Trump and Clinton Doubling Down PR Messages As The 2016 Race Heads Toward the Finish Line

Andy-Blum-headshotBy Andrew Blum

Now that we’ve had the final presidential debate, what are the last-minute PR and marketing tactics we should expect from the candidates and their parties? If I had to bet, I would say for the most part, they are going to keep doing what they’ve been doing. That’s not necessarily what their advisers and voters may want them to do.

Gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson is spinning in his grave. If he was still alive, Thompson might have used a favorite phrase of his to describe the presidential campaign: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

Thompson would barely scratch the surface of the intensity and perplexing game-changing characteristics of 2016 as Donald Trump has rewritten the rules of running for president and communicating his message.

In the third debate it was pretty much more of the same – but this time Hillary Clinton sent a few zingers in Trump’s direction.

Between now and November 8, I think Trump should make real apologies for all his insults. He won’t. And Clinton should tell the public that, yes, she is sorry for her mistakes and that she is flawed but she knows how to govern. Who knows, she might.

Trump and Clinton Doubling Down PR Messages As The 2016 Race Ends

(Photo Source: Twitter)

What Trump seems to be missing is that PR and TV are all about perceptions of the person by the audience and he comes off horribly in a PR sense. Trump should avoid talking like a sexist creep; Clinton should avoid being wonky and keep the “When they go low, we go high” mantra borrowed from Michelle Obama. Clinton as the first woman nominee of a major party has almost seemed like a footnote at times in 2016 to Trump’s bluster. Yes, she has a PR message but it has gotten lost from time to time. Maybe the first debate fallout and the Trump income tax issue finally started to overcome some of her negatives. In the week after the first debate, her PR team won the battle as Trump self-combusted attacking a former Miss Universe.

The 2016 campaign has focused on an unrelenting torrent of criticisms by Trump of everyone and everything including debate moderators and the media – which by giving Trump so much coverage in the primaries helped him win the GOP nomination.

Trump’s recent PR ploy that the election is rigged and that the media, Clinton and women accusing him of sexual misconduct and groping are ganging up on him isn’t working. He even lashed out at Alec Baldwin for portraying him on SNL. Huh?

Trump needs to stay on message. He could take lessons from his wife who defended him from the accusations by women; she repeated the same message over and over. He erupts in 10 directions.Clinton could take political and warmth lessons from her husband. Bill Clinton is a natural born politician. Hillary Clinton is not.

Like him or hate him, Trump has redefined politics and PR with his communications style. Damage control and rapid responses on steroids have become the PR norm here.
Can Clinton overcome this with her PR approach? Can she fight off Trump attacks on the revelations from Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s leaked emails? If she keeps pushing Trump’s buttons and pivots off the emails, she can.

But the question Hunter Thompson would pose at this point: is this a one-time wacky change in campaigns, media and PR or have things changed forever? Thompson is spinning in his grave watching Trump and Clinton and their PR spinners.

About the Author: Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies, families and individuals, and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive PR crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms

Examining the Role of Women in Wall Street

How the CEO of the Securities Traders Association is Addressing the Challenge

Silvia-Davi-150x150By Silvia Davi, Chief Marketing Officer,

At the recent 83rd Securities Traders Association Market Structure Conference in D.C., I attended the Women in Finance symposium at the conference and was pleasantly surprised.

The symposium was a celebration and acknowledgment of women in Wall Street–long needed in an industry still heavily dominated by men. I first attended the annual Securities Traders Association Market Structure Conference 16 years ago when I was working at a trading firm and later quite a few times while working at a global exchange and was always struck by the lack of diversity year after year at this major industry event. Having recently returned to financial services after a few years broadening my background in other industry sectors, it was a nice surprise to see progress at this former boys club event. Pushing the initiative forward is Jim Toes, CEO of the Securities Traders Association, who has been a great advocate for the women’s initiative. I recently spent time with Jim, who also happens to be the father of three daughters and has penned articles on “not being that guy”, about this year’s Women’s symposium at the annual conference.

Joe Toes, CEO of the Securities Traders Association

Joe Toes, CEO of the Securities Traders Association

EQ: What inspired the launch of the inaugural Securities Traders Association – Women in Finance Symposium after all these years?

Toes: Our Women in Finance initiative has been going for one year now. Ken Heath, former publisher of Traders Magazine, passed away last year. In 2011, Ken launched what would become a jewel in Traders’crown: Wall Street Women, A Celebration of Excellence. As a long-time media partner and friend, STA and I felt strongly about carrying on his legacy in honoring women. With his family’s blessing, we started the initiative.

EQ: Jim, you have been a vocal advocate for women and recently sent a direct message to the trading community, can you explain?

Toes: Yes, it was a response to a New York Times article entitled “How Wall Street Bro Talk Keeps Women Down.” I agreed with the author in that women’s groups offer many resources and are, in fact, a value add. Here’s an excerpt from my article, “Don’t Be That Guy”:

STA WIF acknowledges that more needs to be done and we see the “promulgation of diversity committees and women’s leadership summits” as described by Mr. Polk as resources which provide hope that the future will be brighter for women and minorities. These institutional-sized responses are sources of education on the value-add that diversity brings to organizations, and they provide training on recognizing and responding to sexism in the workplace.

EQ: What percentage of women make up the STA? What is the total membership?

Toes: 15% women – and looking to increase.

EQ: There was a terrific lineup of female speakers at this year’s annual Market Structure conference. Did you make a concerted effort to be more inclusive?

Toes: Absolutely. I have been making a concerted effort since my arrival at STA in 2013 regarding the promotion and advancement of women. It just seemed like the next logical step – to formalize the effort, adding a committee, mission statement and guiding principles.

EQ: What is the overall mission of the Women in Finance program and how can women in Finance learn more or become involved?

Toes: The Security Traders Association of Women in Finance supports and co-markets with other affiliate women’s organizations within the finance community. Together, we create a stronger presence, promote membership amongst all organizations, and establish a platform for women in finance.

I would say that the four main points of STA WIF are: Gender Equality; Advancement of Women; Mentoring, Coaching, Education; and Networking.

We are leveraging the established network, resources, and values of the Securities Traders Association to foster and create a culture of inclusion for women in finance.

About the Author: Silvia Davi is a seasoned global corporate communications and marketing professional with over 18 years of experience. Ms. Davi was recently Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for The Food Bank For New York City. Prior to that she was Vice President and Head of Strategic Communications and Marketing at Broadcast Music, Inc® (BMI®), a global music rights management and royalty distribution firm. Ms. Davi joined BMI after serving as Vice President and Head of Corporate Communications and Brand at Marsh & McLennan, where she was responsible for spearheading a new brand identity, as well as developing corporate responsibility and sustainability PR programs. Prior to that, Ms. Davi spent eight years at NASDAQ OMX as Vice President, Corporate Communications and Head of Global Broadcast Media Strategy, where she led the corporate communications for key business lines, while working with C-suite executives and overseeing the exchange’s flagship and broadcast studio in Times Square known as NASDAQ MarketSite. 


This article originally appeared on


Online Tool Reveals the Cost for a PR Campaign

CommPRONewsItemBy Editorial Staff

Business owners no longer need to guess the cost for a healthcare or tech Public Relations campaign.

Healthcare and tech PR firm, Macias PR, has just unveiled a new online PR tool that allows businesses to learn the cost for a customized media campaign with just a few clicks.

In the past, marketing teams needed to spend hours on the phone with a PR account executive before they could get an estimate for a campaign. This new online PR tool eliminates that frustration by providing users a few questions and clicks to calculate the cost for their media campaign.

“This PR calculator is perfect for business owners who have always wondered about the cost for a PR campaign, but didn’t want to be sold on a service,” said Mark Macias, the founder and owner of Macias PR. “No one – including myself – wants to speak with a sales guy who is trying to figure out the maximum price they can get out of you. This free online PR tool gives a customized and personal PR estimate based on the actual needs of the media campaign.”

The online PR calculator takes less than a minute to fill out, which businesses can try here.

Users answer questions, like: What is the purpose of your campaign? Which news outlets do you want to reach and is this a local, national, B2B or regional campaign? The submitted answers help the firm identify an estimate of resources, cost and even a potential media strategy for the PR launch.

“We’re hoping this PR calculator brings transparency to the PR industry,” said Macias. “We get calls all the time from businesses, asking for an estimate. It’s hard to give an authentic answer without knowing anything about their goals, business or the type of campaign they need. Our free PR tool eliminates that guesswork. Now, businesses can click on a few tabs, answer a few questions, and learn via email how much they will need for their own PR campaign.”

New Lessons on PR Tradition: Audience, Subject Lines & Newsjacking

Frank StrongBy Frank Strong, Founder & President of Sword and the Script Media

There are no experts in PR – only students.

It’s more than a snappy quote, it’s a philosophy. The expert that knows everything is prone to get blindsided by the unexpected on an otherwise idle Tuesday.

Public Relations is dynamic. Reporters swap beats and publications. Business priorities shift. Platforms and publishing tools change. Skills are perishable.

Learning, lessons and continuous improvement are fundamentals of good PR professionals. And that’s theme for this week’s Unscripted Marketing links (UML) roundup – new lessons on PR traditions: audience segmentation, subject lines and newsjacking

Below you’ll find three articles I’ve vetted and selected some points to highlight. As always, I encourage readers to spend some time reviewing the original sources I cite.




1) Even in Crisis, Focus on the Right Audience

“Don’t forget your target audience,” writes Owen Walker in an opinion piece titled What corporate PRs Can Learn From Activist Investors. He agrees this is basic advice, but also a lesson easily forgotten when things get thick. He says “it is easy to get distracted and lose sight of the most important constituents.”

The author of a newly published book on the rise of activist investors — Barbarians in the Boardroom – he provides this example:

“Hedge fund Starboard Value was lampooned on every late-night talk show in September 2014 over its 296-page detailed critique of the restaurant chain Olive Garden and its parent company, Darden. The following morning Starboard was inundated with emails and calls from angry diners who feared the hedge fund would end Olive Garden’s popular unlimited breadstick policy.

Yet Jeff Smith, Starboard’s CEO, told me he never regretted going into such detail as he felt it was necessary to win over the highly influential proxy advisers in his campaign against Darden. The breadstick furore [sic] died down and Starboard eventually took over the whole Darden board, with Smith installed as chairman.”

It’s a good reminder that business isn’t a democracy. There is no popular vote. It’s useful for the guardians of corporate reputation to remember the sentiment dashboard doesn’t necessarily tell you if you’re winning or not.

Mr. Walker has two more lessons worth reading in the full article.

2) Can you Newsjack with Class?

Newsjacking may well be an unfortunate term that describes what solid media relations professionals have done all along: tie story ideas to trends. Despite the (recurring) debate in PR over the term those that read the book will find some new applications that continue to be proven in survey research years after it was published.

There are also some new lessons to be gleaned. In a piece titled How to Leverage Newsjacking Without Being a Jerk guest writer Michael Georgiou offers handful including this one: “never just regurgitate the news.”

“Offer something new to readers, not just the same facts and details they can read in the major news outlets. Newsjacking is about capitalizing on the trending news, not re-reporting it. For example, you can explore leadership and marketing skills utilized during the 2016 election. Give readers some insight that only you can provide.”

3) Pitching? Subject Lines Matter




Most reporters believe PR pitches are “at least ‘slightly valuable’” according to Lillian Podlog of Fractl. They also get a lot of pitches, so if you want to earn their consideration for a story idea, the subject line really matters.

That’s not just opinion or experience, it’s data, as Ms. Podlog writes in a piece titled What 26,000 Pitches Taught Us About Securing Top-Tier Press.  She draws several conclusions worth perusing in their entirety; here are few that stood out for me:

“Nearly two-thirds of publishers determine whether or not to open an email based on the subject line. In subject lines, every word counts.”

And later:

“While writers might respond to humor and geographic ego bait, these tactics are secondary to a targeted pitch. More than 60% of writers agreed that great subject lines are tailored to a writer’s beat, but fewer than 20% agreed that humor is essential.”

In addition to calling out what works, this piece also found what doesn’t:

“Publishers are more likely to be interested if you highlight the content of the project rather than just its format. “Interactive, “data,” and “video” all showed low success rates (“map” was not far behind).”

Separately, Fractl has also done several studies of social media as well. Two were included in this UML post published previously: Social Sharing Fills Different Needs than Search; Unscripted Marketing.

About the Author: About the Author: Frank Strong is the founder and president of Sword and the Script Media, LLC, a veteran-owned PR, content marketing and social media agency in greater Atlanta.

Snowflakes: What Happens When the “Can-Do Kids” Meet the “Just-Wanna-Fit-In-Kids”

Ann FishmanBy Ann Arnof Fishman, President, Generational Targeted Marketing 

There are two waves of millennials, resulting in a great deal of confusion for marketers, politicians, and everyday people trying to understand this generation.

It is important to understand millennials because there are 80 million of them! They are  Americans born between 1982 and 2000. They make up one-fourth of the U.S. population.  There are more millennials than there are French people, Brits, or Spaniards.

Millennials grew up with strong support in the three areas society offers its young—family, religion, and government programs. A societal support system this strong during the formative years has given millennials a desire for empowerment and a feeling of entitlement. First wave millennials were told to reach for the moon, that they were “special,” that they deserved trophies for just showing up for team sports. Millennials became the “Can-Do” kids.

Then, there are the second-wave millennials. They, too, feel empowered and entitled for the same reasons. However, they have a need to be protected from all things potentially traumatizing. A New York Times article by Judith Shulevitz noted Brown University [Fall 2014] created a safe space for students who found a debate on rape culture troubling. To create a place to recuperate, a “room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies,” plus counselors trained in dealing with this kind of trauma. Today, safe spaces on college campuses abound.

Marketing to the Millennial WomanThere is also triggering. A reader of a blog entry may expect a warning called a trigger if the article might cause a negative emotion. As Jill Filipovic wrote in The Guardian, “Trigger warnings [may include]: the death penalty, gun violence, misogyny, calories in a food item, terrorism, descriptions of medical procedures, racism, dental trauma, snakes and vomit.”

Hold on, there’s more. In a 2015 article in The Atlantic, the “president [of Brandeis University] wrote an email to the entire student body apologizing to anyone who was ‘triggered or hurt by the content of the microaggressions.’” The email was in response to hurt feelings caused by an installation placed on the steps of an academic hall by the Asian-American Student Association to promote sensitivity.

Anna Rhodes for Heatstreet wrote, “The [Yale] faculty’s chair appeared to make concessions after calls for the compulsory course [Major English Poets] be ‘decolonized’ because it features too many white male authors. Students claimed they were ‘so alienated that they have to walk out of the room’ because of a preponderance of authors like Shakespeare and Chaucer, who ‘actively harm’ them.’”

Finally, according to a Pew Research Center study, “Four-in-ten Millennials say the government should be able to prevent people [from] publicly making statements that are offensive to minority groups.” What caused this difference between the second wave of millennials who needs to be protected from words that may hurt and the first wave of millennials who were encouraged to climb to the top of the jungle gym at every stage? Here’s what happened. America is morphing into a new generation, Generation Z, Americans born between 2001 to an unknown date in the future.

Gen Z is a highly-protected generation, for all the right reasons. They are protected at home due to kidnappings and Amber Alerts; at school, due to Columbine-type incidences; and, in society, due to threats of terrorism. They never will know what it’s like to go through an airport without security checks. Children who are protected to this extent during their formative years tend to avoid risks. Thus, as adults, they will become a generation of conformists, the “Just-Wanna-Fit-In” kids. Some of their generational characteristics will be a desire to please, a need to be conscientious, and a tendency to worry, all so Gen Zs can protect themselves.

What you’re seeing now in second-wave millennials are young people on the cusp between two generations. Second-wave millennials have the sense of empowerment of the millennial generation and the need to be protected of Generation Z. They are picking up some characteristics from both generations. History doesn’t turn on a dime, so that’s not unusual, but it is noticeable when the generations are so different. Empowerment plus protection are a powerful combination that’s confusing unless you understand what’s happening.

When two generations collide, it’s as if those trying to understand what’s going on are sailing through the rough seas of the Straits of Magellan where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet, each at a different level, and cause churning currents, turbulence, and a bit of seasickness. No need to be confused. Just build a better boat where there are more life preservers filled with increased knowledge of generational characteristics and the history that created them.

About the Author: Ann Fishman was awarded four U.S. Senate Fellowships to study generational trends and taught generational marketing at New York University. She is president of Generational Targeted Marketing, LLC, a specialized marketing firm providing insights into the preferences, trends, and buying habits of each of America’s six generations. Her book, “Marketing to the Millennial Woman,” was recently published.  







Walter Cronkite Where are You? The Media, the Campaign and the Presidential Debate

By Leslie Gottlieb

Walter Cronkite (Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Walter Cronkite
(Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Walter Cronkite was a legendary television journalist. So was Edward R. Murrow who bravely stood up to another demagogue, Joe McCarthy.  Cronkite and Murrow epitomized journalistic integrity at its best.

For many months the media coverage of the Presidential primary, and now the general election, has actually been quite unbalanced.  Of course there are many media outlets –and it is simplistic to discuss all media as one. I am referring here to coverage by many of the mainstream print, electronic and online outlets such as the NY Times. NBC TV, CNN and the Washington Post.

Here are some examples of the blatant imbalance:

  • A recent article the Washington Post analyzed 8 major media outlets from July 1, 2015 to the present and found that Trump was the headline in 14,924 of them and Clinton was featured less than half of that amount.
  • Mother Jones Magazine found that there was more coverage of Trump’s false claim that Clinton was a “founder” of ISIS than Clinton’s actual proposal to confront the ISIS threat.
  • Matt Lauer’s interviews with Trump and Clinton on NBC’s “The Commander in Chief” spent much of this time asking Clinton about her emails (hardly a major national security issue) and asked Trump easy questions. The NY Times called it “a farce.”
  • Yet even the NY Times, which has endorsed Clinton, ran a lead story on a bogus subject that has been covered ad nauseum– the birther issue. Its 9/20 headline read, “Trump Gives Up a Lie But Refuses to Repent.”  This is the lead story in the NY Times?  Really?
  • Finally, as reported by the Hollywood Reporter and Politico, Les Moonves, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of the CBS Corporation was quoted as saying, “It may not be good for America, but Donald Trump is damn good for CBS.”

The Media, the Campaign and the Presidential Debate

(Photo Source: Twitter)

So is this all about ratings? As newspapers decline, ad revenue falls and media outlets scamper to reinvent themselves – are ratings and money prime reasons for this unbalanced coverage?  It is a likely reason– but it may not be the only reason.

Matthew Murray deputy editor of the Wall St. Journal told the audience at “Ethics and the 2016 Campaign” sponsored by PRSA-NY that “Trump understood the media better than Clinton and used is more effectively. “  Is the media being used?   Are they complicit in being used?

What IS  the role of the media in covering Presidential campaigns?   Nicholas Kristof, along with some other reporters, has distinguished himself in recent months as a watchdog.  While he does not wear the mantle of Murrow or Cronkite he’s making a good start.  In his 9/25 column “How to Cover a Charlatan” he criticized cable TV and other media for not fact checking and he concluded, “Our job (in the media) is not stenography, but truth telling…to expose charlatans is not partisanship, but simply good journalism.”

Let’s look at some key criteria of good journalism and see if they were practiced in last night’s debate:

  • Did Lester Holt clarify his role as moderator in the beginning?  Yes he was clear that he alone picked the questions and they were based on issues the American people are concerned about.
  • Did Lester Holt ask hard, specific questions that would elicit clear answers that delineated each  candidates’ position?  He did ask some tough questions on race and the economy.  He did push back on Donald Trump when he was not specific enough on the question about bringing back jobs to America.  However, he did let Trump get away with a lot of generalizations.
  • Did Lester Holt push back on obvious misstatements or falsehoods? He did a number of times – such as on the stop and frisk question and the birther question.  However, he did let a number of very questionable loose statements go by – such as a Trump statement about companies going overseas.
  • Did Lester Holt treat both candidates equally?  It seems he did.
  • Did Lester Holt ask questions Americans care about?  According to a survey by the Pew Center for People and the Press he did discuss many of the top issues that Americans say they are concerned about.

So the good news is that Lester Holt’s leadership of this debate did make some strides in creating more balanced media coverage.  We should all be vigilant however. We will see what happens in the coming debates and the coming weeks.

About the Author: Leslie Gottlieb is a consultant on integrated strategic marketing, communications, PR and digital strategies. 


The Secret Technologies Consultants Can’t Live Without

serial-marketer-logoBy David Berkowitz, Serial Marketer

People working for large corporations these days are constantly told to think and act like they work at a startup. Fail fast. Be nimble. Wear hoodies.

Here’s a different take on that advice: act like you’re self-employed. After a 15-year streak working for media and marketing firms with barely a day’s break, I launched my own consultancy and suddenly needed to fend for myself. A handful of technologies have made the process much easier.

There’s a lot I miss about the corporate world. When I return sooner rather than later, below are some of the tools I will take back with me, and if you’re gainfully employed, some of these may come in handy today.

Calendly: Do you manage your own calendar? Scheduling meetings, especially with those from outside your organization, can be one of the most time-consuming chores. Calendly often makes the process much simpler. You start by syncing it with your calendar, and then creating rules for when you’d like to have meetings scheduled. Then, you can share the link so that others can schedule meetings around your availability. The meeting appears on both parties’ calendars. It takes far longer to describe it than schedule a meeting.

Google Voice: I kept burning through my mobile minutes when I ventured out on my own. Google Voice saved me. First, I started making calls through it, using the Hangouts app. Then I got my own number. Instead of searching for random numbers in local area codes, I searched for number strings of four of the same digit in a row, like 1111 and 2222. Ultimately, I got a number that starts 747 with three 7s after, and while it confuses some people when I seemingly call from California, I can easily remember the number, and calls are free or close to it.

Upwork and Fiverr: Need a freelancer? I did use Upwork in my previous job for a couple of odd projects that I needed done quickly and cheaply. The point of either site is to find people to do odd jobs and more intensive projects. You can find people who can work on web development, graphic design, market research, content development, and most other jobs you can think of. Granted, the talent I’ve found is hit or miss. When it works, it’s a huge win, but when it doesn’t, it can be frustrating, especially when you’re on a tight deadline. More recently, LinkedIn widely rolled out ProFinder which competes with these services and could be a good alternative.

Wonder: While Upwork and Fiverr can handle research requests, Wonder is designed for it, with a corps of freelancers who are ready to answer questions within 24 hours for $40. The more specific a request, the better you’ll do. It works well if you need to know an ad tech company’s top competitors, contact info for the CMOs of the top 10 largest pharmaceutical companies, or case studies of B2B content marketing. I haven’t done as well with queries that were too wide open.

Chatfuel: To try out more futuristic modes of communication, I built a chat bot. After researching a number of ways to do so, I came across Chatfuel, which is one of the easiest drag-and-drop bot editors. I created one and linked it to my consultancy’s Facebook page. While it’s not heavily used, I can direct people there to have it respond to commands like requests for my contact information, scheduling meetings (through Calendly), my bio and headshot for speaking opportunities, links to my social profiles, and other needs. It also responds to various conversational topics and swear words. What may be most surprising when you build a bot is how quickly you can create one for yourself or your business, though it’s like those games that advertise that they take a minute to learn and a lifetime to master.

I Want My Name: Do you ever wind up needing to buy domains for random projects? I’ve used GoDaddy for years, but for finding a domain name, it can be a bit tricky, as it’s limited to the top-level domain extensions that it offers. I Want My Name has a seemingly endless list of what’s available, from the popular .com and .net, to the increasingly common .us and .me, to the lesser known .agency and .expert, to the global .kaufen (German for “buy”) and .shiksha (Sanskrit for “instruction”). For more sophisticated domain recommendations, try NameMesh, but it can be dizzying with lots of ridiculous name variations. Whatever you do though, unless your job involves dressing up in black and assassinating people, do not buy yourself a .ninja domain. For a more robust domain recommender

Senders: Senders bills itself as “caller ID for email,” and it is very useful. When you receive emails, it automatically looks for relevant details like senders’ social profiles and basic biographical information. It makes it much easier to connect with and follow people. Perhaps the best part is that unlike so many other extensions and plugins, it works seamlessly in mobile email. As a bonus, it’s free.

Founder Dating: A poorly named site, Founder Dating has nothing to do with romance, unless you’re turned on by discussing company valuations and growth hacking. While it can match founders with advisors and other executives, the site is best for its message boards. For instance, I used it to get feedback on a site that supposedly helped find board members (dozens of people responded, most of whom had negative experiences). A friend just posted there asking how early was too early to find a PR firm for a startup. It can be a useful place to get feedback on professional topics, especially from people you don’t know.

Streak: This customer relationship management software works within Gmail, and it has a robust set of features. I just use the free version, either to delay email delivery (such as when I’m working late at night or on weekends) or to return emails to my inbox at a later date (such as when someone asks me to follow up with them next week). The only downside is that it doesn’t work within Gmail’s mobile app.

SumoMe: This is one of those services I wish I knew about the last time I redesigned my company’s site. It includes a lot of reporting and promotion offerings such as heat maps, sharing buttons, content analytics, contact forms, email list development, all for a fairly low monthly cost (plus a free version, but that’s best for personal projects).

Looking at this full list together, more than half of these are free, and the rest combined could run all of a few hundred dollars monthly. They should save enough time and money that they will turn any CMO into a CFO’s best friend. The best part is that if you have a steady job, you don’t need to quit and become a consultant to learn about them.

About the Author: David Berkowitz, currently the principal of marketing consultancy Serial Marketer, most recently served as Chief Marketing Officer at MRY, a creative agency within Publicis Groupe. Prior to joining MRY in 2013, he spent seven years leading emerging media at Dentsu agency 360i, co-founding its social media practice and running its Startup Outlook initiative.  Career Highlights:

  • Trusted advisor to many of the world’s top brands
  • 10+ year agency veteran as innovation lead
    and CMO
  • Penned >500 columns for Ad Age, eMarketer, VentureBeat, MediaPost, Mashable
  • Speaker at >300 events across five continents, including keynotes at Google, Coca-Cola, Cox, and Canon
  • Launched pilots connecting Kraft, H&R Block, MegaRed, Bravo and other brands with emerging startups
  • Lecturer at NYU, Yale, MIT, Rutgers, General Assembly


Optimizing Public Relations Fundamentals (Download)

Marketing concept: PR on Digital backgroundThis four-part series on Optimizing PR Fundamentals provides some basic ingredients for public relations success:

  1. How to Write a Press Release (That Doesn’t Get Deleted) – Learn how to choose wisely, lead by example, and pitch wisely.
  2. How to Use Data to Ensure Content Success – Make sure you’re identifying and following the correct signals to success.
  3. How to Write an Email Your Customers Will Give a Crap About – Clearly define your goals and condense your messaging.
  4. How to Write a Byline That Positions You as a ‘Thoughtful’ Leader – Don’t repeat yourself, identify article topics that relate to business goals, outline your thoughts, and most importantly, start writing!

For more, visit


3 Ways to Improve Your Media Relationships

3 Ways to Improve Your Media Relationships


When you have news to share, you distribute it as far and wide as you possibly can. You share on social, write a blog post, budget money for an ad and more. But none of these tactics can result in the benefits you receive from earned media coverage.

Earned media is highly valuable in reaching today’s distracted audiences; in fact, 81% of senior marketers said that earned media was more effective than paid.

But how can you target the right journalists and encourage them to share your story?

It starts with learning about journalists’ needs, habits and preferences. Once you know who is covering your industry and what they expect, you can provide them with the information they want and build a strong rapport.

Here are three ways you can better connect with journalists and increase the likelihood that they will cover your brand’s news.

Practice Moderation

You may think that sending as many pitches as you can would be the best route to go, but no journalist likes receiving a generic, mass pitch. One tailored pitch sent to the right journalist is worth way more than 1,000 pitches sent to the wrong ones.

Start by researching the journalists making an impact in your industry. Search by topic to see what they’re writing about and look at information about their audience to ensure they are engaged and match your target audience.

Once you’ve identified your target journalists, learn their pitching preferences. According to Cision’s 2016 Global Social Journalism Study, email is still the method most journalists prefer when being contacted by PR professionals.

But every journalist is different, and what may work best for one journalist could be wrong for another.

Pay Attention

Journalists are using social media for more and more, including sharing content, networking and finding sources. If you listen in on journalists’ social conversations, you may be able to find valuable opportunities for your brand.



Continue reading here on BEYOND PR.



How To Get Started Blogging: 6 Tips

Katy DwyerBy Katy Dwyer, Partner and Creative Director, Hand in Hand Marketing

I’m a big believer in blogging for your business. Blogging has many advantages, such as:

For many people, the process of starting to blog is a daunting one. Not knowing where to start or how to write a blog can be overwhelming, and may keep you from ever getting that all-important blog up on your website. So I’ve put together six tips to help get you on your way to blogging success!

1. Start reading other blogs.

You’d never write a book without ever having read a book, right? To get into the blogging arena, you need to start reading and following other blogs. Use a service like to find and follow blogs that interest you.

2. Write what you know.

Before you start writing, you need to decide what you are writing about. For obvious reasons, your blog should reflect your industry. Your industry is what you know, and what you want to set yourself up as the expert in. It helps, though, to put together some general topic guides for yourself. Is there a particular subject within your industry you are passionate about? Do you like to keep up on new trends? Do you find the history of your industry fascinating? How is your industry relevant to current world, political, or pop-culture news? These are all great topics that can be the categories you create for your blog, and will help to guide you as you write.

3. Set an editorial schedule.

Most blogs will fail if you don’t make a plan to post on a regular basis, and stick with it. What is that regular basis for you? It’s whatever works for you. Once a day, once a week, once a month… none of these answers are right or wrong, but put the schedule in place. And remember: Quality over quantity. Choose a schedule that allows you to write useful, well-written, keyword-focused blog posts. Writing a large number of sub-par posts won’t be beneficial to your business or SEO.

4. Consider your audience.

Remember that you are trying to write for a particular audience—and that audience is your business’s target market. Using industry jargon, writing about advances in your field, or the how-to’s of your industry may be of interest to you and others in your field, but is that what your customer wants to know? Sometimes the answer is yes, but not always. What do your clients and customers most often ask about? What are they most interested in learning about? I wrote this particular article specifically because a client asked me how to start blogging.

5. Get other to write for you.

It’s your website, it’s your business, but that doesn’t mean it always has to be you doing the work. My favorite tip when it comes to blogging is the use of the guest post. Ask colleagues or friends to write a guest post on your blog. It should have some relevance to your audience. But you also may reach a new audience when employing this tactic. Consider that your guest blogger will likely share the post with his or her contacts, colleagues, and friends. That could be a whole new group of people you are now reaching, that you wouldn’t have reached otherwise.

6. Don’t get discouraged.

Just because you start blogging doesn’t mean an audience will immediately flock to your website. Don’t get discouraged though! Give it time, and work it! Be sure to share your posts across your social media profiles. Include a few favorite post links in your email signature. And keep posting. Over time (6 months or more), if you pay attention to your website analytics, you will hopefully find that your blog posts may start becoming the entryway into your website.

If you’ve been putting off starting that blog, these tips should take a little of the fear out of that leap.

About the Author: At Hand in Hand Marketing, Katy Dwyer works with small businesses to provide everything from broad strokes–like marketing plans–to visual branding, such as logos and websites, and promotional items, apparel, trade show displays, and printing. She’s worked professional as a graphic designer and marketer since 1999.

Tips for Building Employee Engagement

By Jason Khoury, Senior Director of Corporate Marketing, Jive

As communication leaders, we can’t do a good job of promoting our company’s success externally unless we effectively drive strategic alignment by engaging employees and making sure they are aware of key corporate updates. And why not? The latest Gallup Q12 employee engagement metric finds that companies with highly engaged workforces are 21 percent more profitable, between 17-21 percent more productive and experience significantly lower turnover than their low-engagement counterparts. In addition, high-engagement companies outperform peers by 147 percent in earnings per share. With numbers like those, it’s no wonder Gallup concludes that “the relationship between engagement and performance at the business/work unit level is substantial.” As the statistics suggest, when it comes to employee engagement, it is no longer an option for leaders to opt out.

Unfortunately, only around a third of U.S. employees are actually engaged at work. Worse, among the remaining two-thirds, 16.5 percent are actively disengagedcosting US businesses between $450 – $550 billion annually in lost productivity alone. With the stakes so high, why do some leaders still struggle to authentically connect with employees? One reason might be the sheer size of the modern enterprise. Many companies employ hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of workers that they need to keep aligned, making the task of internal communications increasingly daunting. It’s no wonder leaders who prefer handshakes to hashtags are at a loss as to how to build human connections across their globally-dispersed workforces.

Three Digital Communications Steps for a More Engaged Workplace:

  1. Get everyone on the same page. There was a time when town hall meetings, email newsletters and the traditional bulletin board-style company intranet were the only way companies could get the message out to all of their employees. But today’s employees are more social than ever. Not only do workers expect two-way conversations with executives, they demand them. An interactive intranet can provide a single activity hub from which leaders can communicate with all of their employees, regardless of location or device. Executives should relay important information including new initiatives, performance updates, workplace happenings and social events. By mixing it up with a combination of blog posts, status updates and videos, along with personal stories and engaging photos, an interactive intranet can humanize leaders to a workforce that’s becoming more mobile, remote and global every day. Another big advantage of this type of solution is that employees are empowered to engage with each other—and everyone across the organization is able to access the content, tools and corporate memory they need, all in a single location. 
  2. Listen. Once the lines of communication are open across the enterprise, the real challenge begins: listening. Experts recommend that execs spend at least 15 minutes a day tuned into the questions, comment threads and blog posts of the most engaged (and, thus, most important) people in the company. It’s a way for leaders to take the temperature of the organization so they can begin the necessary work of aligning the company’s culture with their vision. Again, an interactive intranet can serve as an excellent place to host “Ask Us Anything” Q&A sessions that proactively address outstanding questions from all-hands meetings, conduct organization-wide surveys or provide general feedback. Of course, listening should not only happen online. Some employees are more comfortable communicating in person so, when possible, leaders should accommodate one-on-one requests. Other important ways to connect in person include team-building exercises and offsites.
  3. Share. To develop meaningful relationships, executives’ digital communications must be authentic, consistent and realistic. If they’re not passionate and transparent in their messaging, people will notice, so it’s crucial to help leaders find their true voice and communications style. It pays when they stick with the subjects they care most about and hit those themes over and over again. When the organization’s strategic goals are reinforced via internal collaboration tools, as well as in live meetings, social media channels, customer communities and external thought leadership content, employees will get the message. Make sure execs don’t skimp on praise either. When employees are recognized for their good ideas they feel validated and are more likely to show up for the company and its leadership—and are far less likely to tear them down—when the going gets tough. It may take some time but, remember, the point of engagement is to make leadership’s vision employees’ mission.

Breaking through digital resistance

While digital engagement doesn’t always come naturally to leaders, it is necessary. Corporate communications and HR teams play an important role in coaching and enabling executives to succeed in this critical work environment. Smart executives are increasingly turning to technology to cultivate more productive and profitable workplaces that put engagement at the center of their culture. By helping each key executive to fine-tune their preferred mix of communications channels and tools to best suit their personality and objectives, you’ll ultimately increase overall employee engagement for the company. And of course, once the organization has a handle on engagement, it can steer more of the team’s energy towards innovating and increasing market share in order to stay as healthy on the outside as it is on the inside.

About the Author: Jason Khoury is the senior director of corporate marketing at Jive. In this role, Jason oversees corporate communications, customer marketing and the Jive customer community. Prior to joining Jive in 2013, Jason held director and senior management positions at various high tech companies and public relations agencies, including Yahoo, Informatica and Weber Shandwick. In addition, Jason previously served as a board member for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) from 2007 to 2012. Jason is passionate about pushing the boundaries of communications and exploring new tools and technology, including leveraging Jive’s collaboration and real-time messaging apps to transform the traditional public relations and employee communications models. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with him family, wine collecting (and tasting) and traveling (he’s been to 6 continents and counting). Jason has two Bachelor degrees in Journalism and Communications (Public Relations) and Political Science from the University of Oregon. Jason’s WorkType is Connector. 

Crisis Management – Huma Abedin Sends “Carlos Danger” Packing (Op-Ed)

steven.fink.featuredBy Steven Fink, President and CEO, Lexicon Communications Corp.

Crisis Management – Huma Abedin Sends “Carlos Danger” PackingA shade over three years ago, I publicly advised Huma Abedin to say adios to “Carlos Danger,” the nom de twitter her husband, Anthony Weiner, used when “sexting” photos of his crotch to strange women on the internet. (Click here to read the original post). Huma has been Hillary Clinton’s closest aid for more than 20 years, and Weiner was a once-powerful, up-and-coming Congressman from New York.

I wrote at the time, “(H)ad he not been caught (again), how much longer would his escapades have gone on? Had I been truly prescient, I would have asked more directly: how do we know his aberrant behavior has stopped? Because he said so? Do you know any politician who doesn’t lie? It has been revealed that Weiner’s sexting continued a full six months after his resignation and public – and private – apologies. And, perhaps even to this day. Who really knows? Weiner, I suppose, but is he to be believed?”

Turns out, it never ended.

Weiner has been an embarrassment to, and a drag on, Abedin, and now that Donald Trump is putting her under the spotlight, it is time for Hillary to say adios to Huma. For the sake of Huma’s mental health, she needs to put distance between herself and her perverted husband. And for the sake of Hillary’s campaign, she needs to put distance between herself and anyone who has trouble exercising good judgement. Sadly, Huma has demonstrated that when it comes to her husband, she is one of those people.


 About the Author: Steven Fink is President and CEO of Lexicon Communications Corp. (, a leading crisis management firm, and the author of Crisis Communications: The Definitive Guide to Managing the Message and Crisis Management: Planning for the Inevitable. Follow him on The Crisis Blog and on Twitter @LexiconCorp. 


Creating A Joyful Planet: How Russell Steiner is Helping

Patrice Tanaka

Patrice Tanaka
Founder & Chief Joy Officer
Joyful Planet LLC

Patrice Tanaka, Founder & Chief Joy Officer of Joyful Planet LLC, interviews people who are actively living their purpose and contributing to a more joyful planet. This interview spotlights Russell Steiner, Customer Happiness Manager (love his title!) at Urban Stems, a fan favorite for stunningly designed floral bouquets, starting at $35 with no delivery charge and available in urban and suburban areas, including Washington D.C., New York City and Baltimore.

PT:  Russell, what I love and admire about you is how you’re pursuing your passion and living your purpose in both your personal and professional life, including through your job as Customer Happiness Manager at Urban Stems, a start-up, flower delivery service whose stated goal is “to make the world a happier place.” I love the ethos of your company and your title! And, you live up to it beautifully. Russell, you were the third employee hired by your company to be a brand ambassador, ensuring customer satisfaction/happiness, communicating with them via various touchpoints – phone, email, live chat and social media – and also providing courier support, among other duties. Can you share your life’s purpose, which I know we both define as one that leverages your greatest talents, expertise and passion in service of people and planet?

Russell Steiner Customer Happiness Manager, Urban Stems

Russell Steiner
Customer Happiness Manager, Urban Stems

RS:  My life purpose from my earliest years revolved around building connections and positivity with others. This has always created a wealth of fulfillment for me.

PT:  When did you discover your life’s purpose? Was there a triggering incident?

RS:  I’m not sure whether there was a defining event or if my purpose was molded over time through a series of key moments. From the earliest age though, building connections and positivity with others has always created a wealth of fulfillment for me.

With my passion for people in mind, a pivotal experience in finding my purpose was when I decided to quit my first job after college as a Technical Recruiter within two weeks. Before I accepted the position, I thought I would get the chance to connect with many new people through interviewing. Unfortunately, that last part was as idealistic as it was untrue.

The truth is that recruiting is a sales job. I was encouraged to evaluate each resume as a potential for commission; a mere statistics game without much humanity to it. I asked my then boss, “What if the same receptionist I just spoke with to inquire about the name of an employee in his/her company I’m interested in head hunting picks up when I call back to ask for that person?” He said, “Don’t use your real name. Just make one up – maybe use your best friend’s name.” That was me being told to lie on my second day in the working world. I was doing my job as long as I was making 60 cold calls a day and submitting as many resumes to as many job openings as possible. After two weeks, I politely quit and explained I didn’t believe I was a good fit with his company.

The discovery here was not what my purpose was, but what it definitely wasn’t. My purpose wasn’t about selling or making big money or having a grand title. My purpose was about building genuine and fulfilling relationships with others, but I needed the right environment for those values to flourish.

PT:  And once you determined your purpose did you find yourself begin to actively live it? How did you begin? What did you do? 

Russell Steiner and colleagues at Urban Stems

Russell Steiner and colleagues at Urban Stems

RS:  It all fell into place perfectly. Fifty percent of life is you acting upon the world and the other 50 percent is letting the world act upon you, because we can’t control everything. I made the decision to take a risk, quit my job, and find something new and let the world decide what would be sent my way.

I met Urban Stems co-founder, Ajay Kori, playing board games at a bar in D.C. just a week after quitting my job. He took the time to get to know who I was. I told him about my compromised first job experience. He commended my moral fiber. A new and bright connection was made.

He told me how most people spend their lives unhappy at work and that his company was building something special, where culture took priority. A culture of happiness and fun, which laid the foundation for a business that empowered gifting flowers to others.

It was a sincere, earnest, and sound description of work, which was centered on the happiness of others. Ajay mentioned they would be hiring for their New York City launch soon and to follow up if I was interested. It was too perfect. This was a moment the world was reaching out to me by making a positive connection.

PT:  Did knowing your purpose in life change what you do in your professional life in any way? And, in your personal life?

RS:  It unquestionably did. Once I found something that aligned with my values, especially at a seven-month old startup, I began investing all my energies into building something amazing. I was doing it almost around the clock, but you barely notice the time go by when the work is meaningful.

We had no funding. Not much as far as compensation. Titles didn’t matter. It went against pretty much everything I had learned before entering the work world, which was a good thing, because nothing is more important than one’s values.

The only thing that mattered was being with a great, well-intentioned group, which, at the time, was just seven other people split between D.C. and New York, and solely focusing on growing this incredible experience of “inspiring delight.” Our hashtag is #SendHappy and I’ve always thought that pretty much summed up our mission:  helping spread happiness to other people.

PT:  How does it feel to be living your life’s purpose? Specifically, how would you describe it in terms of the success, fulfillment and joy you experience? 

RS:  It is extremely humbling. I am lucky to be happy in what I do every day. Lucky that I love to work non-stop for a company that brings so much joy to others, especially being on the customer side, where I get a first-hand account of the smiles we create every day.

The smiles are evidence that what I’ve spent my time doing the past two years has been beyond worthwhile. I care about others and leading them in the right direction, which is imperative to helping make someone’s day special. With that in mind, I have zero regrets about quitting a job that had no meaning at all.

When you look forward to contributing to something meaningful every day it’s hard not to consider that being success.

PT:  What is the result of knowing and actively living your life’s purpose? Is there a power that comes from knowing your life’s purpose in being able to actively live it?

RS:  When your life has meaning, you feel actualized on the inside, which spreads to the outside.

There have been many people who have questioned my undying positive energy, outlook, and enthusiasm for the world. It seems almost alien to them, but I think that’s because most people go along with or convince themselves to make decisions that don’t align with who they really are.

I know my attitude has been a positive source for others and can often have a domino effect. When people are happy it tends to spread to the next person. Our SendHappy experience engages so many people who receive flowers to become senders, which really reflects that contagious notion of positivity spreading from one person to the next.

When you start living your life in a good way, it only makes it better for those around you.

PT:  What are your greatest hopes and dreams for the life purpose you have chosen?

RS:  To lead together with others in the right direction. To contribute to groups of people who bring out the best in one another. We all have amazing, unique talents and traits to share with one another, and there’s no reason not to use them to better the world in some way. Doing things together with other people and for other people is one of the more worthwhile experiences of being human.

PT:  What do you think you would be doing now if you hadn’t determined and then actively begun to live your purpose?

RS:  I would probably have a very cynically negative outlook on life. I might be cold calling sales prospects and waiting for 5:00 p.m. to roll around every day, where every minute seemed like a lifetime, because there would be nothing meaningful fueling my existence. I wouldn’t have the same positive outlook, because I’d be upset with myself for continuing to lead my life in a way that did not align with my values.

PT:  How important is it for individuals to discover their life’s purpose? And, do you think that businesses would be wise to help employees discover their purpose?

RS:  It is extremely important to do something that gives your life meaning. And to contribute in ways that makes things better for others while also bettering you in the process. Ultimately, to be able to grow through your service to others.

I believe a company needs to make sure their employees are gaining fulfillment, which is something Urban Stems cares deeply about. We always want one other to be learning and that, much like sending flowers to someone, is a gift. Everyone has the opportunity to wear multiple hats and contribute in so many ways. To be part of a business that is designed to make people’s days is truly amazing. Our employees are even subsidized to take General Assembly classes of their choosing, which is a great way to support what they’re interested in and what they care about.

If you’re not delivering meaning to your employees then you’re not aligning with their values. This will ultimately result in a poor business for all stakeholders. Your bottom line will always look better when the experience has meaning for those creating it.

PT:  What advice would you give others about discovering their life’s purpose?

RS:  Take a balanced approach. Make sure you’re doing, but also make sure you’re letting things happen, too. It’s important not to force things. Patience is key!

Drop your ego, because caring only about yourself won’t get you anywhere with others or get you more fulfillment from the world. Other people are necessary to our own happiness, so be someone’s cheerleader as much as you can. Many of us need the support of others and most have a tough time so take the time to pay someone a compliment about how nice they look or what a great job they’re doing. When you’re a light for someone else it sparks a domino effect of brightness.

Finally, be true to yourself. Don’t do something you don’t want to do. Years go by too quickly to waste any time not growing as a person. When you’re doing something right for yourself, you’re doing something right for the people around you, too.

 About the Author: Patrice Tanaka is a serial entrepreneur, having co-founded three award-winning, PR & marketing firms and, most recently, Joyful Planet, a Business & Life Strategy Consultancy.“Through Joyful Planet, I am doing what I love and do best, leveraging my creative, problem-solving talent to help individuals and organizations discover and live their purpose and unleash greater success, fulfillment and joy in business and life,” says Patrice. This is the subject of Patrice’s new best-selling book, Beat the Curve, co-authored with world renowned management consultant and coach, Brian Tracy, and other business leaders. Her chapter is entitled, “Live Your Life’s Purpose and Unleash Your Joy.” Connect with and via LinkedIn/Patrice Tanaka and Twitter/Patrice Tanaka.  

Editing Prayers Answered: AP Publishes 2016 Bible of Journalism & PR Style

Don BatesBy Don Bates, APR, Fellow PRSA

Language changes. So does writing style and never so much as in the fourth estate. The 2016 edition of the Associated Press Stylebook is no exception. It reflects key changes and additions that have ballooned it from 60 pages in 1953 to 561 pages in this 51st edition. It’s published in print and digital form, and for the first time as an interactive e-book for Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks. There’s a Spanish version, as well.

As Gary Pruitt, AP president and CEO, explains: “Today’s Stylebook still outlines basic rules of grammar, punctuation, usage and journalistic style, but it also reflects changes in common language, offers guidance on media law, explains AP’s news values and principles, and helps to navigate the ever-changing world of social media.”

Most important for writers and editors in public relations, publishing, advertising and marketing, the AP guide provides thousands of usage rules — e.g., how to handle job titles, headlines, street addresses, company names, new technology terminology.  In turn, this knowledge gets reflected as a standard these writers’ readers can understand in virtually any context.

The 2016 edition contains over 240 new and modified entries. One of the main changes is internet, now spelled lowercase as in Webster’s New World College Dictionary, AP’s preferred dictionary. Now, web is also lowercase in all instances, and webpage and webfeed are one word. Voicemail is one word. Dozens of new entries in the food section include medjool dates, kombucha, shawarma, mescal, microgreens and horchata (a penny if you know what all these words mean without looking them up). And the Stylebook clarifies the forms for such terms as happy holidays, merry Christmas and season’s greetings. Yes, it’s merry Christmas unless it’s an exclamation, Merry Christmas! But it’s Happy holidays! Season’s greetings! Happy birthday!

Two entries PR writers should definitely heed are dash and hyphen since so many confuse the two, or more accurately, confuse hyphen as a dash. In AP style (and in all style manuals), a dash denotes an abrupt change in thought or an emphatic pause. Its punctuation requires an em dash with spaces on both sides.


I said I was leaving — despite his insistence that I stay — and I left.

Technically, this dash is three times wider than a hyphen. You can use three successive dashes on most keyboards to make the extended dash, hit return, then hit the “back” button. Many writers use two dashes to get a similar effect. In lists, AP uses dashes instead of bullets, and periods, not semi-colons, at the end of each listed item.


Jones gave the following reasons:

Another important entry for PR writers is media, which now reads: “Generally takes a plural verb, especially when the reference is to individual outlets: Media are lining up for and against the proposal. The word is often preceded by “the.” Sometimes used with a singular verb when referring to media as a monolithic group: The media plays a major role in political campaigns.”

Changes to the 2016 Stylebook also include:

To meet the needs of PR writers who prefer different formats for different purposes, the Stylebook now comes in print, spiral-bound, online and e-book editions. Among its companion products, the “AP Styleguard” provides automatic checking for AP style in MS Word and Outlook. “AP Lingofy” proofs content you create as you post to WordPress, Blogger, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and more.

To learn more about AP style products, go to If you do, say a prayer that somewhere in writer heaven there’s a special place for the people who started this reference work over a half century ago. Maybe put a word in for sainthood, too.

 About the Author: Don Bates, APR, Fellow PRSA, teaches PR writing and management at New York University. He also teaches public and private PR and business writing workshops that address today’s new writing formulary and accompanying new rules. Contact Don at






Branding 101: Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

Misti JonesBy Misti Jones, Account Executive, M/C/C

We live in a world FULL of advertising. We constantly receive messages from brands on what to buy and why to buy it.

But these days, for consumers to choose one brand vs. another, the specifics about the product or service matter less. What really matters is what the brand is saying, how it says it and what it does to back that up. People aren’t only buying products or services anymore – they’re buying experiences and they want to buy from companies they trust.

At South by Southwest Interactive in March, many of the marketing sessions I attended followed a trend of encouraging brands to become better listeners and more authentic communicators.

The key to gaining the trust of consumers and getting them talking about your product/service is to take strides in becoming more human and more relatable. The first step is to become a better listener.

Be a Better Listener

Listen up! According to the “Analytics of Social Marketing” session at SXSW, a report by IBM and EConsultancy found that 81% of brands say they know what their customers want while only 37% of customers felt that brands understood them. So how can you build long-term relationships with customers or develop content for your audience if you don’t understand them? If you’re not listening to what your audience is asking or don’t know what they want from you, you’re only hurting your cause.

Here are a few ways to open your ears to your audience:

  1. Socialize:One of the best ways to listen to your audience is by finding out what’re they’re saying on social media. Are there frequently asked questions? Do you know how to answer those questions? What kind of content gets shared the most? And what kind of content creates the most engagement? Your competitors may talk about subjects that interest your audience so make sure you check their social profiles, too. Use your findings to modify your posts to produce content that generates more interest.
  2. Solicit feedback: Include a survey link on your website, receipts, emails or social media accounts to receive feedback from your customers. Use this information to make improvements in your communications and address your customers on a more personal level.
  3. Think outside the box: Interact with customers in your store, pick up the phone or hold a product/service demo. These actions allow you to interact with customers directly, adding a personal touch to your communication. For example, ask customers if they have questions about a product, what changes they would want to see, how they use it, etc.
  4. Walk a mile in their shoes: Check out your own website, test your products and read your blog, social media posts and press releases, and try to see all these from their perspective, not yours. If you find yourself turned off by what you’re saying, make changes immediately. According to, brands shouldn’t make consumers look and listen to content that disrupts them or disinterests them. In fact, the more time you save consumers from irrelevant content, the more they’ll love your brand.

Be Authentic

Be transparent and more human. A 2013 survey by Cohn and Wolfe Brands found that consumers around the world are demanding that the brands they use become more honest and more authentic in their communications.

You want to give customers a reason to feel good about doing business with you. Creating an authentic brand takes time, all the more reason to start now:

  1. Establish your brand identity:Levi’s, for example, ties its marketing activities closely to its history and values. The company’s advertising strategy is to highlight its legacy while its social media channels help raise awareness for causes it cares about. Know what your company stands for, know your company’s values and stick to them no matter what.
  2. Make decisions thoughtfully and stand by them firmly: According to the “Smart Ad Campaigns: Not about the product” session at SXSW,authenticity is best measured in actions. If your company chooses to tap into cultural and social issues like Pantene did in 2013, make sure it’s true to your brand DNA. A lot of criticism stems from wondering if a brand is being genuine or if they’re just hopping on the social issue bandwagon. Show your customers you mean what you say by reinforcing points in your campaigns and being consistent.
  3. Be more human: Companies need to speak like humans in order to build authenticityIf you engage your target in a relatable, down-to-earth way, you can get your message across without even showing your products/services. Consider using customer experiences to create authentic stories. You can ask customers to submit stories about how they’ve used your product/service and what it means to them. This will help your brand engage with and be supportive of your customers and their lifestyles without having to sell them something. Check out how Squarespace does this in their Field Stories ad campaign.
  4. Keep content fresh: Don’t repeat yourself. In order to sound more genuine, spice up your content by finding new things to talk about on social media and not solely advertising your brand offerings. At M/C/C, our social media posts follow the “Rule of Thirds.” Our philosophy is that content should be one-third promotional, one-third educational and one-third cultural. This means you should post some content about what you offer, provide links/videos to content that educates users about a topic and share content that engages and interests users.

These days, people don’t want to be marketed to – they want to be engaged with and they want companies to care about them. In order for your brand to succeed in the long term, you must start making strides now to becoming a communicator that meets the needs and wants of your audience.

Remember, you can always measure success by ROI, but sometimes it’s the things you can’t measure (i.e. emotional connections you make between consumers and your brand) that make the most impact.

What brands would you consider to be good listeners and authentic communicators?

 About the Author: As an Account Executive at M/C/C, Misti aligns agency resources in the best ways to help our clients reach their business objectives. She works with clients closely and daily and collaborates with various M/C/C teams to ensure successfully executed deliverables. A summa cum laude graduate of Sam Houston State University, Misti earned her Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising with a minor in Marketing. She spends her free time cooking, working out, enjoying friends and family, binge-watching TV shows and cuddling her two cats. 

Communications, Churchill and Wine Thirty

Jack MonsonBy Jack Monson, Director of Digital Strategy, Qiigo

It’s Wine Thirty PM. Are You In?

By “in” I really mean on. If your connections, colleagues, and collaborators are anything like mine, you may have seen a growing trend in late evening communications over the past couple of years. We all have dinner, spend time with family & friends, watch an episode or two of some binge-worthy show, put the kids to bed, take out the dog, fire up the laptop, and start our second work day. Adult beverage optional, but recommended.

It’s not that we’re ever really disconnected; emails and texts make sure of that. But when the world winds down, the call of full-blown, full-sized Outlook / Gmail, spreadsheets and Powerpoint is irresistible.

Britain's wartime Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill

Britain’s wartime Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill

Why do we do it? There may be an optimistic hope that each minute spent prepping for tomorrow’s meeting with ensure a better outcome. If we review that client’s data one more time, we’ll see the answer. And if we spend a few more minutes on the reports than Peterson does, it can’t hurt!

The Churchill Effect

I don’t call it wine thirty just because Winston Churchill liked a glass or two or three of wine. He did. He did indeed. Sir Winston developed a similar work pattern. Martin Gilbert outlines this strange part of Churchill’s daily schedule in Churchill’s Wartime Leadership. During World War II, he knew that his advancing age and deteriorating health required rest and thus took a nap late each afternoon. This allowed him to restart his day again in the evening. He would work late into the night, in essence creating a second work day in each 24-hour period. While most of the world was winding down for the evening, Churchill was meeting by the fireplace with generals, ministers, and advisors.

You and I are doing the same at Wine Thirty PM with CEOs, clients, and advisers! Only instead of chatting in-person at 10 Downing Street, we’re on chatting online, texting, emailing, and tweeting. Fireplace optional.

Note, Churchill also developed the bcc and a functional “laptop” well before there were computers, but that’s another story.


About the Author: Jack Monson is the Director of Digital Strategy at Qiigo. He has been helping global brands, enterprises, and franchise systems with Digital Marketing for nearly two decades. He blogs at Social Media Workbench and is the co-host of the weekly Social Geek Radio program and podcast. Reach him on Twitter at @jackmonson.




The Cybersecurity Implications of Brexit for Your Company

Venkat Rajaji, Senior Vice President Marketing, Core SecurityBy Venkat Rajaji, Senior Vice President Marketing, Core Security

Some analysts view the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union as the catalyst for economic turmoil – from roiling the U.K. real estate market to the slowdown in various vertical markets.

While many implications associated with Brexit are being discussed, it may take years to see the long-term impact. That said, we already are seeing the initial economic impact and slumping investor confidence resulting from this political decision. Companies noting this global market volatility may be tempted to cut costs as a proactive measure. This may be the appropriate thing to do in some circumstances. However, it is critical to have a heightened sense of awareness around what Brexit means for your company’s information security policies. When evaluating the importance of information security, consider the following questions for your business:

  1. How does this politically motivated decision impact our business, and specifically, the information security of our business?
  2. Could we become more of a target as a result of this decision?
  3. If we are more of a target, where are our exposures?
  4. What should we be focusing on in terms of preventing and responding as quickly as possible to potential breaches?

The idea you may be more vulnerable as a result of a political decision, such as Brexit, is not new, but this does not make it any less real. Anytime there is opposition to a political action, businesses may be vulnerable to an attack, whether from a nation-state or otherwise.

While we don’t necessarily understand the motivations behind adversaries, Brexit could be a motivator for bad actors. For example, in 2014, Sony produced a comedic movie with a political statement about Kim Jong-un, and North Korea backlashed by hacking their network and releasing private emails.

So what are the precautions your company should take given this landscape? Three critical information security policies can lessen impact of potential attacks on your business.

  1. Manage privileged accounts, aka the keys to the kingdom. Privilege misuse was the second-most common cause of security incidents and the fourth-most frequent cause of breaches, according to the 2016 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR). Your business should continuously monitor privileged credentials to make sure they are not exposed.
  1. Manage user credentials and identities. The same Verizon report also found 63 percent of data breaches are associated with the misuse of legitimate user credentials. Businesses in all industries need to manage the growing universe of identities, devices and data employees require to do their jobs. 
  1. Understand your network vulnerabilities. Businesses must efficiently identify and prioritize vulnerabilities for remediation. You need to constantly work in protection mode to prevent attacks from penetrating your network.
  2. Conduct continuous penetration testing. Businesses should implement penetration testing and certification reviews to continuously validate your users and your network. These are vital best practices for comprehensive security policies.

The bottom line during this time of economic and investor uncertainty following the Brexit decision is that businesses must have a heightened sense of awareness around their cybersecurity. Given the controversy surrounding Brexit, investors and executives are wise to consider the cybersecurity implications for their company and understand why information security is not an area for cost cutting measures.

If you are a target, you should be aware you’re a target. Know that you cannot stop an attack on your network, but you can stop hackers from penetrating valuable data in your network. Your company needs to have policies in place to rapidly determine the root cause of a vulnerability and prioritize the correct mitigation action as quickly as possible.

About the Author: Venkat Rajaji is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and is responsible for business development and lead generation at Core Security. Venkat brings with him diverse expertise in marketing, product management, management consulting, finance, and presales. Before joining Core Security, Venkat was Vice President of Sales Operations and Customer Retention at Aptean. He also held product management and marketing roles with Infor and consulting roles with IBM and Accenture. Venkat received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas-Austin, master’s degree in Information Management from University of Maryland-College Park, and a Master of Business Administration from the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University. Emerging Growth & Innovation Forum (August 10, Los Angeles)

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Three Lessons Marketers can Learn from Amazon Prime Day

Jeff Navach, Vice President of Marketing, MediaAlphaBy Jeff Navach, Vice President of Marketing, MediaAlpha

A year ago, Amazon launched its first attempt at Christmas in July, kicking off the inaugural Prime Day as a sort of summer sale to end all summer sales. Many pundits were skeptical at such a brash offering; rolling Black Friday and Cyber Monday into one day, months before the holiday season kicked off, seemed like an aggressive ploy that was doomed to fail.

However, Amazon proved once again that it knows exactly what it is doing. Sales weren’t just impressive, they were astronomical. Amazon sold more units than they had sold on any Black Friday ever, had the most successful day of Prime trials in the company’s history, and sold almost 400 units per second. For perspective, it would be as if every single one of New York City’s 8 million residents ordered four items from Amazon on the same day.

Other than “we should be selling goods on Amazon,” there are key takeaways that marketers across the globe should be considering. Here are three lessons from Amazon’s first Prime Day:

For marketers, incorporating the lessons and successes from Prime Day, such as investing heavily in customer engagement for those who are further down the funnel, capitalizing on opportunities presented by vertical search, and being willing to blaze one’s own trail, will build significant bottom line results for their companies.

About the Author: Jeff Navach is the Vice President of Marketing for MediaAlpha where he is responsible for leading all marketing activities, including customer insights, brand development and demand generation. MediaAlpha operates the leading technology platform for the real-time buying and selling of high-intent, vertical search media. The MediaAlpha platforms power over 25 million annual transactions across insurance, travel, education and other vertical-specific sectors. Jeff holds an M.B.A. from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a B.S. in Business Economics from UCLA. 

#CannesLions – Fishing For Your Sole

By Karen Strauss, Chief Strategy & Creativity Officer, Ketchum

#CannesLions - Fishing For Your SoleEarly each morning here on the French Riviera, anglers can be seen casting their lines in search of a perfect catch.  Their leathery, tanned skin and white hair are outward reflections of their age and love for fishing.  And they are reminders that we are all, no matter our age, hoping to snare a big one.

Here at the Cannes Creativity Festival, the big fish is a lion-shaped trophy of creative affirmation. Most of the winners bounding to the stage are young, mirroring the industry.

But on the lecture stages, it’s been the mature voices finding their soles—the prized fish that takes some patience to hook. Madonna Badger, the advertising executive who survived the fatal house fire that killed her parents and three young daughters, celebrated her 52nd birthday onstage with a standing ovation for her compelling work fighting the objectification of women in advertising. She spoke emotionally of her long journey through grief to discover new purpose. Despite her loss, she has turned the page on a new life.

Cindy Gallop, the 55-year-old, colorful founder of Make Love Not Porn and advocate for female creative directors, took to the stage twice with her crusade to ensure the woman’s voice—in bed, and everywhere else. When she discovered there were no female creatives in the Case for Creativity book handed to every Cannes delegate, she started this firestorm Tweet. Her victory included public apologies from the male establishment here. Cindy shines as a trailblazer.

Anderson Cooper, 49, in his stage interview of Anthony Bourdain, 59, got the biggest round of applause upon replaying the now famous moment when he called out Donald Trump for using the argument of a five-year-old in response to Trump saying he didn’t start the attacks on Ted Cruz’s wife. At the pinnacle of his CNN career, Cooper, and Bourdain for that matter, demonstrate a zeal for the “big get.”#CannesLions - Fishing For Your Sole

As the 55-year-old moderator of a Cannes stage panel called Content for the Ages—All of Them, I enjoyed shedding light on the pitfalls of ageist stereotyping. I shared Ketchum Brazil’s social experiment, Age Shamelessly, which convincingly flips assumptions about how older people think and behave and how younger people do. It proved an excellent backdrop for convincing the crowd to shape and aim content toward shared passions instead of age, especially after every hand went up when asked whether they usually targeted Millennials and treated them as a monolithic bloc.

#CannesLions - Fishing For Your Sole#CannesLions - Fishing For Your SolePanelist Adam Singolda, the founder and CEO of Taboola, the world’s leading content discovery platform, shared a case in point—the Life Reimagined campaign for AARP. By offering “age-agnostic” content about finding love and changing careers, the one-time retirement association taps universal truths to engage people of all ages. Panelists Rachel Schectman of STORY and Michael Fanuele, Chief Creative Officer of General Mills (*client), also shared work that succeeded by engaging through passion, not age.

And what do the fishermen teach us?  Casting about, they follow their passion, angling for the big catch. They are focused, determined, and starting over each day. A strong argument for age-agnostic marketing.

Remember to check out’s Cannes social hub for the latest from the festival and join the conversation with #KetchumCannes.


About the Author: Karen loves winning trophies for clients, believing awards affirm how much strategy and creativity matter. As Ketchum’s chief strategy and creativity officer, as well as co-lead of Ketchum’s 50+ specialty, she is an evangelist for courage and creativity in communication, and she ensures strategic discipline and creative liberation for the firm’s global network of planners. Her devotion to studying human behavior, crowdsourcing creative ideas and working across silos have contributed to Ketchum winning more awards for clients than any other PR firm. Some of her initiatives include the creation of Mindfire, Ketchum’s crowdsourcing site for fueling creative ideas; the Ketchum Creative Community and related Passion Panels to solve client challenges; and the Ketchum Media Optimizer, the first media planning discipline in the public relations business. As a member of the small minority of female agency creative chiefs, Karen is on a mission to inspire and empower more women to take on lead creative roles.