Kids Parade

If you’re still looking for something fun to do on the 4th of July, we encourage you to check out the annual Highland Neighborhood Fourth of July celebration, which has been drawing thousands to the area for more than a decade.

In addition to a parade and community picnic, this year’s festivities include live music, performances from local dance troupes, a bike decorating contest, field day games and an amateur pie competition. Judged by local celebrity chefs, the contest includes a $500 gift certificate to Linger for the winner.

The event kicks off at 8 am with a bike decorating party at 32nd and Clay Street and culminates with the creation of a 200-foot long sundae, crafted by our client Little Man Ice Cream and eagerly devoured by attendees – both young and old. For a full schedule, click here.

The Stasko Agency has been involved in the Fourth of July celebration since its inception. The goal was to simply find a way to bring the community together at a time when Lower Highland was beginning to attract a variety of new residents. But we also hoped that through the event, visitors from other parts of Denver would gain exposure to our little neck of the woods and all we had to offer, including such unique merchants as Little Man, which opened on July 4, 2008.

                                                                                           

As a homegrown PR agency, we wanted to help put Highland on the map, so we helped organize the initial event, raised funds to cover entertainment, food and drinks and also promoted the celebration to the media. The result is an event that continues to grow and gain attention. We are consistently included in lists of local top 4th of July celebrations by such publications as 303 Magazine and Denver Life Magazine.

We continue to be heavily involved in fundraising and promoting the event, which remains one of our favorite holiday gatherings of the year. It also serves as a great reminder of how community events can serve as great public relations tools.

As I embarked on creating a new web site for The Stasko Agency, I felt very blessed to be reminded of where I started 20 years ago and where I am today. My career in publicity and public relations has been an interesting journey, which has taught me a lot along the way, one being that relationships with your community and neighbors are invaluable.

I have lived in Lower Highland (LoHi) or North Denver since 1995. The area has experienced tremendous growth during that time, with new restaurants, shops and apartment communities popping up monthly. Yet, while all of these new additions are exciting, I think it’s worth paying tribute to the local merchants who laid down roots in the neighborhood long before it was one of the hottest enclaves in Denver. These pioneers have provided consistently strong service and support for the community and they are well worth your time. Here’s a closer look at some of the neighborhood’s long-standing businesses.

Shapes Salon – Shapes Salon and Studio is one of Denver’s top curly salons – and also specialize in color treatment and other top of the line haircare services. Richelle Gonzales, owner of Shapes has been in the area since purchasing her location in 2000. Gonzales and her team are dedicated to helping you look and feel your best. Being a “curly girl” myself, I know how important it is to find a stylist that understands how to work with curly hair. Shapes Salon has mastered giving curly girls exactly what they are looking for! http://shapessalonandstudio.com

Gaetano’s – One of the oldest Italian restaurants in North Denver, Gaetano’s was founded in 1947 by Denver’s legendary Smaldone mob family. In 2013, Rob Robinson took the helm after he purchased the business from Breckenridge-Wynkoop LLC, which had run the restaurant since 2004. Gaetano’s specializes in classic Italian cuisine and with its dimly-lit dining room, tall burgundy booths and wall-to-wall historic black and white photos, offers a taste of the Denver of yesteryear. The Burrata – burrata cheese, prosciutto, balsamic, grilled ciabatta – is one of the best in Denver!

http://www.gaetanositalian.com/

 

Joie de Vivre – Back in the early 2000’s it was challenging to find a gym or exercise class in LoHi. So when Ansley Watson opened the doors to Joie de Vivre Pilates in 2006 – her unique teaching style known as The Watson Method – drew exercise buffs and proved that the neighborhood was ready to support a variety of fitness studios. I have taken many of Ansley’s classes over the years and can attest that her approach to exercise and injury rehabilitation is effective.

http://watsonmethod.com/

 

Gallop Café – I was fortunate to meet Gallop Café owners David Grafke and Glen Baker, back in 2004 when I was representing the historic Weir building where Gallop Café is housed. Since Gallop Café opened, it has become the go-to coffee shop for many Highland regulars. I highly recommend their fresh coffee and wonderful, revolving slate of flavored scones.

http://www.gallopcafe.com/

It’s been a busy year for Mudlick Mail, a longtime client of The Stasko Agency. The direct mail company, which we’ve worked with since its founding in 2008, was recently acquired by the private investment firm Clearview Capital. The acquisition will provide Mudlick with the infrastructure and technology needed to sustain its success. Based in Acworth, GA, Mudlick serves 11,000 customers nationwide and posted its eighth consecutive year of revenue growth in 2017.

Mudlick President Tim Ross, who co-founded the company with automotive repair shop operator Greg Sands, will continue to lead the company and has assumed the title of chief executive officer. The company is also adding to its management ranks with the appointment of its first Chief Financial Officer. Zenon Olbrys is a financial and operational business expert, who has specialized in start-ups, business transformations and high-growth companies.

 

 

In addition, the company recently formed a partnership with a major automotive industry retailer, which will likely expand its client base. A rebranding is also on tap to better reflect Mudlick’s expanding slate of services, including digital marketing.

We toast Mudlick’s success and look forward to working with the company’s leadership far into the future. For more background, check out our case study, which provides a closer look at how the exposure we built for the company helped spur its growth.

 

Sarto’s, the social Italian eatery tucked inside the burgeoning Jefferson Park neighborhood, has made a number of changes since it opened nearly three-and-a-half years ago. So, earlier this month, we hosted a media dinner to showcase the restaurant’s evolution.

We drew a diverse group – some familiar with Sarto’s and others, newcomers – that included writers and editors for Denver Life Magazine, Eater Denver, Dining Out, Thrillist and the Denver Post. To highlight the restaurant’s diverse offerings, we invited our attendees to experience an abbreviated version of Sarto’s burrata-making class, taught by Executive Chef Garret Mayer. They also enjoyed a sampling of Sarto’s Cicchetti Bar – where diners can gather for cocktails and quick bites or snacks based on a board of options that changes daily.

Our guests also spent time in The Pantry, a full-service Italian counter featuring hot lunch entrees, a variety of salads, fresh house-made pastas, sauces, pastries and truffles. The Pantry’s menu also includes beer, wine and cocktails and an array of grab and go options. Attendees agreed that with new residential developments popping up weekly in the neighborhood, The Pantry’s expanded options should fill a much-needed niche.

Of course, owner Taylor Swallow was eager to share some of his favorite picks from Sarto’s dinner menu, as well as some new offerings that will be featured in the months to come. Attendees were treated to a tasting menu that included a Gnocchi “tater tot,” Cannelloni Con Coniglio with juniper-braised rabbit and grilled swordfish. We were thrilled to have them dine in the restaurant’s Verona Room, a cozy private dining area that serves as the backdrop for Sarto’s Sunday night screenings, which feature a themed-dinner and movie.

Throughout the evening, Taylor provided attendees with some background on the restaurant’s history and its unique name, which means “tailor” in Italian and is a nod to the building’s former use as a fabric shop and Sarto’s approach to dining, tailored to each guest’s desire.

We had a great time educating our guests about Sarto’s, thanks in large part to top-notch service from Taylor and his staff. We believe the media walked away with a better understanding of everything the restaurant has to offer and a deeper appreciation for Chef Garret’s finely-crafted food.

Check out some of Sarto’s positive reviews in Dining Out and Culinary Colorado.

Stasko Agency Experience:

Since we frequently get inquiries from students interested in working as interns for The Stasko Agency, we thought it might be helpful to hear from our latest intern, Gracia Mboko, a senior at the University of Denver. Gracia will graduate in June with a degree in strategic communications. In the following post, she shares her insight about working with our firm.

Working with Lu has been phenomenal so far. She is a great leader and encompasses so much passion and dedication to her business, which has been inspiring to see.  I have gained a hands-on perspective into the world of public relations and publicity, and the various roles associated with this profession.

The main task I was involved in throughout my internship was helping Lu rebrand herself and build an entirely new website.  This was such an exciting project for me to work on, as I was involved in the decision-making process from the very beginning to the very end. Although it is still a work in progress, every week we have gotten closer to executing Lu’s vision. 

Prior to this task, I had used the website-building tools Wix and WordPress for class assignments. Let me tell you, the pre-built sites they feature, make website development seem a lot easier than it really is. There are hours and hours of research, consultations and trial and error before you can put post anything up in the Web.

A big part of building this site involved figuring out to ensure that it accurately reflected Lu as a person and captured the culture of her work through the content and design.  Attention to details proved to be very important, because everything from choosing a website template, color palettes, fonts, and images plays a role in how the company is perceived and what it represents.  A chief goal was to differentiate The Stasko Agency from all the other competing agencies in Denver, while staying true to Lu’s brand that she has established through her public relations work over the last two decades.

One of the most valuable things I learned from this experience was the importance of relationships. Lu has built strong relationships with her clients, partners and colleagues. Seeing how robust these relationships are has been truly eye-opening. She manages several businesses outside of her agency, has tight-knit relationships with her family members, and is still able to make amazing things happen for her clients.

Lu Stasko is the epitome of a superhero – she does it all! Working for Lu has been a great experience, and has helped me solidify the career path I want to take once I graduate. I am excited about the upcoming projects that I will be fortunate enough to experience with The Stasko Agency.

 

I would like to take a moment to highlight some of our amazing clients.

Shop Fix Academy 

We are proud to announce our partnership with Aaron Stokes and his company Shop Fix Academy. Based out of Franklin, TN, Shop Fix Academy is an online, accredited, educational platform for auto shop owners and managers to learn the skills necessary to run their business. Aaron and his team provide their students with online video courses that cover a wide variety of management topics as well as marketing advice and employee management. Aaron owns four EuroFix and two AutoFix locations as well as hosting his own radio show in Tennessee where he talks about his first love, auto repair. Our work with Shop Fix Academy has garnered them recognition in several Auto Industry magazines including, MotorAge Magazine, Parts and People, Ratchet + Wrench and Tire Review.

PAN Denver

We helped launch PAN-Denver a Patient Advocacy Nurse program owned by Lisa Bushman R.N. After 30 years at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Lisa wanted to extend her reach further and started PAN Denver in July. As a Patient Advocate Nurse Lisa will be able to help the “Sandwich Generation” navigate the struggles of caring for their elderly parents or their chronically ill children. Lisa has experience working with doctors in many different specialties and would be able to translate difficult medical lingo, manage prescriptions and create detailed logs of doctor’s visits and hospital stays. Her work is so valuable to anyone caring for a loved one and we are so happy to be spreading the word about her valuable work. Lisa was recently interviewed for the Denver Business Journal and we are so excited to help her grow her business.

 

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Lisa Bushman and her new car decal for her newly launched business.

Reed Art + Imaging

One of the highlights of our year so far has been our work with a long time Denver residents Reed Art + Imaging. At the end of last year, we were approached by their team to assist them with their struggles regarding the Federal Expansion Project. They decided to re-locate their business from Federal to the ever-growing 40W Arts District and we are so glad they did because their new space in the old Harley-Davidson building on Colfax is stunning and brimming with potential. Despite the hardships of being forced to move we are so happy to see something positive come out of this story and are looking forward to Reed’s Re-Grand Opening later this year.

 

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Photo from a Denver Post article featuring Reed Art + Imaging. Photo Credit: Andy Cross with the Denver Post

City of Wheat Ridge 

Another highlight of 2017 has been our continued partnership with the City of Wheat Ridge and the Wheat Ridge Education Alliance. Wheat Ridge High School has a fantastic STEM program that is a part of the Jeffco Public Schools Vision 20/20 program that helps students prepare for the work-force. The Wheat Ridge Transcript ran a front-page article highlighting some of the benefits of these programs. We are very proud of our work with Wheat Ridge schools and were excited to see where the rest of the year takes us.

The Bindery 

In the Fall of this year, Chef and Food Entrepreneur, Linda Hampsten-Fox will be opening her restaurant The Bindery on 1817 Central St. We are all very excited for the opening of her restaurant that will serve inspired eats, morning, noon and night with an urban marketplace atmosphere. We have been working with Linda to garner press for her opening as well as some of the events she’s hosted leading up to it. A highlight was Linda speaking with celebrity-chef Andrew Zimmern at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival.

 

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Chef Linda Hampsten-Fox and Andrew Zimmern at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival

 

We have so many other fantastic clients that you will be hearing more about over the coming months. We look forward to providing our readers with more content, thank you as always for your support.

In July, we had the opportunity to help introduce Colorado to Open Blue Cobia, a sustainable fish farm located off the coast of Panama. We hosted a well-attended event at Denver’s own Beast and Bottle with special guest Governor John Hickenlooper. Governor Hickenlooper was first introduced to Open Blue Cobia at the Biennial of Americas and had the opportunity to visit the farm in Panama this past year.

Open Blue is the world’s largest deep-water, open ocean fish farm and the largest supplier of Cobia fish. The event served as the official launch of Open Blue Cobia in Colorado, which has embraced the sustainable fish. In addition to Beast and Bottle, Open Blue Cobia can be found at Mercantile Dining and Provisions, Bittersweet and Panzano. The fish can also be purchased at Tony’s Market in the Denver-area, Clark’s Market in Snowmass and Divine Fish Market in Montrose.

 

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Open Blue Cobia Team posing with Governor Hickenlooper

 

The special menu included: Cobia Ceviche, Cobia Unagi and Pickled Beet and Cobia Salad. Guests also enjoyed a special virtual reality (VR) experience that allowed them to dive into the world of the Open Blue Fish Farm both by air and by sea.

 

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Brian O’Hanlon (Open Blue), Governor Hickenlooper, Chef Paul Reilly (Beast + Bottle)

 

 

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Governor Hickenlooper enjoying the Open Blue VR experience

 

Open Blue was featured in a segment on Fox 31 Denver.

http://kwgn.com/2016/07/20/open-blue-cobia/

In September, we helped the frozen fruit snack company Froozer launch its Froozer Fuels Fund, a campaign designed to help address the issue of childhood hunger. To kick of the Fund, Froozer pledged to donate up to $100,00 of product per year for the next 10 years (for a total pledge of $1 Million worth of product) to Food Bank of the Rockies in support of their partnership with the Boys and Girls Club’s Kids Cafe program, which provides healthy snacks to children in need.

 

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The Froozer Team and Mayor Hancock celebrating the Froozer Fuels Fund

 

The Stasko Agency coordinated a press conference at the Vickers Boys and Girls Club in northeast Denver with special guests Mayor Hancock and entertainer DJ Cavem. Participants in Boys and Girls Club after-school programs attended and had a total blast trying Froozer’s healthy snacks.

 

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Mayor Hancock addressing the children at the Boys and Girls Club

 

Froozer was featured in a segment for Fox 31’s Colorado’s Best with Paula Haddock and Joana Canals. Paula also included Froozer in a Facebook LIVE video which has a special cameo by The Stasko Agency!

We look forward to working more with Froozer in 2017!

 

The Stasko Agency checked out the Luke’s Diner Pop-Up Shop at Purple Door Coffee in Five Points yesterday morning. The Pop-up shop was a way for fans to interact with each other and share photos on social media for the Gilmore Girls air-date birthday celebration. The Pop-up was hosted by Netflix to promote their revival of the beloved Warner Brothers show. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life will premiere on Netflix, November 25th just in time for the holidays. Fans enjoyed free coffee courtesy of Netflix and could take photos under the iconic “Luke’s” sign.
Pop-up shops like this one are great options for companies/brands to interact with their fans and other local businesses.
Denver7 was also there to capture the fun and shared a video for their nightly news segment!
Fans heard about this event through sources like 9News, Facebook news and sites like EntertainmentWeekly.com and HuffingtonPost.com 
 

 

 

Netflix encouraged fans to post about the Pop-up on social media.

It seems that bad news is everywhere today.  Turn on your TV, switch on your radio, pick up a paper stories of disasters, tragedies and sadness inundate us at every turn.  For some, it’s overwhelming.  For others, it’s an opportunity to reach out and help their fellow man with acts of kindness and charity.  
But can tragedy and disaster be a means to garnering good PR?  The simple answer is yes…and no.  It’s a complex issue and one that both businesses and newsrooms have been tackling for years.  The events in Oklahoma City, Boston and Newtown are devastating and yet, many organizations have jumped on these events to promote their particular ideology, product or service; and not all of them have been successful in their efforts.
Be Aware:
Recently I had a phone conversation with a local television news producer who complained that too often businesses simply don’t understand how to pitch a story dealing with tragic events.  For instance, in the immediate aftermath of the Oklahoma City tornado, his newsroom received a release trumpeting the fact that a local business was sending donated items in relief for the victims.  On the surface, it sounded like a good feel-good angle.  It was local, it dealt specifically with the big news of the day and it had excellent visuals.  However, after speaking with the business owner it became apparent that the only thing the owner wanted to talk about was the business, NOT the charity.
The producer vented his frustration noting that the story the business wanted to pitch wasn’t about their relief efforts but the business, which was not the point of the original pitch.  The producer admits that the business story, was a good story and one worthy of looking at as a package down the road, but not appropriate for the immediate tornado follow up.  
In this case, the timing was completely wrong.  Had the business owner waited, even a week, the story may have been better received.  What it came across as, though, was a business trying to capitalize on the suffering of others, even if that wasn’t the business’ intent.
More importantly, though, the big mistake this particular business made, as well as many others, is that they misrepresented their story.  Remember, one of the most important tools you have in your PR toolbox is your relationship with newsrooms and journalists.  When you misrepresent a story by pitching one story in a release, and then try to change it during the interview, you ruin that relationship.
Be Up Front:
Had the business in question simply stated in their pitch that they had a product or service that could be of great help during times of disasters, and made certain that everyone knew that was the point of their pitch and their story, there would have been no confusion, and the producers and reporters could have made a better, more informed decision.
In the end, the story never ran, and both parties left feeling slighted, which is unfortunate.
This isn’t to say that small businesses shouldn’t promote their acts of charity.  It’s important to let the community know that you are out there and working for the improvement of your neighborhood.  But be aware that it’s all in how you pitch the story and your ultimate motives for making the story pitch.
Ask yourself, is this story simply about my business donating money, or food or hands in a time of need?  Or am I promoting something else other than just my charitable efforts?  If you can’t answer that question with a “yes, it’s JUST about the charity” then wait to pitch the story another time.
Simply put, stories about charity in a time of need are just that, stories about charity, nothing else.  The last thing you want to do is come off as trying to pitch a commercial for your business when others are suffering.  Here are three very simple rules to keep in mind when considering pitching a story in the immediate aftermath of a tragic event.
1.  Is my story completely relevant to the events at hand?  If not, do not make the pitch.  Newsrooms have enough to deal with during times of crisis.
2.  How is my timing?  Don’t jump on the story the same day, or even the same week in some instances.  During the Boston Marathon bombing, the story wasn’t really over for another few days.  Newsrooms had no time to deal with the follow up stories until the primary story was fully over.  Timing in these situations is crucial and tricky, but you lose nothing by waiting a day or even two, to make sure the story has moved into the recovery phase and to make sure all of your ducks are in a row.
3.  Be clear.  Make sure you pitch the exact story you want the newsroom to cover.  Don’t hide another story under the guise of a charity story.  Pitch only the charity story and mean it.  If you think you have another story that they would be interested in, make a mention of it later if you get a chance to talk to a reporter, but make it clear that the story they are covering is only the charity story.  You can follow up later with an email to go into further detail about your other story, but don’t try to intermingle the two when all you pitched was your charitable efforts.

PR during a disaster or tragic event is tricky.  It can blow up in your face and you can come off looking like a real heel if it’s not done right.  However, when done with pure kindness in mind, it can also be a great boon to your brand and your business.  Ultimately, when in doubt, be charitable and don’t worry about the press coverage.  If you’re doing it for the right reasons, the rewards, and the press coverage will find you.
Today’s blog post is submitted by a guest blogger, Duncan Shaw, Producer at KCNC News

Ultimately, you want your story to end up here!

As a journalist my entire life, I’ve can tell you I’ve been asked one question more times than any other;  What makes a story “newsworthy”?  In other words, people are always wondering what constitutes actual news?  I’m sure that to many, the process of determining what is news and what isn’t can seem like a magical, mystical ancient ritual known only to the chosen few huddled over computers in poorly lit newsrooms.
In fact, it’s nothing like that at all.  Believe it or not, there is an actual process that takes place, first on an individual level, then on a group level, and then again on an individual level.
In order to understand how stories are chosen for broadcast, you first have to understand the structure or hierarchy of a newsroom.  While this may vary from outlet to outlet and even from broadcast to print, this is, in essence, the breakdown of most newsrooms.  
Newsrooms are a bit different today
Assignment editors are generally the first line of defense for a newsroom.  Most releases and story ideas are filtered through them first.  They read hundreds of emails and answer countless calls all day while at the same time, keeping their eyes and ears focused on banks of scanners in order to catch any breaking news that might happen.  The stories that make it past the AE’s get passed on to the potential story folder where they are discussed by reporters, producers, photographers and other editors during the daily news meetings.  A handful of stories are agreed upon by producers and managers to be included in each broadcast while other stories may end up in only one broadcast.  
Occasionally, a story will find its way to a producer without going through the meeting.  At this point, the producer responsible for his or her specific broadcast will decide if that story is worthy of being included in the rundown.  In many cases, stories are pitched by individual reporters or others in the newsroom during the meetings.  Eventually, the producers head back to their computers tasked with choosing which stories to include in their rundown and in which order they will run.
But the question remains, HOW do they decide what to include?  How do they determine if a story is really news?  
The Criteria:
In simple terms, most journalists use four basic parameters to determine if a story is news or not.  Each story that passes through a newsroom is run through this gauntlet and if they meet the criteria, the story likely will be included in the producer’s rundown.  If not, it gets set aside, most likely never to be heard from again.  If you have a story you’re pitching to a newsroom, ask yourself if your story fits these criteria:

TimelinessThis seems simple enough.  If a story or event has just happened or is happening “right now”, then it is timely.  If you are pitching a story that happened a week ago, or something that is happening two weeks from now, it is not timely.  The more timely the story, the more likely it is to be news.

ProximityRemember this, all news is local.  The majority of journalists are reporting on a local level.  This means they are reporting for an audience that cares about what is happening in its own backyard, so to speak.  The audience matters.  That’s why a car crash in Denver matters more to local viewers than a worse crash in Ohio.  Your story has to be local, or must have a local tie-in to a national story in order for most newsrooms to pay attention to it.  If you’re pitching a Colorado Springs story to Denver newsrooms, it is much less likely to be picked up than if you pitched it to Colorado Springs newsrooms.

Impact –  Who does this story impact?  Remember that the greater number of the audience that is impacted by your story, the more it is newsworthy.  For instance, while a car accident may be newsworthy, it doesn’t compare to a water main break in the suburbs.  Unless the accident shuts down the highway, the water main break impacts more of the audience.  This is one of the reasons why weather gets so much attention.  A snowstorm impacts everyone in the audience.

WOW FactorThis is where stories about celebrities or sports generally fall.  This category could also be called “uniqueness”.  How unique is your story?  If your story is similar to other stories that have run recently, chances are your story isn’t going to be picked up.  The more unique you can make your story, the better chance you have of seeing your story on TV or in print.

Of course there are other elements that go into the news decision-making process.  Things such as quality of video (hey, we live in a visual society now), national news tie-in’s and whether or not a story has “legs” or multiple levels of storytelling.  HOW you tell the story matters as well.  Does your story have a main character that can be relatable to the audience?  Does it have a protagonist?  A conflict?  A resolution?  All of these things are part of the process.  But to start, if you can start to think like a journalist and consider the four categories mentioned above when creating your story pitch, you’ll find that your stories will have much more success in being picked up by local newsrooms.