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Gem PR & Media

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! 

Small Business Week 2018 in Springfield keeps us on our toes

Small Business Week 2018 in Springfield keeps us on our toes

It’s National Small Business Week and, like most small business owners around the world, no two days are the same. 

So when we got a call from the Governor’s office on Tuesday at midday to ask if we could help pull together a visit to Sangamon Reclaimed – and a roundtable with other small businesses in Springfield, Illinois, for #SmallBusinessWeek at 11am the next day - we jumped into action.

It was a rather whirlwind 24 hours, but a lot of fun. It was a great opportunity too, for Brian Frieze, Sangamon Reclaimed founder and owner, and his team, and other small local businesses such as Serious Lip Balm, Sensible Innovations, and Free Press Coffee to talk about the subject of small businesses - and their importance to the economy – and to gain exposure through local media. This was such a great public relations opportunity for our client and - as expected - everyone also shared out the occasion on social media.  

Here are some of our favorite photos from the day. You can see more on our Facebook page or Instagram.

Local First Springfield & Innovate Springfield collaborate on training for businesses

Local First Springfield & Innovate Springfield collaborate on training for businesses

So many of our clients ask ‘what can I do to grow my business?’ We often tell them to get involved with the community and to collaborate with other businesses. There are lots of examples of organizations collaborating successfully. Only the other day I attended the first Mindful Mornings in Springfield at Engrained Brewery & Restaurant, where the room was packed with people that want to do good – and – collaborate in order to achieve this.

Local First Springfield is an organization we as a business are involved in – and so too are many of our clients because they, like us, see the benefit in supporting other like-minded, local, small and large companies and organizations that want to see our city and surrounding area prosper. We love Springfield and we want it to be the best city to live in – for all.

Our friend and master collaborator, Katie Davison, of Innovate Springfield, is leading the next Local First training session on Thursday (March 8 – funnily enough that’s International Women’s Day – go ladies!) on business collaboration: Fostering a Business Ecosystem. During the 90-minute class, Katie will explain the benefits and importance of business collaboration, as evidenced by Springfield’s growing business ecosystem. Basically, a business ecosystem is the interconnected web of business owners, innovators, and entrepreneurs that create relationships with one another to not only make their own businesses more successful but also recognize opportunities for all involved. In order to demonstrate the power of business collaboration, Katie will describe some of the great examples happening in our community right now.

There are two sessions, one at 9am (not too early and perfect timing for a mug of Custom Cup Coffee) and the other at 3.30pm (for those of us that prefer an afternoon class). This is not only an opportunity to learn to work together but to meet fellow business owners and entrepreneurs. The class, open to Local First Springfield members and nonmembers, is just $30.

This is the second class in a yearlong series organized by Local First Springfield, which is being led by a different member each month.

You can register for the class here.


Facebook & Instagram training

Facebook & Instagram training

We are teaming up with Local First Springfield to offer members and non-members a 90-minute class that takes participants behind the scenes of Facebook and Instagram business pages.

Social media needs to play a major part in your marketing strategy in 2018.

For just $30 (with $5 going to the non-profit Compass for Kids) we will provide a live demonstration on Facebook and Instagram focusing on:

·      Page content

·      Generating engaging posts

·      Boosting

·      Ads

Two sessions are being offered, Thursday, February 1st from 7.30am and Friday, February 2 from 3.30pm at Gem PR & Media 2121 W. White Oaks Dr, Springfield, 62711. Spaces are limited to 18 per session. 

Book your place by emailing Bill McMahon at by January 19th. 

Owned, bought, and earned media

Owned, bought, and earned media

It’s been a while since I’ve had an opportunity to write a blog. Tomorrow I will present to my peers and as I was writing the presentation on owned, bought, and earned media I thought I’d share my thoughts with you also.

In writing outreach strategies for clients, which align with their business goals, I always take into consideration owned, bought, and earned media.

Owned media is anything you own that can be leveraged for marketing purposes; apparel, office supplies, your website, social media, etc.

Website: maximize its potential; add a blog or news feed, update images, post client/customer testimonials, link to your social media profiles, backlink

Social media; post engaging, informative and timely content; images, videos, industry related information, ask questions, post surveys, piggyback on trends and topics, share content from other business pages etc.

Bought media is anything you buy; advertising in magazines, online, social media, TV, radio, billboards etc. It’s really a case of working out which of the above will bring you the greatest return on your investment. We are seeing more and more people investing in social media advertising/Facebook boosting and videos – as well as Google ad words – the most important benefit to remember about online advertising, is that it’s measurable.

Earned media

Essentially – Public Relations – the core of what Gem PR & Media does for clients on a daily basis.

Speaking opportunities: there are a wide variety of speaking opportunities in central Illinois and beyond. 

Articles, profiles, and interviews on TV, radio, in print and online. This is a great opportunity to spread the word about your business and/or services.

Awards; enter awards and nominate clients, colleagues, and partners/third party providers – not just to show that you care, but to spread the word about your organization, its people and those that it interacts with.

CSR – corporate social responsibility; this is a huge part of what we do as a business and encourage other businesses to do so also. Giving back to the community in which your business operates, and you live in, is a major plus here.

In addition to being a nice person, you’re also elevating your brand.

If you choose to dedicate time and resources to a cause make sure it is either one you are extremely passionate about and/or aligns with your business goals. 

Make sure you have the time to commit – don’t half-ass it – that’s bad for your reputation.

Use your existing skills – if you’re an accountant – offer to do the bookkeeping, if you’re a lawyer offer to be legal counsel etc.

One of the most important things to remember about public relations/earned media is longevity – this is something often forgotten … when you have an article published online, or you make a presentation/speech and someone shares a photo of you and tags your business on Facebook, or you volunteer for an organization, secure a spot on the news, and a link to the interview is shared on the website and social media platforms - the message is repeated, the exposure is wide reaching and you are now established as a go-to source – you/your business/services/products and expertise are available for anyone that is interested days, months, even years after you’ve ‘paid’ for that PR. 

So think about the ways in which you can best leverage your owned, bought, and earned media - and remember the investment is well worth it in the short - and long-term. 

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.

How to improve your SEO

How to improve your SEO

Whether you’re writing a blog, a Facebook post, or article how you write and what you include will make all the difference when it comes to online traffic.

First of all, make sure you include keywords. I’d recommend at least three. Think about the words your target audience will use to search for you on Google.

Be clever when it comes to your headline. Again, use words that will be plugged into the search engine.  

Don’t ramble. Get straight to the point.

Avoid redundant words and repetition. Keep it short. I always try to keep my blogs to around 200 words, my articles to between 300 and 450 words for Eighteen21, and my Facebook posts to one sentence (two max).

Include links to other pages, articles, and social media platforms. Backlinking helps increase your SEO.

Include a call to action; at the very least remind people where they can find out more or who to contact.

So, with the above in mind, if you’re looking for great content creation, by a professional, with more than a 15 years’ experience in the media industry, call 217-210-1589 and speak to me, Gemma, about how Gem PR & Media can help get you and your business noticed online!  

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 importance of networking

The importance of networking


A few months ago I wrote a blog about networking groups and provided ideas for bringing the energy back. In the past nine months, life has been pretty hectic with the arrival of our daughter (and the real CEO of Gem PR & Media) Olivia. This has meant that at times we have had to miss out on networking opportunities as, although Gem PR & Media is a priority, family comes first. I know many of you will agree. 

Networking is extremely important when you’re developing a client base from scratch. Even several years after launching your new venture, you need to get out there and meet business owners and entrepreneurs. Through networking, you have the opportunity to spread your message, tell people about what you do, how and why, and build relationships and contacts. So, last week I decided to make an effort to attend, in a single day (not an unusual activity pre-Miss Olivia), our Central Illinois Networking Group meeting, a Springfield BNI chapter, and the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce after hours event. 

I’ve always loved networking. After years of acting classes from an early age, I don’t generally fear walking into a room of people I don’t know. But, it’s been a while since I did that. So, I put on my lippy and heels and headed on up to the 14th floor of the Crowne Plaza. 

I was one of the first there. I walked on over to the viewing area where a few people had gathered to observe Springfield from a height and struck up a conversation with a young girl from AT&T. In her early 20s, I was reminded of my early networking years – being the newbie in the room (or on the rooftop) and how just one person that came across to say ‘hello’ helped my confidence. We chatted for a while until a connection I had met at the lunchtime meeting came across to say ‘hi’ and joined us in conversation. This gave me the opportunity to further develop the professional relationship I had begun to nurture earlier that day. Adding another person to your conversation also helps it progress and change direction, which is helpful if you’re struggling for topics, after the initial introduction.
I think the biggest takeaway from networking all these years is to make sure you don’t just talk about yourself, but listen to and engage with the person you are meeting. 

I stayed at the after-hours event for a while, handed out a few business cards, and then left feeling pretty satisfied. The heels came off and flip-flops went on as soon as I got in the car of course. 
The following morning I took out the collection of business cards I’d gathered and began writing follow-up emails – thanking the BNI chapter for having me, reminding them about and Junk In Your Trunk For A Cause, and mentioning I’d hope to see them again soon. Another thing I came to realize while developing our business is the importance of follow-up. Never forget to follow-up with a new connection. I admire those who do it over the phone. I usually send an email. 

Now, I didn’t do this – although I thought about and wish I had, why not take a selfie with your new connections too. Post on your social media business profiles and tag your new ‘friends’ in. This will also encourage them to like and engage with your online platforms. But don’t worry if you forget, you’ll do it next time. 

It’s never too late to network – or get back to it. If you’ve lost the enthusiasm, or haven’t simply had the time to do so, throw yourself in when you get your next chance. It’s a bit like riding a bike – once you get back on you’ll remember how. If time is an issue I recommend picking one day out of the week and devoting that day to networking. It’s hard to concentrate when you get back to the office because often you need to follow-up on the emails, calls etc. that you’ve missed. So know that it’s ok because tomorrow you’ll get time at your desk. Make those networking moments count. Don’t forget to take business cards, always follow-up, and get the next event in your calendar. 

Content marketing

Content marketing 

Are you doing a good job at content marketing?

Essentially, content marketing is creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content, strategically, to attract and engage with a defined audience – and ultimately, result in a profit. 

Content marketing is part of all forms of marketing and includes social media, SEO, PR, inbound marketing, and strategy. Strategy is at the heart of everything we do at Gem PR & Media. It’s the strategy that allows us to meet our goals (and our clients’ goals) – or objectives. SEO, social media, and inbound marketing (which I’ll go into more detail about at another time) all go hand-in-hand. And PR, well, that’s at the core of everything we do. 

Business owners, PR and marketing professionals, and those tasked with maintaining an organization’s website or social media platforms often tell me they struggle with content. They get stuck with what to post, how often, and when. It’s not hard to create content, but you need to know how, and where, to find it. However, it does take time and that’s something many of our clients don’t have. That’s also one of the main reasons we created, a year ago on September 1st in fact, to provide businesses with a source of content for an extremely reasonable price. Our advertorial features cost just $125 (and that includes a boosting fee for Facebook). We offer a profile piece, ‘My not so 9 to 5’, for $99. Our articles reach thousands of people – and because we don’t publish editions – this isn’t a monthly magazine as the content is loaded almost daily – they are accessible online for as long as is in existence. 

So, as I said earlier, what we do is content. We create it. But essentially we’re marketing that content to your audience so that you can provide services and products – and remain profitable.  

Improvements to LinkedIn

Improvements to LinkedIn

My user experience, when it comes to LinkedIn, has improved in recent years. Over time I built up a hefty network, being a journalist and working in public relations you tend to make a lot of connections, but I never really took it too seriously until a few years ago. Now, as the platform continues to improve its features, I find myself spending more-and-more time engaging with my connections and adding relevant content, all in an effort draw my audience back to and That’s not to say I couldn’t improve my interaction because, in the ideal world, I would.

In the meantime, LinkedIn has added new features that are definitely worth mentioning. You now have the ability to select multiple images in a single post on LinkedIn. Upload is currently available on IOS and the platform is currently working on making the feature accessible on Android and desktop too. Simply select the images, create the post, and share in your feed. A nifty feature for those of us that have trouble choosing just one image or want to share presentations in their entirety. 

The next feature isn’t widely available yet, my guess is the platform is testing out the kinks before it’s rolled out to all users, but an addition I’m excited about no less. You’ll soon be able to record and post videos directly from the LinkedIn app, making sharing content on the go so much easier. Say you’re on a job, at a conference, networking event, or just see something you really want to share – now you can do so, via video, on the go. Remember though people, keep it short and to the point.

Here’s one I really like, you can now share your posts, videos, and articles, with those who are not logged onto LinkedIn (or aren’t members yet), on other social media platforms. As a social media manager, and someone who is constantly searching for content to share, this is an invaluable feature. Thanks LinkedIn. 

If you’re brave enough to ask for feedback on an article that you’re about to publish you can now share it with your connections. However, it’s worth noting (and perhaps reassuring), that your drafts are only visible to those that have access to the direct links that you create. 
Finally, a welcomed feature for many, you can now manage the comments on your posts and articles; providing you the opportunity to enable or disable comments. From those of us working in crisis comms, you can hear a sigh of relief. 

So, there you have it. LinkedIn is making changes to provide a more professional environment, a more interactive platform, and giving members with the opportunity to share content on other platforms – with non-members. All good stuff in my book. 


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. 

PR & Media Toolkit

PR & Media Toolkit

So often we are approached by small to medium business owners that have a Facebook business page, Linkedin account, or Instagram but simply do not have the time or resources to manage these platforms effectively. They know that they need to better communicate with their audience, update their website more regularly, and get more from sponsorship activities but don’t have the tools at hand to do so.

Well, we have created a four-part toolkit with classes on social media, events, sponsorship and crowdfunding, creating a PR and media plan, and writing to promote for any business owners, or those responsible for marketing their organization, that feel they need help getting their message out to the right audience in order to help it grow, recruit, or fundraise.

Our plan is to hold 90-minute classes on Tuesday evenings (cookies and coffee included) at Gem PR & Media, either immediately after work or a little later. Each class is $50 or $175 for all four. There are 12 spaces. We are looking to kick this off on July 11 but will delay until the end of the month/beginning of August if those interested need to organize their calendars. If you have any questions or would like further information please email


It’s not about us, it’s about you

It’s not about us, it’s about you

In August 2015 I wrote the blog ‘A day in the life of Gem PR & Media.’ It was a take on a feature that I’ve produced (in one shape or another) for a number of magazines around the globe. We currently run a similar piece in called ‘My not so 9 to 5,’ which chronicles the day for those living in and around Springfield. It’s a great way to gain insight into someone’s business, organization, or life.

This week I thought about revisiting the idea of a ‘not so 9 to 5 at Gem PR & Media,’ but then I got to thinking – it’s not about us it’s about you. What I really should be talking about is our clients and what their days are like working with us because that’s what matters.

A lot of the time our clients will apologize for their delay in getting back to us about a blog we drafted, the month’s social media posts we’ve scheduled, or a meeting date and time. The reason is they are busy. Well, that’s exactly what we want to hear. We are glad that our clients are too busy to get back to us right away. When I get a text message that reads ‘my phone has been ringing non-stop,’ that makes my day. It means that we’re doing something right. 

Most recently we’ve been working with the team at SPFLD Emojis, which released about a week-and-a-half ago. The media reception has been fantastic. We issued a press release on June 1 and since then SPFLD Emojis has appeared on multiple platforms from TV to radio and print to online, of course. I’ve always said that if you’ve got a great story the media will want to tell it – and that’s the case with SPFLD Emojis. 

Something else that we feel strongly about is including clients in the opportunities that we ourselves pursue. Last week we attended the Women Empowerment networking event at Erin’s Pavilion, organized by our client Deb Sarsany and her team at The Real Estate Group (another of our clients). We wanted to show some of the work we do and what better way to do that than have clients attend with us? Brittany Wallin of SPFLD Emojis and Crystal Apostol of Apostol Heirloom Portraitist joined the Gem PR & Media/ table, mingled with guests, and developed new relationships. We also had marketing materials from Sensible Innovations, AlignLife of Springfield, which has its annual 5K in Washington Park in September, and copies of the 2017/18 Springfield Visitors Guide, which we researched and wrote last summer. We also gave away four tickets to a 2017/18 Springfield Jr. Blues games, kindly provided by the team, another client of ours – and because we are located across the road from the fabulous Pease’s at Bunn Gourmet, we had a selection of their delicious mini desserts for guests to our table. 

These are just a few examples, but I think it’s important to demonstrate just how much we appreciate our clients, how we continue to look for new opportunities so that they are able to grow their businesses, and how being a part of the Gem PR & Media ‘family’ is a positive experience. 



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) 

All women networking event in Springfield

All women networking event in Springfield

I’ve always been a firm believer in supporting fellow local business owners, especially those established or operated by women. 

Where we can we will use local printers Emerson Press, a contact I made at Illinois Women in Leadership a few years ago. The team at Emerson provides great customer service – anything we have printed is delivered directly to our office door. Deb Sarsany helped us to find our office on Springfield’s west side and Kate Spencer of Kate Spencer Photography, whose studio is based alongside Gem PR & Media 2121 W White Oaks Dr., provides us, and most of our clients for that matter, with headshots and images for our/their social media, websites, and marketing material. 

On June 8 Gem PR & Media, Kate Spencer Photography, IWIL  will be participating in the Women Empowerment networking event at Erin’s Pavilion, which has been organized by the Deb Sarsany Team at The Real Estate Group. The event will provide an opportunity for businesswomen to get together, share their work, and develop new relationships. In total 25 business and or organizations will fill the venue at Southwind Park from 5pm to 8pm. 

It’ll be loud no doubt; as it always is at women-only events, but I also think it will be a great evening. I’m looking forward to meeting new people that we haven’t  come across yet in Springfield and to see if there is anything they can do for our business or vice versa. You can find more information about the Women Empowerment event on or on June 1 on Good Day Marketplace Illinois between 8am and 8.30am. 

What our clients have taught us: part two

What our clients have taught us: part two

More than a year ago I wrote a blog about what our clients have taught us. I had a conversation this week, which reminded me of that blog. I was talking to a client for the first time and I told them that they were paying for my advice, that I would give it to them, but if they didn’t like it that was their prerogative. 

When I first launched Gem PR & Media I was reluctant to say exactly what I thought when counseling clients. This was unusual because previously I had been very upfront as an account manager. I think, no, I know it was because I was afraid to offend Gem PR & Media clients and lose them. Then, a client asked me for my professional opinion and I didn’t give it to them. Instead, I told them what I thought they would want to hear. Well, eventually, my ‘politeness’ came back to bite me and the client told me not to tell them what I thought they would want to hear, but give my professional opinion because that’s what they were paying me for – even if I knew they weren’t going to like it.

This was one of the most important lessons in my professional life. I just needed to be reminded that I do a good job for my clients because I am always upfront with them.

I enjoy working with clients that have a strong personality, that challenge me, and question my approach. There are times, of course, when you need to evaluate the extent to which you ‘push’ your point (as a friend once said to me ‘lose the battle but win the war.’) I’m actually quite good at this – especially when I’m dealing with a crisis – the gloves come off and I’ll fight tooth and nail to protect that client. In my life, I’m terrible at seeing the big picture. Sure, I have no problem telling friends what I think and why, but me, personally, I’ll jump in before I’ve taken the chance to consider all options and evaluate the situation properly. I was talking to a friend the other day and I told her something I knew she needed to hear, but that I also knew no one else would, we were on the phone but I could hear the relief in her voice because all she needed was someone to be totally honest and upfront with her. 

As a professional that, at times, along with a team of attorneys, insurance advisors, even police has to lay out the ups and downs of their future, the future of their livelihood, you can be nothing but honest and upfront. Experience has taught me, as have my clients, that I’m here to help them navigate a path that they alone cannot. 

Gem PR & Media: Good as gold!

Gem PR & Media: Good as gold!

On Monday evening Gem PR & Media was selected for the 2017 Good as Gold Business Honor Roll at the Good as Gold Springfield Volunteer Awards in recognition of commitment and dedication to volunteerism, service to community, and financial support of non-profits and charitable organizations. The event was hosted by the University of Illinois, Springfield at the Public Affairs Center on campus and is supported by the Junior League of Springfield and United Way. The room was packed with individuals, organizations, and businesses that give back to our community and it was a very humbling experience for our team. 

This perhaps is the award we are most proud of because we feel extremely honored to be recognized alongside such fantastic people. Once being Patty Stremsterfer, who we recently featured in, for her more than 40 years of volunteer work at Memorial Medical Center. Patty received the Good as Gold Springfield Volunteer Awards Distinguished Volunteer Award and I cannot think of someone more deserving. Congratulations Patty! 

Something we have learned, and continue to remind clients, is that it’s ok to take a minute every so often and acknowledge your achievements – then it’s time to get back to it and work harder. For our family owned and run business it’s about raising the standards of our industry, helping businesses to grow and meet their goals, and giving back to our community. One of the ways in which we like to support our community is through our free, online, lifestyle magazine

If you’re involved in a non-profit or charitable organization in Springfield that you believe deserves recognition or you have an event/fundraiser planned that you’d like to promote please get in touch with us. Email  and we’ll get back to you. 

A great public relations campaign – by today’s standards

A great public relations campaign – by today’s standards

When we talk with clients about their public relations campaign strategy we divide activity into traditional and digital media. Traditional media being TV, radio, and print and digital being anything we do online. 

Online activity plays a major part in communicating with stakeholders. But you can’t just throw out content, hope it sticks, and that it influences behavior. You must be strategic. 

Consumers jump around online; from Facebook to a news page, to a Google search to Instagram, back to Facebook, next a blog, online shopping, and then back to Facebook. So, in order to capture their attention you must be visible. 

It doesn’t matter how many likes or followers you have on your Facebook page, the way in which you influence your audience has nothing to do with this. It’s about your ability to affect change through your stakeholders. And by the way – this has never changed – it’s always been the case that the job of public relations is to persuade. We’re just applying it to the online world in this instance. The key here is engagement. The actions that follow a post will prove whether your campaign is a success or not. 

If you’re not thinking about SEO, when planning a public relations campaign, then you might as well go home. SEO should be part of your integrated approach today. As public relations professionals we are perfectly placed to impact search results. 

Traditional media can also play a vital role here. A TV interview or newspaper article is highly likely to appear online at some point – and on multiple platforms. It’s what you do with this content that matters. 

Artificial intelligence and augmented reality also play a part in the field of public relations – and even more so in the future. In fact, we already work with clients to ensure that intelligent assistants, such as Siri and Alexa, are working in their favor. 

For years, those in the field have struggled with evaluation and measurement. Thanks to the data we are now able to extract online we can make improvements in real time. We’re also better able to prove ROI. 

I actually remember the day I sent a fax to the media when there was a crash landing at the airport and the airline was the client of a consultancy I worked for. A fax! Civic journalism and the digital world now take care of ‘breaking news’ now. This is what crisis comms people live for – the fast paced unfolding of a story that’s likely to hit the World Wide Web before you can even utter the word ‘let’s get out in front of the story’. Therefore you need a solid plan when it comes to crisis comms.  

Whatever your budget and timeframe, you need to make sure all of the above is fully considered – and acted upon – to deliver a successful public relations campaign.

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.