Cut Through the Noise with Integrated Strategies and Targeted Outreach

Look around your office: Is your colleague scouring a cool, new website? Is someone on a smartphone checking out Instagram or Snapchat? In the average workday, how often do you find yourself in a rabbit hole on your computer or phone, reading messaging from a brand or someone in your social circle enticing you to make a purchase?

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Consumer brands trying to cut through this noise face a significant challenge. Historically, marketing agencies recommended a siloed approach: advertise in publications that match your target audience and/or engage in a focused PR campaign with that same media.

Of course, this approach doesn’t cut it anymore.

We live in an omni-channel world where consumers not only go into stores, but they research online and survey social networks to gather even more information about products they might purchase. Moreover, they’re doing this research on desktops, mobile devices, and tablets 24/7/365—as well as leaning on their real-world social networks — to gather trend information. Every one of these touch points eventually informs their purchase decision.

This means two things: First, brands must develop marketing programs that can be supported through all touch points—there is no longer a hierarchy in determining where brands should share their message. That being said, utilizing the power of social networks and influencers should be approached with the same depth of strategy as traditional publications.

You can’t fight the power of social networks. Instagram and Twitter personalities are beginning to hold the same prestige as established print publications, and their ability to yield measureable results is staggering. See this engagement Lord & Taylor just brought to life on Instagram. I’m not arguing that a product pick-up in GQ is no longer valuable, but the sweet spot, now, is pick-up in GQ while simultaneously engaging in a digital advertising campaign and seeding that same product to a vetted list of bloggers and Instagram influencers.

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Of course, remaining true to your brand and product is key throughout all of this. It’s ill-advised to pitch and send a new mountaineering boot from La Sportiva to a bunch of fitness bloggers simply because “They are active, too.” Finding the group of social influencers that speaks to your target audience can be tricky, but it’s essential to the success of a campaign.

There will always be room for traditional PR and advertising tactics, but as we look forward in the world of marketing we can no longer ignore just how interconnected our world has become. For brands and marketing agencies alike, acknowledging this and working towards a shift in approach to marketing campaigns will be crucial as we all learn to navigate this rapidly-changing landscape.

— Alison Nestel-Patt

Backbone Media Returns to the Big Apple

Twice a year, a critical mass of Backbone’s PR and media teams trade the Rocky Mountain corridor for skyscrapers, pavement pounding and a much wider array of cuisine. If you were in the NYC area last week and spotted a group of guys and gals rocking plaid, denim and athletic shoes, it was probably us – and no, we weren’t trying to pull off the Lumbersexual look.

Despite the rain mist, the event saw over 75 journalists, bloggers, photographers, stylists and publishers throughout the day. This showroom provided a platform for brands to reveal what is in the pipeline for fall and winter 2015. Fifteen brands were in attendance this year and covered a wide array of categories including fashion, active lifestyle, mountaineering gear, cycling, technology, deep-sea fishing apparel, and more.   Participants were Smartwool, Eddie Bauer, POC, Les 3 Valles, YETI Coolers, Polartec, Hoka One One, Vibram, American Pistachio Growers, Stio, Stower, Distiller’s List, Walls, Grundens and FluidStance.

This year we were lucky to have a hosted happy hour featuring fresh fish hor d’oeuvres from Grundens and premier cocktails from Distiller’s List.

For Eddie Bauer, last week in NYC was a double-header!  Following the Backbone Showroom, the brand held a launch reception for the new Eddie Bauer Limited Edition Collection by Ilaria Urbinati at Freemans Restaurant. A menswear line aimed at combining the heritage and original aesthetics of the brand with modern silhouettes and styling, the event targeted the who’s who of men’s design, fashion and style.

Attendees from GQ, Men’s Journal, Details, Conde Nast Traveler, Esquire, WSJ’s Off Duty, WWD, and many others made efforts to see the new collection. The notable celebrity stylist who has built her career ensuring the men of Hollywood are dressing the part, Urbinati’s long-time friend and client James Marsden stopped by to show his support of her line.

All in all, it was a busy week for Backbone in the city, and it never ceases to amaze us  with how tired you can get from walking around zero-pitch landscapes all day!

Until next time NYC,

Alison Nestel-Patt & Katie Wolitarsky


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The Best Part of Work 2 of 2

All businesses have certain criteria and filters they put on their work.

At Backbone, our criteria boils down to if we believe in the brand.

Taking this beyond the work environment we can see how ‘believing in the brand’  manifests itself on a recent personal trip to Antarctica to climb Vinson Massif with friends Linden and Slinger.  Expecting cold temps between 0 centigrade and -40C it was pretty reassuring to be able to rely on client’s products for protection from the elements.

So, how do you pack for a few weeks vacation on Antarctic ice? Here’s a selection of some client and non-client products that went down south.


Russian Ilyushin 76 cargo plane on the blue ice runway at Union Glacier


Stio Rivet jeans and Otto Shirt

BD  Post Op Hoody and Mission belt

BD speed pack  – for laptop to ski touring pack

Lululemon Metal Vent Tech LS and Hoody


Lindon Mallory on the Twin Otter flying from Union Glacier into Vinson Basecamp

Core & Insulation

SmartWool NTS Lite  Baselayers – I’m a big fan of boot top 3/4 length bottoms as they alleviate bunching up of too many layer and boots

Polartec CoEfficient Hoody and Polartec Powerstretch tight – lightweight and warm

BD Stance Belay Pants

First Ascent MicroTerm jacket – lightweight and fitted to layer under jackets

BD Cold Forge Parka & Stance Belay Parkas – double down on the down


Slinger and Linden looking out from high camp

Hands, head and feet

Gloves – BD digital liner, Rambla, Guide gloves and Absolute mitt. Both Slinger and Linden used thr First Ascent Guide glove extensively.

Headwear – Kask Headband – assorted Buffs (TGR and Strafe) – old Patagonia Highloft shell hat, BD Balaclava and Cloudveil 4 Shadows Beanie. Regulating your body temp starts with your head

POC Iris goggles and Jeremy Jones Signature glacier glasses. Spare glasses were Revo Guide glasses

Thermacell Heated footbeds – remote control heat at the touch of a button. Great in climbing/ski boots and around camp

La Sportiva Olympus Mons  – these things are MONEY

BD Sabretooth crampons – probably the best all around crampon ever made

BD Quadrant ski boots with Intuition liners

Forty Below neoprene overboots (for ski boots and around camp)


Windy, cold conditions on the fixed lines


BD Vapor Point Shell

Stio Hardscrabble soft shell pant

Old School Marmot 8000 meter down pant  – yup, the old yellow and red ones


Linden descending from high camp



BD Carbon Aspect Ski

BD Ascension skins – dependability is king

BD Whippet, Raven Ultra ice axe and Expedition 2 ski pole. The Whippet is more versatile and handy than an ice axe much of the time

Assorted locking biners – (I went with a Magnetron Vaporlock which is super great with gloves/mitts on), wiregates (larger body types like the Hotwire is better), ATC, Express Turbo ice screw, prussiks, Tiblocs and 1 ascender, SMC pickets

BD Saw and Deploy Shovel


Lunch stop on the glacier


Penn’s special gorp – mix of shelled pistachios and chocolate covered espresso beans (protein, anti oxidants and caffeine)

Mix of cheeses, salami, proscuitto, crackers

Dinty Moores, Ramen, and Tasty Bites. Real bacon and burgers at basecamp.

Couple of boxes of wine, a flask of Genepi.

Assortment of Honey Stinger waffles and chews, GU and Chomps and Voke Energy Tabs. CLIF bars and Snickers


Reflecting on the summit

Sleeping and accessories

Big Agnes Doubletrack insulated pad – the pad is key to warm and comfy sleep

Big Agnes girdle – turns any stuff sack into a compression stuff sack.

Alps foam matt

Old school Feathered Friends overstuffed -40 bag – I have an extra long to stuff in liners, gloves and pee bottle.

MSR XGK stoves

Klean Kanteen insulated thermos waterbottles X2

GoalZero Solar Chargers

Lumix DMC – Gm1 – compact interchangeable lens with a 12-32 and 40 – 200 lenses. Great small camera.

BD Mission 75 backpack

Journal, Team mascot Paco the penguin. Paco summitted with us then hung on our Christmas tree and now lives in my 7 year old’s room.



Stuff I did not bring but my partners did and I was jealous

Gregory Makalu Pro Backpack  – my buddy Linden Mallory has guided all over the world with this pack. It has seen a lot of time and is a classic Gregory pack

Sea to Summit – Padded Soft Cell for electronics and Aeros Pillow Premium. Apparently Slinger now sleeps with his pillow at home

Coal Freya neck gaiter – super warm, wooly gaiter.







The Best Part of Work 1 of 2

With 2014 coming to a close, we took some time to compile a “Best of” list for Backbone.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.17.24 AMOnce again this year, our accomplishments are the result of hard work, creativity and  partnerships with strong brands and great people.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.04.15 AMWhether helping to launch a brand via Kickstarter, winning stacks of editorial awards from both endemic and broad based media alike, or working with our partners to create best in class native advertising, here’s a quick look at some of Backbone’s best accomplishments in 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.04.38 AMHired 13 people

Won 13 new accounts

Tracked over 18.5 billion editorial media impressions (that’s with no multiplier applied)

Successfully launched a new digital programmatic platform – FastG8


Built out content creation solutions for multiple brands

Redesigned (and majorly improved) our logo and corporate ID

Created a new business process, strengthened our values and mission

Completed our best New York media events to date, including a very successful pop up in Midtown

Finalized a new website (look for it soon!)

Opened a new office in Denver in a stunning space and relocated our Jackson office

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Updated our wellness stipend to better reflect diverse interests and needs

Added more structure, titles and support to the organization to create growth opportunities

Increased structure and support in Jackson and Denver offices

Created the DCM monster that is now Lindsay Logan. Hired Colin Cares to support digital effort

Worked on some groundbreaking campaigns for our clients like The Human Factor for BD, Best Towns for Toad & Co., content creation for Opedix and Revo, and many more

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Finished a remodel in our Carbondale office

Paid for the remodel mentioned above

Bought stand-up desks for  everyone so we live longer

Shifted our file management and phone system to the cloud

Bought a new large coffee maker and got it running

Installed a water filtration system

Spent 2000 nights on the road and called 174 ski days legitimate work (*estimated)

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Consumed 140 pounds of coffee – but only 8 kegs (weak sauce on the keg work)

Launched the YETI Hopper, ABOM goggles on Kickstarter, AvaTech, expanded business in active lifestyle, hook and bullet and destination markets

Devoted time, energy and effort to non-profits – Protect Our Winters, Big City Mountaineers, First Descents, Thompson Divide Coalition, Spring Gulch Nordic Center, Roaring Fork Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Red Hill trail system (you should support one too!)

Ran media trips stand up paddling on the Hudson, heli hiking in Squamish, multi-day rafing on the Green River, fly fishing in Patagonia, heli skiing in British Columbia, road riding with the US Pro Challenge, backpacking in the Uintas

Raised money and summited Mount Shasta for BCM’s Summit for Someone program

Named one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work for third year in a row

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New York, New York : Backbone Media 2014 Fall Showroom

With 15 different adventure and outdoor lifestyle brands, 18 mountain people Backbone employees, over 80 NYC media and a California brewery, Backbone Media took the outdoors to the big city last week in NYC.

Backbone travels east to host our bi-annual showroom every spring and fall to stay connected with the fast-paced and ever-changing media landscape in NYC .

For a city often referred to as the “concrete jungle,” NYC is home to a surprisingly large number of active lifestyle and outdoor publishing houses; Outside TV, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, Fitness, Shape, Self, Women’s Health, just to name a few.

The showroom showcased current and new for spring 2015 products from Eddie Bauer, YETI coolers, Chaco, Stio, Polartec, Gregory, Thule, Gerber Gear, Maven, HOKA One One, REVO, Opedix, Pat’s Backcountry Beverages, Poron XRD and non-profit First Descents. We were also thrilled to have our friends from Firestone Walker there to do a beer tasting during happy hour.

A few of our favorite images from the event are highlighted below. Thank you NYC for having us, and we are already planning our return in April so be on the lookout for details!

Backbone_NYC_FA14 (2 of 6) Backbone_NYC_FA14 (1 of 6) Backbone_NYC_FA14 (3 of 6)Backbone_NYC_FA14 (6 of 6)

True Innovation + Macro Relevance = ???

PR folks have a serious weakness for superlatives.

This new widget is the lightest, fastest, bestest (this truthfully is a word. A super superlative the best of the best!). It is quite silly, really. We’ve joked in our office of creating a new product release template structured in a Mad Libs format to fill in the superlative gaps for a press release.

Yet there also lurks true awesomeness (also a rarely used word defined as: an unmeasurable amount of awesomenimity). Smart people are creating solutions to problems and true innovation occurs everyday. What is ideal is when the innovation or launch of a new product or company correlates with trends that have macro or societal relevance.


Which brings us to AvaTech.  Avatech is a start up that came out of MIT. The Founder and CEO, Brint Markle, had a close friend get caught in a slide (he survived). In processing the situation Brint observed that all avy gear is basioally triage based, and reactive technology. Thus, AvaTech was founded to design a solution that would give skiers and riders good data to facilitate better decision making and avoid getting caught in an avalanche before it happens.


AvaTech is a proactive solution that quickly and accurately analyzes snowpack and facilitates real-time sharing. Backbone helped launch AvaTech to the media a few weeks ago  – and the group  is quickly catching attention as it  attends the International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW) in Banff this week.


Why has the launch been successful? AvaTech is honestly innovative. Don’t take our superlative laden perspective for it, in a feature article released last week in The Avalanche Review (TAR) considered the leading publication for snow pros and patrollers, Jordy Hendrikx professor of snow science at Montana State says,” “Every so often, new technology comes along in an industry that’s not step change, but orders of magnitude. We’re seeing this with AvaTech today in our industry.”

In the first 5 days of launch, AvaTech received over 25,000 youtube views, organic sharing of the content on Facebook was exceptional, (over 400 shares) as was the coverage on OutsideOnline, Wildsnow, Powder, Backcountry, Freeskier, Transworld, Unofficial Networks, TGR, and TAR. Innovation helps, but an overarching macro trend focusing on safety not just in snow sports but in all gravirty sports in general comes into play as well. As the number of off piste skiers rises, so too does the need for safety products. We’ve seen this with helmets, body armor, as well as an emerging trend for safety products and protocol in the backcountry. The Black Diamond JetForce airbag is a great example. So, while AvaTech’s SP1 is not the lightest, fastest perhaps it is the bestest as it hits the sweet spot of a thoughtfully innovative product, which has been carefully developed and is poised for success and relevance with snow pros, and backcountry enthusiasts alike.

Look for out on the hill this winter!














Charging into Fall 2104

Having just completed the bi-annual Backbone Charge (because we do not retreat) staff outing, here is a quick look at some recent projects we’ve completed—from product launches, to trend stories, to native advertising.


Bonfire at the annual Charge at the Harry Gates Hut (photo compliments the talented Erik Wardell)


At 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, September 7, we dropped the F-bomb. For the past several months we’ve been working with Abominable Labs on the launch of their game-changing goggles, which feature a lens that heats up to immediately eliminate fog, much like your car’s rear window defroster.  It’s a product that is really innovative, but also makes you think, “why didn’t I think of that.” We’ve been working for weeks to coordinate the announcement of the product with the launch of their kickstarter page and it was fun to see the stories roll in from the Oregonian (Abom is based in Lake Oswego) OutsideOnline, GearJunkie and Gizmodo in the first 24 hours. This is a brand that’s poised to shake up the goggle market.




On the heels of the Outdoor Retailer show and recent awards in Runner’s World, Competitor and Trail Runner, to name a few, HOKA is hitting it’s stride. Here’s a quick look at Deckers CEO Angel Martinez on Mad Money talking about HOKA along with other Deckers brands. Key take-aways: connect, create experiences and build relationships with consumers, omnichannel sales and “web-rooming.”

Black Diamond
Following up on BD’s popular Mountain Project mobile app is a native campaign with Outside. “If it ain’t broke, break it” takes consumers into Black Diamond’s QA/QC lab and provides a peak into the product testing that serves brand’s mantra: Use Design Engineer Build Repeat.

See you out there!


Post OR – wrap

Here’s a quick look back at the Outdoor Retailer show.

Greg Williams started his OR in Steamboat where he began a 4-day, 400 mile bike ride to Salt Lake City with 75+ other outdoor folks. In its seventh year, the SmartWool ride to OR battles heat, rain and 100+ mile days. This year Greg was joined by Chris Steinkamp, executive director from Protect Our Winters, Brian Vaughan, co-founder of GU Energy and chief endurance officer (how do I get a title like that?) and a Texan named Lance. Props to SmartWool and the entire group on their effort.

Funny how most of images of this guy Mellow Johnny are always from behind...

Funny how most of images of this guy Mellow Johnny are always from behind…

The demo day was highlighted by a Sperry floating pontoon boat piloted by our own Captain Ian Anderson. The Sperry boat passed out lobster rolls and Sam Adams beer to anyone who paddled or out to visit.

Capt. Ian 'Meryl Stubing' Anderson

Capt. Ian ‘Meryl Stubing’ Anderson

Mackenzie hands out lobster rolls

Mackenzie hands out lobster rolls

those Yeti Hopper coolers are everywhere

Those Yeti Hopper coolers are everywhere

Revo relaunched to retailers at the outdoor demo, showcasing its stylish new Spring '15 line.

Revo relaunched to retailers at the outdoor demo, showcasing its stylish new Spring ’15 line.

One of the goals Backbone collectively set out to achieve during this OR Show was to connect with people beyond the tradeshow floor. Whether it was an early morning road ride, fly fishing the day before OR or hiking up Mt. Superior in the afternoon—we worked to build key relationships—basically doing cool stuff with cool people.

Kara casting on the Provo

Kara casting on the Provo

Shannon Davis and Julie Ellison on Superior's south ridge

Shannon Davis and Julie Ellison on Superior’s south ridge

Climbing mag crew and JLD on summit

Climbing Magazine crew and JLD on summit

full moon below climber @ Psico Bloc comp

Full moon below climber @ Psico Bloc comp

Back on the show floor, editorial awards are highly prized by every brand as they’re often a bellwether for future sales. Per usual, our clients had a good showing. The new Big Agnes MtnGLOW collection of lighted tents picked up best in show awards from Outside and GearJunkie, HOKA won Editor’s Choice from Runner’s World and an award from Competitor Magazine for the new Clifton shoe, and Polartec/Bomber Gear got a Best New Gear award from Gear Institute for the Palguin dry top featuring Polartec Neoshell.

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Nyberg loves NeoShell



With Independence Day in the rear view mirror, Backbone salutes the independent-minded entrepreneurs of our newest brand partners: HOKA, AvaTech, Protect Our Winters and Pat’s Backcountry Beverages. As summer is hitting full stride we are excited to work with these new companies to build their brand stories via paid, earned and owned media.



HOKA ONE ONE is the fastest growing premium running shoe brand in the world. HOKA shoes were quickly embraced by the ultrarunning community, and today, more and more road runners, both everyday and serious competitors, are embracing the unique ride the shoes provide. As a brand, HOKA has been on the Backbone radar since they launched. As an agency of runners, HOKA’s technology coupled with first hand endorsement from many of our colleagues and running friends piqued interest. We are stoked to help continue growing the HOKA community and show how these shoes are revolutionizing the running industry.


AvaTech  is a start up out of MIT that was first introduced to Backbone through an athlete who was testing the product. After multiple discussions and meetings on skis and over beers with Brint Markle, one of the founders, AvaTech brought in long time Backbone friend Thomas Laakso, formerly Black Diamond’s ski category director. AvaTech is a proactive solution that quickly and accurately analyzes snowpack and facilitates real-time sharing. AvaTech will debut at Banff’s ISSW in September and be available in Winter 2014/15. AvaTech will set out to solve key needs of military, mining, railroad, highway, hydrology, oil and natural gas markets.


POW Long Logo

Protect Our Winters is a global nonprofit fighting climate change on behalf of the winter sports community. POW’s mission is to engage and mobilize the winter sports community to lead the fight against climate change. Their focus is on educational initiatives, advocacy and the support of community-based projects. With POW, Backbone will be working to engage and grow POW’s social media channels and outreach through programs such as the Rider’s Alliance, a community of athletes and Olympians who have banded together to amplify their first hand experiences and views on the impact of climate change. A great example of the Rider’s Alliance action on climate #actonclimate last month generated over 100 million in a few days in collaboration with the White House and EPA climate regulations.


Pat’s Backcountry Beverages invented the world’s first Beer and All-Natural Soda that allows outdoor enthusiasts to make delicious beverages anywhere. Pat’s patented, portable Carbonator Bottle replaces your standard water bottle with the added feature of being able to carbonate any liquid you put in it. The system significantly reduces the weight of carrying canned 12oz beverages by 87% and space in your backpack by 89%. Pat’s Backcountry Beverages also produces five gourmet, all-natural soda concentrates, made with pure cane juice, key replenishing vitamins and no preservatives

I mean seriously. We love beer and we love doing cool stuff. Pat’s is a perfect solution to every climber, hiker and paddler out there.




The strength of our business has always been built on delivering results for our clients first. Sure, we invest in Backbone in a big way annually, but to be honest we have never made it priority #1 to promote ourselves or overly focus on our brand. To this point, it is far easier and more genuine to tell another brand’s story rather than focus on talking about oneself. This client centric approach has served us well. New business has always been driven by great word-of-mouth recommendations from our clients, our agency partners and our friends in the industry.



However, 2014 marks a change. Our original logo designed in 1997, by our then shared-office graphic artist friends at Rainy Day Designs, has been a solid one for us. The history of the logo – a stylized yin of the Continental Divide, the backbone of the Rockies running through the heart of the state of Colorado, is being retired in favor of a more modern, bold mark with a hint of western design.




If you have ever run a new logo/design process it can be PAINFUL. It took over a year and we mangled more than one design team relationship. Internally, it was near contentious at times, bordering on combative and hilarity. Funny, because at first blush most people seem to care little about a logo or fonts, but if you dig just a bit deeper – oh, it gets real. As always, we persevered, trusted the process and each other and now are happy.

You may notice the B’s have a peaked center that represent the twin summits of Mount Sopris, the noble peak that sits above Carbondale. The new Backbone logo is  bold, clean and strong. I won’t get into some of the descriptors given about how the line below represents a continuum and progress in a static form. I mean, some of the stuff our graphic artist pals spun makes even the most flowery PR language look pretty tame.

Big call out to Fred Hammerquist and his team for helping shepard us through this process. We like Fred. We collaborate together on a few brands. Rumor has it when the snow is deep he skis on Megawatts. Thanks to Fred and his team.