Ever since I was a little girl, community has been important to me.  Growing up on a street that at one time had over 50 kids to play with, I learned at an early age that getting to know your neighbors was an important part of how to build a safe and inviting community.  I have carried this bit of knowledge with me throughout my life and career as a publicist.  With each and every client, I am always trying to figure out how to help them build community and expand awareness of their business.  Helping clients determine how to best connect with their clients, resources, neighbors, and community members has yielded powerful dividends both in terms of generating media exposure and driving sales.  
Events provide a perfect opportunity to connect to your local community. Since I’ve coordinated many events for both clients and on a volunteer basis, I thought it would be helpful to outline some of the key points that can mean the difference between success and failure. 
Know your audience. The first step in planning any event is to decide who your core audience is and how to best reach that group. A good way to identify your audience is to ask who might benefit most from the event. For example, consider a walk/run fundraiser for a local animal shelter. The ideal audience would not only include animal lovers, but fitness enthusiasts as well. So, to draw that crowd, you might consider partnering with a neighborhood gym or local running clubs. 
Several years ago, I helped launch the Lower Highland Annual 4th of July Parade and Family Picnic. We knew drawing families was going to be crucial, so we targeted an influential mommies group who we knew would spread the word about the event. The strategy worked and the parade is now a neighborhood tradition that draws hundreds. 
Market widely. Depending on just one communication channel to promote your event can lead to low attendance. I utilize a variety of methods to get the word out – from social media postings to calendar listings in local event sites to pitching stories to media in advance of the event. This past summer, I helped organize the 50th anniversary of the West Powers Avenue Block Party – a reunion of a gathering that has been happening since my childhood. I knew tracking down all my old neighborhood pals would be a challenge, so I started with Facebook by creating a private page for former neighbors.  For the folks who weren’t on social media, I created a flyer that I mailed out, using addresses collected from the older generation of attendees.  It was amazing how many we found using both of these methods.


    
Increase your odds of success. Another way to guarantee good attendance is to recruit a club or organization with many members and a natural interest in the event. Cub Scout and Girl Scout troops are a natural fit for kids-focused events. Youth sports teams and neighborhood associations are also good options. For the 4th of July parade, I recruited the local junior roller derby team to participate. Their costumes and skills provided a great visual for the parade and the team got great exposure from the event, using it to pass out information about upcoming bouts. 
Enlisting local businesses can also be a good way to attract crowds because those merchants will help promote the event to their customers. They can also serve as a good source of financial support. This year, I helped raise over $6,000 in just two days for the parade, thanks to the generosity of the Lower Highland Merchant Group, which I helped co-found in 2011.
Make it fun. Of course, your event won’t be judged by attendance alone, but by the experience you deliver. One way to do that is create an activity or task that will immediately get your guests engaged in the event. For the 50th reunion, we played the “Who Am I” game, which involves putting the name of a “famous” person on each person’s back and having each individual guess the name on their tag.  Since it had been a long time since we had seen each other, this ice breaker was a huge help. I think it is important to do this at most events. It’s fun, and gets people talking.
Publicize your event. Even though I was one of those neighborhood kids attending the 50th Anniversary of the block party, I put my “publicist” hat on to make sure the media knew that this was a special event and one not to miss!  You can read about it here in the Littleton Independent
I also used my skills to gather coverage of the 4th of July Parade, which was highlighted in The North Denver Tribune.

If you don’t have the money to hire a publicist or you don’t have one volunteering for your event, there are other ways to gain exposure. The Denver Post’s YourHub section provides a lot of community coverage. I also suggest researching who to contact at your local paper since those publications play a key role in informing the community about what’s happening. Submitting your event to one of the local lifestyle magazines, such as 5280 or 303 Magazine is also a good strategy to attract attention. 

While many of us have been enjoying the lazy days of summer, the kids participating in Camp Inc. have been busy learning the business skills they need to bring a product or service to market. Located in the mountains above Boulder, Camp Inc., is a unique Jewish overnight summer camp where participants develop community, confidence, leadership and Jewish identity through hands-on business and entrepreneurial experiences.

The camp has drawn 82 campers (all 7th to 12th graders) from 15 states as well as Canada and Israel. Camp Inc. kicked off its first session June 22 and wraps up its second session August 6th. During their time at Camp Inc., campers have learned a variety of business concepts – from branding to social media strategy. They also get to interact with local entrepreneurs (including venture capitalist Brad Feld) and visit such successful businesses as Inspirato and Cloud Elements. Participants apply their skills by forming teams to develop a specific product or service. At the culmination of each session, campers present their business ideas to a group of local investors and entrepreneurs.

The Stasko Agency has been working with Camp Inc. and its director Josh Pierce since the snow was still falling and we’re happy to see the fruits of Pierce’s labor. The camp’s unique concept and its ambitious participants have attracted attention from both national and local media, including The  Huffington Post, Fox News,  Jewish Techs, The Jewish Week, Mashable, as well as The Denver Business Journal, 9News and the Daily Camera, which both sent reporters to Camp Inc. home base to capture the campers in action. You can watch the 9News story here and read the Daily Camera piece here. The Denver Business Journal also highlighted the camp on its website.

A program of the Boulder Jewish Community Center, Camp Inc. is founded by the Jim Joseph Foundation and AVI CHAI Foundation, in partnership with the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Camp Inc. was competitively selected as part of the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s esteemed Incubator II to receive both funding and mentorship to build the best Jewish overnight camp experience.

We are grateful to have helped the camp’s successful launch and look forward to many years of happy campers.

Wheat Ridge has become a hotbed of development activity recently, with new housing and commercial projects garnering buzz and attracting headlines. After going years without adding any new inventory to the city’s housing stock, two new housing projects are under construction and another should break ground soon.

Officials from the City of Wheat Ridge and New Town Builders pose before “breaking ground” on Perrin’s Row

New Town Builders broke ground in March on Perrin’s Row,  a rowhome development located at 38th Avenue and Depew Street. The community will include 26 two-and-three bedroom row homes priced from the mid-$200s. Meanwhile, at 38th and Fenton Street, Urban Green Development is planning a sustainable development featuring paired homes, single-family patio homes and row homes. Standard Pacific Homes will offer a more traditional, upscale option, with a 48-homesite community in the city’s Applewood neighborhood.

Rendering of a model home in the upcoming Fireside at Applewood development

The city is also picking up steam when it comes to commercial development. While incentives have helped lured new, unique businesses to the city’s emerging downtown area, known as The Ridge at 38, developers are also aiming to attract larger retailers. A mixed-use development is taking shape at 38th Avenue and Kipling Street that will include a 64-unit senior living facility and a 27,000-square-foot Sprouts store. Another large grocer could land at the southwest corner of 38th and Wadsworth, where Governor John Hickenlooper recently signed a bill that would provide tax credits for environmental clean-up projects. The Wheat Ride Urban Renewal Authority, which owns a portion of that site, could transfer tax credits to a developer to help cover the $300,000 in environmental remediation needed at the site.

Governor Hickenlooper signs Senate Bill 73 at a development site in Wheat Ridge

The developments have captured the attention of local media outlets, who have been closely following Wheat Ridge’s growth. The Denver Post covered the building boom in March and did another story examining redevelopment efforts in April. The Denver Business Journal also wrote about the Sprouts development and the recent bill signing.

While the city’s economic development efforts are in the spotlight, officials also continue to work hard to build community among residents through unique gatherings and events. On June 22nd, Wheat Ridge and the Ridge at 38 hosted its first Criterium – a Bronze level Rocky Mountain Road Cup race. In addition to high-speed bicycle racing, the Criterium also featured food trucks, a craft beer garden, kids activities and live bluegrass music.

 

We readily admit that while golf isn’t our game, we don’t mind cheering on those who are actually skilled at the sport – especially when it’s for a good cause. We were lucky enough to do just that at the 18th annual Brad & Erna Butler Memorial Golf Tournament benefiting Bright Beginnings. Under blue skies at the Valley Country Club in Centennial, we watched 100 enthusiastic golfers, including media celebrities Tom Green and Penny Parker, compete in a four-man scramble format.

Bright Beginnings’ hardworking staff

The tournament is a key fundraiser for Bright Beginnings, which visits parents and caregivers of children from birth to three to give them the tools and skills they need to help them maximize their child’s development.  In 2014, the organization plans to complete more than 20,000 visits to families across Colorado. The majority of parents we serve are considered low-income with multiple risk factors that can impact their child’s trajectory to be school ready. 

We were thrilled to support the tournament by recruiting sponsors, gathering donations for gift bags and prizes and publicizing the event in local media outlets. You can watch Blacktie Colorado’s coverage of the event here.

The tournament, which also featured hole contests and an awards ceremony, is named for Bright Beginnings co-founder Brad Butler, former chairman of Procter & Gamble, who with his wife Erna, tirelessly and generously advocated for bettering the lives of all children. This year, the event raised $43,000 to support Bright Beginnings’ programs.

We look forward to keeping you posted on Bright Beginnings’ programs and future fundraising activities. For more information on the organization and all the great work it does, click here.

At The Stasko Agency, we believe in living a healthy lifestyle, so working to promote the Colorado Culture of Health Conference is one of our favorite projects every year. The conference, which is presented by the Colorado Business Group on Health (CBGH) and a range of partners, provides a wealth of resources for employers on how to wellness initiatives. 

This year’s conference featured several prominent experts on wellness, including Steve Bangert, CEO of CoBiz Financial, which has been lauded for its efforts to build a healthier workforce. At CoBiz employees can take Weight Watchers classes on-site and get a day off to get their annual physical exams. The company also underwrites the cost of Fitbits and provides interest-free loans to help workers finance fitness equipment.

At the Culture of Health Conference, exhibitors handed out fruit instead of candy

More than 500 attendees (a record number for the event) turned out to hear Bangert and other wellness leaders at this year’s conference, which also included exhibits, break-out sessions and even a mini-Zumba session. We enjoyed learning more about how wellness programs can boost employee productivity, reduce health care costs and improve the health of workers.

Mile High Fitness Instructor Kim Farmer got the crowd on its feet

To get the word out about this year’s conference, we placed contributions from CBGH Executive Director Donna Marshall in ColoradoBiz magazine and Health News Colorado. The Denver Business Journal also interviewed panelist Karen Curran of Pinnacol Assurance, about a study the company is conducting that is showing that wellness can significantly reduce health risks. You can read the article here.
In addition to the Culture of Health conference, the CBGH hosts meetings every month to offer information on programs that help add value to the health care system. For more information visit the organization’s website.

Congratulations to Zocalo Community Development, a longtime client of The Stasko Agency, which  sold its Cadence Union Station apartment community last month to an institutional client of Invesco Real Estate. Located at 17th and Chestnut Street, the 219-unit development was the first multi-family project to open in the emerging Union Station neighborhood. Cadence began welcoming its first residents in December and was already 20 percent leased at the time of the sale.

We were lucky enough to tour the building last fall and we’re excited to see Cadence’s upscale amenities – such as a rooftop pool and fitness center and jazz-themed lobby lounge area – take shape. The development also boasts a number of green features, including high-efficiency water fixtures, Energy Star appliances and a recycling and composting program.

The building’s sale captured the attention of both local and national media, including the Denver Business Journal, Denver Post and Multi-Housing News. Zocalo will continue to manage and lease Cadence, which includes studios, one-bedroom units and two-bedroom units, with an average monthly rent of $1,892.

Never a company to rest on its laurels, Zocalo continues to add to the city’s landscape, with the development of 1st and Steele, a new 185-unit apartment community in Cherry Creek and The Grove at Stapleton, a 150-unit project in northeast Denver. Both projects are slated for completion in 2015.

We look forward to working with Zocalo as the company continues to make its mark on Denver.

Have a knack for naming things? It’s time to put your talent to work. A group of Wheat Ridge merchants is searching for a memorable moniker to market themselves and the historic area they call home. The unique mix of retailers is located on West 29th Avenue between Sheridan Boulevard and Fenton Street and includes West 29th Restaurant and Bar, Twisted Smoothie, People’s Market, Wheat Ridge Poultry and Meat, Styles Hair and Nails, DSH Gas and Food, TJ Wine and Liquor and Stat Automotive.

The shops have narrowed the list of names to six options and need you to weigh in. The choices range from the straightforward – the Shops on 29th Avenue – to the geographically-focused Edge Ridge, which refers to the merchants’ location near the border of Edgewater. Stop by any of the shops during the month of February to cast your vote for one of the names or write your own suggestion on the ballot. Everyone who participates will be entered into a drawing for a gift certificate from one of the participating retailers.

Twisted Smoothie and People’s Market (pictured below) need a name for their new merchant association

Voting ends February 28th and the retailers expect to select a winning name by March 15th. Whatever name is chosen will mark a rebirth of sorts for the retail hub tucked into a residential area filled charming cottages and brick bungalows. While Wheat Ridge Poultry & Meat has been a neighborhood staple for decades, West 29th Restaurant & Bar and Twisted Smoothie are new entrants hoping to create a long history.

And speaking of names, the city of Wheat Ridge is also in the process of creating a new tagline to describe the great amenities the city offers businesses and residents. Expect to hear more about the city’s marketing efforts this spring.

At The Stasko Agency, we get to work with some of the region’s most innovative and inspiring companies. And over the past few months, a few of our clients have been recognized for their achievements.

In October, Little Man Ice Cream Owner Paul Tamburello received the Georgia R. Imhoff Philanthropist Award from Blacktie-Colorado. The award, given every two years, honors a special humanitarian and recognizes his or her work in the community.

A Colorado native, Tamburello is devoutly committed to various efforts that are beneficial to the communities they serve. Little Man is named for Tamburello’s father, who was small in stature, but big in heart. Making a difference in the world was his legacy, and Little Man is Paul’s way of keeping his father’s legacy resilient. Through its “Scoop for Scoop” program,  Little Man helps fight hunger in developing nations. For every scoop of ice cream Little Man sells, one scoop of rice or beans is donated to a community in need.

Paul Tamburello and Little Man staff deliver rice to Cambodia

The company also supports organizations focused on education and childhood welfare by offering time, financial assistance, knowledge and homemade ice cream.

In addition, Tamburello is a co-founder and board chairman of the GrowHaus, a non-profit indoor farm, marketplace and educational center in Denver’s Elyria Swansea neighborhood and board member of LiveWell Colorado.

Local residents tour the GrowHaus

The Georgia R. Imhoff Philanthropist Award was named for the late Blacktie-Colorado co-founder, who supported a large number of Colorado charities, many committed to caring for women and children.

Congrats Paul!

Zocalo Community Development also deserves congratulations for landing a 2013 Mayor’s Design Award for 2020 Lawrence, it’s LEED Gold certified apartment project in Denver’s Ballpark community. The multi-family development was one of 15 Denver projects honored for excellence in architecture design and place-making by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock at an awards ceremony November 6th.

The innovative apartment building boasts an array of “green” features, including Energy Star-rated appliances, high-efficiency water fixtures, low-e windows and flooring and other finishes made of recycled and locally-sourced materials. The 10-story apartment complex is also the first in Denver to offer composting and an electrical vehicle charging station.

Zocalo is busy completing Cadence Union Station, the 220-unit apartment community at 17th and Chestnut street and we wouldn’t be surprised to see that project win a few awards as well.

We’re so proud of all Zocalo and Paul have accomplished and consider it an honor to work with such pioneering Colorado entrepreneurs. 

It was almost a year ago that we helped Zocalo Community Development announce the groundbreaking of Cadence Union Station, the first apartment project in the budding Union Station neighborhood. We are now excited to report that Cadence’s leasing center is open and the apartment building’s first residents are expected to move in by December. Zocalo has also landed its first retail tenant – an ink! Coffee, which will occupy a 1,655-square-foot space on Cadence’s ground floor.

The Stasko Agency took a tour of the project’s models and encountered light-filled, modern units, offering outdoor space – a rarity in downtown apartment buildings. Check out the photos below.

The view from one of Cadence’s corner units
An open kitchen and dining room provide space to entertain

A bedroom in one of the model units

Cadence is offering studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, ranging from 553-square feet to 1,081-square feet. Units will rent for an average of $1,892 per month and Cadence has already secured leases for one two-bedroom unit and several one-bedroom units. The LEED Gold registered building will offer a number of green amenities as well as a rooftop pool, indoor parking, rooftop fitness center, a lobby-level lounge complete with a kitchen and bar. The rendering below offers a peek at what the finished lobby will look like.

The opening of Cadence leasing center isn’t the only exciting news Zocalo has shared recently. The company announced last week that Director of Real Estate Susan Maxwell has become an equity partner in the Zocalo. We congratulate Susan and look forward to announcing the opening of Cadence in the near future.

You may be surprised to find out that one of the metro-area’s newest brewpubs is located in Wheat Ridge, not LoDo, and that Denver’s northern neighbor is also home to one of the region’s premiere bike shops. Once a sleepy suburb, Wheat Ridge is now becoming a hub for unique businesses, 
thanks to a slew of economic development efforts.

Teller Street Gallery & Studios, one of Wheat Ridge’s new businesses.

Using a combination of tax rebates, grants and loans, Wheat Ridge has attracted a net 35 new businesses since 2011. The Stasko Agency began working with the city this past spring, helping to shine the light on Wheat Ridge’s  “open for business” agenda and its efforts to revitalize a stretch of 38th Avenue from Wadsworth Boulevard to Sheridan Boulevard.

Right Coast Pizza opened on Wheat Ridge’s “main street” in 2012.

We’re pleased to say that media outlets are starting to take note of Wheat Ridge’s initiatives. The Denver Business Journal highlighted the city’s business growth last month, while the Wheat Ridge Transcript examined the success the city has had in luring businesses from Denver. You can read that article here. The North Denver Tribune and the Colorado Real Estate Journal both turned the lens on Wheat Ridge’s revival on 38th Avenue, an area city officials have dubbed the “Ridge at 38.”

In addition to spurring business expansion through a slew of economic incentives, Wheat Ridge has also lured entrepreneurs by expanding community offerings. The list of programming includes cruiser crawls, a Wines and Dines event, an annual Wheat Fest to highlight the city’s agricultural roots and the Mid Century and Modern Home tour, which is slated for Saturday, September 7.

The interior of one of the homes that will be featured in this year’s Mid Century and Modern Home Tour

If you haven’t visited Wheat Ridge recently, we encourage you to make the trip. In the coming months, we’ll also be spreading the word about the city’s growing housing options. So, stay tuned for more updates!