The Acceleration of the “Stay-at-Home” Economy

Zara Ingilizian, Head of Future of Consumption, World Economic Forum

The coronavirus pandemic is fuelling the growth of the stay-at-home economy. How consumers learn, work, shop and play is poised to change forever.

Consumer preferences have been shifting toward e-commerce and online entertainment and education for over a decade. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has been a boon to companies that serve the stay-at-home economy, which are displaying agility by simultaneously experimenting with new ideas to build brand affinity.

Since mid-March, Amazon has hired 175,0000 workers in the United States to meet surging demand for online shopping. Instacart, an American technology company that provides same-day grocery delivery and pick-up service in the U.S. and Canada, stated that their weekly sales jumped 10-fold, and 20 times higher in California and Washington State, where the virus was widespread early in the pandemic. The company is also leveraging the heightened interest in grocery delivery to test new, innovative concepts to better meet consumer needs for convenience and their health and well-being, such as the option to have groceries left at a customer’s doorstep at a designated time in lieu of hand delivery.



Video streaming has been on the rise for over a decade, but last year, the number of streaming subscribers around the world (613 million) surpassed the number of cable subscribers (556 million), according to the Motion Picture Association of America. With city governments asking citizens to shelter in place, new streaming subscription services are seeing growth. Disney+, for example, has had a 75% rise in subscribers since early February and passed 50 million paying subscribers in its first five months.

In the meantime, in China, during a 20-day period commencing on the eve of the Lunar New Year, box office revenues fell to $3.9 million from $1.5 billion in 2019. While it is uncertain when consumers will return to movie theaters, it is quite certain that stay-at-home entertainment will continue to break new ground for growth and market size as consumers around the globe continue to isolate at home.

Amid the coronavirus crisis, Zoom Video is leading the charge towards virtual work-from-home practices and poised to accelerate a seismic shift in how work gets done. In the early days of the pandemic, Zoom’s stock increased 58% through 13 March, whereas the S&P 500 was down 16% in the same time period. While some US states and countries are beginning to open up, large cohorts of employees continue working from home. They are also gaining exposure to new digital engagement capabilities that can be leveraged to host both small and large meetings such as interactive workshops, hence eliminating the need for travel.

Furthermore, we are seeing the rapid transition to online education across all levels – primary school and high school to the university level. Digital technologies are reshaping the world of education in ways previously unimagined for a historically change-resistant institution. Plato once said that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Perhaps now, education will change as fast as technology and contribute to inclusive societies with unprecedented access to knowledge and prosperity.

While there is uncertainty regarding the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we do know with a high degree of certainty that consumer preferences will continue to evolve rapidly as consumers discover new ways of accessing goods and services, receiving an education and doing their jobs. As a result of the crisis, the stay-at-home economy has received a major boost and will catapult to new heights of value creation. Why go out when you can accomplish so much more by just staying in?

Six months ago, a young millennial woman told me “staying in is the new going out.” Now, I know what she really meant.

About the Author: Zara Ingilizian is a Consumer Industries executive with expertise in general management, marketing, and digital transformation. As Vice President at Kraft Foods and Senior Vice President at Diageo, she has advanced the growth agenda of iconic CPG and lifestyle brands that include Johnnie Walker, Bulleit Bourbon, Jell-O, Chips Ahoy, and Oreo among others. Recognized as one of the “Top 50 Women in Brand Marketing”, Zara is a steward of purpose-driven brands and known for embracing a unique combination of strategic acumen, creative flair and a digital mindset to propel them forward. Well versed in general management for 20+ years, she has led cross-functional teams to consistently deliver revenue and profit growth for portfolios $2.5 billion dollars in size, with full P&L responsibility.

Now, as the Head of Consumer Industries at the World Economic Forum, she is successfully parlaying her business know-how to accelerate the digital transformation of the consumption landscape. As a global strategist, she is in the room with CEOs of member companies such as Walmart, Unilever, P&G, and IKEA at the Forum’s annual meeting in Davos advancing tech-driven business model reinvention in socially responsible ways.

5WPR CEO On Integrating Traditional and Digital Marketing Strategies

Most industries today are under extreme pressure to evolve with emerging technologies – and to do so fast. This is particularly true for those in marketing and public relations roles; even on a quiet day, operating in this industry requires spinning an inordinate number of plates. When it comes to adapting to the latest platform or adopting ever-evolving industry jargon, then, it is all too easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater in an attempt to keep up. 

That’s why it is important to remember the value of traditional digital marketing strategies to any business or organization. As the world changes, learning to synergize traditional marketing with digital marketing is a core skill for any communications professional. 

Here are three traditional marketing tactics and their digital counterparts. 

1)  Cold Calling and Behavioral Information (Intent Data)

Reminiscent of old-school marketing strategies, cold calling is the use of unsolicited communication in an attempt to sell a product. Intent data refers to behavioral information collected about users’ online activities, with that data ultimately revealing what consumers are interested in and therefore more likely to purchase. 

By using intent data to bolster existing cold calling strategies, it becomes easier to reach audiences better suited to an organization’s message. In the same way, intent data can be used to decide which audiences are unlikely to abide by a call to action. 

In practice, marketing professionals can use intent data to identify users that are already looking for the goods or services on offer, as well as form an understanding about specific needs and overall readiness to buy. 

2)  Print and Deep Media Nurturing

Communications professionals already understand the importance of nurturing buyer relationships at every stage of the sales funnel, and print media has so far proved successful in engaging audiences and nurturing leads. 

With the internet era, however, comes an extra layer to sourcing leads: deep media nurturing. Deep media nurturing refers to omnichannel strategies that adopt a range of digital channels to reach consumers, including search engine optimization (SEO), social media platforms, public relations and retargeting. 

Utilizing advertising in print magazines with accompanying deep media nurturing strategies is an excellent way to reach audiences, especially given that many organizations have written off print media altogether – despite the figures. 

3)  Traditional Platforms and Geotargeting

Traditional platforms for advertising, like billboards and banners, have become a seriously underrated form of driving brand awareness, reinforcing brand messaging, and engaging new audiences. 

At the same time, geotargeting – or the practice of reaching users based on their geographic locations – is proving an excellent way of targeting the right audiences and maximizing return on investment. 

Modern marketers should use available geodata to understand their audience’s habits and journey maps, and adopt physical platform strategies accordingly. These locations could be inside buses along routes in a business district, or a billboard near a well-known food chain store. Reaching audiences in the right place at the right time has never been more important. 

Forming an effective and innovative marketing strategy in the 21st century means learning to reap the best of both the traditional and digital worlds, so as to synergize new channels with traditional – and already successful – ones.

RONN TOROSSIAN - HOW MANY FOLLOWERS DO YOU NEED ON INSTAGRAM TO GET PAID?About the Author: Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5W Public Relations,  leading digital pr and influencer marketing agency.

3 Common Misconceptions About Virtual Events

Ben Chodor, President of Intrado Digital Media

As the effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the world, companies are facing an overwhelming reality that evolves on a daily basis. Events and conferences are being cancelled, employees are working from home for the foreseeable future and learning how to conduct ‘business as usual’ continues to present unique challenges. 

In a post-COVID world, a virtual event strategy will not be optional – the choice will be between an event that is 100% online, or a hybrid event with a digital complement to a physical event. We often hear from marketers and event planners that virtual events are intimidating – from selecting the right technology partner for a seamless technical production to delivering an experience that matches the energy and engagement of a physical conference. However, there’s been a tremendous amount of progress in the space – set-up, speed, UX and audio/video quality – and with the right technology and creative planning, these events can be incredibly successful.

Here are the three most common myths about virtual events, debunked. 

Myth #1 – Virtual events cannibalize physical event attendance.

Fact – Many marketers report that adding a virtual extension to their event has increased year-over-year physical event attendance just by exposing more attendees to the content/experience (with many of our clients reporting a 10%-30% increase in attendance). The reality is that online events are valuable tools to drive attendance for those who can’t attend a physical event, allowing them to engage with the content in a digital format and enjoy the experience virtually. This also gives marketers the opportunity to extend their events to national or international attendees, and the ability to connect with new audiences.

Virtual events also provide the ability to share presentations, posters and papers more effectively. If an attendee misses a presentation during a physical event there is no way to go back and view it. This is not a limitation for virtual events. Participants can interact with content at their own pace – including outside of scheduled presentation times. Event content can also be made available for months following a conference so that attendees have time to re-engage and view materials that they may have missed.  

Myth #2 – Meaningful engagement is limited with a virtual event.

Fact – There are many creative ways to drive engagement with a virtual audience, from traditional Q&A, chat and networking opportunities to badging and gamification. Even more exciting is that the touchpoints throughout the virtual event experience can be captured to truly understand how engaged the audience was. The ability to understand not only if the attendee joined the event, but what content they were interested in – from sessions attended to documents viewed or downloaded – is incredibly valuable data that can inform future marketing strategies. 

Polls and surveys are also a great way to keep audiences engaged during presentation sessions and allow speakers to pivot their content to address questions in real-time. 

Myth #3 – You cannot monetize virtual events. 

Fact There are plenty of ways to monetize a virtual event. Just like physical events, virtual events can generate revenue through creative sponsorships. Participating sponsors also reap months of benefits following a virtual event, due to on-demand and post-event promotion. Virtual event spaces, booths and other locations within the environment are all opportunities for sponsorship.

Sponsorship options within virtual events can include:

  • Preferred placement on event microsite or registration pages
  • Online advertisements/banners  
  • Marketing email mentions
  • Pre-roll video that runs at the start or end of each session
  • Virtual lobby entrance
  • Breakout sessions
  • Networking lounge
  • Games, trivia, prizes
  • Speaking/keynote opportunities
  • Virtual tradeshow booths 

Bonus Fact: Virtual Events Are the New Normal

Most marketers agree that when it comes to events, there’s no turning back to ‘in-person only’ events. A successful event marketing strategy needs to embrace online and virtual experiences, whether as a total replacement, or an augment to, physical events. As myths are debunked and marketers better understand the opportunities that virtual events present for their companies – from brand awareness to lead generation and customer engagement – the trend in virtual events is shifting from a nice-to-have to our new normal. 


Aviate, Navigate, Communicate: Lessons to Get Through the Crisis from an F-14 Pilot

Simon Erskine Locke, Founder & CEO of CommunicationsMatch™

The U.S. Navy’s first female F-14 Tomcat pilot, Carey Lohrenz, recently shared with the C-Suite Network’s Hero Club members the keys to flying through constantly changing conditions to complete a mission:

Aviate, navigate, and communicate.

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate

Imagine you are flying a multi-million-dollar plane at Mach 2, landing at night on an aircraft carrier with your and the lives of your crewmates on the line, and, you are at war – people are shooting at you while you do your job.

Feel familiar? In the coronavirus pandemic, business and communications leaders are engaged in combat.

Aviate, navigate, and communicate captures the essence of what it takes to manage complexity for pilots as well as those dealing with the current crisis. 

The specific order of actions, outlined by Lohrenz, author of Fearless Leadership: High-Performance Lessons from the Flight Deck, motivational speaker, and a leadership coach, provides a valuable roadmap for a path through the coronavirus pandemic and other crises. 

Aviate:  As Lohrenz outlined, aviate is having the skills to fly the plane. In a business context, leaders must have the skills to run their business – whether it’s a corporation or client account. Since every business and market is different, there is no handbook. Like pilots, leaders have to make decisions based on imperfect knowledge and changing conditions to, above all, keep flying.  

Navigate:  We need to situate ourselves and our businesses or clients in the context of where we want to go. During this crisis, as I wrote in The Coronavirus Reset, we need to understand the greatest value we can offer clients now, and to anticipate will be needed down the line. One thing is for sure – it will be different than what it was before. Midair we need to recalibrate instruments, change strategy and positioning, and fly toward it.

Communicate: Planes have blind spots. When flying in formation or combat, communication is key. Pilots need to share with and receive input from wing mates or air traffic controllers to provide situational awareness and notice of directional changes. Simplicity of language, clarity and frequency of communication ensure that individual actions are aligned with the mission of the team – whether you are pilot, CEO, or communicator.

That communication is third in the list of a pilots’ core actions – but integrated with the other two – is instructive. Flying (managing) and knowing where you are going (navigating) are the building blocks upon which communication will help achieve the mission.  

The takeaways for leaders during the pandemic are that we need to get aviating and navigating right, and then communicate. Communication – no matter how good – will not solve fundamental problems with a business (or poor piloting) and where it is headed. 

If you or your team are struggling to aviate, it’s important to identify and fix what is wrong. Getting the perspective of others may well be required to provide a clear-eyed view of your or your clients’ blind spots.  

If you are headed in the wrong direction or the directional coordinates required for success have changed – as they have through the pandemic – taking the time to reset goals and mapping how you will get there is critical to achieving your objectives. Embracing uncertainty to ensure you can make decisions is equally important. 

If your team is lost, not aligned or onboard with the path you are taking, communicate, communicate, communicate. 

If you are flying the plane in a direction that adds value to clients, communicate, communicate, communicate.

And keep in mind one of the most important lessons from flying a Tomcat shared by Lohrenz: When focused on complex tasks, communications need to be simple and concise. Your mission to get through the coronavirus crisis depends on it.

CommunicationsMatch™ offers search tools and services to help companies find, shortlist, and hire agencies, consultants, and freelancers, and help agencies and professionals generate new business leads. During the coronavirus pandemic, CommunicationsMatch is leveraging its resources to help connect struggling not-for-profits and companies with Communications Volunteers willing to give their time to help others at no cost or discounted services. Through its partnership with the Marketing IMPACT Council™, it is offering communicators access to a unique low-cost telehealth services program from MDLIVE, as well as additional time and discounts on membership plans. Find out more at the CommunicationsMatch Insights Blog.






#GraduateTogether – Celebrating the Class of 2020

Editor’s Note:  CommPRO is honored to be part of the executive / student networking forum organized by communications powerhouse, Philip Morris International senior vice president, Marian Salzman and her sister, fashion executive Jane Zemba.  Their mission, bringing graduates and executives together to create networking opportunities for the class of 2020.

As part of #GraduateTogether, I reached out to Marian and several students to share their thoughts about online graduation festivities, including the commencement speeches by former President Barack Obama.

Marian Salzman, Philip Morris International Senior Vice President

Sharing her favorite part of the commencement speech…

President Barack Obama: ” This pandemic has shaken up the status quo It’s woken a lot of young people up to the fact that the old ways of doing things just don’t work; that it doesn’t matter how much money you make if everyone around you is hungry and sick; and that our society and our democracy only work when we think not just about ourselves, but about each other. ..All those adults that you used to think were in charge and knew what they were doing? Turns out that they don’t have all the answers. …So, if the world’s going to get better, it going to be up to you.”

Rachel Cantor, Northwestern University

I’m a recent 2020 graduate from Northwestern University. I majored in Communication Studies, minored in French and received a certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications from the Medill School of Journalism. I was looking forward to the end of my senior year – enjoying the warm Chicago summer, spending time with friends, listening to music and picnicking on Northwestern’s lake-fill – but none of this became a reality, and I knew that would be the case back in early march.

This past year, I ran Northwestern University’s Dance Marathon (NUDM), one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the nation. NUDM is a yearlong fundraising and service effort, culminating in a 30-hour dance-a-thon, with all the proceeds supporting our 2020 beneficiaries, Children’s Home & Aid and the Evanston Community Foundation. Serving as one of the Executive Co-Chairs was the greatest learning and leadership opportunity. I spent my entire senior year managing a 20-person executive board and over 450 committee members and planning and executing major fundraising initiatives.

Two days prior to the event, the university told us that the 30-hour dance-a-thon was cancelled due to COVID-19. I was devastated and heartbroken. How could the university cancel my favorite part of my Northwestern experience? How could they cancel an event that fundraises so much money it actually changes lives? I ultimately came to understand their decision, and although the event was cancelled (the first time in its 47 year history), NUDM raised over $1 million for Children’s Home & Aid and the Evanston Community Foundation. How we accomplished that is a story for another time.

I knew from the moment I heard the word “cancelled” that my senior year would be entirely different than I thought it would be. Little did I know that our world wouldn’t be the same. Northwestern announced that we would have an extended Spring Break, and they ultimately decided to send all students home for Spring Quarter. Thanks to our school’s quarter system, I was lucky enough credits to graduate early, so I quickly emailed my advisor and deregistered from my Spring Quarter classes. My roommates and I packed our bags and left with no return date in mind.

I was never really looking forward to my graduation ceremony. The idea of wearing a polyester purple gown while sitting in the heat, packed like sardines never really appealed to me. I was mostly looking forward to seeing my family all together and spending the last few days of college with my incredible, lifelong friends. I don’t really mind that my graduation ceremony, which takes place on June 19, is virtual. It’s not a big deal; it’s more sad than anything. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I almost don’t care anymore. I love my school. I love my friends. I love Evanston, but this has dragged on for too long. What I would like most is to be with the people I care and love.

I listened to Obama’s speech as part of the #GraduateTogether program. I found that it was just the right amount of inspiration and realism. We are all living through this time, experiencing the day to day anxieties, worries and for many, boredom. There is so much uncertainty, but with times of uncertainty come times of change. Obama believes that our generation’s time is now. We have the power to shape the world and to lead with integrity, compassion and charisma. He reminds us that we are never too young to create change. I really took his pieces of advice to heart – 1) don’t be afraid 2) do what you think is right 3) build a community. Now is the time to take risks, to fight for what’s right and to work together.

While quarantining, I’ve tried my best to follow Obama’s advice. I started expressing myself through writing again. I took a risk and launched my own personal newsletter, sharing updates, my take on pop culture and what I’m currently reading, watching and listening. I have grown my audience to almost 150 subscribers in a short period of time. I published an article on CommPRO, and I’ve been incredible grateful to have Fay Shapiro as my mentor. She has helped me discover my strengths and work towards figuring out my next steps. I have stayed in touch with my friends, and I have rekindled old friendships. I’m actively expanding my network, scheduling video calls with people who I hope to learn from and who I admire. This time is stressful. I don’t know where I’ll be in the few months. I don’t know where I’ll be working or what I’ll be doing, and although this is frustrating, I know that everything will work itself out. This time has been nothing but a learning experience and a time for growth. I’ve come to see what and who matters most to me, what kind of person I want to be and what I might want to do for this next chapter of my life. I continue to stay hopeful, and I’m grateful for my health and safety.

Emma Furrier, UMass Lowell

I am a recent 2020 graduate from UMass Lowell, majoring in English with a concentration in Journalism & Professional Writing and a minor in Digital Media Studies. The climate in which I am graduating is certainly not one that I had ever anticipated. I had always been excited that my graduating year was going to be 2020, as that seemed like such a great year, the start of a new decade and full of hope and opportunity. However, that is definitely not the case now.

My university has cancelled their commencement with no guarantee of a future ceremony, since the future is so uncertain. We are holding a virtual commencement ceremony on Friday, May 29th. While this is not the celebration that I had hoped for, I am trying to make the best of it. My family is even going to host a Zoom graduation party for me, which actually works out better than an in-person celebration because now my family from other parts of the country can attend. The university has been kind enough to provide us regalia for free, to be mailed to our homes along with programs. I was able to upload a photo and short bio about myself to be displayed as a slide when they announce my name during the virtual ceremony. I am glad that they are trying to accommodate us and make this disappointment as positive as it can be, although I would be lying if I said that it felt like enough. This whole experience has felt incredibly anticlimactic. I left campus for spring break on March 5, wishing everyone a great break and see you next week’s, only to never step foot on campus again. We received the email from our chancellor towards the end of our break, notifying us that we were to close and switch to remote learning effective the following week. It was so abrupt… one second everything was normal and the next, everything had been taken away from us with no end in sight. In terms of concluding the semester and finishing my degree, my school was incredibly accommodating and made the switch to remote learning seamless. I had taken online courses previously, which I’m sure aided my transition. Still, my finals were submitted with the click of a button and then just like that, it was all over. It still has not fully hit me yet that I have completed my undergrad, since nothing is tangible or in-person… it does not feel like it really happened, and I do not think that will sink in for a while.

I greatly enjoyed watching Obama’s speech last night during the #GraduateTogether program. His composure, class, and affirmations truly made me feel a sense of ease. He did not sugarcoat things and maintained honesty, stating the obvious that this is not ideal for anyone and we have a long road ahead of us. However, we have to look at the silver linings. We are all in this together, and are facing the same anxieties. I have been feeling immense anxiety at the prospect of the unknown, but I find comfort knowing that I am not in this alone. Graduating in a pandemic will definitely make us all grow up quicker (especially the graduating high school students as mentioned). We have the unique experience of graduating in a global pandemic, and that is something we will carry with us for the rest of our lives. It is our story to tell, and it is how we handle it and how we choose to react that will make all the difference. We may not be able to control this, but we can control how we act and respond.

Although the economic collapse and the uncertainty of the job market is not in our favor, grads can still be productive during this time. As apart of Marian’s group, I am actively expanding my network, conducting research, learning new skills (I’m currently teaching myself embroidery and how to code on python) and staying up-to-date on the current climate. As Obama mentioned, this crisis has laid bare many of our country’s faults. I have seen a rise in young people reacting to this with outrage and determination, using their online platforms to transform into activists. Even though it feels like everything has been taken away from us, it is all about perspective. There is still so much we can do, rather than sitting back and watching it all unfold. The youth are our future and so many adults (esp. in our government) seem quick to forget that. The class of 2020 is our future and I believe that we will grow stronger from this experience, together. We have all felt the same loss, while simultaneously feeling the same motivation. This experience has definitely taught me patience, and I have to rely on the fact that things will come in time. I may not get a job now, which is discouraging, but I will get a job eventually and I have to accept that. Since there have been so many layoffs, 2020 grads are not only competing with each other now, but also with professionals who have years of experience in the field and now may be forced to apply to entry level jobs. We will face more challenges than we ever expected, and obtaining a job will be much more difficult. That is discouraging, but like I said, I am trying to find the silver linings.

James Murphy, University of Miami

This pandemic has really brought to my attention just how quickly things can change and how nothing is guaranteed. I was very eager to graduate into a job market characterizes by a record setting economy and the lowest level of unemployment in a while. It was initially upsetting to see just how quickly this situation could be disrupted and how the impact would be so pervasive. After enduring nine weeks of quarantine, I am trying to approach this situation as a new opportunity. I will have to pivot, and embrace the “new normal”, as I start my career. Starting my career remotely isn’t exactly how I pictured it, however, enduring and adapting will make me a stronger person and will shape how I approach adversity and obstacles going forward.

What are the leadership lessons? 

The pandemic presented an interesting expose on state and federal government leadership and various styles of leadership.  The personal visibility of political leaders provided by daily press briefings, combined with the lack of alternative international, social, or sports news, has shown me the impact of visual and interactive media to influence the public’s perceptions and opinions.  I recently finished a semester long college course, focused solely on strategic leadership in business, where we learned that leader’s often emerge, or are at least more appreciated, in times  of change and crisis.  The deal with the change by embracing it and adapting behavior, especially in the face of a crisis, and forces outside out their control. This is a chance for all leaders to embrace the situation and to find new an innovative ways to maintain a successful business.


Musicals! A Jilted Genre?

Musicals...a jilted genre


Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group

I remember fondly my two adorably chubby, spinster aunts.  Aunt Josie sitting on her thickly upholstered chair, her legs tired from so much cooking are stretched out on the worn footrest beside the stately grandfather clock.  

Half asleep, she’d either be droopy-eyed watching TV or sleepily listening to her prized 1958 recording of South Pacific, the Academy Award Winning Musical by Rogers and Hammerstein.  Meanwhile across the room, plopped on her sprawling couch her ever-busy-bee sister Louise is knitting up a storm.   

Every so often old grandfather would chime in occasionally interrupting “Some Enchanted Evening” sung by Giorgio Tozzi (Rossano Brazzi in the film serenading Mitzi Gaynor). It was a tranquil, homey scene, memorable and melodic.  

But have musicals today become a jilted genre?

As the son of a concert violinist who grew up in a musical world, I hope not.  I remember how excited I was to see and hear Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story at Radio City Music Hall and all the other musicals I devoured on Broadway.  

I remember when I met that Herculean hoofer Donald O’Connor one day whose musical films with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds would make my heart tap dance.  

I can recall like it was yesterday when I was studying acting at Herbert Berghof Studio in Greenwich Village, New York . . .  then going to see Zero Mostel on Broadway in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum . . . watching him again and again in one of my favorite films, Mel Brooks’ The Producers.

Musicals.  Where have they gone?  Gone with the wind?   Maybe with Fred and Ginger Flying Down to Rio?  No, “thank heaven” as Maurice Chevalier sings in the film Gigi, a precious few still play merrily along, although tucked away on TCM.  

But it was Lerner and Loewe who stoked my creative fires the most and whose songs have lasted the longest from Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, Camelot, Gigi and this one from MY FAIR LADY, a song I can even relate to today’s COVID-19.

In fact, here are new lyrics I wrote that fit our now sheltering in place society. This is from one of my recent blogs at 

I have often walked on the street before.

But the pavement always stayed 

Beneath my feet before.

All at once am I, several stories high

Confined to the condo where I live

Remember a time when we were free to come and go as we please?  When we could shake hands, snug and hug?  I revised these lyrics from My Fair Lady, to match how we’re living today, sheltering in place, ordered not to embrace, must wear a mask on our face.   

Now may be a time we need musicals more than ever!  Or soon, like Irving Berlin, we may be asking ourselves:

What do I do 

When you are far away,

And I am feeling blue?


Corporate Identity Kits and Templating: How Communication Professionals Support Small Businesses DTP Departments

Carmelo Cutuli, Of Counsel, Senior Advisor Italy, TransMediaGroup Inc.Carmelo Cutuli, Of Counsel, Senior Advisor Italy, TransMediaGroup Inc.

Corporate identity is defined as the set of elements that represent a company’s image and is part of what is called corporate communication, i.e. the communication of the identity, values and projects of a given entity. Elements such as the company logo, letterhead, website, brochures, signs, social page graphics and others are all part of a visual communication strategy.

As digital printing, social networks and opensource CMS became more and more widespread, corporate use of DTP, an acronym for Desktop Publishing, has been consolidated. Considered as strategic – as long as it does not result in an unprofessional do-it-yourself – DTP offers the opportunity to generate internally communication contents and therefore with greater promptness and control.

PR and Communication professionals working with startups, small businesses, boutique firms and nonprofits, which often have very smart needs but small budgets, are meeting their DTP needs by offering turnkey corporate identity packages at defined costs and times.

This innovative business model is having great success as it allows companies with limited budgets to rely on high-level professionals with years of corporate experience, who, at the cost of established fees, create coordinated corporate image kits for them.

These packages are more cost-effective than tailor-made solutions because they are normally built in a modular way, according to the average needs of the target market category. The professionals who provide these packages also interface with customers in a smart and informal way (Skype, Whatsapp, e-mail, etc.) and deliver all their work digitally, often with record-breaking timing.

Once obtained their kit, customers will have the ability to distribute it to their employees, departments or suppliers, who can use it immediately. Usually, in fact, graphics and templates are created by the professional with sophisticated high-end applications but are delivered to the customer in an open file format, editable by the most popular Office tools so that everybody can easily customize them without affecting the professionalism of results.

Corporate identity, to be effective, must focus on the values and objectives set by the company or the professional. The brand footprint must be simple, distinctive, clean and never exaggerated in design. It must be timeless, a corporate identity must be able to work even after years and overcome the fashions of the moment. If conceived and built with method and strategy, corporate identity generates and conveys a message of coherence and accountability to potential customers and other stakeholders.

Kenneth Cole And An Alliance Of The Leading Mental Health Organizations Join Forces With Celebrities And Advocates To Launch An Unprecedented Coalition At A Critical Moment In Time

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Social activist and iconic fashion designer Kenneth Cole, announced the launch of The Mental Health Coalition (MHC), the first collaborative effort of this scale which convenes and unites the leading US mental health organizations, creative and media platforms, passionate advocates, as well as celebrities working collectively to destigmatize mental health conditions and address the pervasive public health crisis. The Coalition launches with an online platform and digital resource guide, and an interactive storytelling platform

Before the coronavirus pandemic, mental illness was already one of the world’s most pressing public health concerns, affecting hundreds of millions of people.  According to the WHO, 1 in 4 people globally will be affected by a mental health condition; however, we know that 4 out of 4 are in fact significantly impacted by them.With millions now forced into quarantine, the magnitude of this compounds significantly.  Studies have shown that physical distancing and stress related to the coronavirus crisis are having an increasing impact on mental health, amplifying the urgency for this initiative.

It is critical, now more than ever, that we come together to promote acceptance, inspire hope and destigmatize mental mealth conditions. The Mental Health Coalition platform will be a place where individuals seeking help or guidance can access resources from our partners and better understand ways to discuss mental health.

“This is a critical moment in time.  The collective consciousness from the pandemic has created an unprecedented urgency to address the crisis now,” states Founder and Chairman of The Mental Health Coalition, Kenneth Cole.  I am proud to bring together a community of the most impactful mental health service providers in the country, leading academics, creative, media, and business leaders with the common goal of changing the mental health narrative in a way that will empower rather than diminish those individuals living with Mental Health conditions.  We are aligned with the goal of ending the related devastating stigma.  I believe that together we can end the stigma, but only together.”

The visual identity of was created by Paula Scher at the internationally acclaimed design firm Pentagram and features a “square peg in a round hole” to represent that there is no “normal” when it comes to mental health and that everybody fits. The coalition is introducing this icon in the hopes that it will become the global symbol for mental health. The icon also appears in the branding Scher created for “How Are You, Really?”.

The new proprietary, will use digital storytelling to create and share stories crafted with a focus on language, lived experiences and advice for mental health, self-care and coping strategies.  The effort will leverage the voices of celebrities, influencers and advocates, and popular culture to discuss mental health in an open, authentic and provocative way.  The platform is conceived and coordinated by Catie Cole, Co-Founder, CTO & Content Director of The Mental Health Coalition.  Research has shown that authentic storytelling can reduce stigma and barriers to help-seeking for people who are struggling or living with mental health conditions.  The “How Are You, Really?” initiative creates safe spaces for anyone to be vulnerable, authentic, empathetic and hopeful by sharing their truth and experiencing other people’s stories.  This interactive process facilitates understanding and empowers individuals to speak up and access resources and support.  We believe that participants will be a part of a life-changing, coordinated effort that will encourage and support an open and honest expression that will ultimately destigmatize mental health conditions.

The initiative prompts the most universally and commonly asked question and also the question rarely answered, ‘How Are You, Really?’.  This initiative challenges people to answer this as honestly as they are able, allowing themselves to be vulnerable, empathic, and/or anywhere in between.  By individuals sharing their truth about how they really feel, there is much scientific and anecdotal evidence that it will be healing for them and at the same time will support and inspire many others who are living with a mental health condition.  We believe that participants will be a part of a life-changing, coordinated effort that will encourage and support an open and honest expression ultimately destigmatize mental health conditions.

The challenge will be launched by posting your video and then challenging others to authentically answer that same question “How are you, really?,” and sharing their stories at  and on Instagram and Twitter.

In addition, iHeartMedia, the number one audio company in the United States, will air a series of PSAs across its 850+ radio stations beginning today through the end of the month that encourages participation in the challenge. The series of radio spots will feature on-air personalities including Ryan Seacrest, Steve Harvey, Bobby Bones and Elvis Duran.

Participants supporting the challenge include Arielle Kebbel, Cheyenne Jackson, Chris Cuomo, Deepak Chopra, Elizabeth Chambers, Hunter McGrady, Kesha, Mayim Bialik, Oliver Platt, Michael Strahan, Stanley Tucci, Whoopi Goldberg and many more.

The leading mental health organizations joining this important endeavor include:

  • Active Minds
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America
  • Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
  • Bring Change to Mind
  • Child Mind Institute
  • Crisis Text Line
  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
  • Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services
  • Fountain House
  • Headstrong Project
  • Mental Health America
  • Mindful Philanthropy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • National Council for Behavioral Health
  • Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)
  • The Jed Foundation
  • The Steve Fund
  • The Trevor Project
  • UCLA Depression Grand Challenge
  • Vibrant Emotional Health
  • Well Being Trust

Creative partners that helped to bring The Mental Health Coalition to life include Ad Council, iHeartMedia, Kenneth Cole Productions, Lift, Oberland, Pentagram, Prinkshop and more.

Things to Avoid When Starting an Online Business

Things to Avoid When Starting Online Business

CommPRO Editorial Staff

The idea of working on the internet is appealing to a lot of people. Starting a business is not that hard if you are willing to try your best, and these days, you have a fair share of sources to help you out.  Several examples include: the “How to Start a Business Guide,” and this article by Oberlo – How to Start a Business: A Guide to Starting a Business.

Yet despite this abundance of information, some people tend to repeat certain mistakes. Being able to start with a low budget and potentially having a worldwide audience will not bring you riches if you make errors.

This article gives you a brief review of some of the most common mistakes that occur in the process of making an online business. Reading them is certainly worth your while, even more so if you have not had any prior experience.

No Plan

Diving right in without a plan is unwise because you are bound to waste a lot of resources along the way. This is one of the first lessons that you learn when studying in a business school. In fact, this is a great piece of advice in general.

Your business plan should include the following:

  • The niche. An ideal choice would be something you are passionate about and can work on non-stop. At the same time, though, it should have value and demand in current markets.
  • Brand name. Every business needs a name. Your expectations are to become recognized in the future, so you want to think really long and hard about the best possible option.
  • Monetization. How are you making money? Will it be affiliate links, direct sales, dropshipping? Look at what is available and decide which method makes the most sense.
  • Marketing. Think about the channels where you will be promoting your business. Will primary focus be on social media, or are you thinking of something else entirely?

The more detailed your plan is, the easier it will be to see the bigger picture. Having this information in front of you is a big help.

Too Much Focus on Smaller Details


There will always be certain tweaks that you want to do for your website and marketing campaigns, but keep in mind that those should not be a priority.

Instead of spending time here, look at how you can take your business to that next level. After things begin to settle down, you can look to dedicate more hours to photo editing, website designing, email answering, and so on.

Grow Email List Immediately

Plenty of new businesses neglect this part because they do not fathom how important an email list is. But once they begin to realize, it is a bit late. Thus, you need to get on this immediately.

Email lists are one of the best methods for monetization and help you grow your wealth even more down the line. Not to mention the fact that it builds a personal relationship with your audience.

Running All Social Media Channels


While social media could become one of your strongest allies, business owners tend to underestimate how much goes into running a successful account. They believe that posting a simple picture on Instagram or Facebook does the trick. And they repeat it on every social media platform they can find.

This behavior will only be detrimental to your business. You need to focus on a single channel and slowly build it front zero. It takes time, and because there are more matters at hand, you will not have enough time to focus entirely on your social media campaigns.

Waiting to Open

Being ready to launch the whole thing gives a lot of anxiety. This is completely understandable. If you find yourself in a situation where you want to delay the launch, you should get rid of those doubts immediately and simply go for it.

The sooner you start, the better it will be. After all, you have to do this regardless, so why not just press that button and be done with it?

High Expectations

Setting expectations too high will be your downfall. If you are thinking about conquering the world, you will more than likely end up disappointed and lose any motivation to continue working.

Doing the Same


You need to stand out from the crowd and offer something different to people. Otherwise, your business will slowly deteriorate and get lost, especially if your niche is highly competitive.

In summary, it is more or less impossible to avoid making mistakes when you are starting an online business for the first time. However, things will become easier after you have read this article as everything mentioned here is quite common.

Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur and Investor Michael Terpin Joins NGRAVE Advisory Board

Terpin to Advise NGRAVE on Public Relations and Business Strategy  

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Michael Terpin lawsuitMichael Terpin, a long-time cryptocurrency entrepreneur and investor, has joined digital asset security company NGRAVE as an advisor. Terpin will advise NGRAVE on public relations and business strategy as it introduces the world’s most secure hardware wallet, NGRAVE ZERO. 

NGRAVE ZERO wallets will be available for purchase via Indiegogo on May 26, 2020. NGRAVE’s Indiegogo campaign will support production to meet global demand, as well as worldwide marketing efforts. 

“Security is one of the major roadblocks to mainstream crypto adoption, and NGRAVE is leading the way in ensuring the next wave of users will have access to a top-notch solution for managing their digital assets,” said Michael Terpin, Founder and CEO of Transform Group and an advisor to NGRAVE. “I’m happy to lend my guidance to NGRAVE as they launch the world’s most secure crypto hardware wallet.” 

Michael Terpin is the founder and CEO of Transform Group, whose divisions include a global public relations firm that has served more than 200 clients in the blockchain industry, and CoinAgenda, an event series for cryptocurrency investors. Terpin also co-founded BitAngels, the first angel network for digital currency startups. He is a general partner at Alphabit Fund, a digital currency fund with $400 million in assets under management. Terpin has earned recognition as one of ICO Alert’s Top Blockchain Influencers and Cointelegraph’s Top 100 people. 

“Michael Terpin was an early supporter of the NGRAVE concept, and has already provided us with valuable guidance on our global outreach and strategy,” said Ruben Merre, Co-Founder and CEO of NGRAVE, and BitAngels’ Brussels, Netherlands, and Luxembourg Leader. “We look forward to working with Michael and his teams at Transform Group and BitAngels to introduce NGRAVE to the global crypto community.”  

NGRAVE has received grants from the Flemish Government, the European Commission, and the Web 3 Foundation along with private investments to develop its fully offline hardware wallet. Whereas competing hardware wallets like Ledger and Trezor rely on a USB connection or Bluetooth, NGRAVE removes the need for any connection (USB, WiFi, 4G, Bluetooth, NFC), instead using wall charging and QR codes to remain fully air gapped even while conducting transactions and creating accounts. All of these features are packaged in a design-focused user interface with a 4-inch touchscreen. 


Say This, Not That: Messaging and Crisis Response in the Age of Twitter Shaming

Laura Bedrossian, Vice President of Social Strategy at Hot Paper Lantern 

Maybe I’m boring. Maybe I’m on Twitter too much. Maybe I’m just too obsessed with communications and thinking about the actions people take to end up in a very public reputation battle.  

(It’s all of the above.) 

Each week there’s always a new “oh, did you see [insert celebrity, politician, or someone else who’s well-known] tweeted this?”  

But, that’s not the stuff that keeps me up at night. Working in communications and marketing, I love what I do and I love thinking about the mechanics of all communications and how that person’s “brand” could be long- or short-term tarnished. I’m here for the communications gone awry. The interview that shouldn’t have happened. The spokesperson who . . . mis-spoke.  

This past Friday night, I was intrigued to see the millennial cooking fave, Alison Roman, trending on Twitter.  

What I wasn’t expecting was to see that Roman was getting publicly shamed on Twitter and other social platforms. Roman shared an opinion of others (Chrissy Teigen and Marie Kondo) who are also notably in the public domain during what was probably thought to be an innocuous and fun interview that gets Roman a bit more press.  

I read the original interview, articles rehashing the drama, pored through the tweets and other posts. I won’t summarize what you already know.  

As I dug in more, going through Roman’s feed, the tweets related to the trending topic, and her replies this weekend, I noticed that she mentioned she “has no communications person,” she “didn’t mean it to come out like this,” she’s not a “content creator.” 

These are all wrong. Roman may not have a communications person, but she needs one. She may not have meant it to come out like this, but then what did she mean? She may not think she’s a content creator, but she is and does (tweets are content; Instagram posts and videos are content; writing for one of the largest newspapers in the world is content).   

We all have opinions. However, once you start to make public and strong statements about people, highly visible or not, you need to be prepared for what’s next. If you yourself are a highly visible person of interest, typically strong statements about others result in very public backlash. 

Sure, Roman may not have intended her comments to be taken as they were, but that doesn’t matter because they did get perceived negatively. Perception. And, why bring any of those women into it? Why not just say, “now that I’m more well-known, I’m being picky with what I get involved with. I’m not looking to create a ROMAN empire.” (Sorry, if I were your PR person, there would be a ton of puns involved . . . and that’s how I get fired.) 

The bigger issue and one to learn from is this: If you make a statement, you must be prepared to respond and stand by your comments. Roman did not and does not seem to be prepared to respond or stand by her comments.  

Roman’s debacle is a reminder that everything you say IS on the record and you need to be ready to deal with the public response and sentiment.  

Having read everything myself and reading between the lines, it sounds like she had a legitimate point worth discussing. She isn’t just going to “slap her name” on a product and try and sell it. Where she went very wrong was with messaging.  

Like it or not, Roman is the definition of an influencer. Her words get read. Her recipes are followed and made and tagged on social media sites. Her recipes are tagged on social media sites as people try their best to follow them. Her interviews get read and shared. And, now that she mentioned two other incredibly popular influencers, she is feeling the heat. 

Cringeworthy interview aside, here’s where I continue to cringe. You can see the backpedaling in her tweets. She was responding to replies from both fans and new haters (as of writing this her last tweet was on May 8 and is to Chrissy Teigen. Teigen has since made her 12 million+ followed account private).  

Roman teeters between apologizing and jokingly trying to nod the backlash. Here’s an example:

 She’s not sorry for what she said. She’s sorry for how it was perceived. She’s sorry for the very public backlash she’s getting. 

Say that. Say what you supposedly meant. Don’t try to self-deprecate.  Say you are sorry for your words coming off as X, here is what you meant. Now, move on.  

This is a new gold standard of how not to handle brand issues.

If I could go back in time Marty McFly-style, I would have told Allison to stop tweeting. Stop responding to everything. Think of why you said what you said and create a response around that. (If I could have gone further back in time, I would have helped her better prepare for her interview.) 

Her debacle is a good reminder that you should always practice for an interview. That’s not to say you must come off as scripted, but even with someone that’s a casual discussion–there’s a reason you’re being interviewed. You should have a firm grasp of what you’re trying to get across to the interviewer. Now everything Roman tried to get across is lost in a sea of public perception.  

This trending news regarding Roman is the perfect example of how wrong an interview can go if you’re not prepared and also how quickly news spreads and public perception can turn. Also, as if this weren’t hard enough to follow, this is a nice reminder that your old tweets can come back to haunt you, as Roman supporters go after Teigen for old tweets and comments calling Teigen a bully.  

Roman and Teigen have both since publicly apologized and made amends (in less than a week). Goes to show how quickly the news cycle works, too.   

If you learn anything from this social media “feud,” it’s that you can only control what you say, post, and how you react to help mitigate how you are perceived. Choose wisely and remember it all impacts your brand. 

About the Author: Laura Bedrossian is VP, Social Strategy at Hot Paper Lantern. She oversees social media and other digital initiatives working closely with various disciplines across the agency. In her role at HPL, she works to understand strategic needs of clients and deliver strategies and tactics that hit overarching business goals. As an expert on social media platforms, she also thinks through content strategy, growing audiences, and engaging with audiences in a genuine way. She sets cross-platform strategies for clients and rolls up her sleeves to get it done with the team. Laura has worked on a mix of B2B and B2C industries including financial services, architecture & design, education, food & beverage, agriculture, technology and specialty chemicals. She has more than a decade of experience in integrated marketing and communications, crisis communications, social media strategy, and digital marketing. A sampling of brand experience includes: American Museum of Natural History, American Institute of Architects, Army Cyber Institute, Edible Arrangements, Ernst & Young (EY), Raymond James, Saint-Gobain, TGI Fridays, and Wilbur-Ellis Company.

Cake Boss Buddy Valastro Makes Teen’s Sweet 16 a Lot Sweeter


CommPRO Editorial Staff

During these trying times, many of us have been moved by the acts of kindness during a pandemic that has taken us all by surprise. As our world copes with the challenges social distancing has created on various levels, many have been charged with the dilemma of how best to celebrate important milestones.

One determined Long Island, NY mom and marketing, public relations and business development executive, Silvia Davi, didn’t hesitate and immediately developed Plan B to still make her daughter’s 16th birthday memorable. Her daughter’s Sweet 16 with family and friends originally planned for her real birthday Friday, May 15th at Jericho Terrace had to be postponed. This was heartbreaking for Silvia given how much her daughter had been waiting for this big day since she was six-years-old. According to Silvia, one of the hardest parts of this pandemic is seeing so many kids unable to celebrate milestones, graduations, birthdays, sporting events etc.

So Silvia turned to Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, whom she had the pleasure of working with over 10 years ago on a corporate marketing campaign, which her daughter Silvana inspired from watching her favorite show at the time – TLC’s Cake Boss. And boy did he deliver. Check this amazing Sunset themed cake – Silvana’s favorite thing – and the warm-hearted and personalized message from Buddy to Silvana, whom he had the pleasure of first meeting when she was 5-years-old and later featured in one of the TLC Cake Boss episodes in 2010. Buddy later invited Silvana and her Mom back when she was 7 for a tour of the expanded Carlos Bakery facility in Jersey City.



At the time of the episode, Silvia (now Chief Marketing & Corporate Development Officer of 280 CapMarkets, a fixed income fintech) was Nasdaq’s VP of Global Communications, Media Strategy & it’s Marketsite Studio, and when her inquisitive daughter saw her writing a campaign one night for the 10 year anniversary of Nasdaq’s iconic MarketSite, Silvana suggested that Silvia call the Cake Boss because “all birthdays need a cake.” And the rest is history.

After calls to the producers of TLC and Carlos’s Bakery, the Cake Boss created the most amazing cake for Nasdaq. Buddy along with his family joined Silvia and Silvana to ring the Nasdaq closing bell. The ordeal for the Cake Boss to get the massive Nasdaq cake into the facility was one that should not be missed and  still a Cake Boss favorite rerun.

On a personal note, Silvia says her goal is to teach her kids how to make memories and celebrate life while empowering them. And one thing is for sure, little Silvana, an aspiring business major, has always felt like an executive.

The COVID-19 Reset: Strategy, Marketing & Communications for a New World (Complimentary Webinar)

Free Webinar: May 20th, 12 PM (Noon) EDT  


Join former “Marketer of the Year” Arun Sinha, and Time magazine “Marketing Innovator”, Rishad Tobaccowala, for a webinar discussion focused on resetting, aligning & implementing strategy, marketing & communications in a COVID-19 impacted world.     

Sinha is a former Global CMO of J.P. Morgan, Zurich Financial, MSCI & President of Services & Solutions and CMO of Pitney Bowes, a business leader, entrepreneur, and Yale School of Management Sr. Faculty Fellow. Tobaccowala, senior advisor to, and former Chief Strategy & Growth Officer of the Publicis Groupe, is a past chairman of transformational agencies DigitasLBi and Razorfish. He’s the author of Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data. 

This second in an ongoing series of Marketing IMPACT Council™ webinars organized in collaboration with strategic partner CommunicationsMatch™ will be moderated by John Greco, Founder & Chair of the Marketing IMPACT Council™, former CEO of the Direct Marketing Association and Simon Erskine Locke, Founder & CEO of CommunicationsMatch.™  

This webinar will provide perspective and practical insights on:   

  • The opportunity for all leaders at every level and of every function to uncover ways in which client and consumer needs have changed 
  • Resetting strategy and aligning organizations around changing value propositions
  • Developing and implementing marketing & communications strategies for the landscape  

This complimentary webinar is open to the Marketing IMPACT Council™ and CommunicationsMatch™ communities as well as those of our supporting partners –, the Financial Communications Society, and Capitol Communicator  

Our panelists will also address questions from the audience.

Date & Time:  May 20TH, 12 PM (Noon) EDT  


Read the takeaways from the first webinar in the series – The COVID-19 Reset: A Value-Based Strategic Path Forward here. The webinar featured distinguished professors Noel Capon (Columbia Business School) and Amy C. Edmondson (Harvard Business School), and Founder & CRO of Researchscape, Jeffrey Henning.    

We hope you can join us.


John Greco, Founder & Chair of the Marketing IMPACT Council™ 

Simon Erskine Locke, Founder & CEO of CommunicationsMatch™    

Richard Levick: “I’m Not Messing Around”

Richard Levick - I'm Not Messing Around


Richard S. Levick, Esq., Chairman & CEO, LEVICK

Elon Musk is “not messing around,” vowing to sue Alameda County, California, where its main plant is headquartered. Texas and Nevada are aggressively angling to snatch his business. A boycott is threatened against COSTCO over the company’s nationwide mandatory mask policy. Low tax states have relaxed lockdowns earlier than other states and are recruiting for corporate headquarters post-pandemic. Apparently, we aren’t all in this together.

Nursing homes, insurance companies, private schools, colleges and universities, and, of course, cruise ship lines, among other industries, are and will be significant litigation targets in a post-pandemic world. Cruise ships and nursing homes are and will be accused of not being careful enough while COSTCO, the state of California and other defendants will be accused of being too careful. Universities and insurance companies are and will be sued for not providing what their buyers thought they were purchasing. What’s a company (or a state) to do?

There’s an old adage in our business, “Crisis abhors a vacuum.” While clear federal leadership would not have necessarily eliminated many of these lawsuits, the absence of clear guidelines has only added to the confusion. Most states that have reopened to some degree are not following federal guidelines. Confusion reigns and trust abates even further. And we haven’t begun to consider what happens if Covid-19 morphs into an even more lethal disease thanks to restaurants, beaches or meat packing plant relaxing their guidelines too soon.

We are going to see a rise in lawsuits against many defendants. We try and get at a few of these industries, starting with the cruise ship industry and expanding to the insurance industry next. What should cruise ship companies be considering now and what should they be doing to reduce liability and increase trust?

Richard Levick 2020About the Author: Richard Levick, Esq., @richardlevick, is Chairman and CEO of LEVICK. He is a frequent television, radio, online, and print commentator.

CoinAgenda “After the Halving” Virtual Event to Feature Fireside Chat with “Oracle of Bitcoin” Vinny Lingham

Virtual Event: May 20, 2020 at 10 am Pacific Time / 1 pm Eastern Time


CoinAgenda (, the premier global conference series connecting blockchain and cryptocurrency investors with startups since 2014, today announced its second virtual event, CoinAgenda Presents: “After the Halving.” Speakers will include Vinny Lingham, Co-Founder and CEO of; Matt Roszak, Chairman & Co-Founder of Bloq; Catherine Coley, CEO of Binance.US; Tone Vays, Content Creator, Derivatives Trader & Consultant; and Michael Terpin, Founder and CEO of Transform Group. 

Hosted online and open to anyone in the global crypto community, CoinAgenda’s Virtual Event Series aims to promote ongoing blockchain investment and adoption, adapting to the current public health crisis and the resulting travel and meeting restrictions. 

“With the highly anticipated third Bitcoin Halving now in the history books, we pulled together top leaders in the space to analyze the short- and long-term effects on the market,” said Michael Terpin, founder of CoinAgenda. “We’re happy to welcome some of the most recognized leaders in the industry for what’s sure to be an insightful discussion.” 

Following the successful CoinAgenda virtual event launch “Crypto in a Time of Coronavirus” last month, this event will explore the challenges and opportunities stemming from reduced rewards and base miner costs, mainstream adoption, bitcoin market price and the startup development and investment landscape. Following the discussion, attendees will have the opportunity to network and ask questions. “After the Halving” will take place May 20, 2020 at 10 am Pacific Time / 1 pm Eastern Time. Registration is free, and registrants will receive a link to participate via email prior to the start of the event. 

Future CoinAgenda Virtual Events are scheduled each month through September, delving into topics ranging from the European crypto market to the DeFi revolution. Each CoinAgenda 

Virtual Event will be recorded and available to members of the BitAngels investor network. To become a member of the BitAngels investor network, please apply here. 

CoinAgenda’s next in-person conference is scheduled for October 24-25, 2020 in Las Vegas. 

ABOUT COINAGENDASince 2014, CoinAgenda is the leading global conference series connecting professional investors, traders, family offices and digital currency funds with top entrepreneurs in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sect.

German Soccer Announces Imminent Return

Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR 

Sports are slowly making a comeback around the world. Some baseball leagues have begun playing games, albeit without fans in the stands, NASCAR will start racing later this month with similar limitations, and now it appears that the German Bundesliga is on track to resume sometime in May. 

The Bundesliga has been on hiatus for about two months, but now German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced she is loosening the containment measures related to coronavirus response. That’s good news for German soccer and for German soccer fans. As with other professional sports leagues, games will resume without fans in attendance. Many fans are very happy, while others may have some misgivings. Messaging around this issue tried to address both. 

German Soccer Announces Imminent ReturnGerman soccer league president Christian Seibert said: 

“(This) decision is good news for the Bundesliga and second division… It comes with great responsibility for the clubs and their employees to implement the medical and organizational requirements in a disciplined manner… Games without spectators are not ideal. In a crisis threatening the very existence of some clubs however, it is the only way to keep the leagues in their current form…” 

The announcement that play could resume came on the heels of another announcement: that of three more positive tests for the virus, a statement that coincided with a livestream broadcast of some club members ignoring social distancing guidelines. 

So, at best it’s a shaky environment in which to make such a momentous announcement. While the public desire for the resumption of sport is high, there are many who still harbor serious concerns. Any effort to appease one will have to take into consideration how to assuage the other. 

Some other professional athletes had harsh words for the league and for officials who greenlit the games. Ronal Rauhe said the nation was making soccer more important than education and Jonannes Vetter called the decision “perverse.” Meanwhile, other athletes just asked that decisions be “fair,” arguing that all sports should be allowed or none should be allowed. 

This kind of all or nothing approach has been routinely rejected by most decision-makers at every level of government across the world. They have chosen a more situational approach to these decisions, so the “all or nothing” perspective may not find a very receptive audience. 

Narratives will need to consider all these perspectives as they continue to be released, no matter which side the messenger takes. Emotions and opinions will continue to be strong in relation to all of these questions for some time to come, and it will be interesting to see how the messaging around this issue continues to evolve over the coming weeks and months.

Ronn Torossian - Pot for PetsAbout the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading digital pr and influencer marketing agency.

Collaboration Among Competitors – Cats and Dogs Driving Hope Not Bottom-Line

Michael Adorno, VP of Communications at Hot Paper Lantern 

Coronavirus has turned everything on its head, even collaboration. Collaboration typically is for like-minded teams to drive optimal results to impact the bottom line, however in the age of COVID-19 collaboration is bringing even competitors together. This week my friend from The Welcome Conference forwarded me their new “Weekly Specials” video series highlighting amazing things happening in the hospitality industry during the pandemic and pointed me toward a piece in the Deep Dive section on Other Half Brewing. As a beer nerd, I was interested to see what they were up to and how they, as a business, were weathering the virus. 

Brooklyn’s Other Half created the project. An open-source collaboration to help raise money for the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation. The brewers created the website, provided a base recipe for the collaborating brewery to then make unique, shared a template for label branding, graphic design and the tools to help promote their involvement in the creation of this beer. Other Half’s only request is that a portion of the profits go to support that brewery’s local hospitality industry. As of this writing more than 700 breweries in 51 countries and 48 states are making their own variant of this beer. Breweries from Resident Brewing in San Diego to Resident Culture in Charlotte and international spots as far as Indonesia, France and Brazil are making variants. No two beers will taste the same, no two labels will look the same, but all 700 variants of that beer will tell the same story. 

Other Half is a destination beer for beer nerds. They have incredible brand recognition and at the end of the day, it’s just great beer. On Untappd, their beer ranks at a 4.24 out of 5, which places them as one of the top breweries in the world. It is incredible that they would give away intellectual property (i.e. revenue) and allow any competitor in the world to collaborate with them, all in the name of helping others. This is even more unfathomable when you think about how hard hit the food and beverage industry is in the wake of the pandemic, and the fact that any positive revenue can help keep people on staff, the lights on and doors open. 

Given their brand, Other Half could have made this beer on their own and  raised a lot of money. But to go against the grain to include any brewery is novel and provides the blueprint for other companies in other industries that this type of collaboration among competitors can have a true global impact. 

At the end of the day, the good press and reputational growth created by this project may offset any losses in the manufacturing of this beer. As soon as I finished watching the segment I checked where I could buy the beer close to me in New Jersey. And as a beer nerd, I’m planning to go to other breweries to try their variation of the beer, all the while feeling good about the fact that I’m helping support a great cause. 

The coronavirus pandemic has forced all of us to reevaluate our business processes and procedures. It’s also shown us that every company, no matter the industry, is in the business of helping people. If the way you do that is creative and unique, even better. I hope that executives and leaders can look to the All Together project and see that while collaboration is effective for the bottom-line, collaboration with your competitors can be an incredible strategy moving forward to build goodwill and create a more sustainable future.

Collaboration Among Competitors - Cats and Dogs Driving Hope Not Bottom-LineAbout the Author: Mike Adorno is a VP of Communications at Hot Paper Lantern, specializing in driving innovative media relations campaigns. 

A seasoned communications professional with more than a decade of in-house and agency experience. Mike oversees clients like The Chartis Group, EY, and others, and also leads HPL Digital Sport, a specialty group within HPL focused on customer acquisition and digital communication strategies for fantasy and sports betting companies. 

Mike earned a Bachelors of Science from Ithaca College majoring in public relations/advertising.

Cryptographer Jean-Jacques Quisquater Joins NGRAVE to Support Hardware Security Innovation

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Jean-Jacques Quisquater, one of the most prolific cryptographers in the world, has joined NGRAVE as an advisor. Quisquater, who was referenced in the original Bitcoin white paper, will work with NGRAVE on cryptographic security, algorithms, and protocols as it introduces the world’s most secure cryptocurrency hardware wallet, the NGRAVE ZERO. 

“We’re honored that Jean-Jacques Quisquater sees the potential in NGRAVE to change the way people manage their digital assets,” said Ruben Merre, CEO and Co-Founder of NGRAVE. “With half a century of experience in cryptography, his insights will be invaluable as we execute on our vision to make NGRAVE the most trusted and respected name in cryptocurrency hardware wallets.” 

Quisquater has co-authored 220 scientific papers and owns 20 patents. He designed the cryptographic CORSAIR and FAME coprocessors from Philips and NXP, which are used in 85 percent of electronic passports in the world. He also designed the GQ protocol now used in hundreds of millions of computers. He is a professor emeritus at Université catholique de Louvain in Brussels. 

“While cryptography has been studied for decades, the world is just starting to see it’s true potential as it’s applied to cryptocurrencies. Companies like NGRAVE will provide the security mechanisms needed to make true adoption a reality,” said Jean-Jacques Quisquater. 

The NGRAVE ZERO uses the most advanced cryptographic protocols along with firmware that has earned the highest security certification in the world, EAL7. Units are already in production, with shipments planned for October 2020. Buyers can purchase an NGRAVE ZERO through the company’s Indiegogo campaign launching May 26, 2020. 

The NGRAVE ZERO was developed in collaboration with world leaders in applied industrial cryptography, nanoelectronics, and chip manufacturing, and is made in Belgium to ensure the highest level of quality. The NGRAVE ZERO uses the most advanced cryptographic protocols along with firmware that has earned the highest security certification in the world, EAL7.

NGRAVE has received grants from the Flemish Government, the European Commission, and the Web 3 Foundation along with private investments to develop its fully offline hardware wallet. Whereas competing hardware wallets like Ledger and Trezor rely on a USB connection or Bluetooth, NGRAVE removes the need for any connection (USB, WiFi, 4G, Bluetooth, NFC), instead using wall charging and QR codes to remain fully air gapped even while conducting transactions and creating accounts. All of these features are packaged in a design-focused user interface with a 4-inch touchscreen. 

COVID-19’s Impact on Sustainability: 3 Trends in Media Coverage

Ellen Mallernee Barnes, Vice President of Content; Stephanie Clarke, Vice President; Lesley Sillaman, Senior Vice President; Linda Descano, Executive Vice President; Deanna Tomaselli, Account Supervisor; and Audrey Arbogast, Senior Account Executive at Red Havas

Had this past April been an ordinary April, the news media would have likely done its usual flurry of Earth Month—and Earth Day—coverage. Sustainability experts would have worked to achieve news coverage that explored progress to date and helped set the agenda for the future.

This year, however, April had a different distinction. In the U.S., it was the first full month in history that we lived with social distancing practices and stay-at-home orders in place.

COVID-19 dominated the media, not climate change. 

This media coverage was met by a rapt audience: At the end of March, 92 percent of Americans said they were following coronavirus coverage very or fairly closely. 

To satisfy Americans’ appetite for trusted resources, real-time updates and a roadmap through uncharted territory, journalists and news outlets adapted their content to cover coronavirus-related stories almost exclusively. Thousands of angles, hundreds of spokespeople, tens of theories, one topic.

With this in mind, we conducted an analysis comparing sustainability coverage pre-COVID-19 and today. Additionally, we spoke with sustainability and CSR journalists for guidance on how industry advocates can continue to seek and obtain coverage in this vastly changed news environment. 

We identified the following three trends:

#1: The climate crisis is legitimately compared to the COVID-19 crisis.

Climate change and environmental topics remain of great importance to media, who have continued to report on urgent environmental news such as coral bleaching, droughts and threats to wildlife

To plug into the COVID-19 conversation, reporters in this space are using the crisis as a cautionary tale for how climate change could bring forth similar consequences, calling this a “fire drill” or “stress test” for corporations. Bloomberg’s Emily Chasan said the current crisis has drawn attention to the social consequences of climate change, while Scott Breen, host of the “Sustainably Defined” podcast, said he was looking at “how we can take lessons from addressing this crisis to dealing with climate change and how the two are similar/different.” 

The media has also reported on how the pandemic and resulting stay-at-home orders affect the planet. At the start of the crisis, the U.S. media reported on the positive consequences that stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders could have on the environment. Now, however, many outlets concede that while the impacts of COVID-19 could benefit the environment in the short term, there are also negative implications such as the rolling back of environmental protection regulations on car emissions, airline emissions, and air and water pollution in the midst of the crisis and as economies look to accelerate their return to growth. 

From a business perspective, announcements about corporate efforts to mitigate climate change are still of importance to media. Heather Clancy, editorial director of GreenBiz, said she’s continuing to cover stories that will be critical for the long term and is highlighting which businesses are taking action. “Climate action is something we cannot afford to ignore, despite this short-term emergency,” she said.

Similarly, Mary Mazzoni, senior editor at TriplePundit, has said that the outlet’s reporting focus is still on the sustainability space. “We feel that crucial conversations around issues like climate change, environmental degradation and social justice have not become less relevant today simply because we now face yet another global challenge,” she said during a recent webinar. 

#2: Pitches to sustainability media need to be particularly compelling to break through the COVID-19 content. 

In order for sustainability-focused stories to break through, aggressive targets, major corporate announcements and groundbreaking innovations are now, more than ever, a must. Through our audit and in conversations with media, we found that while many outlets have always been selective with coverage topics, due to the timeliness and urgency of COVID-19, the bar for non-COVID stories is now much higher across both trade and global outlets.

That includes Fast Company, where sustainability writer Adele Peters affirmed that she’s most interested in major and innovative sustainability news. Stories need to really reach a high bar,” she said. In the outlet’s “World Changing Ideas” series, she recently wrote about an enzyme that recycles old plastic. She also covered Etsy becoming the first major online retailer to fully offset its shipping emissions, and wants other retailers to follow suit as the logistics industry begins to change. “ 

Brands should take note that sustainability angles need to be stronger in order to gain media interest, and they need to set a higher bar. Annual reports and new initiatives may not necessarily be prioritized unless they include ambitious goals and major news. 

#3: All CSR efforts and announcements will be assessed through a COVID-19 lens.

From the coverage we observed, it is clear media is keen on understanding how companies are reframing their sustainability initiatives with consideration of the global pandemic. In other words, CSR announcements cannot be made in silos and need to recognize the larger picture. 

To start, there is a heightened focus on the companies pivoting their day-to-day business operations to assist with COVID-19 relief efforts, including by creating much-needed personal protective equipment, helping employees work remotely, using distilling facilities to manufacture hand sanitizer and more.

Additionally, reporters want to know what companies are doing to support their people and communities. The coronavirus has created an urgent, unprecedented opportunity for CEOs and corporate leaders to put purpose-driven leadership and stakeholder capitalism into practice. It’s for that reason, said Leon Kaye of Triple Pundit, that transparency and authenticity are more important than they’ve ever been. He told us the public is looking for thoughtful, meaningful leadership that speaks to a company’s values and ambitions.

In this time of uncertainty and stress, reporters are also placing a priority on feel-good stories about those companies working to benefit people’s lives and livelihoods. As a recent example, Sustainable Brands highlighted several companies that are lending support to rural agricultural producers and their communities as the pandemic continues. And among corporations, those that have ensured employees’ safety and well-being have been widely reported on, as well as those that have promised not to lay off workers in 2020 or have offered their employees mental-health benefits. This coverage has also scaled up to include CSR initiatives that protect society’s most vulnerable, including those companies who have stepped up to help feed those at risk of hunger and who have protected front-line healthcare workers

To both consumers and media alike, it’s the people and companies striving to make a meaningful difference that truly inspire. 

Looking ahead at future impact

While many businesses today face existential challenges and must endure endless debate about what life will look like in a post-COVID-19 era, one thing remains the same: The pandemic will press industries to make sure sustainability is authentic and truly connected to delivering value and meaningful change. 

A recent article from Bloomberg posited that sustainability will “redefine itself in the COVID-19 era.” How will this affect the media landscape on the other side of this social and economic disruption? The jury is still out. 

About the Authors:

Ellen Mallernee Barnes, Vice President of Content

Ellen has managed editorial content creation and strategy for Havas PR’s corporate, nonprofit and consumer clients since 2011, contributing her writing and editing skills to numerous award-winning campaigns across a breadth of industries. Always on-message and engaging, Ellen has drafted hundreds of impactful blog posts and bylines that have landed clients in the likes of Forbes, Fast Company, The New York Times, USA Today and top trade publications. Red Havas’ clients have also come to count on her to develop long-form think pieces, such as white papers and research reports, and short-form social content that is crisp and compelling. And to build our clients’ thought leadership profiles, Ellen has assembled hundreds of winning award entries and speeches. Ellen previously served as editorial director for Gibson Guitar and has a background in journalism.


Stephanie Clarke, Vice President

A founding member of Red Havas’ Phoenix office with almost a decade of food and beverage experience, Stephanie is a savvy PR and marketing pro who feeds off going the extra mile to deliver the best possible results for her clients. Stephanie has led consumer programs for clients including AQUA Carpatica, Cervezas Alhambra, Fukushu Restaurant Concepts, Frost Gelato, Sauce Pizza & Wine, Revelator Coffee Company and Chef Dominique Crenn’s Root Project, and her campaign for Risas Dental and Braces was shortlisted in the PRWeek awards. Within her first year at Red Havas, she increased media impressions for Phoenix’s first client, Fox Restaurant Concepts, by 650 percent and was named to PR News’ Rising PR Stars 30 & Under and as a PR Champion by the Council of PR Firms. Stephanie is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and currently sits on the St. Vincent de Paul Advisory Board in Phoenix, lending her PR and marketing expertise to the organization.  


Lesley Sillaman, Senior Vice President

Lesley joined Red Havas in 2006, and since then has been immersed as strategist, content and speech writer, media relations specialist and trainer. She manages the Havas PR Global Collective, coordinating its cross-border work with Havas teams around the world, including on the Kellogg’s snacks and cereals business in EMEA. For Transitions Optical, Lesley launched the Transitions Adaptive Sunwear brand, and has introduced various new products with global brand names like Oakley, Nike, Callaway, Bell and Shoei. She has also been the executive speechwriter for the company’s annual flagship partner education event, Transitions Academy. For Sodexo, Lesley led the planning, messaging strategy and media outreach for the company’s first “Quality of Life” Conference, an international symposium in New York. And for 10 years, she has led all media, content development and partnership initiatives for International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association. Lesley was named PR News’ PR Professional of the Year in 2016. She received her bachelor’s from the University of Dayton and her master’s from the Annenberg School for Communications. 


Linda Descano, CFA®, Executive Vice President

Linda is an executive vice president of Red Havas in New York. Linda specializes in providing strategic counsel on corporate communications, executive visibility, issues and crisis management, and Merged Media communications strategies to global corporations and organizations. Prior to joining Red Havas in 2015, Linda was managing director and global head of content marketing and social media at Citi; other roles during her tenure at Citi included president and CEO of Women & Co., the award-winning financial lifestyle community for women, and director and portfolio manager of the Citi Social Awareness Investment program. A PR News PR Professional of the Year and one of Campaign U.S. Digital’s 40 over 40 honorees, Linda brings a unique blend of storytelling experience and investment acumen, complemented by work in B2B, B2C and B2B2C, giving her an uncanny ability to help clients create authentic conversations and campaigns. 


Deanna Tomaselli, Account Supervisor

Deanna has more than a decade of experience in consumer and B2B PR, marketing and social media in both agency and corporate settings. Throughout her career, Deanna played an integral role in social media, particularly content development, community management and influencer relations. She also has a proven track record for securing media placements. For Red Havas, Deanna solidified high-profile stories for clients such as NBC News and Self magazine. She works primarily on the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association, Transitions Optical and LivaNova accounts, and helps manage the Transitions influencer program. Deanna is one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40 honorees and was named both Rising Star and Member of the Year by PRSA Pittsburgh. She’s also been an active member of the PRSA Pittsburgh board for 10-plus years. 


Audrey Arbogast, Senior Account Executive

In her four years at Red Havas U.S., Audrey has managed media relations, influencer relations, and social media efforts on behalf of consumer brands, expanding the agency’s digital offerings for current and prospective clients. Current and past social media clients range from food and beverage products, to healthcare facilities, to a global climate summit. For these clients, Audrey oversees the social media strategy from ideation to execution, including managing budgets for paid social media tactics across platforms. Audrey’s experience also includes developing influencer relations programs, securing authentic partnerships to create awareness, drive traffic, and increase brand affinity.


Cracking the Coverage Code Amidst COVID-19

Gregg Castano, Founder and CEO of News Direct 

With the COVID-19 pandemic unleashing an avalanche of news releases and story pitches onto already time and resource strapped journalists, it has become an almost herculean task for PR practitioners to flag their attention, much less earn coverage for their client or employer. 

The least effective way to capture and engage journalists is by sending them an antiquated, self-serving press release that lacks relevance, timeliness and immersive multimedia assets. 

It’s no secret that today’s journalists want content with a sensory element to it. It must go beyond the written word to tell stories visually, but with brevity and from a unique perspective, because that’s what the consumers of their product demand – and that has never been more relevant than it is right now.   

Given that preference, it becomes clear that getting them to spot your story among the multitudes vying for their favor requires following a few simple rules. 

  • Understand their predicament.  They’re under pressure to consistently produce content that will generate meaningful engagement (e.g., shares, comments, likes, click-throughs), and don’t have much time to spare to hunt around for it, especially under the current circumstances.  That’s an opportunity to get creative, because audiences want to ingest news in digestible tidbits, while also being informed, engaged and entertained.  That means short-form video, compelling images and informative infographics.
  • Be relevant.  As difficult as the coronavirus pandemic is to endure, it permeates every aspect of our lives – on our social newsfeeds, televisions, and conversations. So, pitching a story that’s disconnected from that theme will not only fall on deaf ears, but also brand you as tone deaf.
  • Consider new methods. With technology and service offerings changing all the time, it can be beneficial to explore new ways to get in front of those coveted journalistic eyeballs.  While you should still use what are now conventional vehicles for storytelling – such as Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms frequented by journalists for story fodder – seek out alternatives that are likely to capture a journalist’s attention simply because they’re different, thereby offering the possibility of a unique angle.

Of course, the content itself must have value to the discriminating scribe, that’s a given.  But by using today’s digital tools to serve that content up in popular formats, you’ll be doing them a great service, which can only increase your odds of getting your story noticed and covered.

Gregg Castano - News DirectAbout the Author: News Direct was founded by Gregg Castano, a veteran of the newswire industry.

Gregg spent 32 years at Business Wire, capped by nearly 8 years as President, where he was integral in growing the company from under $20 million in revenue to more than $160 million. With an insider’s understanding of the industry, and expertise in strategic planning and management, Gregg leveraged his unique perspective and insight to create the disruption he believed was long overdue – News Direct.