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Giving Back, Bennet Style

Bennet Group team members give back tirelessly to the community we serve. Each year, every Bennet Group employee volunteers more than 30 hours of their time working with their favorite local charity; the company also makes a matching gift donation to each charity selected. In this way, our employees can support the causes they feel passionate about – including Hawai’i Children’s Cancer Foundation and the Girl Scouts, to name just two.

Thanks to Emma Wo, we’re now also supporting the Hawai’i Rotary Youth Foundation, an organization that was founded by her grandfather, Maurice J. “Sully” Sullivan, in 1976. The organization was founded to assist Hawai’i’s high school graduates realize their potential by awarding 48 college scholarships to deserving youth each year. To date, the foundation has awarded 1,515 scholarships to Hawai’i’s future leaders.

We’re proud to help this fantastic organization that does much to improve the lives of Hawai’i’s young people.

Joan Bennet Takes to New Heights

Bennet Group’s president moves PR mountains on a daily basis, so it’s no surprise that she tackles some of the world’s highest peaks while out of the office. In October 2012 Bennet Group president Joan Bennet joined 14 other climbers to venture to the base camp of K2 – the world’s second-tallest peak. The group took an exploratory approach from China to avoid political instability in the more commonly traveled route from Pakistan. The 18-day trip was marked by splendor as well as set-backs. Although food was scarce and an avalanche prevented the group from reaching the advanced base camp, the climbers were treated to awe-inspiring sights and adventure.

Joan’s love of mountain climbing has taken her to Lanin volcano in Argentina, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tazania, Kangchenjunga in the Himalayas, and two base camps of Mount Everest. This fall, Joan will take on Mount Everest’s Kangshung east face.

For more on Joan’s adventures, check out her interview with Hawaii Business Magazine.

Joan Bennet, President and CEO

Joan Bennet has more than 30 years of experience in providing strategic public relations, marketing and advertising counsel to a wide range of clients in the U.S. and Asia Pacific region. She specializes in strategic planning, corporate and executive positioning, crisis communications and grassroots advocacy campaigns. Prior to establishing her own firm, Ms. Bennet was Executive Vice President for Hill & Knowlton Hawaii, and Public Affairs Director for Hill & Knowlton in Sydney, Australia. Previously, she was Communications Manager for an environmental protection agency and a public utility in southern California.

Bennet has won numerous awards for her work, including an Outstanding Women in Leadership award from the YWCA. She has lectured on communications and public relations at U.S.C., U.C.L.A., the University of Hawaii and the University of Sydney. She graduated with a BA in journalism and public relations from the University of Southern California.

She is on the Board of the Girl Scouts, and provides pro bono services for a number of charitable causes throughout the state, including the Children’s Cancer Foundation, among others.

Bennet Group wins “Best of Show”

Akin to the Oscars of the PR world — Bennet Group Strategic Communications took home six awards at the 29th Annual Koa Anvil Awards, presented by the Hawaii chapter of the Public Relations Society of America on July 26, 2012.

Monica Salter, account director at Bennet Group, represented the company well as the lead executive for all of the winning campaigns, which included:

Koa Hammer Award of Excellence in the category of press conferences for Hoku Solar’s “Flip the Switch” commissioning ceremony at University of Hawaii’s Sinclair Library.

Koa Hammer Award of Excellence in the category of creative tactics for The Outrigger “Garden Sweepstakes” in partnership with Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

Koa Anvil Award of Excellence in the category of marketing: consumer services in travel and tourism/hospitality for Embassy Suites-Waikiki Beach Walk’s “Suite-est Deal” promotion.

Koa Anvil Award of Excellence for events and observances-seven days or fewer in business-services for Hoku Solar’s Kapolei Sustainable Energy Park commissioning ceremony.

Koa Anvil Award of Excellence for reputation/brand management in business-companies with sales more than $10 million. This award was for Hale Ka Lae’s community relations campaign “Hale Ka Lae Delivers Aloha,” and also won Bennet Group the coveted “Best of Show” award out of all 103 entries submitted.

Pillars of Peace

Bennet Group was truly honored to be a member of the team preparing to host His Holiness the Dalai Lama in April 2012. We provided media relations support, among other services, for this historic visit.

His Holiness’ visit was designed to be an exchange of cultural values and historical lessons between His Holiness and the Native Hawaiian community. Our hope and the hope of our clients is that through this wonderful event, discussion and contemplation of peace and compassion will find their way around the world.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama participated in two separate public events during his visit to Oahu: both at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii – Manoa campus. The first event, for high school and college students, took place on April 14. The second event, open to the general public, was held on April 15.

Please visit the Pillars of Hawai‘i website for additional information on His Holiness’ visit. You can also follow Pillars of Peace Hawai‘i on Facebook and on Twitter.

Whole Foods Market

For nearly five years, Bennet Group has worked with Whole Foods Market to represent the company’s Hawaii stores. The firm manages community relations, media relations and driving sales and traffic to its two Hawaii stores in Kahala and Kahului, which continue to see increased traffic and sales year-over-year.

Due to Bennet Group’s strong relationship with the company, Whole Foods Market’s Southern Pacific (SOPAC) region recently retained Bennet Group to additional public relations support on a larger, regional level. The SOPAC region currently oversees public relations needs for 44 stores, with locations in Southern California, Arizona, Southern Nevada Las Vegas and Hawaii, and plans to assist with the opening of five new SOPAC stores in 2012.

Whole Foods Market Kailua
Bennet Group helped the company quickly and effectively communicate and establish Whole Foods Market as a perfect fit for the Kailua community. This was achieved through various meetings with key community and government leaders, during which the company was able to showcase its close alignment in values with its residents. By leveraging and building upon the great reputation Whole Foods Market previously established, the company enjoyed a successful grand opening in Kailua April 2012.

Whole Foods Market Kahului
In order to mark the arrival of Whole Foods Market on Maui, Bennet Group worked with Whole Foods Market to implement a number of strategic initiatives, including traditional media relations, hosting a VIP event for local Maui partners, promoting the store opening via social media (including twitter and Facebook) – giving away tickets to the special preview party through those outlets – as well as media tours.

As a result of the marketing team’s coordination, Whole Foods Market Kahului’s grand opening received more than $166,801 in earned media coverage – a more than 23 times return on the grand opening budget. On opening day the store’s sales were $155,005, with 4,930 shoppers coming through the doors. During the store’s first five days (Wednesday through Sunday) 19,426 shoppers visited the store, with $593,169 in sales.

D.R. Horton – Schuler Division’s Hoopili

When one of the nation’s largest home builders, D.R. Horton-Schuler Division (DRH), needed to build community support for its Hoopili project—a proposed, 1,554 acre, mixed-use, sustainable development in East Kapolei — it retained Bennet Group to assist with each stage of the entitlement and approval process.

With Bennet Group’s assistance, DRH created Hoopili’s Community Task Force, inviting community leaders and active residents from the greater Ewa region to come together to share their visions for the area’s future. Now approaching its sixth year as partners with DRH, the Task Force continues to serve as an advisory group for many planning elements for the project, including land uses, the relationship to rail and other issues such as traffic, transportation and connectivity to the existing, surrounding neighborhoods.

Bennet Group also manages Hoopili’s entire community relations effort, which entails building support throughout the community using various communications tools, including monthly e-newsletters, website management and media relations.

Additionally, Bennet Group is responsible for directing the community outreach program which involves ongoing interaction with key stakeholders from the community – such as residents, business partners, elected officials and key government entities.

Another key component to strengthening DRH’s brand is the company’s community giving program. Bennet Group ensures that the company – along with DRH’s philanthropic arm, the Schuler Family Foundation – is recognized as one of the state’s most generous corporate donors.

Bank of Hawaii


Bennet Group has worked with Hawaii’s oldest and largest bank for more than a decade providing internal and external communications services. Using a variety of communications channels, Bennet Group helps BOH showcase its people, products and philosophy, as well as spotlight its very generous community giving program. Bennet Group has helped secure media coverage for BOH in print, radio, television and online media outlets, further extending the bank’s brand strength, customer loyalty and community engagement.

Punahou School

Punahou School, one of the largest and most prestigious independent K-12 schools in the nation, retains Bennet Group to promote the school’s initiatives and achievements as well as build and maintain its brand around the world. Bennet Group provides assistance with developing and executing communication strategies designed to position the school as a thought leader in education through strategic media placements both locally and nationally.

In May 2008, Punahou School’s athletics program was selected by Sports Illustrated as the #1 in the nation. In order to ensure this great honor was shared with the entire state of Hawai‘i, Bennet Group assisted with developing a strategic approach to the announcement, ensuring that key messages were incorporated throughout all press materials and talking points.

In January 2009, Punahou School alumnus, and then-President-elect, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America in Washington D.C. In order to manage the school’s communications surrounding Obama’s inauguration, Punahou School and Bennet Group worked together to implement and execute a strategic public relations plan. Bennet Group helped to field media calls from local, national and international media as well as assisted in preparing press materials, including fact sheets and releases. Bennet Group helped the school think through strategic communications and message development for media relations.

Through President Obama’s Inauguration the school received more than $130,636 in earned media coverage – a return of more than 26 times the original investment. As a result of the team’s efforts, feature stories were secured in all of Hawaii’s major media outlets, including all television stations as well as the state’s top-circulated daily papers, Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Honolulu Advertiser, and key national and international press, such as the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, as well as Japan-based news outlets, which established the school as a world-class educational institution that excelled at preparing its students for the world after high school.

Outrigger Hotels and Resorts


Bennet Group provides strategic communications counsel, public relations and marketing support to Outrigger Hotels and Resorts and its affiliate brands, including OHANA Hotels and Resorts, Outrigger Reef on the Beach and Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach and Outrigger Enterprises Group, the parent company.

We also assist with providing public relations support for independent hotel properties and retail outlets under management by Outrigger Enterprises Group, including Embassy Suites-Waikiki Beach Walk, Ala Moana Hotel, Outrigger Reef on the Beach, Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, The Kapalua Villas Maui, and Waikiki Beach Walk. Utilizing creative marketing, social and traditional media strategies, Bennet Group helps maintain the strong Outrigger brand identity, as well as help drive business to the various properties.

Bennet Group works closely with local and national media outlets as well as bloggers and social media influencers to secure editorial coverage, promotions and on-site visits for Outrigger’s various brands. We have amassed hundreds of media stories in trade publications such as Travel Agent and Travel Weekly as well as consumer publications ranging from Hawaii Magazine to Better Homes & Gardens and Sunset Magazine. We also work with local and national TV and radio stations to create unique promotions that connect with our target audience of visitors.

Bennet Group also provides communications support for the company’s expansion into Asia, as well as crisis communications, issues management, employee relations- and community relations.





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