I was recently standing in our office and thinking about how much has happened in 2014. Wow! What an exciting and full year it has been! I am so grateful for all the support and hard work that our team puts in every week for our company and for our clients. The team at JB Media Group has accomplished so much to help us grow, stay current with changes in the industry and help our clients achieve new heights in website traffic, media exposure, social media engagement and business growth. This post would be 10 pages long if I tried to thank everyone and list everything that has happened for the company this year, but I wanted to share a few of the biggest highlights:
New Office and Brand
Moving into our new office in late February was a big step. I am so grateful for all the help and support that we got during the process, especially from our contractor Bryan at Paintrock Builders and from Nicole Gianturco at JB Media. We also launched a new logo and branding along with a new website in April. These projects were a huge undertaking. Our Director of Marketing and Operations, Adrianne Gordon jumped right in to lead them after joining the company in February. We couldn’t have done it without extensive support from local vendors and partners. Check out this post for more on our new site and space as well as pictures from our grand opening.
Institute Growth and Expansion
In 2014 we expanded the JB Media Institute, offering three full six-week sessions in Asheville for a total of 50 students. We also forged a great partnership in Charlotte with Mouse and Man, a digital marketing agency to co-host our first two-day JB Media Institute Bootcamp. The growth and success would not have been possible without tremendous effort from our Director of Training Sarah Benoit. Our students have shared great feedback about the content and overall experience. My thanks to Mountain BizWorks and Goodwill for hosting us in 2014. We are very excited for continued growth with our training programs and are planning some exiting new developments with the Institute program in 2015.
Keeping up with our Industry
We work in an extremely fast paced industry. Keeping up with changes can feel like a full time job, especially for team members who oversee strategy and implementation for our services. Beginning late in 2013, Leah Quintal identified, researched, tested and developed a significant shift in how we approach Search Engine Optimization strategy following major changes by search engines especially Google. By the beginning of February she reworked our overall SEO strategy and our content development team, led by Mandy Gardner, worked quickly to incorporate these new strategies into our service delivery. JB Media Institute classes were also updated so that our content accurately reflects the new best practices. Many members of our team teach in the Institute and I so appreciate the time and effort everyone takes to continuously stay updated, share resources and improve our services and training content.
This year has been a big year for crowdfunding at JB Media Group. With one Kickstarter campaign under our belts (Appalatch in 2013), we led two successful campaigns this year. Early in 2014, the Outrider USA campaign raised over $126,000 and officially launched Outrider’s new line of adaptive use electric trikes, while significantly increasing exposure and sales for their existing products. Kimberly Daggerhart led PR and strategy and Tiffany Narron led social media.
This fall Kathleen McCafferty, Tiffany Narron, and Amanda Carestio managed Smiling Hara Tempeh’s Kickstarter raising over $25,000 to help Smiling Hara launch a new line of soy free, hemp fortified tempeh.
Crowfunding campaigns are not for the faint of heart. These projects are a huge undertaking requiring major investments of time and energy by both the campaign team at JB Media and our clients. These project would not have been successful without tireless effort from our entire team, not only those working directly on the campaigns but those supporting them as well. In total we have now directly managed over $200,000 in crowdfunding in the Asheville area. Those funds have directly created jobs and fueled future growth for some of Asheville’s most exciting young companies. Begin able to be part of these success stories and understanding the hard work that is necessary on both sides of these projects is one of the most rewarding aspects of working in this industry.
In the Media
Our media friends have been kind to us this year with several outlets including us in their publications. The Ashevillle Citizen-Times, Mountain Xpress and Ashevegas all covered our growth. We were selected to be featured in both the SBTDC annual report and the 2014 NC Small Business Handbook published by NC Business Magazine. We also contributed three articles to Capital at Play magazine. Any marketing agency will tell you that PR takes effort! These media highlights are largely due to the efforts of Adrianne Gordon who worked in collaboration with our PR and other departments on our own PR and storytelling.
In the Community
For as much that has happened this year you’d think we haven’t had time to leave our computers! We have actually had more community engagement than ever. We’ve presented at several area training events and conferences organized by great business resources like BRCC, ABTECH, SBTDC, Meet the Geeks and WordCamp. In addition to our Charlotte Bootcamp, we delivered a breakout session at a national conference in Kansas City and have been invited to present at another national conference in 2015. It’s very important to me that JB Media supports the local community and to that end we’ve provided pro bono services to two area non-profits – OUR Voice and Brother Wolf. We are also among the organizers of the Asheville 1 Million Cups initiative to highlight the area’s high potential start-up ventures.
Awards and Recognitions
One of the greatest highlights of my professional career so far came in late April, when I got an email from the Asheville Chamber of Commerce informing me that I had been selected to receive their 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year award. It was such an honor to receive the award at the annual meeting in June and it really felt awesome to have the team cheering in the crowd and there to celebrate with me afterwords.
Leah Quintal was inducted into the 2014 class of Asheville’s 40 under Forty and graduated from Leadership Asheville. Sarah Benoit was honored as the Top Local Women in Business in the Online Marketing category by the Blue Ridge Community College Small Business Center at the Fifth Annual Women’s Business Conference in November. Adrianne Gordon was accepted into the 33 class of Leadership Asheville which will graduate in May of 2015.
For everyone that I was able thank, I feel like I have forgotten two more equally as important. Every member of the team has stepped up in significant ways to help us grow this year. We had four amazing interns this summer and the two approaching graduation have been kept on part time to support the team. New staff members have taken the lead on important projects. Amanda Carestio now serves as lead for one of our oldest client projects and provided immediate results including a record sales summer. Tiffany Narron and Mandy Gardner have worked tirelessly on a variety of demanding and time consuming projects. The Institute students would not have the same in-class experience without the customer support and welcoming atmosphere created by Nicole Gianturco. All of these efforts and many more have made for a great year at JB Media Group. I am excited to see what we can accomplish in 2015 and beyond!