“Local firm thinking outside the box”

Bobbie Foust and I worked together at the Tribune Courier and Leisure Scene in Benton in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I have alway admired her as a journalist because she is consistently accurate in getting the information and the quotes correct any time she does an article. We were honored when she asked to do a feature on the recent awards we have won and our business. What follows was printed in the January 30, 2008 issue of the Lyon County Herald-Ledger. Our thanks to Bobbie for another job exceptionally well-done! Simper Fi Bobbie.

P.S. If you would like to see the tactics that won the awards go to our web site at http://www.armstrongandassociates.org and look to the right side column.

Local firm thinking outside the box

By Bobbie Foust/Herald Ledger Staff

A different approach to public relations recently garnered three awards for a national business based in Lyon County.

ARMSTRONG and Associates (www.armstrongandassociates.org) – a behavioral public relations firm – was cited for two brochures and a video the company produced.

Owners Darryl and Kay Armstrong won the MarCom Gold Award for an educational brochure produced for Lockheed Martin and a MarCom Honorable Mention for a brochure they produced for Ophthalmology Associates of Western Kentucky.

The international AVA (Audio/Visual Awards) recognized the company for outstanding work in producing a video for Taylor Hays, publisher of the Kentucky New Era in Hopkinsville. Hayes was looking for a way to reach future graduates of local colleges and universities and talented professionals, said Darryl Armstrong.

“We developed a recruitment video, which describes the professional needs of the Kentucky New Era along with the working environment of the organization,” he said.

Darryl Armstrong scripted, directed and produced the video in collaboration with videographer Jerry Vick, who is video editor at WKAG-TV 43 in Hopkinsville.

The Lockheed brochure, which won in the educational category, is being used in a community outreach project in the Middle River, Md. area.

“… We took highly technical government and corporate information and transferred it into an easily-understood and user-friendly format,” said Kay Armstrong who has worked with Lockheed on different projects for years.

Darryl Armstrong said the brochure, developed for Ophthalmology Associates, helped Dr. Paul Harrell increase his business exponentially.

Darryl Armstrong, Ph.D, said he started the business 14 years ago because he felt it was time to establish his own company, “and frankly I was bored.”

He had spent years working at high level positions with the Tennessee Valley Authority at Land Between the Lakes and in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and for the government at the Oak Ridge, Tenn. nuclear complex.

“My background is in behavioral psychology and journalism,” he said. “At the time I got a degree in behavioral psychology, I didn’t think about applying it to public relations.”

However, the discipline became popular in the 1970s especially in the federal government and law enforcement. He explained that behavioral public relations means helping the client outline his/her problem and the solution.

There’s a certain behavior the client wants the public to express whether its buying more of the client’s product or service or changing public opinion to influence a vote, Armstrong said.

“Whatever the response is that the client wants, you put it into measurable behavioral terms,” he said.

Kay Armstrong was still employed in another position when her husband left the corporate and government world. However, she too soon joined the business because it allowed them both to pursue their specific interests. She still enjoys flying around the country to help clients, while he prefers to work with clients in the southeast within driving distance.

She has a background in linguistics – bachelor’s and master’s degrees in German linguistics with a minor in English linguistics. And she has taken master’s level courses in management, communications and guidance counseling.

“Many of our clients have complex problems that we are helping them find their path through,” she said.

“A big piece of being able to be successful with a client is to first let the client just kind of dump and tell you what (he/she) thinks the problem is,” he said. “That really is a big piece of the therapy because in many cases they have defined a problem that is really not their problem at all.”

Kay added that with the discovery process, “we can usually define the problem, and what the avenues are toward a solution.”

Most of what the company does is consulting with a client to put together a strategic plan of action, implementing and executing the plan and then evaluating and adjusting it as needed. “Always with the goal of whatever behaviorally it is that you want to happen out there,” Darryl said.

Through the years, the Armstrongs have found their business associations have led to lasting friendships.

“One thing that amazed me is that there are nice people everywhere you go,” Kay said.

“If you treat people nicely, for the most part, they are going to treat you nicely, he said. “I do a lot of facilitation of meetings, which sometimes can become very contentious. In fact part of the leg we started our business on was to be able to help engineering firms and public agencies be able to deal with public meetings and get through them without being too bloodied in the process.”

He has found that treating people with respect, listening and setting parameters around which everybody can participate, accomplishes the goal.

ARMSTRONG and Associates is not a typical public relations business.

“We really struggled about what we should call our business,” he said. “… We put behavioral in it to get people to ask what we do because everybody thinks they know what public relations is all about.”

Kay Armstrong said people often associate a negative connotation with PR looking it as spin.

“I’m not into that, and we have not been into that,” Darryl said. “We do everything from strategic planning, marketing workshops for small businesses and chambers to customer service workshops.”

Another component of the business is education, Kay said, citing the educational events she has organized for Lockheed Martin.

“They have a branded educational program called Space Day, and I organize Space Day events for them for about 1,000 elementary kids at a time to promote science and math,” she said, noting that she has organized an annual Space Day in Riverside, Calif. for 10 years. “I’ve also started doing one in Sarasota, Fla.

“We go to a school and set up basically, an educational fair where we have about 40 activity stations and we rotate the kids around a precise schedule and they experience things they don’t get the rest of the year,” she said.

Darryl added that the neat thing about Space Day is “it’s a fusion of information, education and entertainment, and when those kids are having fun, they are open to being educated.”

The Armstrongs have carved a unique niche for their business.

“It’s our name that’s the basis of our business,” he said. “Someone asked me the other day what will happen to ARMSTRONG and Associates when we retire? It will go away because there is no way we can sell this … because we really built it on the unique personalities that we have.”

Dr. Darryl

L. Darryl Armstrong

ARMSTRONG and Associates

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