2014 Communitas Awards: Leaping Cowgirl Productions

Communitas Awards Company: Leaping Cowgirl Productions Ltd.
Title: “Absolute Favourite Fan Youth TV Show”
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Category: 1.1 Company Sponsored Volunteer Project

Leaping Cowgirl  ProductionsFive years ago something inside Coralie Braum snapped. She was on a shopping trip with her eight-year-old granddaughter when she saw something unexpected: push-up bras in the little girls’ section of a department store.

Feeling that over-sexualized and negative media images are greatly responsible for the pressure young people feel to look a certain way, Braum vowed to do something about the issue. And she did. Braum created Leaping Cowgirl Productions “to create positive and uplifting stories” and mentor youths to do the same.

Eventually this mission led Braum and her team to create the Absolute Favourite Fan project, a half-hour TV drama completely created, written and performed by Unshackled, a multicultural performing arts youth group in Calgary, Alberta. The show’s purpose had two main goals: help teens present positive images to their peers and teach youths what a motivated group can achieve.

Coralie Braum

Coralie Braum

To make the show a success, Leaping Cowgirl Productions donated staff time and thousands of dollars to the project. Besides mentoring the teens, the company secured other funding for the production and secured airtime for the show to play for six months on the Telus Optik network with more than 700,000 subscribers.

Beginning in January of 2013, the youth group and its volunteer mentors met at least once a week, with more frequent meetings as the project progressed. Evane Jukes, leader of Unshackled, continued to recruit youths to join the program, and the project gained more momentum in the community.

“One of the best things about the program was seeing more than 50 volunteers of all ages, and parents and their teens learning, working hard and happily together week after week,” Braum said.

After practicing their hearts out, the group filmed for two days in late April before Telus Optik approved the final version mid-May. July 15, 2013, marked the first day of public screening on the network.

Braum loved being part of the project and witnessing the participants’ growth. “The teens learned how to ‘find their voice’ and create art to take a message to others,” she said. “Some of the teens have a troubled background, and we watched with delight as they grew in confidence and developed strong relationships with others in the group.”

Evane and Unshackled Kids



2014 Communitas Awards: Energy Federation Inc.

Communitas Awards Company: Energy Federation Inc.
Title: “EFI Sustainable Practices”
Location: Westborough, Massachusetts
Category: 7.2 Green Initiatives

EFI buildingIn 1982 six nonprofit energy organizations created Energy Federation, Inc., to help the member groups and other organizations economically purchase quality conservation products.

EFI’s mission as stated in its 2014 Communitas Awards entry is “to encourage people to use our planet’s limited energy and water resources wisely.” The company lives out its mission by not only promoting sustainability but practicing it as well.

EFI lightProgrammable thermostats, motion-sensor lights, low flow toilets, waterless urinals and low-flow aerators are all installed in EFI’s offices to reduce the company’s water and energy consumption.

EFI’s newest office also features a tankless water heater. Unlike storage water heaters, tankless units don’t have high standby energy losses because hot water is produced on demand only when it’s needed.

The Energy Star and Water Sense partner also provides coffee mugs and silverware for employees to reduce the use of paper and plastic in the kitchen, as well as encourages recycling of paper, plastic and glass throughout the office.

In the warehouse, the company uses 100 percent biodegradable and certified compostable packing peanuts when shipping its energy and resource conservation products.

EFI is looking forward to future technological advances that push conservation efforts beyond its current limits. “[It’s] an opportunity to evolve and expand [EFI’s] sustainability goals,” Erin Cowell, EFI’s creative manager wrote.


2014 Communitas Awards: Victaulic

Communitas Awards Company: Victaulic
Title: “Joining Communities”
Location: Easton, Pennsylvania
Category: 10. Leadership in Community Service and Corporate Social Responsibility

VictaulicVictaulic, world leader and innovator of grooved mechanical couplings, joins more than pipes; the company connects communities around the world. The organization’s corporate responsibility statement sums up their mission nicely: Victaulic “aims to be a good neighbor in every community where we live and work.”

This conviction is reinforced in the company’s Communitas nomination which states, “We believe it is our duty to give back to the communities in which we live and work. We are especially proud of our global employees who embrace our culture of social responsibility by contributing financially and by offering their time and expertise to those less fortunate.”

Every year Victaulic and its employees support more than 35 nonprofits with time and monetary contributions, because corporate responsibility is a philosophy they take very seriously. Throughout the past decade, the Victaulic team has contributed millions of dollars to people in need. In 2013 alone, the company raised more than $500,000 for United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, the branch that serves the community near Victaulic’s global headquarters in Easton, Pennsylvania. Bob Collevechio, Victaulic VP of Human Resources, also served on the branch’s board last year.

Victaulic’s impact on the community doesn’t go unnoticed. The staff of one nonprofit, Valley Youth House, was so grateful for Victaulic’s support that they nominated the company for the 2013 Outstanding Corporation of the Year award, which Victaulic received, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter.

Not only is Victaulic actively involved in the community but the company also emphasizes sustainability in both its business practices and the products it provides. For example, 100 percent of the sand the company uses in its foundries is reclaimed, recycled or given beneficial disposal, and Victaulic products consist of 90 percent recycled materials.

Communitas Awards recognizes exceptional businesses, organizations and individuals that unselfishly give of themselves and their resources, as well as those that are changing how they do business to benefit their communities. Nominations can be submitted online at communitasawards.com.

United Way Awards



2014 Communitas Awards: TIC – The Industrial Company

Communitas Awards Company: TIC – The Industrial Company
Title: “Overall Company Contributions to Our Communities”
Location: Englewood, Colorado
Category: 5. Community Service

TICActive in many places, TIC’s community contributions are many. In 2013, the direct-hire, heavy industrial contractor donated more than $210,000 to organizations and families around the world.

Let’s start with the TIC Cup, an annual fundraising golf tournament. Last year the one-day tourney brought in a record-breaking $93,000 that benefited Tee Up for Tots, Make-A-Wish and a host of other charities including Toys 4 Tots, CureSearch for Children’s Cancer and the National Youth Leadership Forum on National Security.

Employees also pitched in personal money, alongside the company. When raising capital for a cause, the company will often match employee donations. For instance, workers donated $7,000 to the Colorado flood relief efforts, which the company matched for a total contribution of $14,000 to Mile High United Way.

Here are a few other highlights from last year:

  • Colorado – In addition to $14,000 in donations for flood relief, a local project in La Salle, Co., raised $4,500 from scrap metal sales and employee, company and vendor contributions to help local victims. Besides that, employees at the corporate office donated 27 usable units of blood to the Bonfils Blood Center; each unit has the ability to save and enhance the lives of up to three people.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota – A TIC subsidiary, T.E. Ibberson, held an annual silent auction that raised more than $25,000 for Make-A-Wish Minnesota.
  • San Jacinto, Nicaragua – Hired locals to build steam power plant, gave age-appropriate Christmas toys for each child in community, donated $800 for water filters for local households, installed new playground equipment at schoolyard and donated all site office equipment to local school.
  • Tuba City, Arizona – Donated several handcrafted trophy saddles for the team roping rodeo event at the annual Western Navajo Nation Fair while also taking participating in parade with 115,000 spectators.
  • Bakersfield, California – TIC’s California office donated more than $10,000 to the Ronald McDonald House through its Walk for Kids, and 35 TIC volunteers participated in the 5k. Then, employees raised an additional $10,000 to purchase Christmas gifts as well as food, TVs, furniture and a refrigerator for the House.
  • Scholarships – Awarded 25 $1,000 scholarships to support higher education goals of employees’ families.

Communitas Awards recognizes exceptional businesses, organizations and individuals that unselfishly give of themselves and their resources, as well as those that are changing how they do business to benefit their communities. Nominations, evaluated on a quarterly basis, can be submitted online at communitasawards.com.

Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House



2014 Communitas Awards: Reliv International

Communitas Awards Company: Reliv International, Inc.
Title: “2013 Reliv Week of Caring”
Location: Chesterfield, Missouri
Category: 1.1 Company-Sponsored Volunteer Project

reliv-internationalIn 2009 Reliv designated five workdays as its first “Week of Caring” to focus on giving back to nonprofits in the St. Louis area, where its international headquarters are located. During the Week of Caring, the nutrition company sends employees to volunteer at four or five local charities throughout the week.

From April 22 to April 26 in 2013, more than 50 Reliv employees volunteered at one of the following nonprofits: St. Louis Crisis Nursery (two different locations), Habitat for Humanity, Open Door Animal Sanctuary and Youth in Need.

In addition to manpower, the company also collects donations – both monetary and needed goods – prior to the Week of Caring to bring to the chosen charities on their respective volunteer days. For example, donations gathered for the Open Door Animal Sanctuary included money, dog and cat food, supplies and blankets.

“We are so fortunate to work for a company that is so generous in allowing us to volunteer during business hours,” says Debra Hellweg, Reliv’s vice president of operations. “So many local charities have benefited from this generosity over the past five years.”

The annual effort is well received by charities and its employees, with planning already underway for a bigger Week of Caring in 2014.

In addition to the Week of Caring, Reliv gave back to the community through other efforts in 2013:

  • Formed one of the top fundraising teams for the Humane Society’s Bark in the Park.
  • Raised approximately $600 for the National Diabetes Foundation.
  • Donated enough food to feed 600 families through Circle of Concern.

Communitas Awards recognizes exceptional businesses, organizations and individuals that unselfishly give of themselves and their resources, as well as those that are changing how they do business to benefit their communities. Nominations can be submitted online at communitasawards.com.




This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – Feb. 10, 2014

By Gregg Ellman

GoSmart RestPad

The GoSmart RestPad is furry computer accessory designed to sit on your desk.

Aside from the great feel, it helps prevent wrist pain associated with the endless amount of daily hours we spend looking at computer screens and mousing, which results in repetitive wrist injury or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Like any other mousepad there is a place for your mouse to slide around but what makes it unique is a 100-percent natural sheepskin rest pad for your wrist.

The soft pillow-like feel gives you a comfortable resting place along with pressure relief for your wrist.

GoSmart testing found it “validated to relieve over twice as much pressure as other wrist rests, as tested with advanced tactile array sensors that measured the contact pressures underneath the wrist.“

The white sheepskin is available with brown, camel or pink mousepad colors and is attached with Velcro making it easy to remove for cleaning.

www.JustGoSmart.com $19.95


TYLT CapioThe TYLT Capio universal car mount is the missing piece to truly make your phone handsfree.

Just as the name states, it’s universal to work with most any smartphone, keeping it upfront and steady on a dashboard or any flat surface in your car.

The Capio is built with patented technology to keep your phone in place. There are no clamps or brackets, which often scratch your phone to use with the Capio.

It affixes to any flat surface including glass, metal or wood and even holds up vertically on a glove compartment. A ball joint neck allows it to be fully adjustable and positioned in most any angle.

When the Capio is completely removed from whatever surface it was on, there’s no sign of it being left behind, sticky tape or scratches.

It’s a great accessory for keeping a phone upright when using map or GPS apps or even to use in the backseat for movie watching.

It measures 4.3 x 2.4 x 3.8-inches and weights just 2.5-ounces.

www.TYLT.com $27


Kenu AirframeThe Kenu Airframe is also used for keeping your smartphone handsfree while driving but instead of keep it on a flat surface, it attaches to an air vent.

A soft molded grip, is used to attach to the vent and it’s design won’t leave any scratches when in use or taken on and off.

There’s not a lot to it, just use the expandable jaw to hold just about any smartphone with a screen up to 4.8-inches.. It also rotates for horizontal and vertical viewing.

The Airframe weighs less then an ounce so taking it along for travel is ideal.

www.Kenu.com $24.95


PULSE Felt AudioFelt Audio’s Pulse mobile Bluetooth speaker first caught my attention with it’s small size; 3.2 inches long, 2.2 inches wide and .6-inches thick and a weight of just a few ounces.

Considering it’s pocket size, the sound is great, making it ideal for listening to satellite radio (as I did with it). It’s internal microphone works as a portable handsfree speakerphone.

It has a built-in clip on the back for attaching to a sun visor or to just have it stand on a flat surface.

You’ll get about 8 hours of use before a USB charge is needed, which takes just over a half-hour.

www.feltaudio.com $59.99 available in black or white

Contact Gregg Ellman at greggellman@mac.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman.
2014, Gregg Ellman.


2014 Communitas Awards: One Vision Productions

Communitas Awards Company: One Vision Productions
Title: “Helping to Change Lives”
Location: Clarkston, Georgia
Category: 3. Leadership in Skills-Based Community Service

One Vision ProductionsWhen Forrest Tuff started his multimedia production company, One Vision Productions, in 2004, there was no doubt that the studio would be involved in the community. The entrepreneur feels a moral obligation to prepare children for life as adults.

“The challenges I constantly face with the youth are communication, but once this barrier is broken, they are very receptive to input and the belief that I have a genuine interest in their wellbeing,” Tuff said.

One Vision donates its services – film, photography, graphic design and web design – or sponsors nonprofits such as Alliance Theatre, F&M Educational Foundation, CARE, YouthSpark and American Heart Association.

The last organization is especially important to Tuff, who lost his younger brother to a heart attack in 2012. “It has become my personal mission to bring awareness to heart disease and prevention by volunteering with the American Heart Association,” he said.

Other projects One Vision Productions has assisted include:

“These projects require thousands of dollars in funding and manpower to aid in their successes,” Tuff explains. “The reward of watching children find direction in life and hope is well worth the investment.”

Tuff has also donated services internationally to help establish schools in Mexico and the Philippines with Giver of Life Educational.

Communitas Awards recognizes exceptional businesses, organizations and individuals that unselfishly give of themselves and their resources, as well as those that are changing how they do business to benefit their communities. Nominations can be submitted online at communitasawards.com.




2014 Communitas Awards: Solstice Benefits

Communitas Awards Company: Solstice Benefits
Title: “Solstice Benefits: Insuring Life’s Happiest Moments”
Location: Plantation, Florida
Category: 1.1 Company-Sponsored Volunteer Project

SolsticeNot only was Solstice Benefits a sponsor of the 2013 Broward Heart Walk benefitting the American Heart Association but the dental, vision and life insurance provider skyrocketed past its fundraising goal of $15,000, collecting more than $26,000 for the race. To date, the 100-employee company has raised more than $100,000 for the AHA.

Why the AHA? Since Solstice is a healthcare company, its employees are committed to raising awareness about the important correlation between oral health and heart disease.

solstice-2013-broward-heart-walk“We believe in giving back to the community we serve,” writes Solstice’s marketing director, Alissa Gavrilescu, in the nomination. “We not only take care of smiles; we help create them through our corporate philanthropic efforts.”

In addition to the fundraising, the company donated dental plans to the walk’s top fundraisers in gratitude for their effort and manned the “Show Us Your Solstice Smile” photo booth, giving away toothbrushes and oral health guides to participants.

The Solstice crew also partnered with Holy Cross Hospital to provide special “I walk for you” cards for walkers to fill with words of encouragement for Holy Cross cardiology patients.

Check out their upbeat video montage of the race and its surrounding events.


Communitas Awards recognizes exceptional businesses, organizations and individuals that unselfishly give of themselves and their resources, as well as those that are changing how they do business to benefit their communities. Nominations can be submitted online at communitasawards.com.


Will Your 2014 Hermes Creative Awards Entry Be Featured Here?

Hermes TrophiesWith the 2014 Hermes Creative Awards competition now open, soon AMCP will be showcasing entries that stand out here on the AMCP blog, much like we did with the AVA Digital Awards.*

Hermes Creative Awards is an international competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of traditional materials and programs in addition to emerging technologies.

Winners range in size from individual communicators to media conglomerates and Fortune 500 companies.

The 190+ categories for the Hermes are classified into one of five major headings:

  • Print Media
  • Public Relations/Communications
  • Electronic Media/Social Media/Interactive Media
  • New Category
  • Pro Bono

To honor and recognize the generosity of the creative community, AMCP does not charge for entries produced pro bono for outside nonprofits; however only entrants who enter a regular piece in the competition are eligible to enter pro bono work at no cost. This is a perk for those who help defray costs of overhead, mailings, judging etc.

What are you waiting for? Enter today to prove you create award-winning work.

Get updates from us on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn.

*Hermes Creative Awards and the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals recognizes that many entrants are adamant about not wanting their work displayed. Only those entries that grant permission during the online entry process will be considered for inclusion in our various public platforms. Otherwise, only judges will see entries. We can assure you that your privacy will be protected.


Behind the Screen: The Creation of MP Squared’s Website

mp2Consider your dinner from last night. Maybe you had a chicken sandwich or veggie burger accompanied by fries. Now, think about your meal’s start on the planet. What do you really know about its journey to your plate?

Educating the general public about the intricacies of the agriculture business is only one of the things that MP2 Communications aims to do through its one-year-old website, mp2.ag, which recently received a 2014 AVA Digital Platinum Award.

Recently I was able to learn more about the site’s creation and challenges faced during development from Mark Vierthaler, director of MP2 Communications, a division of Servi-Tech, Inc.

Tell me about MP Squared’s mission and what visitors can find when they visit mp2.ag.

Mark Vierthaler

Mark Vierthaler

MP Squared’s mission is to make the planet more productive, which is where the name comes from: Making the Planet More Productive = MP2.

The more in-depth answer is that mp2.ag was created in an effort to help bridge the gap between those who consume the products of agriculture (i.e. everyone) and those who produce the products that are consumed (only 1.8 percent of the United States’ population). This was developed in close conjunction with people who have worked in all sides of the agricultural industry including traditional and organic.

The goal was to create a site that both agriculture industry professionals AND everyday consumers could come to and learn about every single aspect of the industry in clear, concise, and factual ways.

It actually serves three functions:

    1. It’s an agricultural news hub. Up-to-date news feeds from more than two dozen agricultural news organizations are automatically pushed onto the mp2.ag home page. This way, instead of scouring the Internet for the most recent ag news, users just have to visit one page and get a quick overview of everything going on.
    2. It’s an education tool. The tabs across the top of the site link to pages about different areas of agriculture. This helps consumers get a better understanding of what exactly their food is and how it’s produced.
    3. We find partners within all areas (production, transportation, fuel, energy) who want to tell their personal story about how they make the planet more productive. This humanizes an industry that many see as faceless and monolithic.

Walk me through the design process.

The design came mostly from original ideas with some ideas borrowed from news aggregate sites like AllTop or the Drudge Report. We knew going in that we wanted a site that was graphically pleasing, easy to navigate, but really had the content chops to serve its function and not just look pretty. It was the content and the ease of navigations that we really wanted to focus on.

We went through about four or five pre-design mockups before we approached Brookside Studios, our web design partner in Tulsa, Okla. Damon DoRemus and his team took our ideas and really made it work and shine. The behind-the-scenes CMS is pretty outstanding, as well, with an easy-to-use interface that lets us easily change up every single piece of the site.

After Brookside Studios had our mockups and requested functionality, they put together a basic version of the site. MP2 Communications then set about generating all of the content. Every single piece of content on the site was created in-house (unless otherwise noted), so we wrote every piece, shot every photo, and put together every video.

As each section came together, we would integrate it onto the site with Brookside Studios and ensure that the site was still functioning how we wanted it. It officially launched January 1, 2013.

What was the most challenging aspect of the project?


As I’m sure you know, the agricultural industry has become a very politically charged bit of business in recent years. We wanted to make sure that the site was a true representation of every aspect of the industry (including organic and traditional) so consumers could have a safe, low-key place dedicated to answering all of their questions.

As such, that means doing tons of research on a wide gamut of areas, many of which we didn’t have intimate knowledge of. We did the majority of research through academic articles, as well as first-person interviews with people who are active in the agricultural industry.

We then had a series of partners that were our fact checkers – for example we had several agronomists from Servi-Tech, Inc., fact check our pieces to ensure that while they were easy to read, they were still factually accurate.

MP Squared

Were there certain aspects that you knew had to be integrated into the site from the start?

Death to jargon, death to jargon, death to jargon.

There’s a double-edge sword in the communications world. The more you know about a subject, the more accurately you can discuss it. However, the more accurately you discuss it, the more technical terms and jargon creep in. The more technical terms and jargon that creep in, the harder it is for the general public to understand it.

Now, that’s not a big deal when you’re working on internal communications, or you’re specifically targeting a group of people with intimate knowledge of your subject. However, if the goal of your site is to connect and inform consumers and/or those with little experience in the industry, jargon is your enemy. While you may be as accurate as a lifelong industry professional, you’re losing the audience you want to reach. So, the ultimate goal was to create something accurate, easy and interesting to read but not overly complex.

What do you hope visitors walk away with?

We hope people realize that the agricultural industry is much more complex than they may have thought in the past.

How many people worked on the project and how long did it take?

This was our baby for about a year, actually. As mentioned, all of the content was written, photographed, etc. by myself and my assistant director Monica Springer. All of the web work and design was done by Damon DoRemus and his team at Brookside Studios.

The idea originally came up about four years ago when I first left journalism to enter the world of public relations and marketing. The company that hired me was an agronomic firm, and as my previous experience had been as an investigative crime journalist, I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the industry.

While doing research, I was somewhat stymied by the lack of a one-stop shop for ag information. It was either much too complex (“Some guys are substituting Lorsban for dimethoate.”) or much too simplistic (“The cow goes moo.”). There really wasn’t anything that could offer a simple but mature bit of information.

What’s ahead for MP2.ag in 2014?

When we launched a year ago, we mainly hit on the main areas of agriculture (i.e. the crops and livestock production practices that dominate the United States markets). However, that is only scratching the surface of everything that’s produced in agriculture and how every single aspect of your life is impacted by people in the industry.

In 2014 we have a list of expansions that will include things such as equine production, as well as the history of the organic movement and where it differs from traditional agricultural practices.

We are also overhauling the blog. We have a great list of bloggers from various areas of the industry; however, the blog itself isn’t as easy to navigate/browse as we’d like.

We’re also expanding the categorization of partners that want to tell their story. Starting in mid-2014 partners will start being divided up into the area of the industry they’re most involved with (i.e. seed production, coops, transportation, etc.).

And while we have lots of good information, we’d like to start digging down into more complex topics so as people become more familiar, they can educate themselves even more.

Finally, video production is going to more than double this year. We’re in the process of producing a series of videos that takes each crop, cow, etc. and shows them from beginning to end. “Gate to plate” is the term most often used.