Melissa Hanaka

Melissa Hanaka Joins The Publicus Community as Brand Strategist

The Publicus Community, a full service advertising and public relations agency, has announced the addition of Melissa Hanaka as Brand Strategist. Within this role, Hanaka will oversee the Creative Team and work closely with Jeff Tippett (Marketing Director) and Peter Dawyot (Managing Director) to develop overall brand cohesion.

Hanaka earned her BS in Hospitality and Tourism Management from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is an enthusiastic self-starter with almost a decade’s worth of experience in creative marketing, advertising, and public relations. Prior to her start at The Publicus Community, she worked with an internationally recognized luxury resort and real estate development, Baha Mar located in the Bahamas, managing a multitude of projects across various disciplines, including: print and digital advertising, direct marketing, collateral design, social media, and website development.

“Melissa brings great insight and experience to The Publicus Community. Her knowledge of the luxury real estate industry makes her an incredible resource,” says Managing Director, Peter Dawyot.

The Publicus Community is very pleased to have Hanaka on board and looks forward to incorporating her knowledge and expertise into compelling advertising and marketing for clientele.


The Publicus Community is a full-service advertising and public relations agency in Raleigh, NC, working with clients across a wide array of industries in order to develop advertising and public relations campaigns that capture audiences and help build better brands.


The Publicus Community Hosts Town Hall with Wayne Maiorano

On December 12, 2013, The Publicus Community welcomed Wayne Maiorano to the Raleigh small business community. Newly elected council member for District A, Mr. Maiorano is also a partner at Smith Anderson in downtown Raleigh. The event was held at one of downtown Raleigh’s newest venues, The Station.

Although many topics surfaced, two dominated the conversation: transit and signage. And these topics were addressed in passionate, lively discussions.

Mr. Maiorano responded to small business owners asking about transit in Raleigh—especially the need for more options. Many felt that because of schedule timing that the CAT system wasn’t a viable option for transportation. Mr. Maiorano expressed the same sentiment for his family.

Mr. Clyde Holt asked about the Councilor’s view on signage in Raleigh. Concerns were expressed about small businesses needing signs to drive business. Mr. Maiorano stated that he supported businesses keeping signage that met the City’s requirement when the signs were first installed.

The gathering wrapped up with small business leaders networking and continuing conversations with the councilor.

C-city council

Authentic Connection: The Publicus Community Connects City Council Member with Small Business Leaders.


The Publicus Community hosted a gathering of up to 50 small business leaders. This group came to talk directly with one of their City of Raleigh City Council At-Large Members: Russ Stephenson.

The Publicus Community hosted the event at The Architect in downtown Raleigh. The venue created a warm and comfortable environment. It was as comfortable and intimate as being at a small home meeting. The Publicus Community handled every detail of the event: venue selection, invitations, registration, logistics and production.

Mr. Stephenson began by sharing his thoughts on where the City is and where he’d like to take this community. The evening concluded with a Q&A. Passionate discussions began around education and broadband speed. Although the City Council doesn’t directly impact the Wake County School Board, the citizens encouraged the Councilor to use his influence to help continue the path of more civil discourse within the Board and with County Commissioners. Wake School Board member, Christine Kushner, was in attendance and spoke directly to issues that surfaced.

Most business leaders articulated that they appreciated the opportunity to get to know their Council member in an informal setting. Mr. Stephenson also appreciated the ability to hear directly from voters.

But perhaps one of the strongest action items that came from the meeting was a connection made that could possibly bring some stability to the Raleigh Technology and Business Center. The Center has been under scrutiny for financial issues. Mr. Stephenson was able to connect with someone that has a broad experience in this field.


Political Advertising: What Works for You?

This past month, The Publicus Community managed a few digital advertising campaigns for two Raleigh City Council members. Both campaigns reached their goals (impressions, CPC, CPM, etc) but campaigns like these always leave room for question. In a defined space like the one leading up to the election, when the days are numbered and the voters are searching the web for whatever they can find on candidates, what advertising works best for you?


Our initial strategy was simple: maximize impressions.  This being the case, we also wanted to manage impressions to gradually increase on days leading up to the election date. In theory, a voter is more likely to sway towards a candidate they are unsure about if they have recently seen that candidate’s name. Whether it be a digital banner, paid search ad, or yard sign, we wanted to make sure our client’s name was fresh on the mind of every voter in the booth.  In elections past, how swayed do you think your vote was based on familiarity when you were unsure of whom to choose? Although it may be difficult to admit, we believe it was likely swayed. With busy work schedules, school, and family time, we can only stay so informed.


Our second area of focus was content. Once the voter sees an ad, are they informed? Does the landing page provide an unbiased, informative opinion of the candidate? While some of these things are out of our control, we wanted to create an ad that drove the voter to the candidates landing page, eager to learn more.


So, what advertising content drives you? For some it’s a strong statement about a current event, or maybe even an opposing candidate. For others it’s a simple call to action or the candidate’s inspirational message.


We want to know what you think.


Raising the Dead: Tombstone Inspires Design

A conch shell is one of the first things many people associate with the Bahamas. In fact, the conch rests atop the official coat of arms of this island chain, and represents its varied marine life. But step upon Bahamian shores and you’ll quickly discover that sea shells are simply the gateway to a culture whose vivid past and present are characterized by bold colors, unique patterns and textures, as well as iconic symbols such as marlins, flamingoes, yellow elder flowers, pineapple, and much more.

Recently, The Publicus Community team was scouting photo shoot locations on and around Grand Bahama Island for an upcoming re-branding of Deep Water Cay. We visited Sweetings Cay and met with many interesting locals who were all too eager to shed light on the history of their island and what they believed represented its beauty. In our scouting, we somehow ended up in the village cemetery and happened upon a tombstone that caught our eye. Don’t ask how we came to scout a cemetery for a photo shoot of a luxury bonefishing resort—we just did. And with Halloween coming up, it seems worth mentioning.

Anyway…the tombstone. Here’s an actual shot of what we saw:

Halloween Post

We don’t have any info on who’s actually buried there. It might have been worldly explorer or it could have been just a simple conch fritter cook. Regardless, we found the pattern breathtakingly beautiful in its uniformity, simplicity, and age, and just knew it would find its way into our rebranding effort.

Our designer, Maari Casey, says: “I pulled the design for most of the backgrounds from that very cool tombstone. I wanted the work to feel like it could almost blend into the island.”

Here is her re-interpretation of the symbol on Deep Water Cay’s new website.


Maari adds: “I also used illustrations of shells and fruit because in a lot of the Bahamian design research I did, I noticed that illustrations as well as various plant life and shells were used in a reoccurring patterns on a lot of the textiles.”

pineapple Shells Parakeet


The point we’re getting at, is that at The Publicus Community, we always aim to dig deeper and bring forward the authenticity of a brand through design. And that’s something you won’t find on any stock site.

Notice the backgrounds and textures used on Deep Water Cay’s new brochure and community map. Check them out here:

Happy Halloween from The Publicus Community!

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New PharPoint Research Website

The Publicus Community recently helped Pharpoint Research, a CRO with a rebellious spirit, launch a new corporate website. The site is designed to have a warm and personal feel, while showcasing Pharpoint’s highly regarded scientific and biostatistical capabilities in a way that’s approachable and easy to understand.

“This site is a huge shift for their brand as well as ours,” says Jeff Tippett, Senior Marketing Manager at The Publicus Community. “Our responsive approach optimized the experience for all devices, particularly mobile, and got the site exactly to where it needed to be.”

The Publicus Community built the infrastructure from the ground up—an amazing team of UX designers, developers, graphic designers, and writers, all worked in close collaboration to ensure a consistent look and logical information flow across the site. The agency also managed a photo shoot of Pharpoint’s senior executives and oversaw all retouching of images.

As with everything The Publicus Community does, nothing is for vanity’s sake. This site was conceived to drive development, increase awareness, and work hard for Pharpoint. We are so glad we’ve had the opportunity to work with such a progressive, energetic company.

When you’re ready to talk about your website and how The Publicus Community can help you take it to the next level, give us a call. We’re here for you.

C-bonner Gaylord

The Publicus Community Political Case Studies


Bonner Gaylord is the City Councilor for District E of the Raleigh City Council. With an upcoming election and a desire to expand his reach among Raleigh voters, particularly those in the innovation sector, he approached The Publicus Community to assist with the planning and promotion of a recent campaign event.

“Our first task was to find a unique space in Raleigh that could serve as an appropriate venue for an innovation-themed event,” says Jeff Tippett, Senior Marketing Executive at The Publicus Community. He adds: “When we entered HQ, a shared downtown workspace designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, we knew we found it.”

The Publicus Community secured the space, handled all planning and logistics, and then went to work on energizing and motivating people to attend.

“Our approach consisted of an aggressive email and social media campaign targeting the Triangle’s. We really went after the people who are making it happen,” says Tippett.

He adds: “We tapped into a comprehensive organic email list and pushed out notices and updates through our own social networks. We also reached out to over 80 media outlets. Then, the best that thing that could have happened, did: the key influencers in our social spheres carried the message to their friends and followers and got people fired up to attend.”

Leading up to the event, The Publicus Community relied on Eventbrite to communicate with attendees, and sent out timely reminders via Facebook and Twitter. The agency even had a contingency for those who couldn’t physically be there, offering a live broadcast and chat over the web via Ustream.

The results were beyond successful. Attendance exceeded expectations. He gained 120 valuable new email subscribers to be used for future outreach and fundraising opportunities. “It was refreshing to see so many people engaged in the future of our city and eager to further Raleigh’s push toward being seen as a center of innovation,” says Gaylord. “The work that The Publicus Community did was central to that engagement.”

Leargest Internet & Design Firms (TBJ)

The Publicus Community Receives Award for Internet Marketing and Design

Triangle Biz Journal has awarded The Publicus Community with a coveted spot on its annual list of Largest Internet Marketing & Design Firms. This news comes in light with two other awards from Triangle Biz Journal, both the 11th Largest Advertising Agency and 23rd Largest Public Relations Firm.


“We are thrilled to receive such positive recognition from Triangle Biz Journal,” says Peter Dawyot, Managing Director at The Publicus Community, “and we look forward to furthering our Internet Marketing and Design reach as our firm continues to grow.”



The Publicus Community is a full-service advertising and public relations agency in Raleigh, NC, working with clients across a wide array of industries in order to develop advertising and marketing campaigns that capture audiences and help build better brands.

PR Firms Image (Recognized by Triangle Business journal)

The Publicus Community Recognized as One of Raleigh’s Largest Public Relations Firms

Triangle Biz Journal released an annual report of the 25 Largest Raleigh/Durham Firms for Public Relations, and The Publicus Community is very excited to have made the list at 23rd.


“My team and I are greatly appreciative to receive this recognition,” says Peter Dawyot, Managing Director, The Publicus Community.


The Publicus Community continues to grow into one of the most recognized Resort Marketing and Branding Agencies in the U.S. With clientele stretching all the way from Idaho to the Caribbean, The Publicus Community specializes in representing luxury resort real estate communities and developers, as well as local, North Carolina politics.

Largest Ad Agencies (TBJ)

The Publicus Community Recognized as One of Triangle Biz Journal’s Largest Ad Agencies

Triangle Biz Journal released an annual report of the 25 largest Ad Agencies in the Raleigh/Durham area, and The Publicus Community made its debut at spot number 11.


“We are thrilled to be recognized by Triangle Biz Journal and look forward to a very long relationship with the creative community in both the Triangle and globally,” says Peter Dawyot, Managing Director, The Publicus Community.


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