Monthly Archives: November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is a day to sit down and enjoy good food, company of your family and be thankful for all we have. So we won’t be doing a blog for the holiday, instead we did a fun little Thanksgiving Video that we hope you will all enjoy.

We wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Penny Hanley and Howley Insurance

Branding your Business on a shoestring

connecticut small business insuranceThis was a great article published by American Express Open.

What does it take to generate powerful brand recognition? Small businesses don’t have millions of dollars to invest in branding campaigns, yet they need brand awareness in order to have staying power.

Luckily, there are ways to brand yourself successfully on a shoestring budget. Take a look at these five inexpensive strategies:

1. Know your audience. The first thing you must do before making any attempt to brand yourself is to develop a comprehensive understanding of exactly who your audience is and then define your messaging. “Before you spend a dime, it’s important for you to determine who your clients are so you can optimize your efforts and any money you may be spending,” explains Jason Robbins, CEO of ePromos Promotional Products.

2. Give away your expertise. “Whether it’s a company blog, white papers, e-books or a series of webinars, producing exceptional content is an effective way to build your brand,” Robbins says. “It doesn’t take a huge budget, but it does take time and a commitment to deliver content that’s truly valuable to your target audience.” While it sounds contradictory to the idea of making a profit, that small amount of effort can reap big rewards by positioning your brand in the minds of your target audience.

3. Capitalize on social media. Everyone’s talking about the power of social media marketing, and for good reason—it’s free. There are a lot of social media platforms out there, so it’s important to find out where your target consumers are spending their time and focus your efforts there.

The key to social media success is consistency and engagement, and that means staying active, participating in conversations and offering unique content that grabs your prospects and customers’ attention. “By reaching out to your followers and engaging them, some of them will share your content with their connections, thereby allowing you to reach a greater audience,” says Ian Aronovich, president and co-founder of

4. Put a new spin on traditional PR. The public relations field has changed dramatically with the rise of digital media. Although it’s easier to identify and reach out to relevant journalists thanks to services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO), it’s a lot more difficult to actually get coverage simply because there are thousands of other businesses vying for the same media mentions.

Capturing the attention of a niche journalist is a combination of luck and skill—it means delivering a compelling message at the right time. Building a relationship with relevant journalists can increase your odds of getting coverage, but it will take a bigger time investment. “If they choose to use your content, you’ll likely get links back to your business site,” Aronovich says, “which is great for SEO and also [provides] new content you can use to engage members of your social media networks.”

5. Use promotional products. Promotional products printed with your logo may seem gimmicky, but it can be an affordable and highly effective way to brand yourself. The key, again, is being in the right place at the right time. Offer something incredibly useful in a unique situation to make it memorable.

Paul Brocky, co-founder of The Road Code, found success using water bottles—and disposable bottles at that. “We hit charity races and outdoor competitions this year and gave away ice cold water bottles with our own custom label that proudly displayed our logo and website,” he says. “The cost was 14 cents a bottle. This included the labels that we had printed at a local copy store.”

This effort was successful because it met a need during an emotional high point. People tend to retain contextual memories better when they’re experiencing strong positive emotions. Analytics and website visits jumped in correlation to the days Brocky’s team handed out water bottles, a good indicator that the tactic was effective.

The recurring theme here is that to effectively brand yourself on a shoestring, you must be in the right place at the right time. But don’t leave that to chance. Do your research, know your audience, and use a little creativity to ensure your brand message has a lasting impact.

Angela Stringfellow is a freelance writer, social media strategist and complete content marketing junkie obsessed with all things Web, written word and marketing.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is Job

Students Beware: Comments on social media may cost you more than you know

social media and collegeWe came across this article in the NY Times recently, about a high school senior that was attending a college information session for prospect students in Brunswick, Me.  The college is still talking about it.  Apparently throughout the presentation, the student was making derogatory comments on Twitter about the fellow attendees and using expletives.

Apparently this young student was unaware of the affects this may have on her, as colleges keep track of their social media and saw her remarks. Scott Meiklejoh, Bowdoin, Dean of Admissions stated, “It was incredibly unusual and foolish of her to do that”.  Ultimately she was denied admission based on her academic record, but had her academic record been better those remarks could have ruined her chances.

We understand that social  media is the primary source our children use to connect with the outside world today.  What our children need to be aware of is that others are seeing their comments, even people they don’t expect to see them.  Is it worth taking the chance of not getting into college over some thoughts that you felt the need to put on social media.  Probably not.  So if you have a student applying for college next year, it may be worth sitting down and talking with them about how to represent themselves not only in person, but online.

Here is the link to the full article.  Please share with your children and have them share with their friends as well. They don’t want to put themselves in this type of situation and possibly ruin their changes at getting into the college of their choice.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job


The History of Thanksgiving

happy thanksgivingWe thought we would take a trip back and take a look at the history of Thanksgiving. Plimoth Plantation has this great information on the history.

Giving thanks for the Creator’s gifts had always been a part of Wampanoag daily life. From ancient times, Native People of North America have held ceremonies to give thanks for successful harvests, for the hope of a good growing season in the early spring, and for other good fortune such as the birth of a child. Giving thanks was, and still is, the primary reason for ceremonies or celebrations.

As with Native traditions in America, celebrations – complete with merrymaking and feasting – in England and throughout Europe after a successful crop are as ancient as the harvest-time itself. In 1621, when their labors were rewarded with a bountiful harvest after a year of sickness and scarcity, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God and celebrated His bounty in the Harvest Home tradition with feasting and sport (recreation). To these people of strong Christian faith, this was not merely a revel; it was also a joyous outpouring of gratitude.

The arrival of the Pilgrims and Puritans brought new Thanksgiving traditions to the American scene. Today’s national Thanksgiving celebration is a blend of two traditions: the New England custom of rejoicing after a successful harvest, based on ancient English harvest festivals; and the Puritan Thanksgiving, a solemn religious observance combining prayer and feasting.

Florida, Texas, Maine and Virginia each declare itself the site of the First Thanksgiving and historical documents support the various claims. Spanish explorers and other English Colonists celebrated religious services of thanksgiving years before Mayflower arrived. However, few people knew about these events until the 20th century. They were isolated celebrations, forgotten long before the establishment of the American holiday, and they played no role in the evolution of Thanksgiving. But as James W. Baker states in his book, Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday, “despite disagreements over the details” the 3-day event in Plymouth in the fall of 1621 was “the historical birth of the American Thanksgiving holiday.”

We wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Shop Small this Holiday Season

small business saturdayWe are one week away from the official start to the holiday shopping season, what is called Black Friday.  A day when may people wait in line for hours to get deals on their holiday presents.  But as a local small business, we like to think of November 30, as our official start to the holiday shopping season.  Small Business Saturday.  This was started by American Express several years ago to help boost exposure of the small businesses during the holiday season. A chance to give back to your local businesses.  The major difference in shopping small vs. large is that you will receive a different level of service, attention and enjoyment.  Small businesses take pride in the attention and service they give to their customers. Plus you won’t have to wait in long lines for hours to hopefully get that present, just to find out they are all gone.

Statics show that well over 50% of the money spent in your local independent business stays in your community. 

  • For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $73 remains in the local economy, and $27 leaves.
  • For every $100 spent at a non-locally owned business, $43 remains in the local economy, and $57 leaves.
  • When you shop locally owned businesses, your money is recirculated over and over and creates up to 75% more tax revenue to your community and state.
  • For every two jobs national retailers bring to a community, three jobs are lost as a result of local businesses closing down.

So why not consider shopping small this year for your holiday presents.  Not only will you receive amazing service, find unique products, you will be supporting your local economy.  Let us know what local businesses you will be shopping this upcoming holiday season.

Shop Small on Small Business Saturday.  Your local businesses will thank you.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance



What to do after an Auto Accident?

Safe Driving can always help in reducing your chances of an accident, but accidents will happen and knowing what to do after an accident can be very helpful.

Insurance Information Institute provides this video with tips on what to do after you are in an accident.


1. Pull your car over to the shoulder to a safe location

2. Call the Police

3. Don’t talk with the other driver regarding your insurance coverage or fault

4. Exchange Information with other driver:

  • Name of other driver
  • Address of other driver
  • License number
  • Vehicle Information: Make, Model and Year

5.  Time and Location of Accident

  • Drawing a diagram of the accident can also be very helpful

6.  Name of police officer that responded to the call

7. Insurance Information

  • Policy Number
  • Name of Insurance Company
  • Address of Insurance Company

8. Take Pictures with your cell phone

9. Call your Insurance Agent

These simple steps will help make your claim process easier.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job

Sewer Backup Coverage

home insurancePlan ahead for the unexpected

If your home is your castle, the last thing you want to do is to come home to discover raw sewage seeping into your home’s basement or a toilet overflowing from you second-floor bathroom due to a broken sewer line.  Both can create major and costly damage, but the good news is that both can be covered with an affordable Sewer Backup endorsement added to your Homeowners Insurance Policy.

What’s Covered?

For an additional premium to your Homeowners Insurance policy, an endorsement for water backup and sump discharge will cover losses caused by:

  • The backup of water or waterborne materials through a sewer or through a drain, or
  • Water or waterborne material that overflows from a sump, even if the backup of water is due to the mechanical breakdown of the sump pump. Coverage includes damage to covered property but excludes the sump pump and any related equipment that has broken down.

The endorsement does not cover losses that involve owner negligence, such as from damage as the result of forgetting to turn on your sump pump, or damages caused by a flood. A separate Flood Insurance policy is available to cover losses due to flooding.

Some water and sewer backups are unavoidable, but there are some simple things you can do to prevent backups in your sewer line.

  • Paper products – Do not flush anything other than toilet paper down your drain. Other paper products do not deteriorate quickly.
  • Cooking grease – As grease goes down the drain and cools, it solidifies and gets trapped. Instead of rinsing grease down your drain, dispose of cooled grease in your garbage.
  • Shrub and tree roots – Seeking moisture, it’s not uncommon for the roots of trees and shrubs to make their way into sewer line cracks. Over time, the cracks allow debris to build up. If you have continuing problems with tree roots in your sewer lateral, consider replacing it with a pipe made of plastic.
  • Illegal plumbing connections – Connecting sump pumps, French drains and other flood control systems to your sanitary sewer only spells trouble. Consult a plumber to correct any illegal connections.

Water in Your Basement?

Often, water entering the basement is not due to a sewer backup but rather from poor soil grading around your home’s exterior. If you have a water problem and have ruled out sewer backup, making sure that water is draining away from your home’s foundation properly can often fix the problem.

The Cost of Coverage

The cost of Sewer Backup coverage is affordable. Our personal lines team can provide you with more information about coverage costs, limits and deductibles. Call Penny Hanley & Howley Co. Inc. at (860) 684-2721 to learn more about this coverage and all the affordable ways we can help you to protect your home and personal property. You can also go to our website for a non-obligation Home Quote.