DEADLINE TOMORROW2015 MarCom Deadline Tomorrow!

2015 MarCom Deadline Tomorrow!

statuettesMarCom Awards is universally recognized as one of the most prestigious creative competitions in the world. Each year, thousands of brand builders enter their best work in a quest for recognition that will help build their own brands.

Winning a MarCom is a significant achievement that tells internal or external clients they are receiving great creative work while telling prospects they need to work with you.

MarCom Awards is presented by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. Over the past 20 years, AMCP has received about 200,000 entries. This year AMCP celebrated its 20-year-anniversary by moving into a new space in the Dallas Design District.

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2015 MarCom Awards Spotlight: Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.

While the winners for the 2015 MarCom Awards won’t be announced for a while, we’re showcasing select entries that stand out. Keep checking back to see if your work will be highlighted.

MarCom Awards Organization: Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.
Location: Tampa, FL
Title of Entry: “Tampa Hillsborough EDC 2014 Annual Report”
Category:88. Annual Report

Tampa Hillsborough EDCIf you are looking to relocate to the Tampa Bay region, the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation will shepherd you through the process. The public-private partnership provides customized, confidential relocation and expansion services to domestic and international companies.

Like many corporations, the EDC publishes an annual report to highlight the past year. Most annual reports, given the subject matter, are dull reading with the statistics and graphs wrapped in accolades punctuated by the obligatory pictures of CEOs, CFOs and directors. In Tampa, they do things differently. The EDC report is a colorful, smartly written publication that utilizes impressive graphics and clever layouts to deliver important information.

Here’s a sampling:

Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation-3 Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation Annual-Report-Final-5 Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation Annual-Report-Final-10 Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation Annual Report 30


2015 MarCom Awards Spotlight: Epicosity

While the winners for the 2015 MarCom Awards won’t be announced for a while, we’re showcasing select entries that stand out. Keep checking back to see if your work will be highlighted.

MarCom Awards Organization: Epicosity
Location: Sioux Falls, SD
Title of Entry: “AgSense Farm”
Category: 260. Marketing Product or Service

EpicosityAs everyone knows, selling a product to a client takes a good sales pitch. The more moving parts, the more complex the product, the harder the sell.

Epicosity, a full service agency out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, received a complicated assignment from AgSense, which provides a host of farm technology products that shepherds a crop from planting to harvest.

Epicosity took the expansive agriculture system and weaved it into a body of story highlighting a farm family. Using a traditional documentary style, the video lays out the product in a simple yet engaging style. The photography is exceptional, the editing sharp, the music perfect. The well-paced video draws you in and keeps your interest.

Pittsburg-7_smallAfter 20 years in Arlington, AMCP moves to Dallas.

After 20 years in Arlington, AMCP moves to Dallas.

When AMCP was formed by marketing and communication professionals from Dallas and Fort Worth in 1994, we settled in Arlington because it was convenient for everyone to meet half way between the cities. Over the years, most of the original folks were succeeded by people half their age, paper gave way to digital and entry and fulfilment transcended into the cloud.

Out with the old (above) in with the new (below).

After 20 years of growth, it was long past time for a new facility to house an expanding and changing operation. So, we moved into the former Al’s Water Coolers in the Dallas Design District. Well, by then it wasn’t Al’s anymore. We spent well over a year turning the old brick repair shop into a space that would be comfortable and fun to work in.

Cleaning out the Arlington warehouse brought back a lot of old memories and provided provocative insite into how far marketing and communications has come in the last 20 years. Huddled together in a closet, were once state-of-the-art VHS, S-VHS, Beta, DV and DVD players and a DAT audio machine. Nearby, in the warehouse were an audio board and old production monitor that together took up the space of a Mini Cooper.

A recycler was called to evict the still working equipment along with two IBM Selectrics, and over a dozen computers and CRTs. Our first computer, an Apple II, the only thing that could still be worth some money, could not be found. It was probably thrown out years ago with someone’s old baseball cards.

It hurt to get rid of this once prized technology. But, it could have been worse. About a decade ago, we were able to sell or give away our ¾ in, 1 in and Beta SP machines.

AMCP old days

AMCP – The old days. Look at that equipment!

Ten years ago our judging room looked like a production studio with multiple video players and presentation tables. Now, a Mac and a PC do most of the work.

But while we may have less equipment, we need more work areas to accommodate the judges who go over the thousands of entries that are reviewed each year in the MarCom, Hermes and AVA Digital competitions.

The new building doesn’t need as much storage space as the old one. We used to get all of our entries through the mail or delivery services and sort through them on tables. Now we deal mostly with megabytes and gigabytes and keep them in the cloud. Next time we move should be a lot easier.


2015 MarCom Awards Open For Entries

2015 MarCom Statuette PlatinumWe’re happy to announce the 2015 MarCom Awards competition is officially open for entries. The deadline is Friday, September 11.

Entrants will see that we fine-tuned the entry system and added additional digital categories. The Web-based Media area has been renamed Digital Media, and features a new 19-category social media section and an expanded section for mobile apps and sites.

For those unfamiliar, MarCom Awards is a creative competition for any individual or company involved in the concept, writing and design of print, visual, audio and web materials and programs. The mission of the MarCom Awards is to honor excellence and recognize the creativity, hard work and generosity of marketing and communication professionals.

The MarCom competition is well respected in the industry and is perhaps the largest of its kind in the world with about 6,000 entries per year. A look at the winners shows a range in size from freelancers to Fortune 50 companies.

MarCom is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, founded in 1995 by a group of creative professionals who want to provide an inexpensive, independent competition on an international level that is fair, respected and open to everyone.

Enter the 2015 MarCom competition now >>

Tech ReviewsThis Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – July 28, 2015

This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – July 28, 2015

Gregg Ellman brings you tech reviews of the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick, GE Bright Stik 60-watt replacement LED bulb and Sound Rise Plaid Freaq wireless desktop speaker/alarm clock.

SanDisk-Connect-Wireless-StickSanDisk Connect Wireless Stick

A few years ago I thought so much of SanDisk wireless flash drive that I named it my coveted 2013 gadget of the year. To this day when I’m using it, someone asks what it is and when told, the response is always, “I gotta get one of those.”

Now SanDisk has given the great product an upgrade with the launch of the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick.

The wireless flash drive works with iOS and Android devices, along with Mac and Windows computers with the free SanDisk Connect app.

Once the app is ready, turn the flash drive on and make a wireless connection to it, just like you would to a WiFi network. It’s worth mentioning here that after the app is downloaded you do not need an Internet connection for the flash drive to work.

After you make a connection, go to the SanDisk Connect app and you can choose whatever you loaded on the flash drive; videos, digital images, documents or music. You also have the option to make the flash drive password-protected.

It’s that easy.

As for the new model, it’s still the size of a typical flash drive, has a power button and an internal battery good for up to 4.5-hours, which charges from most any USB port.

While the original model had a slider to expose the USB port, the new one is more traditional with an end cap.

SanDisk said it went to a new design based on feedback gathered from the original wireless connect product. They “aimed to design a slim, simple and elegant device that could be extremely portable and easily accessed when plugged into a computer, while not blocking additional USB ports,” according to a company representative.

The main difference from the old to the new is the storage along with a more modern look. The original had a microSD card slot, enabling unlimited expandable storage.

New is the capacity when purchased. SanDisk felt users weren’t choosing to have multiple microSD cards so they eliminated the option.

Either old or new, the SanDisk wireless flash drive is an incredibly easy and inexpensive way to expand the storage capacity on a smartphone or tablet.

In my world, streaming movies while traveling has never been so easy.

Cost: $29.99-$99.99, available in 16, 32, 64 and 128GB capacities


GE Bright Stik LED

GE Bright Stik 60-watt replacement LEDIt’s kind of crazy that the light bulb has been around for so long but the past few years have introduced a load of new designs and lighting features.

The latest I’ve seen is the reasonably priced GE Bright Stik 60-watt replacement LED bulb.

A three-pack of the non-dimmable bulbs typically costs around $10 and, according to GE, it should cost about 10 cents per month to operate based on three hours a day of use at the electricity rate of 11 cents per kWh of power. They have a lifetime rating of 15,000 hours, 13.7 years and give off 760 lumens, a measure of brightness.

These bugs have a different appearance from most others with a slender, slime, sleek design.

It was designed with a size of 4.25 in x 1.25 round to fit in more sockets and fixtures compared to general tradition purpose bulbs, which I found to be true right off.

While the body of the bulb is different, the standard screw-in connection is the same so there’s no need to get new lamps to use the bulbs.

I’m not going to take out a color meter to test the lighting but I’ve been a believer in the LED lighting for a while and these new choices are great additions. The light they shine is great and you have your choice of soft white and daylight.


Sound Rise Plaid Freaq

Soundfreaq along with the Novogratz husband-and-wife design team have launched the limited edition Sound Rise Plaid Freaq.

The wireless desktop speaker/alarm clock (5.2 x 5.6 x 3.3-inches) has the features of the original Sound Rise along with a new design.

Sound Rise wireless speaker alarm clock

It’s packed with features including Bluetooth 4.0 streaming, amazing sounding audio, an adjustable display (extra bright to total blackout), a line in 3.5 mm input port and a USB powered port for charging.

The dual alarm system features weekday and weekend settings, which also have the option for gradually increasing volume to help avoid that loud panic wakeup, which I’ve experienced.

On the outside is the new great looking plaid design giving it a modern look.

Cost: $99


Contact Gregg Ellman at
Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman
2015, Gregg Ellman.

Tech ReviewsThis Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – June 29, 2015

This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – June 29, 2015

By Gregg Ellman

Tech reviews of the ThinkGeek Tactical Chef Apron, Grill Daddy, Glendale outdoor wireless Bluetooth speaker, Scosche boomBOTTLE H20 and Bracketron SmartLantern.

ThinkGeek Tactical Chef Apron

Tactical-Chef-ApronYou’ll be in full control of your 4th of July cookout while wearing the ThinkGeek Tactical Chef Apron.

It’s designed with a MOLLE system (modular lightweight load-carry equipment, the same system used for the military) to hold all the tools in five built-in pouches.

ThinkGeek describes the apron as badass for outdoor chefs and a system for holding everything a grill sergeant needs. It’s well made with solid stitching and 100 percent cotton fabric.

Once you load it with grilling utensils, spices, condiments and even a smartphone or a Bluetooth speaker, you’ll be the commander of your bash.

There’s also a removable Velcro chef patch on the front and back along with an adjustable side strap to fit most any size chef.

Cost: $29.99


Grill Daddy

GrillDaddyThe Grill Daddy is a 6-in-1 heavy-duty stainless steal grill set for the backyard chef who cooks just about everything.

It’s a complete system travel-ready in the included folding case.

The main feature is an ergonomically designed heat-shielding handle with a cleverly designed winging metal shield to protect your hand from the heat.

The shield pivots to protect your hand when reaching into the grill in any angle, since the shield is weighted and balanced.

The modular system lets you add any of the six different full-size grilling tools. They include a fork, handle extension, spatula, spoon, tong attachment and a tong jaw.

Everything is interchangeable, enabling grill nuts to form combinations such as a tong/fork or a spatula/spoon or just use each tool as needed.

Cost: $39.99


Glendale Outdoor Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Glendale outdoor wireless Bluetooth speakerAcoustic Research’s new Glendale outdoor wireless Bluetooth speaker is designed to blend into any outdoor environment.

When you first see the speaker, you might think it’s a hanging outdoor light or even a bug zapper, but when you crank it up the secret is revealed.

Inside the attractive design is a midrange driver, tweeter and booming passive rear subwoofer, which combine to deliver 10 watts of sound.

And if you get two of them, they can both pair to the same media source for a wireless stereo sound that your neighbors will be sure to hear loud and clear.

An included AC adapter will power the speaker, and if you want to truly cut the cords, it will run off of 8-AA batteries for up to 12 hours of sound.

The Glendale is built with an IPX weather resistant case to withstand an unexpected rainfall.

Cost: $119.99


Scosche boomBOTTLE H20

boomBOTTLE H20

The durable Scosche boomBOTTLE H20 is built to play your music on land or poolside while taking a quick dip to cool off.

It’s probably one of the most rugged Bluetooth (4.0) speakers I’ve seen. It’s built with an IP67 waterproof and dust-proof rating, which enables it to float and not only get soaked or splashed but it can also be submerged in a 3.2 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.

Inside is a 50mm speaker and passive subwoofer for crystal clear sound at any volume. It measures 2.8 inches in diameter with a 4.5-inch length.

The internal rechargeable battery is good for about 8 hours and is charged with the included cable. A flashing red LED will let you know when the battery is about to fade.

A carabiner is attached to the side to help prevent the speaker from floating away.

Cost: $99.99


Bracketron SmartLantern

Bracketron SmartLanternBracketron SmartLantern is the perfect outdoor 3-in-1 gadget.

Packed into the hand-held device is a portable USB charger, lantern and flashlight making it perfect for everyday use or an untimely emergency.

Inside the device is a 7800Ah rechargeable battery. This powers the built-in 2.1A USB port for charging most portable electronic gadgets including cameras, cellphones and tablets.

If you need light, the battery will power up the flashlight or lantern illumination for up to 48 hours.

To switch from the lantern mode to flashlight, all you do is slide down the lantern globe for the more direct flashlight lighting.

It measures 3 7/8 x 1.75 inches and is built with an impact-resistant, fireproof housing.

Cost: $79.99


Contact Gregg Ellman at
Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman
2015, Gregg Ellman.


The Business of Online Complaining

The following is a blog article from MarCom Awards winner John P. David.

Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ‘em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” – From “Annie Hall” (1977)

Turns out that complaining has become big business, particularly online. Back when Woody Allen made Annie Hall, we only had a few ways to complain about products, retailers, or customer service. We could call a company’s customer service department, ask to speak to the manager at a store, or, if we were really upset, write a letter (yeah, on paper) to the president of a company.

Today, making a complaint can be done in a matter of clicks and even before we leave a retail establishment, restaurant, or hotel. We can contact a company directly through its website or via e-mail, send a tweet to that same company’s president, or post a complaint on a consumer complaint website.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for good customer service and accountability in business. The ability to communicate more directly with companies about their products and services certainly keeps businesses on their toes. However, it has also made consumer complaint websites very powerful, opening the door for misinformation, competitor bashing, and unreasonable complaints.

Sites such as Ripoff Report,,,, and have learned that complaints and negative posts can track high on search results. The concept is a game changer that turns complaints into money-making machines:

  • Users create content for a site by posting complaints.
  • The bigger the site grows, the greater its authority with search engines.
  • More visitors from searches means more complaints, more ad revenues, and so on and so on.

Not Just about Consumer Protection

Yet these sites are not just about consumer protection; in fact, many of them only mildly address such values. The sites are generally open forums that enable anyone to say whatever he or she wants, without any policing or commitment to accuracy. The first amendment and the laws of the digital land protect them from defamation lawsuits.

Many of these sites go to great lengths to explain why they are protected from legal claims regarding content posted on their sites., for example, lists the legal cases that back their position of allowing anyone to post without care for accuracy. explains that it is not responsible for verifying the validity of consumer complaints, providing responses, or notifying those on the receiving end of complaints. It also says that it will only remove a posted complaint if ordered to by a court. And here’s a great little nugget of effrontery: the complaint site says that it assumes that the writers of complaints have positive intents.

All Comes Down to Google

Given all this, it still all comes down to Google. Online complaint sites remain in business because their complaints rank quickly and highly on search results on Google and other search engines. In fact, on, they crow about it:

Often, a single complaint posted to about a business appears higher in the search result rankings than the home page of the business that is the subject of that complaint. Posting complaints to helps get the word out on your complaint and helps businesses take notice of your complaint!

To its credit, has policies in place that enable some complaints to be removed. For example, the author of the complaint can edit and even delete a complaint. Most other online complaint sites leave the complaints or posts up, even if the original authors want to take them down. and are proponents of this policy. On one hand, it’s freedom of speech at its best. On the other, it’s opening the door for anyone to say whatever he or she wants, without any responsibility from the site.

Mother of all Online Complaint Sites

But the mother of all complaint sites is Claiming more than one million pages of content, it has tremendous authority with search engines and is the bane of online reputation management firms the world over. The site is run by Ed Magedson, who, if you believe this article on lives a fearful life in a fortified compound in an undisclosed location in Arizona. Why? lets anyone post negative information about people or businesses, and Magedson will never take it down.  He has many enemies.

On Fox News, Bill O’Reilly featured Ripoff Report as one of the worst websites in America:

Ripoff Report Bill O'Reilly

The site mints money while making the subjects of its reports miserable, and its “victims” get so pissed off that they—again, if you believe Magedson and Forbes—would kill him if they passed him on the street.

Google Conspiracy?

So these complaint sites seem to have limited overall value for the general public, right? Anyone can say whatever he or she wants with no devotion to truth or accuracy. Why would Google continue to give them value on search results? If you ask Australian online expert Michael Roberts, he will say it is all about advertising. Complaint sites serve as Google’s advertising partners and drive traffic to Google sponsored ads. So, despite the common assertion that Google advertising has nothing to do with search results, Roberts says otherwise.

For victims of disparaging complaints and reviews on consumer complaint sites, options exist to either have negative complaints removed or de-listed from search results. Some require a legal approach, while others can be handled with a digital forensic approach. We offer some of theses services at Either way, just as complaining in general isn’t going anywhere, neither are complaint sites.

This article was originally published on and has been republished with permission. 


Public Relations Crisis Management Begins Online

Online Crisis ManagementThe following is a blog article from MarCom Awards winner John P. David.

A friend called me recently in a bit of a panic. One of her college-aged children was tangentially involved with a crisis at her university, and my friend and some of the other parents were wondering if it would be beneficial to engage a public relations expert. Should they reach out to the media or not? How might their kids be perceived? They had many questions.

Before we dug into the details of the incident, I told my friend that the very first thing that needed to be done was to ensure that the students did not say anything about the incident that might end up online. I cautioned: Don’t post anything about it on Facebook, don’t tweet about it, and absolutely do not speak to anyone from the media. I told her that the most important thing was to guarantee that her child’s name was in no way associated online with this situation. She needed to keep her kid’s name shielded from this crisis, so the student would not be associated with it in any way – pro, con, or indifferent.

We are in a whole new world of public relations crisis management because the Internet is now king.

I say this because I have been seeing more and more situations where people are literally in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up being crucified online. They find themselves with a massive problem that they are in no position to solve.

For example, I recently spoke with a young man who, while in college, worked as an assistant manager for one of the university shops. While he worked there, the full-time head of the shop passed away unexpectedly. A subsequent audit found that money was missing, and the police were called to investigate the embezzlement.

As part of the investigation, they questioned the young man. It’s important to note that he was questioned, not arrested. He complied with the police, and even turned over his laptop for their review. After they checked him out, the cops determined he had no connection to the missing money, and he was completely cleared.

Meanwhile, the university newspaper wrote a story about the embezzlement and mentioned that the young man was questioned by police. The online version of the story now appears on the first page of search engine results when you search for his name.

Fast-forward a couple of years, and the guy is now out of school and trying to get a job, but he can’t. He’s in finance, and whenever he applies for a job, he is researched online and prospective employers see his name associated with an embezzlement case. The guy is screwed.

If you were a human resources manager, would you give this guy a fair shake? All things being equal among candidates, which applicant is more likely to get an interview: an applicant with a spotless resume or one who was questioned about embezzlement? What if you are quickly trying to vet dozens of candidates?

The young man has a communications crisis on his hands, and it is nothing like any of the classic case studies covered in a PR course syllabus.

The well-known tenets of crisis communications haven’t completely caught up with the Internet:

  • Don’t stonewall.
  • Be as transparent as possible.
  • Speak with one voice.

I believe we need to add “Assess the potential for long-term online damage” to the list. Online reputation management vaults to the front of the line.

When we encounter a crisis, we quickly need to determine what the online legacy will be, and then develop a strategy to prevent negative coverage from the onset. Understanding that something stated online (whether true or not) can be damning for years to come is absolutely critical.

This concept should be part of every organization’s media policy and ingrained in public relations and communications pros, both young and old.

Negative online articles and stories can be mitigated and, in some instances, completely removed; but this process is more expensive after the fact and not always possible. Knowing your online vulnerabilities at the beginning of a crisis can save companies from lost revenue and individuals from lost career opportunities and other heartache.

The big takeaway is that if you are associated with a crisis, either directly, indirectly, or just by accident, the online reporting of it can affect you for years to come — and this must be managed as quickly as possible.

Not only has the Internet redefined the public relations crisis, it has become judge, jury, and reputation executioner.

Please share your thoughts on my original blog post here. I would be happy to hear from you.

This article was originally published on and has been republished with permission. 

Tech ReviewsThis Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – May 18, 2015

This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – May 18, 2015

By Gregg Ellman

Tech product reviews of SkylinkNet home alarm system kit, Boogie Board Sync 9.7 eWriter and Kensington’s BlackBelt 2nd Degree Rugged Case for iPads.

SkylinkNet Alarm System Kit for Homes


The SkylinkNet alarm system kit is nothing fancy but it’s easy to set up and works well for a simple home security system.

Like any other smart-home system, it has to be connected to a home Internet system and works with an iPhone or Android smartphone (not included).

What is included in the kit is an Internet hub, motion sensor, keychain remote and a pair of window/door sensors.

Where you connect the sensors is your choice; there’s no right or wrong. The kit is designed to start off with the basics and then add on from there.

Window, door or garage sensors, cameras for indoor or outdoor security, water sensors for detecting leaks and even a telephone dialer can be purchased and added on.