Expanding the Hive: Beekeeper Group Welcomes New Bees

Beekeeper Group has grown significantly, and continues to grow with the addition of five new-bees. Account Manager Katarina Hamelin, Account Manager Leslie Carlson, Senior Visual Designer Johanna Ostrich, and Research Assistants Kali Ryan and Malena Lopez.

New-bees in the Hive! Big welcome to Johanna, Katarina, Kali, Malena, and Leslie.

New-bees in the Hive! Big welcome to Johanna, Katarina, Kali, Malena, and Leslie.

Join us in welcoming these new bees to the Hive!

  • Katarina Hamelin, Account Manager, joins us from SmithBucklin, where she served as a communications representative for nine non-profit organizations. While at SmithBucklin, she contributed to client-specific publications and assisted in the development and execution of a series of multi-faceted digital, print, and video campaigns. Katarina also assisted in the development, launch and monitoring of client-specific social media platforms, both building and maintaining their overall social media presence.
  • Leslie CarlsonAccount Manager, previously worked as the Communications Manager of Sister to Sister: The Women’s Heart Health Foundation, she managed social media pages, created content for the website, drafted fact sheets and newsletter items, and helping develop sponsorship proposals. Leslie has her Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations from Georgetown University and her Bachelor’s Degree in Corporate Communications from James Madison University. She enjoys spending her free time cooking, training for a variety of fitness events and cheering for her Boston teams- Go Sox!
  • Johanna Ostrich, Senior Visual Designer, loves using strategic design to help clients get their message out. Before joining Beekeeper Group, Johanna led the design team at Kaiser Permanente, where she created health care collateral focused on clear and simple messaging. She’s also worked with clients like the YMCA, Exposed DC, and the Sweetlife Music + Food Festival. Originally from Pensacola, FL, Johanna graduated from Tulane University with a BA in English and German. She also holds a Graphic and Web Design Certificate from the Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts.
  • Kali RyanResearch Assistantpreviously worked as a public relations and graphic design assistant for a town selectman running for state senate candidate. Before her work as a public relations and graphic design assistant, Kali interned at the US House of Representatives for Massachusetts Congressman, Richard Neal. Kali holds a background in graphic design and has had experience working with local businesses and more specifically, a San Diego based, non-profit organization, creating and designing the organization’s inaugural online web magazine. 
  • Malena Lopez-SoteloResearch Assistant, interned for the Member Advocacy Unit at Amnesty International USA and at the US House of Representatives through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and UGA’s Washington Program. Before her work with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Malena was an international scholar studying Arabic in Morocco and Urdu and Hindi in India.


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Beekeeper Group Wins 14 Communicator Awards

The 2014 Communicator Awards are recognition of work that “transcends innovation and craft – work that made a lasting impact.” We’re honored to announce that our team just won 14 individual Communicator Awards for the 2014 season. This would not be possible without the innovative and dynamic group of clients that we serve every day.

Communicator Awards


Among this list are two 2014 Gold Awards of Excellence for the categories of “Website – Business Blog” for our work with Lilly on their LillyPad Blog and “Website – Activism” for our work with another client, the Protect My Public Media campaign.

The diverse nature of these awards is a reflection of the array of clients that we service on a daily basis. The categories in which we won an award includes non-profit, corporate communications, associations, health and politics-oriented client sectors. It’s also worth noting that our wide range of service capabilities are also displayed, as we are recognized for everything from websites and blogs to our video and animation work.

Our full of awards includes the following:

Gold Award of Excellence


  • Website – Blog – Business category

Protect My Public Media Campaign

  • Websites – Activism

Silver Award of Distinction

Fix Medicare Now

  • Websites – Activism
  • Websites – Politics
  • Websites – Associations

Speak Now for Kids

  • Websites – Activism
  • Websites – Associations
  • Websites – Health
  • Websites – Charitable Organizations – Non-Profits
  • Online Video – Activism
  • Online Video – Politics


  • Websites – Corporate Communications

Protect My Public Media

  • Websites – Politics

DC By the Book

  • Website – Government

A special thank you to our staff here at the Hive who make these awards possible by producing top-notch work every day, to our growing number of supporters in the DC area and nationally, and to our clients who challenge and inspire us to tell their stories in new and substantive ways.

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All about bees | Press Coverage

New Senior Vice President Joins Beekeeper Group

Tom Donnelly

Beekeeper Group is thrilled to welcome Tom Donnelly to the team. With his breadth of knowledge ranging from digital campaigns and social media strategy to issues management, advocacy, and grassroots, Tom has already become an asset to the Hive.

Tom has more than 30 years of experience in government relations and public affairs andhas served in senior leadership roles at MXM SocialCQ Roll Call and Ketchum Public Relations. Most recently, he served as President of the public affairs and marketing firm, Clout Digital. Before that, he was Vice President of Public Affairs at MXM Social, where he was instrumental in the management of digital advocacy campaigns during the 2012 presidential election.

Tom also brings with him a deep understanding of the technology behind the tools needed to manage large public policy campaigns. As a director for CQ Roll Call’s Advocacy & Engagement practice he led efforts on enhancements to its flagship state legislative tracking service and grassroots and advocacy tools. In 2001, Tom co-founded Illumen, a start-up digital public affairs company that combined targeted news and legislative content with advocacy tools and techniques. Illumen was later acquired by CQ Roll Call.

Joining Tom in the ‘newbee’ club are Katie Loperfido, Sam Bays and Rebecca Moore. Katie hails from JDA Frontline, where she served as Assistant Digital Director of Communication. She joins Beekeeper as an Account Manager. Sam Bays, Beekeeper’s new Marketing Specialist, worked previously on the launch of the digital communications practice for McBee Strategic Consulting. Rebecca previously worked as an Associate for MWW Group. She joins Beekeeper as a Research Assistant.

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All about bees | Career Growth | Press Coverage | Uncategorized

PR Week Award


Beekeeper Group is honored and excited to announce that we have been named the 2014 PRWeek Boutique Agency of the Year. We are humbled to have even been among the finalists. We owe our clients a debt of gratitude; their campaigns give us the opportunity to utilize our strategy techniques and stretch our creative muscles.

The Beekeeper Group partners accepted the honor at the 15th annual PRWeek Awards in New York City this past March. Spanning agencies of all shapes and sizes, and comprising more than 35 different accolades, it’s easy to see why the PRWeek Awards have been dubbed the ‘Oscars of the communications industry.’

It is with great joy and gratitude that we share this news.  We look forward to continuing to serve our clients with the dedication and passion that earned us this recognition.


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Press Coverage

Pitching to Reporters: Pro Tips and Pet Peeves

Fighting for space on the front page challenges every organization, no matter the size or cause. Reporters receive hundreds of pitches each week with pushes to cover events, causes, or points of view. How can advocacy organizations break through the noise and get their issues represented?


Successfully pitching reporters holds the key to consistent, positive coverage for your cause. Before you step up your game with pro tips, there are a few basic principles to live by so you don’t irritate the reporters you’re trying to influence.

Avoid giving an intern a script without background information and just telling them to make calls. The person pitching needs to have a thorough understanding of the issue and the reporter they’re trying to reach. Don’t pitch without knowing what that reporter has written in the past. If they’ve written on a similar topic recently, you should be ready to explain how it connects and expands upon their past work. You never want an interested reporter to take a call from your organization only to have them find that the person they’re talking to can’t dive deeper and answer crucial follow-up questions.

Going in prepared will help to eliminate those reporter pet peeves, but what can you do to actively stand out from the crowd?

  • First, don’t reinvent the wheel! The tried and true press release with a follow-up call still works. In an effort to be heard, some organizations release long pressers that attempt to cram all information into one place. Press releases are strongest when limited to a paragraph with the what, when, and where at the top. Don’t try to do too much with it. If the reporter needs more information, they’ll call you.
  • Cultivate good press-organization relationships by developing a reputation as a go-to person. Become this go-to person by keeping in mind the reporter’s audience, knowing your issue deeply, and being an honest broker in your conversations with reporters.
  • Find a way to give them a unique angle. Reporters love an exclusive. If your story has a personal touch, share that with them. Offer to connect them to someone with a compelling story directly impacted by your issue. Use your expertise to develop intriguing answers to these questions: What makes your organization’s pitch different? What’s the argument? What’s sexy about this story?
  • Lastly, make their job easier. Compile fact sheets with sources for reporters. Your day may be crazy, but reporters have tight deadlines and if you don’t call back soon enough, your organization’s story won’t see the light of day. Your schedule should cater to theirs.

Even the most popular advocacy organizations aren’t immune from the battle for space on the front page, but using these tips and avoiding reporter pet peeves will help garner you success in advocating your organization’s messaging with the media. What pro tips or pet peeves would you add to this? Let us know in the comments section!

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Beekeeper Group Adds Five New Staff Members

With the increase in demand for our communications and advocacy services in the health and financial sectors, our three-year old DC-based public affairs agency has added five new staff members in the past month to our rapidly growing team.

It all started with five public affairs practitioners and an idea for a new public affairs venture; one that would lead the progression of the public affairs industry toward a community-based, hive-driven approach. More information on the partners of Beekeeper Group and their story here.

Flash forward to our third year in business, with a burgeoning client base and a diverse pool of staff talent. The past summer, Beekeeper Group added the positions of Account Director, Lead Developer, Creative Director, Videographer, and Account Coordinator.

Nick Walters, Brad Rizza, Charles Puliam-Moore, Lauren Fliegelman, and Jonathan Wilcox.

Nick Walters, Brad Rizza, Charles Puliam-Moore, Lauren Fliegelman, and Jonathan Wilcox.

Meet the talented new bees who filled these positions:

  • Brad Rizza, Account Director, was most recently at Widmeyer Communications and assists Beekeeper Group clients with strategic communications, digital media strategy and reputation management. Brad’s previous experience includes stints at Pappas Group, EyeTraffic Media, Discovery Communications, and Kieloch Consulting.
  • Nick Walters, Lead Developer, recently joined from local digital firm Engage. Nick is a master of the minimalistic yet semantic HTML, CSS, and Javascript.
  • Jonathan Wilcox, Creative Director, is a Michigan transplant with over a decade of experience in illustration and design, including work for Rutgers University. He will be now wielding his creative tools for Beekeeper’s creative services department.
  • Charles Pulliam-Moore, Videographer, has previously lent his video production and writing talents to Slate Magazine, NPR’s Metro Connection, PBS’s Planet Forward, and The George Washington University’s Hatchet news publication.
  • Lauren Fliegelman, Account Coordinator, brings to the table an array of communications and design skill. She had previously applied this knowledge as an intern in the communications department of FasterCures, a medical research think tank, while finishing up her MA in Public Communication at American University.

In other recent news, Beekeeper Group was recently honored with “Best in Show” recognition by the W3 Awards in their advocacy website category and the firm was also named a finalist in the PR News “Agency A List” awards.

“We are thrilled to have Brad, Nick, Jonathan, Charles, and Lauren join the Beekeeper team. They each  bring a skill set rooted in public affairs and emerging media that, when combined with the existing team, brings the level of service and strategy we provide to our growing client list to the next level.” – Mike Panetta, Partner at Beekeeper Group

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Beekeeper Group Wins Grassroots Innovation Award from Public Affairs Council for Mobile Application

Receipt of Grassroots innovation Award by Matt Haller, IFA vice president of Public Affairs and Chief of Staff to IFA President & CEO, Steve Caldeira.The Public Affairs Council awarded its top honor for innovation in grassroots innovation to the International Franchise Association (IFA) for their IFA Franchising Votes mobile application developed by Beekeeper Group in support of IFA’s 2012 Public Affairs Conference.

“We are honored to receive this award that recognizes the power of grassroots within the franchising community,” said Matt Haller, IFA vice president of Public Affairs and Chief of Staff to IFA President & CEO, Steve Caldeira. “Working with Beekeeper Group we were able to develop and deploy powerful tools that our members could use to communicate IFA’s message to lawmakers. The app’s integration with social media amplified our ability to promote the economic impact of the franchising industry in every state and congressional district.”

“We are very proud of our client and thankful for the opportunity to work with them on this award-winning grassroots innovation,” said Mike Panetta, Partner at Beekeeper Group.  “We are all increasingly living in a world where there is no ‘offline’ any more. The ubiquity of mobile devices and the increasing speed of wireless connections enable organizations to develop and distribute robust tools that create powerful opportunities for associations and issue groups to advance their causes.”

The IFA Franchising Votes application empowered the IFA franchisee membership by providing all the tools needed for effective grassroots lobbying within a single mobile platform. Using this application, IFA members were able to:

  • Review organizational talking points to ensure IFA presented a unified message on key issues in meetings with legislators
  • View conference and congressional meeting schedules
  • Watch videos from organizational leadership related to IFA’s issues
  • Consult congressional directories and Wikipedia entries to gain additional intelligence on Members of Congress before meetings
  • Submit feedback from meetings with legislators
  • Monitor social media posts that were using the event’s hashtag, #franchisingvotes

The application increased the “public echo” of the franchisee’s efforts on Capitol Hill. By using Franchising Votes, IFA members were able to generate social media content related to the conference that would be automatically appended with the appropriate hashtag and posted on the member’s Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare profiles. Through IFA Franchising Votes their members could:

  • Provide status updates on to Twitter and Facebook related to congressional meetings
  • Post Videos or photos from the events to Twitter and Facebook
  • Check-in at Foursquare locations that were curated by IFA, such as House and Senate office buildings, the U.S. Capitol, or the IFA Public Affairs Conference

The application was available as a free download via the iTunes and Google Play stores, for iPhones and Android devices respectively.

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Beekeeper Group Wins Two W3 Awards and a Telly

The W3 Awards, which honor “creative excellence on the web” for videos, websites and marketing programs, recently recognized Beekeeper Group for our work with two outstanding organizations. The advocacy testimonial video we produced for the American Heart Association, “You’re the Cure: 30 Years of Building Healthier Lives through Advocacy,” won in the category of Web Videos – Activism. We also received an award for our work on the website Yes on Y in the category of General Websites – Politics.

We were also recently honored with a Telly Award for our work on the National Academy of Public Administration’s “Our Fiscal Future” animation. The video won in the category of Political Online Video. Click here to watch that video.

Beekeeper Group enjoys teaming up with clients to create high-quality digital projects, and it is even more rewarding when organizations like W3 and Telly recognize our work.

Yes on Y: W3 Awards Winner, General Websites – Politics.w3-awards

Yes on Y: W3 Awards Winner, General Websites – Politics.

Our Fiscal Future: Telly Award Winner, Political Online Video.

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Beekeeper Group Lobby Day App Featured in CEO Update

The International Franchise Association’s use of Beekeeper Group’s innovative Lobby Day app was recently featured in the influential publication CEO Update. You can read the full article here:

IFA Pioneers Paperless Fly-in with New Lobby Day App
Trade group forgoes printing 500 congressional directories; some early users tweet, post and check in about their Hill visits
(subscription required)

Beekeeper Group worked with IFA to develop a customized version of our standard Lobby Day application that allowed attendees of their 2012 Public Affairs Conference to have everything they needed for effective lobbying right in the palm of their hand, wrapped in the branding and messaging of the organization.

The article cites the experience of one franchisee, which is a typical use case of activists using the Lobby Day application during Congressional visits:

“Moments after meeting with his congressman, Tom Epstein spread the news using a new app customized for the International Franchise Association. He hit the “Share” icon on his iPhone, and with a few clicks sent a tweet, posted on his Facebook page and checked in on Foursquare, all using the #franchisejobs hashtag.”

By using the Lobby Day app, not only did IFA save resources by not having to print hundreds of Congressional directories that would have been obsolete within a few months, it empowered their members to spread the word about their activies in Washington and the issues they cared about through their own networks via integration with major social media channels.

According to the article, IFA is already planning on using the app next year. “This was kind of a beta test,” said Matt Haller, FA vice president of public affairs. “We think it was a home run from that standpoint.”

You can see a demo of Beekeeper Group’s Lobby Day in the both the iTunes and Google Play app stores. To arrange a demo or for more information, please contact Mike Panetta at mikep@beekeepergroup.com or at (202) 540-8787.

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Client Work | Digital Tactics | Press Coverage | Social Media

How Activism & Social Media Landed Me in TIME Magazine

We at Beekeeper Group often tout the benefits of social media for bringing traditional media attention to your association/corporation/nonprofit, but now I have a unique and personal case study.

You’ve probably heard of Uber – a new on-demand car service that delivers a luxury sedan to your exact location via GPS with the touch of a mobile app for just slightly more than the cost of a taxi.  Of course, the DC Taxi Cab Commission wasn’t very pleased when this innovative car service launched in DC, leading to a “sting operation” performed by DC Cab Commissioner Ron Linton in an attempt to shut down the service.

Fearful that the lack of regulations on something that is not quite a “taxi” and not quite a “car service” could stunt this successful step in innovation, I joined the fight to save Uber! A Twitter hashtag, a Facebook group, and a few tweets from my @DCconcierge account later, I was helping to lead the campaign against Mr. Linton’s attempts to shut Uber DC down.

Yes, Uber is alive and well today.  But the story continued, since the battle that started on Twitter and Facebook was later picked up by local blogs, and then, the likes of TIME magazine.  And when the journalist Andrew Ferguson was doing his research for a story on the DC social scene, he discovered my name from those stories and reached out.

Sure, there were many others declaring their verbal support for Uber among friends and colleagues, but that doesn’t always reach search engines.  If anything, this experience solidifies my belief that you need to take your voice to social media to both amplify your message and carry it to mainstream media channels.

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Digital Tactics | Press Coverage | Social Media