This is the story of how we won an award, shook hands with Googlers, took pictures of toilets, looked for ghosts, gaped at trees, went to prison, and landed a plane in the middle of Winter Storm Juno. No, really. All of those things happened. (Basically.)
But first, take a moment to gauge where you are and what you're doing. No, really -- just play with us a moment and be honest.
Are you glancing at this blog between back-to-back meetings, sips of coffee, or checking your bulging inbox? Heck, are you reading this while on the loo? Don't worry, we're not judging. We know you're busy. That's how things are these days.
Translate this rush to how customers think. So many business owners tell us that just getting busy customers to set foot in their venue is half the battle. Weddings, sales floors, dealerships, hotels, what have you -- not getting customers inside your business is like trying to sell a box with a mystery gift inside. This uncertainty could be a make or break for some businesses.
Touch Before You Buy, See Before You Touch
We didn't have a mega-adventure just for kicks -- we were invited to Googleplex to receive an award for our marketing and PR efforts. This was related to a campaign that we did in 2014 to raise awareness for the Google Business View program in Pittsburgh.
We joined this program in the first place to help our local business clients in this plight of getting attention from busy people in an uber-connected mobile-Internet powered world. We at ProFromGo were trained and certified by Google almost two years ago to create Street View style Google virtual tours via our special certification in the Google Business View (GBV) program.
This allows us to show customers inside your business in an immersive and innovative way by publishing your business' virtual tour in a way where it can appear on Google Search, Google Maps (including inside the Google Maps mobile app for iPhone and Android), and on Google+ Local.
As a boutique inbound marketing and digital advertising company that is always looking for new and innovative ways to help our clients standout from the crowd, we were naturally attracted to get involved in this program to help spread Google joy all over the Steel City.
However, we never imagined that it would earn us recognition from Google.
And so off we went to the Googleplex, Yinzers trekking to the other side of the continent, in the middle of winter, to sunny California... for an exclusive award ceremony and full day traipsing around Google's Mountain View campus. It all happened on January 23, 2015.
What Did We Do?
ProFromGo won the 2014 Marketing/PR Award for the Google Business View program. Our winning campaign was a local public relations initiative we conducted in 2014 that was all about GBV in Pittsburgh -- a campaign which rose to local media heights such as a WPXI evening highlight, a mention in Pittsburgh Magazine, Pop City Media, Next Pittsburgh, and even a front-page feature in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
After doing the interview with Trib reporter John Oravecz we were pleasantly surprised to discover the editor decided to put the story on the front page:
We landed above the Pittsburgh Steelers, too. Only Pittsburghers can understand just how big a deal that was.
Off to See the Wizard!
So like the tech geek version of the Oregon Trail, PFG along with a handful of GBV agencies and Google Trusted Photographers hoofed it (okay, maybe flew) to the Golden State. Along with an award ceremony and handshakes with authentic Googlers, we were also treated to 2015 GBV and Google+ sneak peeks and round-table discussions. A lot of this made us very excited for our current clients, expect some fun goodies for you this year.
It was also an honor to meet with fellow top GBV performers from around the United States and Canada. As professionals, we were cool, collected, and full of feedback. As geeks, we were bursting at the seams and taking pictures of Googleplex signs, Google bikes, and smart toilets.
Chris even got to wear "the trekker" but was stopped as soon as he tried to exit the meeting space with it on:
For the record, intimidating Google smart toilet was intimidating.
Setting the Bar for 2015
With our California adventure now behind us, PFG is working hard to continue providing stellar services to Pittsburgh business owners as well as our customers in other parts of the country. It was no small feat to be included in the 2014 award ceremony and you bet your bulging email inbox that we'll set higher goals for this year.
So that's all folks, see you next time at...
Wait! What About All That Other Stuff?
Oh, that's right. Yes, the other things did happen. You have to admit, Yinzers heading to California in the dead of winter makes for great hijinks. We're used to bitter-cold snow and cloudy days, so we fit in what we could.
Hockey at the SAP Center
Day one was primarily composed of flying from one end of the continent to another, but we snuck in a hockey game just as evening began to settle:
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Winchester Mystery House
We did indeed hunt ghosts but we're not sure we found them. We took a tour through the Winchester Mystery House and if you haven't heard the bizarre, tragic backstory to this place, be sure to look it up. It's most definitely worth the treat.
Or if you can't, apparently there's a period film in the works about the house. This ongoing project is why we weren't permitted to take photos inside the house during our 2 hour tour, but enjoy these snapshots of the creepy exterior:
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Muir Woods and Alcatraz
We stole away from Silicon Valley for a while and made our away to San Francisco vis a vis the Golden Gate Bridge for a quick retreat into Muir Woods. Savvy environmentalists (or maybe arborist?) may recognize Muir Woods as one of a handful of national parks that is home to redwood treets. There are no words for how massive and beautiful these trees are. We hope our pictures capture their size and majesty!
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No, we weren't actually sent to prison, but we did indeed go to one as tourists. The famous Alcatraz was not too far from where we were staying and so we spent an afternoon touring the eerie grounds. Between us, it was hard to tell which ghostly tour was more eerie: this famous federal prison or the creepy house of Sarah Winchester.
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And So Ends Our Tale -- for Now
This is the real ending this time. As always, we at ProFromGo are hard at work, despite what these photo galleries may tell you. Just like you, we were reading emails between photos, hooking up our computers in hotel rooms, and keeping the lights on even though we were thousands of miles from home. We're glad to be back and ready to rock for 2015.