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Growing Montana, one student entrepreneur at a time



A group of eager St. Regis and Missoula high school students piled into PartnersCreative’s conference room a few weeks ago. This is an unusual occurrence for us — we often speak with students, but it’s usually at the university level and in the classroom as opposed to our office. It…

Job searching with impact



In spring 2016, Deloitte’s campus recruiting team asked us to create an online tool that would help students figure out if they were a good fit for the global professional services organization before meeting with a recruiter, applying for an internship or exploring specific job opportunities. The challenge was finding…

Active WordPress Vulnerability — Update Your Website!



Do you own or manage a website? Is it powered by WordPress? If so, update your website right away. There is a current WordPress vulnerability that is actively being exploited across the web. This "content injection" exploit is considered easy to use and severe in nature because an attacker can alter the…

Arm-chair marketing the Super Bowl



This blog post is the opinion of Suzanne Elfstrom, director of Media and Public Relations, and is not the opinion of PartnersCreative. Like that disclaimer? Super Bowl spots are always discussed, dissected and debated — many of them before they even air on game day. But this year was slightly…

Five Nonprofits Win Our 2016 Google Grants Sweepstakes



As part of #GivingTuesday in late November we offered to help five nonprofits through the process of applying for free advertising with the Google Grants program. We would like to thank everyone who shared and entered the sweepstakes. While Montana organizations dominated the entry list this year, groups from Oregon…

For #GivingTuesday 2016, consider these Missoula-area nonprofits


PartnersCreative staff helping Watson kids carve pumpkins, October 2016.

This year we at PartnersCreative are once again giving away Google Grant support to help nonprofits spread their messages. To amplify that support, we asked members of our staff to suggest local nonprofits that deserve your consideration on #GivingTuesday. “The kids served by Watson Children’s Shelter are facing challenges that…

Free Nonprofit Advertising Sweepstakes (#GivingTuesday)



Nonprofits are in the business of changing the world every day. We’d like to change the world for a few nonprofits. This year we worked with nonprofits to access over $250,000 in free advertising through Google Ad Grants. We are proud to have helped so many deserving nonprofits — and we want…

RATPOD smackdown 2016


Kevin & Nate - Logan Pass - Blog post image

It all began so innocently. So hopefully. Nate Bender and Kevin Keohane, new co-workers at PartnersCreative, decide to train together to ride in RATPOD, the annual fundraiser for Camp Mak-a-Dream, a camp for kids and young adults affected by cancer. Just two hirsute and happy do-gooders bonding on bikes while barreling…

Winners announced in Google Grant 2015 assistance sweepstakes


#GivingTuesday Google Grant winners - blog post

As part of #GivingTuesday early this month, we offered to help five nonprofits through the process of applying for $10,000/month each in free advertising through the Google Grants program. More than two dozen organizations entered the sweepstakes. While there was (predictably) a high concentration of Montana organizations, we received entries…

Recognizing a small town’s big efforts


P-burg sunset magazine article screenshot

Montana is abundant with gems of small towns full of authentic Western culture and residents who value old-fashioned principles of community and hard work. But over the last few decades many of these towns have experienced dwindling populations as a result of cattle operations mechanizing and logging and mining industries…

Blueberries and gaining perspective


Picking blueberries

Picking blueberries is a wonderful teacher. Lillian and her husband, Warren, planted several bushes along the back fence line when they built my 1965ish ranch house. Today I pulled another two quarts of dark blue plump berries to split between a family-snack bowl and the freezer. I can pick and…

Is Your Website Ready For The Google Mobile Update?


Blog post image - mobile phone screenshot

If your website isn’t mobile ready, it could begin suffering a hit in mobile search results. Today, Google rolled out their mobile friendly update, shaking up search results. The new Google search algorithm identifies whether websites are designed for mobile users, and gives preference to those websites by boosting their rank in mobile…

Montana Websites the Target of Recent Attacks


Secret Agent Hacking screenshot

Website security is in the news again, and this time it seems to be affecting a lot of Montana website owners. We have identified a handful of Montana websites hacked this past week but there are likely dozens more that have been hacked already, and a large number that are…

Outside’s Best Place to Work: Our Best Place to Work


PartnersCreative received Best Places to Work by Outside (logo)

A little more than 10 years ago I first walked into a place called PartnersCreative at 603 Woody in downtown Missoula. Not only was I thrilled to be back in my college town and able to rekindle all the outdoor pursuits that are so easy to do here (incidentally, an…

Just Because You Build It, Doesn’t Mean They Will Come


Run check-in image

Late in the game, I recently jumped in to support our local running club’s “Tread of the Undead” 5K zombie race by acting as lead volunteer coordinator. In this position, I was placed on the core team of folks working closely with the two race directors. (Yes, things get complicated…

PEAK Tennis Pro-Am = Fun Community Service


Photo of Megan playing tennis

Over the past four years I’ve had the opportunity to work with an impressive group of people who took a “little” idea of creating a tennis pro-am charity event for Watson Children’s Shelter and turned it into Watson’s largest annual fundraiser. The PEAK Tennis Pro-Am has also become one of the most…

Safety on the Seas: a Salty Campaign for NIOSH



How do you get fearless, hard-working commercial fishermen in Alaska to wear life jackets when they’re working? We’re embracing this challenge in a project with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (part of the CDC). Those fishermen are a tough crowd to reach: When they’re out at sea,…

IFTD/ICAST Brand Lessons, Part II: On Your Best Behavior


Photo of trade show

In Part I of IFTD/ICAST Brand Lessons, I talked about crossing over the brand divide between fly and conventional fishing. It is a topic that came up in several discussions with show attendees. Another issue that came up repeatedly was corporate behavior and how to talk about it without seeming disingenuous. Prior to…

2014 SUP Cup — Water, Fun & Community


Photo of paddleboarders

What's not to like? In our second year of the race, last Sunday 67 stand-up paddleboarders unloaded their boards into the Clark Fork River in Missoula to race for the SUP Cup. They arrived from all over Montana and from as far away as California, Arizona and Alberta, Canada. New…

IFTD / ICAST Brand Lessons, Part I: Crossing Over the Divide


Photo of tradeshow

Since returning from IFTD/ICAST, I’ve had several people ask me how it went. I tell them it’s a good thing you can’t buy products on the show floor because my house would have a third mortgage on it. The rods I cast, like Radian from Scott and Salt from Sage,…

The Art of Art Book Publicity


Photo of Book by Joe Nickell - Tainted Revelations

Much has already been written about how to promote your own book. I know, because I’ve read plenty of it. But as I recently learned, it’s a somewhat different game when you’re trying to publicize an art book. In May 2014, the Missoula Art Museum and University of Washington Press…

Priming the press for Cabela’s


Photo of grand opening at Cabela's in Missoula

Over the years, our agency has organized and promoted quite a number of public and press events on behalf of clients. But when we contracted to assist Cabela’s in the grand opening of its Missoula Outpost, we knew we were in for a different kind of project. Missoula is, after…

Disco Takes Vertical to a Whole New Level


Photo of mountain biker jumping at Discovery Ski Resort (summer)

Discovery is the favorite ski mountain of my family — and so many others in Western Montana. And that’s why it is so exciting that this gem in the Pintler Mountains is opening for its first-ever summer season. Through the warm-weather months Disco’s black and double-black diamond backside runs —…

Mobilizing Young Adults Toward Zero Highway Deaths


MDT photo of people looking at sculpture garden of wrecked vehicle parts.

In the last 10 years 2,309 people have died in fatal crashes on Montana roads. Of those, 492 were young Montanans between the ages of 18 and 25 — the demographic with the highest fatality crash rate. T Those are not insignificant numbers. Today, the Montana Department of Transportation is…

Startup Weekend Missoula


Photo of speaker at Startup Weekend in Missoula

This past weekend, I got to spend a few hours as a marketing coach at Startup Weekend Missoula, a crazy entrepreneurial adventure where teams generate, develop and pitch sophisticated business ideas (many of them tech-based) over the course of a weekend. And by develop, I mean much more than what…

Best Trophy Ever


Photo of MDA award/trophy

With all due respect to the Lombardi Trophy (due to be handed out Sunday) and the Stanley Cup, the Missoula Downtown Association hands out what may be the best trophy on the planet. Why? Because it comes filled with cold Kettlehouse beer. We know because Wednesday evening we were honored…

Get Up, Stand Up


Photo of Kara standing by her new stand up desk

Over the past several months, years actually, I've sat on my bum while working. With my profession, I'm stationed in front of my computer; there's no way around it. Web programming and development is something I love to do but sitting all day is not part of the love. I…

The Shift from Search to Social


Photo of Facebook's thumbs up icon

A recent report from Forrester Research indicates that half of all Internet users age 18 to 23, and nearly a third of all Americans, use social media as their preferred discovery method on the Internet. Along with the overall popularity of search engines trending downward, this is a clear sign…

Lessons in Crisis Public Relations…When You Are the Crisis


Photo of a boat at DragonBoat

Last weekend I packed my stuff and officially joined the 2nd annual Montana Dragon Boat Festival held on beautiful Flathead Lake as a member of the Montana Office of Tourism team. As the agency of record for the Kalispell Convention and Visitor Bureau (the event host) our PR department spent…

How I Created a Wave for SUP


PartnersCreative staff at the SUP Cup

Surf culture in a landlocked state? Sound strange? Well, it did to me just four short months ago. In 103 days, I went from not knowing stand-up paddle board (SUP) racing existed to being the race director of Missoula’s first Windermere SUP Cup. With the help of a dedicated committee…

From the Hi-Line to the Red Carpet — Part II


Winter in the Blood co-directors Alex and Andrew Smith on the red carpet at the Roxy Theater.

PartnersCreative’s PR team tells the journey of “Winter in the Blood,” a Montana-made film. Almost exactly two years after we first began promoting “Winter in the Blood” on behalf of the Montana Film Office, we finally got our chance to see it when the film came home on July 20…

From the Hi-Line to the Red Carpet — Part I


Co-director Andrew Smith and lead actor, Chaske Spencer, on the set of "Winter in the Blood." (Photo courtesy of Donnie Sexton, Montana Office of Tourism)

PartnersCreative’s PR team tells the journey of “Winter in the Blood,” a Montana-made film. In the summer of 2011, the Montana Film Office asked us to help publicize a film shooting on the Montana Hi-Line, called “Winter in the Blood.” From the beginning, it was clear that this film was…

Running in a Forward Direction


Suzanne biting her medal after marathon.

Yesterday I ran my first half marathon. I didn't set any records. I surely am not fast. But just to write those words makes me feel proud. My story isn't remarkable, but it's mine to tell. If you knew me when (up through high school), you knew that I could…

Why Campaigns Go Viral


Crime Victim Advocates video thumbnail

Recently, a campaign we launched last fall to raise awareness of sexual assault went viral. What do I mean by viral? It's been shared on more than 100,000 Tumblr pages, featured on Upworthy.com and Jezebel.com and posted on the Other 98%'s Facebook page. In all, it's generated thousands of comments…

Drowned RAT(POD)


Ratpod race image of landscape

The last Friday in June I cut out from work early and set out for Dillon, Montana, to volunteer at RATPOD. Huh? Well, it stands for Ride Around The Pioneers in One Day and it’s a 130-mile bike ride to raise money for Camp Mak-A-Dream, a summer camp for kids…

Website Tips — Hitting Your Due Date



Launching our own responsive website taught us some valuable lessons. Chief among them, why it can take almost as much time to birth a site as to gestate an elephant (22 months). The day we decided to develop a new website it all seemed so easy. And, in fact, the…

Innovation Initiative Helps Startups Survive


Rainbow over the mountain in Missoula

Guest Column by James Grunke New business can drive the growth that ends recessions. Those aren't my words; they're the words of the Montana Department of Labor, from a presentation at the 2013 State of Missoula Commerce Report in late January. The proof is in the numbers. In 2007 —…

Branding: As Taught By My Four-Legged Kids


Photo of a black and yellow lab.

We have two Labradors in my family — Bailey and Omar. Every night, my wife, Jennifer, and I sleep upstairs, and we close the two boys off downstairs in the mud room at the back of the house. It's a comfy place with beds, toys, bowls and a dog door.…

Branding Our Green Infrastructure


Photo of a beautiful sunny field with purple flowers

I’ve spoken at conferences. Sometimes in rooms with people who have different opinions on my subject than I do. But I can honestly say, I have never been in Evan Smith’s shoes, standing in front of a room full of foresters and lumber mill owners, a title slide behind him…

Social ROI — Chart to Show Your CFO


Photo of a graph.

If you're like most marketing people, your company CFO is continually asking about Social ROI, particularly as it relates to that, 'Oh what is it? Facepage Friendbook thing?' Well, we suggest you show her this chart. It's from a study done by ComScore about Facebook fan communities. Basically, it says…

Learning New Business Models … What a Riot


Photo from video for GeoRiot - cartoon sitting at desk with feet up.

One of the things I love about my job is learning about complex businesses—sometimes in depth—that you never imagined existed. GeoRiot is a truly stellar example. Their web-based business model is to help music publishers and app developers realize the full potential of what they could be making in global…

INSTAGRAM? INSTA-ADDICT.


Dog in field

The other day a client of ours (thanks Deny Staggs), mentioned that he was interested in ways to use Instagram for marketing. I hadn't used Instagram, personally, but the conversation got me curious, so I signed up. For those of you who don't know, Instagram is a social photo-sharing platform.…

Doing Good for Good Reasons


YMCA website screenshot

Our agency has committed to donating our services to nonprofits since the beginning. In fact, our co-founder Susan's first Missoula client, back in the Ash Marketing days, was pro bono work for Camp Mak-A-Dream. Since then we've helped Watson Children's Shelter, the Missoula Family YMCA, Missoula Art Museum, Five Valleys…

Busting the Myths on Seat Belt Usage


Image of video - raw chicken/turkey getting thrown through windshield

—Getting in an accident at 30 mph really won't hurt me. —My dress will get all wrinkled. —Buckling up is too much of a hassle. For Montana Department of Transportation's most recent seat belt campaign, we tried to shatter these myths in a series of raw videos highlighting real-world experimentation.…

Strategies to maximize your nonprofit’s Google Grant, Part II


Google Adwords graph

In the first installment of this article, I introduced the Google Grants program that offers free advertising to nonprofits through Google AdWords. In this second installment, you'll learn how to maximize the Google Grants program for your organization, track results, and I'll answer some frequently asked questions about the program.…

How to Take Advantage of Free Advertising for Your Nonprofit, Part I


Google search results snapshot

In this two part series, Interactive Director Tony Ferrini explains why nonprofit organizations should apply for a Google grant as well as strategies to maximize the effectiveness of the program. Do you work for or serve on the board of a nonprofit organization? Does your organization have a website? Did…