The Prime staff celebrated a “PRIME” Fall day with a company BBQ and meeting.

Smoke from the grill greeted the clear blue skies, and a warm fall sun made it a perfect day to grill burgers, jerk chicken and teriyaki chicken strips.

Staff photographer Colette DesMarais took full advantage of the amazing weather by capturing some great fall photos.


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Prime Advertising & Design is proud to partner with the City of Maple Grove for the Maple Grove Photo Contest this year. I had the honor of being one of the judges. What a difficult (but fun) job! We had to first choose three or four of our favorite photos in each category. Then, using the list of all photos that had received votes, the judges got together to select the category winners. There were very few that everyone agreed on! Maple Grove definitely has some very talented photographers!

Here are some tips to improve your chances on making a big impression with your photo in the next contest:

#1: Follow the rules

Any photo that didn’t match the requirements of the category was immediately disqualified even if it was a great photo. There might be another category that fits your photo better. Read through the contest’s rules very thoroughly before making the move forward.

#2: Shoot with intention

The most effective photos are those that make a person stop, take in every detail of the photo, realize it has meaning, and creates a feeling. Being able to capture the moments and let the reader draw the details of the story on their own is huge in photography. Before you press the shutter ask yourself, “Why am I taking this photo?” “What am I trying to show?” “Is there a better way I can capture it and tell my story?” By allowing yourself to take in the scene, asking those questions, you become more intentional in your work which will, in return, allow you to create better images.

#3: Creative composition

Be sure to position your subject matter in a unique way or show a common item with an interesting point of view. Try putting the subject off to the side or shoot from a different angle. Choose to shoot looking down on the subject rather than straight on or to the side. You can also get very close and fill the entire frame. But remember, don’t try to be weird just for the sake of being different. Make sure your composition is intentional. Have it make sense and be purposeful. Does it lead the eye where you want? Will it make the subject stand out? Can it add visual interest? Does it help tell the story? Is the background distracting? Challenge yourself to find a unique way of seeing something besides the typical shots everyone else photographs. Make yourself stand out from the crowd.

#4: Quality of the photo

You may have a great subject matter but if the image isn’t in focus, under/over exposed, or has fundamental photography errors, it will often be overlooked by the judges. Capturing a quality photo requires knowing your camera’s abilities and limitations. The best way to understand your camera is to read the manual. It’s not the most exciting thing in the world but it is vital. Understanding how your camera works allows you to be more confident and creative with your images.

#5 See the light

Light is vital to telling and composing your image and your light source can determine the mood and affect the quality of your image. Without light you will lose detail and clarity. Find the light first and then place your subject where the light is. If you are doing candid shots, you may have to move your feet to get the right light for the image. Or wait for clouds to help diffuse the light. When working with lower light, you may have to stabilize your camera with a tripod to ensure an in-focus shot. Also make sure your lighting is in balance — be mindful of distracting shadows and “blown out” highlights. Lighting can be the difference between a good image and an award-winning image so start seeing the light.
Creating a great photo isn’t easy, but when you put in the work to get that perfect shot, you’ll increase your chances of winning that photo contest.

Photo contest Winners


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Don coats for kids 1st year 1986  copyFor 30 years, Pilgrim Dry Cleaners has been on a mission to ensure every local child is equipped with a warm coat for Minnesota’s brutal winters. With a goal of collecting 10,000 donated winter coats, the 2015 Coats for Kids Drive is in full swing and goes through Friday, Oct. 9.

The program got its start in 1986 after a woman who couldn’t afford to buy her child a winter coat stopped by Pilgrim and asked company founder Don Rosen if any had been left behind. After giving the woman a coat, Don realized he had found a way to make a difference in the community. Three decades and 384,000 winter coats later, thousands of Minnesotan kids have been warmed by Don’s efforts.

This year’s Coats for Kids Drive has a special significance, as Don passed away on Sept. 17 at the age of 94. Honor Don’s legacy of giving and help our kids stay warm by dropping off your gently-used children’s and adult-sized coats at any of the 25 Pilgrim Dry Cleaners locations throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro. Pilgrim customers can also give their coats to their home and office delivery driver. Those who donate their coats will receive a dry cleaning coupon. Many local schools also take part in the Coats for Kids Drive, with Subway throwing a party for the school that collects the most coats.

Prime is proud to call Pilgrim Dry Cleaners one of our clients and we would like to draw attention to their community involvement and outreach. As cold as Minnesota winters are, every child should have the opportunity to frolic in the snow and wait at the bus stop with a warm coat. So donate today and let’s get this goal of 10,000 coats all zipped up!

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change of season blogAlthough Labor Day has come and gone, kids are back at school, the NFL season is heading into week three and many docks have already been pulled ashore from the lakes, it’s only today that we are forced to officially let go of summer.
In case you haven’t already heard, Fall officially starts tomorrow, Wednesday, September 23. It was about this time of the year that I used to drive by an old Dairy Queen which had a sign that read: CLOSED FOR THE SEASON. REASON? FREEZIN.

I always hated that sign because I knew what was coming. It was white and cold and it wasn’t vanilla ice cream. The change of season for this particular business meant that the owners sold the last few Peanut Buster Parfaits, cleaned out the Blizzard machine and flew south for the winter. For most businesses, however, the change of season doesn’t mean shutting down but rather a break from the busy summer to evaluate your business and marketing plans, especially as we approach the holiday season.

Heading into the critical fourth quarter of the year, the change of season can be an exciting as well as anxious “make or break” three months for a business. What better time to evaluate and ask the following questions?

  • How is my current marketing performing?
  • What products and services—as well as sales and specials—should be promoted over the last few months of the year?
  • Is my website, social media and local search up-to-date so customers can easily find me?
  • What else could or should I be doing to make it an awesome finish to the year?

These are just a few of the many considerations running through the minds of business owners. As the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer, this is the perfect time to adjust the game plan and position yourself for not only a great finish to the year but a positive start to the next!

So, what areas of your business do you need to evaluate before the snow flies?
How has your business performed the first three quarters of the year?
What changes and enhancements are you making for the holiday season?

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Shauna Smart

I love summer and spend most of the year wishing it lasted 12 months. Instead, we fill three months with as many outdoor activities as we can – long weekends at the lake, outdoor concerts, bike rides to the park, summer sports, family reunions, patio dining, and (sometimes) just relaxing in the sun. With Labor Day in our rearview and the unofficial end of summer here, the Prime team would like to share some of the fun we had. I suggest listening to Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime” to set the mood while looking through the pictures. Enjoy!


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tank_512x512Like most Prime Advertising & Design employees, Tank has a title, meets clients and sits in a cubicle. So what separates Tank from the rest of the team? He’s an English bulldog, for one thing.

Prime’s official “Office Dog” according to his cubicle nameplate, Tank has been coming to work for the last 5 years with his owner, Multimedia Designer Roclyn Mewhorter.

Roclyn first brought Tank to the office temporarily because his allergies demanded extra care. However, coworkers quickly became rabid about the bulldog and insisted he stay on as the company mascot. Prime’s employees aren’t the only ones who enjoy Tank’s presence in the workplace. Clients are often eager to meet the bulldog when they stop by the office for meetings.

Although canines in the workplace might seem unorthodox, research shows a growing trend. According to the American Pet Products Association, 17% of U.S. companies—including Google and Amazon—have instituted dog-friendly office policies. While this trend is certainly convenient for dog owners, studies suggest pets in the workplace could benefit coworkers and clients as well.

A recent study by Virginia Commonwealth University found that dogs significantly reduced stress levels in the workplace and increased employee satisfaction. A second group of researchers found that pets helped lower blood pressure, while a third found a link between pet owners and increased odds of surviving a heart attack.

As for Tank, he spends his workday productively enough; hunting for crumbs, gnawing on his bone and napping. The bulldog loves being around people and drags his paws when it’s time to go home.

tank_halloween_elfAre dogs welcome at your workplace? Could man’s best friend become a business best practice? Let us know in the comments!

To see more pictures of Tank the Office Dog, follow him on Instagram.

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Beaudry BC 1Despite the prevalence of paperless communication in today’s society, business cards are still the best way to create a strong first impression, stand out from the crowd and display your professionalism.

1. Strong First Impression

Which do you remember more vividly: Your last conversation or the last email you received? Yes, you can send your contact information over your phone and network on LinkedIn. However, a face-to-face conversation with an exchange of physical business cards has a much higher chance of yielding results. Even if your new connection forgets the exchange, the next time they open their wallet and see your card is sure to jog their memory.
Why do many people prefer real books to e-books? They enjoy flipping the pages, catching a whiff of ink and paper and holding a solid book in their hand rather than a plastic tablet. People are inherently hands-on. A business card that can be bent and flicked is more memorable than a jumble of phone number digits on a screen.

2. Stand Out From the Crowd

Business cards are a great opportunity to showcase your personality and differentiate your company from the competition. From bright colors to unique shapes to eyecatching graphics, business cards offer designers an infinite amount of possibilities.
As the hard-copy vehicle for communication between a company and its clients, a unique business card comes with an extra bonus—your connections are likely to show it to their friends and coworkers.
While original business cards should be encouraged, don’t go overboard. A few years ago, I picked up an attractive business card from a graphic designer in the shape of a hexagon. The only problem—the card didn’t fit in my wallet. Don’t sacrifice functionality for the sake of creativity.

3. Display Professionalism

No smartphone app or online networking tool will ever replace the oldschool nonchalance of handing a new connection your business card. As a reference tool, smart phones and tablets are a great complement to the business card. As a symbol of legitimacy, however, the card is still king As a symbol of legitimacy, however, the card is still king.

No matter how much has changed in the business world, professionals still ask each other for their cards. Pulling out an eye-catching business card is a great way to exude professionalism and make a lasting impression.

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Special Note: The following was written by Yan Golovatyy who came to Prime as an intern for the summer of 2015. Yan is a Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) student starting his senior year of high school this fall.

profile_golovatyyAt Prime Advertising & Design, student internships involve much more than brewing coffee and sorting the mail. From optimizing Local Search Profiles to learning more about web design and development, each day my “toolbox” gained new tools and I gained invaluable skills.

Spending the summer at Prime was a perfect match for me. I believe internships are a great idea for students and for local businesses. Here’s why:

A Win for Students

According to a 2012 survey for the Chronicle of Higher Education, employers give twice as much weight to college graduates’ work experience as to their academic credentials. Good grades are important, but potential employers are really looking for candidates with hands-on experience in the workplace.

At Prime, I gained a boatload of hands-on experience. For example, I learned that the online reputation of a business can be dramatically impacted by many different online properties such as Google MyBusiness, Yelp, and many other local listing and review sites. This proved to be a valuable lesson to me, as it permanently changed the way I think about different companies, advertising and the information available about anyone I am considering doing business with.

As I head back to school for the 2015-16 academic year, I am looking forward to applying my new skills and experience to my studies.

A Win for Businesses

While summer internships are extremely beneficial in providing real-world experience, high school and college students can certainly contribute meaningful work to a company.

Having grown up with computers, smart phones and social media, my generation is tech-savvy and quick to learn new programs.

I learned about web design and development and the many elements of a successful website. I was able to help by using my knowledge of building online business profiles to create and enter website content.

Interns can also help by lightening the load. Prime has launched 860 websites in over 22 years of business experience. With so many beta websites being worked on, I was able to help out the account managers by entering content and managing social media.

Many internships turn into job opportunities. Instead of spending a chunk of time searching for good candidates and training new employees, hire an intern who is reliable and already familiar with how your company runs and the programs you use.

Finally, interns are often willing brand advocates. I am very thankful for the kind, considerate and caring group of professionals I spent this summer with. I am excited to tell friends and classmates about my summer internship and look forward to applying Prime’s mission to “spark the energy” in everything I do!

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Stellar Graphic 3

I love sitting at stoplights and checking out the business-related graphics on vehicles. Whether it’s an image of a mouthwatering dish, a photo of a local realtor or a bouquet of flowers, vehicle graphics can be an important and impactful branding strategy for your company.

According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, a single vehicle wrap—depending on city and population size—can generate between 30,000 and 70,000 daily impressions. Driven 15,000 miles over the course of a year, this vehicle will pass in front of about 9 million other cars and trucks on the road.

Graphics inside Stellar Keys  & Remotes Van

When your vehicle travels consistently within a designated area, the impact can be even greater for local marketing. I was recently talking with a local business owner and I mentioned that I constantly see his company trucks around town. He chuckled for a moment and replied, “Ya know what? I hear that all the time from people, but the funny thing is, I only have one truck!”

There is little doubt vehicle graphics are an effective way to build your brand, gain recognition and achieve the coveted “out of home/on the go” exposure in a very creative and affordable way. With today’s technology and the evolution of the materials used in the process, vehicle graphics can be easily and efficiently applied.

Every business seeks to make a lasting impression, which is perhaps one of the most impactful benefits of vehicle wraps: the colors and design make them eye-catching and memorable. The really great ones often become conversation pieces!

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Are you thinking of wrapping a vehicle? Consider using vibrant color schemes that will attract the attention of your fellow drivers, as well as shapes and images that will stand out in even the busiest rush hour traffic. Let the graphics and images tell the story and simply include the name of your company and a point of contact such as a website or phone number. Less is more. Don’t make the mistake of overloading the vehicle with a bunch of text no one will read.

Already have a cool and creative vehicle wrap? Post a photo!

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Sustainable Blog Tips_SMOur first effort at building a company blog was a very familiar story. It sort of resembled most elementary school kids running the mile on track and field day: the first lap was full of energy and excitement, but right about the time we should have been catching our stride, the excitement and energy fell victim to client priorities and the finish line was nowhere in sight.
As most distance runners will tell you, “you can’t win the race in the first lap, but you sure can lose it.”

Sound familiar?

To avoid the common pitfalls that can quickly derail a blog, here are five tips we learned firsthand to building, and perhaps more importantly, maintaining a successful blog.

Have a Plan & Execute It

This seems obvious, but one of the top reasons blogs fail is because there is no plan in place, or the one that is in place is not executed. Take the time to sit with a team and walk through the various assignments involved with a successful blog including relevant content, frequency, SEO, distribution, etc. And here’s the most important part, once you have the plan, stick to it.

Divide & Conquer

A sustainable blog will require multiple team members. Task staff so that one person is not left creating the editorial menu, tracking down the blog from the writer, proofreading and posting. Keeping multiple people involved is good time management and will help maintain the energy and excitement.


The importance of creating content that is relevant to your business, and can be found by search engines, should be a high priority. This, however, is an often overlooked piece of the equation. Take time throughout the editing process to make sure your blog body copy and page tags are optimized and can be found by those searching for subject matter experts.

Have a Backup Plan

All content is not equal and creating relevant, compelling content for your audience is a must. Maintaining a high level of content is one of the biggest challenges of a blog, and with busy schedules and client priorities, deadlines are not always met. Therefore, it is important to have a few posts “in the can” that can be used when the dog ate someone’s homework.

Images and Video

Use images and video to help tell your story. Not only will the visuals help reader retention, but they also play a huge role in gaining the attention of users on Facebook, Twitter and other vehicles you use to promote your blog. Humans process images hundreds of thousands of times faster than text so take the time to find the right image to help tell your story.

These tactics really helped us get back on task and eliminate many of the challenges associated with maintaining a regular blog. It also helped us maximize the exposure for our efforts. Do you have a success story and tips to share about resurrecting a blog gone bad? Share it here.

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