Perspective from Double Forte Public Relations and Marketing



Five Tips for Planning an Influencer Event

By Emily Greenberg

Hosting an influencer* event is a great way to bring a company culture to life and introduce a brand to an audience in a simple and shareable format. Plus, influencer events are an effective way to generate content that can extend beyond the activity and reach a larger audience. Below are five suggestions to keep in mind when planning an influencer event for your client.

  1. Authenticity is key. Avoid the inevitable pressure of renting out the trendy new bar, or gifting people with extravagant swag in order to lure them to join. Stay true to your brand and host an event that will highlight and compliment the culture of the company. You can do this by partnering with another likeminded influencer or business to act as host, or lead an activity, by finding a venue that enhances your brand message, and by inviting influencers and guests to take part in an activity that showcases the brand ethos.
  2. Quality, not quantity. Identifying the right people to attend your event takes time. Like, a lot of time. You may have a group of influencers in mind already, or in some cases, you might be hosting an event to introduce your brand or product to a new group of influential people. In either case, invest the time upfront in researching the appropriate attendees. There is no designated method to the madness – cross check your target invite list by researching Instagram, Twitter and blogs. You’ll get a real feel for who people are and what they stand for by looking at social feeds. Tap into the people that follow your client: who are they following and liking? Who do they interact with, what do they comment on? Chances are, you can find a great group of influential people right at your fingertips with a little social sleuthing.
  3. Over prepare, but don’t overprescribe. With any event, all good publicists know to anticipate and strategize for all sorts of scenarios and possibilities. Have a rain plan, bring extra pens, prepare for tough questions. Yes, yes, yes to all of that! But for an influencer event don’t overprescribe the message. This links back to the idea of authenticity. There is a time and a place for scripted messaging. Board meetings. National broadcast interviews. Tradeshows. But influencer events can, and should, be a little more casual – it’s about creating an ongoing dialogue, rather than delivering a specific pitch.  Prepare speaking guidelines and have an intimate understanding of what message needs to be delivered, but don’t feel like you have to stick to a script.
  4. Have a clear goal, and map towards it. What is your client’s goal for throwing the event? Is it to connect with the local community? If so, focus your outreach and guest list on local influencers. Perhaps your client’s aim is to align with a business that shares the same values. If so, be sure to explore an ongoing partnership with the host or vendor you are working with. Discuss various cross-promotions to build awareness over an extended period of time. What does success look like? Most influencer events allow for guests to share their experience in real-time on their social channels. So don’t be shy about promoting the designated hashtag and politely encouraging attendees to share their experience and photos online with that hashtag.
  5. Be a good pen pal. Relationships need to be nurtured. With any media or influencer relations, remember to continue the conversation after the event. Thank each attendee for the great post or tweet. Respond to their posts to keep the engagement and momentum going. Provide them with additional images from the event, or more products and information about the company. Offer to do something again soon, and be a resource for them, just as they are for you!

*Influencers are individuals that may or may not be aware of your company, but may be associated with an audience segment that is important to your business. Influencers can be journalists, bloggers, industry analysts, likeminded business professionals, celebrities, individual brand advocates and/or super-fans.


Meet Emily:

What’s your favorite thing about living in San Francisco?

Emily: I love the accessibility to great hikes, scenic views, secret fishing holes… Essentially, my favorite thing about living in San Francisco is everything outside of city proper. J

What is a skill you’d like to learn and why?

I’ve always been drawn to astrology – and astronomy for that matter. There are so many stories in the stars. I’d like to tell some of those tales.

What’s your favorite quote?

It’s a long passage from Christian D. Larson. I’ll paraphrase, but encourage everyone to give it a full read.  “…give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.”

What Would You Do If Failure Wasn’t An Option?

William Van Horne Quote

Written by Duncan Lowe

All eyes were on Joe Kowalke, our senior account manager, as he stood in front of a semi-circle of Double Forte employees. “What would you do if failure wasn’t an option?” he said, repeating the question twice to emphasize its gravity.

Every Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. Double Forte ends our internal staff meeting with a Rally Cry. The format is simple. One person poses a question and each staff member has a few minutes to respond. It’s an opportunity to connect with the people we work with on a daily basis. Until recently I had no idea that Brian listens to Arabic music when he needs to focus or that Emily appeared in a Bloomingdale’s Christmas catalogue.

The majority of our Rally Cry’s are light hearted and playful – highlighting personal tastes and opinions. What’s your favorite part of fall? Favorite weekend activity? Best place to watch fireworks for July 4th? But today Joe had steered the office in a different direction. He’s a smart dude and has a knack for asking insightful questions: “What would you do if failure wasn’t an option?”

At first the room went quiet – bypassing fear is a personal subject. But one by one, people began to share their ambitions and long term goals. “I want to open and run my own winery,” said Melanie. “I want to travel and write about the different cultures I encounter.” said someone else. “I’d love to do PR for an ice cream brand.”

We discussed side projects that we wanted to bring to life and dream clients that complimented our personal lifestyles. But even though Joe had assured us that failure wasn’t an option, there were still hints of self doubt. The majority of answers ended with: But I don’t have the time. But I don’t have the resources. But I don’t have any connections at that company. Basically, we hadn’t totally accepted Joe’s premise and were still quite afraid of failing.

Suddenly it was Lee Caraher’s turn. Our CEO and fearless leader told us that she had always dreamed of running her own business. Although failure certainly was an option, she had forged ahead. “And look around you,” she continued. “Here we are. So if you know a business that you dream of working with or need to find time to write your first novel, come talk to me. We’ll work something out. We want to support your goals and ambitions in whatever way possible.” Our staff stood in contemplative silence, suddenly considering how accessible “pipe-dreams” could be. Daunting sure, but definitely possible with the support and encouragement of our colleagues and CEO.

After the meeting I thought about Lee’s declaration of support. And it began to make a lot of sense. In fact, there’s been some recent media attention about Facebook’s Co-Founder, Dustin Moskovitz, article on in which he criticized the relentless and exhaustive work environment that’s prevalent at many top tech companies. His main criticism? That a back-breaking, stress-inducing work environment is clearly not sustainable in the long term: “Fundamentally, this is a familiar part of tech culture: at high performing companies, employees work extremely hard, to an extent that is unsustainable for most people. But it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Double Forte works hard. Believe me – ask any of our clients. But unlike many businesses that are set up to squeeze productivity out of people like juicing an orange, Double Forte is a place that encourages a healthy work-life balance and supports the passions and interests of its employees. As a result, its employees take pride in producing the highest quality work, allowing the business to flourish.

So when our CEO told us that Double Forte supported our aspirations and goals, we all genuinely believed her. And for the rest of the day, our staff was instilled with a feeling of invincibility. I spent my lunch break wolfing down a burrito while also jotting down notes for a potential blog post and later researched a company I’ve always wanted to pitch. And personally, I think Joe’s exercise of imagining “what you would you do if fear wasn’t an option” is extremely valuable because you never know, it may become a reality.


Meet Duncan Lowe

  • What’s your favorite thing to do in San Francisco? It’s a tie between eating breakfast at The Bean Bag Café on Divisadero Street and surfing at Ocean Beach after work. Ideally, I accomplish both in the same day.
  • What artist/song is currently on repeat on your iPhone? I can be a music snob sometimes so I wanted to dislike the new Weekend song, “Can’t Feel My Face.” But I love it. It’s so catchy.
  • If you were stranded on an island, what is one thing you can’t live without? Music. While searching the island for coconuts and fresh water, I would need access to my Spotify playlists. Can’t live without them!

Two Guys Walk Into a Bar… and Learn Something New About SEO?

written by Duncan Lowe

Assorted Beers in a Flight Ready for Tasting

A few weeks ago I was standing at a bar on Divisadero street discussing SEO with a friend – not my typical Friday night. “SEO is dead!” he shouted. My friend had consumed a few IPA’s so I took what he said with a grain of salt. I didn’t believe that SEO would ever be irrelevant but our conversation stuck with me for most of the weekend.

On Monday morning I immediately consulted Liz O’Donnell about my friends over-zealous claim. Liz is our in house expert for SEO and all things digital and as a Boston local, is a straight-shooter. “Is SEO really dead?” I asked her. “Definitely not,” she answered. But she’d noticed a few recent articles about Google updating its page ranking metrics. She forwarded the articles my way and here’s what I discovered:

Google’s search engine exists for one reason – to connect people with information. It’s really that simple. The more effective Google is at connecting users with relevant information, the better the user-experience and ultimately the more people will trust Google as a search tool. Because self-publishing has become so prevalent, there’s a superfluous amount of information all over the web, making it increasingly more important for Google to be able to sort the good from the bad and feature the most quality results at the top of the page.

Why does Google’s search engine matter? Because in the U.S., users conduct over 12 billion web searches a month and out of those 12 billion searches, 33% of total users click on Google’s top ranked search result – meaning Google page ranking is extremely relevant when it comes to connecting people with businesses and brands.

Maybe this is common knowledge – so why the blog post? Because Google recently updated its algorithm for ranking websites. Dubbed the “The Phantom Update” by digital experts, Google activated the update without announcing it publicly and still hasn’t released specific details about the change. However, Google made one thing clear – the updated logarithm reflects Google’s growing emphasis on quality content.

But isn’t quality content a subjective assessment? Great question but not the time to indulge in a philosophical debate. For now, we should consider the following criteria when creating content for a web site:

–         Are you producing original content? Or just repurposing what’s already out there?

–         Clean up your page! Avoid clutter and anything that detracts from the user-experience.

–         “Keep focusing on building out a better web site, aimed at your users and overall quality.” – Barry Schwartz

–         Avoid ads above the fold and popups, self-starting videos, duplicate content, thin content and poor design.

More than ever before, Google will prioritize web sites designed to give users a positive experience. Any site that continues to post thin content, or sites littered with pop-up ads and self-starting videos, will see tangible results from Google’s quality update. Search Metrics has already reported that sites like, Rotten Tomatoes, and have experienced lower page rankings on Google.

In my opinion it is a bit frightening to recognize that Google can quietly change its algorithm and cause tangible changes in web hierarchy and website traffic. But despite a recent logo change, Google is not undergoing a re-brand. Since Google’s first iteration in 2000, the company has prioritized quality results and stayed constant to its mission –  connecting users with relevant content. What has changed? By updating their algorithm, Google can link users with relevant results with greater efficiency and accuracy.

So, no SEO is not dead. Far from it. It’s still important to pay attention to keywords, hyperlinks and other tools for making sure that users can find your website. But is it possible that Google’s recent update signals a collective re-prioritization might be taking place online where SEO matters less and quality is king? Potentially. For now, start worrying less about how people will find your website and start investing more time creating fresh, original content. You accomplish this and Google will be your friend.


–         The Content Strategist

–         How Google’s Algorithms Are Making SEO Seriously Simple

–         Return of the Phantom: Google’s Phantom II Update

Throwing a Theme Party: 5 Steps to Take Your Event From Basic to Basically Fabulous


Some people theme, some people don’t. If you want to plan a theme party but don’t know where to start, here are five steps to help you theme your way to a successful celebration. These steps are fairly simple, but require a little bit of leg work. No good theme party ever came easy, people…Sav Blog photo Pumpkin Dinner Party

  1. List it- Don’t just head to your neighborhood craft store with an idea and start grabbing silly nick knacks off the shelf. This leads to a discombobulated presentation, and even worse, a lot of money wasted. Create a list of musts (based off of hours of endless Pinterest browsing), get those first, and grab three extra items that work with the theme, but weren’t on your list (you can have a little fun with this).
  2. Craft it- Now, don’t go too crazy with this one. Simple crafts are often the cutest, and less can be more if you do it right. Bedazzling an entire mason jar is probably not the best use of your time. And if it is, we have bigger problems. Mason jars wrapped in ribbon and stuffed with flower arrangements, glitter wine bottles for centerpieces, cute chalkboard signs… These are inexpensive and easy crafts that can take your party from tacky to classy in a jiff.
  3. Browse it- Online shopping is a great way to get party supplies on sale, and if you order in bulk, shipping is often free. Convenient, less expensive, and you don’t have to get out of your sweatpants… ummm, yes please.
  4. Reuse and Repurpose- This. Is. Clutch. Reusing theme party staples can save a ton of time and money. This can be antique picture frames you use for fun signs, mason jars for a cocktail bar or as table arrangements, artificial flower arrangements to add a pop of color. Keep a storage bin with all of these reusable items and add to it as you go!
  5. Hit the thrift- Don’t be scared, it’s actually pretty fun to find bargains and unexpected party items at a quarter of the cost. Linens, fancy antique serving dishes, wine glasses, table clothes, frames…the possibilities are endless, and this is a sure way to guarantee your party is unique and your own.

So there you have it, the five steps to take your party from basic to basically fabulous. Happy theming! – Savannah McBride


Meet Savannah

Q. What does your life say about you? A. Looking at my life, I think one quote describes the gist of it, “Stop wishing. Start doing.” I’ve never been one to wait on fulfilling my dreams and goals, or hold out on taking chances and adventures. Once I have my mind set on something, I’m focused on it (some may even call it obsessed). So far, living by this motto has done me well. I’ve earned, learned and experienced many amazing things.

Q. What has been your career highlight, so far? A. Landing a top 5 finalist spot on Good Morning America in its “5-Alarm Firefighter Contest”. It was a random, last-minute entry of a music video with a client at the time, the Las Vegas Firefighters. It was awesome to see work that I was a part of on national. Plus it was a super fun video shoot, followed by an after-party in downtown Vegas. PR life at its finest!

Q. What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco (so far)? A. My favorite thing is that there is always something different to do here. Whether it’s a festival, outdoor adventure, checking out a new restaurant/bar, sporting event, or enjoying the city culture. I don’t think you could ever get bored living in a place like this. The city life is definitely challenging at times, but the rewards of the environment are worth a million muni mishaps. 😉

Q. Favorite thing to do in San Francisco. A. My favorite thing to do is explore. I love checking out new hidden city gems, outside cities and the bar/restaurant scene. Second to that is Giants games – the bleachers, beer, friends and a ballgame. It doesn’t get much better, that is until football season starts.

All the Annoying

I haz a sad. I haz all the sads. The way “social speak” is infiltrating our language so makes me crazy. Because, irritating. I so don’t understand how this happened. When did it become okay to put “so” in front of verbs? Annoying. All the annoying. It’s been a minute since you annoyed me Internet. Or shall I call you interwebs? This. Annoying This. Is. Everything. Maybe we have no chill but you’re my bae, and I can tell you how I really feel, right? I miss grammar. And sentences. Full on subject and predicate, with a modifier thrown in, sentences. I mean sentences are awesomeness. All the awesomeness. I understand language evolves. I so do. We’re a multigenerational agency here at Double Forte; we pride ourselves on valuing each generation’s unique qualities. #yolo. We think it’s swell, groovy, rad. It’s wicked pissa, in fact. (We value regionalisms too.) It’s just that some of our speech patterns have become wack. Amirite? Anyway, do you think this post will go viral? Could it break the Internet? Or will it win the Internet? Is there a difference? Whatevs. I’ll tell you what: if, this post wins the Internet it will be everything. Because, Friday. Okay ttyl. I am trying to figure out how to take a selfie of my selfie stick. All the love! You are awesomeness. Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 7.13.12 PM

Build a Business Blogging Strategy: 9 Tips

3D rendering of a forming puzzle with the word Blog

A company’s blog, hosted on a its own website, is the heart of all its content marketing efforts. Publishing an article is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your business leading to more sales, establishing you as a leading authority in the industry and giving you a chance to broaden your reach. Plus, it’s great for search engine optimization (SEO). Below are 9 recommendations for developing a business blogging strategy:

1) Look at the big picture.

Your customers (and potential customers) are your readers, so write for them. Your blog posts should focus on solving their business problems – what information are they searching for, what frustrations do they have, what are they struggling with?

Create interesting content that isn’t directly related to your product, but craft articles that provide real value for your readers, gives them new, useful knowledge and help them take action. This will help you be seen as an expert in your industry and it’s a really simple way to attract traffic through social media and SEO. If your content is valuable, your readers will share it and Google will rank it at the top of its search results.

2) Choose a catchy headline.

Out of all the people who read your headline, only 20 percent will read your post. A modern online article headline is tricky – it needs to be SEO keyword friendly, but also should be unique and creative. The end result needs to be a super clickable, irresistible headline. To get you started on a hit title, here are a few go-to templates:

  • How to
  • X Ways to
  • Little Known Ways to
  • X Reasons You Should
  • Here’s the Quick and Simple Way to
  • The Secret of
  • What Everybody Should Know About
  • Do You Wish                        ?
  • The Most Effective Way to Get

Here are some keywords to get you started:

  • Reasons
  • Ways
  • Tips
  • Ideas
  • Tricks
  • Secrets
  • Statistics
  • Methods
  • Techniques
  • Strategies
  • Facts

If you want your headline to look appealing in Google and prevent it from being cut off, make sure your headline stays under 70 characters.

Finally, address readers in second person. While writing in second person is awkward, it’s the perfect form for headline writing and immediately grabs the attention of readers by calling them out.

3) Write an intro (and make it captivating).

If you lose the reader in the first paragraph, they’ll stop reading even before they’ve given your post a fair shake. You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Tell a story or a joke.
  • Share an interesting industry fact or statistic.
  • Empathize with your reader and tell him/her that he/she is not the only one struggling with a specific problem.
  • Promise your reader your advice will make his/her life better.
  • Reassure your reader that your tips are easy—everyone loves shortcuts, simple tricks and straightforward formulas.
  • Then focus on equipping your target market with useful content. That’s how you build a relevant following—and it’s key to creating a community of new customers.

4) Remember, content is king/context is queen!

To create a must-read blog, you need to stand for something. You need to become an inspiring and motivating authority in your field. Write about what you already know, and if necessary, do additional research to gather more information, examples and data to back up your points. The key to a successful business blog is to provide your readers with valuable content and problem-solving ideas. It’s a way of establishing your business website as a leading authority in your industry. A few additional recommendations:

  • Quote industry experts in your posts. It shows you know your field.
  • Avoid jargon. Explain your ideas in simple words.
  • Use examples and case studies. This will show your in-depth understanding of a topic, and they liven up your content. 
  • What is the ideal length for a blog post? It’s about 6-7 minutes of reading, which is equivalent to 1,000- 1,500 words.

5) Show, and tell.

As social networks treat content with images more prominently, visuals are now more responsible than ever for the success of your business blog. Make sure you choose a visually appealing and relevant image for your post. Photos, graphs, infographics and videos have the power to communicate in a different, more instant, way than words. Images draw an audience in and provide an additional point of interest to your posts.

6) Declare a call-to-action.

Inspire your readers with your final paragraph. At the end of every blog post, you should have a “Call-to-Action” (CTA) that indicates what you want the reader to do next – implement your ideas, subscribe to your blog, download an ebook, register for a webinar or event, read a related article, etc.

Typically, you think about the CTA being beneficial for the marketer. Your visitors read your blog post, they click on the CTA, and eventually you generate a lead. However, the CTA is also a valuable resource for the person reading your content — use your CTAs to offer more content similar to the subject of the post they just finished reading.

7) Grow your audience.

Links are the lifeblood of the internet, so make it easy for your readers to share your blog. The easiest way to do this is by using share icons. These are social networking icons that make it easy for people to share your post and consequently, drive traffic and potential sales to your website. Hook up your blog with your social networks so that people can easily share your content.

The below tactics can additionally help increase your readership:

  • Start an email list. Over time, your email list will probably drive the most traffic to your blog.
  • Optimize your content for SEO discovery and conversion.
  • Invite guest bloggers to help grow your audience. This is the quickest way to raise your profile and gain an audience.
  • Invite employees to read and interact with you in your blog comments section. It’s a great way to increase your blog engagement and also helps empower employees to share ideas that they might not have otherwise.

8) Build an editorial calendar.

Develop and stick to a publishing schedule. An editorial calendar will help you stay focused. Be sure to plan it so that it works for you and for your readers. Don’t overstretch yourself. You don’t have to publish daily.

When scheduling posts, be sure to balance out your topics to make it more varied and interesting for your audience. It can take months to build a loyal base of readers when you create a blog. Plan to make business blogging a regular part of your communication strategy for at least a year.

9) Stick with it.

Blog audiences don’t grow overnight. Consistency, quality and volume are the name of the game. Commit to your blog for the long term and you will see the rewards.

Ready to start blogging? Ask us about our business blogging program.

Are Buyer Personas Really Useful?

Funny_disguise_maskSo often we are asked if buyer personas are really useful. The answer is yes, and no.

Developing a useful buyer persona is critical to an effective marketing program. After all, if you don’t know who your customer is then how in the world can you connect with them? But when your buyer personas are poorly developed, or they are carefully developed but never used, then no, they are of little value.

Here are the dos and don’ts of developing a highly effective buyer persona – one you will use every day.

Do focus on what matters. Details matter when developing a buying persona, but don’t be ridiculous. Don’t waste precious time arguing over whether or not to name your persona Audrey vs. Aubrey. Don’t worry about whether or not Aubrey owns a dog (unless you’re marketing pet-related products or services, in which case that information is critical). Do think about what Aubrey’s goals are – at work if you’re marketing business products, and at home if you’re marketing consumer products.

Don’t stop at the description. Ineffective buyer personas are those that end with the description of the target customer. It’s not enough to know that Aubrey is a woman in her mid-30s, working in middle management, married with 2.5 kids and living in Florida. Effective personas go beyond the who, what and where and answer the how and the why. How can your brand help Aubrey and why would Aubrey choose you? Effective buyer personas get inside your customer’s head.

Don’t fabricate your personas. Not every brand has budget set aside for market research and some brands are hindered in persona development by a lack of existing clients from which they can create personas. If that’s the case, reallocate some marketing dollars toward customer research. It will be more effective to do less marketing to the right targets rather than more marketing to the wrong audience. No customers? No problem. Hold focus groups. Sponsor surveys. Whether you have an extensive customer database or you’re just starting out, you have to talk to real people in order to develop an effective buyer persona.

But do start somewhere. If all you have to start with is a handful of family and friends who believe in your product and mission, that’s where you should begin. Find out what those people like, what their needs are, what their objections will be, and start building your persona one potential customer at a time.

A buyer persona, like your marketing plan, should get smarter as your business grows.

9 Tips for Guests on Podcasts

iStock_000017090211_MediumIf you are invited to be a guest on a podcast, may we suggest your answer be, “Yes.” Podcasts are a great way to reach an audience because people can listen to them on their own schedule. They are a great anchor for a content campaign; podcasters can add graphics and text to their show notes and guests can embed the show link into blog posts, tweets and emails.

To help you prepare for a podcast interview, here are nine things to consider:

  1. Stay silent until you are sure the host is done with his/her intro. Then give an enthusiastic hello.
  1. Have a good phone connection. Land lines are preferable.
  1. Do the interview in a quiet room. Make sure your emails don’t ding and your cell phone is on silent.
  1. If you are using notes, keep them on a single page so listeners won’t hear papers rustling.
  1. Keep your answers to 3 minutes or under. Two voices (dialogue) are more interesting to listeners than one.
  1. Highlight key points – pause, just slightly, between points, and use words such as “let me underscore that point.”
  1. Use inflection in your voice. Don’t be monotone.
  1. Ask for questions from the host in advance so you can prepare.
  1. Many hosts ask for a final thought/point. Prepare one in advance just in case.

Introducing Bill Orr

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 7.47.36 PMWe’re not afraid to shake things up at Double Forte; in fact, we think it’s critical to staying relevant. Our industry continues to evolve daily – from the way brands tell their stories, to the way journalists report the news, the way companies interact with their customers, and the way influencers impact their followers. So we’re evolving too.

We are thrilled to announce that industry veteran Bill Orr has joined Double Forte in the newly created role of Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer. We know our current clients and prospective partners are looking for creative thinking and proven expertise in integrated and customized campaigns that drive meaningful results. Bill’s broad experience delivering strategic thinking, and effective creative implementations, coupled with his entrepreneurial spirit and incredible client-focused attitude match our values. We know that with Bill on board we can continue to make Double Forte a different offering in the market – a smart, aggressive agency that can match a client’s unwavering need for strategy, storytelling and creative execution.

Bill joins us from Burson-Marsteller where he served as executive vice president, west coast market leader.  Prior to Burson, Bill served in executive positions with global and regional communications agencies.

He joins Double Forte’s client “think tank” and is responsible for key programming for Double Forte, partnering with our clients to connect them to their most important stakeholders through digital and traditional methods, efficiently.

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