A Day In The Life Of An Intern

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“We have a job for you of the utmost importance,” Derek said as he walked into the room. I can’t deny I was a little nervous at the sound of such a serious task, but the anxiety really kicked in once I saw Rachel and Erica follow him through the door. This must be a really big deal, right? Seconds later my anxiety was relieved when I discovered that this “job of the utmost importance” was a Starbucks run. In fact, I was filled with joy. I am a shamelessly self-proclaimed Starbucks addict. As such, it is no understatement to say that this would be the one job I felt most prepared for since arriving at Allison Development Group.

It may, however, come as surprise that this is the only coffee run I have made since my first day as intern (crazy, I know). This is far from the only surprise I have encountered since beginning my internship at ADG. In all honesty, my experience here so far has completely defied most of my expectations regarding typical internships. Here’s how:

I am actually asked to take part in the creative process and interact with clients.

After talking to my friends about their internship experiences, I was totally expecting my primary duties to consist of coffee runs and cleaning. Instead, on my first day at Allison Development Group, I was asked to join a conference call with a client and provide my feedback. I got to work one-on- one with Erica, asking questions and sharing my suggestions. Then, she answered all of my questions and allowed me to share some of my suggestions with the client. On my second day, she invited me attend a team meeting with another one of the firm’s clients. Most certainly not what I was expecting from my first few days at the office.

“There are no AP style police in the real world.”

To a journalism student from UNC, a statement like this may be considered sacrilege. What do you mean there is no one docking points for each oxford comma and every missed hyphen? In a more general sense, this statement is extremely representative of my transition from practicing skills in an educational setting to practicing them in the real world. It seems to me that the point of being forced to learn all of the seemingly irrelevant rules that consume journalistic writing is, ultimately, to break them. How much fun is that? As it turns out, some of the best work is a result of someone freeing themselves from the rigidity of rules, rules, and more rules. All I am saying is, don’t be so busy tripping over the oxford comma that you forget to be innovative.

The entire team actually WANTS my input.

This must be a mistake, right? What intern gets to share ideas with an entire group of professionals that are actually open to considering them? Sharing your suggestions can be such an intimidating thing (primarily due to a total lack of merit), but sharing them with the right group of people can make all the difference. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of my ideas are probably pretty bad. But, one thing I’ve learned at ADG is that some of the best ideas can stem from the worst ones. It’s been really refreshing to work with a group of professionals that are open to hearing my ideas and helping me learn. You don’t need 10,000 degrees to follow your passion and do an incredible job. When I think about my future, I tend to limit my possibilities based on my course of study. I am a Political Science and Journalism double major. So, essentially, that means I can either work in politics, public relations, or public relations for politicians. That’s it. After getting to know Erica a little bit more, I found that she is actually a Political Science major who learned the trade of public relations through personal experience. So, to summarize, one of the most competent people I have ever seen in the world of public relations and crisis management majored in something completely different in college. She’s a natural, and she uses her abilities to propel her even further into a world that she already has great success in, no marketing, public relations, or journalism degree required. Talk about empowering.

Doing your best work and having fun can go hand in hand.

One of my favorite things about ADG is that they are fun, free, and laid-back. They managed to create a relaxed and creative environment while maintaining the atmosphere and efficiency associated with complete professionalism. Since getting here, many of my days have included eyeing Rachel’s adorable outfits, watching Kevin do a crossword and eat Co-op food on his lunch break, laughing at Diane’s jokes, listening to a story about Derek’s little kid, playing with Brittany’s dog, or getting coffee with Erica. I’ve learned an incredible amount since the beginning of my internship, but I have also had a ton of fun.

So, to everyone who always told me that I can’t have my cake and eat it too: I am an intern doing what I love, learning more than I could’ve imagined, and hanging out with the coolest team in town. I have my cake, and I’m eatin’ it.

Side note: This blog post is filled with oxford commas because I like them. Take that, AP style police.


ADG Honored with Eight Awards from Hermes Creative

Has it really been almost a year since we posted to our blog? Yep, it has! And you know why? Allison Development Group has been exceptionally busy. Busier than busy and we’re happy to say that all of that hard work has paid off.

We have happy clients. And awards.

This should be an awards post and it sort of is, but it’s really about happy clients and in the process, doing great work that we also happen to love. That’s the real pay off. Oh, and we stay in business and grow with some really great people (visit Our Team page to see who’s with us!).

How does Allison Development Group measure success?

Last year was so busy that we didn’t even submit our work for any awards. Shame on us. However, we never really measure our success by the number of awards we receive. In fact, when work is cranking, that’s the last thing on our minds. What is always first and foremost and the thing that makes us have that happy, butterfly feeling in our stomach is knowing that the client is really happy with the work that we’ve done and at the same time, we’re ecstatic about the product we’ve created.

The secret in working with creatives

When you work with a creative group like ours, there are a few things to keep in mind. We don’t do this for the money. We do this because it’s really stinkin’ fun and it allows us to push boundaries, dream up new ideas, and if we’re lucky, turn those ideas into real things that mean something to our clients. That’s why we do what we do. Of course, getting paid helps and keeps us in business and we do just fine there. But for the creative in all of us – and yes, you do have it in you – there’s really nothing harder than going out on a limb, sharing it with someone important to you (could be your mom or your client), and they say, “I’m not getting it.” Shut. Down.

For the creative lifers (that’s us), we actually take that as a challenge and turn it around. Did we listen carefully to the client? Did we present our work in a convincing way, or in a way that conveyed the thought and time we took to create it? Did we take enough thought and time to create it? If we can’t answer with a resounding “yes!” to all of those questions, then we know we didn’t do our job and we didn’t provide value to our clients. We also push ourselves to nail it big time in the second round.

Thankfully, that doesn’t happen too often anymore. We take the time. We dig in and ask questions. We push each other. We also have amazing clients that give us creative license and the space we need to produce outstanding work.

The Awards

Ok, you’re right. We really are excited to have received recognition from Hermes Creative Awards. We are also thrilled to showcase our clients by highlighting their work. Take a moment to read who helped us win these awards and then if you know any of these businesses, let them know how proud you are of them. We sure are.

Platinum – 2 awards

o   Direct Mail Piece for Southeastern Sports Medicine & Orthopedics, a Department of Pardee Hospital

Allison Development Group Southeastern Sports Med and Ortho

o   Nonprofit Sponsorship Overview for Mainstay (now known as Safelight) Sponsorship Opportunities Booklet

Allison Development Group Mainstay Work

Gold – 3 awards

o   Annual Report developed for Children & Family Resource Center

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o   Logo for Tippi Mace Design

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o   Advertising Campaign for Pardee Urgent Care

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Honorable Mention – 3 awards

o   Motion Graphics for Dr. Pete Richards – Waterlase Pain-Free Dentistry (Cinema Slide)

o   Program Guide for NADO – the National Association of Development Organizations and their 2016 Annual Training Conference

o   Specialty Item developed for the launch of Monte’s Sub Shop & Taproom (Sandwich Board)

Interested in winning some great recognition with Allison Development Group? Give us a call at (828) 698-6918 or email us: info@allisondevgroup.com. We would love to help you!


Olympia Moto Sports: Lessons in Website Development

When Olympia Moto Sports first came to us, they already had what a lot of companies yearn for: stylish and quality products with a loyal following. What they didn’t have was a website that reflected this. While their old site had served its purpose for the past few years, the look was out of sync with the clean, modern brand that they are today. There was nothing modern or “cool” about it. And let’s be clear, when it comes to their products, OMS is the epitome of modern and cool. While OMS prides themselves on staying ahead of the curve with their motorcycle gear, their website was starting to feel left behind.

Olympia Moto Sports

THE GOAL: UPDATE VISUAL STYLE AND IMPROVE FUNCTION

In addition to modernizing and adding style to the website, the old site just didn’t function the way they wanted, and needed. The dealer locator was clunky, and the product gallery was hard to navigate. Not to mention that a lot of the helpful information customers came looking for was scattered over different pages and buried in long blocks of content. Want to know the best way to wash your new jacket? The information was there, but you had to look for a while.

THE CHALLENGE: MAKE THE SITE AS FUNCTIONAL AS POSSIBLE

When it comes to the functionality of the site, specifically the product catalog and the dealer portal, we had some challenges. There may be more than one way to skin a cat, but there are a hundred ways to deliver function to a website. We wanted options that would make life easier for everyone – functionality that made it easy for OMS to update and change products in the future, and for potential customers to find the information they needed.

OUR KEY TO SUCCESS: KEEP THE CLIENT INVOLVED. AND TRY, TRY, TRY AGAIN

It became clear early on that it was critical for the owners of OMS to be involved and up to date at all times. While some clients prefer to fade into the background and only view the site once it’s nearing completion, OMS was not that client. They had their own specific vision for the website and how it should work for their customers, and thankfully, they wanted to stay involved throughout the process. We had weekly meetings where often we would present the latest version of a dealer portal or product gallery that we had fallen in love with, only to have them point out that it was missing something of importance for their clients. We would hear comments like this: “Sure, that dealer portal looks great, but you can’t search by zip code. So now if a customer is riding across the desert and wants to check out our products, but doesn’t have a specific address because he’s in the middle of nowhere, what do they do?” It probably goes without saying that the scenario of a customer looking for products on his phone in the middle of the desert wasn’t one we had considered before.

The biggest lesson we learned is that while we may know communication and web design, the client knows their business. If the website doesn’t work for that business – and especially their clients – then it doesn’t work. Period.

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THE END RESULT: A STYLISH, YET HIGHLY FUNCTIONAL WEBSITE

After a few rounds of meeting where we analyzed the different functions for the website, we arrived at solutions that made everyone happy. Olympia Moto Sports’ products are displayed in a visually appealing and easy to navigate gallery, with complete information on each product, including videos and links to other helpful information.The new FAQ page features a variety of helpful information that has been condensed and organized, so it is easy to navigate and customers can find what they need to know quickly.The dealer locator offers a visual map that you can use to quickly locate a store near you, and yes, you can search by zip code if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and need some OMS products (assuming the internet is working- there are some things even we can’t fix).

In the end, everyone was a winner with this one. We were given free reign to add a modern style and visual design to the site, and the Olympia Moto Sports brand. The OMS owners (aka “the dream team”) were able to ensure at every step of the way that the website would function in just the way they had envisioned. The best part – the style and function work together perfectly, delivering the best experience for the Olympia Moto Sports fan and customer.

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ADG Celebrates 8 Years in Business

It’s hard to believe that Allison Development Group has been in business for eight years. It’s not that you don’t think your business will make it when you first start, you just don’t think about the actual number of years and what each one will feel like. Trust me, they’re each different and I can usually relate back to each one with a certain account, personal life occurrence (think baby #2 here), or periods of growth. Each one is a milestone and I’m happy to have eight under my belt now.

Photo courtesy of www.blueridgenow.com

Photo courtesy of www.blueridgenow.com

Tell us about what ADG was like when you first started.

It was as if someone fired a gun and said “go!” When you start off by yourself and you’re trying to take on as much work as possible to build your business, you’re going to be busy. It was fabulous, but a hard pace to keep up.

Why did you decide to start this business?

I have always been fiercely independent. I have worked for other people throughout my life. However, if you asked the people closest to me, I’m sure they would agree: I’m one of those people who enjoy being in charge and making things happen.

I also really enjoyed helping my clients bring their projects to life. At first, ADG was primarily focused on real estate development. In 2007, who wasn’t? I helped my clients evaluate their properties, create marketing concepts, and develop materials to sell those projects. It was an exciting time to be in that business – if you were in it, you were potentially helping shape the future of towns and communities by the developments that were to go in them.


Allison Development Group Receives MarCom Awards

MarCom AwardsIt’s pretty exciting around here – ADG was honored with Platinum, Gold, and Honorable Mention MarCom awards for our marketing and design work in 2014! The International MarCom Awards is a creative competition for the writing, concept, and design of print, visual, audio, and web material and programs. This year the MarCom awards received 6,000 entries from all 50 states in the United States, along with 34 countries. We were presented with awards for our work in special events, logo design, and video production in 2014.

ADG received top honors in the “Special Events” category for our work with Children and Family Resource Center’s “Speak Out for Kids 2014,” a community engagement campaign focused on involving local residents in bettering the lives of Henderson County youths. To refresh your memory throughout February and March of 2014, virtual and live conferences were held, designed to engage youth and the larger community in addressing gaps in services, understanding community priority areas, and providing opportunities for everyone to plug in and do more to help children in Henderson County. The campaign culminated in a live event on March 1, 2014 where ideas promoting these objectives were given cash awards towards implementation.

We were also honored with a Gold Award in the “Pro Bono” category for our recent re-design of the logo for Only Hope WNC, a non-profit dedicated to ending youth homelessness, and was given an Honorable Mention in the “Video / Nonprofit” category for their video production on the importance of farmers’ markets across the region, for their clients at MountainWise. 




Riteway Express: Lessons in Website Development

Riteway Express needed a website designed for an obvious reason: they didn’t have one. At all. You read that right; there are actually successful companies in the year 2014 that have no web presence whatsoever. Not only did they not have a website, but their office, which has been based in hard-copy paper for most of its existence, was beginning to struggle without any kind of digital capability. So they finally admitted what most people have known for years: to do business in the modern world, you’ve got to be online.

Riteway Express


Hashtags 101

If you have ever used social media, you have most likely seen the “hashtag.”

hash·tag /ˈhaSHtag / noun: (On social media sites such as Twitter) a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic.

In 2009, the hashtag impacted society like an atom bomb, quickly changing the course of the modern language. Ever since Twitter strung together the disconnect of key words with the hashtag, people have been able to easily search for key words or phrases that would open up connections to other relating articles or tweets. People’s thoughts and opinions were soon connected into a web of hashtags

  • Hashtags can stand alone as their own sentence: #TGIF (thank God it’s Friday)
  • Hashtags can also be used to suggest emotion: #lol (laughing out loud)
  • Or sarcasm and humor: #sorrynotsorry

The symbol became so widely used, that in 2012 the American Dialect Society declared it Word of the Year. It became so overused by nearly everyone that it was officially declared comic (well, not officially…just satirized perfectly by Jimmy Fallon and his pal Justin Timberlake).

The hashtag has become so immersed in our culture that even brides make it their top priority to create the perfect wedding hashtag (i.e. #WeSaidIDoOnJune2, #SallyandSamTietheKnot). A personalized hashtag creates a folder of photos and updates about the topic or event.
Companies have also caught wind of the hashtag. It has quickly become a popular marketing tool and is now present in various media outlets. Television shows will hashtag character names, movies will hashtag titles and events, and restaurants will hashtag special offerings. The symbol can stand as a marketing/branding/PR technique to promote campaigns while also allowing followers to interact with the company by posting pictures or voicing their opinion. And while this phenomenon first took place on Twitter, other platforms like Facebook and Instagram have joined the hashtag conversation as well.

Greenville, SC, used hashtags as the cornerstone of their plan to elevate the perception of Greenville and highlight recent changes that have been made to the city. By encouraging the use of the hashtag #YeahThatGreenville in partnership with a website of the same name, they took the combined forces of Greenville fans and residents to spread the word that Greenville is hip, young, cool and the place that everyone wants to be.

Yeah That Greenville


Inside Allison Development Group: Meet the Interns

It’s shaping up to be a busy summer at Allison Development Group, and we are thrilled to have our two interns, Katie Holbert and Claire Wilcox, here to help us get through it. We asked them a few questions to learn about their hopes for the summer, and so you could learn a little more about these new faces at our office. What surprised us by their responses was how much you might actually learn about ADG…an inside scoop so to speak.

Claire Wilcox, ADG Intern katie cropped

What do you hope to learn this summer?

Clarie: I hope to learn more about each client’s story and the way ADG helps solve their problems and promote their products. I also hope to learn more about each team members’ role in the company and the techniques and skills they utilize to help produce the finished product.

Katie: I hope to apply everything I learned in the classroom at Converse College into real projects.  I want to further my business education and get a feel for what marketing is and what it entails.

What has surprised you so far about working at ADG?

Claire: I have been so surprised by the closeness of each team member; you would think they’re family. Everyone enjoys each other’s company and has a fun time working together. But above all, I have been surprised at the effect of it. With everyone working together in such a generous and thoughtful attitude, the intricate details of every project are strung together in an efficient and timely manner.

Katie: I really enjoy the work environment at Allison Development Group.  Everyone communicates with one another extremely well and are constantly working as a team.


Stipe Design Joins Forces with Allison Development Group

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We’re thrilled to announce that Derek Stipe, of Stipe Design, has officially joined Allison Development Group as our Creative Director and key member of the leadership team. Working alongside Erica, these two will be charting a course for future growth, and delivering more awesome to more people.

Many of you already know Derek Stipe (as accurately represented in the photo). He’s an amazing graphic designer, musician, dad to two cool boys, and husband to a most amazing woman. 🙂

Derek has been serving up creative design to clients since 2009. We’ve been lucky enough to have him as our designer extraordinaire for almost two years, but not as an official ADG staffer.

Trust us, we secretly had plans to make him “one of us” one day. That day has come! To learn more about Derek, visit Our Team page, and stay tuned for more exciting updates to come!


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