A Tale of Two Coasts

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Green is the New Gold

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Eco-Tourism is the Gift that Keeps Giving

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A Tale of Two Coasts

QuickHits Blog

Adventure, Challenges and Comparisons on England’s
South West Coastal Path and Florida’s Coasts and Wetlands

Some people look at the current state of the environment in many places on the globe and see a disaster unfolding.

While there’s a lot to be concerned about, we have a different viewpoint. We look at the same slices of earth and see potential.

Potential to bring people together for a common goal. Potential to use the ignorance of the past as an object lesson to get it right in the future. Potential to return the natural world to something approaching health. Potential to grow businesses and create jobs in the travel and hospitality industries at the same time and based on a healthy environment.

If you’ve paid attention to our blogs for any length of time, you know our founder Ross Allard is a man obsessed with clean water and healthy oceans. So it’s no surprise that his passion for travel often bleeds over to his obsession for doing the right thing by the environment.

Hence his interest in bringing attention to the parallel plights of the coast of his birth country and the coast of his adopted one. Both are suffering from the impacts of climate change. Both also face recent neglect alongside renewed interest in setting things right.

And we believe people will get it right and the timing couldn’t be better. So, led by our founder, we are taking on the task of informing as many people as we can about what they can do to help.

In honor of our waters and oceans and out of a deep respect for our founder, we’re launching a campaign to reach even more people: #663 and #630.

The first is the number of miles of beach in Florida. The second is the length in miles of England’s South West Coastal Path that require help from humanity to survive the current state of the world.

So talk to us, share your thoughts about how you’d like the help the environment, and watch our blogs for news and information about what you can do.

It’s more than you might think.

January 31st, 2018

Allard Positions Company as Business for Good

QuickHits Blog

Seeking Solutions for Today’s Non-Profits

At Allard PPC and VRA Associates, we’ve always looked for ways to do good in the world while we’ve built our business and helped others build theirs.

In the process, we’ve seen shortcomings in the ways some non-profits advance their causes and in the ways businesses try to support them. It’s not for lack of caring. It’s just that this is a part of the business and non-profit world that could use a little help.

Over the years of watching this sometimes awkward dance, we’ve come to believe there’s a better way to do things that makes the best use of the strengths of non-profits and businesses that believe in corporate social responsibility.

Our goal is a seamless solution that works as an alternative to a non-profit and the headaches that go with raising money to support one. Our solution is a hybrid business that brings together those non-profit organizations that need help and those companies able to offer it.

For our part, we will only do events that relate to ocean conservation and coastal and wetland protection, which we already do with projects in the United States. We hope to expand our awareness campaign to conservation efforts for areas like England’s South West Coastal Path as well.

Under our method of hybridizing the relationship, the corporate sponsor would benefit from exposure to supporters of the non-profit. Through our cause sponsorship management, we would provide our marketing expertise, social postings etc., making an even bigger splash — and raising more money — for the non-profit.

This would create the hybridization we spoke of earlier and be a win win for everyone. We hope it will also be an evolutionary step in the way businesses help the non-profits that share their values.

We’re already seeing this kind of partnering in Europe, where consumers have made it clear they will be loyal to the companies with whom they share values of social responsibility.

We’re talking about companies such as Sporrong: Swedish purveyor of medals cufflinks tieholders emblems brandsign pins necklaces brooches buttons and more. They’ve made clear their dedication to corporate social responsibility and benefiting non-profits and at the same time grown and sustained their company thanks to the support of loyal customers who share their values.

Talk to us today about your non-profit or one that your company wants to support, and we’ll help you find a way to make that happen that benefits you and the non-profit you want to help.

December 31st, 2017

Millennials are Finding Solutions to Perplexing Problems

QuickHits Blog

Innovators Start News Rating Website

There’s no doubt there’s a lot of negativity circulating these days, and right alongside it is the feeling that things are getting worse not better on many fronts. But we’re perennial optimists at Allard PPC and VRA Associates, and we’ll tell you why.

Young people.

By young people, we mean those of a particular age as well as those of every age who are young at heart and embrace the change that will transform the world. We like to count ourselves in the latter category.

Millennials catch a lot of unjust criticism for being takers, for expecting someone else to do the work for them. You name it, and Millennials have been blamed for it or for making it worse if they weren’t around when it started. This is not new. The exasperated expression “kids today!” is grounded in a hardening of the creative arteries that afflicts every generation as it ages. It’s a worldview that discounts the contributions of younger generations for no logical reason.

But we firmly believe that these are the people who are going to save the world, one brilliant idea at a time.

“Millennials, they get it,” said Ross Allard, founder of Allard PPC and VRA Associates. “They will be the game changers.”

Case in point, Chase Palmieri.

It was doing Yelp campaigns for his family’s restaurant and looking at reviews for movies on Rotten Tomatoes and books on Amazon that Palmieri had an idea.

“I was looking around at all these other platforms where consumers had the power and industry was being held accountable,” he said.

He called college friends Jared Fesler and Austin Walter and pitched the idea of a website that holds media accountable in much the same way: with reviews.

From this Tribeworthy was born, its motto: “Online news is no longer a spectator sport.”

What Palmieri, Fesler and Walter mean is readers now have a say, via rating articles they read, in what constitutes unbiased, accurately reported news.

As the website clearly explains, “By simply reading and reviewing articles on Tribeworthy, you’re already contributing real-time feedback and information to help your news gathering community.”

The site’s sharing feature “makes it fun and simple to warn friends about unreliable news stories by simply sharing the Rating Page of any article, author, or news outlet.”

So not only can users actively comb the site, but they can also alert friends on social media, the epicenter of fake news and the fallout from it.

It’s a solution to a problem that has grave implications if it’s not resolved by the next election. No matter your political views, we believe that it’s essential for accurate news to reach the public.

“This is the future,” Allard said. “The future is now.”

December 20th, 2017

Common Sense is the Beginning of Good Cybersecurity

QuickHits Blog

Our Recommendations on Where to Begin

Just as good customer service is just a part of how we do what we do at VRA Associates and our sister company Allard PPC, so too is passing along useful information when that’s appropriate.

Today, the information involves cybersecurity.

We all know this is among the most important issues of our time, especially for businesses that engage in e-commerce.

We also know how sensitive this topic can be, but we want to stress that if you haven’t already talked to a cybersecurity expert about your company and its footing in this regard, you really should.

Why do we encourage you to seek advice from companies besides ours? After all, our bailiwick is marketing and promotional products, not security. But, if the situation were reversed, we’d want to hear this recommendation from you.

Because it’s exactly how we’d want to be treated if the situation were reversed. Doing so is in keeping with our rule to treat others as we’d like to be treated. It’s a question that makes it easy to decide how we treat anyone is any situation. It’s also one that has garnered us the respect and loyalty of our customers over years of doing business with them.

So while we can’t tell you how to safeguard data your data, we can tell you how important it is that you do, that you begin by protecting data with common sense.

This is the first level approach to security recommended by top cybersecurity experts as a starting point for a proactive cybersecurity stance. And please note that this blog piece is not a substitute for engaging one of those experts yourself:

· Collect only the information you need.
· Control who has access to the information based on their “need to know.”
· Require the use of strong passwords by users and have lock out systems in place to limit attempts by wouldbe hackers.
· Store sensitive information securely and protect it during transmission.
· Segment your network and only allow access to areas with information by those who need it.
· Secure remote access at entry points to your network.
· Require your service providers to maintain best practices for cybersecurity.
· Remain current with potential threats and treat all of them seriously.
· Secure paper data and devices that have access to your network or its information.

Additionally, we recommend you review this piece by the BBC about protecting your digital life.

As we said above, this is the beginning of good security, and we strongly recommend that our customers take their cybersecurity seriously to protect themselves and their clients.

At VRA Associates and Allard PPC, we never forget that you chose us, and we seek always to exceed your expectations and delight you with the products we produce and the work we do for you.

Please call us LINK any time to discuss how we can help your company reach new heights through carefully planned, meticulously executed and methodically tracked marketing campaigns.

November 7th, 2017

Green is the New Gold

QuickHits Blog

Environmental Sustainability is a Top Priority for a Growing Number of Consumers

People often look at a rising superstar and say it’s a case of “overnight success.” But anyone who pays attention to these things knows that almost always there are years, sometimes decades, of work that go into the “overnight.”

It’s just that no one was watching during that time.

At Allard PPC and VRA Associates we are seeing this happen in the form of a global environmental stewardship ethic that is gaining ground at an astounding rate.

But anyone who was paying attention could see this coming.

The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970 — almost a half century ago. People were fighting for change back then and even before that (consider that Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” was published almost a decade earlier).

But, because so many people and organizations were committed to creating a seismic shift in human thinking, we have this rapidly growing global movement of today.

We are proud to say that we at Allard PPC and VRA Associates are among that group. Both companies have been members of Sarasota County’s Green Business Partnership for more than a decade.

But we are not alone in these efforts. Working as well toward a more sustainable future are many of our clients, collaborators and friends — organizations such as ECHO, the environmental and poverty fighting powerhouse just a few miles south of us. So too is 3 Boys Farm, Dakin Dairy and previous client Hyatt, a company that is taking on a changing hospitality workplace in innovative and thoughtful ways.

While we strongly believe that doing good is its own reward, there’s no denying that those rewards are compounded by the strongly positive public image that naturally follows. We all know that a positive public image creates customer loyalty. And the bias for consumers is to buy from companies they like — even to the point where they’ll pay more when they have such feelings for a company.

This is not news, but we want to share the stats to back it up. In 2015, the Nielsen Company, in a global survey, found that almost 70 percent of consumers say they are willing to pay more for sustainable brands. That’s up 55 percent from the previous year. Additionally, 84 percent of consumers seek out responsible products whenever possible and even switch to brands associated with a good cause when price and quality are similar. LINK

Consider as well that this type of consumer behavior is so common that there’s an app for it. Buycott touts itself as a way to “Vote with your wallet.” Consumers can scan a UPC or QR code and find out the ethics of a company or product they are considering.

So it boils down to this: People want to do good. And they want the companies they do business with to embrace those values. We like that, but it’s not why we strive to do the right thing at all times. We selfishly believe that doing the right thing makes the world better for us and the people we love.

Talk to us today about our ethics as a company about how we conduct ourselves in the marketing arena and how we can help you take your company to the next level in a way that is sustainable and likely to have the greatest impact on your success while making the world a better place for everyone.

October 30th, 2017

#AllardPPCQuickHits — We’re Thrilled to See a Growing Health, Wellness and Environmental Consciousness

QuickHits Blog

We recently read a report by Nielsen that indicates a growing desire by consumers to have access to more plant protein. This is good news for a number of reason because we’ve known since the 1970s that not only is animal protein bad for our health and wellness, it’s also hard on the planet.


October 23rd, 2017

Eco-Tourism is the Gift that Keeps Giving

QuickHits Blog // Uncategorized

Sustainability is Good for the Planet and the Bottom Line

England’s South West Coastal Path has been front and center for us here at Allard PPC and VRA Associates, with our founder Ross Allard, returning home recently to hike the coastal path and bike nearby trails while trying to raise awareness of the environmental issues facing this beautiful stretch of coast.

It’s worth saving for many reasons, not the least of which are its intrinsic beauty and special place in the hearts of locals. But on a more pragmatic level, such natural wonders are worth saving for their role as powerful economic generators.

The South West Coast draws many thousands of visitors each year from around the world. That’s a win locally for businesses such as Big Peaks, an e-bike retailer, bringing an infusion of tourism cash into the local economy and creating jobs and business opportunities. But it’s an even bigger win in terms of promoting preservation of the natural world.

Our friends at Big Peaks have a deep love for the natural environment around them, particularly Dartmoor National Park, and they’ve worked to share that love through innovative and affordable e-bike tours.

Bigpeaks.com is the leading e-bikes company in the South West of the United Kingdom, and the company has earned its eco credentials, its nature cred if you will, by walking the walk or in their case biking the bike path. The store, located in the pretty town of Ashburton, is situated right on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park.

Owner Paul Tomlin says the area, beautiful as it is, is not unaffected by a changing environment, particularly global warming. This part of the UK has experienced some climate change phenomena, with the summers being split into two periods — hotter early summers and cooler late summers.

As well, says Tomlin, “there is some coastal erosion which has been accelerated by the storms we have had in the last couple of years, presumably by the change in the Gulf Stream and the Polar Ice Melt. Coastal footpaths have been ruined somewhat, but I am pleased to say that they have now been rebuilt.”

The low impact e-bike tours by Big Peaks let visitors in every stage of life and physical fitness experience the beauty of nature first hand. This is a proven way to get people on board for conservation efforts, and that’s another win for tourists, the local economy and the environment.

“We have national cycling routes going right past our door and we have many ride links right from our door to the heart of the Dartmoor National Park,” Tomlin said.

Of course, such great adventures aren’t without their challenges, some of them having nothing to do with the actual out-of-doors. E-bikes for instance have batteries that are considered hazardous materials, which is not a problem for riders or even the natural environment when the bikes are in use. It’s more a difficulty in shipping the bikes overseas when owners want to take them along. This is easily sidestepped by renting bikes at your destination from places like Big Peaks or dealing with a company well-versed in the intricacies of shipping such items.

On a side note, just such issues led to Allard PPC and VRA Associates is seeking the correct certifications for our shipping needs, though for us, it’s all about effectively and efficiently shipping promotional products globally.

It’s a globe the whole team at Allard and VRA want to protect, selfishly on one level, because we haven’t seen it all. We also think it’s the only way to move into the future with a clear head about what we do and how we do it.

Talk to us today about any of our green, philanthropic or other socially conscious endeavors and, of course, how we can help your company reach new levels — and new customers — in efficient, effective and sustainable ways.

October 15th, 2017

The Key to Conservation is Nurturing a Love for the Natural World

QuickHits Blog

People Exposed to Nature are More Likely to Protect It

We care about the environment at Allard PPC and our sister company VRA Associates. Our founder is intensely interested in environmentalism, and we try to lead by example. In fact, at this writing, Ross is headed to Britain’s South West Coast to hike its historic path and enjoy firsthand this environmentally sensitive area.

And that brings us to a very interesting point. Ross has spent a lifetime enjoying the outdoors, particularly the water, and he’s also worked to protect and preserve the natural world for future generations. In more recent times, the epic destruction of Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma, likely made much stronger by climate change, has lent urgency to Ross’ efforts and the sustainability efforts of Allard and VRA.

With that backdrop, we’ve often wondered which came first, Ross’ love of the natural world and then environmentalism or an innate environmentalism that led to a love of the natural world.

Well, oddly enough, a recent, local environmental battle leads us to believe it is the former, that exposure to and enjoyment of the natural world makes people care more about it.

Academic research backs this up as well.

According to “The Oxford Handbook of Environmental and Conservation Psychology,” exposure to the outdoors, to “green exercise,” or even the presence of more trees in urban areas leads to a greater interest in environmentalism along with feeling empowered in government, a greater feeling of safety and lower rates of crime.

And that’s exactly what local residents saw happen with Sarasota’s Celery Fields, a wetland that is home to large numbers of birds and other wildlife. Early in the battle to save it from nearby industrial development, opponents of the development weren’t sure they’d have the public’s support.

What they weren’t counting on were the many people who’d come to love the area and used it for hiking, birdwatching or simply being in nature.

They showed up — by the hundreds, so much so that the county had to use overflow rooms to hold the people who came to support the Celery Fields.

Rob Wright, a consultant for Audubon that opposed the development and who once worked for Sarasota County as a coordinator for its Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team, said he’s never seen anything like it.

“I truly thought Audubon was going to be standing alone on this one,” he said. “As soon as we started putting the word out, people started showing up to meetings. I was amazed.”

Rob and Ross met while Ross was working with Sarasota County’s NEST program and Rob offered guidance on the Waterford Project that introduced more sustainable wetlands practices to the development where Ross lives. The two were also part of a team of passionate speakers who advocated on behalf of Sarasota County and wound up bringing home the All American Cities Award in 2006.

So this much we’ve learned: People who experience the outdoors are much more prone to stand up for the natural world.

A half a world away, Ross Allard is about to embark on an adventure that will bring him up close and personal with Britain’s South West Coast, a place that he already loves and that faces its own set of environmental challenges brought on by climate change.

We’ll be bringing you details of that adventure in the hopes you’ll embark on one of your own.

The more we all immerse ourselves in the natural world that is our true home, the more we’ll all want to protect it for generations to come.

September 26th, 2017

Introducing Our “Message in a Bottle” Campaign Beginning at Britain’s South West Coast to Raise Awareness Globally for Coastal and Watershed Protection

QuickHits Blog

We’re Sending a Figurative “Message in a Bottle” to Draw Attention to Water Issues

You must pay close attention sometimes in order to hear a cry for help, especially a subtle one that shows up in events that could easily be lumped in with what’s “natural.”

Natural covers a lot.

Even when the cry comes in dramatic form, such as sharply declining fish stocks, more frequent algal blooms, more severe hurricanes or ancient, majestic cliffs falling into the sea, it can be easy to miss. We live in a world that gives us plenty of excuses not to pay attention; besides which, who wants to focus on the troubles our planet is facing?

But as much as we rejoice in the stunning beauty that nature offers us every day, we at Allard PPC and VRA Associates agreed to take a moment to highlight some of the environmental problems the natural world is facing in every corner of the globe.

We’re doing this by sharing our outdoor adventures in the hopes that you’ll find some of your own, fall in love with some part of nature and work to protect it, just like the folks who did just that for The Celery Fields in Sarasota.

We’ve recently mentioned that our founder, Ross Allard, is using his holiday this year to return home to Devonshire, England and begin a hiking and high-tech cycling journey that will eventually cover the 630 miles of Britain’s South West Coast Path.

What we haven’t explained is that, for the cycling part of this adventure, this is not just any bike. This journey is certain to be deeply rewarding on a personal level for Ross, but it also offers an opportunity to raise awareness about local, regional, national and global issues facing our watersheds and coasts.

For those unfamiliar, Britain’s South West Coastal Path is a national treasure, a favorite of locals and a destination for people from all over the world. Even if you’ve never heard of it, you’ve seen it in movies and on TV. It’s the stunning and dramatic setting for shows such as “Poldark,” “The Last Kingdom,” and others. So it’s easy to see why it’s worth saving.

This journey is certain to be deeply rewarding on a personal level for Ross. Devonshire is his home. And while this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it comes when the iconic shoreline is facing serious erosion issues due to climate change. On a bright note, Ross feels the trip calls attention to these problems in ways that could help, while also raising awareness about local, regional, national and global issues facing our watersheds and coasts and the losses to tourism and the hospitality industry if the destruction goes unchecked.

On an even brighter note, the bike Ross is using showcases the way existing and emerging technologies makes nature more and more accessible. We believe that the more fans the environment has, the better it will do in the public forum.

The Trek e-Bike from the folks at www.bigpeaks.com gives Ross the option of pedaling or letting the electric motor do some of the work. It’s environmentally friendly in its impact as well as how it offers greater access to the outdoors.

So follow us on this journey that will also include side trips to visit environmental groups working to protect seagrasses and touching base with scientists on the frontline of understanding climate change.

that we’ll be sharing in this space. It’s the next logical step for us since beginning our work here in Sarasota for better water quality (LINK). Now, we want to take the message global because we firmly believe it’s not too late to turn things around.

We just need to pay attention to nature’s call for help.

And respond.

September 26th, 2017

#AllardPPCquickHits — Transparency Wins in Marketing

QuickHits Blog

Sometimes we can’t help but do a good natured face palm when we read what marketing gurus are telling companies about how to treat customers. In this case, the news is that customers appreciate transparency, knowing the why and how of what they’re getting for their money.

As an aside, we think that’s true whether the product is locally sourced organic produce or a marketing campaign.

At Allard PPC and our sister company VRA Associates, we’ve always told our clients as much as we can about what we do for them.

It just makes sense.

If you’d like to learn more about how this is a growing trend, check out: IT’S CLEAR: TRANSPARENCY IS WINNING THE U.S. RETAIL MARKET

August 31st, 2017

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