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Check out our blog for industry related posts focused on helping you achieve your advertising and communication goals.

So, your emails are being blocked?

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Do you send email newsletters and announcements to your customers?If so, do your subscribers sometimes tell you they’re not getting your emails? It happens more often than you think and, most of the time, you have no way of knowing it unless the recipient checks their junk or spam folder.

There are some things you can do, however, to help prevent your emails from going unread even before they land in an inbox.

Watch your language. We’re not talking about curse words, although you may feel like including a few of those when your emails continue to go undelivered to inboxes. Spam filters look at an email as a whole and set limits for certain criteria. If the email hits that limit, it won’t get delivered. Things that can increase your chance of sending “spammy” content include frequent, random capitalization or an email composed entirely of capital letters. Watch for any strange spacing or excessive white space, poor spelling, and scam-like subject lines (i.e. fast, free money).Spam test your email. You should always test your email blast before you send it out to make sure it looks and sounds the way you intend upon delivery. In addition, run your email through a spam test like MessageLabs or Spam Assassin.Ask subscribers to add you to their safe sender list. Most major email providers like Gmail, yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL use automatic filters to detect unwanted email. They analyze past emails, who sent them, how the recipient interacted with them and more trigger points to label an email as spam and prevent its delivery. Ask your subscribers to add your email address or domain to their safe sender list. The best time to do this is in your introductory email or to your subscription confirmation page.

Finally, ask your I.T. professional to authenticate your sending domain, and don’t send from a free webmail address. In this case, there is a bit of truth to the adage of, “you get what you pay for.”

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Five Tips for Your Next TV Interview

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If the thought of doing a TV interview makes you think you’d rather schedule a root canal, keep reading. It’s actually far easier than you may think. Here are some tips to make it virtually pain free. I promise.

Identify three main points you want to get across, and practice articulating them, most important first. Make punchy and concise statements. Think “sound bites.”Practice with a colleague or in front of a mirror. Your goal is to maintain eye contact and start and end your statements without droning on.When you begin answering a reporter’s question, restate that question and make sure it’s a complete sentence. Instead of saying, “Really fun and the opportunity of a lifetime,” say “Skydiving for the first time at age 85 was fun and the opportunity of a lifetime.”Be personable and expressive. Look at the reporter or photographer, not at the camera unless otherwise instructed to do so. Speak as if having a conversation, using a smile when appropriate and hand gestures to accentuate your points.Assume the reporter would appreciate any background you feel comfortable sharing. Newsrooms are busy places and reporters are even busier, often given stories to cover with no time to prep. Help the reporter by talking generally about the topic before your interview starts. It’ll also give you a chance to better understand the reporter’s angle on the story.

Ultimately, if you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to say so and offer to follow up with the reporter via phone, if appropriate.

Ask what time the story will air. If you miss it, you can probably catch it on the station’s website. Watch it and remember you’re your own worst critic. Do take note of public comments online to see what points resonated with viewers. It will help hone your message for next time!

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Top 5 Tips for Building Your Personal Brand

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When looking up the word “brand” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, you’ll find eight definitions – in the marketing world, brand holds one meaning. A client’s brand is the foundation of all projects, designs and messaging developed in-house. But, what about personal brands? That’s right, PEOPLE have brands, too.

We’re not talking Kylie Jenner’s line of Kylie Cosmetics, we’re talking a public image, reputation and/or identity of oneself. Think about it... politicians, professional athletes and Hollywood stars have brands... so, why don’t you?

Here are our top 5 tips for building your personal brand:

Invest in YourselfInvesting in yourself doesn’t always mean spending money. Take time for yourself and:

Set goals!Attend classes and seminars!Invest time in YOUR creativity!

Know What You Stand ForIn a world constantly telling us what to believe, decide what YOU believe in and why. Start by asking yourself these questions:

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AD AGE ad shows ADAGE to Be True…Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder.

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I have two teenage daughters and a pre-teenage son. They notice people of the opposite sex and tease each other over “crushes” and who is “hot” at school.

As parents, we try to teach beauty is more than skin deep but it’s hard with today’s mass media and ever-changing trends pushed out by modern day celebrities.

Imagine my surprise when one of my daughters told me recently that a larger backside is actually desirable these days—what?! That floored me almost as much as learning “mom jeans” were back in style. Who would have imagined those of us who lived through the mom-jeans era would ever have to see it again? Ugh.

My oldest daughter, who also happens to have Down syndrome, thinks just about any person of the opposite sex is attractive...tall, short, bald, bushy, young, old. At this point in her 17-year-old life, she’s not very discerning.

She’s actually very accepting of others’ looks. (And perhaps a bit boy crazy.)

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So, You're Looking to Hire a Marketing Firm... Now What?

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So, you’re looking for a firm to handle your creative and communication services... but where do you start? How do you know if one firm is better suited for your company compared to another? Selecting a firm for your specific needs is unlike most business purchases. The choice will ultimately affect consumer perception and any future business.

As a firm that has successfully handled hundreds of clients over the past twenty years, we can give you a little insight on the work it takes to hire an external addition to your creative team.

WHAT & WHENBefore reaching out to a marketing communications firm, determine a set of objectives your business is looking to accomplish. Sometimes it goes beyond needing a new website or increasing public relations. A set of creative professionals can help you meet your objectives by giving viable suggestions that will aid in your business’s success.

Second, set a deadline. Keep in mind, different projects require more time than others. Allow for more than ample time for production. Extra time helps accommodate review sessions and a few rounds of edits that will likely occur.

Before diving in, set a budget. Continue to be upfront about your budget when meeting with agencies. A budget will let them know what they have to work with and allow for an honest conversation on whether or not your budget is reasonable. Be prepared to potentially scale back your wish list or increase your budget, as needed.

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The Top 5 Reasons PR Opens the Door of Your Business to New Customers

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The phrase “if you build it, they will come” might be a good mantra if you’re expecting ghosts of businesses past to show up, but, more realistically, a new (and old) business shouldn’t count on an open sign to garner business. That’s where public relations can step in.

Here’s our top five reasons why every business can benefit from PR.

Build Brand AwarenessDon’t count on gaining customers or clients if people don’t understand what your business does! A press release announcing your new business venture is an important first step in business ownership – but don’t think it stops once you’ve officially opened your doors and taken in your first customer or signed on your first client. Public relations allows you to keep your name in the game, so to speak, and allow current and future customers to know what you’re all about (and that you’re still all about it!). Send out information about new inventory, new staff, new services, new hours...anything that offers a new perspective on your business and how you can continue to expertly serve customers!Generate Business LeadsAre you lucky enough to have a solid group of customers or clients you see or hear from on a regular basis? Great! But, what about all of the potential customers who may not even know you exist? Public relations is a great way to garner new business through a blurb in the newspaper or a newsworthy interview on TV that ties into a current event, new offering or human interest story.Gain Message ClaritySome company names dominate the market, but have you ever caught yourself asking what the brand actually does or stands for? Message clarity can grow and sustain a business, helping communicate why people should trust your product or work rather than someone else. A skilled reporter may even ask you the questions everyone wants to know but you didn’t realize they wanted to ask!Stay RelevantYou had your ribbon cutting a while ago! Now what? A new business can’t ride on the high of a giant pair of scissors forever – that’s where PR can elevate your business and keep you relevant in the eyes of your customers and potential clients.Reduce CostsYou mean we’re telling you PR can actually help you SAVE money? That’s right! When you learn how to take advantage of earned media, you’ll discover how valuable the PR you got in the news yesterday was compared to what you spent on your last commercial. The right balance of paid and earned media can help you effectively push out your product highlights and your expert status and specialty in providing it.
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The Company “Intranet”… Trending Once Again

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In this digital age, many companies, both large and small, have some form of intranet, including our company.

Why?

At KMK, we found building a customized intranet for our firm grew from our team’s desire to have ONE secure platform that managed multiple pieces of information, primarily, data related to the websites we build for our clients.

We just finished programming our intranet and it holds a variety of crucial information all in one spot including:

• Client contacts• Client website information• Client hosting account details• An estimator for website proposals• A log to track backup dates for clients’ websites...and much more information, including security-related items.

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Joomla... say what?

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Joomla. It’s not a misspelling of Jumanji...or a new Star Wars character...or a new jelly bean flavor.

It’s a content management system (CMS) that helps companies change information on their websites, similar to Wordpress and Drupal. KMK uses it when building our clients’ websites, and apparently, we’re in good company.

Joomla powers many business, entertainment and government websites around the world including General Electric, Ikea, Porsche, Nintendo, Michael Phelps, the United Nations, and many governmental organizations in the U.S. and around the globe.

Why did those entities (and our own) decide to use it for the backend of their websites instead of other CMS options? Here’s the answer:

• It can handle large amounts of traffic• It’s flexible, allowing straight-forward set-up for simple to advanced websites• It’s easy to manage; training for our clients takes minutes, not hours• There are many components available that are open source and can be easily customized• Joomla doesn’t restrict the addition of independent, fully customized components• Joomla frequently releases updates to its platform, making it easy to keep our clients’ sites safe from hacking vulnerabilities

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Typecasting Creatives

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What’s Your Creative Type?While working in the creative industry, you will inevitably encounter all kinds of creative personality types. When given a task, creatives have their own way of approaching it, executing ideas and problem solving. Their own style. It’s often said that creatives “think different” as Apple coined the phrase in 1998, during its campaign, urging its audience to do just that. But what does that mean? Adobe’s Create magazine, devoted to graphic design and communication design, developed a quiz to help shed light on those “creative” personality types.Adobe explains it this way: “The Creative Types test is an exploration of the many faces of the creative personality. Based in psychology research, the test assesses your basic habits and tendencies—how you think, how you act, how you see the world—to help you better understand who you are as a creative...” Its goal is to help you better understand yourself and how you work best with others.

Adobe explains that these personality types aren’t black and white labels and many people may have more than one core type or the type can change during the creative career. After reading that, my curiosity was peaked! What would this test say about me? What would it say about my teammates? Only one way to find out! I challenged my KMK teammates to take it, and when I took it, the results were spot-on!While no one fits perfectly into any one characterization, it does help you discover the overriding slant of your creative being! The test also suggests the other creative types best suited for personal collaboration and learning.ADOBE CREATE’S CREATIVE PERSONALITY TYPES:The Artist: Seeing beauty, creating beauty.The Thinker: Deep thoughts, big questions.The Adventurer: So much inspiration, so little time.The Maker: Committed to your craft.The Producer: Process is power.The Dreamer: The power of imagination unleashed.The Innovator: Move, shake, disrupt, repeat.The Visionary: Imagining the impossible.

The Results?Our KMK team is diversified among thinkers, makers, producers, dreamers and visionaries. It’s a good mix of innate creative traits and external problem-solving skills to drive our ideas while balancing it with results for our clients.Want to discover what creative type you are? Check it out: https://mycreativetype.com/

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PR vs. AD… What’s Right for Your Company?

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So, your boss asks you if you should spend your time writing a press release about a newly patented product or develop an ad campaign targeting your core audience.

Your answer?“It depends.”

(Then duck to avoid the nasty look he throws your way.)

ADSWe have clients come to us all the time wanting to run an advertisement. An ad is great for a new product or service if your goal is to persuade movement on behalf of your targeted audience or to raise awareness of something new. We help our clients run ad campaigns on TV, radio, billboards, in newspapers and online. Repetition in advertising is key to generating visibility and action. For some products and services, you have to be “top of mind” so for some businesses, frequency of exposure rules success as much as effective messaging.

PRWhat about PR? Depending on the target audience and the product or service you’re trying to promote, we sometimes recommend our clients add public relations to the marketing mix. According to prdaily.com, public relations is worth 3x the value of traditional advertising. Since news coverage is third-party opinion, the impact is considered three times that of a paid advertisement because it’s more credible.

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How Strong Is Your Brand?

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As a designer, part of my job is to keep up on the latest trends in design. The industry is always evolving, and trends come and go, but that doesn’t’ mean you need to compromise your existing branding to start from scratch. Recently, some of the largest brands recognizable to the common eye have taken a new approach, starting with their logos. Brands including Starbucks, Nike, MasterCard, Shell, Apple and McDonald’s have removed wording from their logos over the past few years. Did you even notice? I would bet a Venti Caramel Macchiato you didn’t! That’s how strong their branding is. We recognize them without the words under their strongly crafted corporate identity.

McDonald’s has now taken this approach a step further. Yes, it’s possible! How about an advertisement without a crisp image of the product? You heard me right. They’re breaking a Cardinal Rule of good design – always use a “good” image, right? After all, you want your product to shine! That begs the question, what makes a “good” image? McDonald’s is proving beyond a doubt that some rules were meant to be bent, if not completely broken. In the traditional sense of the word, their latest campaign launched in Puerto Rico, only uses very blurry images of their products. Blurry? Yes, blurry, and it works!! These impressionistic images they use stand apart from the pack by dialing down the intensity of the message and focusing only on the product. We instantly see a large fry, Big Mac, and a very recognizable Happy Meal box. Hungry yet?

Titled 'Say No More,’ this campaign knows that the Golden Arches' red and yellow color scheme and its products speak for themselves. It relies on just a vague approximation of its food to wet people's appetites, and really, what more do you need? Depending on your viewpoint, this is either a testament to the success of the brand, or a worrying comment on consumer habits. Or a bit of both.

    

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The “Big Bang Theory” Implodes Its Show…and CBS’s Ad Revenue

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I’m dreading the end of the “Big Bang Theory,” set to wrap up its 12th and final season this spring. Those quirky, beloved characters have grown on me and my husband, and we’ve expanded our love of the sitcom to now watching “Young Sheldon,” too, featuring an earlier version of one of the title characters.

An article I read last week stated the final episode of the “Big Bang Theory” had not yet been written.

My wish is they’re waiting to write the final episode while holding out hope that the actor Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon on the show, changes his mind and decides to reprise his role for at least one more season rather than stop the successful series due to his desire to be done.

My guess is CBS is holding out hope for that outcome, too. The “Big Bang Theory’s” demise won’t just be a loss to my weekly TV line-up (captured via DVR because of our household’s two full-time jobs, three full-time children and one non-contributing dog), it’ll be a huge loss to CBS in ad revenue.

The “Big Bang Theory” has commanded a whopping $285,934 per 30-second national TV commercial for the past two years. The only primetime spot fetching a higher price tag?...NBC’s Sunday night football where the average cost for a 30-second commercial was $685,677 this year.

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Ready, Set, WATCH! The Super Bowl of TV Commercials

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Some of us are looking forward to the football.

Some of us are looking forward to the food.

I am looking forward to the TV commercials as I really don’t care who wins this particular game, and I am responsible for the game-time food in my house so there are no surprises there.

The commercials, however, are a different story. Stress the word “story.”

As part of a marketing firm that create visual and audio “stories” for our own clients using a variety of media, it’s fascinating to watch what global agencies are able to create with seemingly out-of-this-world budgets.

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Who's the Biggest?

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Want to know who spent the most on advertising in 2018?

Easy.

Pull on your Nike’s, hop in your Volkswagen to pick up McDonald’s and a case of Coca-Cola, then head home to watch ESPN on your new Samsung 60” TV.

Get the picture?

All of those brands (plus 19 more) make up the 25 biggest advertisers in 2018 worldwide. They cover technology, personal care, food and beverage, retail, automotive, entertainment/media, restaurants, apparel, travel and telecommunications. Whew.

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The Real Secret to 20 Years in Business

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What’s the secret to successfully staying in business for 20 years?

I know it wasn’t the relationship I had with my business partner at the time. In reality, we were almost strangers, having worked together on a single project through our respective employers at the time. We knew each other for a matter of months when we decided to go into business together. Not terribly smart but, hey, it worked.

Over the years, we discovered we were similar enough to have like minds regarding business ethics, core values and the determination to succeed, and we were different enough to have complementary skill sets that would benefit us in years to come.

I know the secret to our success wasn’t the great strategic business plan we had in our back pockets. We started KMK Media Group with a simplistic business plan. You could even call it “bare bones.” I honestly think our success at the time was fueled by sheer motivation and the ability to recognize opportunity. It was the dawn of the “website revolution.”

Finally, I know the secret to staying in business for 20 years wasn’t the great stash of cash we had ready to sink into our new marketing venture. We contributed a mere $200.00 each which went toward incorporation fees, installation of a single business phone line in my home office and printing business cards.

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What SpongeBob Can Teach Us

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Did you know the founder of SpongeBob SquarePants passed away?

I saw the tidbit on a CNN newsfeed that popped up on my phone last week.

My husband wasn’t aware of it until he read the newspaper the next day.

My 10-year-old saw it on CNN Student News at school.

My 13-year-old saw it on her Instagram feed.

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It's Been 20 Years...

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KMK turned 20 this month. Doesn’t seem like that long ago when I say it out loud but when I look around, things sure look different.

Back then, when we produced TV commercials for clients, I’d get in the car and run out to the TV stations to drop off a video tape copy to each one. It got me out of the office and feeling productive, mentally hitting the “done” button when I’d finished my media trek to the west side of town. Not the same feeling today after I email the link to some “cloud” somewhere, hoping it arrived safe and sound.

What I have learned in 20 years is the more things change, the more they stay the same. (My dad used to say that and I never believed him. Until now.) It’s really all about understanding the message that needs to be communicated. Whether on TV or online or somewhere in between.

That’s where KMK shines.

We’re a small group of really creative people committed to getting our clients’ message in front of the right audience, no matter the medium. Medical, industrial, educational, governmental...it doesn’t really matter what industry. The basics of communicating “why you need that product or service” remain the same for our team.

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The End of a "Yellow" Era...

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In case you haven’t heard, 2019 marks the end of letting your fingers do the walking.

In case your nose has been too far buried in your phone book to have heard the news, the Yellow Pages telephone directory will no longer be printed after 2019. Final issues are prepping for press right now and aggressive yellow page phone book sales folks are making their final push for those last commission checks.

Considering the fact that the Yellow Pages is ceasing to print and, therefore, sees no value in continuing to publish its own book, I’d think “selling” the value to advertisers to be included in the 2019 print version would be an uphill battle. I suppose it’s possible some might like to be in the final “collector’s edition,” which I’m guessing will be thinner than ever before.

Yell, owned by the Hibu Group, said the decision marked the company’s transition to a “purely digital business” and aims in 2020 to help a million businesses be found on its online directory.

Side note...Yellow Pages first began publishing in 1966. The rise of search engines like Google in the early 90’s posed challenges for the print directory, resulting in its first web directory in 1996.

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Does your Agency Stand Up to the Test?

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As KMK Media Group approaches 20 years in business, there are some things that have made it stand the test of time. It’s a combined skill set among our team that centers around some core “rules of thumb” when developing work for our clients.

Whether it’s an ad campaign, new website, press release or social media calendar, clients pay KMK to produce results and those results happen when we keep a few simple rules in mind.

K.I.S.SWe can kiss good copy goodbye if we forget to “keep it simple, stupid.”  TOO WORDY gets you every time.  Write copy…let it sit…re-read it and take out every non-essential word. Stick to what’s important and try to communicate with visual elements rather than words.Poor ReadabilityAs a designer, typography can be pretty complex.  A good standard is to use 50-60 characters or less per line…online or offline. Anything more than that and your eye wanders, diluting your message.Too Many FontsLimit yourself to 2-3 fonts MAX. If you need to change it up, try different weights of a font rather than switching font styles so your design remains legible and looks cohesive.White Space is Your Friend It may be an imaginary friend, but it makes your end product look so much more attractive, helping focus the eye on the main message.Get a High Resolution Image If you’re going to use a photo or logo in a printed piece, make sure you use a high-resolution version. Don’t have one?  Ask your designer to create one.  It’ll be well worth the relatively minor investment in having a crisp, clean outcome rather than fuzzy results.

Every creative piece your agency (or in-house designer) produces should stand up to these general guidelines.  If they don’t, it’s most likely having a negative effect on your R.O.I.

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Google Search: “dogs in the office”

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Each morning as I head to work, I say “see you later, pup” to my 15-pound dachshund, Olliver. He doesn’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing. What he does know is that nine hours later, I return home smelling like another dog.

Cue Riley, a golden retriever and KMK Media Group’s very own office dog. You can usually find Riley taking a nap outside of his mom’s office, but when we have a meeting in the conference room, Riley is there. Tail wagging like a fan, head in any lap that has committed to scratching in just the right spot.

How does Riley’s presence benefit the way I work, you ask? According to a recent study done at the University of Southern California, pets in the workplace reduce stress and nurture productivity. For example, during a meeting held this week, Riley came over and plopped his head in my lap – immediately after the meeting, I opened up a new Word document… and here we are. As a matter of fact, I credit Riley in the completion of this blog post.

While he might aid in the productivity of fellow employees, pets at work also benefit overall employee health, improve employee retention, and alleviate loneliness. For some, coming to work to a wagging tail is just as important as going home after a long day to a family pet greeting you at the door. As for Olliver, that includes a very detailed sniff down.

So, there you have it! If you already have a dog in the office, tell us how much you love it! And if you don’t have a dog in your office, well… what are you waiting for?

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Who We Are?

KMK Media Group is a full-service communications firm focused on helping businesses succeed through consistent creative, message and tone.

What We Do

Our services include award-winning design, web development, social media management, video production, public relations, ad campaigns and more!

Where to find us?

Address
716 North Church Street
Rockford, Illinois 61103
Phone Number
815-399-2805
Email Address
info@kmkmedia.com