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“We initially hired Marilynn to lead our Public Relations strategy. But what we really got from Marilynn was help with Strategic Planning.”
John C, Principal Major Architectural Firm

Discovering the brand message entails a collaborative effort of brainstorming to get the compass for action pointed in the right direction. It's a process that continues to evolve and morph with a company's growth and the world's changing technology. 

Strategies for branding, public relations, and corporate public relations goals, (3 years, 5 years and stretch), intermingle. However, their direction requires separate budgets, along with charts to track ROI results and to maintain accountability. Strategic planning for marketing and media exposure is a process that evolves over time and it includes every possible detail inside a company. Business development requires focus and relationship building that integrates customer satisfaction with a true appreciation. 

A commitment from the firm to provide the necessary personnel and funding to fulfill their dreams. 

Successful marketing, branding, public relations, and business development campaigns must have a foundation consisting of three parts: A written strategic plan that comes before all other avenues of action. A written and agreed upon budget that aligns with those goals to support its core elements.
getting clients to follow an integrated plan and remain consistent with their brand message in order to fulfill their goals.


The great success of WinSpin CIC, Inc. has been due to getting clients to follow an integrated plan and remain consistent with their brand message in order to fulfill their goals.

Marilynn Mendell: WinSpin CIC, Inc.
Marilynn Mendell: WinSpin CIC, Inc.
Art Night Evite_2013

"Marilynn is a pro in every sense of the word. Her advice is spot on, her approach is clear and direct, and she's not afraid to offer tough love with a gentle touch. As I continue to grow my business, I find that I use her suggestions each day."

Sarah Gershman | President


The MIXX idea for 2009 came about as it always does with my client in a collaborative way. I try and set the tone all of the prior year as I begin to gather information.  I travel around the world frequently and visit as many art museums as I possibly can. The traveling combined with the weird things that I read inspire me too, or I pick up things in gift shops that trigger an idea.  Many times I just wake up in the morning with a thought, “Oh, I know what the flowers have to be for the spring party—spices!"
And off I go to Lowes. The concept for the sense campaign at Hickok for 2010 came to me when Sarah Barr was talking about a bathroom she had seen that was painted with red and white and had the scent of mint. I had been doing talks on scents and research which had brought up that comment from her. 2010 is the 200th anniversary of Braille and I had touch in the back of my mind as the Roosevelt monument has always been such a fabulous example of an architectural piece that stimulated all of the senses. I bring those thoughts to the table and then the team at individual client’s office spring board off of those and “A Sense of Design” is born.” 

Not all of my ideas stick or get used in one year. Sometimes I keep them for another client or they get trashed. Some are so wild it takes years to get them accepted. The 3D eye glasses took almost five years to come to fruition and I can still hear Mike Hickok saying, “Marilynn, if you had told me five years ago that I would be doing 3D glasses for my anniversary, I never would’ve believed it. But you were right they are a big hit.”

It takes a superb team to take art direction and concept and turn them into reality. The idea for the mix spin holiday card came to me when I found a post card in the National Gallery gift shop. I brought it back to Sarah Barr, the graphic designer at Hickok Cole architects, Washington, DC who retooled it to work as the Hickok Cole holiday card. (It was a tad expensive but people loved it and it was seen on bulletin boards for ages.) I’m kinda like Dr Strangelove when it comes to anything that glows in the dark so they also have to do a good job of saying, “Oh, no. Just NO. No Marilynn.” Fortunately, the designers I work with are extremely professional and creative and so they can “read” my concept drawings that you’ll see sprinkled around the site and run with them.  I am always thrilled to see how they take an idea and fly. 

I am a maniac about details and I will even go as far as to pay more for postage to make sure the right stamp is affixed to a mailing. I recently sent a client an invitation with a Rothko stamp on his envelop that was the exact one as a print he had in his home. He asked me if I knew that he had that print on the stamp….   In that case, it was helpful because it cemented in that client’s mind the importance of a first class stamp that had some particular relevance to the company or that particular campaign. These details can often be the defining items that get judges for awards to give a submission higher marks.



Strategic plans must have two things in my mind. They have to have an overarching theme with standards like the control of the look and feel of the logo and collateral materials and there should be some kind of yearly or bi-yearly theme that runs parallel and feeds off of the corporate goals but also gives new life to what clients see each year. When re-imaging a firm cementing a new brand must be the driving force for a good many years without extra frills. In the case of the Phipps where we envisioned a garden that would be known as the most energy efficient public garden in the world we had two things to consider-the world and the regional need to acquire visitors. So the Green Heart of Pittsburgh seemed like the perfect answer to that question. In that case I heard, Richard Piacentini, the Executive Director of the Phipps, say that one of his board members thought that the Phipps was the green heart of Pittsburgh. I said to him right there, “That’s it Richard. The Green Heart of Pittsburgh.” And I began drawing sketches and developing marketing ideas. I still want a giant heart topiary out in front but the reality is a topiary is not sustainable so that’s not going to happen. I haven’t given up though. Now I am pushing for a sculpture with a heart. So, for me ideas can come from anywhere. The trick is how are they used and applied. There’s also the innate ability to sense when something’s right. Most of my clients can tell when I am sure that something is perfect. It is a delight to be able to conceptualize things and to have clients who actually let me see them come to life. I love this job.


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