A Wendtastic Holiday: Gifts!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it’s about to get sweeter!

Introducing a Wendtastic Holiday – 25 of the best Christmas songs, handpicked by yours truly. From timeless classics to off-beat gems, we’ve compiled them all. And if that doesn’t get you in the spirit (it will), download one of our free Christmas wallpapers! We recommend hipster Santa.

Happy Holidays!
-The Wendt Agency

Click to download wallpapers:

2017-12-11T08:53:03+00:00 December 5th, 2017|Uncategorized, Wendt Buzz|0 Comments

PR – What They Teach You and What They Can’t

PR, Public Relations - The Wendt Agency

Let’s get one thing straight. Public relations isn’t marketing, it’s not advertising, and it’s not social media. It’s not all about media relations and it’s not just for businesses. The PR I practice is all of these and not just one. The PR I practice is not spin, but is truth and honesty in a truly transparent manner. The PR I practice is both everything and nothing like I was taught.

You go to college for four years, or more, expecting to learn it all — how to write, how to speak, what to say, what not to say, how to reach the media, how to write a press release … you get the idea. And in some ways you do learn it all, and in some ways you don’t, you can’t. Here’s the breakdown.

We write; it’s what we do. It’s what we were taught to do. No matter how good the story, or pitch, or topic, if you can’t write it, what’s the use? That much is true and always will be. What we’re not taught is how to write well outside of class. All the time. 24/7. PR, as a profession, is not just a 90-minute class with a take-home writing assignment. It’s your job, for eight hours, every day. My advice: find your zone, get in it, and never leave.

Now let’s talk style. Where I come from, it was AP Stylebook do or die. Where I currently reside, it’s AP Stylebook do or don’t die, depending on the client, plus or minus a few things. Do I still reference the AP Stylebook almost every day? Absolutely. Do I experience inner conflict every time I have to go against it? It would be wrong not to. But at the end of the day, I was forced to learn one giant lesson: we all have to make sacrifices. And yes, unfortunately, that sometimes means using the Oxford comma (cringe).

Now we get to transparency, the characteristic that seems to get in everyone’s way, but which is really the simplest of them all. During my four years as a PR major, every PR class promised three things: an ice breaker, a mock campaign, and a lesson on transparency. What I could never figure out is why transparency, the most important characteristic, was also presented as the hardest. Don’t get me wrong, the correlation between the two is certainly not lost, but there’s a reason they call it lying between your teeth — because it’s hard, or at least it should be. Okay, so that’s not the reason, but the logic isn’t bad. Look around and you’ll find that the most confident speakers are those who know what they are talking about. When it’s the truth you’re speaking, there’s no lies to remember or stories to cover up. Just facts. Confronting the truth may be hard, but speaking it will be the easiest thing you’ve ever done.

The biggest thing they don’t teach you is that school is never over. No matter your education, there are always going to be lessons that are left out or can’t be taught. These are the lessons that you must seek, find, and hold onto for dear life.

By: Caitlin Lindsay, Publicity Coordinator

Caitlin Lindsay - PR The Wendt Agency

 

 

 

 

 

Article originally appeared in the Great Falls Tribune.

2017-11-16T09:58:58+00:00 November 16th, 2017|Reflections, Uncategorized|0 Comments

6 Photography Tips for Beginners

Jessica Billings

6 Photography Tips for Beginners

by Jessica Billings

The best thing about art is that there’s always room for growth. At the beginning of the year, I challenged myself to become a better photographer, and here’s what I discovered.

Bighorn sheep at Logan Pass – due to the low light I had to have my ISO pretty high.

1. Manual mode is a must.

My photography improved immensely as soon as I left the comforts of auto and aperture priority mode on my DSLR. Take the time to learn ISO, shutter speed, and aperture and how they work together. This will take your camera from essentially being the same as a point-and-shoot or an iPhone to a tool that helps you create amazing images.

2. Golden hour is your friend.

Shooting in the middle of the day? Not so much. Golden hour, the hour after sunrise and before sunset, yields photos with softer shadows and more dynamic skies. It also allows for longer exposures, which are perfect for waterfalls and can help smooth out lakes. When taking photos of people during this time, I put the sun behind them for a beautiful glow. It’s a great time to get photos of alpenglow, the rosy light of the setting or rising sun seen on mountains.

Swiftcurrent Lake and Many Glacier Hotel at sunrise.

Beargrass off Going-to-the-Sun Road.

3. Patience is a virtue.

My tendency initially was to get to a location, quickly snap some pictures, and head onto the next place. I’ve found that quality photos require much more intention. Now I’ll arrive at a location and do some exploring. I’ll look for things I want to be present in the shot and things I’d like to avoid. Sometimes a better angle is only 10 yards away. I like to arrive before sunrise so I can give myself time to take in a location and find my vision.

4. You’re going to get messy. So is your camera bag. And your tripod.

Photography is an adventure. I climb over rocks, lay down in the dirt, walk in the water – all to get the shot I want. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that allow you to kneel, lay down, bend in odd ways, etc. But don’t get too crazy for the shot – always be aware and cautious of your surroundings.

5. Tripods are a girl’s best friend.

In the early morning/late evening light, a longer exposure is necessary in order to avoid having to bump up the ISO. Before a photography workshop I recently attended, I rarely touched a tripod – in fact, I didn’t even own one. Now I don’t go anywhere without it. My tripod has also served as a trekking pole of sorts on icy/snowy terrain – that’s my kind of multipurpose tool.

6. Never stop learning.

There’s always room for improvement and growth, no matter how long you’ve been taking photos. Follow your favorite photographers on social media, invest in workshops, and never stop challenging yourself. Every time you step outside with your camera is an opportunity to grow, learn, and create something new.

Sunset at Hidden Lake Overlook.

2017-10-13T09:58:10+00:00 October 13th, 2017|Industry Trends|1 Comment

World Tourism Day 2017

Map of Montana

World Tourism Day 2017

This World Tourism Day, the Wendt staff wanted to take the time to showcase the wonderful places our state has to offer. Montana has seemingly limitless possibilities when it comes to sights to see, people to meet, and places to discover. So pull out your map and plan a road trip to somewhere new in Montana. No one ever regretted taking the time to be a tourist in their own state.

Glacier
Country

1. Glacier National Park
2. Apgar
3. St. Mary
4. Lookout Pass
5. Missoula

Southwest Montana

6. Helena
7. Butte
8. Bannack

Yellowstone Country

9. Bozeman
10. Yellowstone National Park

Southeast Montana

11. Billings
12. Ekalaka
13. Miles City
14. Glendive

Missouri River Country

15. Glasgow
16. Fort Peck
17. Zortman

Central Montana

18. Utica
19. Great Falls
20. Fort Benton
21. Conrad

2017-09-27T08:17:03+00:00 September 27th, 2017|Wendt Buzz|0 Comments

Media Buying: Then and Now

By: Pamela Bennett, Senior Media Planner/Buyer

The Wendt Agency has been handling media buying services since it was established in 1929 and has witnessed firsthand the evolving landscape as technology changes consumers’ behaviors.

In the past, a majority of advertising consisted of the main media at the time – newspapers. Newspaper placement strategies were pretty simple. Plans and buys were based on the size of an ad, the frequency of placement, and, if the budget allowed, color for impact.

Newspaper placement would consist of various flights. For instance, in the archives of The Wendt Agency, we have books of old newspaper ads that were done for local businesses, including Sapphire Flour, Great Falls Select, Norwest Bank, Eddy’s bread and many others. Campaigns were developed by product line and messaging. It was common to see several ads for the same business promoting different product lines in the same daily issue or weekly flights. In the “Mad Men” days, from the 1940s to the 1960s, newspapers had the lion’s share of the advertising budget.

 

That simple process has since shifted and become complex in today’s media landscape. Media vehicles are fragmented, varied and require a depth of knowledge outside a typical business owner’s expertise or time. For those who retain agencies or have marketing departments, much of today’s media plan work is built on developing strategies that look at the gamut of options in the marketplace, and the most effective and cost-efficient strategies for reaching today’s consumers.

Media planning and buying is varied. My role at Wendt is to review, analyze and propose media campaign strategies that take into account the complex world in which consumers live. People are bombarded every day by advertising from every conceivable source.

On a daily basis, the average consumer is exposed to:

Newspaper ads, magazine ads, billboards, outdoor signs, point-of-sale signage, direct mail, coupons, receipt ads, grocery cart ads, gas pump advertising, bathroom stall ads, kiosk ads, shopping mall ads, airport waiting area ads, and doctor’s office and hospital waiting area video display ads. If you’ve been to a sporting event, you’ve seen mascots, stadium signs and programs. Even an event sponsorship such as a home and garden show would be considered an advertising vehicle.

Then there are other traditional elements.

Radio has always been a reliable, cost-effective medium that utilizes reach and frequency, which can vary depending on the station format and audience. There can be short or long radio ads, remote broadcasts, and even news and weather sponsorships.

Television and cable advertising is directed at different demographics and audiences. Placement in specific programs and sophisticated dayparting make sure that ads are seen by the right demographic at the right time to ensure maximum reach and frequency for cost-efficient placement.

The emergence of digital and social media and other technology has created a huge shift in today’s media placement. We include digital strategies in every advertising campaign to ensure the ad reaches consumers who might miss traditional media placements.

A well-thought-out digital media campaign, whether it’s to reach the masses or is a hyper-local millennial campaign, is the most complex planning and buying I do at Wendt.

In the digital world alone, there are a multitude of strategies and objectives.

Online consumers are targeted every moment with search query ads, programmatic ad placement, direct publisher preferred placement, in-content native advertising, email advertising, e-newsletters, short video animation, cross platform strategies, mobile ads and text messaging placement. They’re all there – from your desktop, to your tablet to your mobile device.

Wendt also considers placement strategies such as geo-fencing, geo-targeted, demographically targeted placement, contextual and related-content placement. Recently, the advent of streaming ads on platforms such as Pandora, Hulu and Spotify, which include image ads and video, has changed the way Wendt develops ads for our campaigns.

Digital strategies such as in-newsfeed social media ads and custom audience targeting are ways we find consumers using the algorithms developed by Facebook and Google. You’ve all experienced it. When we utilize retargeting, your clicks on images and ads during your search activity allows advertisers to find you and “retarget” your behavior. You’ve become a viable prospect as “in-market.” Try looking for a hotel or airline ticket the next time you are on your computer and you’ll see you’re now part of a retargeting campaign.

In the early days of The Wendt Agency, media buying was simpler. Today it is more complex – customized and tailored to fit the budgets and demands of our clients. The ever-challenging task of finding and placing a mix of the best media tactics is a process we dive into every day to make sure our clients are reaching their target market.

2017-09-14T09:56:37+00:00 September 12th, 2017|Industry Trends, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Social Media Day 2017

Can you believe we are already halfway through 2017? To say a lot has already happened is an understatement. From elections to celebrity news, social media has been an integral part in breaking this year’s biggest stories. Social Media Day is June 30—in celebration let’s take a look at some of the biggest social media stories that have happened in 2017.

Fake News

social media fake newsAs the dust settled from the presidential election, fake news, and especially its prolific rise on social media channels, came into the spotlight. Currently, more than half of U.S. adults say they get news from social media sources. While fake news sites aren’t new, they are now more dangerous because they completely model real news sites and often skew the truth to influence opinions. The influence they were able to wield during and after the election was vastly aided by headline scanning, comment sections, and mass sharing on social sites. In response, Facebook announced the launch of a new initiative, The Facebook Journalism Project, to combat the rise of fake news on its platform and develop a stronger relationship with journalists.

TBD if this will do anything to curb the problem.

Video

While video was the social media buzzword in 2016, it has been integrated into all social channels and continues to reign as king in order of engagement and ROI for users. In a recent Verge article, they talk about Facebook employees’ popular use of “the camera is the new keyboard” mantra. Snapchat has coined itself a camera company from the beginning and continues to move in a video-centric direction with this year’s launch of Spectacles.

Stay tuned for updates across all social media channels that focus on putting videos front and center, with text and images taking a backseat.

Everyone’s On board

people social mediaIt’s 2017, talking about social media and its influence on our lives doesn’t only pertain to our youngest generations anymore.  As mentioned above, more than half of U.S. adults get news from social channels. Social media users are getting older; 53% of U.S. users are over the age of 35. While there are still divisions with Facebook trending with an older audience and Snapchat and Instagram predominantly younger, the gap is quickly decreasing.

Look for social media channel user breakouts to become evenly spread across generations and for new innovations from Generation Z as they put their own mark on social media.

VR/AR

The growth of virtual reality and augmented reality is largely thanks to social media. According to an eMarketer forecast, 40 million people in the U.S. will engage with some form of AR this year. We’ve already seen innovations this year with Snapchat leading the charge on social media. But Facebook and Instagram are also rolling out more ways to include AR in their stories for users. VR adaptation has been slower due to costly hardware, but as these costs decrease, expect to see more headsets and glasses being incorporated into your favorite social channel.

Here’s a glimpse at VR’s future: Facebook Spaces

*Augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality and real life. A good example is Pokémon Go.
*Virtual reality is the creation of a virtual world. A good example is gaming or traveling with Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR.

Backlash media

United Airlines, Pepsi, who’s next? “Backlash media” will continue to grow as brands try to align themselves and their products with social causes.

Snap Map

This new feature allows users to share their location with friends and see snaps happening around them. This has many people worried about security, but this trend of location-based social media isn’t going away.

Mashable launched Social Media Day as a way to celebrate social media’s impact on global communication.  Get involved by following @MashSMDay #SMDay.

2017-08-10T14:45:48+00:00 June 27th, 2017|Industry Trends, Wendt Buzz|0 Comments

Communications 101 – Show Time!

East Middle SchoolThere truly is no one-size-fits-all answer for communications outreach, and the 8th graders in Sarah Milling’s class at East Middle School demonstrated that when they created and implemented their own campaigns aimed at marketing a book to their peers in the 8th grade math class.

Regular readers of this blog might remember that Wendt got involved in this project last February, when Sarah reached out to us. Read all about it here.

With the school year coming to an end, it was time for the top two students in each class, 12 students in all, to bring their presentations to The Wendt Agency for a show and tell. And what a show it was; these young marketers had done their homework and then some!

East Middle SchoolWe watched animated videos, heard about scavenger hunts and special PA announcements, checked out customized websites, read peer reviews, took quizzes, and played online games based on book characters. These middle schoolers used any and every tactic they could to reach their target audience in an impactful way that would lead to action. Marketing at its simplest and finest.

In the end, East Middle School’s 8th grade math students learned about a lot of good books for their summer reading lists, the 8th grade English students developed their marketing muscles, and The Wendt Agency got to watch the next generation of communications specialists get their feet wet.

Win – win – win!

2017-06-09T10:59:47+00:00 June 9th, 2017|Wendt Buzz|0 Comments

Marketing is in Everything We Do

Jennifer Fritz-The Wendt AgencyA business or organization can make an investment in their marketing and advertising, but it is ultimately a waste of time and money if your employees don’t buy into your brand, if your customer service is less than stellar, the product is bad or inconsistent, your storefront is tired, the delivery truck is beat up, your website is a dinosaur, you have negative reviews on your social channels that are unaddressed, or there is an inconsistent voice in your messaging and communications.

Marketing is defined as an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer.

The aggregate of functions referred to is everything a business does to complete a sale. And that is why we are in business, right? To sell our goods and services to consumers. To better understand the power and impact of marketing, it is important to understand the basic four P’s of marketing.

Product: This can be either an intangible service or tangible good that fulfills a need or want of the consumers. In order to successfully market a product or service one has to have a clear understanding of what makes it unique and how that appeals to your target audience.

Price: Once you have a clear understanding of the product you will offer and how it is differentiated, a pricing model can be determined.

Promotion: Includes all the tactics you will use to communicate your product and its unique attributes to consumers. Elements may include advertising, public relations, owned media, social media, collateral distribution, blogging, content marketing, events, and more. It is imperative to your success that your established brand identity be consistent across all outreach channels. Frequency also needs to be considered in the promotion mix: how often do you want to be in front of consumers?

Place: Refers to the ways consumers can interact with or purchase your good or service. This includes storefront locations, website, online retail environment, call centers, etc. In today’s marketing landscape, it is all about providing options and convenience to consumers.

The four P’s help to display why marketing plays such a critical role in everything we do. In a nutshell, everything that the people representing your business do-whether it is product engineers, accountants, HR professionals, those responsible for media relations, warehouse managers, baristas, etc.-affects how consumers will perceive and interact with your brand. In essence, everything we do is marketing, so marketing is everything.

Article first appeared in the Great Falls Tribune

2017-05-08T10:29:13+00:00 May 8th, 2017|Industry Trends|0 Comments

Communications 101

Marketing PresentationIt all started with an unexpected email in February. Middle school teacher Sarah Milling wanted to encourage her students to become excited about reading, and also help them learn a bit about marketing. Her idea? In a nutshell, task her 8th graders with marketing a book to their peers. Her question? Would The Wendt Agency be willing to help? Why, of course we would!

The students got to choose any book they wanted, and that means there is a wide variety of types—biographies, fiction, sci-fi, even a graphic novel. But while the content might be different, the challenge is the same: convince other middle schoolers to read your book.

Three members of the Wendt team—Brenda Peterson, Jennifer Fritz, and Carol Kruger—spent a day at East Middle School, walking the 8th graders through a lot of marketing basics:

  • Defining a brand
  • Doing market research
  • Determining your target audience
  • Developing a marketing plan
  • Deciding on the right mix of communications outreach tactics

Marketing PresentationWe even had a little fun with it, testing their knowledge of logos and tag lines for brands like Pepsi, Beats by Dre, Amazon, and All State. The only one that stumped them? The Quicker Picker Upper, which is for Bounty paper towels. But to the 8th grader who thought “The Quicker Picker Upper” was, or should be, Uber’s tag line—call us when you graduate, because that is genius!

The students are hard at work with their marketing efforts now. We can’t wait to hear how things go and will be keeping all of you updated on the student’s progress as this project moves forward!

Update: Read all about the presentations given at The Wendt Agency!

2017-06-28T13:13:23+00:00 April 13th, 2017|Wendt Buzz|0 Comments

Wendt 2016 Telly Awards

telly award

2016 was an exciting year for broadcast work and even more exciting is the fact that we were honored with four Bronze Telly Awards! View the award-winning work for the Montana Lottery and Resolve Montana below.

 

Montana Lottery – Big Sky Bonus

Montana Lottery – Grills Gone Wild

Resolve Montana – It Isn’t Easy

The Telly Awards were founded in 1979 and honor outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs; video and film productions; and online commercials, videos, and films.

2017-04-13T10:59:29+00:00 April 10th, 2017|Wendt Buzz, Work|0 Comments

Central Montana and The Wendt Agency — A Partnership
Built to Last

We do more than just work in Central Montana. We live here; play here; explore here.

Central Montana is home in every sense of the word. So The Wendt Agency has always been thrilled to work with the Central Montana Tourism Region to promote the authentic and unforgettable adventures that surround us every day.

Wendt has been a partner with Central Montana since 1992, back when it was still called Russell Country after famed Western artist Charles M. Russell. We’ve traveled to every corner of the region, and we have the photos to prove it! Pics or it didn’t happen, right? And yes, we know that phrase is almost as old as this relationship!

Below is a glimpse of a Wendt road trip experiencing some of Central Montana’s gems.

Success can only occur when there is a deep agency-client partnership built on mutual respect and dedication to cutting-edge ideas and solutions.Wendt and Central Montana have built this together, and it shows in our work. Want to see an example? Check out our recent “Fun with Dick and Jane” campaign. It’s just one way Wendt has brought the Central Montana message to the target audience of potential visitors.

We look forward to many more years of sharing the Central Montana story. If you can’t wait for that, head on over to the Central Montana Facebook page or follow them on Twitter and Instagram. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

2017-04-06T15:21:46+00:00 March 30th, 2017|Culture|0 Comments

Creating Engaging and Clickable Banner Ads

Engaging banner adsBy Meghan Shaulis

It’s no secret that advertising is migrating from traditional mediums toward the digital world. One of the most common digital mediums currently is the banner ad. Digital banner ads can be extremely cost effective and are trackable, offering the opportunity for key insights into your campaigns. Achieving a high click-through rate is essential to the success of any digital campaign. This goal is no easy task, however. With trillions of digital ads on the internet, how do you make your ad stand apart?

Following is a list of tips for designing banner ads and bringing in those vital clicks.

  1. Design for your audience

Remember to keep your target audience in mind when building your digital ads. With only seconds to catch their attention, your ad better speak to them. Your target audience should be reflected in your choice of wording, imagery, and call to action.

  1. Be clear about what you are offering

It takes much more than an attractive design to get your target audience to respond. Be clear about what you are offering by conveying one straightforward message. Keep in mind, a banner ad only lasts 15-30 seconds. This is an extremely limited amount of time to get your message across and encourage engagement.

  1. Keep it visually simple

You are already competing with trillions of ads on the internet. Don’t create competition within your ad. Keep the importance of basic design theory in mind. Your banner design should be visually simple. Utilize strong and readable fonts, impactful colors, and be brief with content. If you overstimulate users with fonts, animation, and color, it will dilute your ability to convey your message.

  1. Use animation, but sparingly

Animated ads usually outperform static banner ads and can be very effective in banner design. There is a fine line between compelling and overwhelming, however. Use animations sparingly and in an impactful way to draw attention to your ad, complement your message, and compel users to respond.

  1. Use buttons

Buttons are known to increase click-through rates. While the whole ad is clickable, a button can help create a visual cue that you are asking for a click. Use buttons tastefully while still creating attention. Consider using contrasting colors, and remember that visually they should be consistent throughout the set of ads.

  1. Load time

Nothing kills a media experience like delays in loading. Don’t waste your time and media dollars by missing the opportunity for your audience to see your ad. Make sure to save your files properly to ensure a quick load time.

These are just a few tips to make sure your digital banner ads stand apart from the crowd. Banner ads are often small in a world of digital clutter, so take the time to make yours stand apart and people will be responding in no time! And if you find creating compelling, clickable banner ads a little too challenging, consider hiring an expert to help you create a successful digital campaign.  

 

2017-06-27T15:32:35+00:00 March 21st, 2017|Industry Trends|0 Comments

Remove These Phrases from Your Marketing Strategy in 2017

by Carol Kruger

 

chess-website

Many people ring in the new year with New Year’s resolutions. While personal resolutions do have mixed results—eating healthy gets pretty hard to do when the Valentine’s Day chocolate shows up—To strengthen your marketing strategy, I think each and every business owner should take a minute during the new year to banish these phrases from their marketing planning.

“There are plenty of customers out there.”

Maybe. But there are also plenty of competitors out there, and you have to fight harder today for each and every customer, each and every sale. Most customers are researching and buying products and services from those companies that take the time to communicate with them; to explain why their products and services are better than their competitors. Being engaged with customers and potential customers means your company is the one they will think of when they are ready to make a purchase.

“Our marketing isn’t driving traffic into our business or our website.”

If you aren’t getting customers in the door or visits to your website, I’m willing to bet your potential customers don’t really know enough about you. You need to do more than have one open house, run four newspaper ads a year, or do that one three-day paid campaign on Facebook. Consistently marketing your business throughout the year in various media using a wide variety of tactics will help you truly connect with your target audiences.

“Our product/service sells itself so we don’t need marketing.”

Having a loyal customer base is amazing—congratulations! But can you really afford to ignore potential new customers? Is your business so financially secure that you really could not handle even one more customer or sale? If you are truly thinking about your business long term, I am going to hope you understand the need to keep bringing in new customers. One excellent way to do that: make sure your marketing efforts are being seen and heard by more than your current customers.

“We can’t seem to reach our potential customers.”

Are you really trying to? Or are you trying to reach yourself or your customers from 10 years ago? Remember, just because you love a specific radio station or cable channel, does not mean your target audience loves it, or even knows it exists. Your customer might have very different media usage habits than you do, or even than they used to have. A decade ago you could probably run a very successful campaign targeting women 25-54 without including any social media. These days, it’s crazy if social media is not a part of that ad mix. The key here is getting to know your customers. Once you know them, you will have a much better idea of how to reach them with your marketing message.

The bottom line is that marketing is an important business investment. To make the most of that investment, you should evaluate your marketing strategy regularly, making adjustments as needed. This will help your business succeed—today, tomorrow, and a decade from now.

2017-02-22T11:37:55+00:00 January 27th, 2017|Industry Trends, Uncategorized|0 Comments

holiday

We are proud to say that creativity is abundant here at The Wendt Agency, and not just in our professional work. Many of us like to exercise our unique talents to help create joy, especially during the holiday season.

Taking extra time to do something special this Christmas can go a long way, whether it’s for your family and friends, your customers, or for those you don’t know personally but are in need of help.

No matter what you do during this festive time, do so with a genuine heart. Your customers, social media followers, and—of course—those you love will appreciate your sincerity and generosity.

Click through our recipes and craft projects below to explore how some of us express our creativity and spread holiday cheer.

Katie’s Homemade Vanilla Extract

This is a great, easy project. This vanilla is perfect for baking (or flavoring holiday cocktails!). It may be a little late for gift giving this Christmas (it does take some time to turn into vanilla), but it would be a breeze to throw together now for an easy holiday present next year.

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle bourbon or vodka
  • 7-8 vanilla beans
  • Small jars or bottles for gifting

Instructions

  1. Slice vanilla beans in half lengthwise.
  2. Place your vanilla beans in the bottle of alcohol (you may need to pour out drink a bit to make room).
  3. Cap tightly and shake gently.
  4. Store in a cool, dark place for at least 2-3 months, shaking occasionally.
  5. When ready to gift, pour into small jars (airplane liquor bottles work well).

Jessica’s Plaid Ornaments

I was inspired to make these after seeing plaid ornaments in stores and because I had some scrap fabric at home. Being from Virginia, I’m not used to such cold weather during Christmas time, so I knew I wanted my tree and house to feel very warm and cozy. I decided to use burnt red colored fabric to match the plaid scraps I already had. Any round plastic ornaments will do for this project; mine are about three inches in diameter. You will also need a pair of scissors, paper clips, and some jute twine.

Directions

  1. Cut your fabric
    I cut my fabric to be about 12” x 12” square-ish. The edges don’t need to be perfect as this will add character to the finished ornament. Just make sure when you bunch the fabric around the ornament that it covers the entire thing. The larger the piece of fabric, the more fabric you’ll have bunched at the top.
  2. Wrap your fabric around the ornament
    Place your ornament in the middle of your fabric and bring the ends up to create a nice bunch at the top.
  3. Tie your jute bow
    Take a piece of jute twine about 14-18 inches long. This will be your bow, so the longer the twine, the larger the bow. Tie it around the fabric bunch at the top of your ornament.
  4. Make your hook
    Now take a paper clip and open it to create an S shape. Hook the bottom loop on to your ornament, and then hang on your tree and enjoy!

To me, the holiday season is a time of coming together, whether it is with your family or the friends that have become your family when you are away from home. It’s also a great excuse to watch Christmas movies, listen to happy music all of the time, and really embrace the season of giving and caring for one another.

Alyse’s Christmas Lanterns

I love crafting AND I love Christmas, so combining the two creates hours of entertainment for me and meaningful gifts for my friends and family.

I find repurposing items for crafts and home décor to be especially fun. Resourcefulness is key—what an accomplishment when I take scraps or unwanted items and turn them into something great!

So when I had several white lanterns left over from my summer wedding decorations, I was inspired to transform them into Christmas decorations to give away as gifts (and, of course, keep a few to decorate my own home with!).

Directions

I had already spray-painted these lanterns white, so all I needed were decorative items to add to them. I bought ribbons, twigs, pinecones, berries, glittery items, shiny items, beads, etc.—pretty much anything in green, red, white, or silver that would fit inside the lanterns.

Then I simply stuffed the lanterns. This is where happy accidents play a big role! The bottom layer included the heaviest material, and then I added varieties of shapes, textures, and colors as I worked my way up.

In the two larger lanterns, I decided to use a candle as the centerpiece. I surrounded the candle with decorative items that added more colors and textures.

To finish them off, I tied colorful ribbon and small pieces of the interior materials to the top of the lanterns. Voila!

Brenda’s Swiss Cheese Fondue—The Real Thing!

Several years ago, we took a winter vacation to Switzerland. We enjoyed so many wonderful culinary delights, especially the cheese fondue (more than once)! When we got back to Montana, I could hardly wait to incorporate it into our holiday season. Now it has become a tradition for our Christmas Eve dinner.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 8 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 8 oz. Jarlsberg cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp. Kirsch (cherry liqueur)
  • Salt, fresh ground pepper, and a dash of nutmeg
  • French bread, cubed

Download Brenda’s Fondue Recipe
Cheese Fondue

Rub a heavy pot or ceramic fondue pot with garlic, leaving shreds in the pot. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Slowly add cheeses, continue stirring, and lower heat until all the cheese is melted. Dissolve the cornstarch in the Kirsch and add to cheese. Add a dash of salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Keep over very low flame. At your table setting, provide everyone with a shot glass of Kirsch and a plate with fresh ground pepper. Make sure the shot glass is wide enough to dip the bread cubes in the Kirsch.

Dip a bread cube slightly in the Kirsch (just a little corner of the bread). Then dip it in the fondue, swirling it around in the cheese. Finally, dip a small corner of the cheese-covered bread in the pepper. Pop it in your mouth, enjoy, and start the whole process over again. Once dinner is over, if there is any Kirsch left in your shot glass, make a toast to the holidays!

To me, the holidays are about spending time with family and friends and enjoying the season with fantastic food and drink. Those are the best gifts one can receive!

2017-03-29T11:45:56+00:00 December 15th, 2016|Culture|0 Comments

Silos are for farms, not marketing plans

siloSilos are a common sight in north central Montana—standing tall in the fields and on farms, protecting the harvest until it is needed. In agriculture, they work and they work well. In marketing, that’s another story.

Silos mean separation, and having a marketing plan made up of distinct silos—each one disconnected from the others—is not the way to create a successful outreach effort.

A comprehensive marketing plan needs consistency and coordination. Every area needs to be analyzed and planned, not only in relation to marketing goals, target audiences, seasonality, and events but also in relation to all the other areas. Public relations efforts need to complement paid media. Ad design needs to support the brand and the specific sale or event it is promoting. Each of your marketing channels is simply a way to share information, and all of them need to be scheduled to maximize the impact of the message. This means a strong and consistent presence in front of customers; not so little outreach that no one remembers it and not so much that your marketing channels are competing with each other causing sheer volume to overpower the actual content of the message.

Your marketing channels can include

  • Website
  • In-store events
  • Trade shows
  • Paid media placement
  • Social media
  • Collateral pieces (brochures, flyers, posters)
  • Ads (print, radio, TV, digital)

That’s not even a complete list, and let’s face it, you probably weren’t thinking about how much you enjoyed marketing when you decided to open your business. But creating a successful business means paying attention to a lot of things, including marketing. A successful marketing plan doesn’t happen by accident. It takes research, planning, negotiating, analysis, and collaboration. All of the outreach efforts need to work together, doing double duty whenever possible. Can your paid ads drive traffic to your website? Can your social media outreach extend your public relations messages? Can you collect email addresses at an in-store event to create your own email list? Probably. But only if you, or the members of your marketing team, coordinate efforts. Only if they do not exist in silos.

Creating and living that culture of collaboration is something we are committed to at The Wendt Agency. We have experts in every area of marketing, and we constantly bring all our talents together to create better, stronger communications strategies. This is teamwork taken to a higher level, using idea sharing and brainstorming to not only accomplish a common goal but to also achieve results that would not be possible if we were not coordinating our efforts.

Whether you are a marketing department of one or a team working in different areas, planning and implementing a marketing plan that stretches your marketing dollars while effectively reaching your potential customers is the primary goal. So think about it, plan for it, talk about it. Make sure every marketing effort doesn’t just work on its own; make sure it works in conjunction with every other one of your marketing efforts. The success of your business depends on it.

2017-02-22T10:22:51+00:00 November 21st, 2016|Industry Trends|0 Comments

Bringing Smiles to Montanans

Big Sky Bonus Smile

Is there anything better than smiling Montanans? There is so much in our state to smile about—beautiful scenery, friendly people, endless outdoor recreation, the change of seasons, and the Montana Lottery, just to name a few. The Montana Lottery provides entertainment and fun for Montana residents, and their new Big Sky Bonus game is definitely something to smile about!

Big Sky BonusWendt partnered with the Montana Lottery when launching their newest game, Big Sky Bonus, a Montana-only daily progressive that provides some of the best odds of any Lottery game. Our goal with branding and new creative messaging was to be entertaining, fun, and memorable. This was accomplished through showcasing real people celebrating Montana and the Montana Lottery. For a deeper look at this campaign and the elements used to bring awareness to the new Montana-only game, click here.

 

2016-10-26T09:28:53+00:00 October 25th, 2016|Work|0 Comments

Exercise in Leadership

Wendt Agency Leadership Montana

Here at the Wendt Agency, we are dedicated to improving ourselves, company, community and state. That’s a certainly a tall order but, one thing which always helps – Leadership Montana.

The state’s premiere leadership development program, Leadership Montana is constantly working to help members grow and embrace the change which surrounds us to create an empowered future.

Recently, several members of the Wendt team attended the annual Confluence event. It was held in Butte and featured a thought-provoking leadership exercise created by the PEAK, a local Butte business. The group was divided into teams and given one of six survival scenarios (plane crashed in the desert; stranded on a snowy mountain; shipwrecked at sea, etc.).  We had to visit 12 Uptown Butte businesses and answer a trivia question to receive a clue. After correctly answering, we blindly selected an “asset,” (such as the Peruvian bat featured in the photo). After collecting 12 assets, we reconvened back at the conference room to craft our story of survival and negotiate with other teams to gain more helpful assets (if you have snow shoes but are lost at sea…maybe you want to trade that asset for something more helpful…like a desalination kit). Once our story was crafted, we were pitted against another team with the same survival scenario to “sell our story” of survival to the group. The group selected the winner based on use of assets and feasibility of survival. That team “survived” and the other team “did not.” The lessons were in leadership, problem solving, negotiating, time management, emotional preparedness, etc.

While not everyone from Wendt “survived” the exercise, we did all learn a lot about making the best use out of any and all resources, even or especially when that required seeing the asset in a completely different light.

Next year’s Confluence will be in Miles City and we cannot wait to see whatwill happen there!

2016-10-26T09:28:53+00:00 September 27th, 2016|Reflections|0 Comments

Kruger Honored at YWCA Salute to Women

Carol, our Senior Vice President and one of our fearless Directors, was recently honored at the 25th annual YWCA Salute to Women event for her work in creative arts. Salute to Women strives to honor women who use their talents and strength to make Great Falls and the surrounding areas a better place to live.

Joined by five other women of achievement and distinction being honored in categories ranging from education to volunteer community service, Carol accepted her award amongst community leaders, past honorees, family, friends, and coworkers. She expressed her appreciation by thanking the women of Wendt for nominating her and to her family for always being there to support her in everything she does. Carol also mentioned that when she was notified of this award, it was one of the few times in her life she was at a loss for words!

While you may think of creative arts as designers, Carol’s work with Wendt’s public relations and media departments as well as being a leader of our agency brings strategy and enthusiasm to the services we provide for our clients. Carol’s ability to think on her feet and grace in handling any situation is enviable not only in the office but throughout the community. She is a mentor to the 13 women at Wendt by showing us all how to respond to situations that might sometimes be a little uncomfortable or awkward with poise and assertion.

2016 Salute to Women Wendt Agency

 

2016-10-26T09:28:53+00:00 September 23rd, 2016|Wendt Buzz|0 Comments

Promoted: Kara Smith and Jennifer Fritz

Please join us in congratulating Kara Smith and Jennifer Fritz for their recent promotions. We are so fortunate to have their talents on the Wendt team.

Kara Smith has been promoted to Creative Director, overseeing the entire creative department. She manages projects from concept to completion, translating marketing objectives into creative strategies covering everything from print to broadcast and digital work. She ensures all materials meet our standards for quality and innovative creativity.

Kara has been with Wendt for nine years and is a shareholder of the company. She was honored at the Great Falls YWCA’s Salute to Women in 2014.

Kara Smith has been promoted to Creative Director
Jennifer Fritz has been promoted to Client Services Manager

Jennifer Fritz has been promoted to Client Services Director, working to ensure superior service for all our clients by leading account service activities, managing the account team, and directing client communications. She is a leader in our website services, working in collaboration with the creative director and web development team to deliver breakthrough trends and technologies.

Jen has been with Wendt for six years and is a shareholder of the company. She is a 2014 graduate of Leadership Montana.

2016-10-26T09:28:53+00:00 September 14th, 2016|Wendt Buzz|0 Comments