Cheers to Super Bowl LII and the Bold North

Just like that, it’s over. After months of preparation and 10 activity-filled days with clients, we can finally celebrate a job well done – not just for ourselves and our clients, but for the whole business and creative community in Minnesota. As we reflect on the days leading up to Super Bowl LII, we’re struck by how lucky we are to live in the Bold North, where we’re as warm as we are humble, our hardy spirits can endure sub-zero wind chills with a smile, and we have a local marketing and PR community that stepped up big time to show the rest of the world our creativity. We want to extend a huge thank you and congratulations to the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee for coordinating and executing this monumental event. We’re hoping your exhausting days and sleepless nights were worth the amazing spectacle achieved. We know ours were!

From staffing the Fuel Up to Play 60 booth all eight days of the Super Bowl Experience with Midwest Dairy – not to mention the ideation, planning, coordinating booth elements, media relations and social media management – to spreading the word about CRAVE’s Rooftop Ice Lounge & Ice Fishing Experience and Explore Minnesota’s adorable ’Sota Pop exhibit, we were proud to put our skills to work alongside our clients in the midst of one of the highest-profile events Minnesota has ever hosted.

Here are just a few photos that capture our team stretching our strategic communications muscles during the past few weeks.

Bellmont Partners Goes “Bold North” for the Big Game

bellmont-partners-super-bowl-experience

With 5,800 media scheduled to be in the Twin Cities to cover Super Bowl LII, and hundreds of thousands of additional visitors expected, the stakes are high for Minnesota to show the world what it means to be the “Bold North.” At Bellmont Partners, we couldn’t be more excited to embrace the challenge.

After all, the experience includes many of our favorite things: events, fan activation, the media and social media spotlights on Minnesota – and did we mention customized virtual reality? We’ve been busy for months on several client projects, all rolling out in the days leading up to the Big Game, including:

With the event planning, media preps and social media strategies behind us, we couldn’t be more excited to be in implementation mode as Super Bowl LII is fast approaching. We’re thrilled to highlight our creative, innovative clients and help show the rest of the world all that the “Bold North” has to offer!

Introducing Bellmont Connect

We’ve sat down with dozens and dozens of students and recent communications grads in individual and small-group meetings over the years, and now Bellmont Partners is excited to announce its new workshop series geared toward college students and recent grads. In this two-hour “Bellmont Connect” workshop, students and recent grads will get an overview of the PR landscape in the Twin Cities and an introduction to Bellmont Partners, as well as walk away with some tangible tips to navigate the job search.

The first Bellmont Connect workshop will be:

  • Date: Friday, Feb. 23
  • Time: 8:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Location: Bellmont Partners, 3300 Edinborough Way, Suite 700, Edina, MN 55435

We’ll start the morning with a light breakfast and networking as we take in the beautiful views from our seventh-floor suite in Edina, then dive into specifics about the Twin Cities PR scene and Bellmont Partners’ work. The workshop portion will cover resume, LinkedIn and job search tips.

Fostering new talent has always been a priority for Bellmont Partners, and we’re looking forward to getting to know the up-and-coming PR pros in the Twin Cities.

Are you interested in attending? Fill out this Google Form, and we’ll get back to you with more details.

See you soon!

Jen Bellmont Honored as a Woman Who Leads

Last night, the Bellmont Partners team had the privilege of attending Minnesota Business magazine’s Women Who Lead celebration. We were especially excited to honor partner and COO Jen Bellmont. Each year, Minnesota Business Magazine honors women business leaders who are using their “expertise and voice to empower, mentor and support others.” Over the past 17 years, Jen has put these attributes to work building Bellmont Partners from the ground up into a top-12 Twin Cities public relations agency, and cultivating a positive and empowering culture that allows our team to deliver the best possible work and results from our clients and communities. And true to her humble Minnesota upbringing, she puts others first, focusing the attention on her team and on helping others, whether it’s her clients, co-workers, media, family, friends, or anyone else in need.

As Partner and COO, Jen has been the driving force behind a number of initiatives and programs designed to create an award-winning company culture and give our team members the support, encouragement and resources to feel professionally and personally fulfilled – including our Bellmont Gives Back initiative. We’re so proud to have her as a leader to our team – this honor is more than well-deserved.

We also got to celebrate two of our clients at last night’s reception – Jill Wiedemann-West, CEO of People Incorporated, and Kim Brown, president of JNBA Financial Advisors. Congratulations to all of the honorees! Check out the full list here.

Event Recap: Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Forum: Health Care Update

With the hot topic of health care and an enviable panel made up of CEOs from Summit Orthopedics, Fairview Health Services, HealthPartners and Medica, it’s no surprise the inaugural Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal Forum: Health Care Update event was sold out. My colleague Michelle Cook and I attended the event, held last week on a snowy morning in downtown Minneapolis, that included a lively panel discussion, moderated by Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal’s senior health reporter, Kathy Grayson, that focused on the biggest opportunities and challenges facing the industry locally and beyond in 2018. We always look forward to being a part of conversations like these to help inform communications strategies for our clients in the medical space, and this discussion didn’t disappoint.Read more

Bellmont Gives Back to the Max

Today marks one of Bellmont Partners’ favorite days of the year – Give to the Max Day! This annual day of online giving was started by GiveMN in 2009 as a way for organizations to generate excitement and raise money to improve the quality of life in Minnesota and communities around the world.

Giving back to the community has always been important for Bellmont Partners, and we recently formalized an internal program called Bellmont Gives Back, an initiative encouraging each of us to give back to the community in our own ways, on company time. Through this initiative, we’ve dedicated time to dozens of Minnesota nonprofit and professional organizations, including Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Dorothy Day Center, Chaska Valley Family Theatre, Wishes & More, Surly Gives a Damn, Oasis for Youth, Girls on the Run – Twin Cities, Minnesota PRSA, Project DIVA, Center for Girls’ Leadership, Winona State University, Minneapolis Recreation Development and more. We’re always grateful to work with a team that allows and encourages us to devote some time each month to doing good in our community.

In addition to these “extracurricular” projects, we’re also proud of the work we’ve done with the following Minnesota nonprofits:

Second Harvest Heartland – As one of the nation’s largest, most efficient and most innovative hunger relief organizations, Second Harvest Heartland is aiming to provide 12 million meals to the more than one in 10 Minnesotans who may go hungry this holiday season. Learn more about how you can help Fill Another Table at www.2harvest.org/fillanothertable.

People Incorporated – As the Twin Cities’ largest community-based provider of mental health services, People Incorporated is passionate about helping the most vulnerable members of our community find hope through integrated mental health care. Whether it’s addressing chronic illness, providing crisis intervention or eliminating external barriers – such as identifying stable housing or treating chemical dependency – improving access to mental health and wellness services is vital to improving lives and livelihoods throughout the Twin Cities.

ThreeSixty Journalism – ThreeSixty Journalism is a nonprofit program of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas, and uses the principles of strong writing and reporting to help diverse Minnesota youth tell the stories of their lives and communities. Brian Bellmont is on the board of advisors for this amazing organization, and we’re proud to support the next generation of storytellers.

Interfaith Outreach – For nearly 40 years, Interfaith Outreach has been helping families living in eight Twin Cities western suburbs overcome barriers, believe in themselves and soar to new heights. Now through Dec. 31, Interfaith Outreach is aiming to raise $2.3 million to create brighter futures, one family at a time. For more information, visit www.iocp.org/donations/sleep-out/.

Smile Network International – Smile Network is a humanitarian organization that provides life-altering reconstructive surgeries and related healthcare services to impoverished children and adults in developing nations. When you make a donation to Smile Network for a dollar, ten dollars, five hundred dollars or more, you are giving someone in need the priceless gift of dignity.

Community Action Partnership of Scott, Carver and Dakota Counties (CAP Agency) – CAP Agency serves communities in Scott, Carver and Dakota counties in Minnesota, and takes a comprehensive approach to advocating and empowering self-sufficiency for our neighbors. Through CAP Agency’s partnerships, they connect our neighbors to resources they need now and the tools to create a better future.

We could go on and on about other organizations near and dear to our hearts, but we’d rather you stop reading this blog post, head on over to GiveMN.org and donate to a nonprofit (or two!) that is important to you.

Happy giving!

Five Questions with BP’s Newest Senior Account Executive Sara Grasmon

Sara, right, poses with Shelli, Jen, Brian and Viktor the Viking at a Fuel Up to Play 60 event in 2010. We’re thrilled she’s re-joining our team!

Join us in welcoming the newest member of the Bellmont Partners team, Sara Grasmon! As the former Manager, Special Events & Promotions for the Kansas City Royals, Sara’s expertise and experience spans a wide range of marketing disciplines, including strategy development, event coordination, promotions, client service, media relations, community relations, social media, video production and writing. She sat down with our intern Alyssa Heitfeld to talk about her time in Major League Baseball and her past connection to both Minnesota and Bellmont Partners.

1.    First of all, how did you get your start in the communications industry?

I always wanted to work in baseball. It kind of changed shapes as I went through college. I studied nutrition and dietetics for two and a half years, but I decided during my junior year that I didn’t want to do that every day. I realized I loved working with people and I liked writing. I began exploring other options, and I thought communications would be a really great way to get into the sports world. That was the goal, and I was going to do whatever it took to try and get there.

My first real professional experience was an internship in Minor League Baseball with the Kansas City T-Bones. I’d participated in my college TV show and newspaper, but that summer down in Kansas City gave me an insight into a professional working environment and my first experience doing media relations for a baseball team. I did everything from statistics to writing game notes and game recaps to writing press releases to working with the visiting broadcasters’ media to doing anything else that needed to be done.

2.    You worked with the Kansas City Royals prior to Bellmont Partners. Tell me about your time working in Major League Baseball.  

I did two seasons with the Kansas City T-Bones, one with the Single-A Hagerstown Suns in Western Maryland, two with the Washington Nationals in D.C., and a little over four with the Kansas City Royals. It was a wild ride. The time in Kansas City went by so quickly, but it was amazing. It was a city filled with great people, a vibrant arts and entertainment culture, and a team that had a performance that you can’t even dream up.

3.    What is your most memorable work experience?

My first full season was in 2014, when we made it to the World Series against San Francisco. We ended up losing in game seven, which was heartbreaking, but even that was beyond imaginable. In 2015, when we were able to go back and win it was unbelievable. There are people who have worked in baseball for 30 or 40 years who haven’t gone to post-season, let alone a World Series back-to-back years.

It’s one of those things where you can’t even describe the feelings you have in the moment, but it was something I’ll never forget. Between having my family come down for a couple different games to seeing 40,000 people in the stadium waving the rally towels you were responsible for developing, getting there, and distributing, and walking in the World Series parade. It’s going to be pretty tough to beat that any time in the near future in terms of excitement!

4.    You did freelance work with Bellmont Partners several years ago. What makes you excited to rejoin the BP team?

This was an opportunity that felt right. In having some conversations with Jen and Brian, I let them know that I was thinking about moving back to Minnesota. I wanted to be closer to family again, and I really felt like I wanted to try something different than baseball to keep my career moving forward how I want to. It doesn’t mean I don’t get to be a baseball fan anymore, it’s just going to look a little bit different. I’m so excited to learn about different industries, use some different skills, and really just broaden my experience and work in this collaborative environment. That’s really what it boiled down to. I knew whatever I did next, I wanted to work for a company I believed in and with people who want to work together and encourage each other to be the best they can.

When I did my short stint with BP before, it was just Jen, Brian and Shelli. It’s been incredible, even from afar, to keep a pulse on everything that’s been happening. They’ve been growing, their team has been growing, and business has been growing, but it’s incredible to realize that they have some of the same clients. I helped with a Fuel Up to Play 60 Reward Summit back in 2010 at the Metrodome. It’s great seeing how events like that have evolved and changed and continued to grow! Like I said before, I’m really looking forward to being exposed to a variety of clients and being able to use my experience and skills to help with some of the new, exciting prospects that are now on the table.

5.    You recently moved back to Minnesota. What are you most looking forward to about being back in your home state? 

I’m really looking forward to exploring not just Minneapolis but the whole state. Over the past eight years, since I moved away, it’s been hard to really spend time in Minnesota that’s not with my family. I wanted to come back and see them, spend time at my home, and go up to the cabin that we rent for a week every year, but I haven’t really seen anything new. Now, as an adult, I’m able to go camping and hiking on the North Shore, check out all the local breweries and restaurants that I hear so many great things about, and get refamiliar with the things I grew up so close to but haven’t recently had the chance to explore!

We’re excited to welcome Sara to our team, and we know she’ll do great things here!

Talking Points: Corporate Blogging 101

Time flies when you’re developing content. It’s been more than 10 years since early-adopter companies started “blogging.” Today, thousands of companies and non-profits across the country are devoting significant resources towards their blogs. As a continuation of our Talking Points event series, last week Bellmont Partners and Arik Hanson of ACH Communications brought together more than 50 guests and three panelists who oversee some of the more prominent and longer-running corporate blogs in Minnesota for a discussion on where blogging is headed. Chris Havens of Best Buy, Krysta Larson of C.H. Robinson, and Kevin Hunt of General Mills shared insights about what they’ve learned along the way and where they’re heading with their blogs in 2018 and beyond. Among other things, our panelists offered insights on the following topics:

The New Press Release

In many ways, blogs have become a modern news release platform for brands to tell their stories and share content with the media as well as their direct audience. Our panelists agreed that they see their own blog as a means to distribute news as it gives them the freedom to craft the story the way they want it to be told. Blogs also have a longer shelf-life than press releases, Kevin Hunt reminded us. Sometimes he’ll experience a story getting picked up by media five to seven months after the blog was originally written.

Authorship

From subject matter experts to executives and even sales reps – many teams are asking questions about how and when to engage the corporate team for more thought-leadership content. While signing an executive’s name can sometimes garnish further reach and engagement, it can take a lot more work to edit, coordinate and execute when authorship comes from outside of the communications team. If external team members are engaged, it’s best to limit their involvement to a specific beat or category, or for stories that really reflect back on their personality – keeping content creation and promotion to about 10 hours max for any given blog post from start to finish and keeping employees within their strengths.

Engagement and Measurement

Bloggers are caught in a unique position between readers who are looking for valuable content and corporations who need to push products and services. Effective blogging can’t be measured directly by leads or retail foot traffic, panelists reminded us. “It’s a long game,” Chris Havens concluded. While social engagement insights, website traffic and SEO can help to communicate value up the ladder, it’s important to remember that certain intangibles like brand affinity won’t be tracked the same way that marketing tactics will. The best blogs are a service to their readers.

When in doubt, remember your audience and keep them at the forefront when making decisions about content, authorship, distribution, engagement and measurement. How can your blog evolve this year to add more value to your readers, engage with media more effectively or tell the stories that will build brand loyalty or affinity?

Art First, Mental Illness Second

When we first started working with People Incorporated, I was jazzed, to say the least. I didn’t know much about the almost 50-year-old organization, other than that it provided a variety of mental health services in the Twin Cities metro. But I did know it provided an amazing opportunity for Bellmont Partners to combine our expertise in working with Twin Cities nonprofit organizations with our specialty in health care communications, putting our strategic media relations, content marketing and digital approach into action to help raise awareness of the vital work that People Incorporated does in our community. Little did we know just how much we’d all get out of the partnership.

Flash forward a few months through hours of stakeholder interviews, audience mapping, messaging writing, social media consulting and brainstorms, and it was time to put our strategy to work. While we’ve worked with People Incorporated on multiple communications tactics since the beginning of our partnership, this week’s Artability Art Show & Sale presented the opportunity to really reintroduce People Incorporated and its programs to the Twin Cities.

Artability is a celebration of the creativity and contributions of people with mental illness to our community, and more than 100 Minnesota artists participate in the annual show. These members of our communities use the Artability show – and year-round workshops – as an outlet to work through living with mental illness and other conditions and circumstances. Just like I do, as someone who buries herself in work to cope with her mental illness. (And those who know me know I don’t talk much about my depression and anxiety out loud, but boy do I tweet about it!)

Needless to say, the teams here at Bellmont Partners and at People Incorporated made this project meaningful, enjoyable and, most of all, impactful. The best part about getting to promote Artability is the fact that the show and workshops are first and foremost about the art, and not about mental illness. In fact, this notion of “person first” is key to each interaction People Incorporated has with a client in its integrated system of care and is fueled by the reality that a person’s mental illness does not define them.

It has been so lovely to see these artists thrive and truly love the art they’re making. One artist told us that Artability workshops helped him and his wife cope with their mental and physical disabilities in an accessible, approachable way. And at the workshops, they know the instructors and fellow artists “get it.” From KARE’s Breaking the News to the Pioneer Press, Villager, Fox 9 and WCCO, we’ve been honored to help educate Minnesotans about this amazing program and organization right in their backyard.

So, come enjoy the 23rd annual Artability Art Show & Sale this week Thursday – Saturday, Oct. 26-28, at the Great Hall in St. Paul. There will be live poetry and spoken-word performances, interactive art installations, a performance by the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir Thursday night, and more than 500 pieces of original, incredible artwork. Show hours and more information can be found at: https://www.peopleincorporated.org/get-involved/artability/.

And if you’ve ever found yourself struggling with your mental health, and could use a creative outlet, consider signing up for one of the FREE public Artability workshops! I’ve got my eye on the creative journaling class, personally.

See you at the Artability Art Show & Sale!

Join Bellmont Partners and ThreeSixty Journalism at the Great MN Media Get-Together

Next Friday, Oct. 27, marks the third annual Great MN Media Get-Together – a fundraiser celebration highlighting the accomplishments of ThreeSixty Journalism students and alumni. ThreeSixty Journalism uses the principles of strong writing and reporting to help diverse Minnesota youth tell the stories of their communities, helping them feel more connected to their communities and become more driven, knowledgeable, confident, tenacious, brave, enthusiastic and passionate in life. Values we can all agree apply to any profession, journalism or otherwise.

This year’s celebration will be emceed by WCCO’s Reg Chapman, and includes a relaxed cocktails-and-appetizer environment with beer, wine and apps included with your ticket purchase. The evening continues with a sit-down dessert, brief program and live auction. The event presents a great opportunity to mingle and network with Minnesota media personalities, ThreeSixty staff and supporters, and of course, the next generation of journalists.

Bellmont Partners has been a long-time supporter of ThreeSixty Journalism, and president Brian Bellmont is on the board of advisors for the organization, which is housed at the University of St. Thomas. Most of us at Bellmont Partners have volunteered with ThreeSixty Journalism in one way or another, including at digital workshops where students learn how to tell stories of brands or organizations using digital platforms, summer college essay writing boot camps, and presentations to students about our careers and the world of public relations.

We’re thrilled and honored to continuously support ThreeSixty Journalism and its efforts to cultivate the next generation of storytellers, and we would love to see you at the Great MN Media Get-Together! For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit http://threesixtyjournalism.org/fundraiser.