Networking & #Cheese

By: Peter Girard

Last evening, Nick Brown (director of account services for Caster Comm) and I had the pleasure of attending an awesome tweet-up at the swanky Hotel Viking in Newport, RI.  Hosted by our friends over at WhatsUpNewp, we socialized with some local Rhode Island tweeps whom we’d never had the pleasure of meeting in person before, and partook in the consumption of a lot of cheese.  I mean look at the spread they had:


Now the event wasn’t all socializing and cheese, WhatsUpNewp had a few guests of honor.  The Hotel Viking was hosting an award-winning group of published writers who have all joined forces for a live read series entitled “Living, Out Loud: Writers Riff on Love, Sweat & Fears.”  As a matter of fact, on Thursday, March 27 (tonight) this group will be holding their ‘essay-slam’ at The Redwood Library & Athenaeum in Newport at 6:00 pm.  So if you’re local and you’re reading this, definitely check it out!  If you get there early, there will be a wine and cheese reception starting at 5:30 pm.  The event is free for members and $10 for non-members but seating is limited and reservations are strongly encouraged.  For more info or to reserve a spot of your own, call the Redwood Library at 401-847-0292 ext. 112.

Among the speakers at tonight’s event will be speechwriter and essayist Robin E. Bernstein; two-time Emmy Award-winning essayist lyna Bort Caruso; essayist and contributor to Newsday and The New York Times Claudia Gryvatz Copquin; Friars Club historian/head writer and essayist Barry Dougherty; and essayist and NY Times “Modern Love” writer Paula Ganzi Licata; the writersread personal essays which cover topics from food, travel, humor, lifestyle, love and more.

living out loud group

More information and details on the Living, Out Loud group can be found on their Facebook page or, you can follow them on Twitter at @EssaySlam


Caster, SANUS Caught Up in March Madness

By: Tim Viall

As the Sweet Sixteen games of the 2014 NCAA March Madness Tournament are set to begin tomorrow, the Caster office competition is a close race. The boss Kim Lancaster currently has the lead with 36 correct picks, I’m in a close second with 34, followed by Nick Brown with 33, Kelly Ahern with 32, Alex Crabb and Rebecca Pelton are both tied at 30, and Pete Girard with 24 (disclosure: Pete picked games based on the team’s mascot that would win in a fight. Definitely deserves bonus points for cleverness).

I know Caster isn’t the only office that’s caught up in the Madness. In fact, our client SANUS has announced their March Madness “Take a Shot” Sweepstakes, which ends at midnight on April 1st, and winners will be announced on April 2. It’s a super easy sweepstakes to enter and the winner will receive an awesome entertainment package – complete with a flat-panel TV, a SANUS wall mount, and more. I’ve included all the details below. If you’re curious as to who will be the reigning Caster Communications NCAA March Madness Champion, we’ll continue to tweet updates via @castercomm.

Take a Shot sweepstakes

WHAT: The biggest basketball tournament of the year is upon us – are you caught up in the Madness?  Between the cheering fans and children running around, a secured flat panel TV and safe media entertainment system should be top of mind.  SANUS® invites you to “Take a Shot” and enter for a chance to transform your space and ensure safe game day viewing just in time for the Final Four.

The game plan is simple, enter the SANUS “Take a Shot” sweepstakes on Facebook for a chance to win a championship prize pack (valued at $1,150) which includes the following:

WHO: SANUS, the No. 1 best-selling TV mount brand in the United States strives to educate on the risk of unsecured flat panel TVs, and offers safe and stylish mounting solutions for families across the nation.

WHEN: The “Take a Shot” Sweepstakes ends at 11:59pm on April 1st, 2014

* The winner will be announced on April 2nd, 2014

HOW: Participants may enter by completing the following SANUS Facebook entry process:

  • Click on “Take a Shot” sweepstakes image
  • Fill out the entry form
  • “Like” SANUS® on Facebook
  • Agree to the sweepstakes official rules



Get your ‘awards season’ under control!

By: Tim Viall

As I’m writing this blog post, I’m actually putting off another project I could be working on: drafting an award submission for one of our clients. It’s certainly “awards season,” or close to it, in the AV and consumer electronics industry, and no matter what field your business or company is involved with, drafting and submitting awards can be a hassle. For that reason, I’d like to provide you with five key tactics to ensure those awards get submitted when they need to, with everything they need to have, for the best possible chance of winning.

Plan strategically

As anyone who has submitted a few awards can attest, there are dozens out there for every industry, ranging from best products, best CEOs, best company, best manufacturer, best (insert word here)… It can certainly get overwhelming, especially when they all ask for different things with different deadlines. Some are free, and some you have to pay a fee in order to just to submit it (crazy I know!). With all of these factors, planning strategically is so important; not only to keep yourself sane, but to keep your client or superiors in the loop. Award fees can add up very quickly, so maybe you’ll only be able submit one that has a cost per quarter, or even per year, depending on the budget. I suggest creating an excel document that has all of the awards’ you’re even thinking about going for basic information (outlet sponsoring it, cost, when it needs to be submitted) in it, but take an additional step and rank them by prestige. That way you can focus on the awards that really matter to your client, and not waste all of your time or budget on the minor, less important ones.

Our client Control4 won the 2014 Electronic House Product of the Year Award for its Wireless Lighting Family.

Give yourself plenty of time

I’m convinced that you won’t know of everything an award will ask for until you’ve clicked that final “submit” button. On more than one occasion I’ve gotten a sample application for an award, only to find out that the actual application online asks more questions, different questions, or requires additional materials that were not previously planned for. That’s why it’s essential to give yourself enough time and not rely on submitting an award the day before, or the actual day it’s due. In addition, depending on the round of reviews an award’s application has to go through between you and your client, or people within your organization, a few days may be necessary for that process. Some award applications even require you to pay the associated fee before you can view the application, which in turn would require a final approval from the decision makers before even starting it.

Avoid jargon

Although I dislike the word ‘jargon,’ which is defined as “special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand,” there is definitely no place for in an award application. Even if the award is related to the industry, for the most part, write as if your average person with no knowledge of the industry will be grading the application or judging the competition. Businesses and workplaces tend to get caught up in every day jargon, so again, do your best to avoid carrying them over into award applications.

A picture says 1,000 words

Our client SANUS has great product/lifestyle photos

Our client SANUS has great product/lifestyle photos!

Depending on the award application, you could have very few words to work with i.e. 50, 100, maybe 250 if you’re lucky. Granted there may be multiple open response questions, each with their own word count, but more often than not, there’s not enough space to say just how awesome whatever you are nominating really is. I’ve seen award applications that count characters, not words! (What is this a Twitter competition?) This is why the old saying ‘A picture is worth 1,000 words’ is so applicable to award applications. Great images, photos, etc… can prove to be the big difference in making your application stick out from the others. Don’t have any photos? Don’t even bother submitting… I don’t think I’ve come across an application that doesn’t require, or at least ask for, photos. Also, make sure your photos are high resolution, and be sure to include lifestyle photos! Sure, product shots are great, but also include a photo of how the product is actually used, or what it looks like in the environment it’s made for.

Cross your T’s, dot your I’s

Although I doubt you’ll be physically writing an award application (but who knows?), crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s reflects the idea that applications need to be PERFECT and all its requirements must be fulfilled. No typos, no missing information or sections, the application needs to be well written, and so on. Especially if you’re paying for the submission, you owe it to yourself to make sure it’s the best it can be. Read everything on the actual application multiple times, and read everything about the award multiple times. You’re guaranteed to miss something the first time over, and that missed sentence could even be the one that makes your product, person, or company unqualified (i.e. hasn’t shipped in the right time period, category doesn’t apply, age of company).

I hope these strategies help you get your award season under control. As always, if you have any other tips or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you!

Tim Viall, account coordinator, @timothyviall