Category: #Advice

Our University of Colorado Leeds School of Business Corporate Social Responsibility class took a road trip last week. Where? To two of the biggest brewers in our state, Odell Brewing and New Belgium Brewing Company. Why you ask? To taste beer of course. And hear about their corporate social responsibility initiatives. What did we learn?

  1. Marshmallows make a really easy, cost-effective sustainable holiday decoration.


2. The bathroom is always an excellent place to tell your CSR story.

3. That having a good culture, rooted in CSR values makes everyone smile.

Besides learning about the sustainability practices at the brewery (cans versus bottles, etc.), we also learned about HR and governance and what roles CSR plays in those departments. Best part? Seeing the cultures and brands that believe in businesses as a force for good. And oh yeah, getting a chance to taste a few of the newest brews out this winter. If sour is your thing, try the Odell Friek. I still have a soft spot for the top-seller 90 Shilling Ale.

Curious about CSR and what it involves for your business? Give me a shout (303-893-8608 ext. 202). We’d love to put our CSR education and experience to work.

Interested in going back to school for CSR? Now’s the time to enroll in the winter semester. Don’t wait too long, the application is due ASAP.

Yesterday, we attended the CREJ Hotel & Resort Summit & Expo with 300+ other people in the industry. What did we learn?

CREJ's Hotel & Resort SummitThe good and the bad: the hotel and real estate industry is still growing at record-setting pace but it’s starting to level off.

With 55 hotels in the Denver pipeline (1,686 rooms in the final planning stage) and another 1,519 in construction, the hotel landscape in Denver is changing…quickly. According to STR, research shows that the number of hotel rooms in Denver will grow by 65 percent over last year making it one of the top three U.S. Markets under construction in overall room supply (behind Las Vegas and Dallas). The room demand for the Denver market is predicted to decline by -2.5 percent. That means Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) is predicted to also decline by -2.7 percent. The highest RevPAR will be in the Center Business District of Denver.

STR Report Shows Denver Hotels in Top 3.

With our Scream Agency offices in LoDo Denver and only a block from Union Station, we know the hotel landscape is changing (along with all the new breweries and restaurants) because we see it everyday.

So what does all of this mean for hotel brands and marketers? It means you better figure out a way to differentiate and market so you stand out from all the competitors.

How does marketing affect room bookings?

With the growth of the Millennials, and Gen Z following right behind them, hotel brand marketers will need to focus on the experience. Similar to the independent-seeking Gen X crowd, this cohort of people prefer unique experiences catered to their personality (and delivered in their social channels).

If you’re a hotel or resort brand, ask yourself…what is your unique experience that you provide guests? Do you offer a local craft beer tasting at check-in? Do you offer to walk their dog for free upon arrival? Will you give them information so they can “live like a local” as Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has done?

Let’s look at how top brands are performing in these social marketing channels. Technology and data company Engagement Labs, released rankings on the top U.S. hotels on social media and through word of mouth (WOM) conversations.

Engagement Labs Findings on Social Marketers

Engagement Labs Findings on Top 10 Social Marketers

As we all know, research shows that travelers are turning to social media now more than ever to discover various options, reviews and receive recommendations on where to stay during trips. It’s prime time for hotel brands to use social media to provide a story and visuals about what makes their property unique and why travelers should buy.

Hotel brands that build a two-way communication with guests build trust with the consumer, thereby making them a hotel they’d prefer to book. Provided you deliver on the experience, this in turn will then allow them to share in their channels, introducing your brand to more consumers who will eventually affect your bottom line.

Interested in knowing more about hotel marketing and branding? Scream Agency has worked with Four Seasons, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and several small independent boutique brands. Contact for a free 60-minute hotel marketing consult.

Several years ago, Scream Agency had the wonderful opportunity to work with Gretchen Gagel when she was the President and CEO of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado (WFCO). We watched as she fearlessly led the organization to triple its grantmaking capacity and double the endowment including an 18-month, $12 million campaign, as well as significant successes in research and public policy reform.

8 Steps_3D_Cover

As WFCO’s PR, digital and creative agency, we assisted in crafting the message, creating 6-foot-high big red purses that traveled the state for the “Fill the Purse” campaign, and collaborating on brand strategy. Our work was continually supported by Gagel as we navigated this territory for women on the path to economic self sufficiency.

We knew back then that Gretchen was unstoppable. In addition to raising two extremely talented children, she has held positions of leadership for the Women’s Funding Network, Daniels College of Business and now President of Continuum Advisory Group.

But being a successful leader and a mom wasn’t enough. She wanted other women and moms to learn from her journey. In the past few years, she’s worked with a handful of other working moms (including me) to interview them and put their stories and tips in a her first book: 8 Steps to Being a Great Working Mom. This mother’s day, we hope this book gives you a chance to laugh, learn, reflect and be inspired. Congrats Gretchen and thanks for all of your support over the years!

The book is available on Amazon and locally in Colorado at Tattered Cover Bookstores. #greatworkingmoms

Maybe your inbox is full of them. Maybe you’re trying to figure out how to draft one to that potential lead.

Regardless, we all know it well…the dreaded followup email. The approach is, obviously, necessary in business but they can be so painful. I know on the PR side of the house, it’s part of my day-to-day, staying on top of media contacts to make sure I don’t miss any potential opportunities for my clients. It feels like walking a fine line, between being persistent and professional without being a pest with risk of losing the lead or opportunity.

The fine folks over at HubSpot recently published this article and we wanted to share a few of our favorites with you. Hopefully in time for you to edit that followup email one last time before pressing send.

  • Send them a short piece of actionable advice (i.e. “I saw this event coming up and thought of your brand. Here is a link to tickets – hope to see you there!”).
  • Share an article relevant to their industry or profession (this is a personal favorite approach for PR – I saw this piece in the NYT and thought of the Denver spin for it featuring xx, xx, xx and my client 😉 ).
  • Reference a relevant blog post they just published.
  • Invite them to an upcoming webinar or educational event your company is hosting (not hosting a relevant event? create one!).
  • Send a “Did email get buried” email (so relevant, again, for the PR world if you’ve ever seen an editor’s inbox).

Have an idea for a great approach to followup? Leave it in the comments section and we’ll follow up (pun intended).


As we’re all aware by now, Facebook released it’s five reaction buttons last month. Now, in addition to the like button, you can express your feelings via love, haha, wow, sad or angry reactions. The debut of these reaction buttons was Facebook’s answer to the demanded DISLIKE buttons which involved too much risk in presenting such a negative approach to posts. The happy medium? Give people more options to “communicate” how a specific post makes them feel.

When it comes to social media marketing, what do these reaction buttons mean for your business?

Embrace the engagement. Engagement is always a struggle when it comes to social so by giving people a way to react to something that is more than just a “like” we’ll be able to move the needle a bit more and have a better understanding of what consumers are looking for and wanting to see in social content. Let’s say your website is down and you’re trying to communicate that it’ll be up back soon and running. As a result, this post has a majority of angry or sad reactions and although less ideal than a “like” or a “love” – it’s likely to cut the negative clutter in your comment section since consumers now have a simplified way of expressing their opinion.

Use reactions to your advantage. The reaction buttons also allow brands and their social media managers to get a better feel (pun intended) on how customers are consuming the content and provides another platform for interaction and engagement with your audience. Insights are currently pulling the reactions for reporting tools. Use this platform to your advantage by using your social audience as a virtual focus group. Test a new tagline or share a product in the development stage and watch the reactions roll in. Just be prepared for all possible reactions and use them to your advantage to learn from and better your approach.

Knowledge is (advertising) power. Aside from giving us more actions to show how we feel, the reaction buttons will likely be used for data for advertisers on the social site. The more data the platform can use about how you “feel” about something, the more information they have to figure out what to feed you up in sponsored posts.

Today, March 8th, 2016, we celebrate International Women’s Day. A day set aside to highlight and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Though it’s great to see social feeds and trending topics featuring the accomplishments of women on this one day, I personally don’t think it’s enough.

We are obsessed with placing special significance on select days on the calendar. Though the majority of days are significant in remembrance of a particular event or set aside to celebrate an individual’s life achievements, pulling March 8th out of a hat and saying that “Today we’ll celebrate all women’s achievements” feels disingenuous.

I come from of a strong family. Each individual is ambitious, steadfast, charismatic, business savvy, patient…and I’m just referring to the women. I am the proud product of strong women and I see a lot of them in me. My mother’s creative brain and business acumen. My grandmother’s (both) strength, energy, drive and passion for life and family. My sister’s entrepreneurial spirit, athletic prowess and unwavering self confidence. My cousins, my girlfriend, my friends… I wish I could say that I am half the women they are.

This brings me to the core of this article.

I have the great privilege to work with all women here at Scream Agency. Each one of my colleagues is a master of their profession. They are on top of their game and they bring it every single day. There is no way that I could celebrate all they do for this company, our clients, or for me, especially in one 24 hour period. They provide direction, strength, guidance, support and inspiration, not to me, but to the work that we create together. I’m truly grateful for their contribution and they are vital to Scream Agency’s continued success.

I challenge you the reader to take a walk today and think of the women who have shaped you into the successful person that you are today. Have you thanked them? Do they feel important? I hope those women that have inspired me feel proud to read this and know that I am grateful for their ongoing guidance and inspiration.

Truly, thank you!

Gem McLaughlin

Date: Want to hear about how to use LinkedIn for your business? Attend the Turnaround Management Association luncheon on 10/22/15. Scream Agency team members will be presenting. 

During the luncheon, you will learn how to enhance your LinkedIn business profile and expand your network of connections using LinkedIn. Attendees will learn:

  • How LinkedIn fits into the social landscape
  • How to Integrate LinkedIn within an overall strategy
  • How to get the most out of LinkedIn based on your goals

This session will be interactive and led by experts, however participants will range in experience with social media.

Event Details: Rocky Mountain TMA Chapter

Chapter Luncheon: Using LinkedIn to Build your Business

Scream Agency Facilitators: Lora Ledermann and Amy Mikkola, Scream Agency

Date: Thursday, October 22, 2015 – Thursday, October 22, 2015

Time: 11:00 AM – 1:30 PM MST

Maggianos Restaurant, 500 16th Street Denver, CO United States

Register Now!

The profile picture of your social channels is the most valuable advertising space for your brand. Are you using it correctly?

Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts to make sure that you’re taking full advantage of this coveted space:

1. DO – Use your logo as your profile picture. The profile picture sits next to every post, tweet, comment, like…everything that you do on your social channels. Make sure you maximize the exposure of your brand.

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 8.55.21 AM

2. DO – Make sure the logo you use is legible in the static state. Typical profile picture size is 160px x 160px. Even better, make sure it’s legible at the thumbnail size of 42px x 42px.  If you have a logo that is really long, stack it. If it can’t be stacked, focus on the key elements of the logo. This will provide a clean look throughout.

A photo posted by Scream Agency (@screamagency) on

3. DO – Use color. Use the color version of your logo. Have fun with the background color and be aware of the white border. It will always be there.

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 8.57.34 AM

4. DON’T be scared to change your logo if it’s not working. A brand refresh is healthy and can work wonders for a brand. Look at the LA Clippers re-brand.


A photo posted by LA Clippers (@laclippers) on

5. DON’T put everything and the kitchen sink on your profile picture. URLs, addresses, phone numbers, etc. These items should live on your page and potentially in the comment of your profile picture. People on these social networks still want to feel like they are interaction with your brand organically.

6. DO – Let your logo breathe in the box. Make sure there is a border around your logo that makes sense in the space. Images that are too close to the edges seem to be swished in the frame.

7. DO – Change your cover, banner and background images frequently. This will make the use feel as though they are getting an updated experience from your brand every month that they visit your site.

8. DO – Have fun with it. Why not?

If you have questions give us a call. We can help. 303-893-8608

All around the world, teams are gathering this week to prepare for one of the largest creative problem-solving competitions on the globe — Destination Imagination (DI) Global Finals in Knoxville, Tenn. This four-day DI event is the world’s largest celebration of creativity. More than 8,000 of the world’s most innovative minds compete in teams to showcase their challenge solutions, celebrate creativity and have fun. From engineering and robotics, to storytelling and artistic performances, students will present solutions that they’ve created on their own (without the interference or ideas from adults).

Instant Challenge at work.

Instant Challenge at work.

Being a DI team manager for the past five years, I’ve re-learned some of the basic skills of how to put the creative mind to work. How do we let our brains run free? What makes a story sticky? How can we create a solution that is original for a brand? All valuable exercises to push our brains to explore. Whether we’re charged with writing a marketing plan or solving a digital branding challenge, we can apply the basics of DI.

At Scream Agency, we recently gave the DI thinking a whirl. The challenge: to create a kite out of the materials provided and tell a story of what the kite could see from its point of view. Both needed to be created and integrated in 5 minutes or less. We saw aliens from a foreign planet, a hand-drawn tree landscape scene, an original team-created kite made out of straws, string and paperclips and lots of laughter. And, more importantly, we saw teamwork.


And we're flying!

And we’re flying!

Curious to learn more? We’d be happy to share some of our creative brainstorming techniques or DI experiences. Just give us a shout.

Congrats to all of the Colorado DI teams who will be competing at Global Finals this week. Wish us luck!

Creativity to Infinity team off to 2015 DI Global Finals.

Creativity to Infinity team off to 2015 DI Global Finals.

This Sunday, March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD), an important day to celebrate women’s social, economic and political achievements. It calls for greater awareness and change for women’s equality, for more women in senior leadership roles and for growth of women-owned businesses. This year’s theme: #MakeItHappen.

International Women's Day is March 8As the owner and creative director of Scream Agency, a woman-owned agency for 18+ years, I know running a business is no easy task, especially as a woman in the creative field. In honor of IWD, I’d like to celebrate the creative woman and make a quick pledge for change.

The whole idea of change for women’s equality in the creative world came to light when I recently attended a conference called the 3 percent Conference. Thank you Kat Gordon! The 3% Conference is an organization of agencies, brands and individuals committed to increasing female creative leadership. Why the 3%? Because until just a few years ago, ONLY 3% of creative directors were women. How could that be the case? Women control the majority of the consumer spending and social sharing. Women are creative. So why wouldn’t we have more than 3% of women in creative director titles coming up with the creative ideas? We should and we will #MakeItHappen, #IWD2015.

Take the pledge to support a creative woman in 2015. Here’s just one way to provide support:

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