Gmail for Small Businesses

Posted on July 22nd, 2015 by Katelyn Whittaker Categories Blog

Many people use Gmail for personal use, but it’s also great for business purposes. By becoming a part of Google Apps for Business, your small business will be able to take advantage of the many features and benefits Gmail has to offer. (more…)

Ways To Improve Marketing Online

Posted on January 22nd, 2014 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories Blog



Getting involved with your customers online, the same way you would as if they were in your store, is a great way to improve your online marketing strategy. It’s not enough to just post statuses on Facebook or tweet about your company’s new and improve product/service.  Retweet one of your followers on Twitter, acknowledge one of your fans on Facebook when they comment on a photo and following someone back when they follow you is great way to show customer appreciation. Interacting with the consumer is a must for 2014.


Dealing with Negative Feedback


Social MediaThere’s is always a chance that the consumer can say something negative about your company, product or service, so when it does happen you need a plan. Don’t be defensive or aggressive when responding back, try to see the problem from their point of view. Never delete the comment unless it contains profanity, anything that may be obscene or even a threat. Though it’s difficult dealing with unsatisfied customers online just remember to appreciate all feedback as it shows you care about customer feedback. Always respond in a positive, apologetic manner and be thankful for their business and feedback.




You need to be proactive when it comes to your company’s social media accounts. You should check your accounts a minimum of once a day. Try to keep in mind that there is something always happening online and it’s your job to stay informed.


Remember, staying up to date online will not only give your company a better image to the consumer but it will also make you an expert in your field and a competitor in your industry.


Forming Online Relationships

Posted on November 20th, 2013 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories Blog

Forming Online Relationships

Making working/professional relationships can be difficult for some businesses and others it comes a little bit easier. Nowadays, companies not only need to make the connection in person, but also via the Internet through their social media outlets.


Social Media


Organizations are building strong social relationships by knowing their business from the inside out in order to be able to reach their targeted audiences. In addition to knowing your business, know your customers and the target group that you are trying to connect too.  A smart thing to do is to use the information that users are posting to get an insight on what type of topics your company should post on your social media sites.  When speaking on topics, you want to make sure to remind your audience that you’re an expert in the field so share related material.


Remember to engage with your followers in two-way symmetrical conversations.  It allows your audience to know that you are listening, paying attention and value their presence verses just using social media as another marketing and advertising outlet. Ask for feedback and most importantly listen to that feedback and respond.


Reach out to others within your industry to follow or ‘like’ and share postings or retweet their tweets. Remember to post with purpose and meaning! Sending out nonsense will eventually lose you followers and creditability. Be passionate! Users can tell if you are passionate about your industry and those it serves.




Company’s blogs are another way to maintain strong online relationships built through social media with pre-existing and new customers and even with other businesses. Business blogs also build credibility and trust.


Blogs give a voice to businesses allowing them to express their thoughts on topics and issues that are important to the company. In addition companies can show that they can be humanizing while remaining true to its mission and purpose. Keep in mind once your organization starts a blog it’s crucial to maintain the blog.


Engage daily with your social media followers to start building relationships. Take the first step, strike up a conversation by asking a question and the connection grows from there.

Crisis PR

Posted on October 30th, 2013 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories communication

Crisis PR

Murphy’s Law states, “If anything can go wrong, it will.” In business, being prepared for a crisis is a strategic tactic everyone must practice. A crisis is defined as anything that hinders your business, threatens to harm your organization, stakeholders or customers. A crisis can occur from natural or unnatural causes. It is important to know what to do and what not to do when a crisis strikes.




Communication is key in crisis management. Your customers, employees, their families and loved ones will want to know how the crisis will affect them. What you or your designated spokesperson says or doesn’t say essentially can have a big impact on your business.


Anything can happen in times of crisis so you need to be prepared. Plan for the worst-case scenario and create a crisis plan that will walk you and you business step-by-step through crisis. A crisis plan is a must have for any business. It contains everything you and your company will need to get through the crisis.


It is best to designate one speaker communicating on the crisis; this could be the PR specialist or CEO. If they are not trained in public speaking, prepare and have them practice how to speak in front of a news conference or on camera during an interview.


What not to do:

  • Never place blame, pointing the finger away from you just makes you look guilty.
  • Don’t deny the crisis exists if it clearly does.
  • Don’t try to justify the damage done.


In times of a crisis, be honest, pay extra attention to your publics and answer any questions they have, stay positive and move forward the best your company can.


Posted on October 23rd, 2013 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories Advertising


In the digital world that we live in, follow, advertise and market in the newest trend is hashtaging. However, when using hashtags (#) there is a guide one must follow in order to maximize the newest trend in gaining an audience or followers. Yes there is a proper way to hashtag in the social network world, which clearly individuals who do not know the etiquette will hashtag everything, even partial or whole thoughts.


Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon demonstrated the over use of hashtags in a recent skit for Jimmy Fallon’s show.


Although hashtags have been used on the Internet long before social media websites such as: Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter; with its 140 characters limitation, really brought hashtags to their popularity and the forefront. The hashtag is primarily used to group together related posts, topics and categories to one central search. According to Twitter in 2011, reports showed that 10 percent of tweets will include a hashtag.


When you are using hashtags in your marketing and advertising, remember to keep in mind that Twitter hashtags are a powerful social media tool for business promotion and trend tracking. To hashtag like a pro here are some things to remember when hashtagging for your business.


– Keep hashtags brief!

– Hashtags should be directly related to the topic at hand.

– Posters can include more than one hashtag within a single Tweet.

– Hashtags can be and are directly searchable to everyone.

– Hashtags serve a universal purpose however can be perceived differently on different sites.

–  To make an impact, check the popularity of your hashtag before using by going to

– Never use spaces even if there are multiple words in a hashtag. Separate them by capitalizing the first letter of each word.

– No punctuations are required! I.E. commas, exclamation points, periods, question marks and quotations.

– Using numbers is okay.

– Hashtags are being used to set the tone and voice of brands, businesses and individuals.

– Create your own hashtags.

– Use hashtags to generate a buzz. Create a contest, raffle or promotion is a great way to get Twitter talking about your brand.



Above all, Hashtag with context and add to conversations, it will take those tags further or maybe even viral!



Marketing for the non-tech savvy

Posted on October 16th, 2013 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories communication

Marketing for the non-tech savvy


Last week we blogged about how marketing is shifting to the digital world and your business should move along with it too, but lets not forget the traditional tactics of marketing. These tactics have proven successful over many years and continue to bring success to businesses. There are a few strategies you can perform to stay in the eyes of your target audience without going online.



Direct mail may seem dated, but the reality is people still check their mailbox daily. If you send out a direct mailer and it is eye catching or grabs their attention they are going to at least glance at it more than email in their spam folder. An advantage for you is that most businesses are moving towards emails, so you have more of a chance of your business being seen sending direct mail.


According to Forbes, people are watching more TV, for a longer time, than surfing the web. Product placement and in-show advertising are proving effective in influencing what consumers are purchasing. Consumers will be more likely to remember your product if they see it in their favorite show, so be strategic in your placement of ads to reach the most potential consumers.


Handing out “swag” as a promotion is the newest way to draw in a customer. Customers love little samples of items, it helps them decide if your new product is for them. More companies are utilizing this tactic and seeing a success with it.


Finally, network, network, network! This is probably the easiest way to find out what your market is interested in and the best way to reach an audience is to get out there and connect with them offline. Word-of-Mouth (WOM) is a huge reason why people try companies out, and this promotion strategy is free! Getting a positive WOM spread of your products or services is sure to bring in business; consumers base their perception of a product/ service first on what they hear from their influencers.


Traditional marketing strategies are not to be forgotten, so if you decide your business will benefit from combining both digital and traditional strategies, here are some tips. Remember, with any campaign, the key to being successful is doing your research to know which outlets work best.

Advertising Trends of 2013

Posted on October 9th, 2013 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories Advertising

Advertising Trends of 2013

Years ago, most of us probably pictured our lives in 2013 to be much different than they currently are. Flying cars, humans living in pods in the sky and meals consisting of a dinner pill were standard predictions for the average human. Though we are not The Jetsons yet, the rate at which technology is developed and perfected in today’s world is astonishing. The Internet has drastically affected the way information is obtained and shared, and profoundly affected the approach to advertising and marketing.


In 2013, while traditional forms of advertising and marketing are still quite effective, the latest trends are shaping how we engage our audiences via digital platforms. Our world has become so integrated with technology that we carry computers in our pocket and access everything we need on the run. Subsequently, if you’re not mobile ready, then you’re doing yourself a great disservice. According to an infographic from, “47% of marketers indicated that the rise of mobile Internet is highly significant for search marketing”.  In 2013, mobile retail sales are projected to reach somewhere around $38.4 billion, and roughly 46 million Americans will use a mobile coupon. If you want your advertising to be effective, mobile is the way to go.


Did you know that the average Internet user spends 20.4 hours a week on the web? As a result, email marketing has become a crucial tool for staying in front of your audience. Not only is email the preferred method of communication, with 216 million users, it’s also incredibly cost effective and produces instant, manageable results.  To move back to mobile effectiveness, 88% of the 216 million email users check their messages on their phone daily.


The future of digital marketing and advertising is here. The Internet is our marketplace, our mailbox and our conference room all in one. Grab your target audience’s attention by being mobile ready! What better way to be seen on a consumers phone than in an email message? That’s where you’re going to capitalize on your ROI. At The REFUGE Group, we specialize in keeping you in contact with your target audience through social media, email marketing and public relations.

Are you using Google+?

Posted on October 2nd, 2013 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories Advertising

Are you using Google+ ?

If you haven’t heard, the latest movement hitting the social networking world is Google+. The networking service was created in 2011 but is just now gaining the title of the “next big thing” in the digital world. In early 2013, Google+ had close to 360 million active users and is projected to grow even more. If you are not on Google+, here is why you should be.


You can place people into different circles and manage who sees what. You are able to converse with each group on separate topics, making your engagement more personal. In your business you might have certain messages to relay to different target audiences, and this feature allows you to do so without posting a one-for-all message.


Imagine a place that allows you to interact and meet people whom all share the same interests; communities does just that. It connects users with others who are posting about the same topic. You can use this to benefit your business by reaching out to those who already show an interest in what you are offering. You can also plan events within this feature, making it easy to send out invites to just the right people.


Hangouts are where you can catch up with your followers/friends with video, voice calls or share photos. You can have up to a 10-person conference call from all around the world (for free), and share photos and emojis in your conversation. Another great thing about the video aspect is you can pre-record your videos to post to the web at a later time.


Since Google is the creator, your business’s Google+ profile will always pop-up on the top right of the search results.

With the unique features offered, it is no wonder it has millions of users and is the next big thing! Google is creating a new way of communicating with its easy-to-use, engaging social networking site. Now is the time to join, the media buzz surrounding the site is bound to draw in many more users.

Deadlines & Meeting Them

Posted on September 25th, 2013 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories communication

You, the person next to you and the stranger over there all have deadlines. There is no one in today’s society that doesn’t have some sort of deadline. There are a variety of methods of going about completing deadlines. Here are some practical and do-able tips on never missing any more deadlines and even finishing early.

Deadlines & Meeting Them

  • Create A Start & End Dates: Write or input tasks and deadlines into a planner or digital calendar. This creates a clear picture for a visual timeframe. Keep your planner or calendar out into plane view so that you will be reminded of your upcoming deadlines.
  • Be Realistic: Set realistic expectations for your clients, employees and most of all yourself. You don’t want to become overwhelmed, keep it simple and timely when setting your expectations for your tasks to get done.
  • Don’t Be Mental: Although mental lists work well for most people. However it can be a struggle to remember everything when you have several deadlines, multiple projects and tasks.  Seeing things written down is helpful because you won’t be solely relying on recollection.
  • Break It Down: Break down projects into little tasks and work one step at a time. This will help give you an estimated amount of time needed to finish one task and how long it will take you to finish the remaining steps.
  • Disconnect: In order for all of this to work smoothly you have to cut off connections with the world just until the task is done. Forward calls to voicemail, inform others that you prefer not to be disturbed and refrain from social media. Most importantly don’t use scheduled project task time to do other work projects or personal endeavors.
  • Reward Yourself: Treat yourself with a reward for all your hard work once you have met your deadline. Whether it’s a big or small reward, you will have an “eye on the prize” mentality to push you to the end.

Deadlines are vital in life and business they keep us on track and on point.

Public Relations Tactics: Old and New

Posted on September 18th, 2013 by Skye-Lynn Ferch Categories Advertising

Public Relations Tactics: Old and New

Public Relations is a strategic management function used by many businesses to accomplish their goals and follow their vision. PR professionals use many platforms to reach their target publics. Some fall under the traditional route and some are in the digital world.


Traditional PR


Traditional PR is all about the basics, press releases, email pitches and making phone calls to pitch a story.

  • A press release is a written news story sent to the media in hopes that they will run in it on air, in a newspaper or on the radio. Your press release should be news worthy and interesting to captivate your public’s attention.
  • An email pitch is an email that you write and send to a journalist or reporter pitching your story. It can include nice images to catch the journalist’s attention. Be short and to the point and write a great pitch, journalists may have hundreds of emails to read.
  • Phone calls to pitch a story are very personal. The extra attention may make a difference in your story getting picked up. Prepare what you want to say beforehand and practice out-loud.


Social PR


Social PR works in the digital world. It is all about engaging your publics through social networking and online blogging.

  • Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great outlets that make it easy to reach your target audience. Keep your postings relevant to what your publics want to read and straight to the point.
  • Blogging is becoming a popular way for PR pro’s to stay interactive communicating with their publics. Write something useful, it will keep your readers coming back for more.


When deciding which outlet to use for your business, it is important to take your business’s goals into consideration. The mixture of both practices is a great way to keep your business in the loop online and maintain personal relationships with the media.