To provide the seed money for starting GreenMark Media in April 2006, Sue Markgraf sold her collector car—a red Corvette.
"I like to say it ‘revved’ the engine for something else – something very green,” she says.
In fact, it sparked her life’s mission to help share information and education about the glorious, wonderful planet we live on. GreenMark Media was born with a mission to provide custom, specialized professional communications services to green spaces, places and issues™.
Nearly 16 years later, GreenMark Media continues to share news of sustainability and environmental justice for its green-collar clients. But what exactly does that mean and how does the firm achieve its goals?
“GreenMark Media's clients represent the pillars of the sustainable industry,” Markgraf says. “This provides networking and cross-promotable synergies that impacts their bottom line and grows their business, while elevating awareness of important sustainable issues. It all works together.”
As a strategic storytelling firm for business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients, GreenMark Media offers an important messaging workshop at the start of every professional client relationship. The Grow Your Message Workshop™ helps businesses “articulate their values and purpose in the marketplace.”
“It’s surprising how eye-opening this workshop can be,” she says. “There is oftentimes a direct disconnect between the branding of the company in the c-suite and the branding of the company at the team level.”
After all, you don’t know what you don’t know, and Markgraf is on a mission to help people know more. That matters because she believes that getting everyone on the same page in a business means not only better success for the company – but correct storytelling about the company’s work to B2B and B2C publics. “When a message is clear and a company’s work is clearly defined – success happens and the Earth wins,” she says.
Markgraf’s own passion for our blue-and-green planet started with a red tomato.
“When I was very young, my parents gave me a small area of our yard, and I grew tomatoes,” she reveals. “I gave the very first tomato I grew to my mother. The delight on her face! That’s where the connection between Earth and goodness was made for me, and where my passion in my work comes from.”
Markgraf’s career in sustainability was nurtured through her career along the way and grew to fruition through her work at the Chicago Botanic Garden. There, she essentially created a viable public relations and marketing communications department that helped take the messaging of the Garden to a creative new level. During her time there, the Garden launched science initiatives and exciting new gardens. She was also part of the team that created a major branding and fundraising campaign.
“I remember the day distinctly when I knew I had to leave the Garden, a place I truly love to this day,” she says. “It was early October and the morning was beautiful – the start of a crisp, fall day. As I opened my bedroom curtains and I said to myself, ‘I absolutely love my job. I could retire from there.’ And I literally plopped myself down on the side of my bed and broke out in a cold sweat. I then knew there was something else I was meant to do. GreenMark Media, I know now, is it.”
So GreenMark Media was born and Markgraf’s mission to do her part for the industry-at-large was truly ignited. Her skillset uniquely blends years of experience in journalism and strategic storytelling for business.
“It is a very good planet” she says, “and we all have a responsibility to ensure that it lives and breathes as it was created to do. I do not want to see us make the mistakes we are making just because we don't know any better. “Increasing awareness, supplying education, and communicating while supporting our clients’ work is near and dear to me. It isn’t my job – it’s my calling.”
Beyond the Grow Your Message Workshop, GreenMark Media provides a full suite of professional communications services, including content creation, digital marketing, social media, reputation management, and much more.
“GreenMark Media is part of the sustainable industry, too,” Markgraf says. “By adopting our own green policies and sustainable practices – by being invested in the industry overall – we provide a unique platform for communicating about issues and getting straight to the heart of our clients’ work in sustainability.”
For green businesses who may be intimidated about costs when working with a professional communications and marketing firm, Markgraf offers one piece of advice:
“Don’t be scared. Reach out and let’s talk,” she says. “We have a unique gift as an industry. That is to articulately guide and lead so others will understand why Earth not only matters – but why its life needs protecting.”