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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 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.  

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. 

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. 

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. 

What a year!

What a year!

Like I’ve said before, it’s important to celebrate the wins in this competitive world of public relations and media. So, now’s the time to recap on the year and celebrate all the good stuff! 

Our business has doubled in size in the past 12 months! We are working with clients in Springfield, IL, St Louis, MO, Guernsey and Jersey (the Channel Islands, Europe). Our portfolio of clients is rich and diverse. We’ve worked on state projects. We have worked with politicians. We are involved in a number of non-profits, civic and networking organizations. We sit, and advise, on several boards. We have opened our US headquarters in Springfield. We have welcomed two new faces to the team and we have launched our free, online, lifestyle magazine –

But what is most important is the recognition, awareness and revenue growth we have achieved for our clients. Several have been shortlisted and won awards. Others have appeared in a range of publications from The State Journal-Register to Guernsey’s Chamber of Commerce magazine, Contact, and on TV from Good Day Marketplace Illinois with host Melanie Streeper to Fox 32’s Good Day Chicago with former Springfield native Natalie Bomke. We’ve seen their businesses grow and as a result the need to increase staff numbers and move into large offices or workshops. 

It’s been a great year and we cannot wait to see what 2017 brings.  Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

The lifestyle magazine Springfield deserves

The lifestyle magazine Springfield deserves

The team at Gem PR & Media has decided it’s about time Springfield has a lifestyle magazine it deserves – for FREE. And best of all, it’s right at your fingertips 24/7.

We are excited to bring you!

We’ve spent the past few months working on content for our magazine; from interesting articles about local businesses thriving in Springfield and beyond to the people that make our great city tick.

There’s no catch here – we won’t bombard you with pop-up ads or require a subscription fee. This magazine is for you – the people of Springfield.

So, if you have a story to be told get in touch with us at

The only way you’ll be able to advertise through is through carefully crafted articles, which we work on with you – making sure all of your key messages are included so you can reach your target audience at a fraction of the price.

Our 700-word advertorials are just $150 for the remainder of 2016.

Sounds too good to be true – but we promise it isn’t. So, sit back and enjoy your go to spot for fun features, friendly content and a magazine that costs you nothing.