“Jason came on board & immediately began adding value. Jason brings a wealth of public relations experience & expertise to the table. He is very thorough in gathering the information needed. He is strategic in his recommendations. He is creative in his implementation. He has a high level of integrity & transparency. And, as an added bonus, he is so fun to work with….and that’s always a huge plus in my book.”
Tamee Roberts (president of 1M2Es, virtual CMO to Rowntree Gardens)
Founded in 1965, Rowntree Gardens Senior Living (RG) is a not-for-profit, faith-based Continuing Care Retirement Community in central Orange County, California. It has nearly 300 community members and more than 320 employees. By the fall of 2014, RG – (then known as Quaker Gardens) and with the expert help of marketing/branding group, 1M2Es – had conducted extensive research; developed a new branding plan; and created a new logo, messaging, complete identity, collateral campaign, website, and much more. It was also undergoing its largest-to-date renovation of several buildings and outdoor areas within its eight-acre campus.
RG needed help launching its new brand to all audiences – essentially transitioning from its original (and somewhat dated) brand to its new brand identity, while communicating its existing strengths of deep devotion to its community members and employees.
Many saw RG as a solid but somewhat dated organization. It had to attract community members in an increasingly competitive landscape of new, well-funded senior-living providers (some with better amenities). It was also not well known outside of a small, faith-based circle. It knew it needed a sophisticated, proactive marketing program to educate its many constituents about its new brand and strengths; to reach and inform new referral sources about its existence and strong differentiators / offerings; and to support and give attention to its many existing strengths and new initiatives. RG and 1M2Es hired SCM in the late summer of 2014 to make it all happen.
SOLUTION / ACTIVITIES
SCM began with a careful discovery process, including: reviewing the thorough research and branding work 1M2Es had already done, examining area competitors, interviewing top management and others, reading industry media, and more. From there, we created and implemented the following:
Comprehensive strategic plan:
We identified key audiences and challenges, shared insights about competitors, developed key messages and objectives, and provided strategies & tactics to address: sales support, media relations, community member programming and engagement, the brand launch, 50th anniversary communications, interactive (web, social media), a new quality-of-life extension program and internal communications.
Brand launch media relations campaign:
We crafted a compelling narrative about RG’s significant reinvestment in the next 50 years of its existence, and priority on creating a caring, loving and comfortable home for people as they age. We reached out to and shared our story with the editors of all the major senior-living trade publications and relevant local media – building new and strong relationships, gaining coverage and giving RG a level of positive exposure and visibility it had never experienced.
Ongoing media relations campaign:
We created and wrote half a dozen compelling stories, including: “10 Marriage Tips from Four Couples and 200 Years of Marriage,” “Five Dietary Essentials to Help Seniors Thrive,” “Six Secrets for Good Health and Happiness from 101-Year-Old Rowntree Gardens’ Community Member John Robert Hutcherson,” “Six Smart Strategies to Help Seniors Maintain Their Independence” and others. We pitched relevant media each story and secured dozens of placements in trade, senior and local print and electronic media. These stories also became excellent content for RG’s website and social media accounts.
We also introduced RG to Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation – facilitating flights for WWII vets and other RG seniors in a fully restored, ’42 Boeing Stearman biplane. (HUGE media coverage).
We identified, introduced RG to and forged relationships with social workers, executive directors and program managers with more than a dozen senior centers serving 10 communities surrounding RG.
We helped develop strategy and themes; oversaw execution of various elements; provided PR support; and secured strong media coverage for events including: the “Taste of Stanton” brand launch, 50th Anniversary party, Ageless Aviation Dream Flights, and others.
We helped to edit and write copy, create RG’s newsroom, provide recommendations to increase search rankings and more.
Social media management:
We managed RG’s social media efforts (developing a monthly social-media calendars, created and posted new content 20+ times a month, found and reposted relevant news, engaged with followers, etc.).
Substantial positive media coverage in:
Key industry trade press:
Senior Housing News, Long-Term Living, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, McKnight’s Senior Living, Engage Magazine, LeadingAge (3x), LeadingAge California, Senior Housing Business, and others.
Regional and national press:
NBC-4 News (L.A./Southern California), ABC-7 News (L.A./Southern California), U.S. News & World Report (2x), L.A. Times, Orange County Register (2x), Orange County News (4x), Long Beach Gazette (2x), Long Beach Press-Telegram, Orange County Catholic, Not Born Yesterday, Cypress Event, Buena Park Independent, Anaheim Independent, Westminster Journal, BloomerBoomer.com, Health News Digest, The American Legion, Legiontown U.S.A., Sorbet Magazine, and several others.
Community center engagement:
Through a proactive program of engaging with and providing value (cooking and health presentations, offering useful content, other), to senior centers in 10 surrounding communities, we were published in newsletters, participated in health fairs, and gained exposure to and made positive impressions on thousands of prospective new clients for RG’s in-home services and long-term living options.
Our collective efforts greatly elevated RG’s awareness among prospective clients, relevant print and electronic media, family members of current clients, referral sources (social workers, healthcare providers, senior-care professionals, municipalities, religious organizations, and others), the surrounding community, and many others. RG went from being either unknown or thought of in neutral terms to earning the respect and admiration of many.
During our work with RG, the organization greatly increased its positive awareness among and consistent engagement with nearly all of its key internal and external audiences; forged new referral sources; developed a much stronger online and media presence; and has increased the number of inquiries, tours and new community members.