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Flex those PR muscles this spring

April 17, 2014 | by Stephanie Perry

As spring slowly begins to break through the winter chill, Indy residents are flocking outside to enjoy the Georgia Street food trucks, Central Canal and White River State Park, and of course, some cardio on the Monon Trail.

Dedicated runners will tell you that there’s no such thing as ‘running season,’ but for us more seasonally inclined runners, spring is a chance to loosen up those muscles after a long (and rather sedentary) winter. And with the Mini Marathon right around the corner, it’s time to put a ‘spring in your step’ (see what I did there?) and get down to business. Sometimes though, this enthusiasm leads to some serious overexertion and muscle pain.

One of our clients, Therawheel, caters specifically to those muscle aches. Designed by Tim Jennings, former Indiana Pacers athletic trainer and co-owner of local gym O’Fit, Therawheel is a muscle recovery tool that helps athletes maximize performance, decrease pain and accelerate recovery. Over the past year, Bohlsen Group has worked to enhance Therawheel’s presence both locally and nationally. But promoting the same product for a long period of time takes some creativity. Like with any fitness routine, sometimes you have to mix it up to see results.

For PR professionals, spring is the opportunity to break out of your winter hibernation and flex those media relations muscles.

Here are a few tips for turning your winter pitching routine into a lean, mean, PR machine this spring:

  • Add some ‘meat’ to your diet: Beef up your pitch with quotes and expert testimonials. In our Therawheel outreach, often include a testimonial from a professional athlete to enhance the credibility of the product. Your pitch is designed to say how great your product is — why not have someone else say it for you?
  • Make it work for you (or them): Running isn’t for everybody, and not every pitch will resonate with every media outlet. It’s crucial to make your pitch relevant to your audience. For example, in November we focused our local media efforts on how Therawheel could aid runners in the Monumental Marathon, resulting in an interview with FOX 59. During basketball season, we played up Jennings’ work with the Indiana Pacers and how the device accommodates the rigorous fitness routines of professional athletes.
  • Think long-term: Just like with a diet or new fitness routine, you have to focus on the future, not the immediate results. For example, Therawheel was recently featured in the March issue of SHAPE Magazine. However, like with many long lead print publications, this placement was cultivated back in September. It’s important to be patient and look for future opportunities for placement beyond the here and now.

Do you have some tips of your own? We welcome your comments below!


The recipe for a great infographic

April 10, 2014 | by Dassie Rice

As we face an age where reading is declining, attention spans are disappearing and our need for constant entertainment is increasing, visual storytelling becomes an important component of information sharing in the modern world.

One of the most popular forms of visual storytelling is the infographic. In reality, you probably see them all the time as you’re taking in your daily dose of web-based news. And guess what? So do your clients.

Personally, there are two things that I’m very passionate about – cooking and design. Believe it or not, the two can go together – and as a result, I will share my favorite recipe for an impactful infographic that’s sure to please even the pickiest person.

Ingredients for a successful infographic:

Most recently, we had a Pro Bono Program winner - Irvington Development Organization (IDO) - request an infographic that shared who they are, what they do and how it relates to the reader in a snappy, easy-to-digest format.

We began by flouring the surface and collecting information and key messages from the organization – which resulted in a pile of raw ingredients. With a little paring, chopping, stirring and mixing, we were able to combine the necessary facts and figures with visually appealing images to highlight the organization’s flavor and create a personalized piece for their site.

Directions for cooking up your own infographic:

Trim the fat. You don’t want to clutter the image with lengthy explanation, so make sure you select only the necessary facts pertaining to your message. While IDO had a lot of great info, statistics and figures about Irvington, we decided to focus on information that would best describe the area and organization as a whole.

Rely on a few key palate pleasers. Be sure the information that you do keep is important to the goal of the graphic. In this case, we chose key historic, demographic and geographic statistics to show the encompassing projects on which IDO can work.

It should all go together. In other words, your main dish should fit in with the appetizer and dessert courses – just as your image should fit the style and voice of your client.  Using IDO’s current brand and key messages, the resulting infographic easily ties in to any piece of collateral or webpage.

And last but not least, don’t spread your Brussels sprouts around on an empty plate. Just because someone wants an infographic doesn’t mean they actually need one. If there isn’t enough important or relevant information, they may be better off with a chart or other visual piece. No one wants a sparse spattering of veggies on their plate.

At Bohlsen, we try to work our own special spices into the different projects for our clients. Sharpening our minds and keeping our creativity fresh, we aim to serve the best dish around – what “recipes” do you stick to in the creative department?


A world record with meaning and value

April 3, 2014 | by Karen Hurt


There are world records for everything from the longest fingernails to the most hot dogs eaten in one sitting. However, some of these records have a more meaningful story. When our client The Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank notified us that one of their donors, Amelia Boomker, had achieved the Guinness World Record for most breast milk donated, we knew there was a meaningful story to tell.

The Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank collects and pasteurizes expressed breast milk from screened donors and distributes it to NICUs throughout the Midwest. Premature babies have difficulties digesting formula, and often their mothers are not far along enough in their pregnancy to produce their own milk, so NICUs rely on pasteurized donor milk to nourish these fragile babies. We wanted to spread awareness about the new Guinness World Record and the practice of milk donation to help the IMMB advance their goals.

We started the process by calling Boomker and listening to her story. She told us about her first son, who was born with many health complications. He could only drink breast milk if Amelia pumped and it was fed to him through a tube. Her next three sons all had complications with traditional nursing as well, which led her to continue pumping milk for them. Amelia found she often had more milk left than her boys could consume. A nurse told her about the practice of milk donation, and she started the donor process. Over the last nine years, Boomker ended up donating 16,321 fluid ounces to the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank, the equivalent of 816 Venti Starbucks lattes.

One of the unique things about Boomker’s story is that she was able to get milk to the IMMB by dropping off donations at milk depots in the Chicago area, rather than having to package and ship it to Indianapolis. The IMMB has depots throughout the Midwest that help screened donor moms get milk from their cities to Indianapolis, where milk is then pasteurized and distributed to NICUs.

After listening to Boomker’s story, we wrote a press release announcing the world record telling her story and pitched her story to local and national media, resulting in hits from The Indianapolis Star, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Babble, the Today Show Moms blog and other publications around the United States and around the globe. Boomker’s accomplishment and the media attention surrounding it are certainly wonderful, but they are not as fulfilling as knowing that she saved hundreds of precious lives along the way.


Don’t blow your cover (letter)

March 27, 2014 | by Bohlsen Group

By Ashley Stockwell

If a job is the beginning of a long, happy career, the cover letter is your first date.

It seems like such a simple thing to do, just share why you should make it to date No. 2 – the interview. But cover letters can be tricky. How can you talk about yourself without coming across as boring, cliché or arrogant? Here are four tips that will help you make a good first impression and get that second date.

Cut to the chase.

Think of your cover letter as a personal pitch. Pitches start out with the main point of the story and your cover letter should do the same. While a meandering personal anecdote may seem like a good idea (hey, I’m interesting!), most hiring managers don’t have time to wade through four sentences of story to find out what you’re applying for. Introduce yourself, state the position you are after and briefly explain why. Save the autobiography for the interview, when hiring managers will be more invested in your story.

Be a solution.

Every company that’s hiring has a problem – they have an empty position. Express how you can solve their problem by sharing how you will be an asset to the company. To paraphrase JFK, say not what the company can do for you but what you can do for the company. They want you, they need you – you’re second date material.

Be specific.

If your resume is the skeleton of your job history then the cover letter is the chance to put some meat on its bones. Use the cover letter to explain your work history. Oh, you managed social media? Share specifics about what you did, such as how many followers you gained for your client or what tools you used. Prove that you have the skills you mentioned by explaining them.

Use their language.

NEVER use the same letter for multiple positions. That’s like using your ex’s name – embarrassing and it looks like you don’t care. Even if you’re applying for the same job at two different companies, you should still alter your cover letter to reflect the corporate culture of the company. If one company is all about storytelling, use creative language and highlight how you’ve communicated a client’s story. If a company is all about strategic communications, highlight your strategic planning experience.

Interested in more cover letter tips? Check out these resources from the Daily Muse and Levo League. And remember, you’re smart, hardworking and any company would be lucky to have you. How do you work to improve your cover letters?

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The science of image

March 20, 2014 | by Courtney Stiehl

Without a doubt, what’s going to make or break PR campaigns as the industry evolves is the ability to tackle digital, social media and branding opportunities.

At Bohlsen Group, we maximize these opportunities. We’re a full-service agency with creative, proactive individuals always evaluating how we can incorporate the latest communication trends into our work when it makes sense for our clients.

Let’s just say we didn’t grow from two to 35 employees in four years from dragging our feet. We have a CEO that prioritizes an innovative culture, continued development and a forward-thinking approach. This attitude trickles from the top down.

So when we began working with local image consultant company ImageCube, in the business of showing others how to look their best, we knew we had a client with vast potential. But as a regular contributor to WISH-TV’s Indy Style program, former columnist of The Indianapolis Business Journal and featured expert who was recently featured on WTHR, FOX 59 and in The Indianapolis Star, we knew ImageCube founder Sola Adelowo already had her local media coverage bases covered.

So how could we advance ImageCube in the community?

Our research revealed that while ImageCube impresses during interviews and speaking engagements, its online presence didn’t inspire action the way Adelowo does in person. We created a comprehensive digital strategy to ensure our multifaceted online efforts advance our objectives.

First we identified opportunities to strengthen the ImageCube website. While it already had a good look and feel, we made subtle edits to enhance the aesthetics, streamline the content and make it easier for users to navigate. We also emphasized the credibility of the business with a new team page, press links and testimonials. The result is a showpiece, user-friendly site that better aligns with the messaging we established in our branding guide.

Next, we began creating weekly social media content calendars to ensure consistent, high-quality posts including style advice, relevant industry articles and ImageCube business milestones, service offerings and media placement links. We also prioritize engagement with relevant community influencers while maintaining the unique flair of the brand and individually catering content to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. In our first month alone we increased ImageCube’s Twitter audience engagement by 56%, far surpassing our goal.

We also provided weekly in-depth social media training to the ImageCube team to ensure they can post spontaneously as they take advantage of the great access they have to events, leaders and fashion in the city. Providing them with the skills needed to post on their own allowed for increased authenticity, and now Adelowo posts as easily and often as she picks out her look for the day, using unique hashtags on her Instagram like #pieceofsola.

By adapting our efforts to enhance ImageCube’s digital presence, in addition to various marketing collateral pieces we designed for the company, we enabled ImageCube to connect with target audiences in a new way. ImageCube even gained a few new clients in the short time we’ve been working with them, a result of the enhanced SEO and Google visibility we helped achieve.


I could read a book about you

March 13, 2014 | by Vicki Bohlsen

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Bohlsen Group CEO Vicki Bohlsen shares how a few noteworthy women have inspired her.

I can recall many times that I’ve been asked to write about a hero or someone that influenced me. In grade school I remember writing about my grandmother; she married my grandfather who was 17 years older than her and “I thought that was brave.”

During my teenage years I had a fascination with Florence Nightingale.

Beginning in college I kind of got into Jacqueline Kennedy. (“Kind of “ might be an understatement – I can’t find anything I haven’t read about the entire Kennedy clan.)

I often tell people that I could read a book about “that person over there.” And I mean it. I could read about anyone. Mostly, I read biographies and memoirs about women.

And these women matter to me! They’re not all famous educators, reformists and crusaders either. Some are women who have had the courage to just share their astonishing stories that are oftentimes startling and horrifying, yet always transformative.

For instance, Jeannette Walls tells of her triumph against all odds in Glass Castle. Despite her highly dysfunctional upbringing, she talks about her parents with deep affection despite her determination to carve out a life on her own away from the profound flaws.

In Coming Clean, Kimberly Rae Miller brings to life a childhood consumed by concealing her father’s shameful hoarding secret from friends, while finding peace in the homes we make for ourselves in adulthood.

With my love of reading, it is a blessing that one of our biggest clients is Author Solutions, a Penguin Random House Company. I get a lot of referrals from our publicists.

On my night table is one such referral: Shattered by the Wars, But Sustained by Love by Hi-Dong Chai. This story of love, sacrifice, faith and suffering is the story of a mother – over the course of World War II and the Korean War – as seen through the eyes of her youngest son.

If I think back on all the women I’ve read about and try to piece it together, I find a common thread.  They’re all women with everyday joys and sorrows, facing and overcoming challenges, all while managing both everyday and noteworthy accomplishments. They’re women just like me. I admire and learn from them all.

Professional networking

Take your networking up a notch

March 6, 2014 | by Bohlsen Group

By Ellen Larson

In this day and age, it is becoming all the more important to network. Whether you are a soon-to-be college graduate looking for your first professional job, an established professional seeking connections in a new city, or a business looking to build your clientele, taking advantage of all networking opportunities is imperative.

Here are four tips that will help take your networking to the next level:

Take advantage of social media. No, social media is not just a place to post selfies (#sochiselfie). Social media is all about building connections. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn offer a great chance to connect and interact with professionals and businesses. Send them an article that is relevant to their work, comment on a project they have done and be courteous and friendly.

Attend local industry and professional group meetings. There are many different ways in which you can get involved with local and national groups that will allow you to network with professionals in your field and in other professional industries. Indy has great places for meet-ups that should be on your radar. Here are just a few of the many great opportunities the city offers: Indy Hub, the Speakeasy, PRSA, Young Professionals of Central Indiana. The list really does go on and on. Attend these events, meet professionals and then follow up with them to set up a more personalized meeting.

Craft your emails in a way that motivates people to respond. You always hear that people get hundreds of emails a day and have ‘bigger’ things to worry about in their daily tasks. So how can you break through the clutter and receive a response to your networking email? Keep it short and sweet, folks. Try to limit the email to no more than 3-5 sentences. Clearly state what you are looking for from the meeting and always extend the offer to come to them.

Send thank you notes. After you have met, send a thank you note. People are busy and took time out of their day to help you out. A thank you email will certainly do, but a hand written letter would add that personal touch. Plus, how many people receive letters mailed to them nowadays? It will make you stand out and might make their day.

Try applying these quick and easy tips and see if your networking improves! What are some of your go-to tips for connecting with others?

Events & Entertainment Blog Post

Classic rock, acrobats & Scooby Snacks: All in a day’s work

February 27, 2014 | by Andy Wilson

The Bohlsen Group Entertainment + Events division is always busy helping spread the word about all the great Indianapolis events, and now we’re keeping our hands full with coast-to-coast work as well. From rockin’ out in Washington, D.C. to Scooby Doo and the gang right here in Indy, here’s a glance at what we’ve been up to over here.

First up this weekend is the rocking classic 1980s music in Rock of Ages, showing at Washington D.C.’s historic Warner Theatre for a limited engagement on Sunday, March 2. And the rock continues in the Midwest following the announcement of We Will Rock You, the musical by QUEEN and Ben Elton, headed to the Old National Centre here in Indianapolis May 20-25. Get ready to rock out for seven performances –tickets go on sale this Friday, February 28.

And remember the classic Patrick Swayze / Demi Moore / Whoopi Goldberg film? All the love (and pottery) comes together LIVE on stage at the Old National Centre as the Tony Award-winning Ghost: The Musical opens March 4-9. (And it’s not too late to grab tickets – they’re on sale now at

Star-crossed lovers also touch down in Riverside, Calif. when the tour of the smash hit Broadway revival of West Side Story comes to the Fox Performing Arts Center on Sunday, March 9.

Also in March and closer to home, Scooby Doo comes to town with Scooby Doo Live! Musical Mysteries on March 15 at the Old National Centre for two shows only – mystery machine and all. Tickets are on sale now at

This April and May bring two runs assisting with PR for Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL in both Louisville (April 25 & 26) and Lexington (May 2 & 3).

And after this winter, we’re just as ready as everyone else to think about summer. The impressive acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai hits Indy in July, and we’ll soon be rolling forward with the summer concert season and much more. We’ll keep you posted (and hopefully see you at a few events!)

Once upon a time

Narrative always wins

February 20, 2014 | by Andrew Hayenga

Which do you think is more attention grabbing and memorable?

Nonprofit executive director announces his food bank has earned a new $1 million grant to help feed hungry children and lists the number of pounds of food the money will put on his pantry shelves.

A working single mother of two children explains how a new $1 million grant to her new local food bank will literally help save her children’s lives.

To us, the decision is easy. Narrative always wins.

Communication, the most successful communication, is storytelling.

When relating to the public on behalf of an organization, avoid sharing just the facts and statistics. Instead, be a storyteller – whether you’re engaging donors, pitching the media or implementing certain tactics.

Think about the conversations in your nonprofit boardrooms or your company’s strategic planning sessions. We’re certain those conversations center around stories, a client’s life change by donor generosity or a happy customer’s reply to great service. You must make sure these stories get beyond the conference room and in front of the people in your audience.

When you’re ready to share the story, it is best delivered with a traditional storytelling arc. The arc is a pattern followed by all of your favorite books, movies and plays – undoubtedly recognizable from your earliest English classes. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • The opening scene: introduce your story’s core character(s) and set context.
  • The crisis or conflict: what your core character faces.
  • The climax: the key message or idea that your communication encouraging or endorsing.
  • The resolution: introduce narrative elements, including supporting data, that bring your climax to a close.

A commitment to storytelling in your communication can be a game changer for earning media, winning support or providing successful advocacy. The commitment doesn’t have to be a boat rocker for your organization. Your stories are already there. You just need to tell them.

Courtney Voegele: Former Intern, Current Bohlsen Group Publicist

The intern effect

February 13, 2014 | by Jessica Redden

It’s true what they say: You’re never fully prepared for a job until you step into it.

You may have passed the classes and conquered the tests, but there’s only one thing I can guarantee about your eventual spot at a desk with business cards and a phone extension:

You will encounter plenty of instances when you have no idea what you’re doing. Guaranteed.

And that’s OK.

Of all the classes and projects that made up my college degree, nothing introduced me to the workplace quite like my internships. Now, as an internship co-coordinator at Bohlsen Group, it’s been neat to come full circle and draw on my own intern experiences to continually improve our program.

Here are my top four intern traits that transcend well into the workplace and never really go out of style.

Resourcefulness. An internship supervisor’s dream (not to mention an intern’s route to credibility), a resourceful mentality is probably the single most important trait anyone can possess. Don’t know the answer? Google it before you ask a superior (and if you think you might be wrong, see No. 2). Got a problem? Come up with a few possible solutions before asking for help.

Taking risks. Let’s be honest. Sometimes, no matter the experience or education level, we all have ideas that really, well, are bad. But what is the worst that can happen when bringing them to a brainstorming session? You probably experienced more embarrassment in middle-school gym class. Need a new look? You’ll have to take some things to the fitting room. This isn’t all that different. We can’t develop thick skin or better creativity without taking a risk here and there.

Embracing the totem pole. Being at “the bottom of the totem pole” has a negative connotation, but it’s pretty short-lived – so enjoy learning from those above you and acknowledge that they probably know a bit more than you. After all, it is the only way to feel cool while someday saying, “Back in MY day …”

Asking questions. Combined with No. 1, this quality will take you far. Asking questions when you’re completely unsure of what to do or how to do it will ensure work is done right the first time; asking questions to which you could easily find the answer yourself will paint the picture that you need your hand held. Need to differentiate? Always first ask yourself, “Can I try to figure this out on my own first?”

Bottom line: Every internship experience really is what you make of it, and you may take away the knowledge that you know exactly what you want – or don’t want – to do in your career (either scenario is valuable; I had both). Arm yourself with the above and you’ll be golden.

Interested in an internship with us?  Apply now! We’re accepting applications for our summer internship until February 21.