Founder Suzanne McDonald Wins Top 10 Groundbreakers Award

Newport Interactive Marketers founder Suzanne McDonald is recognized for her professional work in digital marketing by Newport Life Magazine

Suzanne McDonald was one of the Newport County residents who won the magazine’s Top 10 Groundbreakers award.

The Groundbreakers award is given to individuals in Newport County, Rhode Island who have made a positive impact in their field. The categories for Groundbreakers are Community Leader, Educator, Professional, and Volunteer and the awards are nomination-based.

Suzanne earned the Groundbreakers award for the professional category.


Below is an excerpt of Suzanne’s nomination submitted by Betty Ann Czech of Newport Tourist Products, LLC:

Q: Why do you feel this person should be recognized as one of Newport Life Magazine’s Top 10 Groundbreakers? Please provide as much information and details as possible as it will help us determine our award winners.

A: Suzanne McDonald broke new ground by founding and continuing to grow the only area organization focused on educating professionals, at no cost, about the newest digital marketing tools and techniques to increase their business and, thereby, provide businesses needing marketing with a better informed, skilled cadre of digital marketers and improve the local economy. It’s especially helpful for small businesses that do not have funds to employ an in-house or contract digital marketer.

Suzanne’s concept is to bring together professionals, who want to know about groundbreaking multi-media marketing, in the low-key, pitch-free, friendly environment of Newport restaurants. Meetings start with one hour of networking over hors d’oeuvres that the restaurant provides. The next hour+ features one or several speakers, followed by Q&A.  Speakers share expertise in such topics as social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), podcasting, maximizing multimedia use, reasonable cost for website development, and achieving high return on investment (ROI) from marketing efforts.

“Open Mic Tip Nights” invited attendees to share their favorite digital marketing advice. At the innovative “Flash Talks,” a panel shared 5-10-minute tips and news to improve businesses and the community.  Attendees have also been informed about URI’s Business Engagement Center, and a networking event partnered with the Newport County Chamber of Commerce, the Public Relations Society of America, and the RI chapter of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations.

Suzanne, who also founded and owns two marketing companies, Designated Editor and Angles & Insights, puts her skills to good use by having developed the NIM website that promotes meetings and describes all past NIM programs. Also, a mass email system alerts potential attendees to meetings and provides an online reservation form. Suzanne’s marketing savvy also results in program titles like “Facebook Advertising Secrets,” “Harness 8 Principles of the Digital Revolution,” and “Drive More Leads and Sales: What Works & Doesn’t.”

A testament to NIM’s value is that average attendance has grown from about 8 in mid-2010 to dozens by the end of the 2010 with a record of more than to 120+. Throughout this success, Suzanne is the same modest, warm-hearted leader whom I first met at a NIM meeting in 2010.

NIMRI July networking Hotel Viking

Suzanne at Newport Interactive Marketers’ annual summer networking event at Hotel Viking in Newport, RI

Q: How do you know, or know about, this individual?

A: I know Suzanne from attending NIM meetings. For me, NIM is Continuing Ed! NIM programs launched me into the high-tech world of Google Analytics, search engine optimization, social media and other “today” topics. This is helpful for growing my Newport Tourist Products business, which publishes a Newport tourist map and provides tour guides for motor coach and private tours. Industry professionals like Google AdWords experts, web developers, and graphic designers freely share proprietary information – whether speaking or contributing during Q&A – in the spirit of strengthening the NIM community overall. Many attendees have grown their businesses via strategic partnerships and collaborating to better serve clients on the island and internationally.

Suzanne finds expert speakers, many of whom speak at major industry events internationally (costing thousands to attend), to present at NIM for free, curating their expertise to best meet the needs of small businesses in Newport and beyond. Speakers include #InstagramExpert Sue B. Zimmerman, SEO expert author of “The Art of SEO” Eric Enge, AdWords expert Ted Ives, and many more.

She also engages many local experts to speak, luring them into the local community to share best practices that their Fortune 1000 companies have discovered. Also, Suzanne shares insights gained from the half-dozen professional conferences she attends each year.

As NIM approaches its 10th year, Suzanne continually seeks to support businesses, nonprofits and solopreneurs and is planning a major education event to help professionals become or stay informed about new marketing developments.

Q: What awards has this person won, if any?

A: [link to Suzanne’s LinkedIn]

  • 2014 Internet / New Media Company of the Year 
honor description
 Designated Editor: Gold winner – Internet / New Media Company of the Year

 Suzanne McDonald, Founder/CEO: Silver winner – Innovator of the Year, 
Silver winner – Executive of the Year – Internet/New Media 
honor date
Sep 2014 
honor issuer
International Business Awards
  • Upstart of 2014 – Gold winner 
honor description
 “Recognizing the individual who’s had the most influence on the Tech and New Media industries in the U.S.A.” Suzanne McDonald 
honor date 
Jun 2014 
honor issuer
 American Business Awards
  • INNOVATOR of the YEAR – Advertising, Marketing, Public Relations and Business Services (Silver) 
honor description 
Innovator of the Year – Advertising, Marketing, Public Relations and Business Services – Silver, Suzanne McDonald. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide.
  • 2013 EXCELLENCE IN BUSINESS AWARDS – Microbusiness of the Year 
honor description
 The Excellence in Business Awards is presented annually to honor outstanding business achievement in Newport County, RI. They are designed to celebrate the achievements of our businesses and to recognize the vital role they play in the economic well-being of our community. 
honor date
 May 2013 
honor issuer
Newport County Chamber of Commerce
  • SILVER STEVIE WINNER Female Executive of the Year – Business Services 
honor description 
The Stevie Awards were created to honor and generate public recognition of the achievements and positive contributions of organizations and business people worldwide. Our mission is to raise the profile of exemplary organizations and individuals among the press, the business community and the general public. In short order the Stevie has become one of the world’s most coveted awards. 
honor date
Nov 2012 
honor issuer
Stevie Awards for Women in Business.
Suzanne McDonald accepts International Business Award 'Internet New Media Company of the Year' award pose 5

Suzanne McDonald accepts International Business Award ‘Internet New Media Company of the Year’ award in Paris, France 2014

Q: What else should we know about this nominee? (For example, do they have children, did they put themselves through school, face hardship etc.)

A: Suzanne is all about staying on top of the fast-changing world of marketing on the Web and sharing that information so others can also be on the cutting edge.

What’s especially remarkable about Suzanne is that she launched NIM when she was launching her own first business, Designated Editor. More recently, she created a “sister” business. Angles & Insights. Also impressive is that Suzanne is an example of reinventing oneself: she is a former Boston Globe journalist who has acquired new skills to leverage her writing skills into the marketing realm. Suzanne also has shared her knowledge and skills as an adjunct professor of Social Media Strategies at the University of Rhode Island and Writing for Online & Social Media & Event Planning & New Media at Framingham State University and Salve Regina University.

Providing opportunities to students and recent grads has been a commitment throughout Suzanne’s decade of entrepreneurship. Where many have relied on offshore talent, Suzanne has mentored dozens of students from URI, Framingham State University, Salve Regina, and more. As paid interns, many of them credit working with Suzanne as providing the skills they needed to become marketing/communications professionals: working at agencies in New York City, as journalists, or in media relations.

Her pioneering “teaching hospital model” requires additional organization and effort, but Suzanne feels these opportunities are crucial as most higher-ed curricula can’t keep up with the pace of marketing technology.

Suzanne is also a mom and manages her micro-agency while dedicating 2 days a week to her daughter, Elise, age 4.

Currently, Suzanne is leading the launch of the Montessori Aquidneck Co-op School, along with several parents who are feeling the pressure of where to start kindergarten this fall. Elise is due to start in 2018. Suzanne is committed to “quality, affordable education that works for working families.” This is another example of Suzanne’s generous spirit.

Thank you, Betty Ann and Newport Life Magazine for the award!

Newport Life Magazine is the only lifestyle magazine dedicated to Newport County. Since 1993, it has showcased all that is unique about the City-by-the-Sea, from its people and places to its events, history and of course its distinctive lifestyle. Newport Life Magazine strives to educate its readers about Newport County’s distinctive history, as well as the remarkable events that occur today.