Much to blog about.


Magazines aren’t dead; they’re simply evolving

November 19, 2015 | by Mandy Bray

Many of you may know Top Gear from the TV show, showcasing cars and vehicles to an audience of approximately 350 million motor-lovers worldwide. Twenty years ago, Top Gear UK also launched a magazine, the best-selling car magazine in the UK. Their first digital version of the magazine was simply a PDF replica of the print edition. It was missing what car aficionados love best about the cars—the sounds and the movement.

With new ownership, the franchise decided to launch a fully interactive version and tapped a UK design agency to do it. The interactive version launched in December 2012 with a custom app. A typical issue includes videos, animations, and HTML widgets. Instead of seeing a picture of a car, users can run their finger over a car and open doors; open a side panel or the hood. You can spin the car around and turn it upside-down.

Since launching its interactive counterpart, the magazine has some impressive statistics to boast:

  • Total downloads rose by 200%
  • Readers spent triple the amount of time on the publication
  • Ad revenue jumped 130%
  • Readers spend an average of 53 seconds on an interactive ad, as opposed to 17 seconds on non-interactive ads

For nearly a decade, traditional publishing brands have been struggling to bolster print revenues, but success stories like Top Gear’s show that magazines aren’t dead, they’ve simply changed as we have changed. Consumers crave the mobile-first, interactive elements possible through digital media, and smart publishers are capitalizing. Other publications creating top-notch interactive versions include Wired, Real Simple, Al-Jazeera magazine and Sports Illustrated.

So, what does this mean for savvy brands seeking access to and engagement with these audiences?

For one, there are expanded media buying options for advertisers, with interactive ads options such as video or animation with sophisticated tracking and ROI technology not available through print. PR professionals also have new opportunities for media placements, with shorter lead times than print magazines and new avenues to pitch visual and video content.

However, the biggest marketing change from the advent of the interactive magazine is the opportunity for content marketing, with the possibility for brands to create their own magazines to directly reach consumers. Removing the printing and distribution costs makes content marketing through interactive magazines much more affordable, feasible, and flexible, with brands being able to push out content directly to consumers’ mobile devices.

emag-pdfToday, engagement is all about creating a meaningful and sustained experience that creates value for the customer and, in turn, drive results.

Take a look at what we’ve created for SAVI, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit. Bohlsen Group’s creative and nonprofit teams produce a quarterly interactive magazine that highlights client successes, embeds videos, and provides data visualization through infographics. The Fall 2015 edition is themed around education; take a look here.

Interactive magazine formats aren’t just for information and entertainment purposes; brands are beginning to use them for newsletters, event programs, internal communications, sales tools, and annual reports.

Are your communications reaching their interactive potential? We’d love to discuss it with you.

640x220 Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday highlights end-of-year giving. Is your organization prepared?

November 12, 2015 | by Karen Hurt

As holiday decorations start invading stores, nonprofits are getting ready for their own holiday: #GivingTuesday. A reaction to the consumption holidays of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a way for consumers to give back to the community and unofficially kick off the season of giving. Here are five of our tips for a successful Giving Tuesday campaign.

Make your impact known

The best way to generate interest in giving is to show donors what their dollars are doing. Make sure that your website, blog, and social media feeds are refreshed to showcase your most recent and compelling impact stories. Include the things that make the story come to life— photos, testimonials, and video can make a huge difference in illustrating impact.

Remind your followers

While those of us in the nonprofit and communications industry have had December 1 circled on our calendar for months, the general public may be more concerned about the discounts they can get after Thanksgiving. Start putting the bug in their ear about Giving Tuesday now through your social media feeds, newsletter, and other touch points and make sure to continue remind followers as the date comes closer. Schedule content throughout #GivingTuesday using the hashtag to remind your audience that you’re participating and that even small donations can make a difference.

…but not too often

While it’s great to get the word out, make sure that you’re not overwhelming your existing audience with too many messages. Send reminders but be careful of a constant barrage of the same messages. Vary the content of your tweets and emails between thank yous, updates on your fundraising progress, and the impact of donor dollars to prevent people from unsubscribing from your emails or unfollowing you on social media.

Inspire some friendly competition

Set benchmarks for your giving levels and challenge your audience to meet it. Examples of a set benchmark include announcing a new program or sharing a future event when you get to a certain giving level. Recruit a few donors to kick-start giving slowly on that day, and share regular updates on how close you are to meeting your goal. This keeps people engaged throughout the day and will encourage them to share your impact with their connections.

Say thank you

Whether it’s thanking individual donors on social media or just sending a wrap-up email notifying your donors on how much was raised on Giving Tuesday, make sure to recognize and update those who have been in your corner.

What is your organization planning to do for Giving Tuesday? Let us know @BohlsenGroup.

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Boost your event with the power of media buying

November 10, 2015 | by Christina Saenger

Think about the last time you were in your car. Did you listen to the radio? Pass a billboard? And when you got home, did you turn on the TV? Watch Monday Night Football or Grey’s Anatomy while scrolling through Twitter on your phone? Thought so. Screens and sounds and images are everywhere, even if you don’t consciously notice it.

Media buyers follow trends and study what people of a certain age, gender, education level, etc. tend to watch and listen to and do, so we aim to expose our ads to those people who we know tend to watch and listen to and do those things. In return, by creating that exposure through strategic placement, a media buyer aims to push our brand or event to the top of a potential customer’s mind.


While most people are hanging up their witch hats and thinking about their turkey day plans, media buyers are calling cupid and prepping for Valentine’s Day. In other words, what’s happening now has already passed in the mind of a media buyer. Whether you’re buying for an event or a branding campaign, it’s absolutely necessary to stay two steps ahead and plan exactly what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, and how you’ll do it well in advance of it actually happening.

Plus, if you’re working with your sister, PR, timing is key to create a successful campaign. Both sides have the same goal; you each just take different roads to get there.


Speaking of timing, if you’re buying for an event on a specific date, it’s important to know everything that is happening in your market on and around that date. Do the Colts have a home game? Is Comic Con or Beyoncé in town? Is it election season? All are important things to know that could help or hurt the event and your media buying ahead of it.

In addition, you also need to know how much a set budget will get you in any given market. Larger budgets will obviously get you more, but when spent strategically, small budgets have the potential to pack just as much of a punch. Is there a certain date that might make a bigger impact? A certain radio station with the right demo to go all-in with? Is there a billboard outside of the stadium where Beyoncé just performed to advertise for the *NSYNC reunion concert next month? No matter the case, know what you can get with your budget wherever you are, and use it wisely.


The person who you coordinate your buy with is your gateway into the market, especially if it’s one you don’t typically work in. They know their market, they know what it costs to make an impact, and they are the ones that help you get your message to the audience. Don’t think you shouldn’t do your homework though– it’s also very important to learn about a market for yourself.

So learn from your rep, but know your options. Listen to them, but be ready to negotiate. Be nice, but know that you have the ultimate decision-making power.


The first printing press was put into commercial use over 500 years ago. You know what else happened around 500 years ago? Christopher Columbus came to America.

Print isn’t dead, but it’s certainly changing. Fortunately for media buyers, print has found a way around its own death, with a big thanks to the Internet. Several formerly print-only companies are transitioning to multi-media companies that offer print and online services, amongst others, which make them a force to be reckoned with when utilized strategically. And if your budget isn’t big enough for that, there are several ways to advertise exclusively online. Social media sites, search engines, email blasts and blogs (wink) are all good options. Plus they are environment-friendly, just like us!

All in all, when placing ads through strategic media buying, it’s important to do all your homework, even the extra credit. Ever heard “there is no such thing as bad publicity”? Well, there is such thing as bad media buying, and that’s when nobody sees your message. Don’t let that be you– think ahead and know what you’re getting into to keep up with the ever-changing world of advertising and media buying.

Planning an event in a new market? Hire a pro for events and entertainment promotion, media buying, and more.

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Exploring 20 Years of the Spirit & Place Festival

November 5, 2015 | by Bohlsen Group

The 2015 Spirit & Place Festival 20th anniversary year is made up of 31 programs spread out over ten days. Each event sparks conversation surrounding one unifying theme: DREAM. Some events are a window into the dreams of different groups of people in the community. Others explore the nature of the mind, while others still expose dreams that are moving the community forward. Like every year, there’s something for everyone. Choosing an event that speaks to you is part of the fun.

Bohlsen Group has worked with Spirit & Place and its annual festival for many years. We support strategic planning, media relations, social media, and creative services including video services. The city’s largest collaborative festival, the festival brings more than 100 community organizations together and engages upwards of 18,000 people annually throughout Central Indiana. Part of the challenge each year is coordinating efforts among a diverse group of organizers and communicating a complex theme encompassing many disciplines to a general audience. Yet year after year we continue to expand our relationship with Spirit & Place, and the festival continues to have a bigger and more impactful effect on the community as we develop new angles and media opportunities along with helping to foster new relationships with partners in the community.

Part of what’s made this year’s upcoming festival so memorable is that it’s the 20th anniversary year. Spirit & Place was born out of a conversation between Kurt Vonnegut, Dan Wakefield and John Updike in 1996, three literary giants who explored the connection between the arts, humanities and religion, to this day at the heart of Spirit & Place programming. Today, the organization continues to diversify its creative collaborations. Its new community engagement initiative, driving three events this year, has engaged new neighborhoods and intergenerational audiences to build a more vibrant and engaged community.

Working with Spirit & Place Festival is also in strong alignment with our company’s B Corp values of how this company thrives when it supports the community. A major sponsor, Bohlsen Group’s in-kind donations and sponsorship of the festival embodies how companies like ours can benefit the community at large. Vicki Bohlsen, Founder and President of Bohlsen Group, is also chair of Spirit & Place’s steering committee.

Vicki Bohlsen“Spirit & Place truly emulates the definition of community engagement. From partnership identification to relationship building to program implementation, I have been both personally and professionally inspired by the inclusive creative ideation of what I think is a true Indianapolis gem.” – Vicki Bohlsen

Mark your calendars from November 6-15, and discover the events that meet your cup of tea. At almost every event this year at least one member of our staff will be live tweeting #SPIndy. We’ll see you there.

Interested in engaging Bohlsen Group in publicity for an event? Learn more.

marketing budget blog

3 Musings for a Superstar 2016 Marketing Budget

October 27, 2015 | by Mandy Bray

No one can predict what a year will bear. 2016 is a year of promise—an election year, a leap year, an Olympic year.

Each year around this time, marketers look into their proverbial crystal balls and conjecture as to how consumer behavior will trend, and how they can capitalize and reach their audiences. Before you bring your 2016 marketing budget before the powers that be and launch your plan into the unknown, we’ve put together a few tips to give your budget the hard second look that it deserves.

Know Your Audience

Marketers are presented with so many medium choices today—print or digital? Pinterest or Instagram? Email or text notifications?

Before you decide where to spend your manpower and your marketing dollars, know your audience well. Whether through qualitative or quantitative research, doing your homework can make your marketing investments more precise and effective.

Content Promotion

Content marketing is a huge trend that isn’t going away and is chipping year by year at traditional advertising budgets. 2016 is a world where it’s essential to dedicate either staff or external resources to creating unique, quality content. However, before you throw all your resources on the content bandwagon, remember that audience building is a marathon, not a sprint.

The reason ad buying is costly is because it holds key audiences—audiences that weren’t built overnight. Content marketing takes consistency and time to take effect and can pay off in a huge way.

But unless your brand is patient enough to make the long-term investment of building a loyal fanbase, you might want to consider keeping at least a small ad budget to promote your content or hire a PR agency to secure interest in your content and experts through guest articles and media placement.

Measurement First

As some marketers like to say, if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. While this may not be true in absolute terms, aim to prioritize measurement first.

How will you track the success of each of your marketing tactics planned for 2016? Know your intended result for each tactic, whether clicks, opens, purchases, or website conversions, and set up an infrastructure to track it.

This way, when the time comes to set your 2017 budget, you’ll be smarter for the choices you made before 2016 even began.