigger risks.”

In the end, Pedro says being behind the camera inspired him just as much as the people in front of it. Whether it was hiking for 12 hours or navigating a rocky cliff, the crew undertook all of the same challenges the OmniTen participants did, often rising earlier and staying up late to try and capture those final magical moments on film.

Back at home, Pedro has been inspired to live the Trying Stuff life as well, embracing the spirit of getting outdoors to explore things he’s always wanted to see right here at home.

“Whether in making a film or living your life, the lesson for me was to not let what others think hold you back. Go out there and try. That’s when those special moments happen.”

“I Am #OMNITEN” premieres at the Columbia Flagship store in downtown Portland, Wednesday, August 27 at 5:30 p.m. Open to the public; space is limited.

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22 Aug

Inside Instagram Ads: How Social Media Advertising Paired with Relevant Images Makes for a Successful Campaign

The growth in digital and social media advertising has presented companies with a huge challenge. Strength in TV, magazines and billboards is no longer enough. Companies must now engage with customers online. They’re learning that social context takes precedence over content, and that you have to be a real person with an interesting point of view to make a lasting impression. In fact, in a recent interview with Business Insider, Instagram’s director of market operations, Jim Quires, laid out a few rules that advertisers must follow before they’ll even be considered to run a campaign.

Nearly one in five American adult smartphone owners use the Instagram app. (Photo courtesy: TIME via Getty Images)

Nearly one in five American adult smartphone owners use the Instagram app. (Photo courtesy: TIME via Getty Images)

Instagram’s goal is to make any advertisement you see feel as natural to the channel as the photos and videos you already enjoy from particular brands. In this case, relevance is key. So far, we’ve learned from brands what makes an Instagram campaign most successful:

  • Brands must begin by drawing a focus on being true to the image they’re trying to obtain. The last thing a company wants is for their campaign to feel staged. They must focus on their natural brand image and allow audiences to absorb what they’re comfortable and most familiar with.
  • Sharing meaningful experiences is critical to the success of past Instagram ad campaigns. The customer images and videos shared by brands like GoPro, Nike Running and Ben & Jerry’s are unmatched and offer a unique view into the world and lifestyle of those specific brands. Brands must remember who their audiences are and go from there to ensure relevancy.
  • Brands need to want to be eager to inspire action. Whether this is through imagery or untold stories, the ability to start a movement around a brand will set it apart from the rest.
  • Knowing the audience and finding a way to showcase a brand in a meaningful way is the key to successful messaging. The great thing about Instagram is that it offers users the ability to not only share experiences, but also understand and relate to the visually meaningful memories behind those experiences.

The introduction of advertising to Instagram was anything but inevitable. According to Time Magazine, nearly one in five American adult smartphone owners use the Instagram app. Similarly, ads continue to appear everywhere, and ad-supported products are becoming the norm. One thing is for sure – Instagram has chosen to go at a slow and steady pace, carefully choosing the first companies to enjoy its ad services. Make no mistake about it, though, they will take advantage of every opportunity they can when the time is right.

Stay tuned for more on Instagram Ads, where we’ll take a dive into the effect of ads on user experience. We’ll take a look at well-known brands rolling out advertising efforts and learn about the strategies behind them.

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18 Aug

What We’re Reading Now: Creative Advertising, Result-Driving Campaigns & 10 Ways to Measure Someone’s Social Influence

We’ve got hot new reads for your next coffee break. Here are the top social media marketing articles we love this week:

  • Cracker Jack makes a crunch that leaves an impression: Cracker Jack, the childhood munchie of choice, has found a way to capture the digitally integrated hearts of American millennial families. Jon Agee (@JonAgee) spotted this nutty read from Event Marketer featuring The Surprise Inside Project, a nationwide campaign with a mission to deliver surprises to deserving families.
  • How Facebook made a heart-stopping “thumbstopper” of a campaign: In an age where content passes quickly through news feeds, it isn’t easy to come up with a campaign that’s a “thumbstopper.” Darcie Meihoff (@DarcieMeihoff) may have stumbled upon gold after finding this New York Times article explaining how paid social campaigns are driving results for brands.
  • What you need to know about Generation Moth: Children flock to touch screens like “moths to a light.” It’s no surprise that we’re already looking into the future to see what experiences are going to be like in 4-D. Here’s a digitally rich read via Wired from Ian Bragg (@IanBragg).
  • The social influence lifecycle: Who we let influence us says a lot about who we are. Megan Krzmarzick (@Megan_krz) dug up a piece from Social Media Today about the 10 ways to measure someone’s influence.
  • The future of choosy Facebook ads: Ever heard of “dayparting?” Soon, you’ll be able to choose which times of the day to advertise, and eliminate the times you don’t. Thanks to Laura Lundberg (@Laulundberg) we’ve got the scoop on Jon Loomer’s take on the hot advancement in Facebooks ads.


WWRN Choosy Facebook Ads | CMD Blog

Laura Lundberg (@Laulundberg) reads up on the Digital Marketing trends this week, including new dayparting capabilities on Facebook Ads.

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5 Aug

CMD Tool Review: Opal Moments

Just when we all thought we nailed time management, savvy new tech tools pulled a fast one on us. The folks at Opal, a Portland, Oregon-based startup company, came up with a concept that brings some welcomed sophistication to the editorial content calendar process.

Opal Moments is a social enterprise app designed to take the scrambling out of content planning. It keeps a brand’s content organized and serves as a versatile management tool to best leverage content and tell stories across multiple social media channels. Opal also enables teams to plan social content and work in real-time together on a cloud-based platform — saving time and adding efficiency and effectiveness to the process.

CMD’s Earned Media team recently adopted Opal for a global Microsoft program, where content marketing across geos and business groups is an ongoing challenge.  Some of our favorite Opal features include the in-task collaborating tool and the ability to track changes live.

Opal makes it easy to open chat within active tasks and alerts the user when actions are needed

Opal makes it easy to open chat within active tasks and alerts the user when actions are needed.

For example, if a coworker is editing a task, they can easily open chat within the document to give suggestions and feedback in real-time. Having the ability to chat within projects saves time and eliminates delays by allowing teams to work in parallel.

Opal Moments - Content Marketing

The calendar feature enables the user to see what tasks are mapped out daily, weekly and monthly.

Another useful feature is the ability to collaboratively brainstorm and map out content campaigns, promotions and events to create consistent narratives for each. Anyone using the tool can see what other team members are working on and when, so tasks never overlap, which uses less time and leaves more room for productivity.

Opal is a subscription-based service, and in our opinion, best for larger brands with multiple content and social initiatives to organize and manage. That said, the time and frustration it can save as part of the editorial planning process can offset the annual investment in a hurry.

Check out some of the additional features Opal offers that might help you solve your own content planning and management issues. Opal is just one example of some of the great new tools that are emerging in the content mapping space — what others do you rely on?

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