One of our new flat-panel displays that I bought at Fry’s Electronics stopped working, so I needed to exchange it. One problem: misplaced receipt. However, due to good customer service on Fry’s part, I was able to exchange it today.

As I carted the monitor from my truck back into the store, I was worried that I was going to get the run-around due to me not having the receipt. The customer service person I dealt with not only greeted me with a smile, he said “No problem” when I told him that I did not have proof of purchase.

He offered to look up my previous purchases using my credit card, and once he did, he informed me that it was outside of the standard time that they allow returns/exchanges without a receipt. But he (with a manager’s help) bent the rules so I could get a new working display.

Not only did he make me a happy customer, I ended up exchanging the faulty display for a better (more expensive) model.

Thank you Fry’s!

Presently, Lenz is orchestrating a PR campaign for—a free web site that helps doctors and nurses administer current chemotherapy treatments in a more accurate and efficient manner. While it may not sound exciting, may revolutionize the way cancer care is delivered to millions of patients. But only if people hear about it.

So, our challenge is to take a new product and make it a household name…without the luxury of an advertising budget. That’s where PR, or public relations, comes in. We need the media to write and talk about for free. Thankfully, we’re not asking for favors. That’s because PR is “at its best, a win-win partnership between publicists, the clients whose products they promote, and journalists,” according to Eric Yaverbaum, Co-founder and president of Ericho Communications. That means a good story benefits everyone. We’ve got the story. Now, we just need to push persuasive messaging to the appropriate media with repetition.

Here’s how we’re doing it.

PLANNING To organize the process, we developed a publicity plan that includes a product summary and key messaging, goals and timelines, the media we’re targeting, and the distribution channels we’ll use. The publicity plan spells out where we want to go and how we’ll get there.

PRODUCT SUMMARY AND MESSAGING Step one is understan ding the product you are pitching so you can recognize and communicate its relative benefits. With, Lenz is in a unique position because we assisted in product development––we helped create the site’s intricate coding that matches patient-specific information with an appropriate treatment plan at the touch of a button. So, we know the product, but need to tell its story to everyone else. Unlike many PR campaigns, this one isn’t marketing our product against others, but against the status quo, or current way of doing things.

Therefore, our messaging aims to meet two objectives.

1) Explain’s benefits over the standard way of prescribing chemotherapy. To do that, we state in our press release that enhances patient care in three measurable ways: a. By providing oncology professionals the latest treatment protocols, with strict adherence to the published dose, schedule, and administration guidelines. b. By dramatically increasing the efficiency with which chemotherapy orders and related documents are generated. c. By significantly reducing prescribing mistakes, administration errors, patient risk, and physician liability.

2) Address any perceived barriers to entry, i.e., reasons doctors and nurses might be hesitant to start using our new product. Persuading people to change behavior is difficult under any circumstances, but it’s nearly impossible if it takes more time, costs more money, or yields unknown results. We needed to communicate that, here, the opposite is true, so we developed the tagline “Fast. Free. Reliable.” and extended this theme across our messaging.

GOALS AND TIMELINES After some preparation in December, we decided the first phase of the campaign will run January – March. After three months, we will measure the results, evaluate our status, and determine what to do next. It’s always a good idea to set measurable goals, and to recognize the difference between PR goals and product goals. A PR goal would be 50+ media hits. A product goal would be a 50 percent increase in web traffic.

TARGETED MEDIA For starters, we identified three primary media audiences that will help us promote the product. Dozens of media outlets fall within each category.

1) Trade publications Oncology professionals read oncology publications, which are often hungry for relevant content. Getting coverage here shouldn’t be too difficult, but will raise the web site’s profile among our target audience.

2) Local media In Atlanta, we consider local media to be everything from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to the free dailies that collect dew on your front lawn. The audience isn’t as targeted, but doctors and nurses also read mainstream media, and the cumulative effect of a dozen stories in the Atlanta press could dramatically increase web traffic and catch the eyes of our primary target, the national media.

3) National health and business media This is unquestionably the largest investment of resources, but offers the greatest return as well. Whereas the trades and local publications might reprint your release the day they receive it, landing a story in the Wall Street Journal usually takes connections, weeks of effort, and plenty of luck. But the pay-off is huge: A single article in the WSJ business section could transform into the new standard of cancer care.

DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS With the release, we’ll use three primary distribution channels. I’ve listed them here from most narrow to most broad.

1) Mailing Members of the media love personal attention, and so small, memorable gifts that don’t insult their integrity can go a long way. We’ll pick a targeted group of reporters we want to cover our product and send them a package with the press release, some information about Lenz, and a token gift that is relevant to the story—perhaps a pen or mouse pad. Each package goes out with a personal note. One week later, we’ll follow up, ask about the gift, and see if we can help with a story.

2) Blasting Through the years, Lenz has developed a deep database of local, regional, and national media contacts that we push our clients’ news out to on a regular basis. It’s too long and varied to deserve the personal attention described above, but they’ve covered our stories before, know our names, and will return our calls. We hit each of these contacts with a blast email or fax, depending on their preference.

3) Wiring Like many PR agencies, Lenz subscribes to a newswire service that distributes our clients’ releases to thousands of media outlets nationwide. These are people we don’t know personally, but want to reach. The distribution can be specified state-by-state or nationwide, to a general or specific news field, or to a combination of both. Equally important is the service’s ability to post our release on dozens of news wires where reporters often go looking for an interesting story on a slow news day.

CUSTOMER SERVICE is one customer of ours. Each of our media contacts is another. We try to serve them well. Reporters are more likely to cover our story when it’s easy for them. We give the media our cell phone numbers and return their calls immediately. We supply additional product details and background information on their interview subjects. We ask what else we can do. Like all sales, selling to the media is about developing a relationship. We make sure ours are good ones.

TRACKING There’s nothing more satisfying than learning that all your effort produced a story, and nothing less frustrating than wondering if your product was covered somewhere without your knowledge. That’s one reason we track the media we get. Another is to show our clients that their investments are paying off. We track the media in these ways

1) We read everything we can Don’t make this your only tracking method because you’ll miss something. But, reading for yourself provides a sense of your product’s visibility to the average consumer.

2) We ask the media to let us know if something is running Be careful with this one, too. Most reporters are too busy to let everyone they write about know when something is running, and some resent the request. Still, your media relationship should be a partnership focused on producing quality news. When this is the case, your contact might be as excited about the story as you are, and more than happy to call with the big news.

3) We use media alerts Google, like most of the search engines, offers free and unlimited news alerts. We get an email when our selected keywords appear on their news page, and they get another web visitor. It’s win-win, but not 100 percent reliable. A lot can slip through the cracks. You’ll learn this when the local paper covers your story, but Google never lets you know.

4) We use tracking services Tracking services are the most reliable way to determine if your story has run. They use similar technology as Google––with an added manual component––but cast a much wider net that picks up more news. There is an expense involved, but Lenz, like most PR agencies, offers the service to its clients for free.

SAYING “THANK YOU!” Journalism can be a thankless profession. When a reporter covers our story, we let them know how much we appreciate it with a hand-written note and phone call. They deserve it, and will remember us next time.

I was recently in a meeting with a prospective client, and she asked me if Lenz was the best marketing company in Atlanta for her particular business. I told her that I believed we were, due to our many years of experience in her field, and then I gave her some advice as to what I would do if our roles were reversed.

If I were looking to hire a marketing firm, I would take a multi-pronged approach:

The first step would be to use Google to find out who claimed to be the “Best” in my area. And by going through their web site, I would quickly find out how good they are by evaluating their client list as well as the work that they have done. You can tell who is trying to game the search engines by just looking at the content of the sites you visit.

Secondly, I would ask my trusted business network about who they used, and if they had any recommendations.

Thirdly, I would contact a few companies that I was interested in, and see if I could talk to some of their current clients. Nothing beats a referral from a satisfied client.

Once identified, the final step for me would be to meet with the marketing firm and make sure we were compatible before going forward. I wouldn’t want to waste their time or mine.

After I gave her my honest advice, she felt like she could trust me and I closed the deal (she had been referred to me by a previously-satisfied client.)

I promised her that after we were done with the project, she would also have the impression that Lenz is the best marketing advertising company in Atlanta.

Lenz recently launched a major media campaign for Georgia Retina—the largest retina-only private practice in Georgia—with the theme Better Eyesight Is In Your Future.

The spring 2011 campaign on radio stations WSB 750AM and 95.5 FM focuses on the cutting-edge services the practice provides. The nine physicians of Georgia Retina are board certified ophthalmologists who specialize in treating conditions of the retina and vitreous. The practice, with eight locations in the metro Atlanta area, selected Lenz in 2010 to shape their communication efforts.

The campaign messaging stresses that for the past 15 years, Georgia Retina has built a solid reputation based on the belief that providing the best care starts with the minds behind the technology:

“Look into the future, and what do you see? Whatever it is, you probably didn’t include quality eyesight on the list. But for people facing chronic vision loss, their future is unclear. Thousands of Georgians are affected each year, and thousands of Georgians turn to the innovative offices of Georgia Retina for help.”

The radio spots direct listeners to a landing page on the Georgia Retina web site where they can learn more about the practice.

If you want to know how important marketing communications have been to the success of the Decatur Book Festival, just ask Executive Director Daren Wang.

“Without Lenz, the Decatur Book Festival as we know it wouldn’t exist,” he said. “From the festival’s inception, Lenz has been the driving force behind one of the most comprehensive and influential marketing efforts I have ever seen.”

As the festival enters its fifth year, excitement for the event continues to mount.

The annual Labor Day weekend bash on the Decatur Square has become the nation’s largest independent book festival and fourth largest overall. This Labor Day Weekend, more than 300 authors and tens of thousands of attendees from across the Southeast will converge in downtown Decatur for book signings, author readings, panel discussions, an interactive children’s area, live music, parades, cooking demonstrations, poetry slams, writing workshops, and more.

Lenz develops and manages every aspect of the festival’s marketing communications effort from strategy and brand development to implementation in key areas such as design, PR, web development, e-marketing, advertising, and signage.

Lenz was the first festival sponsor and has been a gold-level sponsor for every festival to-date. Lenz also hosts the author hospitality suite each year.

Lenz president and festival board member Richard Lenz said that promoting the book festival is at the heart of Lenz’s mission. “We are proud of our contributions to the festival,” he said. “But we are even prouder of our partnership with the team that puts on the event and our association with the Decatur community. Celebrating and promoting reading and literacy is the epitome of cause marketing.”

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta now presents a new face to the community thanks to a recently launched web site and brand campaign created in partnership with Lenz Marketing.

Making the transition to, Federation selected a clean, contemporary look with a blue background that reflects the flag of Israel and the blue and white colors of the traditional prayer shawl (tallit). The new site is one component of a broader effort to strengthen the Federation brand and share the organization’s story with the Jewish community.

“The new site will connect us with our community in ways we didn’t dream possible just a few years ago,” Federation President Steve Rakitt said.

The site development involved a creative partnership between Michael Kogon, Federation volunteer and CEO of Definition6, Federation Marketing Manager Lani Preis, and the Lenz team. The site also features a series of “It’s You” brand ads conceived by Laurie Ann Goldman, Federation Marketing Chair and Spanx CEO, and designed by Lenz.

The new site incorporates content and coding from Federation’s web provider, United Jewish Communities(UJC). Lenz worked within the UJC framework while developing a look and feel for the site that is unique to the Atlanta Federation.

In addition to interactive and advertising services, Lenz also provides strategic planning for Federation’s multi-million-dollar annual fundraising campaign, ongoing Public Relations, and marketing materials as diverse as cooking videos and mascots.

“Federation is a great organization and we are proud to partner with them to further their mission,” said Lenz CEO Richard Lenz.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is Atlanta’s premier Jewish fundraising organization, offering community members the best opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of Jews everywhere. Founded in 1906, Federation creates and supports programs that transform Jewish values into tangible deeds, aiding the most vulnerable, ensuring that Jewish culture and traditions live on, and strengthening the critical link between our local community and Jews in Israel and overseas. Federation donors and volunteers enjoy the satisfaction of knowing they Live Generously, receive recognition for their involvement, and create a legacy of giving. Federation recently received four stars—the highest possible rating—from Charity Navigator, the nation’s premier independent charity evaluator.

Recently, the publicist for internationally best-selling author Michael Connelly came to Lenz for help with a small idea she hoped would have a big impact at this year’s Book Expo America conference.

Since a matchbook played a key role in the plot of “9 Dragons,” Connelly’s upcoming book, Shannon Byrne thought matches would be a perfect way to light a fire under advance book sales.

The challenge, according to Lenz Art Director Scott Sanders, was to incorporate a message about the book onto a 1½-inch-wide matchbook. His solution was to “keep it simple” and use color to provide extra impact. He used orange and white text on a black background to promote the author’s name, the book title, and the release date of the book — 10.13.09.

Sanders even included a quote inside the matchbook that was pivotal to the plot. “Happy Is The Man Who Finds Refuge In Himself,” said both the novel and the matchbook.

The matchbook text also included the author’s web site,, as well as the name of the publisher, Hachette Book Group New York, NY 10017, a design task that was no small feat.

News of the “9 Dragons” matches, Byrne said, “spread like wildfire” and became the talk of the conference.

Georgia Cancer Specialists is getting a fresh new look just in time for spring.

Designed by Scott Sanders, Creative Director at Lenz, the new look is an evolution of the existing logo with fresh graphics, a new typeface, and bright colors that create a clean, contemporary look.

The leadership at Georgia Cancer Specialists was involved throughout the creative process, which lead to “an evolution, rather than a revolutionary change.” The logo will be phased in on signage and printed materials throughout the year, Sanders said.

Those intimately familiar with the former GCS logo, developed in 1999, may notice the removal of the practice tagline, “The Cancer Answer.”

“The Cancer Answer remains the practice tagline,” said Lenz CEO, Richard Lenz. “In fact, by separating the tagline from the mark, we will be able to feature it more prominently and more clearly communicate its meaning to the public.”

While logos reflect the brand they represent, most companies refresh and refine them every 10 to 15 years, Sanders said. Additional evolutions to the GCS brand identity will be rolled out throughout the year.

Lenz Music, a division of Lenz, Inc., recently raised $5,190 for two Atlanta non-profit cancer organizations—the Georgia Cancer Foundation and the Magic of Life Foundation—at a benefit concert held at Eddie’s Attic in downtown Decatur. Proceeds will be split equally between the two organizations.

The sellout show was headlined by Johnny Clash—a band comprised of Lenz president/CEO Richard Lenz, marketing director Michael Killeen, art director Scott Sanders, and honorary Lenz director of security, Shawn Vinson.

“It is so gratifying to me and our entire company that so many of our friends, family, clients, and contacts would lend their time and money to this important cause,” Lenz said. “In today’s economic climate, non-profit organizations need our support more than ever, and these two groups are quite deserving.”

Nathan Beaver, a marketing manager at Lenz, opened the show with an acoustic set, and Lenz marketing director Michael Killeen performed with his band, the Sweethearts.

The event featured a silent auction with items contributed by the AJC Decatur Book Festival, the City of Decatur, Georgia Shakespeare, Little Shop of Stories, Worthmore Jewelry, John Lenz of the Tall Rocker Company, Wade Medlock, Alice Murray, and Vinson Gallery.

Lenz would like to thank everyone who attended the event and participated in the silent auction; Bob Ephlan and Eddie Owen of Eddie’s Attic for hosting the event; and The Magic of Life Foundation Board of Directors and Rudy Morgan of the Georgia Cancer Foundation for their support through the years.

Georgia Cancer Foundation—based in Atlanta—provides education, early detection, and support for Georgia residents affected by all types of cancer. Through its innovative programs and extensive support group network, the Foundation caters to newly diagnosed patients, those currently undergoing care, and survivors—as well as those in need of low-cost early detection. GCF’s web site is

The purpose of the Magic of Life Foundation is to educate, inform, and support individuals with cancer and those who care for them. The Foundation provides services aimed at improving cancer survivorship and quality of life from the time of diagnosis, throughout treatment, and in the years following completion of cancer care. MOLF’s web site is

This morning, my wife and I were getting ready to send out a birthday card, and we were having our children sign them as we usually do. My two-year-old daughter Ellie took her turn with the pen, and she scribble-scrabbled something on the card.

Afterwards, she dropped the pen on the table and said “I want french fries.”

Where did this come from?

My wife asked Ellie and she replied “McDonald’s has french fries and that’s McDonald’s” as she pointed to the card in which she had scribble-scrabbled a close facsimile to the logo of the ubiquitous American fast-food titan. I just had to take a picture and share, because it’s fascinating to me that McDonald’s has already imprinted their brand on my two-year-old’s brain.

There’s a common statistic thrown about in marketing that says the average American sees 3,000 advertising messages a day. So perhaps it’s no wonder that even very young children are able to identify with a brand such as McDonald’s so strongly.

In one study during the famous “Pepsi Challenge,” 67 people’s brains were scanned during a blind taste test comparing Pepsi and Coke. During the blind test, half the subjects chose Pepsi, and Pepsi generated a stronger response in the region of the brain thought to process feelings of reward.

But when the subjects were told which beverage was Coke, not only did three-fourths said that Coke tasted better, but the scans proved they were also using a different area of their brains—one thought to be tied to cognitive abilities and memory. This indicated that the consumers were thinking about Coke and relating it to memories and other impressions.

In other words, people overwhelmingly preferred Coke because of their positive associations with the brand, not the taste.

The quality of your product is important, sure, but is it as important as the strength of your brand?