Rising Sea Waters in Charleston – Inside Business LIVE Recap

As the ongoing rise of sea waters continues to threaten businesses in coastal areas, The Post and Courier decided to use its Inside Business LIVE platform to spread awareness of this issue.

In this virtual edition of the quarterly discussion series, four panelists joined environmental reporter Chloe Johnson and business reporter Warren Wise for a live video conference streamed to viewers. Panelists included Josh Dix, Director of Government Affairs at the Charleston Realtors Association, Erin Stevens, President & Landscape Architect at Surculus, Christine Von Kolnitz, Sustainability Manager at MUSC, and Dr. Norman Levine, Professor of Geology & Environmental Geosciences at College of Charleston.

As waters rise, so does awareness

The discussion focused on a range of topics and solutions to the issue of rising sea waters in coastal communities. As a whole, the panelists believe more people are educated about flooding than ever before. This can be partially attributed to rainy day flooding becoming more of an issue, outside of just hurricanes. 

On the real estate front, Stevens is seeing a rise in people seeking solutions. People are looking for effective landscaping implementations to make land adaptable to changing climate.

“The idea of the resilient landscape is being reflected in how people are setting up their business” Stevens said. There are a number of factors businesses have to consider when building on land. They have to understand their microclimate and are faced with larger issues than just whether the property floods or not. This includes things like the question of if employees can get into the office on a heavily rainy day.

Protecting Charleston together

The panelists jointly discussed how their organizations are building solutions and working toward the common goal of protecting the Charleston peninsula. Von Kolnitz discussed how MUSC has been a part of the Dutch Dialogues in order to adopt a plan to slow, store and drain flood waters downtown.

The dialgoues are an ongoing study and hazard mitigation plan in Charleston that every member of our panel has been involved in. Other solutions MUSC has adopted include cleaning out drainage in the medical district, securing funding for a dropshaft system in the lowest area of MUSC, and a system for storing roof rainwater in an underground reservoir that can hold equivalent water to a 7 year storm.

College of Charleston’s Professor Levine also mentioned solutions he believes will be important. Levine said nature based solutions will improve and enhance water flow. Both water storage and wetlands need to be improved in ways that can account for marsh expansion.

“We need to accept that there are going to be areas that will be reclaimed by the sea” Levine said. He believes we have expanded our reach and development into places that are too susceptible to being retaken by rising waters. He also highlighted that over 8000 businesses will be impacted if nothing is done.

Educating and planning

Dix also outlined measures that the Charleston Realtors Association is adopting to inform its members. “We are trying to change, this isn’t a new phenomenon”, Dix said. His organization has started a class for members on the issue. “We have to be educated, our buyers are more educated, so our members have to be educated in the best possible way.”

One major topic of discussion during the panel was the proposed Charleston sea wall. Levine believes the wall is one of many solutions, and will not be the end all be all problem solver. “The sea wall is a necessity, but not the only piece”, Levine said.  He pointed out that it should be integrated with the architecture of the peninsula.

The goal of preserving the natural allure and structure of the Charleston peninsula was a sentiment shared by the entire panel. The natural beauty of Charleston’s waterfront is a major tourist pull. And citizens are concerned about the barricade blocking the view of the ocean. “I think it needs to be carefully designed from a human perspective”, Stevens said.

Von Kolnitz emphasized MUSC’s support for the sea wall. She said we need to let the experts decide where it needs to be and how it should be built. “ We want it to enhance, not take away from the reason why we all want to be downtown.” Von Kolnitz said.

The conversation continues

In the end, this issue is much larger than just the Charleston downtown peninsula. Dix pointed out that we are not a single topography in this area, so it is hard to say one size fits all with our solutions. The discussion ended with panelists agreeing that some of the largest hurdles are government funding, but more importantly, government prioritization.

Levine said that we currently don’t have “anywhere near the level of funding from federal or state that would be necessary to augment what needs to come from the private sector.” 

From developing businesses, to long standing businesses, to the large majority of the United States population that lives on the coast, this issue affects a substantial amount of people.

“As a society we have to completely change how we think of how we live, between the built and natural environment,” Stevens said toward the end of the panel. “This is an ongoing issue, the climate will continue to evolve”

The entire live-streamed panel discussion can be viewed by clicking here.

June’s Star Performer

Here at The Post and Courier Advertising, we highlight our top sales performers every month through our Star Performers program. You may have already seen our Star Performers in the Inside Business section of The Post and Courier newspaper. But we’d like to give more insight every month into who our winners are and how they achieved their goals!

June’s Top Star Performer – Joannie Neff

Joannie has been in sales since 1984 and has spent most of her career in outside sales. She has built up her expertise in working directly with clients over the years in different positions. She started as a food distributor, during which time she was meeting clients face to face every other week. 

Joannie Neff

Joannie assists all kinds of businesses in using our vast number of services. She enjoys helping businesses in the service industry through social media ads that bring in customers.

Some other services Joannie brings to clients include video to help health companies announce new doctors, and using events to give a great experience to customers and help companies become remembered in a positive light.
“One thing I enjoy is to become friends with my clients” Joannie highlighted about her work. “I hope to get to know them well and they in-kind get to know me well.”

Joannie makes it clear to her clients that she works with them for the long haul, not just a one time advertisement. “We like to partner with our advertisers” Joannie said. “It feels great when someone tells you how successful a campaign has been for them.”

Congratulations, Joannie Neff!

 

Understanding Paid Social vs Organic Posts

As a business, you might be wondering what forms of marketing you can take under your control and manage without spending money. At a glance, social media may look like one way to market yourself for free. But a deeper look at the benefits of paid social media marketing shows that it’s one of the most profitable and targeted ways to market.

So what is the difference between paid social and organic social? Organic social posts are anything you post on your feeds that appear in front of your existing followers. Paid social posts have the power to reach audiences that don’t already know you, but are a perfect fit to do business with you.

Paid social posts will show up in the feeds of whichever audience you decide to target. You can target audiences based on demographics, location, interests, and more. The more money you put behind the boost, the more people you will reach and the longer your campaign will remain effective.

But even though paid social posts can reach the widest audience, let’s start by looking at why organic social is valuable in its own way. Because in the end, the more people you convert into social followers, the more likely they are to spend money with you.

The value of organic social

People who follow your business on social media are doing so because they care. They want to support the business they are seeking updates on. And they are looking for reasons to spend money with that business.

So keeping up a regular cadence of speaking to this audience is incredibly important. Once you have a customer invested in what’s happening with your business on a daily basis, you want to hold onto that investment and build it further. Regular organic social posts are the key to this. 

For that reason, your organic social presence should be as informal as you’re willing to go. Show the faces behind your company. Show the fun things your employees are doing. And in times like we’re facing in 2020, it is a great way to show what causes you support.

You should also be minimizing your promotions in organic social posts. Avoid salesy talk and don’t try to get people to buy things here. Instead, focus on valuable content that can educate, tell stories, and inspire creativity. 

You can still mix in things like big sales, giveaways, store hours, etc. As long as these things are the smaller percentage of your posts, you won’t look like you’re taking advantage of your followers. You need to show that you care about them.

Organic social posts are also effective at building up your online resume of sorts. When new customers end up on your page for any reason, they should see a robust history of posts that let them “catch up” on everything you’ve been sharing. 

In fact, a recent Animoto survey shows that 58% of consumers visit a brand’s social pages before visiting their website. What you are sharing on social is often more important than what you show on your actual website. A blank social media profile will be a huge turn off to someone researching you through this channel.

You can’t ignore paid social

If organic social is like having a casual chat with a longtime friend, paid social is akin to a professional job interview. 

When you’re paying to put social media content in front of strangers’ eyes, you need to strategically craft your message to put your best foot forward. This isn’t like sitting down for a beer with someone who knows you well and has already committed to spending time with you.

With paid social posts, you might know who you want to reach, but those people likely don’t know you yet. And first impressions really matter.

The process of setting up a paid social media campaign involves a few major factors. The first being choosing your goal.

Do you want the customer to follow a link to your website? Do you want them to engage with your post? Do you want to collect lead information in order to reach them via email or elsewhere? These are all options that ad management systems on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter allow you to select.

Following this selection, you can carefully craft the targeted audience you want your post to appear in front of. Location, age, gender, interests, behaviors and languages are all traits you can target. You’ll then see an estimated audience size that your targeting will reach. 

The Placement feature on Facebook Ads Manager allows you to choose where your ad does and does not appear. Use this for highly curated post creatives.

This is also the place where you can choose specific placements for your post. If you’ve made a video sized for Instagram stories, you can remove all other placements and ensure that your post only appears in stories.

Though it may be time-consuming, creating multiple ads that are curated for specific placements will be a strong look for your business. Avoid taking a single ad creative and just sharing it everywhere at once.

Finally, you can determine the budget and schedule that drives your post. These factors will also determine the estimated audience results that the platform gives you.

A great way to determine ROI is to check the “cost per result” data that your ad manager will provide to you. This is based on your overall spend compared to the reach and engagement that your post receives. This is updated over time and can be tracked throughout your campaign.

An effective paid social post includes a strong call to action and gets right to the point. A new customer needs a short snapshot of what you do and why you should be paid to do it. Unlike organic posts, these posts should focus on selling and creating a sense of urgency.

Combine your organic and paid strategy

The line between paid and organic posts is often walked by boosted organic posts. This is when money is put behind an organic post in order to make that post appear in front of a selected audience. 

The Boost Post button on organic Facebook posts allows you to easily put money behind your content.

The boost feature on an organic post gives you a basic version of Facebook Ads Manager, where you can select an objective, add a call to action and choose your target audience. This is a good way to learn the tools available to you, and use posts you’ve already made to reach new people.

And even once you get to the point of balancing your paid and organic strategy, boosting organic posts can still come into play when you notice certain posts performing well. Even just a few dollars being put behind a popular organic post can lead to a strong ROI. Here are a few things to consider when choosing which posts to boost.

So with the differences and separate values of organic and paid social media posts explained, all that is left is to choose what you want to post. What content is right for your brand? What products need a boost and resonate strongly with social media audiences. Feel out what’s right, and when you need a partner in setting up social media strategy, contact us to get your business started on the right foot.

A recap of The Post and Courier’s Drive-in Movie Night

Here at The Post and Courier, we have a history of hosting unique and community valued events every year. Not letting the COVID-19 quarantine hold us back, we recently held our first Drive-in Movie Night.

This event is a fantastic family-driven event that is a great opportunity for sponsorship. I got to attend the event myself, and will run you through the setup and what you can expect from future events like this.

Where and when was the event?

Our first Drive-in event took place on Friday, May 15th at 8:30pm. Being the spring season, this means we had rare-for-Charleston temperatures in the 70s, and a sunset time around 8pm. These conditions won’t always be available to us here in the lowcountry, so this really was a perfect time of year to host a drive-in movie.

The viewing was hosted at our King Street parking lot in downtown Charleston, which provided ample space for over 100 attendees. But despite the large crowd the event attracted, we did want to be sure social distancing precautions were taken. After all, the ability to go out for a movie, but watch safely from your car was the inspiration for this event amid the current pandemic.

While attendees were welcome to open up their trunks or sit in the bed of their trucks, this was not a tailgating experience. Viewers that arrived together were asked to stay together, so that different groups would not gather.

The luxury of using our parking lot meant spaces were easily marked and attendee’s knew the boundaries of their vehicles. At the end of the night, departure was also a smooth experience, with the lot naturally funneling guests back out onto King Street. It was far from hectic, and for a first time experience, I’d say it went over better than expected. The events team did a fantastic job of directing traffic and making sure everyone was comfortable.

Our partners at D’Allesandro’sPizza and King Street Cookies also took precautions to provide guests with food orders without the need to stand in lines. Both sponsors used phone numbers to communicate with guests when their order arrived at their table at the back of the lot. This way, guests could continue to place orders throughout the night, without having to come into direct contact with others.

Sponsorship Experience

Speaking of sponsors, the event presented a number of high impression sponsorship opportunities. This being a unique experience from a traditional movie theater, audiences are naturally more invested in the brands they are presented.

This is a local experience, and it gives attendees the chance to support businesses that are struggling right now. The ads viewers saw ahead of the film, and the food partners they could order from were all local. This isn’t the type of movie experience where you buy skittles and a diet coke and then sit down to watch national commercials.

In a normal movie theater, people know what to expect from advertisements. People have come to learn that you can arrive 10-15 minutes after the listed start time, and still catch the trailers. On top of that, we’re living in an age where theater seats are reserved in advance, so arriving early to get a good seat isn’t a concern anymore.

At a drive in experience, people arrive early and are ready to see everything that comes before the film. We opened our gates an hour and a half prior to the movie start time, and the lot filled up fast. There was a line of cars stretching up king street, full of guests ready to be let in once gates opened.

Join us for the next event

We plan to host 4 more drive-in events throughout 2020, so keep an eye out for the announcement of when those will be. Be sure to contact us to learn how your business can participate in this exciting series of events, as we continue to connect local audiences with Charleston businesses.

Charleston's Choice 2019_2

How sponsorships and event partnerships benefit businesses in quarantine

How sponsorships and event partnerships benefit businesses in quarantine

Sponsorships are a key pillar in any businesses’ ability to reach new audiences. In a world under quarantine, it can be tough to find relevant events and other sponsorship opportunities. But as the world figures out how to operate under social distancing rules, certain events are finding ways to thrive. 

It's important to consider the benefits that sponsorships can bring your business. Because as with all advertising right now, when the competition is low, it's a great time to put yourself out in front of audiences. So here are some of the top reasons you should sponsor events right now.

Build Consumer Confidence

Any customer that’s willing to attend an event right now likely has trust in the hosting company. Aligning your brand with a company that already has high customer confidence will also help build confidence in your brand. The public perception of your brand will be just as large as that of the event host.

There has been a misconception lately that sponsorships can only build consumer confidence if they are for charitable causes. While customers do value seeing brands align with charities right now, that doesn’t mean that traditional sponsorships are any less valuable for your brand.

Generate Leads

The potential for return on investment with event sponsorships is high. People are there to experience the event and will naturally learn about the sponsoring brands while they are there. Customers are more open to discovering new products and services. 

You have your audience’s attention much more than when they can ignore your ad at home or in a print product. These are all people that you need to follow up with after. Build a solid post-event marketing plan around the leads that you capture. Make sure your sponsorship artwork, video, booth, etc. has a solid way of either capturing contact info or driving people to your website.

Be sure to look at the ROI on your sponsorship and use that info to consider future sponsorships and where to invest your money. Getting in front of the right audience in the right way is something that comes with practice.

Reach your target audience

One of the more valuable reasons to sponsor an event is that you can reach a highly-specific audience.

Claire Linney

"For example, our Bicycle Across South Carolina event has an audience of people who are generally active, interested in outdoors and a healthy lifestyle," event sales manager Claire Linney notes.

"This audience matches well with a business like a chiropractic center who wants to reach active people in the community. We can create custom sponsorships that allow the client to connect with attendees one-on-one to build new relationships and generate new leads. In this example, the chiropractor can connect with “active lifestyle” potential patients.

Gather audience insights

Events are a great place to gather valuable information on your potential client base. You get to see what the spenders in your community value and how they like to engage with brands. Demographic data and audience preferences can help you build nurture campaigns. You can learn how and when to talk to your audience in the way they prefer.

Work with the event host to make a plan for capturing that data. Show that you have an active and growing interest in their audience. This will make future partnerships with the host business easier and more beneficial to both parties.

Our annual Family Expo attracts thousands of parents, and a previous financial firm sponsor saw strong return on their investment. "The in-person data collection allows them to have the contact information of these event attendees to re-connect with a follow-up about their services specific to families," Claire said.

"Because the consumer has already met the financial group in person, they are warmed up and familiar with the business, and more likely to respond. "

Increase Visibility

The bigger the event, the better the visibility you’ll get. As the world continues to open up and allow people to gather (at a safe distance), people will be hungry to attend events. Look at your opportunities throughout the end of this year and beyond.

Post and courier drive-in movie night

Your sponsorship plan doesn’t have to be focused on the present. Although there are unique events that are benefitting from the need to socially distance ourselves. Drive-in movies have made a resurgence, and are a great chance to advertise in a theater-like experience.

Build Partnerships

Event sponsorships are a good way to meet non-competitive companies in your area. Always be on the lookout for new partnership opportunities.

Look at the ways that audiences benefit from learning about all of the brands that are sponsoring the event. Maybe there are creative ways to partner with another brand that drives audiences to each business. 

Competition is low

As mentioned before, the world is in a unique place in which many businesses aren’t comfortable or able to spend dollars on sponsorships. Unfortunately, these businesses will continue to struggle when the COVID-19 crisis fades away, as they won’t have set themselves up for future success. History shows this has been the case whenever businesses stop advertising during a crisis, and eventually fall behind their competition.

Social media opportunities

Being a part of an upcoming event opens many doors on social media platforms that are great for capturing attention. There are tons of unique ways to promote your participation

And using the native tools that platforms like Facebook have for events allows you to become a full part of the event’s promotion. Facebook allows event pages or promoted posts to tag a partner business. Whether you are the venue hosting the event or just a paid sponsor, you can appear as an official partner on the event’s social media promotion.

This is a great way to gain new followers. As a part of your promotion, you can potential work out an arrangement for the event host to encourage their followers to follow your business as well. 

Social media users are ready for interaction, and are the easiest leads to warm up and get them to click over to your website.

Find sponsorship opportunities as they become available

If any of the reasons above sound like they would lead to higher sales for your business, then now is the time to start planning your event participation for the year. Event dates may have had to change over recent months, but the world will keep moving forward and people are ready to find a new normal.

To find out more about upcoming events and other sponsorship opportunities in the Charleston area, talk to your Post and Courier advertising sales representative, or contact us here.