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Barb Rentschler: Combine traditional and digital tools to super charge your communication efforts

Founded in 1992, K’NEX Brands, the world’s most innovative construction toy company, was established to make and sell what has become one of the world’s leading integrated construction systems for children and is America’s STEM building solution. Winner of over 250 international awards and recognitions, K’NEX, America’s building toy company, is focused on Building Worlds Kids Love and encourages youngsters to “imagine, build and play.” From the living room to the classroom, K’NEX has building toys specially designed for every age group and skill level. The K’NEX family of brands includes K’NEX Building Sets, K’NEX Thrill Rides, K’NEX Education, Lincoln Logs®, Tinkertoy®, NASCAR®, Angry Birds™, Mario Kart Wii™, Mario Kart 7™, Super Mario™, PacMan™ and more. Since 1992, The Rodon Group, a subsidiary of K'NEX Brands, L.P., has manufactured over 31 billion parts for the K'NEX building toy system. Join us as we help build the leaders of tomorrow. For more information, please visit or

Rake Narang: Is your company’s social media a part time activity, or is it a core function that requires dedicated people and resources?

Barb Rentschler: For K’NEX, social media is a core function that is integrated with our marketing efforts. In addition to social media activities designed to maintain and develop relationships with our fans, we add social media efforts to traditional marketing programs. For example, when we ran the Golden Mario promotion in 2011, we used social media to generate awareness of the promotion and to share the actions we took when overwhelming interest crashed our server. Social media is another tool in the marketing toolbox.

Rake Narang: Having implemented a successful social media strategy have you partially or fully abandoned traditional PR?

Barb Rentschler: Gosh, no. Social media is another tool in the marketing toolbox. We seldom use a single tool when reaching out to our fans and look for ways combine traditional and digital tools to super charge our communication efforts. For example, we have a four prong approach when introducing new products:

  1. Issue the traditional press release
  2. Participate in toy tests
  3. Create engaging Facebook posts
  4. Send samples to our bloggers to encourage them to write about our products.

Adding social media to traditional efforts simply means we have more ways to reach fans and soon-to-be fans.

Rake Narang: Should an organization with bad reputation ever use social media?

Barb Rentschler: That’s like asking whether someone with a poor public persona should hire a public relations agent. It depends on your goals. If it’s an undeserved bad reputation, then social media can help correct the perception. If changes have been made to correct whatever caused the bad reputation , then social media can help. But social media demands authenticity. It can’t create and maintain an false image. For social media to be successful, it needs to be genuine communications and needs to respect the intelligence of others in the social media world. As in the physical world, people can figure out whether something is fake.
Company: K'NEX Brands
2990 Bergey Road, Hatfield, PA 19440 U.S.A.

Founded in:
CEO: Michael Araten
Public or Private: Private
Number of Employees: 80
Products and Services: Manufacturer and wholesales of America’s Building Toy, K'NEX. The only construction toy made in the USA that is dedicated to building worlds kids love!
Company’s Goals: K'NEX is the next generation of construction sets. It inspires creativity, builds self-confidence and encourages interaction among children and parents. The possibilities are endless!
Key Words: Made in the USA; Construction Toys; America’s Building Toy; Imagine, Build, Play!; Building Worlds Kids Love!