The Stevens Group PR Masters Podcast Acquispectives – Richard S. Levick

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

“A real challenge in crisis communications is that too many people are tactical. It really requires for us to be strategic, to understand the business and the law and global implications and see where issues are going next.. to read the tea leaves. We should always be operating in the strategic and not the tactic and I think to stay in the tactical is to stop growing.”

Listen to the Podcast

DE&I and Communicating with Remote Workers are Among Top Comms Priorities


A comprehensive list in Ragan’s 2021 Communications Benchmark Report reveals an extensive to-do list that includes many items that emerged from the shocks of 2020.

Tony Silber, Editorial Director, Ragan Communications

2020 was a watershed year. For communicators, 2021 in many ways has been a year of absorbing the changes from last year, while at the same time dealing with the new challenges this year has brought in its own right.

In a typical year, communicators focus on increased effectiveness and innovation in a variety of traditional areas of expertise. Naturally, these include storytelling, media relations, internal comms, crisis management, technology, social media, and thought leadership. Coms pros are honing brand journalist skills. They’re focused on measurement. But there’s nothing typical about this year. All of these things all remain critical to the communicator’s job, but new priorities have emerged as well, many of them related to the shocks of 2020.

[EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Communications Benchmark Report 2021]

Now, according to the Communications Leadership Council’s comprehensive 2021 Communications Benchmark Report, communicators have an array of new priorities, starting with diversity, equity and inclusion.

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Internal Communications: Why Communicators View Managers as an Essential Link in Messaging Efforts


Strengthened relationships with other departments has helped comms pros engage with the workforce and deploy cascade-method messaging, according to the 2021 Communications Benchmark Report.

Tony Silber, Editorial Director, Ragan Communications

One of the most significant trends for communicators in the last 15 months is the strengthened relationships they’ve forged with allied departments. Much of the impetus for this new dynamic comes from the pandemic and the realities of remote work, but it’s likely that the value of closer relationships across the enterprise will continue.

In fact, nearly half of communicators—42%—reported they’ve developed stronger relationships with other departments as a result of the pandemic, according to the Communications Leadership Council’s 2021 Benchmark Report.

Improved relationships naturally lead to improved communications support from frontline managers, a critical component in any messaging effort. It’s challenging to integrate managers into internal communications processes, but communicators who do work with their departmental managers consistently report better engagement. Indeed, the vast majority of more than 700 respondents to the Benchmark Report rely on managers to help distribute and underscore communications efforts.

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Company Culture: Make Kindness Your Top KPI for 2021

What are you measuring for the year ahead? Here’s how one communicator says companies should change how they think about success and prosperity.

Esther-Mireya Tejeda, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, SoundExchange

Just a few weeks after joining SoundExchange in November of 2020 as its chief marketing and communications officer, I tested positive for COVID-19.  There is never a good time to get COVID, but this felt catastrophic.

The battle that ensued landed me in the hospital twice for long stretches of time. I almost did not make it.  It was truly a fight for my life.

During this harrowing experience, my SoundExchange team sent flowers to my home, toys to my toddler, and our CEO checked in regularly with my family with genuine and unconditional concern for my health and my life. Even as a new employee with no dues paid yet to the company, the focus was on me as a fellow human being and how I was doing in those really dark day.

The kindness, support, and sheer humanity of it all is a refreshing version of a people-first culture that could be possible in all organizations. I already believed I made a stellar move by joining the band at SoundExchange, and how I was treated in those terrifying moments created an even deeper sense of pride, commitment and trust in our company, our team, our leadership, and our vision forward.

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My Branson Moment Looking Down From My Then ‘Spacecraft’ at the Earth’s Curvature 41 Years Ago

Tom Madden,  Founder & CEO, TransMedia Group

Not too many of us have had their Richard Branson moments looking down at mother earth from near the edges of outer space.

I had mine one unforgettable day back in 1980.  That’s right, 1980.

I was on a supersonic Concorde flight returning from Europe.  We had reached a high enough altitude one day to behold the stunning, mind-boggling view of the curvature of the earth.

The captain then said to sit back with our seatbelt on and to expect to feel some  centrifugal force.  And man, did we ever!  

It was just like the first takeoff from the runway back on earth only this time we were way up in the air.  It was five times more forceful, which threw you back into your seat and kept you pinned there for several seconds. It was exhilarating. 

Norman and I looked down and could see the curvature of our beautiful mother earth.  It was breathtaking! 

It was my Branson moment!

When I was blessed to have had that rare astronaut experience, it didn’t cost $200,000 a ticket like it does today on Virgin Galactic.

But man did I get into a mess of trouble at NBC for what it did cost back then when I was vice president, assistant to the president.  My illustrious boss, Fred Silverman, sadly is no longer with us, cranking out those winning sitcoms.

The CFO of NBC at the time one day called me on the carpet at 30 Rock.

He said how dare I spend my entire month’s expense allowance to fly on the Concorde back from my assignment in Europe where I was producing a promo reel, “The Making of SHOGUN,” to promote the miniseries based on James Clavell’s popular novel of Japan.

At a Friday wrap-up lunch with Clavell in London, he asked what was my hurry to get back?”  He suggested I spend part of the weekend in Paris and then take the Concorde back from there on Sunday.  In three hours, I’d be back in New York.

Hmmmmm.  Sounded like a plan.  So, on I went to one of my favorite cities.

On that auspicious return flight aboard the Concorde, I sat next to the famous writer/producer of All in the Family, Norman Lear.  The series aired on CBS and then on ABC where I was writing Silverman’s speeches before he jumped ship to become CEO of NBC taking me with him.

That series was the first to bring reality to prime-time TV entertainment as the lead character, Archie Bunker, played by Carroll O’Connor, was a loudmouthed, uneducated bigot who believed in every stereotype he ever heard. His wife, Edith, played by Jean Stapleton, was sweet but not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Lear and were chatting about this and other TV series he created when the pilot interrupted with an announcement I’ll never forget.

The Concorde had just passed the continental shelf of Europe, when the captain said there would be another takeoff.  What?  Another takeoff?  We’re already in the air!

The captain then said to sit back with our seatbelt on and to expect to feel some  centrifugal force.  And man, did we ever!

It was my Branson moment!

Norman and I looked down and could see the curvature of our beautiful mother earth.  It was breathtaking!

Thomas MaddenAbout the Author: Besides an inveterate blogger, Tom Madden is an author of countless published articles and five books, including his latest, WORDSHINE MAN, available this summer on Amazon.  He is the founder and CEO of TransMedia Group, an award-winning public relations firm serving clients worldwide since 1981 and has conducted remarkably successful media campaigns and crisis management for America’s largest companies and organizations.



What Killed Grandfather was a Feeling He Didn’t ‘Belong Anywhere’

Tom Madden,  Founder & CEO, TransMedia Group

Between phone calls from my son and daughters this past Father’s Day, I read a story in The Times of Israel that blew my mind, tugged at my heartstrings and brought me close to tears.  It was so powerful and timely on that day we celebrate fathers.

It came at a time when my PR firm is publicizing a new book by Dr. Eli Fischer and Lani Samson, “From the Rice Fields to the Holy Land.”   The book reveals the pain and suffering immigrants like Lani, a poor woman from the Philippines, have to endure when transplanting themselves in another country, in this case Israel.  The book is a must read for those concerned about immigration anywhere!

The story comes from a family memoir, “If Anyone Calls, Tell Them I Died,” in which Emanuel Rosen examines his grandfather Hugo’s tragic life and death in Israel.  Hugo emigrated from Germany after the Nazi persecution of Jews in the 1930s.

The story starts with of all things, a joke!  It was a stupid joke Emanuel realizes now.  He was a teenager when he told his mother: “You know that falling from a tall building won’t kill you?  It’s the contact with the sidewalk that does the trick.”

Mirjam didn’t laugh.  The joke flopped like dead flounder. She looked pained.  A decade later, Rosen knew why.

At the time, his mother was enmeshed in a protracted legal battle with Germany to compensate the family for her father Hugo Mendel’s suicide in Tel Aviv in 1957. Mirjam had to prove his death was caused by persecution by the Nazis — specifically the stripping of his successful legal career and ensuing consequences.

In Israel, Mendel was incapable of culturally adapting, learning Hebrew, or continuing to work in the law. His attempts at business failed and he sank into a deep depression, until he finally jumped from a high staircase at a building on Tel Aviv’s Allenby Street.

The book takes its title from what Rosen’s mother would regularly tell her children before taking her daily afternoon nap. It was a bit of black humor from a young woman who lost her military officer husband to a sudden heart attack, and then her father to suicide — all within a few years.

“When she won the case, she simply told me Oma (Grandma) got some money for the health damage they caused Opa (Grandpa). I remember she was so proud,” Rosen said.

Rosen’s mother offered to give him the folder containing all the documents related to her legal case against Germany, but Rosen — busy as an entrepreneur and writer, and raising his family — wasn’t that interested at the time.

Later, using documents and artifacts contained in a box he inherited from his mother, along with the legal folder, Rosen pieced together the puzzle of his grandfather’s suicide.

Rosen, 68, had been unaware of how hard his mother had fought for nearly a decade.  The herculean effort to prove the Nazis had killed her father, “as if they had killed him in the camps” began after the Adolf Eichmann trial in 1961.

But a German court accepted psychiatrist Friedrich Panse’s opinion that there was no causal relationship between the events of 1933 (Mendel’s expulsion from his profession by the Nazis and subsequent departure for Palestine) and his death. (Panse reportedly sent mentally ill individuals to their deaths during Nazi period.  After the war he continued to review cases of people affected by Nazi crimes.)

Mirjam appealed. In her favor was a case decided in Germany’s highest court in 1965 that provided a precedent. It concerned a German Jewish pharmacist named Wolfgang Freund who escaped to Shanghai, China, and later immigrated to Australia. He died by suicide in 1954, and his family demanded restitution from Germany. The court sided with the family, stating that “the persecution [suffered under the Nazi regime] lowered Freund’s psychological resilience.”

From December 1967, Mirjam had Dr. Walter Ritter von Baeyer on her side.  The psychiatrist and professor at Heidelberg University was appointed by the court to provide expert opinion.

“Von Baeyer specialized in the psychology of persecution, and therefore, he could point out a case of depression that resulted from uprooting when he saw one,” Rosen wrote.

In November 1969, the court finally determined Germany was responsible and liable for Mendel’s death.

Despite Rosen’s better understanding of his mother’s legal fight, there is one part of the story that remains a mystery. In 1956, Hugo and Lucie Mendel made a long visit to Germany. It was their first time back since their forced departure in 1933.

The trip only reinforced for Rosen’s grandfather that “you can’t go home again,” as the title of the 1940 Thomas Wolf novel tells us. Already in his mid-60s, it became clear to Mendel that any dream of returning to Germany and working as a lawyer again had perished along with millions of Jews in the Holocaust.

“I don’t know for sure why they went back,” said Rosen, who, in 2003, traced his grandparents’ steps from their return visit to Germany to better understand their motivations.  The trip only amplified Mendel’s feelings of belonging neither to his birthplace nor to his adopted homeland. A few months later, he killed himself.

Like his grandfather, Rosen ended up living in a country other than his native one.  He moved to the United States 38 years ago. Unlike his grandfather, Rosen feels he belongs to more than one place, and technology has made it increasingly easy for him to keep in touch with Israel.

“What killed my grandfather was his belonging neither here nor there. He didn’t belong anywhere.”

Thomas MaddenAbout the Author: Besides an inveterate blogger, Tom Madden is an author of countless published articles and five books, including his latest, WORDSHINE MAN, available this summer on Amazon.   He is the founder and CEO of TransMedia Group, an award-winning public relations firm serving clients worldwide since 1981 and has conducted remarkably successful media campaigns and crisis management for America’s largest companies and organizations.


SEO and Google Search Results Updates

Mike Paffman, CEO, VIRGO PR

Google recently announced that it would be testing a new feature where users receive warnings whenever they try to access new or unreliable information. Misinformation and fake news have been a big problem for both Google and social media platforms in the last few years, and Google has joined in on combating its spread. 

Google Responds to Location Tracking CriticismWith this new feature, users receive a warning that says “it looks like these results are changing quickly” as well as a subheading with an additional explanation stating “if this topic is new, it can sometimes take time for results to be added by reliable sources”. According to Google’s announcement, this feature is in place so that users can check back on a subject at a later time when more reliable information has been shared. 

Although this tool has only been implemented in US-based search results in English, it’s going to be expanded to other languages and markets in the next few months, and Google might even expand it further into other topics outside of news stories.  

The search engine’s goal is to provide its users with reliable and relevant information, and with the current surge in fake news and misinformation, it hasn’t been able to achieve that goal effectively. These things are also what the company’s algorithm uses as some of the rankings of its results, which allows companies to improve their brand awareness and reach more potential consumers. 

Search engine optimization (SEO) has been an essential tool in public relations, as it benefits companies by raising brand awareness on search engine results pages. While backlinks and keywords are some of the core features of SEO, the quality and the length of the content have become increasingly more important in recent years. That’s the reason why companies have been striving to provide relevant, informative, and high-quality content on business blog posts that people can rely on long-term. 

While the importance of high-quality content has been highlighted in the last few years along with the changes in various search engine algorithms, with this new feature from Google, high-quality content might end up becoming even more important. 

There have been a number of times in the past when Google has inadvertently provided users with information that’s incorrect, especially on developing news stories.  Many early reports tend to be inaccurate, or are even deliberately false. Although this latest feature isn’t going to be the best possible solution to the spread of misinformation, and it’s going to be putting reliable outlets at the forefront, it’s still a great start. 

Companies should be closely following suit and navigating this new change efficiently, by only sharing factual pieces of content with their audiences, as there is potential for the new tool from Google to expand into other content categories  in search results pages. The same rules apply on social media platforms, where similar tools have recently been implemented as well.

About the Author: Mike Paffman is CEO of Virgo PR, a leading PR agency.

Democratizing Data & Financial Services Solutions Forum (On-Demand Video)

Free Virtual Event

On-Demand Video




The ultimate networking and strategic leadership and communications event for c-suite professionals (IROs, CFOs, general counsel, CMOs) at financial services and fintech companies and advisories. This event will examine key issues facing the financial services c-suite in this post-pandemic world. This event brings together industry leaders to discuss topics, including:
● The Importance of Brand-Building In Financial Services Post-Pandemic with a Focus on D&I & Financial Literacy
● Democratizing Data Via New Innovative Markets & Platforms
● Lessons learned from the evolution of the markets.

As the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution continue to evolve, the value of data is indisputable. We will examine the role of data in the industry as well as how brands are using data to better inform the decisions they make when supporting their stakeholders.



Hosted by Lisa Leiter, EVP, Financial Communications, Edelman
Leo Melamed, Founder of Financial Futures and Chairman Emeritus of CME Group. Author, Man of the Futures




The Importance of Brand-Building In Financial Services Post-Pandemic with a Focus on D&I & Financial Literacy
Hosted by Don Yount, CEO, Critical Mention
Barri Rafferty, Head of Communications and Brand Management, Wells Fargo



Defining a New Era of Digital Transformation in Financial Services Via Next-Gen Tools & Solutions
Moderated by Silvia Davi, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, 280 CapMarkets & President, V&S Strategic Consulting

Manuel Goncalves, Managing Director, Global Chief Communications Officer, BNY Mellon
Caleb Silver, Editor-in-Chief, Investopedia
Kristina Fan, CEO, 7 Chord

Democratizing Data Via New Innovative Markets & Platforms
Moderated by Raymond Kahn, SVP & Head of Markets at U.S. Real Estate Market (USREM)

Adrian Crockett, Chief Strategy and Product Officer, OpenFin
Ikechi David Nwabuisi, Founder & CEO, Tribl, A Platform for Diaspora Commerce
Charles Poliacof, Chief Executive Officer, Knoema
Adam Zarazinski, CEO, Inca Digital


CME Group
BNY Mellon
Critical Mention
The Museum of Public Relations



Don Yount, Chief Executive Officer & President, Critical Mention

Don Yount joined Critical Mention after serving as president and CFO of Corente, Inc., a cloud networking company acquired by Oracle Corp. Previously, Don served as executive vice president, COO and board member of TVI Corp. (NASD:TVIN), a supplier of health and safety technology devices. Prior to TVI, Don was operating principal at Mid-Atlantic Venture Funds. Earlier in his career, Don served in executive corporate strategy and finance positions at several high-tech firms in the telecom, datacom, software development and media industries. He received a BS in Business Administration and an MBA from the University of North Carolina, where he won the Richard H. Jenrette Fellowship and was a Dean’s Scholar. Don also served as chair of the Early Stage East Venture Conference and was a board member of the Greater Philadelphia Venture Group, now called PACT.



Silvia Davi, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, 280 CapMarkets & President, V&S Consulting

Silvia Davi is a seasoned global corporate communications, marketing and business development executive and advisor with over 20 years of experience. Ms. Davi is a recognized expert in all aspects of marketing particularly strategic communications, PR, branding, content strategy, relationship management, broadcast communication, and international public affairs across key industry sectors with experience from global communications agencies, in-house Fortune 500 corporations, start-ups, and nonprofits. Silvia is also an experienced strategic partnership, business development, governance, ESG executive with an expertise in corporate citizenship, diversity and inclusion and serving on Boards.

She has spent most of her career in leadership marketing, corporate communications and development roles focused on managing external and internal communication programs, coaching executives, visibility campaigns, growth strategies and innovation plans, branding, digital media, and implementing positioning strategies for special situations such as M&A deals, crisis management, IPO’s, restructurings, turnarounds, executive visibility, and broad-based reputation management for organizations such as Nasdaq, Instinet, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Broadcast Music Inc.,Thesys Technologies and 280 CapMarkets.

An expert in business innovation, capital markets, and fintech, Silvia ran global communications and brand at Nasdaq for nearly a decade and has received numerous industry accolades such as Innovation Finance’s “Women in Fintech Powerlist” in 2017 and Markets Media “Reputation Management” Award in 2018. Silvia is a creative multifaceted and multilingual professional, who has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Hofstra University in the School of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations. Key specialty sectors include financial services/fintech, technology, media, entertainment, and wellness/lifestyle.


Raymond Kahn, SVP & Head of Markets at U.S. Real Estate Market (USREM)

Ray Kahn has over 25 years of experience in capital markets, including leading trading, risk management, and clearing business units at global banks and an exchange. He has an extensive background in building, managing, and transitioning financial businesses undergoing regulatory, technology, economic, and infrastructure changes. Ray was an early identifier of the potential for emerging technologies, including Blockchain/DLT, to produce strategic efficiencies in market infrastructure, reduce risks, and improve economic returns. This knowledge has led to Ray’s current focus on the convergence of traditional and digital markets with an objective of helping deploy the best characteristics of both to produce a more efficient financial ecosystem.

Ray is a founding member and Head of Markets for USREM, which is developing a platform providing Institutional Investors the ability to invest in and trade “fractionalized” positions in commercial real estate. He is also the founder of Archon Advisors LLC which advises companies on designing solutions that generate financial, operational, risk, or capital efficiencies. He advises companies focusing on crypto data/analytics/surveillance, cloud-based risk/collateral/portfolio management, digital asset tokenization, blockchain start-ups, on-demand payments, and SPACs.   

Ray served as President of ICE’s Creditex unit, focusing on electronic bond and credit derivatives execution. Prior to joining ICE, Ray managed Barclays’ Global OTC Derivatives Clearing business, building the unit from scratch into one of the industry’s leading clearing FCMs (Risk Magazine’s 2013 Clearer of the Year).  During this time, Ray served as a leading expert on topics such as Basel III capital, clearing capacity and concentration, collateral management, and margin optimization, speaking regularly with global regulators, trade associations, and institutional investors.  His extensive risk management experience includes serving as Barclays’ Global Head of Prime Services Risk during the credit crisis and building/managing Lehman’s Relationship Loan Hedging unit.

Ray holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA degree from the University of Michigan.

Ray has been a frequent speaker at global industry conferences on the potential of technology in financial markets since 2015, including FED, IOSCO, FIA, World Federation of Exchanges, and digital/crypto-focused events.  He served on the FIA’s Executive and FIATech Boards and remains an active member of the FIA’s Innovators Selection Committee. Ray is also involved with the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC).



Barri Rafferty, Head of Communications and Brand Management, Wells Fargo

Barri Rafferty is the head of Communications, where she oversees Wells Fargo’s  reputation management, enterprise brand strategy, external and internal  communications, brand advertising, sponsorships, heritage and museums. She directs  a team of more than 500 communicators and marketing professionals who serve various stakeholders, including the company’s approximately 266,000 employees. A  strategic and collaborative leader, Barri plays a key role in helping redefine the company’s purpose, voice and brand narrative.

Barri joined Wells Fargo in July 2020 from Ketchum, where she was the agency’s  president and CEO — the first woman at the time to be the CEO of a top-five public relations agency. At Ketchum, she helped transform and build reputations for some of the world’s largest and most respected companies and brands, including Gillette, P&G, Wendy’s, 3M, Frito-Lay, and HPE.

A strong advocate of diversity and inclusion, Barri was a founding member of Omniwomen — an initiative to increase the number, seniority, and influence of women in leadership roles. Barri serves on the national board of Step Up, an organization empowering girls from under-resourced communities to become confident, college-bound, and career focused. She also currently serves as a board member for the Women Business Collaborative, which is helping accelerate parity for business women, and is a committee chair for C200, a global organization for women business leaders.

Barri’s thought leadership has been cited by CNBC, FORTUNE, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and others. In 2020, Barri was named Outstanding Agency Professional of the Year by PRWeek, and included in PRovoke’s 2020 Influence 100 list of influential in-house communicators from around the world. She also will be recognized as a 2020 Matrix award honoree by the New York Women in Communications.

She holds a master’s degree in corporate communications from Boston University and an undergraduate degree from Tulane University. She is based in New York City.


Leo Melamed, Founder of Financial Futures and Chairman Emeritus of CME Group. Author, “Man of the Futures”

Leo Melamed is globally recognized as the founder of financial futures. In 1972, as chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME Group), he revolutionized markets with the creation of the International Monetary Market (IMM)—the first futures market for financial instruments and the launch of currency futures. In the years that followed, Melamed led the CME in the introduction of a diverse number of financial instruments, including Treasury Bills in 1976, Eurodollars in 1981, and stock index futures in 1982. In 1987, Melamed again revolutionized trading by introducing Globex® the world’s first futures electronic trading system. In 1992, he became its founding chairman.

Twenty years after their inception, Nobel Laureate in Economics, Merton Miller, named Financial Futures as “the most significant innovation of the past two decades.” At the close of the last century, Leo Melamed was named by the former editor of the Chicago Tribune “among the ten most important Chicagoans in business of the 20th Century.” Mr. Melamed’s prize winning memoirs, “Escape to the Futures,” (Wiley, 1996), as well as his continuation memoirs, “For Crying Out Loud,” (Wiley, 2009), have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Portuguese. He is also the author of “Leo Melamed on the Markets,” (Wiley, 1993), and “The Tenth Planet” a science fiction novel, (Bonus Books, 1984). He was editor of an anthology, “The Merits of Flexible Exchange Rates,” (George Mason University Press, 1988). Many of his essays and lectures can be found on the website.

Man of the Futures is the definitive memoir of Leo  Melamed. It recounts Melamed’s journey from Holocaust survivor and accidental runner at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), to one of the most prominent leaders in the  world of finance who mingled with US Presidents and world leaders.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, today the CME Group, is the world’s largest futures market where Melamed serves as Chairman Emeritus, is a member of its Board, and chairman of its Strategic Steering Committee. Melamed has been an adviser to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and has served as special adviser on futures markets to governments worldwide. In 1982, Mr. Melamed led the futures industry in the creation of the National Futures Association (NFA), an independent self-regulatory organization. He served as its founding chairman and remains as its Permanent Special Advisor. In 2010 he was appointed to the International Advisory Council (IAC) of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, (CSRC). Mr. Melamed serves on the Board of the Scholar Rescue Fund, LEAP Innovations, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and the Becker Friedman Institute of the University of Chicago.

Leo Melamed holds Doctor of Letters from the University of Illinois, Loyola University, DePaul University, and Doctor of Humane Letters from Sacred Heart University. In 2007 he was appointed Honorary Dean of Beijing University. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including: The 2005 CME Melamed-Arditti Innovation Award, the 2008 William F. Sharpe Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2013 Risk Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2016 State of Illinois Order of Lincoln Award, the highest award conferred by the State of Illinois. Leo Melamed, an attorney by profession holds a Doctor of Laws Degree from John Marshall Law School. He is chairman and CEO of Melamed & Associates, Inc., a global consulting enterprise founded in 1993.



Manuel Goncalves, Chief Communications Officer, BNY Mellon

Manuel is a public relations and communications executive with 20+ years’ experience developing and leading proactive media relations, corporate reputation and internal communications programs in a variety of industries, including professional services, financial services and tech. He currently serves as the Chief Communications Officer for BNY Mellon, where he oversees all aspects of communications – external, internal and client communications.

Throughout Manuel’s 20-year career, he has been integral to driving the communications programs of Fortune 500 companies and large privately held firms. He believes that innovation and disruption are key to the evolution of the communications profession, and applies a startup mentality (experiment, measure and iterate quickly) to helping companies implement change and convey their value propositions. He is a builder and leader of high-performing communications teams, and is a frequent speaker on topics such as building diverse and inclusive teams, using data and insights to convey the business value of communications, the future of storytelling and audience engagement, and driving reputational narratives that bring a company’s culture to life.

Prior to joining BNY Mellon in April 2019, Manuel spent 12 years as the Executive Director of PR and Corporate Communications at KPMG LLP, where he was responsible for all of the firm’s business function communications, including media relations, reputation and internal communications programs – centered on enhancing visibility for our client services and solutions, driving executive visibility initiatives, thought leadership programs, and business capabilities. In addition, he served as the firm’s spokesman and led all crisis/issues management programs, working closely with the CEO and management committee to drive communications strategy and execution.

Earlier in his career, Manuel was the Senior Communications Manager for Travelport Worldwide Ltd., where he oversaw corporate communications and reputation management for the company’s Americas region.  He also served as a Senior Communications Manager, he was essential to communications activities for the Eastern region of Allstate Insurance Company, that included serving on the critical, boots on the ground, response team immediately following Hurricane Katrina. In addition, he was a member of the Tech & Consumer practice at The MWW Group.

Manuel graduated from Roger Williams University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications. In addition to serving on the Board of the PRSA Foundation,  he is a member of the Page Society and The Wisemen – both professional organizations for senior communications executives. He resides in Mendham, New Jersey with his wife, and is an avid mountain biker and martial artist.


Adrian Crockett, Chief Strategy and Product Officer, OpenFin

As Chief Product & Strategy Officer, Crockett works with OpenFin’s large and fast-growing client base to build the financial industry’s app and workspace infrastructure.  In this role he leads OpenFin’s product development and strategy across all offerings.

In 2012, Crockett co-founded Pellucid Analytics, an integrated platform that streamlines the creation of investment banking pitchbooks. He served as Chief Executive Officer until December 2019, when the firm was acquired by a leading market data vendor.

Prior to launching Pellucid, Crockett spent two decades in the sell-side where headed investment banking strats groups at Credit Suisse, Merrill Lynch, and Deutsche Bank. In these roles he oversaw quantitative corporate finance advisory practices and digital transformation efforts.

He earned his masters degree in Technology Management from Columbia University, and completed his undergraduate and postgraduate research degrees at the University of Technology Sydney.  He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst and Chartered Accountant designations.


Kristina Fan, CEO, 7 Chord

Kristina Fan is the Founder of 7 Chord, a predictive analytics firm in Brooklyn, NY. BondDroid, 7 Chord’s award-winning proprietary AI engine, empowers bond traders and investors with predictive pricing and liquidity signals. Kristina is responsible for realizing the firm’s vision of building machine intelligence systems that identify and adapt to regime changes.

7 Chord is alumni of Barclays Accelerator, powered by TechStars, Class of 2017, and alumni and data provider to FintechSandbox. 7 Chord was Benzinga Fintech Listmaker in the “Best in AI” category in 2020 and 2019. It was named one of the “Most Promising Fintech Companies to Watch” in 2019 by Harrington Starr.

Before 7 Chord, Kristina spent 20 years in fixed income in various trading and market structure roles, most recently at BlackRock. There, she represented the firm on the CME CE Risk Committee and various industry forums, including ISDA Clearing Risk Working Group. She started her career at Bear, Stearns with her very first project related to the immediate aftermath of Long-Term Capital Management’s collapse. Her senior colleagues’ role was detailed in the famous book by Roger Lowenstein, “When Genius Failed.”

Kristina later worked at JP Morgan in the years leading up to the mandatory clearing of the OTC derivatives, where she was part of an award-winning product development team (see Risk Magazine feature article “OTC Clearing Service of the Year: JP Morgan” Jan 10, 2012). She gained invaluable business management experience by overseeing a virtual team of developers and being involved in all aspects of implementation, budgeting, and pricing of the brand-new technology-focused business line.

She has a BA in Economics (Honors) from NYU and MS in Finance from the London School of Economics. She currently serves on the advisory board of Markets Media Women in Finance Award. Kristina was born in the former USSR and moved to the US after witnessing the country’s economic collapse and hyperinflation in the mid 90ies.


Lisa Leiter, EVP, Financial Communications, Edelman

Lisa Leiter is an executive vice president in the financial communications and capital markets group, advising insurers, asset managers and other industry clients on media strategy, thought leadership, ESG communications and executive transitions. She is an award-winning content creator with more than two decades of experience as a broadcaster, print reporter and media strategist. She was most recently the Chief Content Officer for the Executives’ Club of Chicago, where she created the annual Tech Outlook program and a Technology and Innovation Series. Lisa is a former anchor/reporter for Crain’s Chicago Business, where she launched the daily online video show, Chicago Business Today, and produced the Entrepreneurs in Action video series. Prior to that, Lisa was a correspondent for Bloomberg Television, reporting on the bond market and financial news from the Chicago Board of Trade. Lisa also was an on-air correspondent for CNN Financial News, a senior producer for Moneyline with Lou Dobbs, and a staff writer for The Miami Herald. Lisa graduated magna cum laude from George Washington University, where she was managing editor of the GW Hatchet.


Ikechi David Nwabuisi, Founder & CEO, Tribl, A Platform for Diaspora Commerce

Ikechi Nwabuisi, a Nigerian-American, is the founder and CEO of TRiBL, a messaging app for Pan-African commerce. This is an all-in-one crypto platform using a GroupMe-meets–like experience to pool money and streamline commerce within Black communities across the United States, Nigeria, and other countries around the world. The company has partnered with VISA and crypto firms Circle Internet Financial & Paxos Brokerage Firm* to enable interoperable exchange of digital currencies worldwide.

Born and raised in Houston, Ikechi played football at Northwestern University. While attending McCombs School of Business, he helped launched a diversity accelerator DivInc, and worked as a VC @Capital Factory. As a Techstars alum, he is one of less than 1% of Black founders to receive venture capital funding. Techstars is the global platform for investment and innovation.

You can follow Ikechi on Twitter and IG @buisi_x


Charles Poliacof, Chief Executive Officer, Knoema

Charles Poliacof is CEO of Knoema, the data technology platform which makes the world’s data discoverable and usable. Previously, Charles served as Chief Revenue Officer at Visible Alpha where he was responsible for building and overseeing the commercial arm of the organization including sales, marketing, support, account management and strategy. Prior to Visible Alpha, Charles was Managing Director at Novus where he focused on sales, growth and business development. Before Novus, he was Co-Head of Trading and a Portfolio Manager at Centurion Investment Partners until its acquisition in 2011. Charles Co-Founded Applied Analytics building technology for automated trading strategies, and began his investment career at the Schonfeld Group. Charles is also very passionate about philanthropy. He founded and is Chair Emeritus of the Junior Board of Seeds of Peace, and previously served on the advisory board of the non-profit, Portfolios With Purpose. Charles holds a BS in Applied Mathematics and Economics from Stony Brook University.


Caleb Silver, Editor in Chief, Investopedia

Caleb Silver is a business journalist and the Editor in Chief of Investopedia. He previously worked as the Director of Business News at CNN, the Executive Producer of CNN Money and was a senior producer on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.





Adam Zarazinski, CEO, Inca Digital

Adam is the CEO and co-founder of Inca Digital, a data analytics and intelligence company for the cryptocurrency ecosystem. He is a former active duty US Air Force Judge Advocate, where he served as a prosecutor at Joint Base Andrews and operations law attorney in Afghanistan. He has managed and developed projects around new technology for international organizations like INTERPOL and the World Health Organization. He is a 2020 Atlantic Council Millennium Fellow. When not working, Adam enjoys practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. One time he rolled with Relson Gracie in Brazil. He lost.




Golin Wins LinkedIn

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG) agency Golin today announced their selection as ‘s global social media agency partner. The mission of Golin’s diverse team of digital specialists around the world is to help LinkedIn be the most inclusive, engaging and helpful platform for professionals.  

The mission of LinkedIn is simple: connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. As LinkedIn’s Social Media agency, Golin will unpack rich insights to better understand its members, use social listening to create relevant and cultural conversations that matter and build engaging communities through attention grabbing earned-first content, 1:1 dialogue and more. 

The Business of Women’s Sports: Improving Viewership and Revenue (INFOGRAPHIC)

Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing

The popularity of women’s sports continues to grow, making major strides in 2020.  Interest in women’s soccer was spurred by the 2019 World Cup win and can be shown in the viewership for the following year.  In 2020, the National Women’s Soccer League broke viewership records by nearly 300%, reaching 653,000 views.  In addition, the NWSL challenge cup drew viewership on par with a Major League Baseball game airing in the same time slot. 

What has changed in the past few years?  In regards to women’s soccer, the first and last games were aired on CBS rather than the subscription service, and the month-long tournament schedule started before the men’s league and before the NBA returned from lockdown.  Esmeralda Negro, the co-founder of Atlanta Media, argues, “Premium broadcasting plays a massive role in elevating the visibility and profile of leagues and players at the club level… Viewership drives everything in this sport.”  Women’s soccer viewership went up because it was more heavily broadcasted and accessible.

The common narrative is that women don’t watch sports, yet the opposite is true; viewers want women’s sports.  Sports fans are 49% women and 51% men.  Of that group, 84% are interested in watching women’s sports.  Not only do women watch sports, but they are active members that can increase viewership and revenue.  In 2020, young women increased MLB viewership by over 80%.  After looking into viewership patterns, the Olympic Channel found that 56% of engagement comes from women, and viewership of women’s content is 16% higher than the viewership of men’s. 

Even with these discoveries, only half of the governing sports bodies have a boardroom of at least 25% women.  There is a clear unequal investment in women’s sports.  Additionally, huge pay gaps exist.  On average, female athletes are earning 63% of their male counterparts.  In 2020, only one female athlete, Naomi Osaka, was on Forbes’ highest-paid athlete’s list.  While fewer people are interested in women’s sports than some men’s sports, there is still a huge fan base and potential for sponsorships. 

Media coverage is key.  Women’s sports receive less coverage in both print and broadcasting, despite large fluctuations in major events.  Lack of media coverage impacts sponsorships, losing a potential source of revenue.  Just 0.4% of sponsorship dollars go to women’s sports, even with a 37% increase in annual sponsorship deals from 2013-2017.  3 in 4 people interested in women’s sports can name at least one brand involved, and 20% of people are more influenced by sponsorships of women’s sports than men’s.  It’s about time for women to be compensated fairly and close the pay gap with their male counterparts.


The Business of Women

Brian WallaceAbout the Author: Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian runs #LinkedInLocal events, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Adviser for 2016-present. Follow Brian Wallace on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.

Why Company Culture is Important for Success

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Sheryl Wright

The culture of an organization plays a role in its success on various levels. Corporate culture includes things such as a company’s values, attitudes, and goals. The culture within your organization’s ranks influences performance and morale among the staff. It also affects customer satisfaction. Essentially, the ways in which your employees work together and how they feel about your company will eventually affect your bottom line. Read on to discover just why company culture is important for success.


Your company culture defines the identity of your organization, both internally and externally. It influences the ways in which people see you. Creating a strong reputation starts from within. The practices and attitudes cultivate inside your company’s walls will reverberate to influence your reputation among colleagues, competition, customers, and the public at large.


The culture you build within your company is a reflection of the values your organization holds. This can be for better or worse. The values you claim to hold should be seen in the way you do business and how you treat people. If there is a discrepancy between the realities of life within your organization and the words you use to talk about it, you have a problem. Failing to live up to your company’s values can lead to personnel problems such as low morale, poor productivity, and high turnover. People will soon realize that your supposed core values are merely buzzwords. In order to create a strong company culture, you must ensure you demonstrate your core values in every aspect of your business.


A company culture that treats its employees well and shows that they value the contributions of their workers is one that will be successful. Your employees will become your greatest assets and advocates if they feel their work is appreciated and that they are valued team members. People need to feel that they matter. You can demonstrate the importance of your employees by recognizing and rewarding them for what they do. Encouraging a culture of praise is a good way to start, but people look for more than just words in order to truly believe you appreciate them. Formal recognition through rewards such as monetary incentives, time off, prizes or awards banquets can go a long way toward showing your appreciation and inspiring advocacy. Something as simple as ordering awards from an online trophy maker and throwing a yearly banquet can be a good start toward improving the company culture through recognition.


When you work hard to build a positive company culture, you’ll notice that you have less turnover. People want to stay where they’re treated well and where their contributions are valued. Retention will improve overtime as you begin to strengthen your company’s core values. Not only that, but you’ll also attract a better crop of applicants. Word spreads within industries. People know which companies are pleasant to work for and which ones are toxic. As you begin to build a reputation of positive corporate culture, you’ll be able to pick and choose the potential employees who will best fit into the mix. Not only will you draw quality talent, you’ll find that the character of your applicants is also desirable.


In an organization that emphasizes a strong corporate culture, people work together well. Because they hold similar values, they’re more likely to be on the same page and want to accomplish like-minded goals. They see the big picture. They will reward the positive working conditions you’ve created with loyalty and a strong desire to perform. You’ll simply generate better results when you cultivate positive company culture.


Strong company culture creates happy employees. When your workers enjoy their jobs, they will perform better. They will also live better. A positive culture within an organization encourages mental wellbeing. People feel appreciated. They enjoy their work. They know they are supported. Happy workers will usually be healthier workers.

As you can see, there are several benefits to creating a strong company culture. Consistency and communication are necessary components in order to build the culture you desire within your organization. While it may take some time and dedication, you’ll find the investment to be well worth it in the end.

About the Author: Sheryl Wright is a freelance writer who specializes in digital marketing, inclusive business, and interior design. If she is not at home reading, she is at a farmer’s market or climbing in the Rockies. She currently lives in Nashville, TN.

Four Types of Corporate Cultures

Find out if your business embodies the attributes you aspire to — and learn how to create an authentic environment your employees will love.


Mark Murphy, CEO, Leadership IQ 

When HR executives tell me that they want to improve their corporate culture, they often imagine a workplace where employees are socially connected, people collaborate, leaders are empathic, and there’s a friendly atmosphere.

While that corporate culture sounds lovely, here’s a shocking statistic: Only 31% of employees actually want to work in that sort of environment. Meanwhile, 69% would prefer a very different kind of culture.

4 types of corporate cultures

More than 20,000 leaders have taken Leadership IQ’s online test, “What’s Your Organizational Culture?” The data from the test reveals that there are four major corporate cultures:

  • Social Culture: This organization is often relaxed and casual, and the line may be blurred between professional relationships and friendships. Workers are often given a lot of trust and are highly collaborative.
  • Dependable Culture: This company is very process-focused and predictable on a day-to-day basis. People pride themselves on efficiency and standards and value workers who follow protocol.
  • Enterprising Culture: This organization is a meritocracy where the best idea always wins regardless of status or tenure. Creativity and intelligence are valued, and the organization is competitive, even if the competition between workers is friendly.
  • Hierarchical Culture: This culture is hierarchical and very traditional. An outsider could easily figure out who is in what role and at what level. People both value and compete for power.

Continue reading here…

The Tipping Point


“Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest pushin just the right placeit can be tipped.”

–Malcolm Gladwell

So much of history occurs not with a bang, but a whimper. If we listen closely enough and watch carefully, we can witness it, the moment when the scales tip in the other direction.

With the near-meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor – amazingly, 12 days after the release of the anti-nuclear power movie China Syndrome in March 1979, creating one the greatest movie coincidences of all time – a national movement was born.

Suddenly, everyone was talking about energy. Primed by several summers of hours-long gas lines made possible by the OPEC oil embargo starting in 1973, America and other parts of the world started looking at energy not as something too cheap to meter, but instead as a central part of national sovereignty, foreign policy, household budgets and political campaigns.

Looking to capitalize and leverage the nascent movement, Ralph Nader, Musicians United for Safe Energy and others organized a series of benefit concerts at New York’s Madison Square Garden and a protest on September 23, 1979, attended by 200,000 people in Battery Park. Energy and the environment had become a movement.

The previous spring, Mr. Nader would play a key role in helping to negotiate some of the big-name musical talent. Ecstatic, late one night in California, having just closed a big deal for one of the hottest artists in the music industry, he called Donald Ross, an extraordinary New York-based community organizer, someone I had the honor to know and a close confidante of Mr. Nader.

A very sleepy Donald Ross answers the phone to learn that Mr. Nader had just secured the services of Jackson Grey. “Jackson Grey?” Mr. Ross, asks, incredulous. “Don’t you mean, Jackson Browne?” “No, it’s Jackson Grey. All the kids love him!” Convinced that Mr. Nader knew what he was talking about, Donald goes back to sleep and the next day, asks dozens of young people, “Have you ever heard of Jackson Grey?” It was, of course, Jackson Browne, who would be joined by Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash, Pete Seeger and many others and the rest, as they say, is history.

May and June of this year have been similarly seismic for the energy industry. It seems to be the moment when climate change and the green energy movement has become not something happening to the industry, but with it.

European energy giant Total has been has acquiring a combination of solar, wind and storage projects at an average rate of 1 Gigawatt per month since January 2020. This past January it acquired a stake in India’s Adani Green Energy, a move that will ultimately include nearly 15 Gigawatts of energy – the equivalent of over 45 million solar panels.

In late May, 61% of Chevron’s shareholders voted in favor of a proposal to cut emissions.

That same week, activist hedge fund Engine No. 1 won a remarkable three seats on the Exxon board.

Also that week, the Hague District Court in the Netherlands ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030, compared to its 2019 levels.

The Court’s landmark ruling draws on the growing series of climate change agreements – such as the Paris Agreement – along with human rights standards such as those in the UN Guiding Principles. It is a new day in the energy industry.

On the daily podcast In House Warrior that I host for the Corporate Counsel Business Journal, I interviewed Julianne Hughes-Jennett, a partner with Quinn Emanuel, and Marjun Parcasio, an associate, both in Quinn’s London office, for insights into what all of this means and what’s next.

It may not be quite as melodic as Jackson Grey, but it’s well worth the listen.

As David Frost would say, “That was the week that was.”

Enjoy the listen.

Richard Levick

Listen to the podcast

A Conversation with Beatriz Williams, Author, ‘Our Woman in Moscow’


Join Michael Zeldin in his conversation with Beatriz Williams, author of Our Woman in Moscow,  a historical fiction  of Cold War espionage and family devotion, loosely inspired by the Cambridge spy ring.


Beatriz Williams

Beatriz Williams is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of Our Woman in Moscow, The Summer Wives, Her Last Flight, The Golden Hour, The Secret Life of Violet Grant, A Hundred Summers, and several other works of historical fiction, including three novels in collaboration with fellow bestselling authors Karen White and Lauren Willig. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA in Finance from Columbia University, Beatriz worked as a communications and corporate strategy consultant in New York and London before she turned her attention to writing novels that combine her passion for history with an obsessive devotion to voice and characterization. Beatriz’s books have won numerous awards, have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and appear regularly in bestseller lists around the world.

Born in Seattle, Washington, Beatriz now lives near the Connecticut shore with her husband and four children, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

Follow Beatriz on Twitter: @authorbeatriz


Michael Zeldin

Michael Zeldin is a well-known and highly-regarded TV and radio analyst/commentator.

He has covered many high-profile matters, including the Clinton impeachment proceedings, the Gore v. Bush court challenges, Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigation of interference in the 2016 presidential election, and the Trump impeachment proceedings.

In 2019, Michael was a Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he taught a study group on Independent Investigations of Presidents.

Previously, Michael was a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice. He also served as Deputy Independent/ Independent Counsel, investigating allegations of tampering with presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s passport files, and as Deputy Chief Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Foreign Affairs Committee, October Surprise Task Force, investigating the handling of the American hostage situation in Iran.

Michael is a prolific writer and has published Op-ed pieces for, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Hill, The Washington Times, and The Washington Post.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @michaelzeldin

Hispanic PR Leaders Share Vision of a Multicultural Communications Future


The members of HPRA look to highlight Hispanic heritage in the communications industry as the industry organization launches its 2021 ¡BRAVO! Awards.

Ted Kitterman

The Hispanic Public Relations Association, a partner with Communications Week, is once again looking to highlight the contributions of Hispanic communicators after its awards programs went on hiatus during COVID-19.

The 2021 HPRA National ¡BRAVO! Awards will highlight the best of the best, and we wanted to hear from some members of the Hispanic community about how their heritage has influenced their comms careers and how they see the future of the industry.

Sonia Diaz, HPRA national president & senior vice president with Balsera Communications and Carla Santiago, GM for Edelman Miami, both former recipients of a ¡BRAVO! Award in past years, shared some of their takeaways with us via email.

Sonia Diaz

PR Daily: What’s the most important lesson you have learned in your career as a PR pro?

Diaz: No amount of technology will ever replace the value of forming true and meaningful relationships with clients, media, partners or colleagues.

Santiago: Always treat people with respect—and treat yourself as a brand.

Continue reading here…

College Athletes Must Get in Condition for Commercialism


Dr. David Hagenbuch, Ethicist and Professor of Marketing, Messiah University, Author of Honorable Influence, Founder of  

College students enjoy talking about ads, especially ones that feature top athletes like Tom Brady, Serena Williams, and Lebron James.  The NCAA’s momentous decision to allow college athletes to become paid spokespeople has leveled the promotional playing field, but are young, soon-to-be endorsers ready for the pressures they’ll face in a different kind of game?

In a landmark decision on June 30, the NCAA lifted its long-standing rules prohibiting organizations from paying student athletes to endorse their products.  Now athletes in all three divisions can profit by leasing their names, images, and likenesses (N.I.L.) to the highest, first, or only bidder.

The rationale behind the NCAA’s prior rulings was to preserve amateurism and the purity of competition, uncontaminated by commercialism.  The point of this piece is not to debate the pros and cons of paying student athletes, which many others have already done.  Instead, it’s past time to ask if these young people are prepared for the new opportunities and challenges that come with being paid endorsers.

Already, many of the same college athletes who had simply enjoyed watching professional spokespeople now find that they are professional spokespeople, but is paid promotion a game they’re ready to play?

The clock had barely turned midnight on June 30, when several college athletes began to monetize their new marketability.  The first was apparently Auburn University quarterback Bo Nix who signed a deal with Milo’s sweet tea at 12:02 am, July 1.  Two others who quickly followed suit were twin sisters Haley and Hanna Cavinder,  basketball players at Fresno State University, who inked an agreement with Boost Mobile.

For the Cavinders, the leap to professional endorsers should be a fairly smooth one.  They are business marketing majors, but even more, they are already social media stars with over 3 million followers on TikTok and about 4 million across all platforms.

However, for other newly minted marketers with less knowledge and experience, the transition will likely be more challenging.  Here are five things college athletes should understand in order to do well and good in their new commercial competition:1) Marketing:  One wouldn’t jump into a serious game of basketball, football, etc. without knowing the sport.  Similarly, one shouldn’t enter paid endorsement without understanding marketing.  Beyond an appreciation of the discipline as a whole (e.g., the four Ps), two concepts that every paid endorser should comprehend are target market and branding.

The sponsoring organization and its advertising agent should be aware of the target market they’re trying to reach in terms of its demographics, psychographics, and any other identifying criteria.  Endorsers should have the same understanding so they can make their own assessment of personality-audience fit and use that knowledge to tailor their communication.

Closely related, an endorser should have a clear picture of the unique identity, or brand, they’re building for themselves and the branding of the sponsoring company.  Although these personal and organizational brands will never be identical, they should be complementary.  For instance, individuals trying to build their brands as ‘sophisticated and exclusive,’ probably shouldn’t endorse brands that are seen as ‘low-budget and casual.’

2) Contracts:  Sponsorship deals are typically bound by contracts that specify the rights and duties of all parties, including those of the spokespeople.  As such, college athletes should understand basic contract terms like offer, acceptance, breach, indemnification, and exclusivity.  The last term is especially important in that contract terms might prohibit an athlete from signing sponsorship deals with other organizations, particularly competitors.

Another special provision often found in endorsement contacts is a character or morals clause, which “allows the sponsor either to suspend or terminate a sponsorship agreement in the event that the athlete, celebrity or other endorser violates the clause [because of] behavior that is criminal, that is scandalous, or that might tarnish the advertiser’s brand.”  Most people have better sense than Ryan Lochte showed after the 2016 Rio Olympics; still, it behooves every college athlete to understand that by signing an endorsement contract they become more accountable for their actions, including their social media posts, than they ever were  before.

3) Personal finance:  Although those who feel they don’t have enough money may disagree, research study results support the premise that more money can mean more problems, at least in terms of added stress.  A former NCAA athlete who now works in banking, believes that newly earned endorsement income can become a burden for college athletes who lack sufficient financial acumen and discipline.

A little over a year ago, Hunter Brindle was captain of Messiah University’s baseball team while he completed majors in economics and marketing.  Now an investment advisor, he expresses concern that college-age spokespeople may not manage their endorsement money wisely, leading to unsustainable spending habits they’ll regret later in life unless they are financially informed:

“When your housing, utilities, and meals are all covered by a scholarship, loan, or your parents in one large payment, you develop the mindset that every dollar that enters your bank account is there for spending. Therefore, I believe it will be very common to see many college athletes spending any endorsement dollars as fast as they are coming in without realizing the potential future benefit those dollars could provide when they are someday trying to figure out how to put a down payment on a house. Because of this, I believe it could be extremely beneficial for athletes to participate in some sort of financial counseling as they enter college where the reality of real-life expenses is laid out before them.”

4) Time-management:  College places time pressure on every student, but regular practices, workouts, and games, mean that athletes must work even harder to balance their schedules.  Messiah University’s men’s soccer coach Brad McCarty, who has led his teams to five NCAA Division III Championships, believes the addition of endorsements makes athletes’ time management all-the-more critical:

“One of the biggest challenges student-athletes face is the balance of time and resources.  Regardless of the level—D1, D2, or D3—NCAA athletes are having to juggle homework, exams, study groups, practice, games, lifting, fitness, nutrition, sleep, relationships with teammates, dating relationships, spiritual development, social media, jobs, etc.  College athletes interested in finding ways to be a paid endorser takes time/energy, but they already don’t have a lot of margin in their lives.”

McCarty goes on to say that athletic departments will be important players in helping their athletes navigate the new commercial environment.

5)  Respect for others:  The first four items college athletes need to understand are squarely in their own self-interest.  However, they also should be cognizant of the impact their endorsement decisions may have on others, including some already inferred above:

  • Teams:  Athletes who are good enough to receive sponsorship deals are naturally among the best on their teams, which means their coaches and fellow players must depend on them to avoid distractions and perform at high levels in order to help the team succeed.
  • Universities:  Any organization’s brand is partly a function of the personal brands of its leaders and other members, e.g., Apple and Steve Jobs; Tesla and Elon Musk.  College athletes must realize, therefore, that their endorsement decisions reflect on their institutions, which is why Brigham Young University has  adopted an N.I.L. policy that prohibits its athletes from endorsing products like alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and adult entertainment.
  • Society:  College athletes already serve as role models for many people, especially young fans.  As they evolve into multimedia influencers, athletes should be aware that many more people will emulate their words and actions in ways that can produce broad positive or negative impact in areas such as physical health, mental well-being, interpersonal relationships, and environmental sustainability.

The five preceding prescriptions can challenge anyone, including young athletes who lack certain life experience and who need to focus on their sports and their education.  As such, these new endorsers will require the guidance of many others, including their coaches, athletic departments, and institutions, as well as other individuals who can offer them informed and unbiased perspectives on personal branding and integrated marketing communication.

College athletes are some of the most gifted individuals in the world.  With the support of others and their own self-discipline, they can continue to excel in their sports and in the classroom will also becoming producers of “Mindful Marketing.”

About the Author: Dr. David Hagenbuch, Ethicist and Professor of Marketing, Messiah University, Author of Honorable Influence, Founder of 

3 Challenges Specific To Promoting Your Brands + How To Combat Them


Donna Maurer

Promoting your brand involves undergoing complex marketing strategies and tactics. Generating new prospects through practical methods and retaining clients to ensure customers’ loyalty are challenging aspects to tackle. Here are some of the specific challenges of promoting your business and how you can combat them.


Chances are, no matter what your brand entails, there is another business out there that is already doing it, selling it, or making it. With many brands embracing the digital trends of today’s marketing, there has also never been more competition for attention. 

While quality content is key to attracting your audience’s attention, there are no guarantees that you will land and retain loyal customers. It is too difficult to keep up with quality content and postings every single time, so there are some other tactics that you can instill to help overcome this obstacle.

Analyzing your competition is one such method to helping you gain the upper hand. If you can locate and identify what the competition is doing well and enlist those methods, that will be one solution. Another solution is to find what your competition isn’t doing well and see how your brand can benefit from tackling the problem that isn’t being addressed. 

To do this well, you must also analyze their customer base. Ask yourself some questions: 

  • What are these customers asking for? 
  • What do they need more help with? 
  • What can my brand bring to the table that this one cannot? 

Work to find a new twist or angle that you can address. If you want to be more innovative and creative and build a brand that lasts, you must look at what everyone else is already doing.


Generating leads through marketing requires excellent, high-quality content, but once you can land those customers, what happens next? Many businesses have failed in acknowledging that the goal is not just about obtaining new customers but also retaining them.

There are some helpful tools for prospecting and landing new customers that your brand should be using, such as CRM or Marketing automation. You should also organize your business utilizing a URL management platform to gain better insight into your customers and their experience, to develop more effective technical solutions.

Customer feedback is a crucial step to overcoming this obstacle. Customer referrals and reviews make up about 88% of consumers minds’ when looking into a product or service for purchase. Create a feedback survey, or create a Customer Service Team geared towards addressing your long-term customers. Understand that your customers will respond well to resources made available to them, and change your approach over time, addressing their needs more efficiently.


Visibility and SEO tactics are essential within your brand’s digital marketing. There is a lot that needs to be covered in this area, and time becomes a challenge. Training new employees can take up a lot of time and effectively analyze and create strategies before launch. Promoting your brand requires consistency, too, so that your audience knows what to expect of you. 

How do you keep up with all of that? Most brands have enlisted help from a project management tool, like Toggl, to help organize your to-dos and stay on track for things like email newsletters, respond to customer queries, and launch new social media posts.

Some other helpful tips for managing your time:

  • Set limits to how long you will work on a specific project or task. You need to hit the pause button at some point and revisit it later on if you didn’t quite finish so that you can keep things moving throughout your workday.
  • Divvy up your projects into days or weeks and then categorize them by priority.
  • Add more members to your team. Sometimes you just need more hands doing the work so that things don’t become overwhelming.

Brand management involves overseeing the competition and tackling what you can better provide your customer. You need to create and develop compelling content through effective storytelling and organization to obtain and retain customers. Consistency also needs managing so that consumers come to know and recognize your brand. Managing your time spent on various projects will help ensure that you have tackled some of the biggest challenges to promoting your business.

About the Author: As an experienced content creator, Donna has covered numerous topics in the realms of health, beauty, lifestyle, and the arts. She has written for various publications and can often be found conducting research for her latest article. Donna spends her free time exploring New York City, where her days are filled with new life experiences and adventures to write about!

Communicators Report Greater Access to the C-suite (Ragan Research)


Comms pros have also gained a seat at the table in strategic decision making, and that the major obstacle to effective leadership communications is no longer access, according to the 2021 Communications Benchmark Report.

Tony Silber, Editorial Director, Ragan Communications

What a difference a year makes. Traditionally, communicators have struggled with ready access to the C-suite and in obtaining a seat at the table for strategic decision making. Communicators also dislike last-minute requests as a standard operating method, and they don’t like to be perceived by executive management as order takers.

Here’s the good news: That dynamic changed dramatically since the beginning of 2020. Last year, a majority of communicators—33%—said the biggest obstacle to effective leadership communication was access to executives. This year, that number declined to 27%, according to the Communications Leadership Council’s 2021 Benchmark Report.

That might be one of the most significant findings in the 2021 Communications Benchmark Report. Couple that with the finding that 26% of more than 700 respondents saying they gained a seat at the table in strategic decision making, and nearly 21% saying the pandemic led to better access to the C-suite, and there’s certainly a silver lining to a truly difficult 2020.

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The Stevens Group PR Masters Podcast Acquispectives – Denise Hill, Ph.D., APR

Denise Hill, Ph.D., APR Assistant Professor Elon University School of Communications  

“The problem with diversity in the public relations industry is not unique to the industry. So many other industries have this problem as well. It’s good that we’re aware of the problem, but we need to start taking action with the diversity problem, not just in the industry, but overall, in the United States – it’s a societal problem.”


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Tactics PR People Can Suggest To Clients Not Wanting To Become Part Of Political Controversies

Arthur Solomon 

Major League Baseball punished Georgia by removing its All-Star Game from Atlanta after the state enacted a law that critics, including President Joe Biden, said would restrict voting rights. The game will now be played on July 13 in Denver.

The decision to relocate the game is only the most recent of many decisions that have made it evident to the dismay of sports marketers and sports leagues that sports and politics are now entwined. And if there’s one thing that marketers try to avoid is to have their products become part of a political dispute because Democrats, Republicans, liberal and conservatives consumers are potential customers.

Political involvement in sports is nothing new. Sports have always been entangled with politics. In the 1968 Olympics, held in Mexico City, two African-American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, protested by each raising black-gloved fists during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” decades before former President Donald Trump attempted to rile up the country in 2017 when National Football League players refused to stand for the national anthem. 

More recently LeBron James narrated an ad that premièred before the National Basketball Association’s All-Star Game on March 7 (2021) in support of Black voting rights. Biden’s remarks about moving baseball’s All-Star Game occurred on March 31, the day before the opening of the season during an interview on ESPN. And ever since the 1936 Nazi Olympics in Berlin, the International Olympic Committee has awarded its games to totalitarian countries that use them as public relations vehicles.

And while still  awarding its games to totalitarian countries, even the IOC finally acknowledged that it could not prevent athletes from making political statements during its games, when, on July 2, it said that athletes can make a symbolic gesture expressing their views before the start of an event.

Removing major athletic events are not without precedent. 

The NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans in objection to a North Carolina House bill limiting anti-discrimination protections.  In 1991, the NFL moved the 1993 Super Bowl from Phoenix to Pasadena, Calif., after Arizona voters rejected making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a paid holiday. 

On the international scene, in 1980, President Jimmy Carter pushed for the U.S. to boycott the Olympics in Russia after Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan the previous years. In 1984, Russia retaliated, boycotting the games in Los Angeles. There also have been instances where individuals countries have refused to participate in an Olympics because of political considerations. And China, which will host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, has warned the U.S. not to boycott those games.

When considering using an athlete as a publicity spokesperson, young PR people and marketers must take into consideration how athletes’ salaries have sky rocketed over the years. In years past, athletes weren’t making the salary those in the major leagues make today and the endorsement stipends were often necessary to support their family. (Many athletes in those days had off-season jobs to make ends meet.)

Also to be considered is how sports coverage has changed over the years and marketers wary of being dragged into a political dispute should consider the changes before suggesting a sports marketing tie-in for a client.

Athlete misbehavior off the playing field is now routinely covered by sports writers. More disturbing to many sports marketers is that athletes are increasingly speaking out about and actively involved in political issues, the most significant example being that of a relatively unheralded NBA basketball player, George Hill of the Milwaukee Bucks, who convinced teammates to protest racial injustice by not playing a game, leading to boycotts and rescheduling of games in all sports that permeated across the sports world.

Today, athletes not afraid of being punished by teams for taking political stands provide a problem for sport sponsorship brands that want to stay clear of political situations for fear of upsetting customers.

While I certainly support all none violent protests, and salute marketers that speak out in favor of racial justice, marketers that don’t want to be involved in these protests have a right to remain silent.

Here’s my suggestion for such brands: Use retired athletes, less likely to get involved in political situations (because many need the endorsement money) instead of current ones who have no fear of saying what they think.

The athlete protests vindicates what I have been preaching for many years to sports marketers: Using a current athlete as a brand publicity hawker can be dicey. Here’s why:

1 – Prowess on the sports fields cannot prevent past or present misbehavior from being reported on.

2 – Why chance having a company or its product represented by athletes who have misbehaved when there are so many other options.

3 – Some athletes represent so many products that consumers and the media don’t take their endorsements seriously.

4 – During interviews, reporters will concentrate on the athlete’s achievements, most often not even mentioning the product being hawked. (Example: I would never suggest an athlete like LeBron James, because an interview most certainly would be dominated by his racial activism; or for an athlete famous for one occurrence, like Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca, because an interview would probably be centered on his famous pitch to Bobby Thomson that won the pennant for the New York Giants in 1951.) 

5 –Most of the time the story of a current athlete after an interview will say something like, “So and So is a spokesperson for the XYZ Company,” and then delve into things sports. (Some PR people think that’s a good placement. I don’t. Unless the story contains some client talking points, I consider it a strike out.)

6 – Unlike the past, when sports stars weren’t making so much money, it was easy to make certain that they would not say anything controversial. Today, it’s impossible to keep athletes from expressing opinions and/or becoming activists in cultural and political causes, occasionally dragging their unhappy sponsoring brands into the story.

7 – Current athletes probably have been written about many times regarding their play on the field, making it highly unlikely that journalists for general news outlets would do a story just because of a product endorsement deal. These types of stories usually end up in trade pubs.

8 – Nostalgia reporting is a major element of sports coverage and retired athletes who haven’t been in the spotlight for a while are welcome candidates for interviews. 

9 – In my experience, it’s easier for these retired athletes to work in client talking points because a sure question from reporters will be, “What are you doing these days.”

When I first began using retired athletes, many sports writers credited me with being at the forefront of using them as publicity spokesmen, as I did beginning in the 1970s while at Burson-Marsteller, and in the 1960s at Advance Public Relations, at the time one of the largest national Broadway and TV entertainment agencies.

Today, when reporters no longer hide the unsportsmanlike conduct of athletes, and many athletes are eager to act as concerned citizens and delve into political situations, retired athletes provide a method for conservative brands (that’s lower case “c”) to gain recognition for their products and also greatly reduce the possibility of their spokespersons ending up in the police report, instead of on the sports page, or having the spokespersons talk politics instead of the product and sports. 

Another reason to consider using well-known retired athletes as product publicity spokespeople: They’re easier to work with because they enjoy talking about the old days and being remembered and reporters delight in meeting and interviewing idols of their youth.

I once arranged interviews for a Hall of Fame baseball player. A week or so later I received a phone call from his wife thanking me. “Please don’t let xxx know I called you, but I wanted to thank you. He thought he had been forgotten.”

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