Discover Grand Teton Launched in Time for Summer Season

Though it doesn’t always feel like summer in June, we’re proud to announce the launch of a new site for Grand Teton National Park just in time for the height of the summer tourist season here in Jackson Hole. DiscoverGrandTeton.org was created with the vision of a site that allows potential and current visitors to Grand Teton National Park to “discover” what the Park has to offer through an interpretive website.

You can learn more about the project by visiting the Discover Grand Teton page in the Our Work section of our site. Or, we, along with Grand Teton National Park and the Grand Teton National Park Foundation, welcome you to visit the site and “discover” what Grand Teton National Park has to offer any potential visitor, be they online or on the ground.

TetonRaptorCenter.org Launched

TetonRaptorCenter.org was launched earlier this week.

TetonRaptorCenter.org was launched earlier this week.

I’ve been privileged to work with the good folks at the Teton Raptor Center here in Wilson for much of the past year. From helping them with some fundraising materials to their marketing for Old Bill’s last year, it has been a lot of fun. But the most rewarding so far has been the project that has been in the sights since last fall: a new Web site.

A little background: the Raptor Center in its current form is a relatively new organization, but the activities of the Center have been ongoing for quite some time, going back pretty much as long as area wildlife biologist and raptor expert Roger Smith has been caring for raptors in the Greater Yellowstone area. Officially, Roger and his wife Margaret Creel established The Raptor Fund as a non-profit back in 1992 but have lacked a place for this organization to call home—unless of course you consider their home such a place. Since they didn’t consider their own home appropriate, they sought to establish such a place.

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Thoughts on Planet JH's "New Media in the Old West"

David Gonzales of The Snaz gets a photo op in this week's Planet JH.

Planet Jackson Hole, one of our local newspapers here in Jackson, published an article today about the state of blogging and “new media” in the Hole. The timing was quite coincidental, as a group of us local bloggers (two of whom were interviewed for the Planet article) met last night at the South Side for pizza and beer and to discuss, among many other things, blogging in Jackson Hole, the state of this media format, and of course the Planet article.

I had difficulty pinning down the explicit point Ben Cannon was trying to make in his article (I think it had to do with money), but, having some insight into the local blogging community in general and blogging in particular, I thought I’d share what I got out of it.

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Reflecting On A Lack Of Marketing Talent And The Latest Marketing Executives Networking Group Report

It’s long been the perception that the marketing department is often the first to take a hit when business goes south. But a report from the Marketing Executives Networking Group claims that, in fact, marketing departments are going understaffed not because of layoffs, but because there is a shortage of executive talent. Adding insult to injury, the report states that the situation is expected to worsen as baby-boomers continue to retire and there are fewer executive level marketers available to fill those positions.

What does that have to do with marketing to small businesses and organizations in Jackson Hole? I’m not exactly sure, but I can draw a few parallels. While this isn’t exactly a business community rife with executive level positions, I too have seen a lack of marketing talent within the businesses with which I work. This isn’t a criticism of those businesses; rather, it’s a result of two patterns I see within small businesses and organizations locally. The first is that often times small businesses can’t afford to hire an employee who can be dedicated solely to marketing. (But when they do, that marketing person is often over-worked and overwhelmed by the demands of the job.) And when they do fill a marketing position, it is often with a person who doesn’t have much marketing experience.

The second reason there seems to be a lack of marketing talent here, and the main reason I see a shortage of any professional talent in small communities ( around 20,000 people) is because it’s not a real attractive market for young professionals on a career track. Now, Jackson Hole and other similar mountain towns offer a slight exception to that rule due to the exceptional lifestyle available. But because of the popularity of great lifestyle opportunities, there is another factor that is somewhat related to the retiring baby-boomer issue mentioned in the MENG report. In our case, retiring baby-boomers—albeit those with a lot of money—are retiring to or buying second homes here, adding to the over-inflated real estate market, driving up prices, and making it difficult for many, including young professionals, to be able to afford to live here. That trend isn’t just taking a toll on marketers in particular or young professionals in general; it’s hitting the majority of our working community members at every job level and age.

But back to the issue of marketing talent. Ours is a professional community of what Richard Florida calls the “creative class.” We have a seemingly disproportionate number of artists, graphic designers, software developers, and all-around entrepreneurs. It is a strong business community and one that seems to be weathering the recent economic downturn fairly well. But the lack of marketing talent remains a bit of a mystery to me. It is a niche I never intended to fill when I took my first communications job here, and one that still appears to be relatively empty eight years later now that I’ve started my own marketing firm. I’m not sure how that relates to the Marketing Executives Networking Group report, but there does seem to be a correlation.

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Recycling Second Nature In Vancouver, BC

recycling bins in a Vancouver, B.C. neighborhoodJust arrived in Vancouver, BC, yesterday for our Alaska cruise. My wife and I were trying to remember back and we couldn’t believe it’s been 12 years since we were last here! It’s always fun to spend some time in the city—especially when you live in a very rural area as we do—and Vancouver is one of my favorites. Very cosmopolitan and international, and one thing I really miss about living in the Northwest is big trees.

It also turns out that Vancouver is quite recycle savvy. One thing I plan to document on this vacation is just how green our travels may or may not be. While I anticipate time spent on a cruise ship to be pretty low on the scale of eco-friendly vacations (how much diesel fuel do you think one of those things burns in seven days? I just may have to find out.), I was pleasantly surprised to see how committed to recycling Vancouver seems to be. From the time we got off the plane until we settled into our hotel room, I was amazed at how ubiquitous recycle bins seem to be. They’re right there next to every trash can, just like they’re supposed to be. Nobody charges for this extra service, and Vancouverites seem to be trusted by their municipality to make the right decisions about exactly what is recyclable and which ones go in which bin. No signs about only this kind of plastic or paper and not that kind. (On a walk through one downtown neighborhood I took the above pic of two large recycle receptacles outside an apartment building with no garbage can in sight.)

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised about recycling being this common-place. No, what is really surprising is how bass-akwards we Americans are about our preference to just throw everything “away” instead of taking the extra time (we’re talking seconds here, folks) to recycling that water bottle, newspaper, paper plate, what-have-you. And here’s a news-flash for you: there is no such place as “away”; it’s gotta go somewhere, and we’re running out of places to send our garbage.

So while you celebrate Independence Day down there in the good ol’ US of A this weekend, with your hot dogs and hamburgers eaten from paper plates and beer drank from glass bottles and aluminum cans, think about what you can do to help create American independence, not from oil but from garbage. Happy 4th!

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Twist of Lime Featured in News&Guide Business Focus

Twist of Lime Marketing & Content ServicesIf you happen to be reading this blog from Jackson Hole, pick up a copy of today’s Jackson Hole News&Guide and check out the Business Focus special section. My new business, Twist of Lime, has a spot in there, along with a slew of other businesses. Who knew there were so many new businesses here in Jackson? Just goes to show how entrepreneurial people in this vibrant community can be.

As noted in the introduction by editor Tim Dudley,

…you may notice an extraordinary number of them are also trying to do business in a way that makes a difference by reducing their impact on the planet…

Not to be a spoil-sport, but I was noticing just the opposite. Reading through the section it seemed that, while there are a few businesses that are focusing on environmental factors, the majority of businesses either don’t incorporate a sustainable business focus or they don’t do a very good job promoting it.

The News&Guide has done a tremendous job compiling this compendium of new and/or improved businesses, and my hat is off to Tim and his staff. Special thanks to Melanie White for a great write-up. However, while they’ve created a great print resource, I continue to encourage the powers-that-be over at the N&G to vastly improve their value proposition to their advertisers and readers and take the entire paper online. I know they’re leaning in that direction; the sooner the better, gentlemen. Thanks for the exposure.

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Twist of Lime Is A Marketing & Content Services Agency

Twist of Lime LogoI’m proud to announce the launch of my new business: Twist of Lime is a marketing and content services agency.

I’ve taken the skills I’ve developed as a marketing and communications specialist for several organizations over the better part of the past decade and parlayed them into this new endeavor. It occurred to me some time ago that here in our relatively small community there are a few graphic designers who specialize in Web design and there are a number of developers/programmers (nobody’s really sure what that number is—they keep a pretty low profile) who do Web development and other similar work. There are even a few agencies that bring the two disciplines together in one shop. But nobody seems to offer complete marketing services or content development or upkeep.

Anyone worth their salt works with their client to develop a good site outline, but often the creation and collection of that content is left up to the client. Some even offer a content management system so the client can update their own content, but if they don’t stay familiar with how the CMS works or have time to deal with updates, it becomes more of a burden and more often than not their site goes stale.

As for marketing, there are a couple of more traditional ad agencies offering media buying in addition to their other services, but not usually of the online variety, and no one comes close to offering comprehensive strategic marketing planning.

Enter Twist of Lime.
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Camelbak Packaging Satisfies Almost As Much As The Product

camelbak_1.jpgI bought a new Camelbak reservoir this week. The old one bit the dust after more than ten years of faithful service, and judging by the odd green tint, it was probably about time.

It wasn’t a big deal. I stopped by my local outdoor store, Wilson Backcountry Sports, where they had a sampling of Camelbak products in a highly visible area adjacent the cash register, and picked up a new 70 oz reservoir to replace the one that had accompanied me on countless backcountry trips, ski days, mountain bike rides, and other worldly travels, and had just recently failed. It was even reasonably priced: a little less than twenty-five bucks after Andy extended the good buddy deal.

Though I was saddened to have to replace such a faithfully utilitarian piece of equipment, serving me so well for so long, it wasn’t until I got it home and opened up the package that I realized what pleased me most about my new purchase.
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Should We Even Be Here At All?

I made a push to build traffic yesterday by sending the MarketGreener link out to a small batch of friends, family and acquaintances, and I’m quite pleased with the results. Traffic definitely picked up a bit and I got some great feedback. Some folks really spent time on the site and gave constructive criticism and suggestions for topics. I’ll definitely try to get to all of them in the short term.

One comment I got seems to cut right to the heart of the matter, and it became a topic of discussion over beers with a friend last night. (The commenter and the beer-drinking partner will remain anonymous…for now.)

JH [Jackson Hole] is totally not sustainable. We talk about it a lot here and we care about it, but we live in the middle of nowhere, everything has to be trucked/flown in, and it sort of makes no sense to have a community in this high alpine valley.

It’s an excellent point, and one that comes up from time to time. While my gut reaction is to say, “Great, why don’t you lead the way and move out,” there are two reasons why this simply is not going to work.

First, as my beer-drinking compatriot pointed out, this is an age-old problem that began the moment we humans made the switch from hunting, gathering nomads to settled agrarians. Once that happened, we needed to begin moving the food around to those who began to depend on what was produced in that fixed location. We began to have a permanent impact on that place and it’s been downhill ever since.

Granted, this settlement process has evolved (devolved?) with the implementation of modern transportation, making it possible to live in remote places like Jackson Hole. But I don’t see this practice declining any time soon. In fact, small communities in the West are seeing some of the greatest population explosions in the country. Here are some interesting, if grim, stories about population growth from the Sierra Club and Truthout. And while more population in small communities leads to sprawl and other unfortunate impacts, I do take a little consolation in the fact that the amount of driving I do living in a small community is much less than it would be if I were still living in a city (even if that city is Portland, Oregon, known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country).

The best we can do is be conscious of the impact we are having on this place and try to reduce it as much as we can, which brings me to my second point. If my friend who made the comment did lead the way and move out, not only would there be someone moving in right behind her to negate whatever miniscule impact her departure might have had, but our community would be that much worse off without her positive contributions to it.

Yes, our combined impact here can be likened to mold on cheese, but I hold on to the perhaps idealized view that Jackson Hole is a unique community of impassioned individuals that, as a whole, can lead by setting positive examples of how to reduce our impact on both the local and global ecosystem.