Yesterday my husband was off work on a snow day, and one of the activities we did together was watch a webinar on winter birding. There were questions at the end about how to make sure our backyard birds are taken care of during the current harsh winter weather.
In my garden are a lot standing plants with seed heads that are still pretty full, so backyard birds that can eat those kinds of seeds can always get food. There is a pond heater that I bought from Schnarr’s Hardware, where I work part time, that keeps a melted hole open in the surface ice of our pond as long as I periodically remove the layer of drifting snow, so our birds have a steady supply of water too. What we were reminded of in the webinar is that all birds can’t eat all varieties of seed, and some birds who depend more on fruit and insects may be going hungry right now. As emergency help, I hastily prepared a couple of bowls of extra food – some sliced oranges, chopped apples, peanut butter, jelly, cat food and a little extra seed. As extra protection against the food getting covered up with snow, you can put such bowls under a shelter of some kind, or in a feeder that has a cover. At Schnarr’s we also sell dried mealworms and suet cakes and feeders, which most birds love and are especially beneficial for heavy insect-eating birds that need protein.
Eastern Bluebirds, the Missouri State Bird, are an example of a heavy insect-eating species that needs a lot of protein. In the suburbs where I live, it’s not easy to get this sought after but not very common bird into a backyard to view because they are highly impacted by habitat and food loss from human altered landscapes. However, I saw one in our neighborhood a few weeks ago so I’m happy to know there is some good habitat in the vicinity. There is a large cemetery nearby which probably helps a great deal.
Here are links to other articles I’ve written that might help you enjoy your backyard birds:
I’m enrolled in Strategic Communications class at Webster University for the Fall 1 Session. For one of my assignments, I was asked to answer some questions and then engage in discussions on the topic. Here is my answer plus some of my subsequent remarks.
Define “public relations” and “marketing” and explain why these functions often are confused.
According to Broom and Sha, public relations is a function of management that organizations use to build and maintain relationships with the public to the benefit of all stakeholders (Broom and Sha 2).
In marketing, organizations study what consumers want and need and strive to provide attractive and useful offerings in exchange for something of value (Broom and Sha 5).
In your answer, point out the major difference that distinguishes these functions.
The major difference between marketing and public relations is that in the former, there is an exchange between the involved parties of goods, services, money, or some other consideration that has value (Broom and Sha 5).
Contrast publicity with advertising. In your answer, address issues related to message control, expense and relationship to marketing.
Publicity is something that an organization might cultivate, or it could happen to them involuntarily due to some kind of unforseen issue or circumstance. Publicity professionals can use their knowledge to tailor their publicity submissions while targeting the right recipients so that the information is used in a way that is favorable to the organizations goals. They can’t compel or control how the information is used however (Broom and Sha 7). Some publicity can be had for free, while other publicity might involve expenses such as labor to research and prepare the strategy and content or mailing printed information.
Some of the same skills that publicists use are used by advertisers and in some organizations the same people people might perform both functions. Organizations are not necessarily consistent in how titles and functions are used and the public can be influenced by the portrayals of both types of jobs by portrayals in the media which are not always accurate (Broom and Sha 7).
In advertising, the organization is paying for the exposure which gives them control over where the message is placed, the timing and the content (Broom and Sha 10).
Broom, Glen M. and Bey-Ling Sha. Effective Public Relations. Pearson, 2013.
I took this picture early in the summer because I figured it would come in handy in marketing classes. One of the times that I used the Wal-Mart grocery pickup service, I got this surprise free bag with my order with free samples in it. Is this marketing or PR? Can they be doing both at the same time?
The book (Broom and Sha) mentions that some efforts at PR are looked at with suspicion because it looks like the organization is trying to gain while appearing to be doing good, or some people already dislike and distrust the brand. There was a very different reaction among people depending on political affiliation with the stimulus checks, for example.
Wal-Mart is a brand that some people have strong reactions to. Wal-Mart gave me this bag of goodies when I had already used their services for awhile and it was a surprise. This was given out when a lot of brands were giving out some freebies to help out with COVID care and also get a little promotion.
For example at Schnarr’s, some companies gave us free hand sanitizer with their name on it to use for the store. Before masks were available at a reasonable price, I had a large stash that a client had given me for crafts, so I had plenty to share for awhile. If a customer came in the store really needing one to tide them over, I gave them one from my stash in a ziploc bag that I had packed after making sure my hands were clean. This is something I would have done whether or not it was good PR for the store and no one asked me to do it, but the store was my main exposure to other people at the time and it was something immediate I could do to help. I gave some plus some gloves to an old friend who works at a radio station. I didn’t give them to him because he works at a radio station, rather it was because he has health issues that make him very vulnerable and he was understandably scared. I did not ask him to mention me or Schnarr’s (where he started buying stuff without being asked) on the air. I don’t know if he did or not, I didn’t ask. For me it was not a quid-pro-quo situation, but I was not at all displeased to get a new customer at the store.
The Wal-Mart bag doesn’t really have anything useful for COVID, but it was something that brightened my day. I loved some of the free samples and others I gave away. I have not re-ordered any of the free sample products but if someone wanted to Wal-Mart made it easy to re-order. I might re-order the deodorant if they have a non-spray version. It smells wonderful. Other than brightening my day and being good for health in that sense, this bag seems more marketing than PR. I think it’s effective because it thanks people for trying the service, and gives them incentives to try it again and at the same time makes it easy and convenient with the bar codes and QR codes. They knew they were probably getting a lot more new customers because they were one of the first to have pickup services and it was fully in place and working well before the pandemic so they didn’t have to put it together in a hurry.
Here is another example of something I’m giving away. Like a lot of gardeners, I tend to have more seeds than I need of some plants and I save some to trade and give away. A few years ago, I designed and printed out some of these little seed packet templates to fill with seeds and give away at Schnarr’s Hardware along with candy and other goodies like safety lights as “treats” on Halloween.
After the COVID-19 pandemic started, some friends and customers asked me if they should be concerned about food security and if so what to do about it. I didn’t really know the answers, but I know that when people are out of work that there is less money to go around and people who are poor will struggle more than usual to get their basic needs met. It’s not a new idea for people who find it difficult to afford food or live in “food deserts” that lack stores to buy healthy food to engage in community gardening as a way to supplement the food supply. I gave some plants to someone who was trying to get a community garden started in his neighborhood.
Schnarr’s customers are mostly not of the group that needs to worry about meeting basic needs, but there are a lot of customers that engage in gardening and might want some extra seeds to grow themselves, give away or trade. Also with possibly more kids being home schooled there might be more interest in home gardening so that kids can learn about plant biology and other related topics. I decided to reprint some of my little seed trading envelopes and package up some of my extra seeds for free giveaways as I harvest them.
Schnarr’s sells garden seeds, so is it a good idea to give some away? Mindful of not wanting to hurt sales I put small quantities in the packets, 4-10 seeds in each depending on the size of the seed. Someone who is not sure about trying a new plant or is casual about gardening in general might get inspired to do more if they try a free sample. That could bring us more sales in the long run of garden supplies. I put the Schnarr’s blog address on it so that people can read the large amounts of gardening information that I have contributed there. I think the information I put there will benefit those who want to learn more about gardening, but of course more readers also means more exposure for the blog. Those are a couple of ways that I think this giveaway can help Schnarr’s a tiny bit.
More importantly, how does this small action help the community? With the increased demand on gardening supplies in general that we have seen since the pandemic began, we are sold out of some seeds so even if someone wanted to buy a larger package of seeds from us, with some varieties they will have to wait. Some of my plants are species we wouldn’t carry anyway, so customers get the chance to try some new things. I also am convinced that since growing serious amounts of food is not easy, the more people who know how to do it the better off we are as a society. Added to that are the benefits to overall health of getting outdoors, interacting with nature and engaging in exercise. There has never been a better time to garden, if one is able, with the extra stress many of us are under – horticulture has therapeutic uses for mental and physical health.
I also put some of these seed packets in the little goody envelopes that I put in orders from my online store. I give a few to friends and fellow Master Gardener volunteers from time to time but since I’m not seeing those groups of people as often as I normally do, I need someone to give some of the seeds too!
What do you think, am I doing PR, marketing, or both?
Today the St. Louis area is experiencing a sleet and snow mixture. In a week or so, it will be time to start some seeds indoors for the earliest garden plants such as onions and chives. See the Schnarr’s Hardware calendar that includes suggested seed starting, planting times and harvest times for the St. Louis area. That means it’s not too early to plan your garden for 2020! I’ve been practicing landscape plan drawing as I work on my garden plan. More examples and more details are on the Schnarr’s blog!
This past Wednesday was a pretty gloomy day weather-wise. It wasn’t terribly cold, but it was relentlessly gray and damp. While working at Schnarr’s Hardware in Webster Groves on that day, I was given the task of helping to hang garlands and wreaths on the outside of the store. We were preparing for the Old Webster Holiday Open House which runs from 10 am – 4 pm today.
Whether it was the physical exercise involved or something inherently joyful about decorating, almost immediately my dull mood turned lively and creative. Over the next few days I got some of my Christmas stuff out and started brainstorming on decorating ideas for the store and the home I share with my husband Tom. I finally got some ideas for the endcap in the Garden department that I decorated and update from time to time. I added some paper flowers I made with tin birds, seed packets from Botanical Interests, some little tin watering cans, a canvas mat with attractive lettering and some holiday faux greenery and floral pieces. I’d been stuck for awhile on ideas but I finally felt inspired. If you’re going to the Open House today be sure to stop in Schnarr’s – there are some new holiday items to see and and lots of festive lights and decorations!
For many years when I lived alone in my condo I did not bother with displaying Christmas decorations. I made them because I love to make them and always will, but since I didn’t have many visitors I thought it was not worth the effort just to decorate for myself. Before I met my husband, I was dating a guy for the first time in many many many (did I say many) years and I did decorate a bit while seeing him since I finally had someone else to decorate for. I think I have learned a lesson from these experiences – it’s exciting to work on decorations and displays for business purposes because selling things and creating excitement in a store is a lot of fun. But it’s also worth doing just for yourself, whether you live alone or not. You can choose to shop for a lot of new items, use old favorites or combine old and new. If you find that decorating lifts your winter mood, you are worth the effort all by yourself! You could look at it as a form of necessary self care. Tom and I will have to be somewhat restrained in our decorating at home because we have cats, but we can do something and I’m going to make the effort. (The mistletoe is up already, to make sure we get lots of use out of that!)
I hope now that the ordeal with our rain garden is over Tom and I can start actually enjoying our garden! One of the many things we like about it is being able to pick fresh salads every day in season. I’m going to be really sad when it gets too cold to do this.
Since I took these photos, this monarch has hatched and is on it’s way to Mexico right now if it has not run into misfortune along the way. I’ve helped raise a bunch of caterpillars this year by providing habitat and I’m really happy about that!
Since I welcome caterpillars to my garden, I get species I really want as well as caterpillars that eat some of the greens I want to eat. One of my strategies is to plant enough to share. I also like to encourage beneficial insects that prey on garden pests.
Schnarr’s Hardware, 40 East Lockwood, Webster Groves, MO 63119
I’m teaching this class again for the first time in three years! Make amazing lightweight pendants by transferring found images onto wood. You will be supplied with the materials to make a necklace for wearing your interchangeable pendants. You will learn the basics of transferring images with tape and gel medium and attaching a clasp to a cord necklace. I will have a selection of transferred images on hand for you to use at the beginning of the class, then while your pendant or pendants are drying, I’ll show you two different techniques for converting found images into beautiful embellishments to add to wood pendants and other art and craft items.
Each class attendee will receive a printout with a written tutorial for that class so if you forget anything we learned you can refer back to it later. Jewelry tools will be available to borrow during the class and some tools and supplies will be available to purchase if you want to continue working on your own.
At each class, there will be at least one door prize randomly awarded to an attendee – probably a craft supply item of some type that relates to the theme of the class. Past prizes have included a necklace kit, a polymer clay frame kit and a craft stencil. That’s my way of saying thank you for coming!
What to Bring
It’s not necessary to bring anything but it’s a good idea to wear old clothes in case there is a glue mishap. If you have found images on glossy papers like magazine or catalog cutouts, or laser printed copies, you can bring those as a source for images.
I will provide wood pendant blanks, gel medium, images, packing tape, findings and parts for at least one necklace. I will have tools to borrow during class.
Last fall during the Old Webster Fall Art Walk, I demonstrated making pages for an art journal with paper collage work and stencils at Schnarr’s Hardware. I added in some paint samples to pay tribute to the hardware store atmosphere and remind me to have fun with colors. Later on I added some image transfers I made with clear packing tape. Learn how to make image transfers and add them to your art journal pages on the Schnarr’s blog:
I worked really hard the last couple of weeks to get ready for our first party that we’ve hosted as a married couple (aside from our wedding reception). I’ve been gradually moving my stuff in to our home which had already been Tom’s home for quite awhile. In preparation of getting married, Tom gave away some of his old furniture so that we could combine our furniture and use what was most useful and most to our taste. We both have a lot of hand me down furniture so whatever we do is going to end up pretty eclectic. We both have a fondness for Mid-century Modern design and that is the base style of Tom’s house so we are gradually going to go more in that direction as we decorate. We haven’t moved any larger furniture pieces from my condo yet so a couple of rooms are a bit empty for the time being. That worked out well for the party because there was space to set up card tables and TV trays to make a game area.
Eventually we will add bookshelves, my aquariums and perhaps bean bag chairs to make this kind of a reading/writing/meditation room. The plants really help get the right mood started.
We plan for this alcove to eventually hold a Mid-Century Modern storage and display shelf unit. We haven’t decided yet whether to custom build it or buy parts, but what we have in mind is something that looks mod and takes the place of a china cabinet with both open and closed areas for storage and display. For temporary use, I put up a couple of card tables to use for a food overflow and game table and used metal display racks that I use for craft shows to display banners that I sewed together a few years back. While making those and two related table runners I rubber-stamped some of the fabrics I used. I set up my lava lamp and made some small floral arrangements here and there to try to tie the colors together. One of the guests gave us the lovely pumpkin full of candy as a housewarming gift. We love it! The serving tray was my Mom’s from the 1970s – it’s a souvenir from Rockhome Gardens, a tourist attraction in Illinois that we visited when I was very young on one of our many Sunday drives. I’m going to blog about how I made the faux clock candle sconces soon so stay tuned for that!
Here is the main food table. I put together a simple veggie and dip tray and the guests were starting to fill the rest of the table with food they brought. We were blessed with lots of food!
Tom and I love the 1970’s-looking nature mural on the wall and we are not planning on changing it. I displayed some felt crows I made last year with some faux flowers and Colonial Candles from Schnarr’s Hardware.
I made some turkey chili with black beans and butternut squash. I set up a cheese fondue in my rice cooker set on warm (since I don’t have a fondue set) and served it with bread cubes and cut up sausage kept warm in an electric skillet. In this photo you can see a couple of pieces of the retro glassware I like to collect. That was a hobby my Mom and I shared – she loved looking for Mid-Century ceramics and I loved looking for Mid-Century glassware. Neither of our collections was particularly complete or cohesive because we just bought when we saw something we liked for a bargain price. More items from our collections will appear in our house as Tom and I work on it. My collectibles inspire me a lot in my design work and I like to have them around me and put them to use if I can.
I set up fondue chocolate in my potpourri crock pot and served it with dunking cookies, grapes, marshmallows, pineapple and strawberries.
My photo of the drinks table didn’t take – a shame! But I’ll get it next time. I want to show off Tom’s really cool Mid-Century punch bowl!
I ran a test on an oak tree that is at the corner of my condo to see what the value of it is in hard cash terms. I used a really useful tool called i-Tree Design. Here is a screenshot showing some of the benefits of this tree over a 10 year period.
You can run tests using your own property as an example with different sizes and species of trees. The tool will even show you spots on your property where trees will have the most and least benefit. It’s lots of fun and very enlightening! Sometimes it’s a good idea to know how much a tree is worth when you are deciding whether to invest money in tree care or planting new trees.