Macy’s American Icons window displays bear looking into.

Posted on July 6, 2014. Filed under: Doug Hovelson Photography, Minneapolis, Ramblings, Retail, Retail window displays, Twin Cities region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

It’s time to update the world on what’s going on with Macy’s window displays at its big Nicollet Mall store in downtown Minneapolis. It’s the American Icons series, featuring Ralph Lauren apparel — and a host of references to other American icons such as the open road, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and mid-20th century America. These are windows well worth looking into — as I discovered while strolling the Mall, camera in hand, recently.

Macy's window display - Iconic

Styled All American look at Macy’s.

An all-American look at Macy's, complete with references to artist Jasper Johns and other

An all-American look at Macy’s, complete with references to artist Jasper Johns, as part of the American Icons series of window displays at the Macy’s Downtown Minneapolis store.

Macy's American Icon window display

The enduring appeal of denim, with artistic notations by Jasper Johns (the American flag), and a sign for Route 66 — America’s highway — for the American Icons series — it’s a series, after all — of window displays at the Macy’s Downtown Minneapolis store.

American flag is part of the American Icons - Ralph Lauren display at Macy's

Macy’s goes with the red white and blue theme for summer style promotion, in Macy’s Downtown Minneapolis store.


Denim is iconic style featured in Macy's window display.

Iconic America, with denim, at Macy’s Downtown Minneapolis store.

Sunglasses give cool look at Macy's

Sunglasses are so cool at Macy’s Downtown Minneapolis store this summer.

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A Fourth Of July Day In Downtown Minneapolis.

Posted on July 6, 2014. Filed under: Minneapolis, Ramblings, Twin Cities region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

July 4 was a fine day for taking in the sights in downtown Minneapolis.

Mississippi River chugging along in downtown Minneapolis.

Swollen by recent heavy rains throughout the state, the Mississippi River was really chugging along on July 4. This view is from the St. Anthony Falls area, with the Hennepin Avenue Bridge in the background.



Let us do the pedaling, that's the credo of the pedi-cab drivers in downtown Minneapolis. Pedi-cabs are allowed to travel on Nicollet Mall - sharing the pavement with bicyclists, buses and pedestrians. The weather was fine for pedi-cab riding on July 4.

Let us do the pedaling, that’s the credo of the pedi-cab drivers in downtown Minneapolis. Pedi-cabs are allowed to travel on Nicollet Mall – sharing the pavement with bicyclists, buses and pedestrians. The skyway in the background is festooned with a banner promoting the upcoming Major League Baseball All Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis. The weather was fine for pedi-cab riding on July 4.



Festive scene along Third Avenue Bridge in downtown Minneapolis on July 4.

The Third Avenue Bridge offers the best seats in town for the annual downtown Minneapolis fireworks show on July 4. People arrive early — very early — to stake out their turf on the bridge. The festive atmosphere brings out all kinds of food vendors. Ice cream treats are especially popular. Also spotted along the riverbank: a food wagon selling foot-long hotdogs.
The Third Avenue Bridge spans the Mississippi River between downtown and southeast Minneapolis. The bridge is not open to motor vehicle traffic any longer. But it was preserved by the city as a pedestrian bridge. It’s a great amenity to the city, with terrific views of historic St. Anthony Falls on the upriver side, and the University of Minnesota on the downriver side.



A man plays the trumpet on Nicollet Mall.

A lone trumpeter holds forth on Nicollet Mall on July 4. He was settled in on a bench across from the IDS Building.



Red white and blue logo for WCCO-TV on July 4.

WCCO-TV’s signal tower logo was decked out in red, white and blue colors in honor of Independence Day.




Downtown Minneapolis has a variety of faces.

Couple of guys on Nicollet Mall in costume.

You never know who you’re going to meet when you take a walk down Nicollet Mall. These two colorfully adorned guys were hanging down by the Loring Greenway on July 4. They hailed me as I walked by and asked if I’d take their picture – using their iPhone. I did, and then I took a photo of my own with my camera. I think they’d be pleased with the result. Nice guys.

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How To Fire Up Your Media Relations Efforts.

Posted on July 3, 2014. Filed under: Creative Marketing, Media Commentary, Minneapolis, Public Relations, Public Relations Commentary, Public Relations Pointers, Public relations practices, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

Is traditional media relations dead? Not by a long shot. People still rely on the traditional news media for news. They may not receive the news in the traditional way, e.g. home-delivered newspapers or by faithfully tuning into the 10 p.m. television newscast. But they’re still paying attention to the news.

Which means it still pays for companies to invest in traditional media relations programs. By that, I mean a program in which news coverage is actively pursued by an actual human being attempting to make personal contact with other actual human beings. The “other actual human beings” in this case being, news people. 5Centurions1

It also means thinking through a media relations strategy.  Even better, a strategy might take into account multiple opportunities for creating news over a period of time — several months, six months, a year.

Go Beyond Doing ‘Some Public Relations’

Now I see a lot of people using press release distribution services to disseminate news about their companies. Some are of the paid variety, others free, or at least so low-cost as to be nearly free. Many come from small- to mid-size companies, in what appears to me to be an attempt to do “some public relations.” As in, we’ve got news, we should put out a press release!

If you have news, by all means put out a press release. But wait! Have you thought it through? Do you know what you’re trying to accomplish with this press release? Is it written in such a way as to appeal to news people? Does it conform to AP style? Is it interesting? Do you have graphics – photos, charts, etc. — to help make your story more compelling? Links to online supporting video?

Do you have a larger media relations strategy in place, such as one that identifies key news making opportunities for the company over time — and sets out a plan for pursuing those opportunities to your fullest advantage?

If You Release It, Many Still Won’t See It.

Recently, I helped a client get major news out about a win in a court case. The news was of both local (metro) and national significance. We agreed to put a press release out on one of the major paid news distribution wires. The release would hit all the major business and consumer media in the country — including almost all daily newspapers, television and radio news stations. Key editors covering our type of news were targeted.

Out went the release. In came a barrage of “hits” — mostly verbatim pickup of the release on a variety of web-based news sites that subscribe to the news distribution service. Nice, but not really high-caliber hits — the kind where a reporter is so struck by your news that he/she calls or emails to get more information.

Even before sending the release out on the wire, I had contacted a number of key reporters and editors to alert them to the news. (Did I know all these people? Certainly not. But I figured they would likely be most interested in the news, because it landed on their “beats.”) Most of the reporters I talked with were happy to hear from me. In many instances, they wanted much more information — including a copy of the court transcript — and they wanted to personally interview my client.

As the day went on, I called and emailed numerous other reporters, locally and nationally. Almost to a person, none had seen the press release that went out on the wire earlier that day. None. Even though it was news specifically pertinent to their beats — and of high interest to their audiences — they were unaware of the news until I brought it to their attention. Many of them did in fact request more information. Some wanted to speak with my client, Some very significant stories resulted. The news coverage — specifically that which came about from the personal contacts with the media — wound up generating more business for my client. Which was the ultimate goal of the press release and media relations approach.

I say all this not to toot my own media relations horn (although I can’t deny doing some of that) but to point out the fallacy of thinking the job is complete by simply sending out a press release. Or even doing a bit of media relations follow-up. if you’ve got news, make the most of it! Do the hard media relations work — and it is hard, time-consuming work to get the media’s attention, make no mistake — of leveraging your news to its fullest extent.

You may be surprised at how far your news travels — when it’s assertively presented and pitched.

Doug Hovelson, author of this blog post, is an experienced media relations and public relations professional working out of Minneapolis. Some might call him a media junkie, in a good way. He’s written and placed thousands of press releases and company stories in almost every media outlet known to humankind. He’s always delighted to talk media relations strategies with people who want to see if they can do more with their media relations efforts. He can be reached at 612-722-5501 or at doughovelson AT MSN Dot COM.

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Kickstarter Campaigns And Twitter, A Quick Note.

Posted on June 24, 2014. Filed under: Creative Marketing, Minneapolis, Public Relations, Public relations practices, Social Media | Tags: , , , , |

On the matter of Twitter marketing: a young guy, self-identified as a high school student, followed me on Twitter. I followed him back. Whereupon he DMed me (thati is,sent me a Direct Message, for me eyes only) to say he would appreciate it “alot” if I checked out his Kickstarter campaign. To which he featured a link. Interested in his approach, I did check out his Kickstarter page. Turns out he is raising funds to support his fledgling customized coasters endeavor. His coasters are the type used for placing wet beverage containers on.

He set the Kickstarter fundraising bar low, at $500. He’d well surpassed that amount according to Kickstarter’s running count of funds raised.

Since I’m currently involved in setting up a Kickstarter campaign for a client, I was interested in his marketing approach via Twitter.

A DM With A Valid Call-To-Action

His DM to me stood out from the normal stuff you get when you follow someone on Twitter. That’s usually something like “Thanks for following me. I post regularly at XXX” or some such useless drivel.

I’ll have to keep this approach in mind as the deadline draws nearer for dropping the flag on my client’s Kickstarter campaign. Will in fact use it. Seems like a good use of social media to me. It’s an honest approach: “I followed you for a reason, here’s my reason: I want you to support my Kickstarter campaign. And I also want you to know about my products, which you might be interested in purchasing yourself.” What’s wrong with that? Nothing, so far as I can tell. Twitter’s set up for just this type of thing — communicating a call-to-action to strangers.

I’m always interested in learning more about using Twitter as a promotional device. What are your thoughts?

My one criticism of my young correspondent’s DM is grammatical in nature: mashing together “a lot” into “alot.” Not a pretty sight, that.

Doug Hovelson, author of this blog post, is an experienced media relations and public relations professional working out of Minneapolis. He’s helped dozens of companies – from Fortune 500 size to start-ups — grow their businesses with effective public relations programs. He can be reached at 612-722-5501 or at doughovelson AT MSN Dot COM.

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Cruising The Mall

Posted on February 19, 2013. Filed under: Doug Hovelson Photography, Minneapolis, Public Relations, Ramblings, Retail window displays | Tags: , , , |

Highway and heavy way to cruise Nicollet Mall.

Construction vehicle on Nicollet Mall

Afternoon cruise on Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

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Sneak Peek – New Minneapolis McDonald’s

Posted on August 25, 2012. Filed under: Doug Hovelson Photography, Minneapolis, Public Relations, Retail, Twin Cities region | Tags: , , , , |

Workers toiled into the evening recently in preparation for opening of new McDonald’s on East Lake Street in Minneapolis. The new store was built on the site of an older store, torn down earlier this summer to make way for the new and much-modernized store. Judging from the looks of it, McDonald’s is going for a more diner-friendly atmosphere inside. The façade includes a limestone motif that reflects an architectural style common to the surrounding neighborhood. Interesting…

Newly built McDonald's being made ready to open soon; photo credit: Doug Hovelson

Newlly built McDonald’s on East Lake Street in Minneapolis, nearly ready for business. Built on site of old store.

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Close Encounter With A Mac And Cheese Pizza Lover

Posted on August 24, 2012. Filed under: Doug Hovelson Photography, Minneapolis, Public Relations, Ramblings, Society | Tags: , , , , , |

Exterior of the Minneapolis Dinkytown McDonald's, where late-night dining can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors.

A clean, well-lit place, McDonald’s Minneapolis Dinkytown restaurant, a popular place near the University of Minnesota campus.

Recently I was offered a taste of macaroni and cheese pizza.

It happened, oddly enough, at the Dinkytown McDonald’s, near the University of Minnesota East Bank campus in Minneapolis. Odd since pizza doesn’t appear on the menu at McDonald’s.

A young woman, nicely dressed in casual summer attire, seemingly benevolent, made the offer to me as I sat,  hunched over a laptop computer and bag of fries, in the late-night gloaming of the restaurant.

“Have you ever had macaroni and cheese pizza?” Startled, I looked up. There she stood,  soft drink in hand, smile on her face, awaiting my response.

“Never,” I said. “I didn’t even know such a thing existed.”

“You have to try it. It’s great!” she gushed.

Sounds barbaric, I thought to myself. What I said was, “It sounds pretty good.”

“It’s so good!” she said.

Maybe she’s right, I thought. Macaroni and cheese, still within the pasta family after all.

But mac ‘n cheese. On pizza. Well, why not? At least it wasn’t something like carmel corn and anchovies.

Could be a joke, I thought. No harm done if it was, but maybe she was just joshing me. Didn’t seem like it though.

My interloper radiated nothing but good will. She obviously wanted to share her knowledge about the special delights of mac ‘n cheese pizza with me, a guy some few decades older – wiser? It’s debatable — than her. Sitting by himself. Late at night. In a solitary booth in a McDonald’s in the middle of a big city. Gazing intensely at a glowing computer screen. Whooaaa!

Maybe she thought I was friendless and bereft. Or a philosophy professor searching out clues to the universe online.

But it wasn’t to be.

Nice as she was, she couldn’t induce me to head off down the street for a slice. I wasn’t hungry, for one thing. She might have been slightly tipsy, too – which could explain her enthusiasm for sharing her food tips with strangers. It was getting nigh on to midnight. A time when a lot of the college kids take a break from the nearby club scene to drop into McDonald’s to recharge.

My young food confidante now settled into the booth just behind me, joining her two friends. Then she called my attention to the slice of pizza plopped on a paper plate on the table before her. Macaroni and cheese topped pizza it was, unmistakably. “See?” she said, stabbing a wayward finger toward the plate. “Doesn’t it look good! You have to try some. Oh, if I just had a knife I’d cut you a piece so you could try it!”

Fearing for her good mood – she seemed on the verge of turning crestfallen — I hurried to make things right.

“That’s okay,” I assured her. “You don’t have to do that. It’s your pizza. You eat it.”

Did my brow furrow over as I now studied the improbable scene? I don’t know. I wasn’t looking into a mirror after all. All I saw was the pizza, the three young women, one looking at me expectantly, the other two kind of peering at me anxiously, probably hoping their friend hadn’t recklessly engaged with a werewolf.

“Hmmm,” said I, eyeballing the cheese-sodden slice admiringly. “It does look good.”

“You have to try it,” my newfound foodie friend implored. “It only costs about $3 a slice at Mesa.”

Mesa, it turns out, is Mesa Pizza Dinkytown (open well into the early morning hours most nights), located just down the street from the McDonald’s.

“I’ll give it a try the next time I want pizza,” I assured her.

Satisfied, she turned back to her friends and the task at hand of devouring the pizza. I settled back in with the computer – was I really writing, or was I actually looking up the baseball scores on ESPN.com? I forget — wondering at the wonder of it all.

Mac ‘n cheese pizza. Not the worst idea of all time, surely. Maybe a traditional favorite in, say, Palermo or Naples. Ha ha, I laughed to myself. An exuberant young woman interrupting my commune with cyberspace to urge me on to give mac ‘n cheese pizza a chance. What a hoot!

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Macy’s Makes The Grade

Posted on August 1, 2012. Filed under: Doug Hovelson Photography, Minneapolis, Public Relations, Retail, Retail window displays, Society | Tags: , , , , , , |

Window display of fall fashion theme, Social Studies, kids fashions, at Macy's Department Store in downtown Minneapolis

What’s cool for fall colors and clothing – Social Studies for the younger set, featured in Macy’s Department Store window display in downtown Minneapolis.

Fall fashions at Macy’s on view in window display of downtown Minneapolis store. The department store retailer is making a fashionable statement about fall colors with its Social Studies-themed displays this year.

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Mary Tyler Moore Stands Tall On The Mall

Posted on July 15, 2012. Filed under: Doug Hovelson Photography, Minneapolis, Ramblings | Tags: , , , |

Mary Tyler Moore statue on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, © Doug Hovelson 2012

Mary Tyler Moore, goddess of smiles.

No need to worry about anybody clamoring to take down Mary Tyler Moore’s statue on the Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. She’s as exuberant as ever, although a bit over-dressed for a hot July day. If only Joe Paterno would have learned that everything you need to know in life you could of learned from the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

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Sign O’ The Times Ahead At Macy’s

Posted on July 15, 2012. Filed under: Doug Hovelson Photography, Minneapolis, Public Relations, Retail | Tags: , , , , , , |

Window display from Macy's, back-to-school-theme "Social Studies," mannequins sporting colorful fall fashion; photo © Doug Hovelson 2012

Macy’s window display “Social Studies” heralds back-to-school retail season – at the downtown Minneapolis Macy’s

Colorful window display at the Minneapolis Macy’s in mid-July, the youth look for fall.

Abreast with the unveiling of the new fall fashion themes at Macy’s is the news today that retail sales in the U.S. slowed across a broad swatch of industry segments recently. Seen as a sign of economic downshifting – again! Retail sales fall – Reuters.

Humpty-Dumpty II, also known herein as the American economy, suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Every loud bang in the global economy sends HDII scrambling for cover. Incoming! What’s to be done? Stick to your knitting, amp up the emphasis on vivid colors and dramatic imagery, shoot for the youth market — the kids will be alright — they still need to make brave fashion statements no matter what the economic situation. Can the kids put HDII back together again? We’ll see.

Meanwhile, enjoy the creative merchandising show from retailers like Macy’s.

[Editor’s note: the writer not once mentioned Lady Gaga in this fashion-forward piece.]

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