Hidden Messages Behind Public Speaking

Hidden Messages Behind Public Speaking


Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group

Over the years I’ve coached a broad range of clients toward the goal of making their public speaking and media appearances more effective.

My clients have included the CEO’s of many of the largest, most successful companies in America, which leads me to my first point.

1) Successful entrepreneurs and leaders of successful companies are the most difficult to train. Why?  Because success spoils them into thinking that because they’ve made it to the top they must know what they’re doing.  So why should they listen to a communications coach who has less money and power then they do?

Answer: because they still need to learn a few new tips and techniques from someone who focuses on communications, and not on building businesses or amassing wealth and power.

The visual

Does it matter how you dress or the color of the clothes you wear?  Answer: yes, most definitely.

The other day I attended a presentation by a man who has built a number of successful insurance marketing agencies across the county that are still growing at an awesome 40% a year.  One of the insurance companies they represent credits them for having sold $1 billion worth of life insurance.

So how was this genius business builder dressed who was once in his own words a financial “train wreck” in debt $30,000 and changing jobs one after another, but now has hit it big and earning millions a year and helping others to do the same thing?

All in black.

Unless you’re a Steve Jobs, why on earth would you wear a black shirt, black pants and black shoes?

Had he asked me how he should dress to speak to a group he’s endeavoring to inspire to take the same road to riches that he took, I would have told him to lighten up, wear brighter colors.

At least wear pastel shades that cameras like better and that will make you look friendlier, happier, more prosperous and what you have to say or to offer, more inviting.

I would have told him to forget the black shirts, once the pride of the paramilitary wing of the National Fascist Party and after 1923 an all-volunteer militia of the Kingdom of Italy.

Together with the black pants and black shoes, my friend you’re projecting a dark, almost sinister image that’s the opposite of the impression you want to make.

2) Does the length of your talk matter?

Answer: are you kidding?  TOTALLY!  You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “less is more.”  I’d say the shorter the better unless, of course, it’s a complicated message you want to impart, in which case you might need to speak for more than 20 minutes, but every minute after that you’re out on a cliff near a dangerous precipice of your audience descent into mental blackout.

Besides staying on track with your messages, speakers need to be mindful of urinary tracks in their audience for after 20 minutes, while you’re just getting wound up, some will be thinking of rest room relief and mentally bailing out on you.

I’d recommend speaking for not longer than 45 minutes and leaving 15 minutes for Q&A.  That’s plenty of time for most talks from a stage or in front of a group.  On TV, you can shave that down to 3 to 5 minutes, because that’s all you’ll get to deliver your message.

Back to the whiz-bang successful business builder in black, he spoke for (gulp) over two hours and articulate, smart and accomplished as we was, if he went a minute longer, I thought my bladder would burst.

Thomas MaddenAbout the Author: Madden is the founder and CEO of the public relations firm TransMedia Group.  Books he has written include SPIN MAN, King of the Condo, Is There Enough BRADY in TRUMP To Win The inSUPERable Bowl? and Love Boat 78.  His blog, Madden Mischief.com finds him “Looking at Truth through the prism of Absurd.” Madden started out as a newspaper reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, then rose to the pinnacle of network television as Vice President, Assistant to the Pressident of NBC under then CEO Fred Silverman, for whom Madden wrote speeches when they were both at American Broadcasting Companies. Madden recently launched Madden Talent, a licensed talent agency representing actors, artists and models. Corporate titans like the Chairmen of Kellogg’s Company and AT&T looked to Madden to do crisis management and write influential speeches for them that were reprinted in The New York Times. Madden won the Public Relations Society of America’s Bronze Anvil for a PR campaign he conducted for The City of New York. Rexall Sundown Founder Carl DeSantis credits Madden’s publicity for the firm’s spectacular success, culminating in DeSantis selling the company in 2000 for $1.6 billion.




Tips on How to be Better at Public Speaking

 Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

Being good at public speaking is a useful tool in almost every career. In public relations, public speaking is great way to communicate your message to your target audience. Events like conferences, networking and promotional events might require you to inform, entertain and influence an audience. 

A good public speaker is not only able to communicate to an audience, but also engage them and motivate them. Here are some tips to help you build skills to improve your public speaking: 

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Be ready! A good public speaker knows what their talking about. It is essential to do research into the topic and have an idea of the main points you want to discuss. If you are well-versed in your topic, then you’ll be more confident communicating the information to the public. Once you’ve got a handle on the topic, go in front of the mirror and practice. Better yet, try practicing in front a friend or colleague. It’s true what they say – practice makes perfect. 

Connect with the audience

Developing a relationship with the audience is a key aspect of successfully engaging and communicating your message. Use humor, anecdotes, personal stories and relatable contect to make an impactful connection. Hand gestures and facial expressions help keep the audience engaged and interested. 

Know your audience

Find out who your audience is. Based on their age, gender, interests, profession, etc. you should tailor your speech to fit their background. This will make you and your material more relatable and understandable. Use language they will understand. If you have an audience without knowledge of your area of expertise, then avoid industry jargon. Think about what your want your audience to take away and structure your speech accordingly. 

Keep it Interesting

You don’t want anyone dozing off during your speech. Inject a funny anecdote or add a moving story. Audiences enjoy when speeches when there’s a personal touch and the speaker isn’t just spewing facts and statistics. A story can go a long way to keeping the audience engaged.  

Do it regularly

The more often you practice public speaking, the more easier it will be. You will understand what works and what doesn’t work. You will also learn to relax and have more confidence in your abilities as a public speaker. A good way to get a hang of public speaking is to start at a small event and then build up to bigger events and conferences. After a while, you’ll feel comfortable on stage and you will be able to deliver your message more and more effectively to different audiences.  

Get Feedback

Feedback can come from many channels including yourself. Watch your speeches afterwards and see where you can improve. You can also get feedback from members of the audience and your colleagues. Constructive criticism is a great way to improve on any skill. 

About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of PR Agency 5WPR.


Here’s How to Overpower Your Fear of Public Speaking

Fiona Cutts

The statistics on public speaking speak for themselves – 74% of people are afraid of addressing an audience. If you are one of the ones who can do this proficiently, and even enjoy it, you will have more ease in your work life and an edge in today’s competitive world.

I am all too familiar with the challenges of speaking to the public. I used to be so shy that it was hard for me to talk on the phone even to a friend and harder still for me to say my name in a room full of people. I have transformed to such an extent that I am now a communications expert and coach and passionate about sharing the tools that I used to convert my worst fear into something I now enjoy.

Here are the top seven things I have learned along the way to be a more confident public speaker.

  • Acknowledge your awareness

Although this isn’t something that we tend to talk about a lot, we are often acutely aware of what is going on for other people. We already know that most people would rather not be, or are actually frightened of, presenting to groups. So, when you are about to talk, you may find yourself aware of other peoples’ thoughts, feelings, and emotions about speaking in public.

The trick here is to remind yourself that just because the thoughts are in your head, they are not necessarily anything to do with you. Your reality may be completely different.

  • Engage your audience

Most presentation strategies focus on being crystal clear on what you are delivering, and then repeating it in several different ways. Unfortunately, this tends to end up with the speaker “pushing” ideas onto their audience. This frequently results in the audience resisting you and pulling away from your message.

An alternative to this is to imagine a connecting thread from behind the audience, through them, and through you. When you do this, a kind of magic occurs – your audience feels engaged with you, and enthusiastic about what you are saying rather than resistant.

  • Move your body

Often when we are stressed, tension builds up in our bodies, and then when we get on stage to make our presentation, our bodies may start to shake, or we might feel tension in different places. If you move your body before you give your talk, this can release or alleviate your symptoms.

You may go for a jog or run on the morning of the talk, or you may, like me, go to the rest rooms and jump up and down in the few minutes before your presentation. Either way, your body will feel good and more relaxed after exercise, and your symptoms may well lessen or even abate entirely.

  • Anchor yourself

It is sometimes the case that our nerves make us feel like we are going to be pushed over as we stand in front of our audience. Whilst it is unlikely that we will fall over, there are a couple of techniques you can use that will make you feel more present in the room and unassailable.

I suggest standing with your feet planted firmly apart, feeling yourself supported by the ground. At the same time imagine yourself expanding outwards. This combination means you feel and look confiden

  • Speak to your specific audience

It goes without saying that you will be well prepared for your talk, so I don’t need to include that here.

What often occurs is that we have a “message” that we want to share at all costs. Even when we notice that the audience is not responding as we had hoped, we still plough on regardless.

I suggest asking some simple questions that allow you to tune into what will inspire rather than bore your audience: “What can I say that this audience can hear? What can I say that would be of interest to this audience?”

Again, when you ask this before your presentation, a kind of magical transformation occurs. Without trying, you find yourself speaking the content that is relevant to them in a way that is easily accessible.

  • Fear or excitement

Often, when we were little and excited about something, our overly anxious parents assumed we were afraid and handled us accordingly. It is likely that from point, we have conflated excitement and fear.

When you feel the familiar signs of what appears to be fear I recommend asking: “Is this fear or is this excitement?” Having done this, you might well find that you are actually excited to share your message with the world.

  • Don’t worry if you go wrong

We often believe we have to be perfect. The problem with this is that striving for perfectionism can lock us up. Being so afraid of making a mistake, we can be too afraid to even open our mouths.

If you do fluff a line, the best thing to do is smile and apologise, without making yourself wrong. When you don’t make yourself wrong, your audience will not judge you either. This can give you an untold freedom that will make it much easier for you to be “up front”.

I love reminding myself of these simple tools that have allowed me to enjoy giving talks and presentations. I hope that they will give you the freedom that you are seeking, too.

Here’s How to Overpower Your Fear of Public SpeakingAbout the Author: Fiona Cutts was a painfully shy child who excelled academically, a strength that led her into a profitable career as an accountant. By 30, however, she was unhappily divorced, suffering with back pain, depression, and eventually, a debilitating bout of chronic fatigue. Her journey of health restoration led her down all the conventional medical routes to no avail. It was the tools and processes of Access Consciousness and Right Voice for You that enabled Fiona to attain the vibrant, expansive, joyful living she enjoys today. Today she travels the world facilitating Right Voice for You programs, a specialty program of Access Consciousness, offering others the tools and strategies to experience this level of change and possibility in their own lives. Follow on Twitter @Fiona_Cutts.



Glossophobia: The Fear of Public Speaking

Dian Griesel - featuredBy Dian Griesel, President of Dian Griesel International

Did you know that as many as 75% of all people suffer from the affects of Glossophobia? Yes, that’s right: Glossophobia or, as it is more commonly known, fear of public speaking. For many, fear of public speaking is a fear greater than death. Fortunately the terror and sweats can be overcome. Like all obstacles in life if one chooses to make a concerted effort, enhanced communication and conversation skills…as well as general comfort over the symptoms can be gained.

These six essential tips can help anyone conquer Glossophobia. Test them out. They will make any speaker feel more confident in front of a crowd or just help with everyday communication skills.

1. What you know. To be an effective public speaker, it helps to be well-read and up-to-date on current events. Keeping abreast of current issues will not only increase credibility in a presentation, but also help anyone contribute intelligently to any conversation.

2. Listening. People might ask questions during or after a presentation, or even come up to you afterwards to chat about your speech. If you don’t know an answer, be honest and tell them you’ll get back to them at a later date. In a conversation, people will be able to tell if you’re actually engaged with what they are saying or if you’re just smiling and nodding. You will gain more respect, and likely have a deeper conversation, if you are an active listener.

3. Eye contact. It’s as important to maintain eye contact with a large group as it is in a one-on-one conversation. Even if you are reading from note cards, make it a point to look up at the audience after every other sentence or so. You can even make a mark in your speech where you should look up. It will make you seem confident and help the audience connect with you. While you’re at it, a smile doesn’t hurt either.

4. Kidding around. A little bit of humor can go a long way in breaking up a long speech or diffusing tension. As long as it is kept in good taste, humor can make you seem more approachable and might encourage people to talk to you after a large presentation.

5. Me, myself and I. It might be awkward at first, but practicing your speech in front of a mirror will help you become more comfortable with your material and even more comfortable in listening to your own voice aloud. If you trip up in certain places, it might mean you need to rewrite or rethink your words and phrases.

6. A role model. Who do you know who speaks well in front of a crowd? Maybe it’s someone you’re close to, such as a community leader or teacher you admire, or maybe it’s a public figure like the President or a celebrity. Either way, pick out a quality that you think makes them a good speaker and try to emulate it. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Although these key elements might not cure you of Glossophobia, they could bring you one step closer to becoming a master orator.

About the Author: Dian Griesel is a strategic visibility expert, an author of several business books on corporate communications and the president of Dian Griesel International, a public relations firm that delivers traditional, digital and social media visibility for greater engagement with desired audiences. 

Gary Vaynerchuk – Three Pieces of Advice to Build Confidence for Public Speaking

I do a lot of public speaking and there’s no arguing that I’m pretty good at it. I hit the stage as a 30-something somewhere in 2006 and it was instantaneous: I loved the stage and the stage loved me back. It came naturally to me, so I play to that strength. It’s why I come off as someone who is very comfortable on stage or in front of the camera. I just love it.

I know a lot of you out there aren’t always the biggest fans of public speaking. In fact, it’s probably the number one fear for many people. Whether it’s a keynote or a short presentation, it takes a lot of nerve to get up in front of an audience. I think the problem is that a lot of you are overthinking it. So, here are a few tips to help build some confidence and make public speaking feel natural to you.


There’s a really good reason why some of my keynotes are so good and it’s because I stick to what I know. The reason why I don’t need slides and why I’m so comfortable being in front of the camera on The #AskGaryVee Show is because I stay in my lane.

The problem arises when people try to fake the funk: they try to talk about topics or claim they’re experts before ever doing anything. So what happens is that when they get up on stage and try to talk about their execution, they get stuck. It’s why I don’t feel comfortable answering questions about topics like foreign-policy or Bitcoin. Whether on stage or in front of the camera, I’m very transparent about not talking about something I don’t know.

As long as you stick to your personal experience and expertise, you can have the confidence to go up and talk about your insights. So long as you’re a practitioner of what you preach, you’ll be able to voice your opinion eloquently because it’s backed up by your executions.


If you’ve been to or have listened to any of my keynotes, you probably know that I always try to get a read of the room to see how many people already know who I am. I usually ask them to “raise you hand if you don’t know who I am.” I assume that 90% of the room doesn’t (and I am always humbled by the 10% that do). Why do I do this? Because I want to take that few seconds to take the temperature of the room. I want to get a feel for the audience’s grasp on what I’m about to talk about. I want to see what their experience is and what context that have about me or the topic I’m about to talk about.

Here’s the thing: the world is big. There’s a lot of stuff out there and you can’t assume what the audience knows or doesn’t know. Whether you walk in and you feel like you’re in over your head or you feel you’re overqualified on the topic, stick to what you know and be humble about it.


Another good reason why I don’t like using cue cards of slides is because I’m just not a good reader. It never comes naturally to me and I’m not going to start trying now. Even reading my kids a bedtime story feels intimidating. One look at a copy of Good Night Moon and I’m a mess.

I would be crippled if I had to read cue cards. But, if you like the idea of cue cards or if having slides to lean against is natural to you, then do that. You have to know how you best communicate and use that to your advantage. Make sure that you’re giving the presentation in the most organic way possible. If that means clicking through slides, or standing with notes at a podium, or just winging it onstage, then who am I to say not to do it? Make it feel natural because it is natural.

P.S. The single biggest reason people are concerned about public speaking is because they worry what other people think of them. The quicker you start learning how to fix that issue and be comfortable with yourself, you become a much better public speaker. Heck, you’ll become a much better and happier human being.

Article originally appeared here.

Joining the World of Public Relations


Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR

There are plenty of career opportunities  in the public relations industry, as well as certain things that people can do to excel at landing a position. Ideally, they should try to land an entry-level position in an agency and attend networking events to get the best results. 

Choosing a Career Option

It’s up to the individual whether to work with a number of different companies or  focus on a single one. This  can be the deciding factor when choosing a career path.  

For example, people  interested in getting a high-level perspective in different industries working with different brands, should work at a PR agency. On the other hand, people who are passionate about learning the ins and outs of  a single industry, would work best at an in-house PR team. 


At a fundamental level, public relations is all about telling stories. This makes being able to define and promote different brand stories essential when working in the industry.  To effectively tell stories, PR professionals need strong communications skills, as well as  great understanding of both marketing trends and media. 

These skills can be gained and improved through courses and classes, as well as hands-on experiences when working with PR agencies. They’re also essential in developing knowledge of the media industry while also learning how to engage with the different target audiences on behalf of a brand. 


A great way for people looking to improve their public relation skills is to do a PR internship. These internships are a great way to get a lot of essential information and hands-on experience that only comes when someone starts working with a brand or in an industry. 

There are plenty of different internships at PR agencies that range from writing press releases, developing brand strategies, managing social channels, to  helping account executives manage their clients’ accounts. 


One of the key ways that people can get into the public relations industry is through networking. Knowing how to network effectively is both helpful to enter the industry and  build relationships with different brands, journalists, reporters, and audiences. It’s also an essential skill that PR professionals must have to deliver positive results. 

Whether it’s by attending industry events, connecting with professionals on social media or keeping up with professionals by engaging with their content online, there are plenty of possibilities and options. 


Finally, another essential skill and tool for PR professionals is their ability to communicate.  Public  relations is all about communication. Whether it’s communicating with the brand, the audience, other professionals in the industry, or different departments within a brand such as advertising, human resources, or marketing, communicating is crucial. 

PR professionals need strong verbal and written communication skills, as well as public speaking, time-management, problem-solving, organizational, and listening skills, among others.



Play Ball??? 2020 Changed How Sports Was Played. Should It Change Sports Marketing Public Relations Programs In 2021 And After?

Arthur Solomon

For baseball fans, “wait ‘till next year” will begin on April 1 (no fooling), when the first Major League game is scheduled to be played. For basketball fans, “wait ‘till next year” began on December 22, 2020, when the National Basketball Association began its current (2020-2021) season. For National Football League fans, 2020 did not end, no matter what the calendar says, until after the February 7, 2021 Super Bowl was history and “wait ‘till next year” will begin on September 9, when the first NFL game of 2021-2022 season is contested. For National Hockey League fans, “wait ‘till next year” began on January 13, 2021. For countless other professional and collegiate sports, the beginning of “wait ‘till next year” will rely on their schedules, not the Gregorian calendar most people use.

Of course, because Covid-19 will still be spreading havoc in 2021, betting the farm that all of the above start dates are set in stone is as ridiculous as thinking that your friendly financial advisor can really predict the future of a stock. 

But one thing is certain. The dreadful year 2020 has changed the life of sports and nonsports fans. Their lives will never be the same and neither will sports.

Sports in 2020 will be remembered as the year of change – for players, leagues, and how the rules of games were altered because of the coronavirus. But will it also change sports marketing approaches? In my opinion, it should.

For most people, there were three major stories that involved sports in the year of Covid-19.

  • The coronavirus pandemic, and
  • The presidential election, and 
  • The on-going protests spurred by the killing of Black men by police gone wrong.

    1 Covid-19 demonstrated that sports moguls only gave lip service to the health of their athletes. Despite professional and college games being shifted to other venues, canceled or postponed, and despite athletes falling ill with the disease, the owners and their TV network counterparts continued to push for a “complete” season. Only the International Olympic Committee, after insisting that Tokyo 2020, their summer games, would be held as scheduled, gave in to reality and postponed the games to this summer after some countries said that they would not send a team to Tokyo in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

    2 Viewership of sports on TV declined. Industry pundits said it was because of the interest in the presidential election. (If that’s true that’s good for America.)

    3 Along with the machinations of an autocratic, pathological, presidential liar, racial justice protests made following sports to many people seem insignificant.

    The year 2020 also produced a quote that New York Mets fans loved and raised the eyebrows of cynics. It was when Steve Cohen, one of whose hedge funds pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges in 2013, purchased the team for a reported $2.4 billion, and said he’s doing it for the fans.

    Even though surveys show that for most Americans what happens in the sports world is of minor interest or no concern, for a certain segment of our society what happens in the sports world is paramount. For them the list above is incomplete. Sports fanatics, sports marketers, TV network brass, pro and college football fans, workers who make their living because of sports-associated businesses, and the various leagues that set the rules for their sports might think the most important story of the year was the work stoppage by pro athletes, who sat out games to protest racial injustice and police brutality. That happening also might have attracted the attention of people who don’t know the difference between a dunk and a wide receiver. But will it translate into new fans? I wouldn’t bet a plug nickel that it will. 

    Events in 2020  have convinced me more than ever that my decades of saying using current  athletes as brand spokespeople is not a good idea because their actions can upset consumers, current and potential, and drag unwilling companies into the political scene.

    It’s not that I think that athletes don’t have the right to speak out. I believe they do.

    It’s not that I disagree with their taking a stand by refusing to play as a protest against police brutality against Black men. 

    It not that I think what the players did was absolutely wrong. Everyone has a right to protest peacefully or go on strike, as these athletes did. In fact, I admire those who did. (But President Trump, as expected, didn’t approve the right of peaceful protests and condemned the players for their actions, the leagues for permitting the work-stoppage without punishing the players, and team owners, in some instances, for vocally supporting the players.) 

    People who don’t live or die by the sports scene might think that Black athletes speaking out about racial injustice is relatively new, beginning when Colin Kaepernick took a knee on a football field in 2016. 

    Nothing could be further than the truth. Some examples:

    • In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in MLB when he was promoted to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Years later, he admitted that he didn’t sing the national anthem.
    • In 1968, American track stars John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists in what they said was a protest against racism and injustice on the medal stand of the Olympics in Mexico City. They were banned from Olympic participation and vilified by newspaper columnist Brent Musburger, who called them “black-skinned storm troopers.” Today, the two track stars are considered civil rights heroes.
    • In 1969, St. Louis Cardinals’ all-star centerfielder Curt Flood initiated the path that now gives baseball players free agency, instead of being forced to play for one team indefinitely.
    • But perhaps, it was Cassius Clay, who in 1964 provided the loudest Black athlete voice against racial injustice (at that  time) by changing his name to Muhammad Ali, saying his former name was his “slave name.,” 
    • In 2016, the “modern” day athlete’s racial protests movement was ignited by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, when he knelt during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.

    Robinson’s, Ali’s and Kaepernick’s actions will always be remembered and written about. Indeed, they are mentioned more than the Carlos, Smith, and Flood’s protests. But in 2020, a relatively unheralded basketball player, except to followers of the NBA, George Hill of the Milwaukee Bucks, convinced teammates to protest racial injustice by not playing a game, leading to boycotts and rescheduling of games that permeated across the sports world.

    Because of Robinson’s joining the then Brooklyn Dodgers, baseball was changed for ever. Because of Hill’s action, all sports were changed forever.

    (I always thought that Jackie Robinson breaking the baseball color line was the most important action by an athlete in professional sports. Now Hill’s action is as least as paramount.)

    Before the 2020 games’ boycotts, protests by athletes were relatively quiet and coverage of their actions didn’t’ have a long shelve life. In fact, the majority of younger sports fans today, and even many, if not most, professional athletes probably don’t know much about them except that they end up in the occasional sports column, the exception being Major League Baseball’s Jackie Robinson Day, celebrated annually.

    Also, those protests occurred in an era when few athletes spoke publicly about racial injustice. Not now. It’s not unusual to hear an athlete speak about racial and political issues. But the protests of 2020 were truly unique. Instead of a few individual players making a stand, the protests became a movement encompassing hundreds of athletes from various sports refusing to play in an already coronavirus truncated season.

    And during the National Football League season, protests against racial injustice by the players were ubiquitous. Shamefully, in its September 10 season opening telecast between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, NBC did not show that the Texans were not on the field during the National Anthem, as a news organization should, even though Cris Collinsworth, a former Cincinnati Bengals player who was one of the announcers said, “I feel like I have to start off by saying I stand behind these players 100%, 100%. What they’re trying to do is bring positive change in this country that frankly is long, long overdue. Let’s just get that out of the way and go call a football game,” he said. (For those readers not familiar with pro football, Collinsworth is not Black.)

    In contrast to NBC’s’ censoring  of the Houston team not being on the field during the Star Spangled Banner, ESPN EVP Stephanie Druley said, “We will cover social justice movements, actions, as they happen.”

    It was not a surprise that players from the National Basketball Association, Women’s National Basketball Association and the National Football League would support the walkout: Their rosters are dominated by Black athletes. What probably shocked sports marketers and MLB officials were that many teams in the league joined the movement even though less than 10% of the players are African-Americans. 

    And a Washington Post poll, published on the opening day of the NFL season, said that 56 percent of Americans approve of athletes kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality; only 42 percent say it is not appropriate. The poll also showed that despite the anti-athlete protest stands of President Trump and conservative politicians and pundits, a 62 percent majority say professional athletes should use their platforms to express their views on national issues, including over 8 in 10 Black Americans and 7 in 10 adults under age 50.

    That presents a problem for sport marketers that want to keep their brands from being caught up in the politics of the situation, fearful that joining the protests or keeping quiet about them, will alienate consumers, pro or con.

    But even prior to the players’ short work-stoppage, many current star athletes were speaking out about racial injustice and getting involved in politics. Basketball star LeBron James and other athletes formed “More Than A Vote,” an organization to promote and protect African-American voting rights. Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors star, appeared in a video supporting Joe Biden at the Democratic Convention.  The entire Women’s National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Dream team, and others in the league, endorsed the opponent of then GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler, an owner of the Atlanta team who was defeated for r-election, because of her remarks criticizing Black Lives Matter, and the entire league had to shut down when teams refused to play. Also, many players and coaches from teams of different sports spoke out publicly against the racial inequalities and police brutality. When historians write about sports during the pandemic year of 2020, the big sports story will not be about which teams won or lost or which athlete was the best performer. They’ll write about the uprising by athletes of all sports that will change how sports are looked at forever. 

    Aside from losing revenue from a few games, a worrisome concern of the protests to owners of teams is that the work stoppage also might be the forefront of a more aggressive approach by athletes in dealings with management. It demonstrated that when the players are united that they hold the decisive hand. The athlete protests of 2020 vindicates what I have been preaching for many years to sports marketers: using a current athlete as a brand publicity hawker can be dangerous. Here’s why:

    • Prowess on the sports fields cannot prevent past or present misbehavior from being reported on.
    • Why chance having a company or its product represented by athletes who have misbehaved when there are so many other options.
    • Some athletes represent so many products that consumers and the media don’t take their endorsements seriously.
    • During interviews, reporters will concentrate on the athlete’s achievements, often not even mentioning the product being hawked. (Example: I would never suggest an athlete like LeBron James, because an interview most certainly would be dominated by his racial activism; or Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca, because an interview would probably be centered on his famous pitch to Bobby Thomson that won the pennant for the New York Giants in 1951  or any athlete who is renowned for one famous occurrence)
    • Most of the time after an athlete is interviewed, a story will say something like, “So and So is a spokesperson for the XYZ Company,” and then delve into things sports. Some PR people think that’s a good placement. I don’t. Unless the story contains some client talking points, I consider it a strike out.
    • Unlike the past, when sports stars weren’t making so much money, it was easy to make certain that they would not say anything controversial. Today, it’s impossible to keep athletes from expressing opinions and/or becoming activists in cultural and political causes, occasionally dragging their unhappy sponsoring brands into the story.
    • Current athletes probably have been written about many times regarding their play on the field, making it highly unlikely that a journalist for general news outlets would do a story just because of a product endorsement deal.  These types of stories usually end up in trade pubs.

    As a PR practitioner who has used many athletes as publicity spokespersons, I believe that in certain circumstances using an athlete makes sense, as long as they are not current ones.

    So here’s some alternative thinking about using athletes for public relations purposes, one that sportswriters said I was instrumental in popularizing as a  publicity tool for national sports marketing campaigns, while at Burson-Marsteller in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, when managing the media  thrust for Gillette’s sponsorship of the All-Star Game fan baseball election for eight years. 

    Despite raised eyebrows from some colleagues and the client (who told me, “If you want to take this route we’ll give you enough rope to hang yourself”) I decided to build the publicity around ballplayers whose playing days had past, the rule being that they had All-Star Games credentials.

    Some of the athletes urging fans to vote in the All-Star Game elections were: Lefty Gomez, Ted Williams, Bob Feller, Sparky Anderson, Ernie Banks and Ralph Kiner. I used many retired Olympians for Olympic-related programs, but Bob Mathias, was my go to guy – easy to work with, well-liked by the media and reliable.

    My decision to use these athletes was based on my newspapering day’s experience, before I transitioned to PR, my discussions with reporters and assignment editors/producers and by my knowledge as a former journalist of what the media expected from a PR practitioner.

    My thought process went as follows:

    Current star athletes are interviewed by reporters frequently, so let’s give the media something different to encourage the client plug; let’s also make certain the athlete is a natural fit for the program; talking points should make the Gillette message fundamental to the  All-Star Game fan election; ask media contacts about the newsworthiness/interest of spokesperson candidates prior to using them; immediately eliminated from consideration were athletes who were not media-friendly or were “bad” interviews. Also, let’s factor in the business desk as an integral facet of the publicity campaign for Gillette executives and, when possible, previous advertising campaigns.

    While personally I support and admire athletes who are not afraid to speak about racial injustice, police brutality and other political matters, as a PR practitioner my allegiance is to protect the client on any account I agree to work on. (That doesn’t mean working on accounts whose motives you disagree with. During my career I have refused certain assignments because they went against my beliefs.) 

    For many clients that means keeping them clear of controversial situations by selecting athletes who were silent about non-sports issues. However, for the bold client, aligning itself with athletes who speak out certainly makes sense from a moral perspective. And it certainly would result in on-going publicity.

    But for client’s that want to stay clear of current athletes talking politics, my advice is to use athletes away from the front line of the daily media an consider retired athletes, or better still look for other ways to promote products, because as certain as morning follows night, sports and politics are now forever entwined.

    Grantland Rice, a great sports writer wrote, “For when the One Great Scorer comes, To mark against your name, He writes – not that you won or lost But HOW you played the Game.” 

    In 2020 the rules of the game changed. In my opinion for the better. And so should the rules regarding sports marketing. It might not happen this year, but if players keep taking political stands, it certainly will in future years.

    The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.


    3 Public Relations Stunts and Campaigns That Will Inspire Any Brand

    Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

    In public relations, promoting and protecting a brand is essential. Speaking out may be golden but, in some cases, it can be deadly to a brand’s reputation. Deciding when or how to speak out or stay silent defines a real PR pro.

    In the past, some amazing brands pulled off inspiring PR campaigns. Here are 3 of them:

    #1. Carlsberg’s Probably Not Campaign

    One of the most successful PR campaigns ever was run by the Carlsberg beer company. Through a genuine but bold move, the brewer inverted its “probably the best beer in the world” motto to “probably not the best beer in the world.” Not only did the company invert its brand’s motto, but Carlsberg Pilsner also rebrewed its beer in the UK and introduced a new pack that reduced plastic use by 50%. While at it, the company ran an ambitious and honest campaign that explained changes the company was making to remedy the “probably not the best beer in the world” tag. The result was that it drove conversations. Worth noting, within the first four months of the new ad, the brand advertising awareness among UK consumers doubled. Specifically, the brand’s awareness on YouGov BrandIndex doubled to 10.5.

    #2. ‘Take Back Remote Control’: Channel 4’s Brexit Bus Stunt

    Channel 4’s ingenious PR stunt involved parading a bus similar to the one used in the 2016 Brexit referendum. The aim was to promote the Benedict Cumberbatch-fronted drama that delves into the murky issues around the EU referendum, Brexit: The Uncivil War. Christened “take back the remote control,” the PR stunt subverted the leave movement’s “take back control’ narrative used before and after the 52% vote in favor of Brexit. To drive conversations, the bus toured London, Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds, Leicester, Birmingham and Bristol. Research showed that since 2016 (when the Brexit poll took place), there have been over 180 million tweets mentioning Brexit in the world. Two-thirds of these tweets came from the UK.

    The result of the creatively crafted campaign: more than 1.3 million people tuned in to watch the Benedict Cumberbatch-fronted drama.

    #3. AeroMexico trolls Texans

    AeroMexico’s commercial adds a hilarious twist to middle America’s enmity and distrust towards Mexico. The irony in the ad is that Americans have Mexican roots but memories of their American-Mexican heritage have been lost to history. In an attempt to encourage more flights to Mexico, AeroMexico offers “DNA discounts” to all Americans with a Mexican heritage. Travelers are awarded discounts based on the percentage of their Mexican roots.

    With its slogan “there are no borders within us,” the ad rides on the popularity of the promise of the American administration to build a border wall. Apparently, those in the ad that qualified for discounted fares could not hide their joy. In one hilarious instance, an elderly man responds with profanity when informed of his 22 percent Mexican heritage.The ad was a success in terms of starting conversations and has gone viral. Put into perspective, the video has received tens of thousands of likes upon posting on different twitter handles.

    Ronn Torossian - How PR Firms Can Lead by Example with Diversity and InclusionAbout the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.

    Discrimination Against Russian Speaking Americans Is Wrong

    Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR 

    Had lunch with a friend of mine yesterday who was born in Russia, moved to New York City when he was three years old and has lived here his whole life, whispered to me at a posh Upper East Side restaurant he is ashamed of his name and is regularly discriminated against. 

    As one who works and socializes extensively with Russian speaking Americans its not the first time in recent years I have heard it and it is not right. Discrimination against the three million Russian Americans in the United States seems to be one of the few politically correct biases today. Across political, business and pop culture, Russian-Americans today are perceived as gangsters, spies or prostitutes and it is wrong. 

    While “Russian mafia” headlines blare every time a Russian does something wrong, there are many misperceptions of the few million Russian emigrants to America which are prevalent in the media. This community has had a tremendously positive impact on America and the world – and it shouldn’t be overlooked. 

    Wrongly, this bias appears to cross all lines. 

    This week headlines blared about Alexander Vindman, a United States Army lieutenant colonel who serves as the Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council (NSC). Vindman came to national attention in October 2019 when he testified before the United States Congress regarding the Trump–Ukraine scandal. 

    He has received a Purple Heart for his heroic actions during the Iraq War. 

    He moved here from the former Soviet Union when he was three – he’s the quintessential American success story and should be treated as such. 

    Sean Duffy, a former Republican congressman said on CNN of Vindman, “He is a former Ukrainian. He wants to make sure that taxpayer money goes in military aid to the Ukraine. I don’t know that he’s concerned about American policy.” Duffy warned that Vindman “speaks Ukrainian” and “has an affinity” for Ukraine.  Duffy – shamefully ended by saying of Vindman, “I can’t judge whether he puts America first.” 

    Shame on Duffy.  Vindman is a man who serves our country, who has security clearance at the highest levels. He emigrated here as an infant with his family to chase the American dream and is a model citizen.  Regardless of politics, maligning his intentions is wrong, and surely has nothing to do with his place of birth. 

    Len Blavatnik, the Ukrainian-born and Russian-raised billionaire businessman is one of the world’s richest – and most generous – men having given away $500 million to charity, including to world-renowned universities like Oxford, Harvard, Stanford and Yale. Mr. Blavatnik is a US and UK citizen and a graduate of the American university system. Blavatnik was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for services to philanthropy, and has made the world a better place. 

    Yet, because of his place of birth he is regularly maligned in the media, despite the fact that he has lived in this country for the past 40 years. It’s wrong. 

    It crosses to business.  A few years ago Eugene Kashper of New York private-equity firm TSG Consumer Partners, who purchased Pabst Beer had to refute rumors that the iconic beer company was bought by a Russian. The Huffington Post accused 44-year old Kashper — who emigrated to America at the age of 6, his parents forced as Jews to flee communist Russia – of “defecting to Russia,” while the Daily Beast said Pabst “will now take orders from Russia.” 

    A successful-self made American was unfairly forced to defend blatant untruths simply because his first name was Eugene. 

    That is called bias and wouldn’t be tolerated if it happened to Chinese or Mexican émigrés – nor is it acceptable that it happens to Russians. 

    America’s three million immigrant and ethnic Russians have contributed amazing things to this country, including Jan Koum, who sold WhatsApp to Facebook for $19 Billion and is the quintessential successful émigré’. He was born and raised in Ukraine and as one venture capitalist wrote, “When he arrived in the U.S. as a 16-year-old immigrant living on food stamps, he had the extra incentive of wanting to stay in touch with his family in Russia and the Ukraine. All of this was at the top of the mind for Jan when, after years of working together with his mentor Brian [Action] at Yahoo, he began to build WhatsApp.” 

    The founder of Google, Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin was born in Moscow in 1973 and moved to the U.S. to evade the persecution of Jews in Russia.  Mikhail Baryshnikov is perhaps the greatest ballet dancer in the world, and Leningrad-born Gary Shteyngart has been recognized as one of the best writers of our time. Maria Sharapova is one of the best women tennis players who has ever lived, and actresses Milla Jovovich and Mila Kunis were born in Ukraine. 

    In New York City there are so many Russian-Americans who span so many walks of life, from Attorney Edward Mermelstein, to hospitality mogul Eugene Remm and others. 

    By virtue of my ex-wife, my kids speak Russian – and I am proud they do.  Russian-Americans help make America great – and discrimination should end against people of all ethnicities. Every single day negativities blare about Russia – and while there’s good reason to fear Russians including Vladimir Putin, that mustn’t apply to the many Russian American émigrés who make this country great.

    RONN TOROSSIAN RECENTLY IN MOSCOWAbout the Author: Ronn Torossian is a Public Relations executive.

    How To Become a Fearless Public Speaker

    Dave Aizer 

    Okay, so you hate public speaking. The thought of it sends shivers down your spine, produces a lump in your throat and makes your hands clammy. You’d rather do almost anything than give a speech or appear on TV to promote your business or brand. However, there’s one big problem: from a publicity and marketing standpoint, speaking in public is crucial to your growth and success. 

    Get Uncomfortable 

    Once you leave your comfort zone, albeit painfully, there are three main techniques you can learn to help you become a dynamic and captivating public speaker: (1) establish your key differentiators, (2) rehearse, and (3) work on vocal inflection and storytelling. However, those techniques are for another article because if you don’t prioritize changing the way you feel about public speaking, no amount of training will make you great at it. 

    Many clients who reach out to me begin our conversations by saying they are forced to give a speech or their colleague is making them go on TV to talk about their company. They’ll say things like, “I’m dreading this,” or “I just want to get it over with.” Whether it’s participating in sports, creating art or speaking in public, it’s impossible to succeed if you frame it negatively. 

    There’s no way Michael Jordan approached a game-winning free throw telling himself he was going to miss. I can’t imagine The Beatles gathered together before taking the stage and said, “Okay, mates, let’s go out there and mess it up!” There’s nothing wrong with being nervous (in fact, you can use nervous energy to your advantage), but negative self-talk is crippling when it comes to performance. In order to be a powerful communicator, you must own your words and gestures, and truly believe in your message — and you can’t do that if you’re doubting yourself. 

    Spin The Negative Into A Positive 

    Try this: instead of describing public speaking as a problem, or something you have to do, reframe it as an opportunity you get to do. Treat it as a venture you’re excited to conquer, not afraid to try. Every time you speak on behalf of your business, it’s an opportunity to raise awareness, build your brand and grow your revenue. You get to deliver the talking points you want your listeners and viewers to hear. You get to shape the message and control the narrative. That’s pretty cool! You have a platform that is unavailable to most of your competitors. And, even if they also have it, you’ll work harder and prepare better than they will. 

    Play Mind Games with Yourself 

    Taking it a step further, don’t just envision the experience going well; think about where you’ll celebrate after you’ve nailed it. Picture yourself having dinner at your favorite restaurant and smiling ear-to-ear because you just went on national television and crushed it, or gave an amazing speech to a packed house and got a standing ovation. Those are empowering visuals. Think about the elation and relief you’ll feel after the job is done. After your hard work and countless hours of preparation and rehearsing have paid off, you’ve successfully created an enormously positive outcome. The mind is incredibly powerful and you need your brain to be on your team. 

    That said, your brain may initially fight you. In fact, it probably will. It’s unrealistic to expect positive self-talk will immediately replace years of dread about public speaking. You may need to seize a “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality. In other words, even if you don’t necessarily believe what you’re telling yourself, just keep thinking it and saying it aloud, over and over, until it rings true. Keep putting it out there in the universe. The more often you position public speaking as a positive experience, the more eager you’ll be to embrace it and, ultimately, the better you’ll be at it. 

    Focus On Progress, Not Perfection

    Don’t worry about being perfect. Don’t beat yourself up for saying “um” or tripping on a word when you give a speech. Nobody cares about that nearly as much as you do. Learn from and try and improve on every single opportunity, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a confident and compelling speaker. And mentally, start with being your own biggest fan in the audience.

    About the Author: Dave Aizer is a motivational speaker, Emmy Award-winning television host, and best-selling author, as well as the founder and head media coach of Elite Media Coaching. To watch Dave in action, visit www.daveaizer.com, and follow him on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

    We Have Met The (Publics’) Enemy And It Is Us

    Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

    The phrase, “We have met the enemy and it is us” has been attributed to many people. But who can truthfully deny that the idiom too often also applies to our craft, the public relations business, and to our elder kin, the advertising industry (and to many of the clients we represent). Because if there is one certainty in life, the public doesn’t trust us; neither does the media. And who can blame them given our sorry history, which includes:

    • Promoting products that kill us.
    • Promoting clients that destroy the environment.
    • Promoting foreign governments that mean to do us harm.
    • Promoting products that give false hope.
    • Using celebrities as experts about products they hawk and probably don’t know anything about.
    • Making excuses for clients during PR crises.
    • And worse of all, being proud of deceiving the public and the media.

    I believe it will be very difficult for communicators to regain the trust of the public if PR and advertising firms keep on operating the way they do – meaning the bottom line is the most important factor in deciding which clients to represent.


    We Have Met The (Publics’) Enemy And It Is Us


    Public Relations: In conversations with journalists friends of mine, as well as none “pro” friends and relatives over many years, the same roadblocks to trust emerges:

    • During PR crises, in the great majority of instances, instead of accepting blame and saying they will fix the situation, blame is often the last thing a client will admit. Statements are given that are not factual. In many cases, boiler plate statements are issued and the truth does not emerge until after government investigations.
    • Camouflaging facts is near the top of the list of many crises PR strategies. Of course, the constant lying of current government spokespeople since the election of President Trump and the president himself, adds to the lack of trust. But blaming the situation entirely on the Trump administration would be inaccurate. The lack of trust began decades ago because of the unsavory actions of the pioneers of the PR industry (which continues as I write this; only the names are different) and their manipulating and misleading the public on behalf of deceitful clients. Just check the responses to recent PR crisis situations of Facebook, Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, the NFL’s on-going concussion problems and Equifax (only space limits naming others) and the initial responses are denying the reality of the situation. Go back in the past and study, the PR responses during the BP oil spill or when an Orca killed a trainer at SeaWorld, and the responses of tobacco company officials during congressional hearings and most often the one element of the crisis plan that is missing is to immediately fess up to wrong doings. (Never lie, but don’t necessarily tell the truth, is often part of today’s media strategy. History shows that was not always the case; sometime PR crisis plans included lying. In today’s White House lying is the default answer to any PR crisis.)

    Advertising: This brings me to our kin folk in the advertising industry, whose motto should be “truth in advertising is an oxymoron.”

    • Want to lose a few pounds and look like the eye candy babes trying to sell you on a product? Do as celebrity A does. (Forget about genes playing a factor. Eat what you want, as long as it’s our product, and you too can look like a super model, or at least like a knockout.)
    • Own your own home or need life insurance? Don’t bother checking with a trusted family member or advisor. Would Tom Selleck or Alex Trebek lie to you? (You can assume they only have your best interest at heart, After all, they’re on TV.)
    • Want to buy a great computer? Believe Peyton Manning and all the other celebrities hawking products. (They certainly wouldn’t pitch a product that they’re not experts on just for the money. Would they?)
    • Want to get well? Ask your doctor why you’re not taking the latest medicines that are being hawked on TV. (Who knows? Maybe your doctor hasn’t seen the commercials.)
    • Want to have fun? Chug a few brews. (It’ll make you popular with the babes.)
    • Want to stop losing money in the stock market? ‘Try us. We have the answers.” (As long as the market goes up?)
    • For many years, tobacco companies used movie stars and men in white coats pretending to be doctors to sell the benefits of smoking, even when the health hazards were known. (While almost all of President Trump’s claims of fake news are unfounded, cigarette ads created by the Mad Men can truly be labeled fake ads.)


    We Have Met The (Publics’) Enemy And It Is Us - Advertising


    Since the government crackdown on the tobacco industry, fake ads are no longer permitted. Below is a recent technique.

    “A TOBACCO COMPANY THAT ACTUALLY CARES ABOUT HEALTH. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?” was the headline of a full page ad in the January 22 Wall Street Journal. The body of the copy was a supposed q and a with the CEO of Philip Morris International explaining why he wants his company to stop selling cigarettes and come up with a less harmful alternative. Call me a skeptic about the reasons stated in the ad, which I consider just another of the misleading ads and tactics that the advertising business has produced regarding smokes over the decades. (Google tobacco advertising and you’ll see famous actors – Ronald Reagan, Lucille Ball, John Wayne, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracey, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Betty Grable among them – endorsing cigarettes. And the no-shame ad agencies also had actors pretending to be doctors who hawked the benefits of smoking. This deceitful advertising continued until the 1960’s when cigarette companies were prohibited from hiring athletes, entertainers, and other celebrities to promote their products). Then on January 23, a similar ad in the WSJ featured a faux interview with the COO of the company, followed by another on January 24 with the scientific and public commutations official. All the ads contained a similar question: If the company is serious about lessening health problems associated from smoking why not just stop selling cigarettes? The answer of the execs was the same in all the ads: If we stop selling cigarettes tomorrow it won’t make a difference. People will just switch to another brand. Then, in the January 25  WSJ, the faux interviews continued with the companies general counsel saying laws governing tobacco are outdated and don’t keep up with product innovation. Sought of like it’s the government’s fault that we don’t have healthier products. (To me, a similar theme runs through all the ads: Why should we be the only company to immediately stop selling a product that causes serious health problems?)

    Of course, public relations practitioners also did their best to convince people that they should smoke. Edward Bernays, who many say is the father of PR, linked Lucky Strike cigarettes to the women’s liberation movement, and staged a demonstration at the 1929 Easter Parade, having fashionable young women photographed flaunting their “torches of freedom” – Lucky Strike cigarettes.

    Anyone who isn’t brain dead knows that smoking causes serious health problems and that dishonest advertising and public relations agency campaigns are in the DNA of tobacco companies. Many of us have been in the communications business long enough to  remember how the top executives of cigarette brands denied knowing in sworn testimony before a Congressional committee that they weren’t aware the smoking causes serious health problems and that cigarettes are additive.  PR or advertising agencies. Who did more harm to the public? I ask. You decide.

    (I wouldn’t be surprised if the next tobacco advertising campaign will blame smokers for not having the will power to cease using the deadly health-causing products. The ad industry already blames alcoholic drinkers for their problems by tagging liquor TV commercials with “drink responsibly.)

    It’s not just Philip Morris International that tried to convince people of its holier than thou positions through full page print ads, which, of course, prevents immediate criticism from opposition groups.

    A couple of days after the tobacco ads appeared in the Wall Street Journal another business whose history is littered with deceit, Wells Fargo, took out a two page print ad in the January 27 New York Times titled, “This is about real change…” A similar ad appeared on January 30 and February 2-3 in the Wall Street Journal and the February 1 and 3 Times.

    Call me a cynic. But as someone who has lived through years of dishonest tobacco advertising, including  outright lies by tobacco executives, and who has seen the government regulators charging  Wells Fargo with continuous fraudulent activities over the past few years, it will take much more than a few full page ads to get me to trust both businesses again. (While I view the ad contents skeptically, I’m happy for the newspapers. They can use all the print ads they can get.)

    Too often, in my business, the PR business, agencies do the opposite of what Mr. Fink wrote. The truth of a situation takes a back seat to honesty. During a PR crisis, strategies will attempt to make a client in trouble look good, despite the harm done to society. And I’ve yet to hear a PR  CEO condemn agencies camouflaging the bad with eyewash strategies. “We do our best to make clients that deserve to be trashed look good,” is too often the credo of PR crises specialists.”

    As if there wasn’t enough distrust of the public relations and advertising businesses among the public, the constant lying of President Trump’s PR flacks have added to it.  Where is the outrage and criticism of PR people and organizations to having Trump’s communicators tell half truths, use “alternative facts” or sprout outright lies?

    While I don’t expect PR people to have the courage and speak out about how White House PR spokespeople are adding o the public distrust of all PR practitioners, at the very least agencies can refuse to represent companies whose products do damage to society, refuse to burnish the reputation of bad actors, (both companies and individuals), and to ensure, and mean it, that if employees refuse to work on a client because of philosophical differences it will not be held against them.

    Over the years, I have had clients tell me that the differences in major public relations agencies are few. And that there are many reasons that a company selects an agency, including personal relationships.( In my own case, I had at least three very major Burson-Marsteller clients tell me the reason they selected B-M was because of media  recommendations – one from a Business Week editor, the others from the business editor of the old United Press, when it was still a major media player. Editors told the prospective clients that they thought I brought an aspect to media relations that was different from other practitioners – the ability to pitch them with multiple angles on a story and that I understand that a pitch must work for the media as well as the client. That was my belief when I was a reporter and editor at New York City newspapers and I carried it with me to the PR business.)

    Given that a number of clients have told me hat they see little difference between the capabilities of major PR agencies –the most important difference being the personnel assigned to the account, not the name of agency – there are several things that good citizen corporate decision makers can do to make agencies be more careful about clients they represent.

    • Before signing on with an agency, potential clients should study agencies client list and eliminate agencies that have a track record of representing corporations and individuals that deserve bad reputations.
    • Corporate PR people can check with their media contacts about the truthfulness of the information PR agencies have provided.
    • The foreign governments that agencies represent are a good barometer of an agency’s moral principles. This is easily checked out.
    • The companies an agency represents during PR crises is a good indicator of the values of an agency; also easy to check out.

    Above all, potential clients should take into consideration the integrity and ethics of an agency, which can be done by speaking to past and present agency clients, keeping up and having a relationship with PR trade pubs and marketing writers of major dailies and demanding to interview members of the account team that will be assigned to the client. (I personally know of two situations where major clients asked for certain personnel to be on their account team and the agency responded by saying, “That’s not how we run our business.” When the clients said, “I don’t care about your structure, I only care about my account team, the agency capitulated to the client’s request rather then lose the business.)

    The phrase, “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” dates back to Roman times. I wonder how many people in our business adhere to that idiom.

    Two years ago, Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of money management firm BlackRock, in letters to CEOs of public companies, said that in addition to achieving strong financial performance, public companies must show they make a positive contribution to society or risk losing his firm’s support.

    What the public relations business and its parent, the advertising industry, needs is an individual, like Mr. Fink, who is willing to speak out against what is seemingly the communication’s business motto –“the ends justify the means.”

    But don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

    Arthur Solomon -We Have Met The (Publics’) Enemy And It Is UsAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com and artsolomon4pr (at) optimum.net

    Truth and Facts in Public Relations

    Mark Weiner, Chief Insights Officer, Cision & Chief Executive Officer, PRIME Research Americas

    Public Relations is a function of “truth” and “fact.”  While some of us may focus on one more than the other, as a public relations research consultant, I deal in both truth and facts. Let’s consider the difference between the two:

    A fact is a reality that cannot be logically disputed or rejected. If I say “1+1=2,” reasoning skills don’t change that fact. In offering this example, I am not speaking a truth, I am stating a fact. If you say “1+1=4,” you are not lying, you are simply incorrect. Facts are concrete realities that no amount of reasoning will change. Facts are acknowledged rather than derived.

    Conversely, a truth is a deduction or a conclusion. If I say “Higher taxes are good,” and I offer a strong rationale to support that statement, then — if higher taxes really are good — that is a truth. However, if another person offers a strong rationale to the contrary, and because of their argument I adopt their position then that is also a truth. But my new beliefs are just as true now as my old beliefs were before I accepted the argument.

    Truths, as opposed to fact, are much more fluid and malleable than their fact-based counterparts. So while it may be true when people say that SOME PR is spin, it’s not a fact that ALL PR is spin just as it may be true that SOME PR practitioners act professionally, it’s not a fact that ALL PR practitioners act professionally.

    Mark Weiner on PR-ROIAbout the Author: One of the world’s largest corporate communications research and consulting firms, now part of the Cision family, PRIME employs more than 500 analysts and consultants who combine talent with technology to foster better business decisions among its global clients. Weiner joined PRIME as CEO in 2008. Weiner is a member of the PR News Measurement Hall of Fame and delivered the Distinguished Lecture in Public Relations at Quinnipiac University.

    Weiner is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society, serves as a Trustee and the 2017 Chairman of the Measurement Commission for The Institute for Public Relations, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Museum of Public Relations. He is a member of the International Association of Business Communicators, the Public Relations Society of America and AMEC. Weiner sits on the editorial advisory boards of The Strategist and PR News. He is a regular contributor to PR Week, IABC’s Communication World, PRSA’s Tactics and The Strategist, and Commpro.biz/PR-ROI, as well as an active participant at conferences by The Institute for Public Relations, The Conference Board, ABERJE, the Association of National Advertisers, The American Marketing Association, The Arthur Page Society, IABC and PRSA. Since 1993, he has devoted his career to helping many of the world’s most respected organizations and brands to demonstrate and generate a positive return on their investment in corporate and brand communications.  |  @WeinerMark 

    How Important Are Political Statements By Entertainers? (And the Public Relations Affect Of Actors Talking Politics.)

    Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

    Prior to joining Burson-Marsteller, where as senior vice president/senior counselor I was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and nonsports programs and travelled internationally as a media advisor to high-ranking government officials, I worked at a PR firm whose founder also produced many Broadway and off-Broadway shows. After a couple of years of running the nontheatrical PR department, I was drafted to also read scripts and work on Broadway shows.

    That’s when I first experienced a love-hate relationship. I admired the talents of many actors, but detested the rude behavior of some when they felt that they were not getting the recognition, respect and adoration they thought they deserved. Which brings me to the dressing down by an actor given to Vice President Mike Pence when he attended “Hamilton” in 2016.

    Personally, I believe Mike Pence represents a brand of politics that is backward looking and should have disappeared from the political scene decades ago. If I lived in Indiana, I would have voted against him many times. But unlike entertainers, many of whom are so wrapped up in themselves that they think what they say on nonshow business situations matters to people, Pence has had a career that really matters to individuals, as governor, congressman and now vice-president.

    Did Brandon Victor Dixon, who portrayed Aaron Burr in “Hamilton” at the time, have the right to admonish Mr. Pence? Certainly he did, (as do all performers). But as the old real estate slogan goes, “location, location, location.” (If every politician who attends a show was lectured by a cast member about political issues, the Broadway stage would resemble London’s Hyde Park’s famous Speakers Corner.)

    Pence was in the theater as a member of the audience.  He wasn’t there to express his political opinion. As far as I’m concerned, Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band was correct when he said, “A guy comes to a Broadway show for a relaxing night out. Instead he gets a lecture from the stage! Not a level playing field. It’s bullying. You don’t single out an audience member and embarrass him from the stage. A terrible precedent to set.” Mr. Van Zandt cut to the chase. It wasn’t a level playing field. Pence didn’t have an equal opportunity to defend himself. (Performers being upset about others talking politics while on stage is nothing new. A 2016 Rolling Stone article about the The Highwaymen, the great country outlaw group of Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, quoted Jenning’s widow saying, “Kris was very much into politics. Waylon never believed that you should use that platform of entertainment [for that], so that really chafed him, but he understood Kris, and Kris understood him.”)

    The “Hamilton”-Pence situation was unusual and ironic: A vice president-elect being lectured by an entertainer playing the role of a vice president. It deserved the media attention. What got me to bring up the “Hamilton”-Pence s matter now was Oprah Winfrey’s going door-to-door to campaign for Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia.

    Of course, Ms. Winfrey has the right to campaign for any candidate she supports. It’s the way that the cable TV networks covered Ms. Winfrey (and other show biz folk who engage in politics). It’s as if because someone is a performer, they deserve media coverage for their political stance.

    Ari Melber, on MSNBC, consistently has show business performers discussing politics on his show, and disappointingly, so did Chick Todd on a recent MTP Daily. (Gives me the impression that their resorting to an anything goes tactic is to improve their ratings.)

    The political opinions of show business people are no moiré valid than yours or mine. The most committed of them do not remain safe behind the TV or movie cameras or the stage curtain or make quick in-and-out campaign visits. They follow in the footsteps of many other actors have in the past, including Ronald Reagan, John Davis Lodge, George Murphy, Helen Gahagan Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Fred Grandy. Ben Jones, Fred Thompson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Franken, Jesse Ventura, Jerry Springer, and Donald Trump and become active politicians.

    Two of the above performers have become president. The others put their show business careers on the line because they felt strongly about political matters. (But one thing is certain. No matter how proficient they were following directions and reading scripts, probably the best ad-liber is our actor-president.)

    I have often advised young PR hopefuls to get involved with a political campaign because they’ll learn more about the realistic world of dealing with media and different publics than they ever got from their expensive communications’ schools tuitions.

     I advise them to do so because of the lessons I learned. My first PR job was with a political firm, where I was assigned to local, statewide and presidential campaigns. Every facet of public relations is used during a campaign, some good, and some ugly, but all educational. Teething on politics will also prepare young PR people, about promises made to them by supervisors: Always keep in mind Niccolò Machiavelli’s quote from “The Prince” — “The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.”

    In addition to the president-performer, there were many other entertainers who spoke out about issues during the campaign, perhaps none as prominent and able to attract attention and publicity as Ms. Winfrey did. The most prominent other was Taylor Swift, who condemned the voting record of GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the candidate for U.S. Senate from Tennessee. (Ms. Winfrey and Ms. Swift both faced similar problems: Ms. Winfrey getting African-Americans to vote in the mid-term election and Ms. Swift attempting to rally younger voters, who normally skip the mid-terms. Both candidates backed by the entertainers lost.)

    In the past, many other performers’ careers were ruined because they felt deeply and spoke out about political matters, especially during the demagogic McCarthy era, seemingly the blue print for the Trump rhetoric The difference is that they did not go door-to-door as did Ms. Winfrey. Which could get a cynic to think of Ms. Winfrey’s effort as either good campaigning or the best publicity stunt of the mid-term election? You decide.

    Another You decide question. Would Ms. Winfrey have been more helpful to Stacey Abrams by blitzing the Georgia  print, TV and radio media with interviews than by going door-to-door to a limited number of houses, even though doing so was  sure to attract TV coverage?

    But the most relevant question that should be asked is the one that headlines this article: How Important Are Political Statements By Entertainers? Extensive campaigning by show biz folk most often has no affect on the outcome of elections. Ask presidential hopefuls John Kerry in 2004 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

    “If celebrities had a net positive impact on elections Hillary Clinton would be president. Every election cycle the Democratic Party trots out a who’s who of Hollywood stars to campaign for their candidates and every election cycle average Americans yawn,” conservative strategist Chris Barron told Fox News. So far, he’s been right many more times than he’s been wrong.

    History shows that actors speaking out in support of candidates are usually unsuccessful, while performers running for office have a higher success rate. But one thing is clear: Win or lose, run as a candidate or not, actors taking a stand on political matters garner more publicity than a team of traditional PR pros can get them. And they always outshine their candidates.

    How Important Are Political Statements By Entertainers? (And the Public Relations Affect Of Actors Talking Politics.)About the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com and artsolomon4pr(at)optimum.net.

    Fired Google Engineer Says He was Fired for Speaking Out

    Mark Angelo, CEO, Yorkville Advisors

    Google is in the headlines again, and not for reasons the company would like to be. A former Google engineer is suing Google, alleging that he was fired because he chose to speak out about “racism, sexism, and harassment.”

    Tim Chevalier claims he was wrongfully terminated as retaliation for his disclosures and for complaining that Google was not doing enough to stop discrimination and harassment at the company.

    Fired Google Engineer Says He was Fired for Speaking OutThis lawsuit reignites the ongoing debate about the role Silicon Valley companies are playing in addressing race and gender inequality in the tech industry. Google, for its part, has admitted some struggles in the past and says they are trying to get past them. Lawsuits like this bring those efforts – or what some are calling “failures” – back into the light.

    Chevalier, who identifies as both disabled and transgender, says Google’s very culture is fraught with discrimination. The former engineer says employees frequently belittle and bully women, people of color and LGBTQ people. According to reports about the lawsuit:

    “Chevalier pushed back on the online bullying he and others were experiencing, using the same internal messaging systems to try to educate his employer and coworkers on how to change Google’s working conditions to be inclusive and supportive of underrepresented minorities, such as himself…”

    Google claims the company terminated Chevalier’s employment because of his perpetual, political social media posting that reflected poorly on the company. Chevalier dismissed this claim: “It is a cruel irony that Google attempted to justify firing me by claiming that my social networking posts showed bias against my harassers… The anti-discrimination laws are meant to protect marginalized and underrepresented groups — not those who attack them…”

    Google, however, says the former engineer knew full well his postings were out of bounds. Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano told the media: “All employees acknowledge our code of conduct and other workplace policies, under which promoting harmful stereotypes based on race or gender is prohibited… This is a very standard expectation that most employers have of their employees. The overwhelming majority of our employees communicate in a way that is consistent with our policies. But when an employee does not, it is something we must take seriously. We always make our decision without any regard to the employee’s political views…”

    But the company says Chevalier continuously crossed the line until they had no choice but to let him go. The case is headed to the courts, but first, it will play out for a larger audience in the court of public opinion… and people are already lining up on both sides.



    Nine Ways to Nail Your Next Speaking Engagement

    Filomena Fanelli 0 250x200Filomena Fanelli, CEO/Founder, Impact PR & Communications

    Once upon a time, an unprepared public speaker who was invited to a speaking engagement before a group of 9-year-olds, bombed big time. She arrived unprepared, failed to make clear points and talked too fast. The audience fidgeted and talked and otherwise fussed, and I, who, as you may have guessed was that speaker, came away from the event feeling awful. I’d let my audience down.

    Many speaking engagements later, I still haven’t forgotten that fail, but I have gotten past it, even in spite of suffering from the medical condition known as glossophobia, or more commonly, public speaking jitters, complete with sweaty palms, shaky hands and nervous energy. After all, part of my job as a public relations professional is to get out there with my firm’s message and to help my clients become thought leaders who can effectively communicate with their target audiences.

    In honor of those 9-year-old audience members that I flubbed in front of, here are nine tips to up your odds of public speaking success:

    1. Begin with a friendly crowd. If it’s been a long time since you have delivered a speech in front of a group or it’s simply never been your thing, start small to test your skills in a less intimidating way. Find a local library that offers seminars and suggest yourself as a source for one; approach a specialized networking group and offer to deliver a talk; or address a friendly crowd on a favorite topic, even if it’s to a group of four colleagues. If the crowd is a manageable size and you are talking about a topic that is second nature to you, the odds of having a great experience will increase for both you and your audience. From there, you can build on your confidence and the size of the audience.

    2. Make prep your first step. Don’t wing it when it comes to public speaking. Just because you are familiar with the talk’s subject, doesn’t mean the words are going to flow when all eyes are on you. Even if the subject is as innate as your career path, organizing your thoughts, choosing your main points and rehearsing a few times can help you gain comfort and confidence. For me, three or four rehearsals usually does the trick without making the talk sound overly scripted. When I rehearse, I stand up and do my run-throughs with visuals. I ask a trusted friend or (barely willing) family member to listen so I can get real-time feedback for improvement and make any final adjustments before the heat is on.

    3. Know your audience. Seems basic, doesn’t it? You’d be surprised how many people overlook this step. A friend of mine told me a story about how she’d kicked off a commencement speech with a seemingly funny joke. As it turned out, it was inappropriate for the audienceand all she heard after delivering the punch line was the sound of crickets. Ouch. Knowing your audience and what its members hope to get from you, allows you to tailor the content and connect. For instance, you would probably want to use different images and anecdotes with a group of millennial females in the tech industry than you would with a group of largely male, middle-aged accountants.

    4. Talk to yourself. Getting in the right state of mind is essential before addressing a crowd because it can help alleviate the jitters. While each person has to find his or her own best approach, for me it involves playing pump-up music on the way to my venue, similar, I’ve heard, to what many athletes play before a big competition. After that, before heading into the room, I take deep breaths to relax my body and then, just before taking the mic and grabbing my clicker, I repeat a positive phrase or mantra. Sometimes it’s as simple as, “You’ve done this before, you can do it again,” but it really does work wonders in calming my mind and easing my anxiety.

    5. Do you. Trying to emulate a public speaker you admire, is a sure way to fall short, especially if the person is a professional orator who may have a speechwriter, coach or teleprompter to lean on. While you may adore watching Gary Vee or Michelle Obama in action, the best way to shine is to be your authentic self. If you slip, make a correction with a simple, “What I meant to say was…” and move on. Or click back to the slide before and say, “I got ahead of myself. I also want to share with you …” I like to have cue cards or a printed version of my notes with key points highlighted on hand to ensure that I stay on track. I don’t stare at them, but having them handy makes me feel more secure than if I pressured myself to do without them.

    6. Put some energy into it. Nothing is more contagious than an energetic, engaged speaker. Start by standing to deliver your talk (unless, for instance, you are part of a roundtable and sitting at a classic dais with several other speakers). If possible, move away from the podium so you can own the room. Head into the aisles if it makes sense and you feel comfortable doing so and vary where you place your eyes periodically, so that you can look at audience members in different parts of the room. Use power-poses to show confidence. Positive body language and a smile go a long way in telling your audience that you are happy to be with them, without having to say the trite, “I’m so happy to be here today.”

    7. Expect the unexpected. Undoubtedly, not everything will go exactly as planned, so be ready to roll with the unexpected. Audio-visual equipment might need on-the-spot attention, there may be fewer attendees (or more) than you’d expected, someone might ask an unanticipated question or the person who spoke before you might have gone over-time, cutting into your presentation time, all of which have happened to me. While there isn’t much point in worrying in advance, it does help to arrive early to get the lay of the land and test equipment. I recommend asking your organizer what the room layout will look like, who will be in the audience, who will introduce you and what items you need to bring yourself. From there, be ready to pivot if something doesn’t go your way.

    8. Make it all about the audience. When delivering a speech, it’s imperative that you connect with your audience rather than simply wow them with fancy graphics and info-loaded charts. Make eye contact and vary where you place it every now and again. If you are talking before a large crowd, imagine a figure eight and start in the back right-hand corner of the room, slowly and subtly tracing where you look to make your way around the room during the talk. Speak slowly so the listener can catch what you’re saying. Remember to pause here and there, as you would in a natural conversation, especially if your audience reacts with a laugh or surprise. Giving the crowd a moment to process what’s being said and their emotions makes your speech better. Another important consideration is to deliver on your promise to the audience. If you are there to talk about widgets, by golly, make sure all of your main points and the powerful final conclusion relate to widgets. Last, but not least, even though you might be the person at the front of the room, remember that a speaking engagement is a two-way conversation – ask questions, encourage interaction and let the audience in.

    9. Keep at it. The only way to get better at public speaking is to speak more often. Find places to keep your skills fresh, whether it’s at a Toastmasters event, your local Chamber of Commerce’s get-together session, a networking group or even in small groups on the job. Every time you have a successful speaking experience, you’ll build confidence and add a positive memory to the memory bank to withdraw and focus on when the next opportunity presents itself.

    Whether your audience is 9 or 99 years old, or includes 9 or 99 members, here’s to standing and delivering with confidence.


    About the Author: Filomena Fanelli is the CEO and founder of Impact PR & Communications, Ltd., a certified Women Business Enterprise (WBE) and award-winning public relations firm based in New York’s Hudson Valley. Fanelli can be reached at 845.462.4979 or at filomena@prwithimpact.com.

    10 Effective Habits of Public Speakers

    Dian Griesel - featuredBy Dian Griesel, President of Dian Griesel International

    Are you looking to captivate an audience for your next meeting? Or are you interested in delivering an unforgettable presentation? Public speaking is a useful skill to possess for garnering investors, increasing staff morale or engaging with the media. If you follow these tips, you will surely reap the benefits of effective public speaking:

    • Possess a genuine appreciation in what you do. Remember not all people have the chance and the courage to speak in front of a large crowd. It is a privilege that is coupled with your responsibility to entertain, educate and persuade your audience. Public speaking is an art that requires a tremendous amount of skill.

    • Prepare adequately. Research your topic. Do not throw away old materials that you have used. Organize material logically and use supporting metaphors or analogies to solidify the message you want to convey.

    • Relate with your audience promptly. Remember that you only have half a minute to connect to your audience so use it wisely. Avoid offensive remarks or jokes. Share a funny story that is applicable to your subject; cite a quotation or an anecdote to keep their attention.

    • Be sincere and sensitive towards your audience. Share some of your unfavorable experiences involving your topic. This way your audience perceives you as a real person and they can relate to your subject.

    • Develop a passion for your topic. Your audience will not care to listen if you show less interest in your topic. Jot down the topics that you love. Then, choose two or three that you can expound.

    • Communicate in ways that will help people learn. In a recent study, 80% of people learn by visual stimulation and only 20% actually learn by listening to the lecture. So do not underestimate the use of visual props and visual aids. Find other ways or tools that can help you achieve 100% of your audience’s attention.

    • Reinforce your key points. Be a proficient storyteller and share stories that people relate to then circle back to your point. How can your words relate to your listeners?

    • Be patient in your goal to succeed. Persistence is a must. There is no such thing as overnight success in public speaking. Attend trainings about effective speaking; or ask someone who has mastered the art of public speaking.

    • Practice. Memorizing your speech is not enough. Try to practice in front of a mirror or with a friend. Their feedback can help you improve the way you deliver your message.

    • Be determined in your pursuit to be an outstanding spokesperson. Show excellence through your experiences and how you tailor your material to match your audience.

    Media interviews and corporate presentations are essential and relied upon by many to assess company leadership—which might be why some officers don’t care for them. If you can’t deliver energetic and commanding speeches or polished and articulate interviews, you are short-circuiting your company’s future. There is no time like the present to do something to improve the situation.”

    About the Author: Dian Griesel is a strategic visibility expert, an author of several business books on corporate communications and the president of Dian Griesel International, a public relations firm that delivers traditional, digital and social media visibility for greater engagement with desired audiences.  


    Public Relations Tactics That Support Investor Relations in Booms & Busts

    Public Relations Tactics That Support Investor Relations in Booms & Busts

    It’s true that investor relations and public relations perform different functions, serve different internal and external audiences, and operate under their own sets of best practices or – in the case of IR – regulations.

    And because IR and PR often don’t have the same specific objectives or report to the same supervisors, it’s not uncommon for each team to work independently with little to no collaboration.

    This is a mistake.

    Collaboration between PR and IR can be critical to presenting a cohesive brand message, and an integrated communications strategy allows both teams to demonstrate corporate value to all audiences.

    This can be especially true during an economic downturn. As discussed in IR Best Practices to Weather an Economic Storm, “the basic principles of good investor relations apply to boom and bust times alike.”

    For example, take the oil and gas industry, which is one of the industries explored in our newest white paper. Falling prices and shrinking profits have created a challenging environment for businesses across the globe.

    “There’s not a heck of a lot we can do about the economy,” says Bradley H. Smith, Director of Marketing for IR & Compliance Solutions at PR Newswire/Vintage. “Markets do what markets do. Certainly the Investor Relations Officers working within the oil and gas sector are sorely aware of this.”

    Bradley suggests that in times of economic turmoil, PR needs to follow IR’s lead—but IR should also be utilizing PR techniques.

    “Weathering an economic storm is an instance where IR must take the communications lead,” he says. “The DNA of IR is built for long-term messaging and results. IR has the patience for slow recovery.”

    While perhaps it is particularly important during times of economic distress, there are critical ways that PR can aid IR no matter the state of the economy.

    Here are three tenets of strong investor relations and the PR tactics that will help in good times and bad.

    Be consistent with shareholder communications

    “Shareholder communications builds shareholder confidence and shareholder confidence builds shareholder value. That simple sentence is the strategic core to all the tools and tactics IR uses,” says Bradley.

    One main thing PR can do to help is maintain a steady cadence of press releases. This particular PR tactic is essential for keeping a company top-of-mind among a variety of audiences.

    Establishing such a cadence will present a consistent voice and tone of content, and speaking with one unified voice across IR, PR and other channels is key to developing shareholders’ and the public’s trust.

    If your brand already has a reputation in the marketplace as having a consistent voice, maintaining it during times of economic trouble will present a lasting, and strong, image that reinforces confidence among shareholders, customers, sales leads, and other audiences.


    Continue reading here on BEYOND PR.


    Public Relations Explained: An Acceptance Speech ‘Spoof’ from Hollywood’s Biggest Night Breaks It Down

    Alison MonaghanBy Alison Monaghan, Communications Director, Happy Medium

    It would be rare to find a PR professional out there who is not routinely asked, “What exactly IS public relations?” Of course the simplest explanation would be preparing a spokesperson for their moment in the public, whether that be through press opportunities, public speaking, or reputation management. It’s our job to tailor the message to the masses. Our team at Happy Medium tried to tackle this demonstration in the easiest way to comprehend, via a comical Academy Awards®-esque speech, given the upcoming ceremony this weekend.


    Executive Briefing 2.17.16 – We Must Reject Stereotypes; Speaking Up in Business Pays; If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Get Paid

    CommPRO-Executive-BriefingIn today’s Executive Briefing we take a look at Shirley Chisholm: We Must Reject Stereotypes from Neil Foote, President & Founder, Foote Communications.  Also included is a look at Why Speaking Up in Business Pays from Jennifer S. Wilkov Founder, Speak Up Women.

    As we begin 2016 and start our sixth year of publishing CommPRO, I’d like to take a moment to thank our loyal readers and partners for their continued support. We hope our new readers enjoy CommPRO and welcome your feedback and suggestions so we continue to provide a unique and relevant service. You can reach me at: fay@commpro.biz.

    Click here to view today’s post.





    What the C-Suite Can Learn from the Rev. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

    Dr. Nick Morgan, Author

    What can the C-suite learn from the Rev. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?  As a speech coach, I’m focusing on one moment in the Reverend King’s career, his “I Have a Dream” speech.  Justly celebrated as one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century, the speech becomes even more remarkable when you know that the last 6 minutes of the 16-minute speech were ad-libbed.  Why should top executives take note?

    When I work with executives on their speaking, few of them could imagine ad-libbing a talk in front of 300,000 people.  Weeks typically go into the preparation for speeches to much more modest-sized audiences.

    And that’s a good thing.  Now, some executives do tell me early in the process, “I don’t want to rehearse, it will make me stale.”  But I’ve learned that statement almost always masks a fear of looking less-than-perfect in front of the coach.  So instead they exchange that relatively low-stakes risk for the certainty of looking unprepared in front of the real audience.

    But what about King?  Surely I shouldn’t be then recommending that executives throw the script away when the mood strikes them?  What executives need to understand is that the Reverend King had spent the previous several decades preaching every Sunday in a style which helped him hone his improvisational skills.  He learned to sense when the congregation was in danger of drifting away, and he learned how to keep an audience electrified with rhetoric and oratorical skills guaranteed to keep the people in front of him hanging on every word.

    So there are two lessons from the “I Have a Dream” speech.  The first is that, the answer to the question of how much rehearsal is enough in order to be ready when history calls – is “about thirty years of weekly work.”

    The second lesson is that executives do need to be prepared to respond in the moment when they sense that an audience is indeed not buying what they’re selling.  And to do that as elegantly as King you need to be very well prepared indeed.

    What the C-Suite Can Learn from Rev. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream SpeechHere’s how it went on the afternoon of August 28, 1963.

    At the ten-minute mark, King wrapped up the prepared part of the speech by saying, “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”  This stock Biblical phrase from the Baptist preaching tradition is the signal that King is going off-text, and he next does something truly dramatic: he reaches out to the audience directly, saying, “I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of About thgreat trials and tribulations.”

    “Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina,” he continues, and then comes the famous metaphor: “I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment I still have a dream.”

    As King works up to the mighty peroration of the greatest American speech of the 20th century, his cadences continue to rise and fall, going higher each time to signal his passion for the subject.  The top of the rhetorical arc comes with the closing lines, when King stands on tiptoe, and raises his right hand, and says:

    When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

    The roar from the crowd is unmistakable:  King has connected with them, he has given an unforgettable speech, and by digging down deep into his soul, based on years of preparation, he has forever changed the world.

    About the Author: Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication coaches and thinkers. His clients include leaders of Fortune 50 companies, and he has coached people to give Congressional testimony, to appear on the Today Show, and to take on the investment community. He is the author of several acclaimed books on public speaking and communication. His most recent book is Can You Hear Me?: How to Connect with People in a Virtual World.