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Five years of Gem PR & Media

Five years of Gem PR & Media

It's been a long time since I posted, it's been a busy few months. It's also five years since I launched Gem PR & Media from our dining room table in Guernsey. And sure, we have 250 #FiveYears of #LipSmackingService Serious Lip Balms to gift to our friends, family, and clients (let me know if you’d like one and I’ll make sure it happens), but I also wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

It’s been vital to our survival that we love what we do. That’s what it comes down to. If money is more important than doing what you love that’s ok too. But for small business owners, we do it because it’s what we're meant to do. 

Celebrate the good times. Do not dwell on the bad times, they will pass, and you will get through. If you mess up admit it, apologize, and move on. Know that if something isn’t your fault, and you did a good job, you can’t win them all. 

Listen to advice from your peers. Not all advice is good, but in time you will discover those whose advice is invaluable. 

Stay true to yourself. That gut feeling has always been a strong indicator for me. If I feel something is off it usually is. 

Do good. As a business owner, you have the power to leave this place in better shape than when you found it. Give your time wisely and use it for good.  

If you can’t stand up for your industry then help make it be a better one. Lead by example. It’s ok if others follow I genuinely believe that.

Go the extra mile for your clients it will make all the difference. 

Finally, recognize your accomplishments and those that have helped you along the way.

So thank you to everyone that has supported us over the years we appreciate it, we really do! 

Local First Springfield Illinois

Local First Springfield Illinois

Custom Cup Springfield IL Kate Spencer Photography.jpg

The 12 Days of Local campaign launches on Friday, November 24. Each day we will feature several businesses and or organizations, which are members of the non-profit Local First. Each day has also been sponsored by a member business, which means Local First has been able to raise funds to further support its members in 2018. The 50 or so participating members have sent us copy, which I’ve had a lot of fun reading and editing, from Pease’s at Bunn Gourmet and Engrained Brewery and Restaurant to District 23 and Arlington’s. Kate Spencer of Kate Spencer Photography kindly donated her skills and has spent the past couple of days visiting 12 participating businesses by taking fantastic photos.

We’re proud to provide our services to Local First in kind, to support our community, and most importantly to remind people in Springfield to buy local, shop local and embrace this fantastic city that has so much to offer.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois Labor Day Ducky Derby goes swimmingly

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois Labor Day Ducky Derby goes swimmingly

At Gem PR & Media we’re always keen to give back.

We are proud to be involved in a number of non-profit organizations in Springfield, Illinois. As well as developing communication strategies for charities, providing sponsorships, and coverage through our free online lifestyle magazine, Eighteen21, we sit on boards and volunteer at fundraisers in the city. This week is a particularly busy one for the team with Monday's Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois inaugural Labor Day Ducky Derby fundraiser at Knights Action Park, Thursday's 6th annual Illinois Women in Leadership Women’s Symposium, and the inaugural Junk In Your Trunk For A Cause fundraiser for Compass for Kids, which takes place on Saturday, September 9 at Marine Bank on Robbins Road from 8am to 1pm.

If you're organizing a fundraiser or need support, getting the word out about your cause, get in touch with us by emailing

Here are a few photos from yesterday's Labor Day Ducky Derby!


The bigger picture

The bigger picture

I‘ve been thinking a lot recently about how we can add value to our clients. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the bigger picture means including the little things. As well as doing a good job it’s important to remain connected with clients. One way to do this is to stay abreast of issues or trends in their industry. This takes time of course, but it can be as simple as setting up Google alerts and subscribing to industry websites. If we do not manage a client’s social media we always like, follow, and engage with their platforms so that we remain up to date with their daily activity.

I’m also a great believer in bringing different clients together to create meaningful professional relationships. If I see an opportunity to introduce one client to another I will make the effort to do so. My clients know this too – and appreciate it.

We are often asked by clients if we are interested in writing an article for about an organization they are involved with, such as a nonprofit or association. It may even be that they have a client that has a story or is involved in a nonprofit that would appreciate the coverage, exposure, and opportunity to share content on their social media platforms – and website. 

I recently also launched a PR & Media Tool Kit and am offering discounts to organizations we are involved with, such as Illinois Women in Leadership, Business Networking International, and Central Illinois Networking Group – as well as nonprofits. May of our clients are members of or involved in such organizations – therefore they enjoy the discount.

If we are not managing a client’s social media platforms, but we are in fact creating content for them through, and we believe we can add value by providing training on the platforms, we will do so free of charge. It’s important for our clients that they gain value from any work we do. If we are creating content we want them to be able to social it out, provide links to our site from their website, and help improve their SEO or Google rankings. Taking time to support their other PR and marketing activities is a solid investment for them and us. 

At the end of the day, we want our clients to be successful because as their businesses grow so will ours. 



Networking is a great way to build relationships and develop leads for your business. At times, however, you may find that the last thing you want to do is attend another networking event. Worse still, your networking group has become stale and the quantity and quality of referrals is declining. If this is the case I have a few suggestions to help bring energy back to your group. 

A social, which also involves the families of your group’s members, is a great way to get to know one another better and spend time together without the added ‘pressure’ of referrals. In and around Springfield there are a number of venues that would suit a relaxed gathering. Sheedy Shores in New Berlin, for example, allows you to bring your own food, there are plenty of tables, a grassed area, and on Sundays, there is live music. An afternoon picnic at Southwind Park is another great spot as there’s plenty for kids to do and explore. 

A community project is another way to help bring the group together and develop relationships. You may want to prepare and serve a meal for those staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Springfield, for example.

Perhaps the start time of your regular meeting needs to change, or even the day. Do you need fresh blood in the group? What about setting aside meetings for guest visits. You could make this a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly activity. There could even be representatives from certain industries that you would like to add to the group. Sometimes it takes one or two members of the group meeting with a potential recruit, for coffee or lunch, to explain how your organization works and its benefits. It’s also worth revisiting your own contacts. Perhaps you’ve missed someone from your network that would fit right in and benefit other members – as well as themselves of course.

With many organizations, the leadership team can lose momentum if they have been in their respective positions for too long. If it’s time to shake things up to encourage those who have not taken on leadership roles in the past to do so.

Finally, is your group doing all that it can to get the word out about its members? Do you have a Facebook page or Instagram account that you can populate with members’ businesses and activities? If not then perhaps it’s time to engage in social media as well as meeting in person to share referrals and develop relationships. 

If you are interested in visiting a networking group, members of the Gem PR & Media team are involved in the following organizations and would be more than happy to provide further information.

Business Networking International 
Central Illinois Networking Group 
Illinois Women in Leadership 
Springfield Junior Chamber of Commerce (Springfield Jaycees) 

Sensible Innovations

Sensible Innovations

For more than a year now, we have been working with Rasha Said, founder and CEO of Sensible Innovations. When we first met with Rasha in early 2015 she had recently launched the first version of the Aware app. Aware is designed to help improve the lives of America’s 21 million visually impaired, using Apple iBeacon technology to communicate information about a person’s surroundings.

The app has been created with the visually impaired in mind, but is also being used by people with dyslexia and the elderly, who find it difficult to navigate a new environment. The iBeacons' signals trigger the app, which identifies the location, downloads the information and a text reader on the smartphone describes the environment. Access to information at the right time and place for the visually impaired, or individuals who have difficulty understanding signs, negates the need for memorization or fear of getting lost. Rasha’s ultimate goal has been to provide the visually impaired the opportunity to explore the world without limitations – and she’s doing exactly that. 


After her pilot installation at Glenwood High School in Chatham, Illinois, Rasha then placed iBeacons, free of charge, at The Mary Bryant Home for the Blind in Springfield, Illinois. Gem PR & Media has worked with Rasha to develop a pro-active public relations campaign, which has built brand recognition here in Springfield, in the state of Illinois, across America (especially amongst her target market), and around the world. Rasha is now installing iBeacons across the country and will have a pilot scheme go live in London, UK, later this year. 

We have spread word of Sensible Innovations’ Aware app through a number of channels, including attendance at conferences for the visually impaired, technology symposiums, building a relationship with and installing iBeacons at Chicago Lighthouse, speaking occasions, interviews on TV, in newspapers and magazines – including, and perhaps one of our most successful activities, an interview in the American Foundation for the Blind’s publication and online. 

Aware App Sensible Innovations

Most recently, and the reson for this blog, we entered Rasha for two regional awards: the ATNENA Leadership award, which is presented to female leaders in the community for their personal and professional dedication and the Springfield Business Journal’s Women of Influence award. Rasha has been shortlisted for the ATNENA award, of which there are 10 nominees, and is one of five 2017 winners of the Women of Influence award. 

It goes without saying how extremely proud we are to work with Rasha, continue to help her build the Sensible Innovations brand, and deliver the Aware app to those who will benefit from it most around the world. 

If there was ever the perfect example when it came to a client who understood the positive impact of public relations Rasha Said and Sensible Innovations is it.