Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Jackalope Wins Big at 2015 AAF- Black Hills American Advertising Awards

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2015 at 9:32 am

Rapid City marketing and communications firm Jackalope won 5 gold and 4 silver American Advertising Awards for work entered in print, video, cinematography, and design categories at the 2015 Black Hills American Advertising Awards.

The agency also won a Judge’s Choice award for the Jackalope Identity program, a People’s Choice Award for Black Hills Ammunition’s integrated campaign, and the “Tommy Award,” Best of Show for the Jackalope Identity program. This marks the fifth time in seven years that the agency has been awarded the evening’s top honor.

Notable marketing firms and in-house departments with wins at this year’s AAF-Black Hills American Advertising Awards included TDG Communications, Clark & Company, Inc., Regional Health, and Rapid City Convention & Visitors Bureau. Carol Brown, Black Hills Federal Credit Union Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, was named the Silver Medal Award Winner.

The 2015 American Advertising Awards were judged by nationally recognized creative directors from Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska firms Bailey Lauerman, B2 Interactive, and Bozell.

Gold Award in Sales Promotion + Elements of Advertising, Cinematography – Black Hills Ammunition Brand Video


Gold Award in Non-Traditional Advertising-
Black Hills Ammunition Pop Up Trail Signage


Gold Award in Advertising Industry, Self Promotion-
Jackalope Logo


Judge’s Choice Award- Jackalope Identity Program

BHA Ultimate Survivor Bug Out Bag

BHA Ultimate Survivor Bug Out Bag

BHA Pop Up Trail Signage

BHA 2015 Product Catalog

BHA 2015 Product Catalog

People’s Choice Award- Black Hills Ammunition Integrated Campaign

Screen shot 2015-02-16 at 4.03.10 PM10830892_10152699398778977_4665113744280995009_o

Best of Show “Tommy” Award- Jackalope Identity Program

View all 2015 AAF-Black Hills American Advertising Awards Winners here


Black Hills New Powerhouse Loads for 2015-

In Uncategorized on February 1, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Black Hills Ammunition has been producing top-quality reloaded rounds for decades as well as superb factory-new ammo. For 2015, the company is offering several new loads that cover all the bases.

First up is Black Hills’s new .338 Lapua Magnum, which features the 250-grain Nosler AccuBond bullet. While Black Hills has traditionally offered .338 Lapua Magnum ammo in target or match loadings previously, this new load, part of its Gold line, is geared more toward hunting. It should be able to tackle big game like bears, elk and moose with ease.

Black Hills also has a new .308 Winchester load featuring the 168-grain Sierra Tipped MatchKing (TMK) bullet, a polymer-tipped bullet with a high ballistic coefficient for greater terminal performance on target. It’s designed for a flat, long-range trajectory and extreme accuracy. Black Hills is also offering a 5.56mm NATO load with a 69-grain Sierra TMK bullet for this same purpose.

Another of Black Hills’ new 5.56mm loads features the 70-grain GMX (Gilding Metal eXpanding) bullet from Hornady. This bullet is designed to expand rapidly yet retain nearly 100 percent of its weight while providing deep penetration. It’s great for game (where legal) and law enforcement, as it can go through many common barriers.

See more at:

Oh, Don Draper. If only it was that easy.

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2010 at 7:50 am

Photo Credit: AMC

American Movie Classics, the cable network known as AMC, has pulled back the curtain on what really goes on in an ad agency. Not because it created an award-winning ad campaign, but rather by reintroducing Madison Avenue to America via the industry’s golden age, the 1960s. Mad Men has also launched everything from social media blogs and interactive casting calls for the show to an iPhone app designed to tap into popular vintage cocktails—one of the tools of the fictional trade. And, well, the not-so-fictional one too.

The show’s popularity reminds me of why I love going to the occasional cocktail party. Now, when someone lights a cigarette, and asks, “What do you do?”, all I have to say is, “Advertising.” More often than not, this answer elicits a string of non-related follow-up questions: Do you all still drink and have affairs and plot to stab others in the back? “Why, yes, of course.” I say with a wink that says otherwise.

Rarely do my dinner companions engage in deeper conversation regarding design or social media or brands. I’m fairly certain it’s because most folks believe that Don Draper’s perfect coif is the beginning and end of any ad-related topic. Back to the dinner party conversation. It usually goes something like this. Everyone’s seen an ad, right? (Collective nod.) We all know a good ad when we see one, yes? (Assorted yawns.) All right, what do you say we just skip over that talk on branding? (Glazed eyes.) End of conversation. Pass the crème brûlée.

Simply put, it can be difficult to explain branding in terms that just about anyone can understand. And no matter how well you define it, the sound of Don Draper striking another match will likely sound, ahem, sexier. Certainly sexier than the definition found on Google: “Branding is a traditional advertising method used to elicit latent response from a target based on cumulative impressions and positive reinforcement.”  Accurate, yes, but if it’s that complicated to read, not many will do what it takes to apply those principles to their business. So, for the sake of simplicity, let’s boil it down to its essence: A brand is the sum of everything you do. This includes anything or anyone that comes into contact with the consumer on your behalf. Branding is the packaging on your product; it’s the way you answer your phone; it’s the clothes you wear; the search function on your website; the wording on your performance reviews; the shape of your business card; and the Franklin Gothic typeface in your ads. Basically; it’s everything beneath the surface that supports your messaging.

To put this in perspective, let’s consider a few variables in a typical purchase decision: price, packaging, perceived value, color/shape, shelf placement, celebrity endorsement, product features, distribution, word-of-mouth, consumer reports, promotions/incentives and values/lifestyle match. Obviously, branding cannot carry the entire burden of sales. However, what branding can do is even better. Branding can set the stage for selling, by starting a relationship between your business and the consumer. As any salesperson worth his or her salt will tell you, sales are always built upon relationships.

In less complicated times, brands were simply used to identify cattle. In English lexicon, the word “brand” originally meant anything hot, like a burning stick. By the Middle Ages, it became common practice to burn marks into livestock to identify the owner. In the process, a proliferation of brands emerged, making it necessary to record them in books that local ranchers could carry in their back pocket. Laws were passed requiring registration of brands and the inspection of cattle driven through various territories. Penalties were often imposed on those who failed to obtain a bill of sale with the corresponding brands of the animals purchased.

Today’s media landscape would be much easier to sort out with a brand book. Magazines have branched into hundreds of specialty titles. TV and radio have grown to hundreds of channels each. And the Internet has become a huge, potentially overwhelming source for news, music and entertainment. As a result, media outlets have been forced to focus on a niche like a laser. Whether it’s Mad Men, NPR, The Wall Street Journal or XM Radio, much of today’s media content is keenly tailored for a well-researched and narrow market. Media has been splintered, and there’s no going back. Is this a good thing as it applies to brands? My guess is that most consumers would say that it undoubtedly is—there are better options, custom-fit to varied lifestyles. And most advertisers would say that it undoubtedly is not—it’s simply harder and harder to truly connect with potential consumers who are fine-tuning their radar against the constant barrage of messaging.

So, what is a business to do in this rapidly-changing-highly-evolved-tricked-out world? It must devote time and effort to better defining their brand as it pertains to its target audience. Despite all the changes, nearly every medium still has its merits. Rather than trying to use them all, which is what advertisers used to do, businesses need to do what the media have done. They need to focus. The days of a company being all things to all people are over. Those responsible for branding need to understand—truly and deeply understand—whom they are trying to reach. Then they must craft a compelling—truly compelling—messaging platform to touch those people.

So, what’s your brand? If you’re like many small business owners, you don’t have one. That’s okay. You’re in the majority. Most people don’t expect you to have one. Instead, they expect you to just fade away into obscurity. Your job now is to find out who you really are. Think of what embodies your work, something you can stick to. Then find out what you need to do to make it a reality. And if you are seeking a truly intoxicating Don Draper-like experience, consider hashing it out over a three-martini lunch.

Jason Alley is principal of Message, a full-service marketing & communications firm in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Know Your Audience

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2010 at 9:03 pm

This is South Dakota. Which contrary to popular belief, isn't near Georgia.

“Where are you from?” one couple asked me during a stay in Lake Tahoe, CA.  When I replied, “South Dakota”, they promptly nodded their heads and she said, “I thought so, I could tell by your accent”.  This struck me as particularly funny, since I did not think I spoke with an accent. Later they confessed that they thought South Dakota was somewhere near Georgia! I admit I wasn’t sitting by a geography whiz, but we all must confess that we make mistakes when we are talking to people whether we intend to or not.

Mistakes matter in the marketing world. Not only should we know our geography, we also need to know a slew of other demographics like ethnic background, age and income. And hey, how about what do your customers want or need and who makes the spending decisions on products?

Once of the key elements of marketing is to know your audience.  The company I work for basically serves South Dakota and in a few places we barely cross over the borders of Wyoming and Nebraska.  The South Dakota Quick Facts from the US Census Bureau lists SD with 9.9 persons per square mile.  Definitely, we qualify as rural; this gives a whole new meaning to the word remote.  We definitely do not live in the land of skyscrapers, stiletto heels and Armani suits.

There is nothing more frustrating to receive than advertisements for products you cannot receive or when you are in business dealing with solicitors from entities you do not serve.  Case in point, every year we receive solicitation calls from the Fraternal Organization of Yada Yada.  When these folks call I ask them where they are calling from, the answer is usually Houston, TX.  My next question is what percentage of the funds return to South Dakota?  Well, at this point the caller is on the defense and their offense is to repeat information previously supplied and not answer the question.  This only makes it easier to thank them for calling and discontinue the call.  Get it? They know nothing about the company and we are not their customer. They do not know their audience.

You need to take the time to know your audience to keep them from disconnecting. Before each marketing campaign we sit down to identify what we are promoting, what the campaign entails, why we are promoting this product and who will receive the product information.  Not altogether far from the infamous Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How we were taught in grammar school. We try to be extremely careful and only advertise to customers that can actually receive our products.

Who are you talking to? What are you providing? Where are you located? Why do you need this product? And, how can I make it happen for you?  All of which is said in my best South Dakota drawl.

Thanks to our guest contributor Becky Drury, Traffic Coordinator, Telecommunications Company in SD.

Black Hills Film Festival – May 14-16 – Hill City

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2010 at 3:46 am


We knew what we were getting into when we launched the Black Hills Film Festival – we’ve all worked in film and have organized events before.  What we didn’t imagine was just how much support and enthusiasm we would receive from our community.  It seems that this is the right time and place for this event to happen.

Our aim with the Festival is to promote film in this area and call attention to our great location and also make our communities more aware of film as an art form.  We had over 70 films submitted to the Festival and it was a really hard task to narrow the list down to 40 which we will screen.   Audiences will experience short films, historical pieces, indigenous-themed films, films made by South Dakota filmmakers and movies from filmmakers around the world.

We also wanted to do something for the Filmmakers. Judges from Los Angeles and the East Coast are choosing “best” films in each of 5 categories, with the winning filmmakers receiving a cash award and bronze statuette.  We’ve also planned educational sessions on “Filmmaker Friday” at Crazy Horse that will be really spectacular! Here’s the lineup:

· Panel discussions on Film Distribution and Niche Marketing for the Web.

· Acting workshop conducted by Hollywood actor Gary Graham (Star Trek, Alien Nation)

· Two Artists from Industrial Light & Magic (Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Star Trek), will be talking about Computer Graphics, Animation and Modeling for film.

· Special guest Viki Psihoyos will discuss the making of the 2009 Academy Award® winning Documentary “The Cove”.

These seminars are free with your filmmaker pass. Passes can be purchased at

Sponsored by Heart of the Hills Economic Development Corporation, Prairie Berry Winery and Krull’s Market

The Black Hills Film Festival is a South Dakota non-profit organization operating in partnership with the Hill City Arts Council, a 501(c)3 organization. The South Dakota Film Office, a component of the South Dakota Department of Tourism and State Development, sponsors the event and is in full support of the inaugural festival and its activities.

What Is Our Local Culture Worth To You?

In Uncategorized on February 12, 2010 at 6:11 pm

The Black Hills Playhouse has been the topic of some rather lively conversation in circles that I frequent as of late. Should it stay? Should it go? Should it move to, er, Hill City? In my opinion, the real question goes beyond those asked above. It’s this — What is our local culture worth to you?

The trouble with culture as we have come to think of it is that it’s something to support rather than enjoy. We’ve become a society that will do almost anything to show we’re behind a cause. Check out Facebook. I’m sure you’re a fan of something. I am. Oh, and Twitter? Just click the follow button and magically do your part in one fell swoop. Sure, both are relevant means of communication in today’s overcomplicated world. But taking real and tangible action is needed now more than ever. I have a tough time believing that virtual fandom is our only hope for saving the Playhouse.

Fortunately, beyond the reach of Facebook and Twitter, the best cultural endeavors have street cred — some kind of soul rooted in something real and authentic. But cred doesn’t come without a thorough understanding of the nuance of the true believer. Because whatever the cause, true believers are the ones that ultimately define what belongs and what doesn’t.

To this point, I chatted with a traveler this past summer. Obviously, he was stoked about the trip. The weather was darn near perfect. The kids were into bison. His wife enjoyed the winery. It was apparent his family were true creatures of habit. After all, this was the fifth trip in as many years. He went on to explain that when they find something they really like, they stick with it like a Labrador retriever. Over and over and over again. But then he mentioned the Playhouse. The drive. The setting. The fact that you must go out of your way to find it. To him, it was different. Unique. And not one of those charming summery productions you can find anywhere else. He claimed this was the reason they often return.

My point in sharing this story is that there are millions of consumers steadily gravitating towards these kinds of experiences and they are defining trends for many others. Defining authenticity is an exercise in futility. But be assured that is what a lot of people are craving. And for a South Dakota economy so reliant on travelers, this point should not go easily ignored.

So, where do we go from here? It’s fairly obvious the Playhouse is going to have to pass one helluva a sniff test. I wish I could give you a simple answer on how we can save it, but there isn’t one. In all likelihood, the best course of action is to constantly remind people of the many cultural forms we support without blinking an eye.

Schools were once deemed an artsy, avant-garde notion which many believed to be just a novel concept. Yet, today education is one of the most important employment classifications in our country. Or the public library which houses numerous art forms and enriches the lives of many in our community. Have you ever looked at your library card and said, “Gee, I’m just not feeling this place anymore. Wanna tear it down?”

And let’s not forget museums, parks and public golf courses. All cultural activities that in their own way have become public utilities. All of which we support as a matter of course. Many of us feel merit in using them and others don’t feel guilt in choosing not to. Will there ever be a time when we feel the same about the Black Hills Playhouse? Perhaps. But for the time being, a septic tank stands in the way. And yes, sadly, I used “septic tank” in a sentence about culture.

Jason Alley is principal of Message, a full-service marketing & communications firm in Rapid City, South Dakota

Do You Know What People Are Saying About Your Business Online?

In Uncategorized on January 25, 2010 at 4:31 pm

When we stopped in Rawlins, WY, around 8:00pm, a few days before Christmas, we had one thing in mind: find a place to stay for the night after driving from Spearfish, SD, on our way to California.  We didn’t have lodging reservations and planned on driving into whatever town we came to, then catching some WI-FI and going straight to so that we could choose the best place to stay for our family (had to have an indoor pool!) based on customer ratings.

Now, it’s not like there are hundreds of motels to choose from in Rawlins, but based on the 20 reviews on Tripadvisor, we choose the Holiday Inn
Express which was the 2nd highest rated motel.  The reason we didn’t choose the #1 rated hotel?  We happened to be in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express so that made the choice very easy.  We were not disappointed either.  By knowing the average room rate, the fact that we saw the great photos of the pool, knew that breakfast was included and the fact that we were there late, we were able to negotiate a great deal and enjoyed our stay.

Why should marketers care?  This is only the tip of what is possible as far as online customer ratings and, even more importantly, opportunities for mobile location marketing. Say, for example, while I was jumping onto and checking out the reviews for the Holiday Inn Express, a pop-up window came up on my laptop that said, “Thank you for using our free WI-FI.  If you come in within the next 30 minutes, we’ll give you a room for $79 and a free pay per view movie?”  As a consumer looking for a great deal, that would have been perfect!  Maybe too Big Brother?  Perhaps, but we will start to see the incorporation of more ‘social’ marketing occurring in our day to day lives and it will become more and more acceptable.  Smart businesses take note.

Consider where users share cool things to do and see in their hometown.  Your business wants to be listed here! is a platform that is a cross between a friend finder and a social city guide, according to the website.  It’s new but growing and should be considered.

As well, think about Yelp Monocle, the first Augmented Reality (AR) for the iPhone. Yes, business owners, perk up!  Once you shake your iPhone three times (and clap twice, and whistle once – not really, but you do have to shake your iPhone three times!), you have access to a free app that allows you to point your iPhone down the street and up pops business names, addresses AND customer generated reviews overlaid on your camera screen.  Robert Scoble, of, makes some interesting comments as to why Facebook should buy Yelp during an interview with Mark Evans (Social Media Minute) where he talks about the concept of taking the Yelp model further with Facebook. In Scoble’s scenario, he ponders seeing businesses your friends really like – because they clicked ‘like’ in Facebook, as you point your iPhone down the street.  Imagine how interactive decision-making would be!  For example, you could be in a city 500 miles away yet see on your phone that an old high school pal of yours loved Hotel A for it’s hip bar but suggests to ask for a room away from the street while a past co-worker recommends the spicy tuna roll, at a new sushi restaurant two blocks away.  All of this from your phone and from your friends.  Will this make the static reviews from sites like TripAdvisor from ‘people you don’t even know’ seem unfriendly and old school?  Only time and technology will tell.  It’s coming and businesses, particularly in the restaurant and tourism industry to start, should take note.

Five quick things marketers can do now:

– Know where your company or product is listed online

– Set up a monitoring program for consumer online comments and input

– Respond in a timely manner to online criticism

– Encourage loyal customers to provide online reviews

– Keep up to date on new technology that can help your business.

It doesn’t have to be overwhelming but the consideration and planning of online and mobile reviews and ratings should be another part of your businesses marketing mix.  Your competitors are doing it or they will be, so why shouldn’t you?

Over the last 20 years, Michelle Kane, has held leadership positions in marketing, advertising, management and process improvement and is currently the Marketing Director for the law firm of Lynn, Jackson, Shultz & Lebrun, P.C.  She contemplates daily on new media, environmental issues, human dynamics and believes that through true collaboration and commitment, anything is possible.

Make It Merry For More

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Many of the world’s problems can be solved when we do our part to fight poverty. This year we have simplified our annual holiday card and are making a donation to help. Surely, you can do the same.

To this end, we will collect used winter coats donated by like-minded individuals across the Black Hills for those in need at the Cornerstone Rescue Mission. Clean out your closet, pick up the phone and we’ll pick up the coats at your home or business between December 14-17.

How to get involved-

Call (406) 599-3882
Drop us a line at
Mark a pickup location on the map provided:
Donate directly to the Cornerstone Rescue Mission:

Preserving local tourism for the sake of local tourism

In Uncategorized on June 9, 2009 at 4:15 am

Photo courtesy of Aaron Packard Photography

Photo courtesy of Aaron Packard Photography-

Anyone well-versed in the art of travel knows that the caveat in going from one place to another is not in coping with differences but in finding them. And in today’s world of selfsame strip malls, chain restaurants and big box stores it becomes harder and harder to tell one place from another. It’s no different in the Black Hills. Our unique destinations (granite peaks and abundant wildlife) are frequently passed over for instant gratification (water slides and mega resorts). I often wonder if our region would benefit from living outside our comfort zone of what’s easy, what we’re good at and what we hope to gain.

Generally speaking, marketing efforts touting the Black Hills should be commended. Our target audience is solid. We resonate with them. And we live up to our brand promise. But over time, I’ve come to see greater potential in tourism. Done right, we have the ability to preserve this place while maintaining and encouraging the differences that make us who we are.

No matter what side you land on in this debate, the proper analogy is that it’s hard to fully appreciate the Hills when your only experience with the place is a quick jaunt up and down Highway 16 or dare I say, a late night round of mini golf. And while these attractions prove enjoyable for millions of visitors and locals alike, low impact tourism efforts could also enhance the enjoyment of our area and contribute greatly to the bottom line of our local economy.

If this sounds too simple – or too complicated – it’s neither, really. It’s about getting out there. Trying something different. Taking a back road. And if you’ve been to Keystone, making a point to visit Silver City or Deerfield or even Pringle for that matter.

It’s all in the attitude, really. So the next time you’re planning a hike, ditch Harney Peak for Bear Mountain. Or if you’ve ticked another tourist spot off the list, opt for a Sunday afternoon jam session at Rochford’s Moonshine Gulch. And if the closest you’ve come to our local food movement is the end of a fast food line, consider pairing a glass of Red Ass Rhubarb with a plate of South Dakota Nosh while lounging on Prairie Berry Winery’s outdoor patio.

Sure, we all have our comfort zones. But as obvious as it seems, it helps to be reminded: We have something worth preserving here. Let’s entice others to get out of their element and discover it. In the end, we’ll all be better off for that.

Jason Alley is principal of Message, a full-service marketing & communications firm in Rapid City, South Dakota

We’re an ad agency. Hi.

In Uncategorized on May 20, 2009 at 6:12 pm