Discussion of How Marketing Still Needs Racial Redemption

Dr. Sonja Martin Poole, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of San Francisco 

Our nation is clearly in crisis. During a time focused on re-opening the economy after the onset of a viral pandemic, there are glaring signs that the United States is suffering from another type of pandemic—racism.  While conquering COVID-19 lies mainly in the hands of certain medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies, overcoming racism depends on everyone and everything, including marketing.

Over the last few weeks, throughout cities across the United States and the world, people have been taking to the streets to express their pain and anger over the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black people killed by police and vigilante whites. At the same time, videos of racial violence and racists threats toward Black people in America are flooding social media and news outlets.

Racism is not a new disease. It is a malady that has deep historical roots. It is a system of racial oppression and violence steeped in colonial and imperialist practices that sought to legitimize White privilege and power. That means it is not just a sum of the prejudicial acts of individual “bad seeds.” Rather, it is ingrained in the fabric of our society. Despite the elimination of explicit state-sanctioned policies, such as segregation under Jim Crow, many overtly racist practices are now interwoven into our institutions and normalized, and have a reverberating impact that still significantly affects the lives of racially targeted people.

So, what do these actions have to do with marketing? The short answer is, everything. Interpersonal, systemic and institutionalized racism are often normalized, immortalized, and (re)produced through marketing and marketplace practices.

Take the case of facial recognition technology, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that is dramatically transforming industries, institutions, workplaces, and consumer behavior. The technology is being used to help accelerate marketing activities and offer conveniences that are meant to assist consumers in the consumption process (e.g., automatic logins, personalization/account information).

Major corporations such as Unilever are also using facial expression technology in the labor market to assess job candidates’ facial and linguistic performance against information compiled from successful prior interviews. It is often touted as a race-, gender-, and otherwise bias-free solution to making decisions and/or performing marketing tasks in an objective manner.

However, as facial recognition becomes more of a norm in the marketplace – used to unlock smartphones, advertise special offers, curate VIP treatment at sporting events, verify identification for air travel and more – debates on whether or not it is good for society have ensued.

One major issue identified with such software has been that it has misidentified people of color as non-human, often as animals (see example of “Google black girl”). As is the case with artificial intelligence generally, the accuracy of facial recognition tools depends on a machine’s ability to detect algorithms “taught” to it through the use of data sets curated by human engineers. Consequently, machine learning can perpetuate racial biases that exist in society. 

Studies in marketing which address the use of AI technologies generally emphasize how consumer experiences are enhanced through AI-powered applications and assume that the impact is equal across all consumers. But these assumptions ignore disparities in lived experiences. These assumptions also ignore research evidence which indicates inherent (automated) bias in AI technology. This automated bias has serious implications in the treatment of and opportunities for people of color.

The issue outlined here is just one example of the insidious ways that racism operates in marketing. Keeping silent, becoming overly defensive and overgeneralizing are other ways racism is perpetuated. To adequately address racial injustice, it is important to move our discourse in marketing and business beyond marginalization in the workplace and harmonious interpersonal relationships. We must take a close look at the impact of racism in marketplaces and how these effects are shaped by intersecting forms of systemic oppression.

The good news is that marketing and business leaders are starting to accept the challenge to acknowledge, affirm and act in ways that promote equity and justice and activate meaningful change. As was proclaimed by authors in a recent Harvard Business Review article, “racism isn’t just a Black people’s problem its everyone’s problem because it erodes the fabric of society.”

It’s good that certain companies finally have resolved to remove overtly racist branding (e.g., Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben), but as the example of AI-powered facial recognition shows, there’s still more, often less conspicuous marketing that needs to change in order to offer people of color the respect they deserve.  Framed positively, many opportunities remain for racially-aware organizations to redeem the field in pursuit of more “Mindful Marketing.”

This article was adapted from “Operationalizing Critical Race Theory in the Marketplace” a manuscript under review at the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing 

About the Author: Dr. Sonja Martin Poole is an associate professor of marketing at the University of San Francisco and an internationally recognized lecturer and researcher on transformative and multicultural marketing strategy and marketing education.

Beach Happy Magazine: A New Title Bringing The Voice Of Hope & Optimism During A Pandemic

The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Mike Ragsdale, Founder Of 30A & Will Estell, Editor In Chief/ Director of Publishing, The 30A Company…

“We just launched this new endeavor, which again might seem like strange timing, but as Will said, this has been in the works for a very long time. We looked at it and we could have all walked away, but the reality is the world needs optimism. I’m not saying that in some philosophical, mumbo-jumbo kind of way, I’m saying just like fast-food found an anecdote by offering organic, free-range healthy alternatives, we’re going to be one of the first movers in providing a healthy information alternative to all of the toxic news and information that we consume every, single day.” … Mike Ragsdale 

“We’re thinking positive; the sky is the limit. We believe this publication can do better right now  than it would have done 10 years ago. And I think more people in our industry need to have that kind of mindset with what they’re doing.” … Will Estell

The 30A Company and the nationally distributed travel publication, Beaches, Resorts & Parks magazine have merged and created a new title called Beach Happy. The moniker alone makes you smile. And we can all certainly use something to smile about in these uncertain times.

Mike Ragsdale by Peyton Hollis,
Good Grit magazine

Mike Ragsdale, founder of 30A and Will Estell, former founder & editor-in-chief of Beaches, Resorts & Parks is now editor in chief/ director of publishing, The 30A Company and between the two of them have big plans for their new magazine, even during a pandemic.

According to the Beach Happy brand and motto for life, “30A is the official and original BEACH HAPPY brand. Inspired by a two-lane road that meanders along Florida’s Gulf Coast, 30A shares eco-friendly products and stories that celebrate our small beach town way of life.” Mr. Magazine™ couldn’t have said it better himself.

In fact, I didn’t have to. I spoke with Mike and Will recently and we discussed this negativity and doom and gloom that seems to permeate our world today. From Mike’s observation, we’re getting too much toxic information, even during a pandemic, and our brains are in overload. Beach Happy magazine and the brand itself are here to uplift and give us hope and optimism with stories from beaches around the world, not just that two-lane road on the Florida Coast.

Will joins Mike’s sense of buoyancy and exuberates his own optimism by not allowing negativity to enter his thoughts very often. And while this may seem like an inopportune time to start a new print magazine, even with its extensive digital reach as well,  Mike and Will suggest we all have faith and just “Be Happy.”

And now the 24th Mr. Magazine™ interview in the series of Publishing During A Pandemic with Mike Ragsdale, founder Of 30A & Will Estell, editor in chief/ director of publishing, The 30A Company.

But first the sound-bites:

Will Estell

On launching a new magazine during a pandemic (Mike Ragsdale): I’ll be honest, I am an optimist and I believe and have believed for a long time now, more than a decade, that we are suffering a mental health crisis in our nation, and perhaps in other parts of the world as well. I’ve been trying to sound the alarm, at least among my peer groups and our audience, that we have a lot to be happy about and we have a lot to be optimistic about. So, we’re promoting the agenda that news isn’t always negative, it doesn’t have to be.

On how he went from selling Beaches, Resorts & Parks to 30A and then becoming editor in chief of the new magazine (Will Estell): I’m kind of married to this thing and I tell you, there have been times when it would have been a lot easier to jump ship, to sell it out. We had offers in the past to buy Beaches outright that I probably would have gone along with, but this just seemed like the perfect opportunity and I’ve always been a huge fan of the 30A Company, literally going back to Mike’s early days with the company some 10 years ago. I was donning the stickers on my car and wearing the first T-shirt and all that.

On when the first issue will be launched (Mike Ragsdale): We were planning to launch in mid-May and it will be a quarterly publication at first, and so the issue would have been on newsstands in June, July and August, with a follow-up issue in the fall. We’re not going to deviate from that path very far. We’re waiting really until May 1 to make the decision. We’re going to be prepared to go to print on May 1, but if circumstances call for us to wait a few more weeks so we’ll know a little more, then we may push it back.

On how they’re going to take the large social media base, the radio base, the merchandising, and curate all of that onto the pages of a printed magazine (Will Estell): That’s something that we’re still working through, but the positive aspect is that we do have to be concerned about that. In other words, those things exist, so this magazine is not in a startup phase, standing alone, and having to go out there and find Reader One from Day One. It will be more of a pairing of both sides, where the other side of the 30A Company, be it the apparel or the decals, or people following the website to find events; all of that will promote the magazine just as the magazine will promote all of that.

Photo by Lauren Athalia

On whether the creation of 30A was a walk in a rose garden for Mike or he had some challenges along the way (Mike Ragsdale): It’s interesting, I’ve had a couple of really amazing successes and I’ve absolutely buried those with the failures I’ve had in business. I received my master’s degree in advertising and public relations, but I couldn’t get a job, despite sending out all of the resumes I could send and doing a few interviews, but I just wasn’t able to secure anything. So, I became an entrepreneur by accident and out of necessity to pay the bills, scrounging to stay afloat.

On anything they would like to add (Will Estell): The only thing I would add is for all the negativity and all the doom and gloom that’s talked about in the industry, and I know you’re a huge advocate for the growth and continued success of magazines, what we’re doing with this and what a lot of the companies that have learned to survive are doing is we’re finding new ways to get our message out, still be a magazine, but do it in  different ways.

On what keeps them up at night (Mike Ragsdale): Right now, of course, I’m concerned during my waking hours about the fact that we have a business that’s struggling like everyone is. Our three stores are closed; our 380 wholesale partner stores are closed; our digital advertisers, from restaurants to rental companies are shut down. And so we’re not expecting to see them paying any bills.

Mike Ragsdale

On what keeps them up at night (Will Estell): I do not lay in bed and worry about things. I don’t lay in bed and worry about the fact that the world has stopped spinning for a period of time right now. I don’t worry about the fact that we’re not out selling advertisers left and right. Now that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about those things, but I have learned to be more solution-oriented in my thinking than problematic. It takes the same amount of energy to find a solution than worry about the problem.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Mike Ragsdale, Founder Of 30A & Will Estell, Editor In Chief/ Director of Publishing, The 30A Company.

Samir Husni: You’re launching a new magazine during a pandemic, what are you thinking?

Mike Ragsdale: I’ll be honest, I am an optimist and I believe and have believed for a long time now, more than a decade, that we are suffering a mental health crisis in our nation, and perhaps in other parts of the world as well. Despite living in the greatest time in human history and despite the fact that so many amazingly good things are happening in the world despite the current circumstances, we’re seeing an alarming increase in depression and suicides.

I believe personally it’s because about 10 or 15 years ago, we began consuming information at a rate that our minds simply aren’t accustomed to. We are absorbing so much negativity and bad information and stressful, anxious information that, despite the fact that we live in the golden era of humankind, we’re increasingly depressed and increasingly suicidal and anxious. I believe that we’re going to find in the years ahead that consuming so much information, good, bad, indifferent, consuming so much information is skewing our worldview and it is causing a great deal of suffering.

Photo by Lauren Athalia

I believe it is going to be akin to the ‘70s and ‘80s when people began to come to the realization about the health risks of smoking and then later with fast food consumption or foods that haven’t been grown under the right circumstances which causes heart disease and other health issues. So, I think consuming so much information as we do today is like eating one Big Mac after another. And we’re going to realize that the mental toll it’s taking on us individually and collectively is immense.

I’ve been trying to sound the alarm, at least among my peer groups and our audience, that we have a lot to be happy about and we have a lot to be optimistic about. So, we’re promoting the agenda that news isn’t always negative, it doesn’t have to be. But unfortunately, and you know this as well as I do, no one writes about the millions of planes that land safely, they write about the one that had the issues. And that’s the nature of where we’ve come with news. And news has really stopped becoming news, it’s more entertainment. It’s no longer Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather talking for 22 minutes a night and that’s it.

When I was growing up the news that we were consuming had to be bundled within 22 minutes of time. And if it didn’t make that cut, then you never heard about it. But now we hear about every single awful thing because we’re in a 24/7 news cycle. And not just that, we have pushup notifications and breaking news alerts, so we hear every awful thing that happens.

So, Beach Happy the brand is something that we’ve been promoting internally. And then when Will comes along with this publication that has this great distribution and great reach, it just seemed like a perfect marriage for us and to say, let’s take what we’re already doing on the digital side, kind of a bastion for optimism and positivity, and let’s reach all new audiences across newsstands. We’re already doing the work of content writing; we’re already doing the work of photography and content creation, we might as well add an additional platform. And

Will has really been brilliant in the way he has architected his business, in that it doesn’t require as much overhead as the more traditional publications, so we don’t view it as a risky proposition at all. We view it perhaps as the perfect message at the perfect time. And we certainly wouldn’t wish ill on anyone else who is on the newsstands, but we also know the impact on those companies that have massive overheads, so we’re lean and mean and we’re looking at it as an opportunity to present a platform for happiness and positivity.

Will Estell

Samir Husni: Will, I read the press release and you sold your Beaches Resorts & Parks to 30A Company, which Mike heads, so people might think you’re jumping ship. But then when I finished reading the press release, you’re editor in chief of the new magazine. Can you explain what happened?

Will Estell: I have managed through four different iterations of Beaches Resorts & Parks and of course, you were familiar with the magazine when you tracked it that first year. In 2013, you named us the New Launch of 2012, with the highest newsstand sell-through at the time, and the magazine continued to do really well. There were four different iterations of ownership, including one period where I solely owned it on my own, which by the way, was not an easy thing and not the way I would ever want to go again.

You know though, I’m kind of married to this thing and I tell you, there have been times when it would have been a lot easier to jump ship, to sell it out. We had offers in the past to buy Beaches outright that I probably would have gone along with, but this just seemed like the perfect opportunity and I’ve always been a huge fan of the 30A Company, literally going back to Mike’s early days with the company some 10 years ago. I was donning the stickers on my car and wearing the first T-shirt and all that.

I’m a lot like Mike in that I’m an optimist too, so I saw this as a great pairing. Actually, we’d been talking about this, I guess our first conversation was about the potential of 30A doing the magazine, probably about six years ago. But then we really got serious about this around last June and again talked about it. I can’t think of a better entity to be able to acquire the Beaches Resorts & Parks magazine than 30A. I’ve worked for quite  a few publishing companies outside of partnerships of my own, some large companies and some small companies in the past, and I’ve never had the ability to work for a company that had a magazine that already had a brand and a consumer reach that 30A does already built around it. So, we’re super-stoked about what we think this can do and the people it can reach.

And that’s part of the opportunity. Will had newsstand reach; he obviously had decades of print experience that we did not have. But we did have 1.5 million social media followers; we’ve got a quarter-million newsletter subscribers; we have orders that are being shipped to all states every day out of our fulfilment warehouse. So, we have the ability to take Will’s newsstand reach and combine it with our digital audience.

Mike Ragsdale: As Will and I were working through this, we realized we have an audience size that very few people can touch. There are some companies out there that have big established, decades’ worth of audiences, but to be able to come in with Issue One and have a print reach that Will has and have a digital reach of 1.5 million fans is a great platform to build upon.

Photo By Lauren Athalia

Samir Husni: When will the first issue be released?

Mike Ragsdale: We were planning to launch in mid-May and it will be a quarterly publication at first, and so the issue would have been on newsstands in June, July and August, with a follow-up issue in the fall. We’re not going to deviate from that path very far. We’re waiting really until May 1 to make the decision. We’re going to be prepared to go to print on May 1, but if circumstances call for us to wait a few more weeks so we’ll know a little more, then we may push it back. But we’re not going to push it off more than a month. One way or another we’ll be in May or June and we’re just waiting to see what happens with COVID-19 and the travel restrictions.

To us, and this is why it’s important that the launch isn’t really predicated on the physical; in my mind, again, Will comes from a little bit of a different place with the prior magazine, it really was focused on a lot of destinations, and we’re certainly going to have destination information in the magazine, but it’s as much or more about lifestyle.

In a regular week, the 30A brand; we do not think of ourselves as a travel or tourism brand. We’re a lifestyle brand that keeps people in touch with the beach when they can’t be there. So, whether you want to talk about Margaritaville or Disney World, you can’t be at Disney World every week. Our target audience is not people who are here on this beach and it’s not people who are coming to this beach next week. Our target audience is the people who wish they could be on the beach, whether it’s this beach, Key West, or whether it’s a fantasy beach in their mind.

So, we’re all about reaching that person who’s landlocked, wherever they may be. We want to reach that person who is having a tough time, be it their mortgage, boss or because they’re freaking out about the pandemic, we’re about giving them a moment of vacation in their minds, even if they can’t be on vacation at the moment. And that’s really what we build our products around. We have 30A Radio, which plays uplifting beach music 24/7; we have recycled apparel, shirts, hats, drinkware; we have all these things that I liken to Corona or Red Stripe, no one drinks Red Stripe beer because it’s great beer, they drink it because it mentally transports them to an island, Jamaica typically. And never mind that it’s brewed in Pennsylvania. It’s a way for them to step away from the pressure of their jobs or anything that is stressful, it enables them to take a beach vacation.

And Beach Happy, the magazine is the same thing. It’s really not about booking immediate plans and coming down to spend a week with us in Florida, we want to bring stories to people that make them happy and make them smile, give them a little bit of relief during what can only be described as some of the most stressful times we’ve seen as a nation in recent memory.

Photo by Lauren Athalia

Samir Husni: How are you going to take this large social media base, the radio base, the merchandising, and curate all of that onto the pages of a printed magazine?

Will Estell: That’s something that we’re still working through, but the positive aspect is that we do have to be concerned about that. In other words, those things exist, so this magazine is not in a startup phase, standing alone, and having to go out there and find Reader One from Day One. It will be more of a pairing of both sides, where the other side of the 30A Company, be it the apparel or the decals, or people following the website to find events; all of that will promote the magazine just as the magazine will promote all of that.

So, we’re being careful within the magazine not to let it come off like a glorified marketing piece or a catalog, if you will, for the 30A Company, but instead to, obviously, show a lot of what we offer and to show what the 30A Company is about, while also integrating that with everything else that has to do with the beach too.

I think in a lot of ways the magazine will be a lot like any other travel magazine, except beach-oriented, it won’t be a heavy push on necessarily promoting only 30A,  just the beach in general. I don’t think we’ll have to do a whole lot different than if we were just launching any travel magazine. It just has the backing of the rest of the brand behind it.

I would also say that obviously, a lot of people who would know about this or hear about this might think that we’re ignoring the fact that we’re a publication that’s launching in what could be deemed a bad time, if nothing else than economically speaking, because it’s no secret that advertisers aren’t jumping through hoops with any publication right now to put ads out there. But we do believe that the lifestyle surrounding the beach will be something that comes back quicker than anything else in our current economic situation.

So, we made that commitment to go ahead and put that issue out like Mike told you, however, we think as soon as everything opens up, advertisers are going to want in the issue. We don’t have any doubts about people buying the issue, but back to Mike’s point about the timing being potentially better than ever, I think after all of us have been cooped up for 30 to 45 days, we haven’t left our homes and we haven’t taken vacations, we haven’t even been able to walk in a store and buy our favorite apparel or anything, everyone is going to be ready for some good news and nothing is better to some people than the whole lifestyle surrounding the beach.

Mike Ragsdale by Peyton Hollis,
Good Grit magazine

Samir Husni: Mike, was creating your company 30A just a walk in a rose garden for you or did you have some challenges along the way?

Mike Ragsdale: It’s interesting, I’ve had a couple of really amazing successes and I’ve absolutely buried those with the failures I’ve had in business. I received my master’s degree in advertising and public relations, but I couldn’t get a job, despite sending out all of the resumes I could send and doing a few interviews, but I just wasn’t able to secure anything. So, I became an entrepreneur by accident and out of necessity to pay the bills, scrounging to stay afloat.

The first business I started was a success, it still took seven or eight years to build it and to exit at the right time, but it was a trial by fire and a wonderful thing to experience as a young person, the ability to grow a company from a literal idea into 70-person operation, then to be able to sell it. It was awesome.

But it was also a curse, because as a young arrogant person who went through that process, you think that was easy, I’ll be able to do that easily enough again. But the reality is that’s not how entrepreneurship works, you can have the best business plan in the world, you can have the best minds and a great idea, but it just doesn’t always work.

I spent the next 10 years just absolutely striking out, having failure after failure. And although it was painful and demoralizing to go through, it also enabled me to understand what things I’m good at and what things I’m not. And to stay away from the things I’m not good at and recruit other people. A great example, there’s not a chance in the world that I would have gotten into the print business if Will was not staying on. This merger would not have happened if Will’s experience wasn’t part of the package, because I don’t want to go in and learn a business; I can’t learn his 20 years of expertise myself. I don’t have that kind of time or inclination.

I have learned some important things and what I have learned is to focus on what I do very well and what I don’t do well, either stay away form or partner with someone who does do it well. And Will certainly does print publications well.

In some ways we’re really looking at Beach Happy as a cooler, hipper version of some of the more traditional publications, such as Coastal Living. I’m not knocking Coastal Living, but one of the things that we’re doing is integrating our audiences. We’re making it more fun, some of the themes we might have are : Five  Beach Beers You Need In Your Cooler This Summer. Fan comments: If This Were Your Beach Ball, What Would You Name It? That way, we make our fans some of the stars in the new publication.

It’s not a catalog; it’s not a 30A mouthpiece, and it’s not even about the particular stretch of beach we live on. I tell our team all the time, we’re like Coastal Living, we just happened to headquartered on a beach as opposed to being headquartered in Birmingham, Ala. But being on our beach doesn’t mean we can’t share incredible stories from Bali or Turkey or Ecuador or other beaches around the world.

Will Estell

Samir Husni: Is there anything either of you would like to add?

Will Estell: The only thing I would add is for all the negativity and all the doom and gloom that’s talked about in the industry, and I know you’re a huge advocate for the growth and continued success of magazines, what we’re doing with this and what a lot of the companies that have learned to survive are doing is we’re finding new ways to get our message out, still be a magazine, but do it in  different ways.

And one of those is all the ways we have of reaching people through digital means. It’s no secret that Beach Happy magazine will reach a lot more readers digitally than in print. Although we hope to grow the print way beyond what I ever had with Beaches Resorts & Parks. I’m saying all this because everyone in the industry, no matter what point they’re at, whether they’re an editor in chief or writer coming right out of school or a publisher in the business for 20 years, everyone has to rethink how we’re doing things. I would love to hear an end to the doom and gloom and just have more people think about new ways to do stuff. And that’s with every industry, not just  magazines.

We’re thinking positive; the sky is the limit. We believe this publication can do better right now  than it would have done 10 years ago. And I think more people in our industry need to have that kind of mindset with what they’re doing.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you both up at night these days?

Mike Ragsdale: Right now, of course, I’m concerned during my waking hours about the fact that we have a business that’s struggling like everyone is. Our three stores are closed; our 380 wholesale partner stores are closed; our digital advertisers, from restaurants to rental companies are shut down. And so we’re not expecting to see them paying any bills.

We just launched this new endeavor, which again might seem like strange timing, but as Will said, this has been in the works for a very long time. We looked at it and we could have all walked away, but the reality is the world needs optimism. I’m not saying that in some philosophical, mumbo-jumbo kind of way, I’m saying just like fast-food found an anecdote by offering organic, free-range healthy alternatives, we’re going to be one of the first movers in providing a healthy information alternative to all of the toxic news and information that we consume every, single day.

This is an immense business opportunity. We’re going to start to see that information is causing slowly and in small bites, in fact, so slowly we don’t even realize it, to affect our minds. Once those studies start to come out, once we realize the suicides and depression are related to the ingestion of information, people are going to be unplugging. We’re already seeing that happen on our own, but they will be seeking healthy sources of information. And positive sources of information.

So, we view Beach Happy as being right in that first mover just as if someone was coming out with the first free-range organic product on the grocery aisle. We’re going to be one of those first movers to give people a sense of hope and optimism and a sense of escapism on a crowded shelf, competing with people who are peddling in scandal, sensationalism and division.

Will Estell: I go to bed at night and many times lay there for about two hours. The last time, for example, that I looked at my phone this morning was about 2:00 a.m. and I fell asleep right after that.

But all that to say, I do not lay in bed and worry about things. I don’t lay in bed and worry about the fact that the world has stopped spinning for a period of time right now. I don’t worry about the fact that we’re not out selling advertisers left and right. Now that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about those things, but I have learned to be more solution-oriented in my thinking than problematic. It takes the same amount of energy to find a solution than worry about the problem.

So, I stay up at night, but I am brainstorming mostly. I’m thinking of a new article to write or a new way to reach people or how to do something no one else has done, even within our industry. Coming up with something that hasn’t been done does occupy my thoughts.

You will never find a piece of negative information within the pages of Beach Happy. There will not be an interview where we put someone down.  And I think people are ready for that. And that’s what keeps me up at night.

If there’s any negativity in my world right now, even with what we’re going through with this pandemic, it would be that I have three children, one in Atlanta, Georgia, one in Birmingham, Ala. and one that lives with his mom in Oxford, Ala. And the only thing that does keep me up at night from a negative standpoint is the fact that I haven’t been able to see them through this for about six weeks now. Other than that, nothing negative on my part.

Samir Husni: Thank you both. 

O The Oprah Magazine At 20: Celebrating Hope And Bloom In The Midst Of Doom And Gloom

The Mr. Magazine™ Interview…

A Virtual Round Table With O, The Oprah Magazine’s Senior Vice President/Publisher & Chief Revenue Officer, Jayne Jamison; Editor in Chief, Lucy Kaylin; & Digital Director, Arianna Davis…

“If you think about right now, how people need inspiration, for the times, it’s just amazing how this brand has morphed into what everybody is looking for. It’s not something that’s cookie cutter, you don’t have a lot of magazines out there that are competitors. O, The Oprah Magazine doesn’t really have a competitor. We’re not competitive with lifestyle magazines, certainly not Real Simple. We’re certainly not a women’s service magazine, so we have a very unique position and because of that it gives us an audience that’s not duplicative.” … Jayne Jamison

“There are learnings here, and that’s exciting. If this has taught us anything, we know now that we have to be agile and we have to be able to get by on very little sometimes. We can’t just assume that we’ll have the resources and the luxury, the incredible luxury, to all just sit around together and bang out ideas. We have to think in terms of new ways of working. And we have to always be adhering to our mission at O, which is to help women live their best lives, no matter what befalls them.” …Lucy Kaylin

“The lens that we look at everything through is whether or not this will inspire our reader or helping them with their best life. If it’s a celebrity news story, we still want to make sure that the story is told from a positive perspective. That there is a point beyond contributing to the celebrity news cycle. Or the flip side of that, really digging in and finding the reported story or the essay that’s going to move our reader or stay with her for a long time.” … Arianna Davis

I recently spoke with the team leaders over at O, The Oprah Magazine: Jayne Jamison (Senior Vice President/Publisher & Chief Revenue Officer), Lucy Kaylin (Editor in Chief), and Arianna Davis (Digital Director), and we talked about publishing during a pandemic, and not only publishing, but celebrating a milestone – the 20th anniversary issue. It was a remarkable round table discussion held virtually, of course, but with true hope, inspiration and honesty.One thing I know for sure is that O, The Oprah Magazine, with no competition in the marketplace, has been spreading the “you can do it” message for 20 years strong now. Even in the midst of this pandemic, the message of the magazine and its namesake is still the same: “Live Your Best Life.” Oprah Winfrey is such a positive force in the world today and her magazine is just as upbeat and hopeful. During a pandemic, Oprah’s message and that of the magazine’s has never been needed more. And on top of everything else, this is the 20th anniversary of O, the Oprah Magazine. I was lucky enough  to be at the O, The Oprah Magazine launch party 20 years ago, where I received a boxed copy of the magazine signed by her. What an amazing event and gift!

So, please enjoy the 16th Mr. Magazine™ interview in the series of Publishing During A Pandemic with Jayne, Lucy & Arianna as they celebrate 20 years of Oprah and Live Our Best Lives, even during a pandemic.

But first the sound-bites:

On operating during a pandemic (Jayne Jamison): We’re trying to engage where we can. There are some clients who have put their ad plans on pause; there are clients who are moving forward and are highly engaged with us, so it really depends on the category of business that we’re talking about. CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) people are very active and interested.

On how she is ensuring that the magazine is relevant, needed and sufficient in today’s uncertain times (Lucy  Kaylin): I think it’s more relevant than ever. This is not a time to put your head under the pillow or allow yourself to be paralyzed with fear. We are all about the connection in its various forms. One of the things that we’re finding as we endure this surreal circumstance is that we are desperate to connect. And that even means connecting in our way with people on the other side of the world. We have an enhanced sense of people everywhere going through what we’re going through and we care a lot.

On the impact of the pandemic on the website (Arianna Davis): The lens that we look at everything through is whether or not this will inspire our reader or helping them with their best life. If it’s a celebrity news story, we still want to make sure that the story is told from a positive perspective. That there is a point beyond contributing to the celebrity news cycle. Or the flip side of that, really digging in and finding the reported story or the essay that’s going to move our reader or stay with her for a long time.

On what we will find in the 20th anniversary issue (Jayne Jamison): First, we did a really cool inkjetting on the front cover with our partner Olay, and like many of the partners of Oprah Magazine, they have been with us since the beginning. We started with a personalized message from Oprah, which is inkjetted in our Oprah font, her handwriting, so 500,000 subscribers received a personalized cover with an inkjetted message from Oprah. Then you open it up to consistent spreads, for Olay’s spacing, of some of our most iconic covers that we’ve had in the last 20 years, including the one of Oprah wearing a 3.5 pound wig that won an ASME award for the magazine a number of years ago. It’s a really amazing high-impact unit with this custom personalization on the cover.

On where she sees things heading after the pandemic is behind us (Lucy Kaylin): That’s a good question. I feel like we’re going to have to see when this fog dissipates and then try to tell where we are, because one thing I think this has done for us is force us to work in a new way, but it has also encouraged us to think in a new way. To think about what are some of the things, the practices, maybe even the crutches, that we’ve used over the years that we really don’t need.

On what the 20th anniversary digital counterpart will look like (Arianna Davis): Much of the content from the 20th anniversary issue will be going online and there will be an oral history of the magazine and how it came to be and how the magazine has progressed through the years. It’s a really delightful story that I think readers will love that we’re going to do online in a big way.

And now for the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Senior Vice President/Publisher & Chief Revenue Officer, Jayne Jamison; Editor in Chief, Lucy Kaylin; & Digital Director, Arianna Davis, O, The Oprah Magazine.

Jayne Jamison

Up first Jayne Jamison:

Samir Husni: How are you operating during this pandemic?

Jayne Jamison: We’re trying to engage where we can. There are some clients who have put their ad plans on pause; there are clients who are moving forward and are highly engaged with us, so it really depends on the category of business that we’re talking about. CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) people are very active and interested.

Obviously, retailers who have furloughed their employees and aren’t opened, even if they have ecommerce, it’s a little more difficult. But we have armed the staff with tons of ideas and we’re doing it through Zoom calls, Webex and Zoom, we’re doing a lot of video calls with our clients, because for us, we’ve always been in a high-touch business, so it’s really hard just to be emailing back and forth without seeing your client’s face and being able to present the concept yourself. So, we’re doing it a lot and it’s working really well, actually, except maybe for my dog barking in the background or a screaming child occasionally. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: How easy or difficult was the move to working from home for you?

Jayne Jamison: For me, I think it depends on each person and their digital savvy. Some people have a few more issues than others, but if you have a good connection and there are no problems with Internet, it’s a pretty easy system to learn and everybody really got up to speed quickly. Before we left we gave everybody a tutorial and on how to use Webex and Zoom. Many of our clients were already using them, especially those who have offices all over the world. So, we got used to it and used to it very quickly. I prefer to be in front of someone, but because we can’t it’s the next best thing really.

Samir Husni: As the chief revenue officer of a magazine that’s celebrating 20 years, and not just any magazine, but O, The Oprah Magazine, what’s your plan going forward? You have the 20th anniversary issue, and I assume everything inside it took place before the pandemic hit us, so what’s next?

Jayne Jamison: We actually closed the first week in March, so our timing was impeccable on that. Moving forward, it’s hard to say. It all depends on when we are out of the isolation mode, because right now I think a lot of advertisers are waiting for their stores to reopen to spend again. So, we don’t really know.

We’re working on things like the summer issues, but we don’t know when we’re going back to work. It’s a hard situation because there is no answer right now, everybody would love to have one, but we don’t. And we’re based in New York, so we’re in the epicenter of this problem. We live in a very high-density area, we have to know that there is going to be testing so that everyone can get back to work.

Samir Husni: What will we find in this 20th anniversary issue of O, The Oprah Magazine?

Jayne Jamison: For our brand, it’s all about the engagement. Oprah’s fans are really excited about everything she does. For us, this idea of personal growth is important. When you think about Oprah launching this magazine 20 years ago, it was about mindfulness, the mind/body connection, and about elevating your lives and positive mental health; all of these things are really in the forefront now. And also being the most diverse general market magazine in America and the fact that we’ve always had diverse voices. And not just ethnicity, we’re talking about age, sexual orientation, and body shape and size. So, in terms of what America looks like and what America is interested in, this idea of connecting with other human beings, obviously at this moment, that’s hard, but we’ve always been about how to create stronger connections in your life, whether it’s with your family, your work associates, or globally.

The people who read this magazine are lifelong learners and they’re very interested in learning about others, people who are different than them, and Oprah is so great about finding the commonalities among people. It’s just been a joy because this is a brand that whatever we do, if we have a custom collaboration with Talbots and we’re trying to drive people into the store, or if it’s Amazon we’re working with, everyone looks to Oprah, she’s the arbiter of taste and she’s the person we go to for inspiration.

And if you think about right now, how people need inspiration, for the times, it’s just amazing how this brand has morphed into what everybody is looking for. It’s not something that’s cookie cutter, you don’t have a lot of magazines out there that are competitors. O, The Oprah Magazine doesn’t really have a competitor. We’re not competitive with lifestyle magazines, certainly not Real Simple. We’re certainly not a women’s service magazine, so we have a very unique position and because of that it gives us an audience that’s not duplicative.

Samir Husni: Give me three unique things that you feel you’ve achieved with the 20th anniversary issue.

Jayne Jamison: First, we did a really cool inkjetting on the front cover with our partner Olay, and like many of the partners of Oprah Magazine, they have been with us since the beginning. We started with a personalized message from Oprah, which is inkjetted in our Oprah font, her handwriting, so 500,000 subscribers received a personalized cover with an inkjetted message from Oprah. Then you open it up to consistent spreads, for Olay’s spacing, of some of our most iconic covers that we’ve had in the last 20 years, including the one of Oprah wearing a 3.5 pound wig that won an ASME award for the magazine a number of years ago. It’s a really amazing high-impact unit with this custom personalization on the cover.

And what we did on the back cover was with Hallmark. They’re doing a really big digital campaign with us, which is actually launching very soon, and it’s all about connection, which is very timely right now; we actually polybagged a greeting card in the issue. It went specifically to millennial readers, our millennial readership has grown significantly because Oprah obviously resonates a lot with millennials. So we did a card that was all about connection and how you could celebrate Mother’s Day if you’re not with your mother physically. These reader’s will get a card to send to their mothers and it’s going to 100,000 subscribers that the client chose, in addition to running an ad on our third cover and having the big digital campaign.

We also have various clients who basically ran ads thanking us for the partnership that we’ve had. There are fashion brands like Bionic Shoes, Lane Bryant, people we have credited throughout the years continuously, and they all ran really nice ads congratulating us and touting the credits that they’ve had in our magazine. So that was really nice too.

There’s a lot of really great advertising and content in it. It’s our biggest issue of the year thus far. We had about 66 pages of advertising within the issue, so we had many new advertisers too. But I would say the thank you ads, such as with our partner Holland America, we have a cruise partnership, they took out a spread to thank us for that partnership, those were just so nice because we have a lot of synergy and very deep relationships with many of our core clients.

Samir Husni: What is your message to your readers, clients and employees during these uncertain times?

Jayne Jamison:  My message is one of resilience. Every day we have to get up and say this is a new day, we’re going to try again. We’re going to come up with another new idea; we’re going to get one client on the phone that we haven’t been able to connect with.

If you’re in this industry, overtime you’ve built up, obviously, a sense of resilience, but this is a lot different, because you have people working from home. So, for me, it’s find the time, and I don’t care when you do it. Some of my staff have children at home and they’re homeschooling, so it’s a matter of trying to balance all the things in their lives. If today is a bad day, we can get to it tomorrow, but I think that resilience is what makes a good salesperson a great salesperson. You never take no for an answer, you always go back and find another option or another idea that’s going to get your clients excited because it’s going to help them grow their business.

Samir Husni: Anything you’d like to add?

Jayne Jamison: One thing I do want to tell you very badly is my husband is from Memphis, Tenn. and one way I can get my children to Zoom with me is send them food, so we are having Rendezvous BBQ tonight. My kids are all over the place, but everyone got their Rendezvous last night and we’re going to eat together tonight via Zoom. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Jayne Jamison: The question is when can I get in front of my clients again, face to face. It is a high-touch business and it always has been. That’s really what we’re all craving for, not just obviously clients, but also to be with our staff face to face. You can communicate nicely through a computer, but we’re all wondering when can we go back. Will it be this month or next month, the summer? There are so many unanswered questions and we all want to plan the future, but right now we can’t.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

Lucy Kaylin

Up Next Lucy Kaylin:

Samir Husni: When I look back and reflect on the first issue of O, The Oprah Magazine from May/June 2000, Oprah’s call to action was “Live your best life,” “Have courage for the next 31 days.” Twenty years later, after showing people how to live their best life, what’s the message today during this pandemic?

Lucy Kaylin: To be honest, we’re the perfect companion for something like this. It would be wonderful to avoid anything like this pandemic ever again, but since we find ourselves in this position, we’re the magazine that’s truly there for you in good times and bad. We are very much dedicated to the idea that you really have everything you need inside yourself, in a sense. You have strength that you didn’t realize that you had; you have powers of expression, exploration and imagination.

And of course, connecting will now be happening over Zoom and Webex and on the phone, and all the rest, but you still have the power in you to reach out and connect, to comfort and to bring joy to yourself and others again, in good times and bad. That’s really what we counsel all the time, it’s not about the external things, at the end of the day it’s not about what you can buy, even though we do show lovely things that you can buy in the magazine should you want to, but that’s not where the lasting joy is going to come from.

Going through what we’re going through now, we’re just eager and delighted to be providing yet more of that inspiration and counsel. And also great ideas that we can share with readers on how to make even a time like this a rich and fulfilling one, where you ultimately find out new things about yourself.

Samir Husni: How are you ensuring that the magazine is relevant, needed and sufficient in today’s uncertain times?

Lucy Kaylin: For the reasons I just said, I think it’s more relevant than ever. This is not a time to put your head under the pillow or allow yourself to be paralyzed with fear. We are all about the connection in its various forms. One of the things that we’re finding as we endure this surreal circumstance is that we are desperate to connect. And that even means connecting in our way with people on the other side of the world. We have an enhanced sense of people everywhere going through what we’re going through and we care a lot.

And it’s the kind of thing that we are very focused on at O, The Oprah Magazine. We are always finding ways to shine our light and to use ourselves in ways that will be, not only joyful for us, but helpful for others. We need it now more than ever, so I think the relevance is rather acute at the moment.

Samir Husni: There was a quote you made once that Oprah taught you not to overthink or do something just to check it off your list. How are you handling that to-do list with your team during this pandemic?

Lucy Kaylin: Thank goodness for the apps, the technology that we all have to make that happen. The first few days were really harry, where we were just kind of scrambling, shooting off emails like crazy, with me getting messages to the team and delivering edits that way, which was a very cumbersome way to work. Soon enough, of course, we’re all up on Slack and we have the opportunity to see each other and we have the opportunity through Slack to look at pages together, look at layouts together, and we all talk and share and brainstorm almost as if we’re in the office together at the Hearst Tower.

We’re also planning some ways to be social together. One of the things that I’ve been doing is check-ins with small teams because it’s sort of hard to do with 35 people, but I just had a check-in with my copy and research department on Slack and I’m having a check-in with the fashion department, with the books department and a check-in with the beauty department, etc. So, it’s a way to at least maintain some personal contact with my wonderful staffers and just stay in touch.

We have a tradition of something called an “Obar,” which is when we close an issue or there’s something to celebrate, we break open some wine and have some cheese, we just have a really fun time at the office just being together. Obviously, we can’t do it quite the same way this time, but we’re going to have a Zoom Obar next week which I’m excited about. There is going to be some fun and games that will help us feel like we’re together.

Samir Husni: The 20th anniversary issue is themed “Visionaries,” and you’ve been with the magazine now for over a decade; did you ever imagine anything like this happening, that you would be publishing during a pandemic?

Lucy Kaylin: No, I certainly never imagined it. It blows my mind every time I think about it, that this isn’t just some terrible thing that New York City is going through, it’s happening all over the world. Obviously, it has just compromised business on all levels in the worst ways. And even though that’s terrible, I’m quick to be grateful for everything I have to be thankful for and all of us at Hearst are more grateful than we could possibly say, that we have our jobs through this. And that the company has been really quite wonderful in terms of putting the employees first through this terrible circumstance.

Samir Husni: What’s Oprah’s and your message through the pages of the magazine during this pandemic?

Lucy Kaylin: You know Samir, I do not write a letter from the editor, that’s Oprah’s role and Oprah definitely writes for the magazine, she’s very of-the-moment and exceedingly aware, concerned and compassionate in regards to whatever the world is going through. And that’s reflected in what she’s writing.

In fact, I was just proofing a “Here We Go” section and we added a box underneath the picture this month that is a shout-out to the photo team that pulled off some stories this month under unbelievable circumstances. For instance, we had the fabulous team of  Gentl and Hyers doing a food story and they made the food themselves, they shot it themselves in a very different and strict-down way. And the people who did the fashion story, I think the photographer’s girlfriend was the model and she did her own hair and makeup. People are finding incredibly creative ways to get this work done. And we make sure that our readers know what went into it, who came up with great ideas and sacrificed to bring them the content they love.

Samir Husni: As you move forward, what do you think is next? Try to look into your crystal ball, through the fog and tell me what you see.

Lucy Kaylin: That’s a good question. I feel like we’re going to have to see when this fog dissipates and then try to tell where we are, because one thing I think this has done for us is force us to work in a new way, but it has also encouraged us to think in a new way. To think about what are some of the things, the practices, maybe even the crutches, that we’ve used over the years that we really don’t need. For instance, does the entire team need to be joined at the hip, Monday through Friday, all day, every day, to put out this magazine. Is there something creative we can do, a sort of rotating cast of people on the premises and then some remote, just that sort of thing.

There are learnings here, and that’s exciting. If this has taught us anything, we know now that we have to be agile and we have to be able to get by on very little sometimes. We can’t just assume that we’ll have the resources and the luxury, the incredible luxury, to all just sit around together and bang out ideas. We have to think in terms of new ways of working. And we have to always be adhering to our mission at O, which is to help women live their best lives, no matter what befalls them. Sometimes it’s personal tragedy and difficult circumstances in one’s own life and sometimes it’s something like this. Our mission is vast and ongoing and we’re proud to be of service with that mission.

Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom?

Lucy Kaylin: Just be kind to each other, connect in every way you possibly can, and also know that lovingly-made media, along the lines of monthly magazines like O, are a great way to foster a connection. You can reconnect with you and you can connect through what you’re learning in O and what inspires you in O and share it with others.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Lucy Kaylin: Aside from a global pandemic? And a completely ravaged stock market and the fact that both of my kids are on the West Coast; what’s keeping me up at night? It’s really just my normal insomnia, Samir. Even in good times I’m up a few hours in the middle of every night. I’m choosing to be grateful for the opportunity to use those hours for reflection, because we live in a world where that is required to maintain your equilibrium. We really need to hunker down and reflect. And whether that’s at 3:30 in the morning or on a lazy Sunday, it’s something I strongly encourage.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

Arianna Davis

And last, but certainly not least, Arianna Davis:

Samir Husni: In the midst of this pandemic, what role is oprahmag.com playing today in spreading Oprah’s message and the magazine as a whole?

Arianna Davis: There has always been an online presence in some way or another for the magazine. For a long time there was oprah.com, which was a bit more of a marketing site for things happening in Oprah’s world. There was some coverage of the magazine, but it wasn’t its own editorial site. So, in 2018 Hearst decided it was the right time. It was coming on the heels of Oprah’s infamous Golden Globe speech where she inspired a lot of hope in people and talked about the Me Too movement. It was really an inspirational moment. And the magazine was so successful, I think Hearst decided it was time that the magazine have its own editorial website.

We launched in October 2018. The magazine has been around so long and is incredibly rich with the kind of stories you really want to sit down and spend your time with. The online edition is more of what’s happening right now, looking through the lens of living your best life, while the print magazine is an inspirational tool for what you may want to do later with the sense of Oprah’s positivity.

There are a few things that we’re able to do online that the magazine may not gear as much toward, which is news stories, even some celebrity content, but also most of the great content from the magazine goes online. We also do a lot of personal essays, the same kind of inspirational, riveting content that you’ll see in the magazine. It’s definitely the same ecosystem as the print magazine, we’re just able to do things a bit more timely since we can get a story up on the same day.

Samir Husni: Has it been easier or harder to do the digital when you’re isolating and social distancing from your team?

Arianna Davis: That’s a good question. I wouldn’t say easier or harder, it’s been different. Digitally, we had the tools that we needed in order to create content. Our team works on Slack, so we were used to messaging each other using that platform. We file all of our stories using that messenger service and we had access to our CMS, so everything workwise could definitely be done digitally.

Just like every other industry right now, what our team is missing is that time together, having meetings, brainstorming face-to-face, just seeing everyone every day, that’s the piece we’re missing a bit of. But we’ve definitely been able to be just as productive working remotely. We just don’t get that face time. But we having been doing Zoom calls and lots of key meetings via Zoom, so I’ve been very thankful for the technology during this time.

Samir Husni: What has been the impact of the pandemic on the website?

Arianna Davis: The lens that we look at everything through is whether or not this will inspire our reader or helping them with their best life. If it’s a celebrity news story, we still want to make sure that the story is told from a positive perspective. That there is a point beyond contributing to the celebrity news cycle. Or the flip side of that, really digging in and finding the reported story or the essay that’s going to move our reader or stay with her for a long time.

That being said, we’ve never really done breaking news. We know that we’re not CNN or a newspaper, we’re more in the lifestyle and inspirational space. But when the pandemic hit, it was definitely tricky for us to find the balance. When we were publishing some of our typical content, we saw that it wasn’t getting as much traffic as it normally might. People weren’t clicking on the inspirational content at that time because all everyone wanted to read about was the Coronavirus to a point of near hysteria, everyone was so worried.

So, we had to pivot our content to figure out how we could be helpful and make sure we were providing our reader with stories that could help her, but at the same time not turn into a newsroom where we were just delivering bad news all day long, which was what most of the news cycle was at the time.

So, we pivoted some of our typical service content. Maybe it might have been: How To Be Productive When Working From Home, or giving tips to our readers on how to work from home while your child is also at home and your husband is home, and how do you find time for you. We just had to rethink our topics and our strategies a little. Just make sure we were providing service that was meaningful and timely.

Samir Husni: As the 20th anniversary issue comes out in print, what’s the digital counterpart going to be like?

Arianna Davis: Much of the content from the 20th anniversary issue will be going online and there will be an oral history of the magazine and how it came to be how the magazine has progressed through the years. It’s a really delightful story that I think readers will love that we’re going to do online in a big way.

But in addition to that we have a series called the “OG Chronicles,” which features Oprah and Gayle. It started out as kind of an advice column where they were on video answering questions and it has progressed to them sometimes playing fun games or interviewing each other. Oprah’s signature column in the magazine is “What I Know For Sure,” so we have a fun game, a lightning-round version of “What I Know For Sure,” where we asked Oprah and Gayle to each tell us what they know for sure about 20 different topics in 10 seconds or less. So, that’s a fun additional moment for the 20th anniversary.

We’re also covering all of the visionaries that they’ve been doing throughout the year with special extras, sometimes extra questions that they didn’t have space for in the magazine and we’re really celebrating those visionaries in a big way as well. The 20th anniversary will definitely be a big moment on the website in addition to print.

 Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be publishing or working during a pandemic?

Arianna Davis:  No, I never imagined a pandemic. I don’t think anyone saw it coming. Even when we started to hear things about the virus happening, I don’t think we saw it coming to this extent. I’ll be honest, March was a tough month, because as I mentioned, we’re still a relatively new site in the world of media, so for us, we’re really serious about what is our voice and our content and how can we be of service right now. That was important. We wanted to be sure we were aligned with what Oprah was feeling. It was not something that I would have ever saw coming.

I was an intern at the magazine right after college, so I don’t think I ever really foresaw the job of being the digital director at the time. I was still thinking of my career in print magazines. I definitely never foresaw that one day I would be running a nine million – plus user website, and definitely not in the midst of a pandemic. But here we are. (Laughs)

 Samir Husni: Anything you would like to add?

Arianna Davis: Just to pat ourselves on the back a little bit. We were the fastest-growing website launch in Hearst history, which I am really proud of that fact. When we were first launching oprahmag.com, a lot of people were surprised, most thought Oprah Magazine already had a website, and people were also surprised that we were launching something new in this media climate, in digital media.

So the fact that we were so fast-growing and we’ve been able to launch a lot of different series, the OG Chronicles that I mentioned; we have over five million views across platforms, so we’ve grown it quickly and I’m really proud of what we’ve done  with our team. I’m excited to see what’s next for us post-pandemic. And I’m happy we have this platform right now to offer our readers comfort and escape, and hopefully some service as well.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Arianna Davis: The pandemic right now in this particular moment. Just worrying about family members and loved ones. I have had some loved ones who have been affected by this virus; I have had friends who have lost family members to this pandemic. I fell very lucky and blessed that I can work from home and that I do have a job. I’m working from an apartment that I love, but not everyone is so lucky. There’s just so much uncertainty right now and that keeps me up at night, in addition to traffic and making sure our website stays afloat in all of this. And that we are able to be a true resource to our readers at this time.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

As Good As It Can Possibly Get

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

My entire working life has consisted of newspapering or PRing.  Both of these businesses are not known for dealing with the most forthright individuals. But I’ve been blessed. During my career, I’ve never been lied to, misled or harassed by people I reported to or worked with.

Here are some examples why I say my working experience has been as good as possible:

During my PR career:

  • I’ve always been fortunate enough to work at an agency where management wouldn’t put up with and would resign a client who badgers account people for no reason.
  • I’ve always been fortunate that I never had to work with a nasty client.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where management thought moral values of a client were more important than the size of the budget.
  • I always been fortunate to work at an agency that refused client accounts that weren’t considered ethically correct.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where management would ask an employee if working on a controversial client would go against the employee’s beliefs. 
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where top management would admit being responsible for a client disaster that they created instead of looking for scapegoats.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where, when you tell something to H.R. that is negative about the agency it will not immediately be reported to top management.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where there was no office politics.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency that was free of back stabbing jealous employees.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where management wouldn’t look to replace employees with new communications school grads because they would work for less money.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where management would never mislead employees.
  • I’ve always been fortunate not to have someone take credit for my work.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where supervisors had to know more about public relations than those they supervised.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work an agency where top management would not permit supervisors to bully or threaten lower-level account people.
  • I’ve always been fortunate to work at an agency where top management truly cared about the welfare of its employees. (See addendum.)

A Few Fortunate Aspects Of My Days As A Journalist:

  • I was fortunate that I never was forced to cover an event that I didn’t think newsworthy.
  • I was fortunate that I never had a story spiked because an editor said, “It would upset an entity or individual.”
  • I was fortunate that I never was told by an editor to rewrite a story.
  • I was fortunate that I never was told by an editor that I was burying the lead. 
  • I was fortunate that I never was told by a “kindly old editor” about how easy we new timers have it.
  • I was fortunate that whenever I interviewed a person I was always told the truth.
  • I was fortunate that every story I wrote was submitted for a Pulitzer Prize, and won it three times.

I had two career highlights, (excluding my Pulitzer Prizes), one as a journalist, and the other as a PR practitioner.

As a newsperson, I was assigned to do a week in the life of Donald Trump feature and followed him around during his business and personal life. I can truthfully say that I was treated most kindly. Before writing the story I fact checked everything he told me and found no exaggerations or mistruths. He requested that any flattering remarks about him from friends, his employees or business associates not be included in the story. “Just tell it like it is, warts and all,” he told me. He is the most unassuming person I ever met.(As Nikki Haley said in her book, I always experienced Trump to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And I’m certain that Ms. Haley would have said the same thing even though she wasn’t seeking a place on a future GOP presidential ticket.)

Because of the above assignment, Mr. Trump hired me to be the lead PR person at his company. During the eight years I was there, (I finally left when he decided to enter the political arena), I was treated with more loyalty, respect and kindness than at any other time during my PR career. Every morning, he would come into my office and say, “Thanks for your hard work. Let me know if you need anything.” I also was struck by how often he told his staff, “Flattering me will get you nowhere.”

And if you believe the above, you’ve been April Fooled.

Addendum: Actually, I once worked at an agency whose owner truly cared about the welfare of employees. It was at a boutique political agency (my first job in PR). During election campaigns we often had to work close to midnight, sometimes later. On the days we did, the owner of the agency would always treat us to supper at a good restaurant and arrange for transportation from the office to our homes, regardless of where we lived. And the mornings following late nights, when we arrived for work, there were always platters of bagels, spreads and urns of coffee.

Just like where you work. Right?

E-Mail Warning Disclaimer to Journalists:

The information in this pitch or story gives the individual receiving it permission to plan a story or contact me regarding any additional information needed to result in positive coverage. If this e-mail has been sent to the wrong individual by mistake, there are no legal restrictions prohibiting you to forward it to the journalist that you feel is most likely to cover the subject. Doing so will prevent you from receiving a follow-up call if I am notified by return e-mail within 48 hours. (In order to keep my anxiety level down a faster reply will be appreciated.) You may also contact me via telephone and, unlike other disclaimers, you may have received, I will accept collect calls, if the response is positive.

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



In Crisis Is Opportunity

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.” – Helen Keller

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

The last few weeks have been difficult, made worse by the fact that we know it is all about to get much worse in April. “America First” now means we are first in number of coronavirus infections, rate of infection and soon deaths. We are experiencing a new federalism in which not only do we not have a globally unified approach to a pandemic, but we don’t even have a national one. It is, so far, every state for itself.

During the 2008-09 financial crisis, there was a saying we oft-shared in the war rooms on Wall Street. “Everyone is a capitalist on the way up but a socialist on the way down.” The same is true now on the purpose of a strong and expertly-staffed federal government. “Everyone’s a critic on the way up, but a socialist on the way down.” We need federal government leadership and support. The unanimous vote on the latest stimulus bill shows, well, our uniformity on this newfound reasoning.

In speaking with lawyers, other agency and business owners, our staff, journalists and social and digital media experts, some new revelations and, dare I say, opportunities, are starting to emerge:

Leadership is now local: As you have read in this space many times before, crisis abhors a vacuum. Leadership is as local as your business. Reach out and touch someone inspirationally. In the absence of national “fireside chats,” business leaders need to step up and show direction. In crisis, you don’t need to get everything right, but you need to act. Your employees, partners, suppliers and prospects need you. Call them. Have a plan. Execute.

Fear is fine, panic is not: I see it in the eyes and body language (on Zoom, of course) of the business owners and young people I speak with. Health is foremost on people’s minds, but so is payroll and rent. “Will my business survive?” And for younger people who didn’t work through 9/11 or the financial crisis, this is the worst crisis they have ever seen. For all of us, this period portends World War II courage and sacrifice. Fear is a healthy emotion. It motivates us and gives us the resolve to fight. It is rational. We have lots to be afraid about. But panic is fear untamed. While we use fear as fuel, panic robs us of everything from rationality to strength. The best solution for fear? Get on the phone. Talk to co-workers and clients. Reach out and help. Work. As the Roosevelts taught us, do not be still for that is where the demons lie.

Journalists need business stories: With the hundreds of journalists we have spoken with over the past two weeks, they need stories that relate to the coronavirus but are business- and beat-oriented. How are businesses surviving? What unique things are they doing? How are they expressing leadership? What are they doing that is planning for the recovery?

Examples of vulture marketing are next: Journalists and social media will soon pounce on stories about companies and individuals who used the pandemic for vulture marketing – taking advantage of fear and desperation. Usury, false cures, hawkish lawyers, for-profit debt consolidators, unsavory timeshare exit companies, the works. If your business takes advantage of people, you will likely become the fodder for lots of unwanted attention in the coming weeks as people are hungry for targets to blame.

SEO is the opportunity: As businesses worldwide cut their costs, they are minimizing marketing. After all, it’s not business as usual. But in doing this, they are abandoning Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This means SEO costs are lower than they have been in years. Now is the time to push content and SEO. It is cheaper and more accessible than ever. If you act now and implement your content and SEO strategy, you can influence the narrative when we come out of this for far less money and effort.

Zoom press conferences and videos are here: Hold a press conference on Zoom or WebEx. Have a video team record interviews by webcam. Distribute it by a private newswire. New challenges mean new opportunities. The only time news stops is the day after the end of the world; even then there is likely to be a summary edition.

Scrutiny of bailout beneficiaries: Regardless of whether it’s called a stimulus or a bailout, journalists are about to start scrutinizing which large companies received stimulus funds, how they spend their money, their history of CEO compensation, stock buybacks and fidelity to austerity pledges. There will be a fight over transparency, but companies should expect it to become public information.  

New broadcast to reach general counsels: To help our clients, friends of the firm and other readers of this newsletter, we are launching a new daily five-minute audio podcast for the Corporate Counsel Business Journal called In House Warrior, to reach the general counsels at most American companies. We have built a home studio so we can record guests by telephone and computer. If you want to be on the air with us, please email me at rlevick@levick.com and provide the topic. We will do our best to line you up for a show.

Over the past two weeks, I have been presenting speeches on multiple webinars and broadcasts, including the one here, produced by our friends at TEK Group (who provide online newsrooms, which are another great resource, especially during this challenging time). They interviewed more than 40 PR and crisis industry executives for our input on how to address the crisis and just hosted a 24-hour news stream of communications advice. The interviews will be available on-demand.  Stay tuned.

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




Non-Fungible Tokens: A Giant Leap into Owning Our Digital Assets

Wendy Glavin, Founder & CEO, Wendy Glavin Agency

Throughout the years, I, like most parents, watched their kids grow up playing video games. I remember them playing Super Mario Bros., Madden NFL, Super Smash Bros., Call of Duty and many more, on their Xbox, Nintendo and PlayStation. Most of the which we bought at GameStop or Best Buy for $49.99- $59.99.

In 2017, a new game, Fortnite, could be downloaded for free from one’s Xbox One, PS4 or computer. The online video game developed by Epic Games, gained one million players within 24 hours. And, after launching on mobile devices, the game had roughly 250 million global players in March 2019 — a worldwide global phenomenon. 

As a researcher, I wanted to explore the game so I watched Ninja Plays Fortnite Chapter 2 Season 2. For those unfamiliar, it’s a survival competition where roughly 100 players are dropped on an island, run around using tools and weapons to build forts, hide in them, stay out of the eye of a storm and fight to win buy not getting shot. 

While free, if you make in-game purchases such “skins” or outfits, weapons and other items you have to pay. The popularity is based on competition, playing with friends at-home or online and watching more experienced players to improve.

How Do Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT’s) Fit It?

When I was asked to cover NFT.NYC, the  Leading Non-Fungible Token Event in New York City, I wanted to learn before attending what NFTs are.

Using Fortnite as an example, purchases are made with in-game currency called Vbucks through its in-game store. Only available for 24-hours, items become scarce, are not able to be traded, used in other games and have no liquidity. Therefore, they are fungible tokens. 

Instead, using gaming based on blockchain, items are owned, authenticated, can be traded and exchanged in other gaming platforms which makes them non-fungible. Fungible comes from a Latin phrase meaning “to serve in place of” and that’s what something that’s fungible does: serves in place of what it’s exchanged for. A common example is lending someone $20.00 which is paid back with a $10.00 bill and two $5.00 bills which is the same amount.

In contrast, when people own non-fungible tokens, they own the physical or digital item, like a virtual sword, an event ticket, redemption codes, gifts, coupons, digital art, collectibles and other assets. The ability to trade assets demonstrates the move into an open, free-market economy.  With this research done, I was ready to attend NFT.

Tokenizing Attention and NFT’s for Livestreaming

The Keynote was presented by Ian Utile, CEO of ATTN.Live, as he rode back and forth across the stage on a one-wheel “motorcycle,” the size of a skateboard to illustrate his point about tokenizing attention with NFT’s through live streaming. 

Content creators need data ownership and multi-platform distribution with a voice interface. Ian said, “With all the platforms, like Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and the other sites, I need to have five cellphones to livestream which is a problem. People can’t afford to have five cellphones. We’ve solved this problem with one piece of software and a touch of a button which takes my audio live on all the platforms on any device. I like to call it live-podcasting.” 

A Giant Leap into Owning Our Digital AssetsNFTs and Gaming 

 Jodee Rich, CEO, of PeopleBrowser, NFT.Kred and NFT.NYC discussed NFTs and gaming. People Browser is the world’s largest social intelligence program that integrates social data, analytics and advanced network technology into NFT.Kred which creates actionable NFT’s digital tokens for events, influencers and enterprises. 

While on-stage, Jodee began the discussion about blockchain-powered engagement by holding up a CryptoKitties costume and said, “If you ask a really good question you can get this.”  CryptoKitties is an online game for people to breed and collect virtual kittens. Each are one-of-kind, digitally scarce, use an NFT within smart contracts, ERC #721 to make blockchain accessible to everyone. Powered by Ethereum, you need a computer, digital wallet and Ether, a digital currency.

Jodee asked for someone in the audience wearing Nike sneakers to come on-stage. In December, Nike introduced a virtual shoe or collectible called CryptoKick. Jodee explained that when you do something in real-life like run a lot, provided Nike has the data, your physical activity morphs into your virtual shoe which you see when you purchase it. There’s a bi-directional relationship where Nike’s token can be traded in marketplaces, like Open Sea. 

He introduced David Boag, Founder of BOAG Law, PLLC, a boutique law practice that services the intellectual property needs of companies of all sizes and disciplines, with a focus on emerging companies in NYC’s technology sector. To learn more, please read Jodee and David’s article called, Nike’s Dec 2019 patent reveals revolutionary NFT use.

Now, back to CrytoKitties. After its success, other digital collectibles were built on the blockchain. For example, I spoke with the team at Splinterlands about the company’s cards; each of which are an NFT that can be used to battle and combat players for crypto and other prizes. As of January 17, 2020, the cards can be transferred from the game to ERC-721 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain where they can be bought, sold, and traded on the OpenSea platform.

OpenSea, the world’s largest digital marketplace for crypto collectibles, NFTs, and ERC721 and ERC115 assets, including, Gods Unchained cards, Decentraland, where you can buy a plot of land, build things on-top of it and resell it. What used to be a Virtual World, is now being treated as real assets. 

To learn more about crypto and gaming, please go to CoinTelegraph’s recent article. 

Cameron Bale, Co-Founder and Producer of NFT.NYC and Director of Marketing and Product Management at PeopleBrowser and Kred moderated the discussion about experimenting and minting NFTs with Nate Geier, CEO of Mintbase, which mints real-world assets by you or your company on Ethereum. The panel also featured Julien Genestoux, CEO of Unlock, Johan Unger, Co-Founder and Project Lead at Marble Cards and Ryan Berkun, Founder and CEO of Fabrx Blockchain. 

NFTs by the Numbers

Examples of NFT Use Cases 

Julien spoke about how the attention-driven economy will be replaced by a membership-driven economy because of content overload, fake news, clickbait and more. Nowadays, people are using ad-blockers which negatively affects creators. 

In December 2019, Forbes in conjunction with Unlock,  is enabling people to “unlock an ad-free experience” on its site, including one for a month and another for a week. After purchasing a key and a crypto wallet, you can go to the crypto section of forbes.com, and click on the “Unlock an ads free experience” button. Julien added, “Once the transaction has been mined, users will receive an NFT token which represents their membership. And like other NFT’s it can be transferred onto marketplaces including, Open Sea and others.”

I spoke with Ryan about Fabr(x). “In web2, (The Old Web) email is home-based and content is key. With the New Web, web3, wallets and tokens empower self-ownership.” From apps to application program interfaces (APIs) to embedding IFTTs, (“if this, then what”) another “as-a-service” that connects apps, devices and services from different developers.This network is called Stratosphere which operates on the cloud infrastructure of Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

In non-technical terms, Fabr (x) enables open financing, the tokenization of real estate assets, strengthens customer loyalty, rewards users for purchases, provides financial self-sovereignty be enabling people to control their funds.

Nate spoke about Mintbase’s offerings including, NFT (ERC-721)-enabled wallets that customers control along with their private keys. Mintbase also uses blockchain and Virtual Reality (VR) in art. CrytoVoxels, is a minting tool for creating tokens with your smart contract which can be sold or transferred to OpenSea. It also includes developer APIs and the ability to embed NFTs into websites. 

The event was jam-packed with panelists, speakers, attendees and Q & A’s. Throughout the day, people used side-rooms for demos, interviews, podcasts, networking and more. To review the extensive event, please go to the program.

In May 2018 at Social Media Week, I was introduced to blockchain, and quickly immersed myself in the subject. At that time, I interviewed Jeffrey Lancaster from Decoded and wrote an article for Equities called, The Amazing Utility of Blockchain: From Mining Crypto for Charities to Tracking E-Coli. 

At that point in time, the article was too complex for people to understand so I wrote a blockchain 101 piece called, How Blockchain Can Rebuild Digital Trust.

Terms like digital privacy, owning our data, bitcoin, Ethereum, cryptocurrency, democratization of trust, transparency and authenticity were becoming a global debate of ideas. 

Some of the technology industry terms became more mainstream after Brittany Kaiser’s documentary, “The Great Hack”, was released on Netflix. Then came Facebook’s announcement of the Libra “cryptocurrency” along with J.P. Morgan’s digital coin, JPM Coin, representing a fiat currency. 

On February 23, The Simpsons aired an episode called “Frinkcoin”. It’s another  example of (technology) cryptocurrency entering mainstream media and society.

The NFT.NYC event brought blockchain to a new level with in-depth and engaging discussions and a wide variety of Non-Fungible Tokens use cases. Digital assets employ open-source software that is real and permanent.  While speed, scalability, user experience (UX) and cost need to improve, Roham Gharegozlou, Co-Founder and CEO of CryptoKitties said, “For the first time we can transition to true digital freedom where identity, self-expression and ownership are back where they belong – in your hands.” — TEDxVienna Talk

Wendy Glavin - Everyone is Not a Journalist – Think Before You Hit PrintAbout the Author: Wendy Glavin is Founder and CEO of Wendy Glavin, a NYC full-service agency. Wendy is a 20-year veteran of corporate, agency, consulting and small business ownership. She specializes in B2B2C marketing communications, PR, social and digital media. Her website is: https://wendyglavin.com/. Contact her at: wendy@wendyglavin.com

Media Lessons Learned From The Trump Senate (Impeachment) Trial

Media Lessons Learned From The Trump Senate (Impeachment) Trial

(That Were Probably Not Taught In Communications Classes)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

On January 13, on this web site, I wrote an article regarding media lessons learned from the House impeachment hearings. Many of the examples I listed also applied to none political accounts that most PR practitioners who work at large and small agencies can use.

The natural sequel to that article, I thought, was Media Lessons Learned From The Trump Senate (Impeachment) Trial. And there were plenty.

But before the lessons, there are important happenings that occurred prior to the actual trial:

It’s not unusual that before a highly anticipated trial of a celebrity begins for the accused to claim that:

  • The charges are untrue,
  • That the only reason for the trial is because of false media stories,
  • That everyone is lying about the situation,
  • That, in this case, it’s a witch hunt, and, also in this case,
  • How can they impeach me when I’m such a great president?

President Trump has been tweeting a variation of the above for months, but on Sunday, January 12, he seemed unable to make up his mind about his upcoming trial. He tweeted backing for a Senate trial that would include Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence, as witnesses. But a few hours later Trump said he didn’t want a trial; instead that the Senate should dismiss the impeachment charges without one. (Lesson: PR people should never release a statement unless it has been decided that it is the definitive one, the exception being if facts have changed between statements. Doing so will make you an untrustworthy news sources for journalists. Also, if necessary, perhaps as the president should have done, don’t forget to take your medicine before releasing statements.)

In addition to Trump’s tweet attacks, there was  a lot of  the usual give and back comments between Trump and his GOP defenders and the Democrats, but only one statement that no one can quarrel about: It was by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the December 12 “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”  program. Ms. Pelosi said, “Ten months from now we will have an election if we don’t have him removed sooner. But, again, he’ll be impeached forever.” No one can argue with that fact (except some defenders of Trump among my friends, who don’t know the meaning of impeachment).

For people who have worked on Broadway shows, as I have, the lead up to the actual trial might remind them of how producers and publicists structured the advance publicity of shows with different daily announcements prior to opening night. The same techniques were used by Democrats in the days prior to the beginning of the Senate trial.

The sequence:

  1. On January 14, the Democratic caucus met to discuss strategy.
  2. At about 10 a.m., on January 15, Speaker Pelosi announced the seven Democratic managers who will act as prosecutors in Trump’s Senate trial. A few hours later, the House debate regarding approving the managers and advancing them to the Senate began. By early afternoon, both measures were approved.
  3. At 5:24 p.m., after a short speech, House Speaker Pelosi signed the impeachment documents and it was delivered to the Senate at 5:36 p.m.
  4. After each step, the Democrats made a spokesperson available to reinforce their points and answer media questions.
  5. On January 16, Speaker Pelosi again spoke to the press prior to the Democratic impeachment managers reading the charges against President Trump to the Senate, which officially was the beginning of the trial.
  6. On January 17, the Democrats released information regarding the relationship between Lev Parnas, President Trump and Rudy Giuliani.
  7. Also on January 17, Ms. Pelosi said during a television interview that the Democrats knew more damaging information regarding President Trump would become public, but the new details were not necessary to bring impeachment charges.
  8. On Saturday, January 18, the Democrats released its impeachment brief to the media.
  9. On Sunday, January 19, Speaker Pelosi ceded the media mikes to Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler, both House committee chairman and impeachment managers, providing the media with an opportunity to get their perspectives on what will happen during the Senate trial.
  10. On January 20, the Democrats transferred the platform to Sen. Bob Casey, and Rep. Gerald Connolly to make their case.

    Of course, the great majority of you, if any, will not be involved in political campaigns, local, national or presidential, as I was when my first PR job was with a political firm. But if someone was crafting a publicity program with the objective of receiving continuous and long-term media coverage, using some aspects of the Democratic media plan is a model that should be considered. Some of the tactics resemble the strategy I always used at my two none political agency jobs.

    Another tactic the Democrats employed, that I always used, was not to call a major press conference to announce news, unless there was truly blockbusting information. (Announcing a new and improved car seat cover does not fall into that category, no matter what your client may say; neither does the reformulation of a hair shampoo or the new packaging of a cereal). The Democrats made their points known by having short meetings with the media, sometime in a group setting, other times via one on one interviews.

    (Because the media turnout at a press conference is never guaranteed, I would arrange interviews for the client with a handful of important news outlets the day prior to the conference, with the proviso that their stories not be released until the conference begins. All of these journalists were long time friends, from the days I was a reporter, or that I forged a strong-working relationship with during my PR days. Caveat: Don’t use this tactic with reporters that you can’t trust. A reporter breaking the story the day before a press conference can affect the turnout.)

    There are important media tactics that people in our business should remember regarding the above before trial tactics:

    • If you have good news, considers staggering its release over several days to gain continuous positive coverage for your client.
    • But, if you have bad news, release it ASAP all at once, hoping that it will limit continuous negative coverage, which media history shows is mostly an unfulfilled wish. (This is still considered a must tactic of PR crises specialists even though it hardly ever works and never will in a major PR crisis. It might have, once in a millennium, during the days before the 24/7 news cycle, never now, regardless of what PR crises specialists say. It’s like the still used PR crises maxim that says, “Get ahead of the story,” whatever that means.) Don’t believe me. Ask President Trump, Joe and Hunter Biden.
    • The way the Democratic leadership crafted their media strategy, so that their messages had a continuing flow of negative information about the president’s conduct, should be required teaching in PR 101 courses. Certainly savvy PR practitioners can craft brand and corporate publicity campaigns, as I have done a number of times, so they can be structured to have a long shelve life.

    Media Lessons Learned From Proceedings During The Trial:

    (I mistakenly thought the trial was about the abuses to the Constitution by President Donald John Trump. But once it began the Republican senators and their attorneys renamed the trial:” The Joe and Hunter Biden Punching Bag” piñata.)


    • Despite his previous hard line stance regarding the rules of the impeachment trial, Mr. McConnell surprised senators with revising two of the most controversial ones on the opening day of argument, January 21. The majority leader agreed to permit both sides 24 hours to make their case over three days, instead of two days, that he advocated for the previous day, and also said that the evidence gathered by the House Democrats would automatically be entered into the Senate record unless there was an objection. Previously McConnell said the evidence would be barred. Lesson: Be flexible, even it if means contradicting yourself to achieve your goal.
    • Too often during an agency press conference, the speakers are limited to one or two persons. That’s fine for pre and after conference interviews. But I’ve always crafted press conferences to have several principal speakers so journalists can have various ways of approaching a story to meet the needs of their outlet, assuring significant coverage. During the debate over the rules of the impeachment trial, the Democrats did the same thing. That’s a good technique that is too often not utilized. Lesson: Don’t be penned in by “do-it-by-the-book” tenets.
    • January 21, was the day the Senate met to discuss the rules for the trial. But by using a clever technique, introducing numerous amendments to Sen. McConnell’s proposed organizing resolution, the Democrats presented their entire case for impeaching the president. Lesson: The Democratic strategy should be a template for press conferences and individual interviews: Important points should always be disclosed immediately because, history shows, not all reporters at agency press conferences stay for the entire show, and when a client is being interviewed the reporter controls the clock.
    • On January 22, prior to the Senate reconvening, Democratic Senate leader Schumer held a press briefing summarizing what transpired the day before, which again emphasized the Democrats positions. Lesson: While it’s not possible to use the same technique the day after an agency press conference, there is a method of accomplishing the same goal that I have often used: It’s emailing a document to the reporters immediately after the conference or interviews emphasizing the key client points. Then send another email the following day, asking if any more information was needed. (But don’t be a pest and telephone.)
    • If I was writing a Saturday Night Live skit I could use the words of Chief Justice Roberts verbatim during the impeachment trial session that began on January 21. Justice Roberts admonished both the House impeachment mangers and Trump’s defense team for using “ language that is not conducive to civil   ” Nothing wrong there. But his statement also reminded the opponents that they are “addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” a ridiculous statement considering that all 11 Democratic amendments were rejected by a party line vote, without having the senators debate them, and that since Sen. McConnell became the GOP Senate majority leader, tabling legislation has become the norm rather than allowing debates. Lesson: When preparing remarks for a client, do not use grandiose or embellished language. Make certain the statements agree with the facts.
    • The Democratic House managers repeated the same facts continuously during the trial, (much like advertising agencies repeat the same ads many times). By doing so, their messages of Trump’s wrong-doings were heard by TV audiences at various times of the days, reaching people who might have not heard the charges earlier in the proceedings. Lesson: In order to be successful, a PR program’s message points must be sustained over a long period in order to break through the clutter of others’ messages.
    • On January 23, an important PR lesson that everyone should remember was played out on national television. Democratic House manager Nadler played a videotape of remarks that Sen. Lindsay Graham made when he was a House manger for the GOP during the impeachment trial of President Clinton. Graham’s statement contradicted his then Clinton position now that Trump is on trial. Shortly prior to the video clip being shown, Graham, who had a script of the power point presentation, left the room, returning when Nadler moved on. Lesson: Be careful what you say. It might be used against you.
    • Speaker of the House Pelosi gave a lesson that all PR practitioners should remember when having a press conference: Despite being the leader of the Democrats, once the Senate trial began she deferred to those involved in the trial to hold press briefings. Too often during agency press conferences, the ceo, president or other high corporate executives are featured, instead of individuals who really know the details of the subject being discussed. That leads to an unhappy press and sometime disgruntled reporters who says the PR people wasted their time.  (Not good for cementing relations with journalists.) Lesson: Do not schedule a press conference unless you are prepared to have a spokesperson who can provide specific details; never craft a dog and pony show for corporate execs to use as a promotional tool.
    • Unlike some PR practitioners, who feel that if a client refers to notes during a TV interview it will give the impression of not  knowing the facts, I have always told clients that they should always refer to notes, if necessary. During the q and a sessions during the Senate impeachment trial, the Democratic House managers and Republican lawyers believed the same as I do. It was clearly seen on TV that both referred to briefing books. Lesson: A client, or PR person, should never answer a question unless they are positive that what they are saying is correct.

    There was also one very important non-media lesson that should be remembered from the trial – the use of email – because it was used extensively by the House managers as evidence against President Trump. Sensitive information should never be emailed. It should be personally walked to others on a need-to-know basis. If the information has to be sent to colleagues in other offices, use overnight mail marked “personal.” Inter-office telephone conversations regarding sensitive information should be avoided, and used only when absolutely necessary.

    Impressions from the trial:

    • Democratic impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff was far and away the best messenger during the trial, resulting in providing him with a national reputation should he seek higher office.
    • The Democratic media strategy before, during and after the trial was the first time in many years that the Democrats’ tactics bested the Republicans.
    • President Trump’s “scam” and “hoax’ remarks during the trial seemed old hat and didn’t receive much press coverage.
    • Throughout the trial, the defenders of the president provided minimal evidence to contradict the impeachment charges.
    • The lameness of cable TV news was again evident during the trial. During the trial breaks, the fish in my aquarium could have predicted the answers, when the reporters questioned the senators about their views of the proceedings: Democrats replying that their House impeachment managers are doing an excellent job; Republicans slamming the presentations.(Not exactly a surprise.)

    General Observations:

    Despite Senate Leader McConnell not allowing a vote on whether to allow witnesses until the second week of the trial, the Democratic House mangers found a way to use witnesses from the first day of their opening statements: As part of their presentations, they used video of the testimony of witnesses taken during the House impeachment inquiry; also of the president and “Mick” Mulvaney, Trump’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and acting White House chief of staff, who said at a press briefing that Democrats should, “Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy,” when questioned about the freeze in foreign aid to Ukraine.

    The news reporting regarding President Trump’s defense attorneys once again confirmed what I’ve said for decades: Once an entity or individual has been involved in a PR crisis, it becomes embedded in its DNA and can be revived by the media at anytime. That’s what happened to Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz, when they were announced as part of the Trump defense team.

    Radio, TV and print media mentioned that both lawyers were involved with negotiating lenient plea deals for sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and that Dershowitz was accused of having sex with an under age girl, which he denied. Stories also mentioned a list of seedy clients that Dershowitz defended. A New York Times story said that” Starr was pushed out as the Baylor University president because of his handling of sexual misconduct by the football team.

    TV reporters and pundits also continuously told of the advantage that some Democratic presidential candidates had in Iowa because senators sitting as jurors during the impeachment trial couldn’t campaign there and other early primary states. Of course, everyone in our business knows that’s nonsense. Because of technology dating back many years, a person in Washington can use video interviews to gain the media exposure in states across the country.

    By repeating the same facts continuously throughout the trial the Democratic House managers were pursuing a two-pronged strategy: 1) to convince the Senate to remove President Trump from office, (which they knew would not happen), and, 2) to convince the voting public of the president’s guilt so they will vote against him in the November election.

    I thought the Democratic House managers did a superb job of presenting the case against President Trump, except for two facets: Too much of their presentation was about the past; too little about how Trump would continue to  trample the Constitution and power of Congress in the future if he remains unbridled. They began to make these points later in the trial but it should have been a key message point from the beginning.

    As a reporter and editor prior to crossing the line to the PR business, I’ve always known one truism about media reactions to major PR crises situations, which I’ve always told to clients: Diversionary public relations or publicity initiatives will result in temporary overlaying press coverage but will still be miniscule compared to that of the underlying predicament. Coverage of media reporting of the Senate trial, compared to the travels of President Trump and Vice-President Pence and other smoke screen tactics they used during the Democratic House manager’s presentations, again proves what I’ve said.

    To lift a thought, and some words, from Jason Gay’s non-political sports column in the Wall Street Journal (January 24), regarding the baseball sign stealing scandal: (My take). Both the baseball commissioner and President Trump seemed to get what they wanted – an in-house investigation and a speedy trial before a fixed jury. But in both cases, suspicious media coverage will continue, because of the past conduct of cover-ups by baseball commissioners, and what the GOP Senate Majority Leader and other “impartial” jurors said publicly about how they would vote prior to the flawed Senate trial’s commencement. Eventfully the truth about both situations will become known. Until then the fairness of the in-house sign stealing investigation and the acquittal of the president will linger as a damaged piñata over the heads of baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and President Trump, waiting for the truth about both situations to be revealed by an investigative press, whistle blowers or, eventually, insiders who have had enough.

    Because of the Republican control of the Senate, the Democratic leadership knew the chances of President Trump being found guilty were nil to none. But, looking ahead to the 2020 presidential election, they proceeded with the impeachment process.

    That’s a very important PR media lesson that should be learned from their tactics: When crafting a media-oriented publicity program, it should include long-term as well as short term objectives.

    In addition to the media lessons learned from the Senate trial of President Trump, and from the prior impeachment inquiries, there’s a valuable personal lesson that PR practitioners who work at small and large agencies should remember: Take contemporaneous notes of your daily activities and what is said to you (you’ll never know when you might need them). Be careful of what you say, what you write and what you do because no matter how complimentary your supervisors, top management and H.R. are to you, you’re still an employee number. And if circumstances change, (like a new client contact wanting a new account supervisor for an account you’ve managed for years), even if you’ve done nothing wrong and everything correct, management will feed you to the sharks if it helps the agency.

    Final Thoughts:

    • The outcome of the Senate trial was known before it began. Even before the first words were spoken the outcome was never in doubt. The GOP Majority Leader was true to his word, when he said he would work step-by-step with the White House
    • The Democratic House managers’ arguments were made with the November election in mind.
    • The Republican vote refusing to allow John Bolton to testify was beneficial to the Democrats. If Bolton testified, the outcome of the trial would not have changed. By blocking his testimony, the Democrats can now claim, “what were they trying to hide,” from tomorrow to election day.
    • I’ve said for years that when a client has had a PR crisis, as the president has had even before he was inaugurated; it becomes embedded in the individual’s or entities DNA and never goes away. It can be revived by the media unexpectedly at any time, even years later. That’s not true in this case. In this case, the media will keep the president’s crisis alive day-after-day until the election.
    • There’s another important media lesson that people in our business should remember regarding the Senate proceedings. When a client has a PR crisis, self-designated crises specialists, in this case the president’s defenders cannot prevent negative coverage. Only the media can decide when to cease writing about the subject. And there’s nothing PR people can do about it. If you don’t believe me, ask the impeached president.

      Are there overriding media lessons that can be learned from the impeachment trial? Yes there are. In fact, there are four. Lesson 1: For the remainder of his tenure, and during his next term if he is re-elected, the president, like Boeing, Wells Fargo, Facebook and so many other individuals and entities that have had major media crises, the president will always need a crisis team in place, because the negative press coverage will continue as new information emerges after court rulings and new books are published by people who have worked for his administration. Lesson 2: Even though much of their advice is flawed, PR employees should consider joining a PR crises firm. It’s an aspect of public relations that will always be in demand. Lesson 3: If you reach the stage in your career where you will manage a large group of people, be nice to them. If you’re not, don’t expect them to say nice things about you to the media, and Lesson 4: If you are ever interviewed by the press or an investigative body, remember that whatever you say can be used as evidence, if necessary.

      The Senate trial ended in the acquittal of President Trump. But the history books will record him as only the third impeached president of the United States. And beginning right now, the day-to-day chroniclers of history – the journalists – will report on his plans to convince a divided country to reelect him in November. And the impeachment of the president will remain a continuing story line. Media Lesson: Despite the best efforts of PR crises specialists, the press will always have the final words.

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

      Was there “Sun” at Sundance Film Festival?

      Sundance Film Festi

      It was more Snowdance, but still Fundance!

      Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group

      PARK CITY, UTAH.–It was cold, crowded and crawling with film buffs once again at Sundance Film Festival. Occasional snowflake flurries were hardly noticed. Same with the snow-covered mountains surrounding bustling Main Street where daily temperatures were down in the 20s.

      There was lots of excitement, however. Busy goings on. Screenings galore. I was in one of them, but not exactly part of Sundance. It was held at Homestead, a 20-minute drive away. That’s me. Ever Off Broadway. But ever hopeful.

      Since I was last there, Sundance has grown tremendously! Spectacularly! Wow!

      We’re still defrosting and catching our breath after my wife Rita and I are back in snuggly Florida after one of the longest red-eye’s in a long while, well over six and a half hours with the two-hour time difference. But it was well worth it. We had fun!

      Still, each day I had to put on layers of clothes just to go to breakfast where we’d order the spicy bison chili to instantly warm ourselves up. Each day I’d put on a heavy top shirt over my thick undershirt, then a leather jacket crowned by my weighty overcoat, a wool scarf and felt hat.

      Somehow, weighted down with clothes, cell phone, wallet and copies of my new book Love Boat 78, now available on Amazon, I’d make it to the door Rita was holding open for me.   And we’d walk into the white of day as snow was everywhere. Those snow-capped mountains around us were so beautiful and inviting, but I don’t ski. Just gaze.

      We were there because I had a small part in Terence Gordon’s documentary film about my friend Alfredo Versace losing the right to use his last name commercially. This was the result of a prolonged and costly court battle with Donatella, the sister of Alfredo’s cousin Gianni Versace, who was murdered in front of his Miami mansion.

      In the film I spoke about how unfair this was to strip Alfredo of his last name after he had done so much to globalize the brand and he himself was such a designer genius whose exotic skin handbags and shoes were the rage from Beijing to Palm Beach until Donatella stripped him of his last name.

      In my interview on the film I deplored the reckless outcome of a lawsuit spanning 15 years that cost my dear friend millions of dollars. The screening at the Homestead Resort was sponsored by African American Women in Cinema, an organization that has its work cut out for it judging from the upcoming, mostly snow white and masculine Academy Awards.

      Though far from the action in Park City, the Homestead is a remarkable resort hotel. Next to it is a popular attraction known as the Crater, a cave containing a 65-foot deep pool of invitingly warm mineral water into which entire families in bathing suits, with oxygen tanks strapped to their backs would jump in. Standing there watching them in my hat, scarf and overcoat, I looked terribly out of place.

      Another thing that resonated throughout Utah were the scary signs in the bars in what originally was a Mormon mecca.




      This sign was everywhere and there were no drinks served unless you ate food. As to the quantify of alcohol served, they were the smallest pours you ever saw.

      The End

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

      Four Questions to Ask Yourself Before Shopping for Podcasting Equipment

      Boosting Traffic to Your PodcastNeil Garrett, VP Marketing, uStudio

      So you’ve decided to launch a corporate podcast. That’s a great idea! Private business podcasts offer a convenient, cost-effective, and secure way to connect and share information with employees, particularly those working remotely or traveling for work. 

      The decision to implement a private podcast is a critical first step to improving your business communication, but there are a number of other important decisions you have to make before the show becomes a reality. In this article, we’ll focus on one unavoidable decision: what type of equipment should you buy? 

      The answer, perhaps unsatisfyingly, is that it depends. However, here are the questions you should be asking yourself as you begin the search for podcasting gear. 

      What is your budget? 

      The cost of podcasting equipment ranges widely. Microphones alone range from $50 to $8,000. It is entirely possible to do a podcast on a shoestring budget but you may not be able to achieve the sound quality that is possible with pricier gear. 

      Whatever you do, don’t start buying gear before you’ve figured out what your overall equipment budget is and what tools you will need. You don’t want to end up buying a fancy microphone just to realize that you don’t have money left over for other important equipment: headphones, audio mixers, audio interfaces, editing software etc. 

      Coming up with an overall budget will enable you to make a more informed decision. For instance, instead of deciding what headphones you want, decide what percentage of your budget you’re willing to spend on that particular tool. 

      Where will you be recording?

      You can record almost anywhere if you have the right equipment. The more background noise that is present, the more important it may be to invest in higher-quality technology. 

      For instance, if you’re creating a podcast that will involve interviewing people in different settings, you’ll want to have portable equipment that you can depend on to deliver quality audio no matter where you are. However, if every episode is going to be recorded with internal employees in a quiet room, your focus may shift from blocking outside noise to reducing room reverb with sound treatments, such as a vocal booth or acoustic panels.  

      How many people will be talking on the show?

      Will your show have guests? If so, will you be talking to them in-studio, at another location or will they be speaking to you remotely (phone, Skype etc)? One thing to consider: if you have a high-end microphone, you won’t have to worry as much about guests not speaking loudly enough or not sitting close enough to the mic. Similarly, if you’re regularly going to have multiple people on the show, you should consider an audio mixer. 

      Will your podcast involve video?

      Gestures, body language, and visual text can be helpful in getting your message across to your employees. The prospect of video podcasting opens up a whole other round of considerations. How professional of a video are you trying to create? Will you require somebody to hold a camera or will a stationary tripod or webcam do the trick? 

      If you don’t know the answers to these questions yet, you probably need to think a little more about what you want your podcast to look, sound and feel like. There are many, many different ways to do a good show from a variety of budgetary limitations, but they all require some level of planning. To be honest, many successful podcasts are recorded on a mobile device – if you can talk, then you can start podcasting.


      My 2019 Cable TV “Breaking News” – (Not Really) Column

      My 2019 Cable TV “Breaking News”

      Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

      It’s certainly not “Breaking News” to those who have read my columns criticizing cable TV political programs over the years that I believe that the political channels have poisoned American politics, as well as providing substandard coverage.

      I fault cable news reporters, with few exceptions, for acting like parrots and repeating almost verbatim what politicians tell them instead of actually reporting breaking news that they uncovered.

      I fault cable political reporters for not knowing the details about issues they talk about.

      I fault cable news political talk show hosts, the exception being Chris Wallace (of Fox) and Jake Tapper (of CNN), and occasionally, Wolf Blitzer of (CNN) of tossing softball questions to their guests.

      I fault cable news political shows’ participants for engaging in punditry instead of news gathering.

      I fault cable news political reporting for exaggerating the newness of their reporting.

      But most of all I fault cable political news shows for engaging in symbiotic journalism, depending upon stories in major print pubs for their show’s content.

      In the past, I’ve criticized cable political news programs a few times a year. But since cable political news programs remain the same, I find myself repeating what I’ve previously written about, just as the cableists repeat their same prattle countless times an hour. (Names might change; problems with the programs don’t.)

      So, in 2019, I decided to write one year-end column highlighting why I think cable political news programs use of the word “journalism” should be banned by the F.C.C. as being false advertising.

      Here’s my incomplete list: (Caveat: There are probably dozens – probable hundreds – of other examples that should be included that I didn’t because of space limitations, I forgot or didn’t see.)

      1. On January 17, during a discussion regarding the government shut down, Ari Melber, host of MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber” highlighted an opinion by rapper CardiB. Ms. B certainly has a right to express her opinion, but to feature her on a supposedly serious political show makes as much sense as having me on a panel discussing constitutional law with members of the Supreme Court. (Throughout the year, for reasons known only to him, Mr. Melber also featured other entertainers.)
      2. A few cable TV anchors seem exasperated when the Trump surrogates refused to answer their questions or interrupt opposing viewpoints and anchor’s comments but keep on inviting them back instead of cutting them off and not inviting them back.
      3. A typical cable TV political report goes something like this: Reporter: “The Trump campaign has said the following (whatever) about whom ever.” A Democratic spokesperson is asked to respond. And cable considers that good journalism. In addition, all of the questions asked are generalizations without detailing the fine print specifics that appear in major print publications, probably because the cable reporters don’t know the specifics, as Katy Tur showed appallingly on MSNBC’s Oct. 29, 2018, “MTP Daily.”
      4. In a discussion about the horrific Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, just two days after the tragedy Ms. Tur said that HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) was an organization that settles Jewish refugees. She made that statement knowing the shooter said that HIAS was one of the reasons for his terrible act. Ms. Tur’s remarks were wrong, or charitably incomplete. (Nothing unusual on cable news.) As the New York Times said in a story on Oct. 29, “Its clients (HIAS) have often been Jews – its first mission was to aid those fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe – but the agency has also helped resettle many other kinds of refugees, including thousands of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians after Communist victories in Southeast Asia in the 1970s.”A simple internet search would have provided Ms. Tur with correct information regarding HIAS. But just as important as her mistake, no correction was made. (On cable, it seems, corrections are never made because in its synthetic Breaking News universe, even when wrong, it’s considered correct as long as the speaker sounds authentic.)
      5. Another example of cable TV reporters’ ineptness occurred when MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, shouted to Michael Cohen as he emerged from his second day of hearings before a Congressional committee and asked, “Mr. Cohen. Why did you lie to Congress?” Certainly, that’s not a way to get someone to answer your questions. More important. Ms. Hunt had been covering the story for much more than a year and if that’s the best question she could come up with perhaps she should take a refresher course in journalism 101 (or ask her producers to feed her questions). It was another example of shockingly bad journalism but who ever said cable news is good journalism.
      6. Just when you think cable TV political reporting has hit a low point, along came another Melber comment on his March 7 program. During a discussion while waiting for the judge to sentence Paul Manafort, Melber actually said, I swear, it’s out of the hands of us analysts and observers, as if it mattered to the judge what they said. (For those of you who think I’m picking on MSNBC unfairly, I have two responses. 1) One, it deserve criticism, as does Fox, and, 2) I was a big fan of Lawrence O’Donnell’s commentary until he made a horrendous journalistic mistake that gave Trump the opportunity to emphasize the truthfulness, in his opinion, of his Fake News claims. O’Donnell had to make a public apology on the air after being threatened with legal action by a Trump attorney for reporting that the president had dealings with Russian oligarchs without information to verify the broadcaster’s comments. I also tune in Brian Williams’ wrap-up late night news program on MSNBC; perhaps the second best program on MSNBC, following Nicolle Wallace’s’ show. I award her extra points for not having entertainers on her show, as Melber does and as Chuck Todd, the master f softball questioning, occasionally does. Anyway, who needs entertainers when listening to some of the political people express their rehearsed opinions, as if they were really outraged.
      7. Cable News’ lack of unpreparedness was again demonstrated on Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC November 4 program, when Ms. Mitchell asked a question that if posed a by PR 101 journalism student would result in a failing grade. She asked one of the panelists (to paraphrase), Given how poorly the Democrats intelligence committee did during their questioning of Robert Mueller, how can Nancy Pelosi be assured of controlling the Democrats (and how the Democrats will act) during impeachment questioning. As Ms. Mitchell should have known, the impeachment questioning was handled differently than during the Mueller questioning. Why should she know it? Because it was reported in the news for several days; many times a day. Then on her November 27 program, during a discussion regarding budget aides quitting over Trump’s holding back previously approved military assistance to Ukraine, White House reporter Kristen Welker said, (to paraphrase), This is a story that broke overnight. I don’t know what night she was referring to because the story had been reported continually the day before. (Unpreparedness on Ms. Mitchell’s and Ms. Welker’s part, or were they instructed to say what they said in order to give the impression that it was breaking news? Either way, bad journalism.) Questionable reporting seems to be a hallmark on Ms. Mitchell’s On December 7, talking about Sen. Warren criticizing Mayor Pete about his money bundlers, reporter Ali Vitali said “frankly” the mayor hasn’t shown the transparency that has been the norm for Democratic candidates over the last few cycles. If Ms. Vitali thinks that Hillary Clinton was “transparent” during the 2016 campaign, I think she is using a still-to-be published dictionary that hasn’t been made available to the public.)
      8. Wolf Blitzer joined cable’s exaggerating reporting club at 6 pm on November 4, when he excitedly announced that they would be reporting on “just released” transcripts regarding the closed door impeachment hearings. Actually, the transcripts were released early in the day and were reported on many times prior to Blitzer’s announcement.
      9. Also, on November 11, Melber said, “impeachment breaking news that just came out.” Like Blitzer’s comment it wasn’t true. The news was reported on earlier programs. (Not good. In fact bad.)
      10. Howard Kurtz’s laughable so-called impartial review of the media program on Fox News Network, “Media Buzz” has had too many incidents to list, so I’ll summarize: His panelists, all but one “must have” Democratic participant, follow in the footsteps of Hannity, Levin, Piro, to name a few. The panelists are so far to the right that having them on a program that supposedly impartially reviews the weeks’ media coverage is a farce. Led by the hard right wing news analysis of very frequent panelist Mollie Hemingway, any unbiased observer of the program can see the obvious conservative bias of the program. A particular stain on the program is the lack of follow up questions to his conservative cohorts by Kurtz when his panelists leave out important aspects of a story. Kurtz also doesn’t mind having proven twisters of the truth on his program. Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer is a frequent guest. And “alternative facts” Kellyanne Conway is permitted to give her version of happenings. (Will Donald Trump be next?) The thin coat of veneer that protected Kurtz’ disintegrating disguise as a serious impartial arbiter of news coverage was stripped away on December 8, when his guest was Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s newest White House press secretary. Having the White House flack on his program in the middle of the impeachment inquiry reminded me of the press conference gimmick of planting questions with a few media friends to make sure that the client’s positions would get a hearing.

      A flagrant display of ignoring good journalistic practices occurred on Kurtz’ September 15 program, during a discussion of an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times by the authors of a book about Trump. Without ever having read the book, Kurtz and his right wing guests slammed the book and the Op-Ed as if they were discussing a hard news story instead of the authors’ opinions. And then again on November 3, when he let two conservative panelists, without correcting them, say that Trump has released the transcripts of his controversial Ukrainian phone call, when in reality he only released his edited version of the call. To use a Trumpian expression, calling Kurtz’ program an impartial review of the news is Fake News.

      Other examples from Fox News Network have not been included because much of their programming is nothing but an arm of the Trump White House PR department and is not to be taken seriously, although some Fox newsmen have attempted to defend the network.

      Responding to attacks by Trump because the president didn’t like a straight forward interview with a Democrat, Brit Hume said. “Fox News isn’t supposed to work for you.” And Neil Cavuto responded to Trump’s criticism saying: “My job is to cover you, not fawn over you.” But now that Shepard Smith resigned from the Trump propaganda network, it has lost a lot of credibility as a truthful news outlet. However, Chris Wallace still remains as the best interviewer on TV, asking the tough questions regardless of who he is interviewing. Fox is lucky to have him, as was evidenced on his November 3 program, when he wouldn’t let Trump’s propaganda minister, Kellyanne Conway, filibuster instead of responding to Wallace’s questions. (In my opinion, it should be required of journalism students to listen to Wallace interviews.) 

      11. On December 10, Ms .Mitchell said that there will not be a single Republican to vote for impeachment. Not only was that conjecture but it is also incomplete reporting. To set the record straight, she should have referenced that Rep. Justin Amash, a five term GOP Congressman, quit the party in July to become an independent. Rep. Amash has publicly said that President Trump’s conduct rose to the level of impeachable conduct. On the same day, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, one of the best cable anchors, told a Democratic Congresswoman that there wasn’t any chance of the Senate removing the president from office. Probably true, but Ms. Baldwin appeared flustered when the Congresswoman replied, “How do you know?” In any event, the declarative remarks from Mitchell and Baldwin were “pundit journalism,” not expected by hard news program hosts. Later in the day, speaking to a Congresswoman, instead of using a declarative sentence, Blitizer gave a lesson in journalism by saying “almost a certainty. Cables incomplete ‘Breaking News” reporting would be more accurately named if it was called “Cliff Notes Journalism.” In its attempt to fill time slots, cable is also guilty of “inside baseball” reporting. Little known minor news sources like Breitbart News, the Washington Examiner, The Federalist and many other on-line news sources were unknown to the general public before cable news producers weaved them into their programs as if they were major news providers. Most people didn’t know of these outlets before they were highlighted on cable programs, except, maybe, cult followers. Most people still don’t, but that doesn’t prevent their representatives from being featured as the programs desperately try to fill their time slots with different guests.

      While most of cable news coverage resembles what I call “Yellow Journalism Headline Talk”– words akin to a :30 sound bite – that omits all the important details, probably because the reporters don’t know them, the ridiculous nature of cable TV is frequently seen during interviews, when the reporter says to a guest, “This is a very important question. You have 30 seconds to answer it.” Sometime even less.

      Reporting on the impeachment inquiry, and during the days prior to the impeachment vote, provided a prime example of both cable’s Yellow Journalism and incomplete reporting. For hours on end, the cableists talked about the dangers to Democratic member of the House, who were elected in 2018 from districts that supported Trump in 2016 if they voted for impeachment. Then for a few days they made a big deal about one Democratic Congressman who said he would switch parties because he was against impeachment. Largely missing from the reporting for months was that GOP Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan bolted from the Republican Party after reading the Mueller report to become an independent in July, saying he thought President Trump committed impeachable acts.

      Of the three major cable networks, CNN covers the news in a straightforward manner and is my go-to station when I want unbiased cable news. Importantly, their reporters, while being much less detailed than print journalists, know what they are talking about. (But for the complete story read a respected print pub.)

      The above were only a tiny fraction all the examples of poor, bad and misleading cable news political coverage that occurred in 2019. Space limitations and not watching cable coverage 24/7 throughout the year made it impossible to detail all the sub-par journalism on the networks.

      But Perhaps December 27 saw the low point of 2019 cable’s political coverage, when CNN devoted a full segment about a few seconds of a cameo appearance of Donald Trump being cut by CBC (Canada) from the movie” Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”?  Even the president initially jokingly tweeted twice about the cut. But one panel member shouted, “It’s not presidential.” Showing good sense, her remark was ignored by the rest of the panel. But things quickly changed. Donald Trump Jr., who in comparison makes his father look like Mr. Rogers, posted that it proves that the news media “really are the enemy of the people.” (Maybe he had a little too much holiday cheer before his post on Instagram. What a cut in a movie broadcast for time constraints has to do with the media only Jr. knows.) 

      Then the actual media got involved: Ed Henry, the chief national correspondent for Fox New Channel, said on “Fox and Friends” that the cameo cut of Trump by the CBC was an example of “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” whatever that is, because it is not classified as a true mental disorder. Not surprisingly for comments on the morning show, Mr. Henry’s made his remark without checking the facts. CBC said it made the cuts in 2014, before the president entered politics. (I find Mr. Henry’s remark interesting. Trump’s media supporters criticize psychologists who question President’s Trump’s mental status without actually examining him. But when a Fox host decides to become an armchair psychologist, it’s okay. For a change, Howard Kurtz reverted to being a fact-driven journalist by correcting Henry’s comments on the December 29 “Media Buzz” program.)

      Before concluding my 2019 cable political coverage column, I must admit that perhaps I was too harsh in my criticism of the pundits. For a few months or so I’ve been hearing them opine on whether Trump’s “perfect phone conversation” reached the level of impeachment. I never knew that the pundits had to be Constitutional scholars in order to get their jobs. The next thing I’ll learn is that the cable reporters don’t base the majority of their reporting on stories that first appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, the Associated Press and other major print news sites.

      Of course, there are many people that disagree with my evaluation of cable news political coverage: The cable news community of reporters, hosts and pundits,  augmented by behind-the-camera individuals who make their living working for the cables; the ad agencies that create the often misleading commercials that appear on both broadcast and cable networks, the PR people who promote the “stars” of cable, and, of course, the previously little known political websites that would remain little known except for cable ’s  voracious appetite for having new faces on their shows. (Question: How many followers do they have?) 

      The difference between the reporting on cable news and that of a major print pub was best illustrated on page 2 of the December 30 New York Times. The daily published a feature about correcting errors in their stories. When cable news blunders, it takes others to point out their inaccuracies. 

      I have many other observations about the inadequate political coverage on cable TV. But my editor said, “You have only 30 seconds left to complete the article.” Maybe she’s training to be a cable news host.

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



      The Secret Behind Advancing Your Career

      Wendy Glavin, Founder & CEO, Wendy Glavin Agency

      Daily, I’m asked, “How did you learn blockchain?” Or, cryptocurrency? Or, artificial intelligence? Or, financial technology, and the list goes on. The answer is simple. I buy books, read, and do research. Instead of just retweeting, sharing or posting, I follow editors, industry leaders, people in other professions to learn. I regularly attend events, sit in the front row, take notes, listen, participate and meet new people.

      Why Attending Events is Crucial to Growth

      After, one of my business colleagues, Todd Fabacher suggested I meet Fay Shapiro. We had several conversations. Fay asked me to attend some of her company’s industry events. One-thing-led-to-another and I began writing articles for CommPRO. During that time, I listened and spoke to industry leaders, like Paul Kontonis, David Berkowitz (not Son-of-Sam;), Richard Levick, Ty Cobb, John Avlon, Mark Weiner, Shelly Specter, Renee Edelman, Judith Harrison, Mike Paul, Jim Joseph, and many others. I learned about many topics which I may not have learned had I not attended.

      I’m honored that Jim signed a copy of his book, “Out & About Dad” and wrote, “Wendy, Share your story!” during the event, LGBTQ experience in public relations. Other events I covered for Fay included, earned media in the digital age, truth on trial, the lack of trust in the media, Black History Month, Daniel J. Edelman’s Vision and Legacy, fake news, why PR pros must have a seat at the table, using social content to drive earned media, the importance of brand consistency, authenticity and loyalty, why companies must be purpose and customer-driven, and the need for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

      None of this was luck or happenstance. Instead, it’s about doing the work and showing up. For example, if you attend an industry event and speak to people, follow-up. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Use Twitter, to read journalists’ feeds. Learn about what interests them. Create a relationship. People are more likely to trust the people with whom they know.

      Finally, go to events where the people you want to meet will be, instead of only attending events with like-minded industry peers. Don’t forget to bring business cards.


      Becoming a Published Writer

      Since I’ve been in marketing communications for 30-years, I write every day. But, somehow, I never “owned” the fact that I was a writer. The cliché is, the more you practice, the better you get. Somehow, that never hit me. But, I continued to write for my clients to learn about their industry sectors and become the voice of their companies.

      Subjects I’ve learned include, financial technology (FinTech), financial services, artificial intelligence (AI), mobile apps, crowdfunding, entrepreneurship, leadership, software, cloud transformation (I hate buzzwords;)), Twitter, and many other technologies. Twitter is my platform of choice. Why? Long ago, it took nearly a day to read The Sunday Times. Now, Twitter is like reading the New York Times in an hour.

      Using Twitter, I noticed a post from Equities.com asking for contributors. I pitched CEO Nathan Stevenson of ForwardLane, a FinTech AI startup. The Managing Editor at the time, Henry Truc emailed me to ask me to be a contributor. He said, “I’ve seen your writing. You don’t need to apply.” I said, “What about my FinTech AI client?” He said, “We want landscape pieces, not company articles.” I hesitated because it’s a daily, monthly or weekly commitment. Then, I agreed to write one article per-month.

      Henry suggested I write about, “Has the Public Lost Trust in Big Tech Companies?” We discussed a mini-research survey about how “the public” needs to be broken-down. Henry published the article. Since then, I write for Equities and have a tech column. I learned a lot from Henry and now, from Managing Editor, Ed Kim.

      While some publications don’t pay contributors, many do. When you search on Google, be sure to look for the specific subject or industry sector that interests you. Submissions to reporters expire so it’s important to search the current date. You can find any type of writing, including, technical, scientific, literary, financial, essays, marketing, public relations, travel, poetry, cooking, blogging and more. All it takes is your interest and online research.

      If you’re in PR, there’s a new site I recommend called Qwoted which sends reporters’ requests for experts. Other free sites include HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and ProfNet.

      We Think We Can’t but We Can

      Fay asked me if I could do financial writing. Having been married to a bond salesman on Wall Street for thirty-years, I said, “No. Finance is one of the only things I can’t write about.” Of course, if you know Fay, she recommended me anyway.

      In January 2016, I began working with a FinTech startup, a software enterprise company for supply-chain, and a software industry leader in mutual fund trading, data management, revenue, expense management, compliance, and analytics. All of it was financial writing.

      Remember the show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” One of my phone-a-friends was my ex-husband. I called him to obtain a more in-depth understanding about mutual fund trading. He’s great at providing a mini-thesis or telling me where to go to find the answers.

      It’s important to have friends in different industry sectors with whom you can call upon to help or point you in the right direction. It’s not about sending emails, IN Mails, DMs or comments, and seeing what will stick. It’s about building relationships over time. “Perception is the co-pilot to reality. You are your own competitive advantage. Nobody can be you like you can. If you bring your authentic self to the table, people will trust you and trust is at the heart of any successful relationship.” – Carla Harris

      Eventually, I obtained press passes to cover events. What’s great is you attend global and national events for free. Then, you write an article. Here’s what it led to in December 2017: “Strategic Trends: AI, Machine Learning and Customer Service” was the #9 MOST-READ article in 2017.  “From Big Banks to the Underbanked: FinTech’s Customer-Centric Model was the #8 Most-Viewed Event in 2017.

      Attending and covering events helped me reposition my career. I gained more confidence, credibility and trust. You’ll find, when you’re helping or teaching others it inspires you to do more.

      Reverse-Engineer Your Passion

      During Social Media Week 2018, I obtained a press pass. Once there, I realized that it was too late for me to interview people since interviews were set-up at 6-12 months in-advance. How could I have a press pass and not write an article? I looked at all the events and found Jeffrey Lancaster who was speaking about blockchain. I knew nothing about blockchain and decided to attend his event to learn more.

      After, I researched all the latest articles I could find. Then, Jeffrey and I met at Decoded in New York City. I came prepared with questions from a Forbes article and we talked. Jeffrey gave me a tour and explained how the company teaches non-tech executives to Code in a Day. Learn to Code in a Day is an incredible opportunity. Since it’s for groups of executives, if you want to join, please let me know. We wrote my first blockchain article, “The Amazing Utility of Blockchain: From Mining Crypto for Charities to Tracking E-Coli.”

      Finally, it hit me. I’m a tech writer. Looking back, it’s been the thread throughout my career. Often, people say you need to find a passion. But, if you look back, instead of forward, you may remember previous jobs, hobbies, interests and people you met along the way. Instead of looking for your passion, it may find you as technology and writing did for me.

      Why You Should Attend SXSW2020 

      As many of us are, I’m part of groups on LinkedIn and others including, networking, like LinkedIn Network After Work where I got my first client after launching my agency in 2016. I urge you to find and attend events in your area to meet new people, make connections, find a job or build on your career.

      Facebook has many groups. One in which I’m a member is PR, Marketing and Media Czars. A member whom I didn’t know contacted me. She asked me to attend SXSW2019. I knew it was a global event for the film and music industries. I didn’t know it included technology and so much more. After speaking with Adryenn Ashley, I decided to attend.

      If you’ve never been, SXSW it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Imagine going into the biggest sports stadium you know. Then, double that. The entire city is transformed with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Beyond a single venue event, it’s the entire city. Sanctioned events are in roughly ten places including, the convention center and hundreds of unofficial side events.

      I was only able to attend a few official events. I attended side events with Adryenn as part of her CrytoVixens Investors Lounge. There were panel discussions about data privacy, blockchain, GDPR, sovereign identity, voting, dating, apps, the media and more. I spoke on a panel moderated by Stewart Rogers, “How to Make the Media Love You.” Other speakers included, Brittany Kaiser, Phu Styles, Priya Kuber, Tina Mulgueen, Rachel Wolfson, Anne Ward, and Monika Proffitt. We’ve kept in-touch. I look forward to spending more time with them online, in-person and at SXSW2020.

      For me, another revelation there was ageism is a myth. I was 60-years old during South by and it was a competitive advantage. People listened to one another regardless of age, title, background, experience, or any other “data points” used to classify and categorize us. It was a debate of ideas.

      If you’re asked to attend or speak at an event, take a leap of faith, even if you’re scared… go, speak and meet people whenever you’re asked. You never know what will come of it. For me, I learned about blockchain, returned to New York City and kept reading and writing about digital trust, data privacy, Brittany Kaiser and her Netflix documentary, The Great Hack, Facebook’s Libra, and more.

      I attend a lot of blockchain events and speak with startups, cryto (cryptocurrency) enthusiasts and edit pitch decks and whitepapers. Previously, I edited a few whitepapers. Now, I do both on a regular basis. The number of new people you’ll meet is incredibly exciting and rewarding.


      SXSW Recap - Wendy Glavin

      How to Get by With a Little Help from My Mentors

      An important lesson I learned is to find mentors. I’ve had many, including my father, a prosecutor, who died at the young age of 67. Others include one of my boss’s Sam Rogers, friends, business colleagues whom I’ve mentioned above, and my three grown boys.

      In January 2017, I hired Deirdre Breakenridge as my communications consultant. She helped me to keep moving forward with specific assignments, focus on my writing passion and bring out my personality in my work. Deirdre continues to be an advisor, dear friend and my role model.

      I still own my own agency, continue to write and attend events of all sizes. I’ve built upon my knowledge and skillset and have more even more business colleagues and friends. As Deirdre says, “I’m a #ForeverStudent.”

      Now, it’s time to for you to think about how you will continue to build upon your strengths at any age and move forward. World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: The power of mindset.

      In her book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” she illustrates how success in almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. She says, People with a fixed mindset are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset; those who believe that their abilities can be developed. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can incorporate this idea to foster outstanding accomplishment.

      My three sons always loved Dr. Seuss, as I’m sure those of you with children do too. I love this quote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

      I’ve laid out the story of my career (although not 30-years) in roughly 2000+ words. My goal is for you to know that the secret behind learning new subjects and advancing your career is not a secret.

      As a matter of fact, it’s in plain sight. In the era of Google, you can search for anything. Using social media, you can follow people and learn about topics which interest you. Living in a globally-connected world makes it easy for you to connect and engage with people worldwide, 24/7/365-days per year.

      None of this is a secret. All of us can do it. What are you waiting for? Do research. Read a book. Attend an event. Raise your hand, even if you’re shy. People will listen if you try.

      Now, it’s your turn … what will you do?

      #SXSW - Wendy GlavinAbout the Author: Wendy Glavin is a 30-year veteran and Founder and CEO of Wendy Glavin Agency in New York City, offering marketing, PR, executive writing and social media. Her specialties include blockchain, cryptocurrency, AI, FinTech and working with B2B2C technology start-ups. Her website is https://wendyglavin.com/. Contact her directly at wendy@wendyglavin.com


















      Over 500 Concurrent Miners Flock to New BADcoin

      CommPRO Editorial Staff

      The team at The Bad Crypto Podcast has been working with one of the top blockchain development teams over the past six months and have developed one of the most advanced blockchain projects to date. It’s not Bitcoin; it’s BADcoin.  Over 500 people have fired up their Macbooks and PCs to mine BAD.

      BADcoin is a peer-to-peer multichain built on five blockchain protocols. This allows the transfer of assets from one party to another cheaper, faster, safer, and sexier than others. Unlike Bitcoin, which requires expensive high-end computers, anyone can mine BADcoin fairly, whether on supercomputers or old computers.  Having better tech is a deterrent with BADcoin, with faster machines punished for attempting to mine such a BAD cryptocurrency.

      In July of 2017, Travis Wright and Joel Comm launched The Bad Crypto Podcast. As a means of teaching their audience how to use cryptocurrency without expenses, they created BADcoin 1.0 on the Bitshares platform. The worthless token was given away to fans as an incentive for engagement with the podcast. They issued over 5 BILLION BADcoins on the Bitshares blockchain to date.

      In the past two years, Comm and Wright have interviewed hundreds of cryptocurrency and blockchain experts.  Throughout those discussions, one inherent flaw of Bitcoin was revealed… centralized mining.  Bitmain’s Jihan Wu and other large-scale mining operations have so much computing power (hashrate) focused on Bitcoin mining, that it’s nearly impossible for regular people to mine Bitcoin. In fact, you need a massive and costly server farm to successfully mine Bitcoin today.

      In late 2018, Wright had the idea to make a blockchain that only old and dated computers could use to mine. This could eliminate centralized mining by de-incentivizing large-scale mining operations, and honor the original vision of crypto pioneers. 

      Wright and Comm spoke with Marshall Long at World Crypto Con in Las Vegas. Known for being one of the first large-scale Bitcoin miners, Long has a large team of blockchain developers who have built over 50 successful blockchain projects.  Bad Crypto shared the idea with Long and challenged his team to create it.

      With the goal of making BADcoin a solution to the problem of centralized mining, they have built a multichain blockchain that is the hybrid of five blockchain algorithms.  The kind of device you use to connect to the mining pool will determine which of the five algorithms you connect to.

      If, for example, you connect with a supercomputer or If you connect with your Pentium computer from the early nineties, you’ll connect to a different algorithm based on your computer strength and your potential block reward will be different based on many different factors.

      BADcoin is fast. It’s ten times faster than Bitcoin. It’s secure. It’s fair. Anyone can mine it from any computer or smartphone that can connect to the internet. Bad Crypto has learned that a third party intends to set up the BADcoin Foundation to be the custodian of the blockchain. The foundation will help continue and encourage development on the project, market the project, and assist in getting listed on exchanges.  However, no one owns the BADcoin protocol. Anyone can build upon it and make it even better for the community.The mission of this project is to level the playing field so that anyone can mine, including people in developing countries who have not been able to afford computers strong enough to mine Bitcoin.  And it’s completely open-source.  No one owns it. That’s so BAD, it’s good.

      Life Lessons Learned Working At The White House

      Life Lessons Learned Working At The White House


      Merrie Spaeth, President, Spaeth Communications, Inc.

      Sarah Huckebee Sanders is leaving and I wish her good luck. There’s one consistent thing about being a White House staffer; at some point you leave. You take with you a featured paragraph in your biography and lessons learned from the Administration in which you served.

      Lesson #1: you need to look 12 – 24 months ahead but the temptation is to get sidetracked by the crisis of the day. And realize that not all White House crises involve a major policy issue. When Mrs. Reagan announced the ad campaign showing fried eggs, “This is your brain on drugs,” with President Reagan, Michael Jackson attended and locked himself in Mrs. Reagan’s bathroom, delaying the announcement before 1100 reporters for an hour.

      Lesson #2: be creative and willing to take measured risks. My mission in the Media office at the White House was to get around the monopolyon information held by the White House Press Corps. Fortunately, this was the dawn of what became the technology era. (Although my children like to remind me that this actually occurred in the last century.)  ITT Dialcom had pioneered the system where you could dial in via telephone, putting the receiver into rubber cups, and up on your computer monitor came a black screen with white text. Presto! The White House News Service became Number 51 on the menu. Any journalist anywhere could now get access to anything the Press Office handed out to the White House Press Corps.

      Next, satellite technology was taking off, and if you could snag time on the satellite, you could hook up someone in D.C. with local anchors in the cities of your choosing around the country. We set up a process where a news station had to interview two Cabinet Secretaries, then they’d get Vice President Bush and then President Reagan. We did five interviews, five minutes each, per session every week.

      One reason we had these successes is that the White House chief of staff, James Baker, was willing to take a risk and let me experiment with these new technologies and approach. Next, thanks to President Jimmy Carter, who set up the organizational structure, the Media office was not part of the better known and much more prestigious Press Office. It was completely separate. However, the Press Office could have squashed us in a heartbeat, and the big-name national reporters freaked out when we set up remote interviews with local anchors for the President and Vice President.

      Lesson #3: live up to your promises and respect other people’s territory. My next stroke of good luck was the willingness of the Press Secretary, Larry Speakes, to support our efforts. On my first day in the White House, I made an appointment and got down on my knees in front of Larry and promised I would never go behind his back and talk to the national press. When he laughed, I knew we could be friends. And I kept my promise.

      Lesson #4: build relationships and treat everyone with respect: what we really needed to accomplish my ambitious plans was a lot more people, and no requests are more controversial or harder to accomplish than personnel. A long-time career secretary took me aside and said she was impressed by how respectful I was to the career employees. She told me that every confirmed officer on the President’s staff could have an unpaid intern, but many offices weren’t using their allotment. Another A-ha moment.  By picking up intern slots from offices like Legal and the National Security Council and others, I doubled the size of my office. The newcomers took over all of the day-to-day tasks.

      All of this culminated into my final and most important lesson, which just happens to be President Reagan’s credo: “There’s no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t mind who gets the credit.”

      Lessons learned:

      President Reagan’s credo: There’s no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t mind who gets the credit.

      Look 12 – 24 months ahead and stay focused.

      Live up to your promises and respect other people’s territory.

      Build relationships.

      Remember it’s better to be lucky than smart but the real trick is telling the difference.

      Be grateful every day.

      Merrie SpaethAbout the Author: Merrie has a unique background in media, government, politics, business and entertainment. She is a thought-leader in communication theory, executive training and coaching. Merrie is acknowledged as one of the most influential communication counselors in the world.

      Merrie was a White House Fellow assigned to FBI Director William Webster. She then served two years as director of public affairs for the Federal Trade Commission, and in 1983, President Reagan appointed her as director of media relations at the White House. In 1987, she founded Spaeth Communications, Inc., which provides strategic counseling and communication consulting for a wide range of companies and institutions.

      Merrie writes regularly on communication topics, and her columns have been collected into two books, Marketplace Communication and Words Matter. Both books are available atmerriespaeth.com. You Don’t Say!, her most recent book, is available on Amazon and compiles communication mistakes from her popular monthly BIMBO Memo. She also blogs regularly on spaethcom.com.

      The Hole(s) In The Truth and Nothing But The Untruth (And Some PR Lessons To Remember And Some To Discard)

      The Hole(s) In The Truth and Nothing But The Untruth (And Some PR Lessons To Remember And Some To Discard)


      Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

      What is it with President Trump and his spokespeople? Are they, as is the president, incapable of telling the truth, or is Trump a carrier of the “lying virus” and has infected his staff?

      First. Sean Spicer, the initial White House press spokesperson, “exaggerated” facts, despite everyone seeing that he was fibbing. Then, his successor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, began trying to out lie the president when answering press questions. And Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, admitted to a House investigating committee that she told” white lies” for the president.  But the most creative liar is probably Kellyanne Conway, the invent0r of alternative facts. To paraphrase William Shakespeare from “Romeo and Juliet,” — “A lie is a lie by any other name.”

      Some people in our business are known to exaggerate when dealing with the media, believing, as does the Trump White House that it’s not a lie unless you get caught, as Ms. Sanders did on November 7, even though a national TV audience could see that she was doing what seemingly comes naturally to her – lying.

      Sanders said that CNN’s Jim Acosta had his White House credentials taken away because “he placed his hands” on an intern, when she tried to take a microphone from him during a heated exchange with the president. The incident received major coverage, not only because Acosta’s credentials were revoked but because it was obvious that Ms. Sanders was once again being untruthful.

      Later that night, the Washington Post reported that “White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, on Wednesday night, shared a video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta that appeared to have been altered to make his actions at a news conference look more aggressive toward a White House intern.”

      Then, the November 8 New York Times ran a story quoting other reporters at the briefing saying that Acosta never placed his hands on the intern. Included in the story was a statement from CNN that said Sanders lied and provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. (I saw what happened live. Acosta never placed his hands on the intern when she attempted to retrieve the mike.)

      Later in the day, numerous major news organizations, including Trump-supporting Fox News, reported that Sanders had used a doctored video to portray the Acosta-intern incident. Side stepping whether the video was doctored, Sanders said, reported the Washington Post, that “The question is: did the reporter make contact or not? The video is clear, he did. We stand by our statement.”

      Of course, Trump supporters claim, and will continue to claim, that the video was not doctored and saying so is a leftist lie. However, the November 9 Wall Street Journal reported that Storyful, a social media intelligence agency, said, “These frames do not appear in the original C-Span footage, and appear to exaggerate the actions of Acosta.” A November 8 story about the incident on MarketWatch was headlined, “Video of Acosta incident posted by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders contains extra frames.” Both Stotryful and MarketWatch are owned by News Corp, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal, certainly not a liberal bastion. Also, Hany Farid, a Dartmouth College digital forensics expert, reviewed the tape for the New York Times and said, Acosta did not strike the intern as his hand comes down.

      And what was the enlightening response from President Trump, when he was asked about the doctored tape: “Nobody manipulated it. Give me a break!”

      Anyone who has watched the White House press briefings knows that Acosta is the most aggressive questioner at the sessions. Certainly, the president knows that. Personally, I think that the tussle between Trump and Acosta was a planned White House strategy waiting for the proper occasion to be implemented. If, not, there was a simple solution to avoid the confrontation: Just don’t take questions from Ascosa.

      The president’s inability to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, was evident again when he denied knowing Matthew Whitaker, who he appointed as acting attorney general. As soon as negative information about Whitaker’s past was reported. Trump falsely claimed he didn’t know Whitaker, despite having previously praised him, as an undistorted TV tape showed. The president has a habit of “not knowing” or running away from people who worked for him, when negative information about them surfaces. Remember how he hardly knew Michael Cohen or Paul Manafort? (Trump was never in the Army, as I was. But if he was, I wouldn’t want him or Dick Chaney, another chickenhawk that like our president also received five deferments to avoid serving, guarding my back in the same fox hole with me.)

      Whitaker, as everyone should know, had publicly disparaged the Mueller investigation and spoke of how to end it, when he was interviewed on television. Many people said that was why Trump appointed him. But both Democrats and Republicans said Whitaker’s comments should preclude him from supervising Mueller, causing the president to claim he doesn’t know his appointee. (As Robert Burns wrote in his poem “To a Mouse,” — “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.’)

      This give-and-take between the White House and the media is only one of many valuable lessons that young PR people who pay attention to the political scene should have learned, especially those who will work on clients with a PR crisis. Unfortunately, instead of being remembered so they can be applied to clients, the lessons from the White House spokespeople should be trashed.

      Prior to joining Burson-Marsteller, where as senior vice president/senior counselor I was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs, as well as traveling the world with high-ranking government officials as a media advisor, I also worked at a political PR firm and was a reporter and editor at New York City papers.

      I was always sympathetic to the plight of PR people, whose job it was to “place” a story and helped them whenever I could. I’m sure that sometime the information provided by PR people wasn’t entirely accurate. If they were misled by their clients, I wouldn’t blame the PR person. But if I knew that I was deliberately being given false information, as the president and his spokespeople constantly do, that PR person was on my “never use” list.

      So my advice to young PR people is to pay attention to the PR aspects of the political scene. There’s a lot that you can learn that may come in handy during your career working for nonpolitical clients.

      A few lessons to remember:

      • Always research facts provided by clients to the best extent possible before disseminating it to the media. (Like Ms. Sanders, maybe, didn’t before distributing a doctored tape.)
      • Never be pressured to pitch a story you know is false.(Ours is a small business, and you never know when the reporter you misled today might not only blacklist you but tell his colleagues that you are not a trustworthy source.)
      • Even if you’re flacking for a top Fortune 500 company, the media will not be impressed by your CEO (in this case Trump, or his spokespersons, Mses Sanders and Conway), when they are after a story).
      • Your PR title at a company might impress your mother, but not members of the extended media family. (So don’t take yourself too seriously because your business card reads “Senior Executive” or some other title that is meaningless to journalists. Remember, the media considers you a propaganda merchant, regardless of the square footage of your office, which you certainly are.)
      • Remember, the larger the company, the closer it comes under media scrutiny.
      • Always be honest when dealing with the media. (It will benefit you when you need help. Being dishonest with information, will not be forgotten by the reporter you attempted to hood wink and his extended media family.)
      • Spend some time paying attention to the political scene, and watch the too infrequent White House press briefings, (but take what political spokespersons and politicians say with a grain of salt, especially if they work for Trump).The media relations lessons you’ll learn are not available anywhere else. The syllabus will include a master’s class in how to lose credibility with the media, taught by Trump and Sanders, with Kellyanne Conway as a frequent lecturer. Missing from the syllabus will be a class in ethics.

      If you studied English lit and philosophy in college, you might remember Niccolò Machiavelli’s quote from “The Prince” — “The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present,” (especially relevant when a supervisor promises you a future salary increase and promotion to keep you from leaving for another agency). And also what Sir Walter Scott wrote in his poem “Marmion.” — “Oh! What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive.”

      And if you’re ever asked to fudge the facts when disseminating information to the media, remember Shakespeare’s line from “Hamlet.” —  “To thine own self be true.”

      It’s obvious to those who pay attention to the political scene, that Trump and his high-paid flacks don’t agree with the Scott and Shakespeare quotes, but think highly of the Machiavelli citation.

      But President Trump, who denies saying things despite their being caught on TV news tapes, seems to favor Chico Marx’s line from the 1933 Marx Brother’s film “Duck soup” — “Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”

      Arthur Solomon -The Hole(s) In The Truth and Nothing But The Untruth (And Some PR Lessons To Remember And Some To Discard)About the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com and artsolomon4pr (at) optimum.net

      Live Social Video Streaming

      D S Simon Media at the West Digital Client Summit


      How can brands and non-profits make the best use of live social video to grow their organizations? Douglas Simon, CEO, D S Simon Media presented survey findings on live video streaming and spoke with Ben Chodor, President of Digital Media Solutions, West Corporation. The two of them demonstrated live multi-channel video streaming for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

      HOST: So let’s get started up again. I don’t know about you but I’m pretty full now so I either need a nap or something really interesting. So we’ll go with the latter. Up next for us is a session featuring Doug Simon who is the CEO of D S Simon Media. He’s here to talk about social streaming, something we’re doing today at our Summit and something that we’re all really passionate about here at West Digital Media Solutions. Content strategy for Social how that differs between different platforms and the power of creating your own social video channel. Doug welcome, over to you.


      DOUG: Thanks so much for coming here today and I know there’s been some great information so far, what I want to try and do is connect the dots on how you can use these tools to earn media. Get coverage for your organization and make the best use of all these different tools. I know you’re into data. So I’ve got a bunch of different stats. What’s interesting is the power of live streaming and how it’s growing. Brand Live Stream did a study, more than 80 percent of consumers said they would prefer to watch a live video than read a social post or a blog. What’s also changing is 67 percent said the quality of the video was a key reason for them to choose to watch something. So that’s actually good for myself- what West is doing with a high-quality production that fits what you’re trying to accomplish. We have our own surveys couple of one on brand authenticity and another specific to social media video. So, when we get to brand authenticity first look journalists are getting their stories. So are you using your social channels to get coverage? Do they have a journalistic voice or is it marketing fluff? You’ve got to be strategic about the content that you’re creating. Video-huge opportunity, clearly a theme of this whole show and also the idea of bringing live. 83 percent of journalists will use your video content as you produce it. So it’s a huge opportunity for message control. A couple of other fun ones are you getting your CEO out there? 83 percent of journalists say an accessible CEO makes you more authentic. Anyone in the audience? I know it’s good to exercise a little after lunch. Show of hands-want your CEO leadership or brand to be more authentic? Anyone want that? Got a couple. I don’t have to reverse it and say keep your hands down if you want to be more authentic. But it’s something we’re all trying to accomplish. Live video is a key way to make that happen. Quick overview on video for journalists the different formats that they’re taking it, interviews, news packages, cut content, live events, they will watch-you can get them to watch your live events and take that content and then use it on their different channels. So we’re also going to take a dive into what’s the kind of content you can create to make it resonate with them and how you can be effective. So communicators, were doing an OK job, 57 percent of us already are providing live video to social sites. Interestingly they’re starting to get their CEO out there using this format. Numbers are only going to increase next year more than 80 percent- whether you’re an agency whether you’re in-house come over 80 percent or increasing live social video next year. 57 percent increasing the CEO video they’re getting out live, and you guys can hear me OK still? It’s all working? Great. So the data rush will be over soon. We’ll get into some content thing, but I’ve got this one more. We asked communicators what are the most popular platforms that they’re using when they’re sending out programs on live video streaming as you can see Facebook at the top of that, Twitter was surprisingly low to me. LinkedIn is coming back specially for the B2B audience. So a couple of choices, and it gets to the production quality. Are you going to go with your phone or are you going to do broadcast quality content? The phone can work for some applications, behind the scenes, if you already have a huge social following. The downside-you tend to be limited to one social platform when you go phone, audio can be a challenge if you’re in a loud area, you need some special additional equipment as the mic because the mic can be far away from the scene you’re trying to shoot. Most positive thing, easy to be on location and it’s low cost. So broadcast qualities you’re seeing here. This is a three-camera shoot. They’re streaming it live it looks professional they’ll be able to take pieces from this share later, they could send out my portion I’ll put it out on my channels all the other speakers can get their portions. It can get segmented and distributed. So it’s a very positive piece, has a lot more flexibility and use to it if you want content that journalists will use you tend to need to make the broadcast quality step up. If they’re going to be putting on and that doesn’t just include television that includes online journalists as well. They need a reasonable level of audio and video quality to want to post your link. And as we said before, a bunch of them are willing and interested to do it. You can go studio or on location with that. A couple of tips if you want to do it yourself. Three pieces of equipment not necessarily expensive. The dude from Brooklyn can be fairly costly, but if you want to go out of a camera, all you need to buy is this black magic mini converter, cost about 125 dollars you can plug your output in and it allow you to convert it to go into a laptop for potentially streaming it to a website. We use the OBS Studio. This is the one a I mentioned, my producer Mike O’Donnell who was very willingly let me refer to as “Dude from Brooklyn”, he does live there for authenticity. He knows the back-end to put stuff together. Let’s take a look at some of the specifics of the different channels and feel free to question me, interrupt me etcs. It’s all it’s all good, I want to hear if you’ve got questions or if I’m not being clear. So you know, for brand awareness-Facebook if you’ve got a strong following, generating leads, increasing interactions with followers, and it’s versatile as the sites to work with. They’re really encouraging it, they make it easier to do broadcast quality, to go to Facebook channels. There’s also a lot of influencers that you can partner with that have strong Facebook following. Simply by following them and having them involved in the content, you’re bringing your content to a larger audience. Just what was being discussed in that last segment that was so powerful. Lot of benefits to Facebook. Twitter-media themselves are using it for major events, and you can use it yourself to piggyback on a major event. Think episodic and this can also be cross platform. If you want to build followers, maybe it’s twice a month or a weekly show but you’ll have an appointment show at a specific time on a social channel, that you can create a following for with information that’s relevant. So, it is a regular piece it’s something that can grow. You’re not necessarily going to do the first show, and without major promotion or major celebrity or major brand follow and expect to get huge numbers of results immediately-though they can be very well targeted. So think of building an audience as you go along and have a strategy to do that. Work with influencers, again as we mentioned. Twitter is also very effective to promote live events that you might be holding on other channels, because again you can access different followers of multiple people who can share info about the upcoming event driving them towards the link where folks can watch it. YouTube easiest to embed, so you can get the highest quality video and place it within your website within your press room, multiple locations that can be shared. Also, they make it easy if you want to go live on LinkedIn as we’ll note they take the YouTube URL on the LinkedIn channel and that’s a way to get out on LinkedIn with high quality video. So, for LinkedIn you need that YouTube account. If you’re going to go live. The other way LinkedIn can be used is put a link to wherever the live show is happening on your LinkedIn and you can write an article about the subject you’re talking about to your followers will see it and then when they get there they can click to where they can watch and be involved in the live programming. So that can make a big difference to encouragement. So, I know I’m throwing a lot your way now. Instagram-they don’t allow broadcast connectivity. One of the folks I work with said his son figured out a way to hack into Instagram, but if they did it they’d probably just shut down the site. So it’s not worthwhile. Your story will last 24 hours. You can later load one-minute clips or post that video from your camera roll to other social channels to get it out there. So, one of the big things that we’re excited about is why be limited to just one channel? We’re going to have a demo here. I’m going to bring Ben out and we’ll have a quick discussion and show how easily can be seen on multiple channels at the same time which hopefully will be pretty fun. This was an event for Lincoln where they were revealing the prototype of their new car. They wanted to send it to their entire internal audience, to be able to watch live from the New York Auto Show and changes in technology have made that much simpler instead of a satellite truck we brought a backpack to the location and were able to get the signal out-without having to spend, you know, fifteen thousand dollars for the Javits Center internet or similar crazy costs, have electricians run the wiring and connect and have the crews there couple days in advance. Thought I’d let you see a couple of case studies-how brands are using it. Typically, it’s for thought leadership, so I’ve got four different examples. In a couple of them you’ll how influencers are partnering with-but let’s take a look and listen and then we can get some of your feedback on that.


      (Video Plays)


      DOUG: So some questions when you’re thinking about interview, we saw a couple with influencers the country music artist, Maggie Rose, partnered on the first one. You saw broadcast from the studios discussed during the IR discussion pre-produced content, there was a music video that was created. We were able to roll that into the live program. Of course, there can be audience interaction, you can be in a remote location for excitement. Some of the channels there that went through, you can actually create a mix of earned and paid for channels in addition to your own. And that will be something that you want to tie into your promotion as well for that. We saw the demonstrations are a popular topic for it. You guys have any questions about those? Should I try to be less thorough to stimulate questions? No? Interest? I see you’re paying attention, so I appreciate that! So you have to think of your live event as a television show because that’s what it is. It’s being watched in a different format. So is it a scripted show. Is it natural? Do you need to rehearse? What’s the opening? When we talk about talk shows there are a couple of elements of talk shows and that make it easier. One of them is your guests. What else is another part of a talk show? Almost every talk show has it. You’ve got guests and the host. Yeah. There you go. So who’s the host for this broadcast? And even if it’s a live event that’s something that has to be thought of. When LEGOLAND was doing that opening fun event-how was the audience that was just tuning in online cannot understand what was going on? So, we had a representative from there give about a 30 second intro about what they were doing what was happening and get ready to take a look, so the online audience was up to speed. Now your audience can also be journalists, it can be influencers, it can be prospects, it can be partners, and they can also be the participants which is really cool. So, what’s the format of your show and how are you planning it? We tend to find the sweet spot is like the 25 minute or so, you don’t want to go much longer than that, but there is data from Facebook. Viewers go much longer on live content than pre-recorded content they say three times the engagement. Also remember a live content isn’t just live content. It ends up as pre-recorded content after the fact, if you’re being strategic about it. Another question that comes up who’s within the show? Is it an event, is something fun going on, is it just two people having a conversation? Do you want to invite people to join say via Skype? How are you going to take questions to get the audience involved? And journalist is a key audience for a live broadcast. Do any of you tend to schedule press conferences, where you invite journalists to come and if you are doing fewer of those than you used to… maybe see a show of hands. You guys are doing more? This is a superstar audience. I just have to put this out there. But the reality is it’s tougher to count on journalists to get up show up and be someplace. We had an event that we were doing for a major client in the food industry. They were announcing a whole new approach to how animals were going to be treated on the farms that they were working with for their product-was pretty major. We had talked with them about doing it digital to make it available to media. They just said well we’ll do the phone call we’ll invite journalists here it’s a big story. They did the event on a Monday which wouldn’t have been bad except the Friday before it was the Brexit vote. So how many business journalists do you think came to that event to cover it? So I think when you have announcements to make you want to be providing live video which can include the pre-produced elements content to journalists if you expect them to cover it, sitting at their desks or in some cases at their laptops, at home, in their home office, because journalists media they’re everywhere. So you’ve got to feed the content to them. Make it available if you want to get the major results. Let’s also take a look at how you’re distributing it which platforms we touched on which ones again what influencers are you partnering with. Can you use those platforms? Are there media outlets that would be interested in covering it? Also can you combine it with other production? Any time you have someone on your team that you want the world to know about are key audiences to know about and we are shooting the video with them. You’ve got to be thinking, who else would I want to see this video? Often we keep things to silos will do external communications pieces, media tours, we’re on the leader of a company and when we tell them you know “do you think the leaders should actually record a message to send as part of your internal newsletter and communications about what the heck they’re doing and what they’re saying” and the people they are like “Oh yeah great idea. But we’re not yet wired to be thinking synergistically a cross platform” so hopefully one of the top takeaways I want you to get from this is-we’ve got to be thinking synergistically both in terms of where it goes, and also in terms of what we’re recording when we’re getting content and who it goes to. Now we’ve got a chance to bring Ben up. I’m going to roll up my sleeves and this is very exciting. What’s interesting about these sites is we’re doing a live demonstration of how Social Media LIVE™ can work streaming to live multiple channels. So, if you want to check on your mobile device you can take a look at these and I’ll have a brief conversation with Ben because we’re going to be carrying this video on all of these sites right now.

      Just as a quick demo.


      You’ve had this passion and you know one of the things I think it’s so wonderful is how you bring your personal feeling and experience to what you do, I’d be remiss in saying I remember my first live streaming event was in 1984, two locations multi-camera stage, we charge the client sixty five thousand dollars. That’s called the good old days. But you know why do you believe that such an important way to proceed?


      BEN: There used to be the whole concept was, you’re going to create content and you wanted to bring an audience to a location. Right. I want to go back to my website. I want to go to a destination, in today’s world it’s about syndicated content and going where your audience is. If you want to watch on Twitter, which I think is where most will get their news. That’s great if you want to watch on Facebook. That’s great. If you want to watch on YouTube, it’s great. If you want to watch in a gated community, if you want to watch on my website. Our job is to bring content, that’s sort of what you know West’s mission is, we want to deliver mission critical communications digital solutions, to where audience is. We don’t care. Everything is mission critical for our customers. It’s all about delivering it. If you don’t, if you think you’re going to do content and build it and they will come, you are so sadly mistaken those days are so gone.


      DOUG: Yeah and it’s I’ve got a slide up here just a little bit to share how communicators are using video and this is sort of a little troubling to me that 86 percent of them are using it for social, great, wonderful, but 43 percent are using it to increase media coverage. So what that says is you’ve got the video, you’ve got this great content but you’re not even bothering to share it with the media. I know a core element of the overall company is getting communicators information to journalist people can cover it.


      BEN: If you think YouTube is a social destination, and all your content should live on YouTube. You are even more sadly mistaken in thinking if you put content on your website that it’s the destination right. YouTube is a syndication point. It is not the syndication point, plus keep in mind every time you put something on YouTube, your contents here. All your competitors’ content is here. You’ve got to be smart with your content but what with your earned media ratings. How do I want my audience to see my top and earned media? You got to think about it, it’s not just when I say syndicated content- it’s not just throw it out there.


      DOUG: Right. Yeah, also there are ways to make it interactive. One of the things that stopped a lot of people from getting out there- I’ll call it the Sarah Palin phenomenon because this was 10 years ago when she had her Katie Couric interview. And you know the mistake wasn’t Sarah, and I don’t know you ever get this from your boss “we want to be in the Wall Street Journal, we want to be on CNBC or we want to be on network news” and they’ve done nothing. And they expect to be able to go from zero to being ready. So one of the opportunities you have with live streaming and other media outreach is give them a chance to find their specific voice, find their comfort level, see what messages are resonating, and do it in smaller safer groups. My take on the Sarah Palin thing-putting politics in a box for a moment-I know that’s hard to do these days, is that they would have been much better off putting her on a local morning newscast, similar to a satellite tour as the start with the anchors would have been thrilled saying oh how are your kids doing and what impact is this having on your family? And she would have gotten a free ticket to make multiple points, gotten so much more comfortable, had so much more content to talk about, when she went to the big leagues. So, I got a quick audience test. And obviously the easy answer is “the map of the U.S.” but can you tell what this is a map of? Ben, if you want to throw some ideas?


      BEN: Red states vs. non-red states?


      DOUG: Red states vs non-red states is a not bad guess. Anyone else want to throw something in? It’s actually how Trump became president. These are the Sinclair Broadcasting markets, across the country. Interestingly enough I happen to know the political reporter (that’s not the interesting part) but I to speak to him for Sinclair who’s at ABC in Washington D.C. not an ideologue from either side. And he was telling me that he was begging Hillary to let him interview her, because he said you know you need votes in these areas of the country. Her team refused. Trump on the other hand aggressively went after these markets with their message, so you know, if your leadership is questioning whether they should be doing that…I know there’s a question that came up earlier about you know “what if they don’t want to do it?” “How do you convince them?” clearly what your competitors are doing is a hugely compelling thing, but the idea of writing off any audience in general, for your organization is a mistake. You’ve got to be reaching them and live streaming video for journalists it’s a way for you to give specific types of content to specific audiences that you’re going to cater to, and as you develop this and grow this it becomes somewhat self-selecting. Because people aren’t going to sign up and watch stuff they have no interest in. Journalists aren’t going to report on things that aren’t in their bailiwick. Clearly from the earlier discussion you don’t offend them by just blasting stuff that’s completely unrelated to them. But if you do your homework and reach out properly to the influencers, to the right journalist, for the right types of stories they’ll be a pathway, and I think this is a key message that you’ve got to share with your leadership about. They’ve got to be getting their content to our audiences and it’s our job as communicators to figure out what’s the right content, what’s the message, what puts them in a good position, and let them play a little bit in the minor leagues before they want to hit the home runs and get on these major outlets because guess what they might not be ready. And you know every once in a while you will get an example where you’ve got a leader, that’s you know ready for show. And that’s good. So here are some of the takeaways. Go live. Engage your CEO. Get that person involved. Use social video to earn media, reach out, let the media know what you’re doing, that’s appropriate that can follow. We did a campaign about truth on trial for the communications area. And Ty Cobb who was formerly President Trump’s White House counsel was on it shortly after he left. We ended up with the number one story on Politico for about eight hours. When he talked about McGahn recusing himself from the Russia investigation, that hadn’t been public news and it came out and the Politico reporter were like oh you want broadcast video of it boom. That clip is still on POLITICO. So when you’re creating content and sending it to these journalists not only does it go there. You talked about the example of sharing earned. You can send out a clip of a link to the positive video that you yourself created that another journalist posted and share with all relevant audiences so you’re getting that influence.


      BEN: And this slide that you have up here makes me think this is one of the reasons why we are the next boom. Is one of the reasons so excited about the space because go live with quality right broadcast quality, why we bought it, reasons people at the company engage your CEO and engage your audience. Another reason why syndicator content is a platform enables us to syndicate the channel. It’s what it’s all about and promote your event which there’s no better tool than our pure distribution. So, I love this.


      DOUG: Yeah and promoting is a key part of it. I wanted to just touch on as a last thought you know plan that in advance of the event. Twitter recommends a week out and start promoting it. You can do a mix of paid on the channels, where that content will be featured., but also what are other media outlets that might be interested in the story. Hey Will they be willing to cover the live thing? Should you do paid with them to get them to cover the live stream on their channel? These are all opportunities to get broader reach from everything if you guys have questions for us can throw them out otherwise we’ll let you continue with this fabulous event. Hopefully you got something you can take with you and put into action immediately.

      Body Language: Telling Your Team How You Really Feel

      Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D

      Do you know that your team is constantly evaluating your emotions through cues in your body language – and that they can do so in a fraction of a second?

      At the Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging at the University of Glasgow, researchers found that it takes only 200 miliseconds to read someone’s emotional state from their facial expression. So “putting on a happy face” isn’t only a pleasant thing to do, it sends a powerful signal to those who work with you.

      During a major change, for example, your staff will be on high alert – constantly looking to you for clues on how to react. If you look upset or angry, that negativity can spread like a virus throughout the team, affecting attitudes and lowering energy. Conversely, if you come across as energized and positive, you’re likely to make your entire team feel upbeat and optimistic.

      Of course, it’s not only facial expressions that send a message. Emotional signals come from other parts of your body – including your feet.

      I was in the audience when the Chief Executive Officer of a financial institute was being interviewed, seated at the front of the stage, facing us. One of his staff sat across from him, reading a list of questions that had been submitted by attendees.

      As the CEO responded to the first inquiries, he shared his philosophy of “relationship banking” and the importance of employees to the company’s brand. While doing so, his body language was open and relaxed. His posture, facial expressions and hand gestures signaled comfort and confidence.

      Then came a series of questions about executive compensation. As the CEO answered these, his body language stayed constant – except for his feet: From a comfortable, loose leg cross, the executive suddenly locked his ankles tightly together, pulled them back under the chair, and began to make tiny kicks with both feet. He then re-crossed his ankles and kicked his feet again. And this behavior continued throughout the entire set of compensation questions.

      If all the audience could have seen was the upper half of the executive’s body, we might have been convinced that he was still at ease, but his feet told a different story – one of anxiety and stress.

      Another way that leaders show emotion is through their posture. Because the heart, brain, and nervous system are so closely interlocked, your staff can often tell if you are happy or depressed by simply observing how you hold your body. If you are in a great mood, you are most likely walking around with your shoulders back and your head held high, but if disappointed or depressed, your shoulders will begin to round forward and you’ll cave in slightly at the chest.

      How you breathe is also telling. Holding our breath is a primitive instinct – a hardwired reaction (the freeze portion of the “flight, fight or freeze” response) when facing a threat. Today, even though threats are more likely to be psychological than physical, any anxiety can cause you to hold your breath or to breathe high in your chest is small, shallow breaths.

      Leaning is an unconscious way your body indicates emotion – especially your feelings about various people on the team. Positive attitudes toward those you like and whose opinion you respect tend to be accompanied by leaning forward – especially when sitting down. Leaning backward usually signals feelings of dislike, dismissal, or negativity. It’s another hardwired response from the limbic brain; we subconsciously try to distance ourselves from anything unpleasant or dangerous.

      People will also judge the closeness of your relationships by the amount of eye contact you display: the greater the eye contact, the closer the relationship. They’ll notice, too, when you begin to mirror someone’s gestures and facial expressions, because by doing so you send strong signals of liking or admiring that person.

      When members of your staff are evaluating whether this is a good time to approach you, they will check to see if you look “open” or “closed.” In the ultimate closed body posture, arms are folded, legs are crossed and the torso or legs are turned away. In open and receptive body postures, legs are uncrossed, and arms are open with palms exposed or resting comfortably on the desk or conference table. If your arms are relaxed at the sides of your body while standing, this is also generally a sign of openness, accessibility, and an overall willingness to interact.

      Imagine that you’ve just made an important announcement and your staff wants to know if you really meant what you said. Subconsciously they’ll check your “say-do” alignment. If your body language is congruent with your words, people will believe that what you are feeling is aligned what you’re saying, and you will be perceived as authentic. But if your words say one thing and your body language indicates the opposite, you will be evaluated as uncertain, indecisive, or deceptive.

      Your voice also conveys subtle but powerful clues into feelings and meanings. Think, for example, how tone of voice can indicate sarcasm, concern, or confidence. Or how an increase in volume and intensity grabs attention because of the heightened emotion (passion, anger, assertiveness, certainty) it signals.

      The effect of vocal prosody (how you say what you say) is so potent that it can make bad news actually sound palatable or, conversely, take all the joy out of a positive message. I’ve seen leaders give unflattering feedback while still exhibiting warm feelings through their tone of voice – and those who were being critiqued felt positively about the overall interaction. I’ve seen other leaders offer words of praise and appreciation in such a flat tone of voice that none of the recipients felt genuinely acknowledged or appreciated.

      This is because the limbic brain, where emotions are processed, also plays the primary role in processing vocal cues. Researchers from the University of Geneva in Switzerland discovered that they could tell whether a subject had just heard words spoken in anger, joy, relief, or sadness by observing the pattern of activity in the listener’s brain.

      Vocal cues are important in any conversation, but they are most crucial when your communication is limited to an auditory channel — as it is on a phone call, a teleconference, or a podcast.

      As a leader, you convey emotions to your team through the content of your messages and your nonverbal communication – but you may be surprised to learn that the latter is more powerful than the former. The Human Dynamics Group in MIT’s Tech Media Lab and the research centers at Xerox found that people are more likely to be influenced not by the spoken word, but by the kinds of signals that you (like most leaders) may overlook – your vocal nuances and your body language.

      About the Author: Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., is a keynote speaker at business meetings and conferences in 25 countries. Her list of over 300 clients include firms such as Google, LinkedIn, Petroleos de Venezuela, Dairy Farm in Hong Kong, Petrofac in the UAE, SCA Hygiene in Germany, Women’s Leadership Conference, Trinidad. She is a leadership presence coach, the best selling author of twelve books, including “The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help or Hurt How You Lead, and the creator of LinkedInLearning”s video course, “Body Language for Leaders.” Carol has served as adjunct faculty at John F. Kennedy University in the International MBA program and at the University of California in the Executive Education Department. She is a current faculty member for the Institute for Management Studies. Contact Carol by email: Carol@CarolKinseyGoman, through her website: CarolKinseyGoman.com, or call 1-510-526-1727.

      Resume Rules

      Marie Raperto, The Hiring Hub

      In today’s world, you should always have a resume ready even if you are not currently looking for a position.  Keeping your resume current allows you to see what you have accomplished each year and it can help prepare you for your annual review and, if something does come up, you don’t have to start from scratch.  With applicant tracking systems, social media sites and a hiring manager’s time, resumes have changed more in the last five years than the ten prior ones.  Customization, easy-to-read keyword specific resumes that can be read on varied screen sizes are essential.   You must remember that a recruiter scans a resume for approximately 6.25 seconds.  Eighty percent of those six seconds is spent looking at your name, current title and company, previous title and company, start and end dates for current and past positions and education.  The remaining time is spent looking for keywords that match the open position. 

      Your resume must have:

      1.  Just the pertinent information.

      2.  It should be tailored to a particular position.

      3. Be strategic with the content you include.

      4.  Proof, proof and proof.

      5.  Make sure it can be read easily.

      6.  Include any metrics that you can.

      7.  Take out any old, outdated material.

      8.  Add specific keywords.

      9.  Make sure your contact information is correct and that phone numbers are labelled home, mobile etc.  If you include your LinkedIn URL or online portfolio, check to insure the links work.

      10.  Name your file with your name and date.

      Your first step is to pick the format best for you.  There are basically four resume styles:

      1)  Chronological: The body of this type of resume includes a listing of your work history, beginning with your most recent job. 

      Use when:  

      • The length of time on each job can be seen as a strength.  
      • Your work experience is in line with your job objective.
      • Job titles or employers are impressive.
      • You want to highlight career advances.

       2)  Functional:  The body of this type of resume highlights your major skill areas.

       Use when:

      •  You want to change fields.
      •  You have the skills but not the work experience.
      • You have acquired skills through unpaid experience.
      • You have had many different work experiences not directly related to the position you are seeking.  (Note: Functional Resumes are not as common as they once were and many hiring managers believe that using a functional resume means you are hiding something.  If you choose this format, be very careful to include all pertinent information and dates.)

      3)  Combination:  The body of this type of resume utilizes parts of both the  functional and chronological resumes.

      Use when:

      • You have acquired a number of skills while progressing on one or several jobs and you want to highlight specific ones.

      4)  Targeted:  A targeted resume focuses on specific abilities and duties that directly  relate to a specific job.

      Use when: 

      • This type of resume is prepared specifically for one position and should show your qualifications against the job’s specified qualifications.

      The Targeted resume is the most favored right now.   With Applicant Tracking Systems in use, targeting your resume for each and every ad you answer is essential.

      A resume should be your personal marketing piece. It should tell enough about you so someone will want to meet you but not enough about you so that you can be eliminated from a search. Everyone has preferences as to resume format.  Make sure that you are comfortable with the one you are using and that it clearly shows all the information.

      Don’t try to use a template.  Customize your resume so that your experience shows.  It should be very easy to read and not text-heavy.

      Resume Fonts

      The typeface you choose for your resume is very important.  Your resume needs to be as clear and concise as possible.  It also must be read on many types of devises from desktops to mobile phones.  Sans-serif typefaces are best for small screens and the easiest to read on all screens.  Make sure your resume is readable as research shows that hiring managers and recruiters only scan resumes for 6-8 seconds.  Typing in sans-serif fonts on your computer will give you a complete list, but here are some of the most common:

      • Arial
      • Arial Narrow
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      Resume Rules - 2018Resume Basics

      Remember, it’s  not your autobiography. Your resume is your chance to call attention to you and what you’ve done as it pertains to the open job description. You must be careful to be specific, concise and to the point.  You want the hiring manager to want to learn more about you.  It is not a list of your current and past job descriptions.  It is a list of the things you have done that will get you to the position you want.  Using the right key words will increase your chances of making the first round.  

      The most relevant information should be started at the top of every section to get the reader’s attention.

      Bullets can set your resume apart and make it easier for a reader to scan.

      Remember, headers/footers, graphs, color etc., may not be read on every computer and that resumes with these items may not get through an applicant tracking system (ATS).

      Some Job Facts:  You should be getting 5 or 6 first interviews for every 100 targeted resumes you send out.  (Targeted resumes are written with the job description/ad in mind.) If you are not, you might be sending out resumes to every ad you see, whether the job fits or not. Also, have someone review your resume to make sure it’s clear as to what you are looking for and that it doesn’t contain a typo.

      You should be getting one second interview for every 8 first interviews. If not, ask yourself whether you need to polish your interviewing skills. Are you coming across as desperate or unsure?

      Have you ever been a finalist for more than 8 or 9 positions and not landed a job? If so, try to review what happened. If the companies hired from within, there isn’t anything you could have done. If the company decided not to hire anyone, there isn’t anything you could have done. But to get this far this many times and not have closed the deal suggests that something is wrong. For starters, you might want to review your references. Are you giving them enough information so that they can be helpful? Consider adding new ones to the list. Sometimes, the personality of the reference makes a big difference, too!

      What Goes on Your Resume and What Doesn’t

      To start the year off, do a basic review of what and what does not go on a resume. It may sound elementary but many resumes don’t follow the rules. If you have been in the workforce and not looking for your first job, here’s what should and should not go on your resume.

      What to Put on Your Resume

      • Your name, address, telephone numbers and email address. Identify your phone numbers if you are putting more than one (cell, business, home, message etc.) If you are looking for a job out of town and want to be relocated, put your full address on the top, as usual. If you are looking for a position where you have a residence or a place to stay lined up, leave off your address or use the address at the location.  Also, remember to check the email and voice mail you list regularly.
      • In your description, put the company/agency name with a short explanation of the nature of the organization. Hiring managers might not be familiar with your employer or you may be working in a specific product unit of a large conglomerate.
      • If you are working for an agency, list your clients or expertise within a specific industry.
      • Under education, list the school, degree and dates. You might not want to put your graduation dates fearing ageism will come into play. However, not having any dates makes your resume “suspicious” and can make you look even older than you are.
      • If you are fluent in languages (s) or have knowledge of specific or technical computer programs, do list them.
      • Current Board/Committee memberships can show your interest in your field or in philanthropic areas. These should go on your resume.

      What Not to Put on Your Resume 

      • Don’t list any personal information such as birthdays, marital status etc. While this is common practice outside of the U.S., it is not legal here.
      • Keep the names of your references on a separate sheet and give them out when asked. First, you don’t want to give out personal information or put it out online and, secondly, remember that you always want to speak with your references to tell them who will be calling and the nature of the job before they get the call.
      • Salary information does not belong on the resume. If a job ad is asking for salary history, it should go in your cover letter.
      • Don’t include any activities that are not relevant. Long lists of past Boards/Committees or sports that do not pertain to your job search should not be included.
      • Do not include the phrase, “References available on request.” The fact that an applicant has references is taken for granted.

      Resume Objective/Summary

      One of the most difficult parts of the resume seems to be the Objective or Summary. Here are some tips to help you decide which one to use and what to include.

      Use an Objective if you are looking for a specific opportunity or an opportunity within a specific discipline.


      •  A senior-level communications position within a global consumer company.
      • Social and digital media specialist position within a healthcare agency.
      • Interested in furthering my career with an agency that focuses on international direct marketing.

      Summary paragraphs are better for experienced, multi-disciplined professionals.


      • Extensive management experience in integrated marketing, including work with a global consumer products company and a major financial services company.
      • Over 10 years of experience in public relations with a special emphasis directing media relations, social media, crisis and issues management and financial communications.
      • Fifteen years experience in communications. Specialties include investor relations, public policy issues and crisis communications.

      When writing your Objective/Summary Statement, remember:

      • It’s ok not to have one.
      • If using an Objective, it should be as specific as possible.
      • The objective of a resume is to find employment so don’t put this in your statement.

      Summary statements should be brief and to-the-point. Ideally 2 to 3 sentences. Statements should contain the information you want the reader to see and cover the disciplines/keywords you want to highlight.

      Remember to:

      • Eliminate the pronouns.  Resumes should not contain I, he/she.  They are written as if you are the subject.
      • Keep it short.
      • Eliminate buzz words.
      • Sell yourself.  Tailor your summary to the position.
      • Don’t include non-sequitur information.
      • Do not list specifics.
      • Use bullets when possible to make it easier to scan.
      • Avoid jargon.
      • Don’t exaggerate.
      • Do not include personal information.
      • If you feel your resume is too long, eliminate from the bottom.  You don’t really need to explain your first jobs.  So just list the title, company and dates.
      • If you decide to use an Objective or Summary statement, it will set the tone for what you highlight in the Experience Section of your resume. Think it through and be comfortable with it. You are selling yourself to someone who doesn’t know you. What do you want to highlight?

      Words Not To Use On Your Resume

      Unnecessary words, words that don’t add anything, describe anything or showcase your writing ability should be eliminated from your resume.  Buzz words are no longer accepted in communication resumes.  If you see any of the words below in your resume, delete them.  Ask yourself why they are in your resume and can you support their use.  You want to clear and concise.  Meaningful words only.

      • Extensive experience
      • Innovative
      • Motivated
      • Results-oriented
      • Dynamic
      • Team player
      • Fast-paced
      • Problem solver
      • Entrepreneurial
      • Liaison
      • Business-savvy
      • Interface with
      • Aptitude for
      • Works well with
      • Good communication skills
      • Measureable results
      • Good work ethic
      • Bottom-line oriented

      Words To Add To Your Resume

      • Directed
      • Handled
      • Initiated
      • Achieved
      • Spearheaded
      • Maximized
      • Innovated
      • Increased
      • Implemented
      • Generated
      • Exceeded
      • Quantified
      • Negotiated
      • Organized
      • Pioneered
      • Presented
      • Reviewed
      • Strengthened
      • Trained
      • Collaborated

      Applicant Tracking Systems

      Today, most resumes go through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).  When you answer an online ad or submit your resume online, resumes go through an ATS.  All applicant tracking systems work basically the same. They use a ‘parser’ to read the information in your resume.          

      The parser will read the information it has been given by the company.  In most cases, this information consists of keywords pulled from the job description used. Unfortunately you don’t know the keywords or the parameters entered into the system. What this means is your resume submission must use the exact terminology in the ad or description or you risk the parser not forwarding your resume.

      Yes, you read that correctly. Just because you submitted your resume and received notification that it was accepted, it doesn’t mean it will reach the hiring manager or HR. Unfortunately, unqualified candidates answer job ads so the applicant tracking system helps to sort out qualified resumes.       

      It is important that you customize your resume to each job description. Your resume is scored for relevancy. Relevancy is based on the correlating matches between your resume and the job description’s keywords.

      You must also read the disclaimers/information on the web site. You need to know how long a company keeps your resume, can you update it and can you apply for different positions or does one resume submission cover other jobs as they become available. This is important because one general resume for a media relations position may not fit the qualifications for a corporate communications position etc. Some companies post a new position and look at the resumes they receive for that position. They don’t go through the database to search for other candidates. You need to know how long it will be on file so you know when to resubmit it.

       If you have submitted a resume online, a recruiter cannot resubmit it.

      When submitting your resume online “think keywords.” Computer software programs make matches by keywords. Read the ad, job description and any other materials so you can use the company’s words as your keywords.  If you are an experienced professional, you probably need 20+ keywords in your resume. Always remember to position yourself. If you are going to post your resume online, find the right sites. If you are a senior-level professional, look for sites that only handle your level or area of expertise.

      Customizing Your Resume

      Tailoring your resume so you get the interview is what you want to do.  You can’t please everyone with one resume.  Each hiring manager/recruiter could be looking for something different.  That’s why it is so important to customize your resume for each job.  It might sound tedious and time-consuming but with a few tips you can get it done easily.

      When answering an ad or reviewing a job description:

      Hunt for the keywords.  Watch for keywords like external relations, digital marketing etc. and also note how many times they were mentioned.  The more an ad or description mentions a specific keyword, the more important it is and you should make sure to add it more than once.

      Look for job skills.  While keywords are usually the disciplines, the job skills will further define responsibilities such as managing, supervising, writing/editing.

      Pick the most important keywords and see if you can add an accomplishment to it.

      Lastly: Sending Your Resume

      Knowing how to name your resume is extremely important.  It’s a digital world when it comes to job hunting.  It doesn’t matter if you are answering an ad online, emailing HR or a recruiter.  Sending your resume with a generic name can cause it to be overlooked or lost in the system.  Be professional and make sure you name it properly.  You want hiring managers to know it’s your resume and make it easier to track through their email system.

      Use either a PDF or Microsoft Word Format

      Personalize your file by adding your name – MarieRapertoResume.

      Remember to be consistent and use the same style for the resume name, cover letter or sample documents.

      You can capitalize words, use spaces or dashes.

      Don’t use a version number.  You don’t want to give the impression that you keep changing your resume.  You can use your computer to keep track of different versions.

      Test all the links included in your resume.

      Happy Resume Writing!

      A Terrible Violation of Trust

      Daniel Keeney, APR

      In the 1980s, Don Henley had a big hit with the song, “Dirty Laundry,” which extolled the virtues of tabloid journalism from the perspective of a TV talking head.

      I make my living off the evening news

      Just give me something-something I can use

      People love it when you lose,

      They love dirty laundry

      This is what crossed my mind as I read the Forbes account of pizza chain mogul John Schnatter’s scandalous use of the N-word. Not because the media reveled in the fiery crash of his image, which they did, but because the name of his former company’s now former ad agency is “Laundry Service.”

      The irony meter only slightly jiggled when I heard that – more like coincidence. A firm named Laundry Service was representing a guy whose dirty laundry is out in the open for all to see.

      But consider the circumstances of the Papa John’s founder’s immolation, and the irony meter goes off the charts. After all, how did Forbes staffer Noah Kirsch come into possession of a recording of a media training session? Is it possible that Laundry Service leaked John Schnatter’s dirty laundry?

      To be fair, nobody has confirmed the source of the recording. Laundry Service refused comment (quite the opposite of what many media trainers would recommend) and our request for an opportunity to speak with Noah Kirsch at Forbes was politely declined. It is conceivable that someone with Papa John’s leaked the recording, since Schnatter was not universally appreciated within the organization. Schnatter himself calls it extortion and blames Laundry Service.

      A lot of people (including my wife) would say the source of the revelation really doesn’t matter. There is no excuse for using such a horrible, hurtful word in any context and in any setting.

      Does that apply to a training session that is expressly designed to test how people respond to challenging questions about difficult subjects so they can learn to respond sensitively and positively?

      Common Fear

      I can’t tell you the number of times a media training participant has nervously asked whether the recordings of our mock interviews would be deleted. It always made me laugh as I assured them all evidence of the training would be obliterated – except for their own improved performance.

      I won’t laugh anymore. The trust between media trainer and training participant has been broken.

      “Back when we shot with VHS, trainees used to take the tapes home with them,” said Jim Lukaszewski, a well-known author and crisis consultant, who calls the Schnatter story a cautionary tale. “People who hire media trainers should make it a condition that the training materials, including the recordings be kept confidential or destroyed following the training. It should be part of the contract.”

      Here’s the dirty little (not so) secret about media training: a lot is said that should never be heard beyond the training. People routinely say things that they immediately regret. The questions and the behavior of the mock journalists are intended to poke and prod. If others are involved in the training, the responses might elicit gasps or laughter in the room.

      That’s fine – it is supposed to be a safe place.

      Media training participants say things that are just plain wrong and they know they are wrong but they don’t know what else to say. They freeze up, unable to cough up a single syllable. They use terms that are outdated and could be considered insensitive. They jumble thoughts together that are unintelligible and make them look ridiculous. And they sometimes use comparisons, analogies or tell stories that are downright offensive, could tarnish their reputation and cause considerable harm to the company they represent.

      And you know what I call a media training when any of those things happens? It is a success.

      Training Is Where Weaknesses Should be Discovered

      Any media training that gets a spokesperson to say something awful is a success because it gives us an opportunity to understand what’s going on. It’s a success because the train wreck didn’t happen in an actual media interview – it was just training and we can fix it.

      It’s similar to a pilot in a flight simulator. If they encounter a problem that leads to a catastrophic failure, you work to understand what led to their decisions. Realistic training scenarios are extremely powerful learning tools that are proven to prevent real-life disasters.

      In media training, you might discover that a physical thing is a trigger – the spokesperson is made uncomfortable by the proximity of the microphone or the heat of the lights and loses concentration. Sometimes it’s a lack of preparation – the spokesperson is embarrassed that they don’t know the answer so they make something up. Sometimes a question strikes a nerve and the spokesperson gets angry or defensive.

      Each is a learning opportunity. They provide the instructor a chance to peel back the onion and understand what makes the spokesperson tick. Where is he or she coming from? What’s in their background that led them to choose those words and phrases?

      It’s not about being judgmental. It’s about being real and exploring what’s in the spokesperson’s head. That’s where personal growth can happen.

      This is what gets me most upset about the Papa John’s fiasco. In response to a question in a media training session, Schnatter said backlash from his past statements related to the NFL were overblown – especially compared to another fast food chain whose founder (Schnatter claims without evidence) called blacks the N-word. Only Schnatter didn’t say “the N-word,” he said that actual word.

      Okay, big personal growth opportunity!

      What Should Happen

      If I was conducting the media training, I would be tempted to jump on it and declare that the word must be eliminated from his vocabulary. Immediately. Never utter it again. It is radioactive.

      However, it’s more important to understand why he used that word in the first place. Demanding that it never be used effectively censors the spokesperson, but it doesn’t achieve any real understanding. It’s hard to imagine that he doesn’t know using the word in an interview would be a horrendous disaster, right? So let’s talk about it. Why go there? How could that seem like a viable route to take?

      Through this discussion, we can explore if the word carries any meaning to him – or is it just like any other word? How often does he say it? What does he think the N-word means to African Americans? What does he think people who hear him say the word will feel about him saying it? What is the likely backlash? We would explain the consequences suffered by others who used the word and work through other ways to respond to the question.

      Following the training, we would caution Papa John’s of the dangers of allowing Schnatter to speak with media, since any interview would likely touch on matters related to race, due to his NFL statements. We would recommend further sensitivity training and encourage a review of potential needs for a broader deployment of sensitivity training.

      These are all positive outcomes of discovering potential weaknesses through media training.

      What we would never do is violate the confidentiality of the client. Confidentiality is a staple of our contractual agreements with clients. We would delete the audio and video files of the training as is our standard procedure. Aside from conversations with the client, we would never discuss the training.

      When Personalization Backfires

      Michael Smart

      A while ago, an earnest, hardworking young PR pro asked me repeatedly during a phone consultation “what not to do.”

      She already knows not to rely on generic pitches blasted to the same list. So I talked about how you can inadvertently take personalization too far.

      When you’re crafting your pitch for your target journalist or blogger, you know it’s a best practice to prove in the first sentence that you’ve researched her and her audience. It’s usually best to keep this focused on her work. I say that because often you might also see something in her Twitter bio or an Instagram post that you could use to make more of a personal connection.

      Don’t get me wrong; it’s great to make a personal connection. That’s the ultimate goal of great media relations — just not so soon. So save that thought.

      Lead off with the professional reference, e.g.:

      I’ve noticed your posts connecting millennials’ job-hunting preferences and big-company recruiting tactics tend to get shared most frequently on social …

      And then get right into your pitch that propels that connection forward.

      There’s been an evolution in the last few years among the influencers I interview for my Inner Circle (a “Today” show producer, an editor for The Washington Post, and writers for USA Today and The Wall Street Journal). When I show them pitches, they still register appreciation for personalization at the top, but now they get anxious and even frustrated if that personalization “drags on” into a second point of reference. They say, “I want to know what he’s offering here.”

      So to recap — first professional personalization, then pitch, then call to action. But what about that great personal tidbit you saw that could open the door to a great connection?

      Save it for your P.S.

      That’s where you note that you’ve visited her alma mater to see your best friend from high school who also went there. Or your quick take on this season of the Netflix show she tweeted about binge-watching.

      Just make sure it’s:

      • Sincere — because relationships only work when founded authentically.
      • Specific — because even if you really do LOVE that show she won’t believe you unless you prove it with some detail.
      • Not stalker-ish — no explanation necessary.

      These influencers are so strained by all the pressures of their job that they deserve every effort on our part to make our outreach relevant and accessible on their terms. Helping them do their jobs is what helps us.

      Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Want to dive deeper into Michael’s tips for landing more media coverage? Register for his Secrets of Media Masters workshop: https://bit.ly/mrmasters


      5 Tips to Improve the Quality of Your Content

      high quality content tips

      91 percent of B2B brands and 86 percent of B2C brands use content as part of their marketing efforts. (Source: Content Marketing Institute 2018) That’s a lot of content being dumped online every day.

      Why are these brands so content focused? They know that content powers the customer journey.

      Customers search for information when they’re considering purchasing an item, supporting a cause, making a decision, or working with or for a brand. As they progress along the journey they read a lot of content – 114 pieces on average, according to Forrester.

      Nothing much has changed in the marketing mix –to gain a customer, donor or supporter you have to raise awareness of your brand and products, engender interest and desire, build trust and affinity, and be considered an authority on that subject.

      What has changed is how you do it.

      Consumers have access to a wealth of information. And more content is being posted every day. So how do you cut through the “noise” and reach your audience with messaging that stands out?

      10X Content
      Rand Fishkin coined the term 10X content to describe superior quality content that’s 10 times better than anything else available on that topic. This kind of content definitely rises above the flood of ‘content for content’s sake.’ And it gets the attention of search engines and the media.

      The problem with creating excellent content is that it takes time, insight, and skill. You can’t hire just any intern or freelancer and ask them to produce a piece of 10X content.

      How to Craft High-Quality Content

      1.  Do your homework: Find out what is currently available on your topic, what angles have already been covered, and where you can fill a need or write about a new angle.

      There is a ton of content about how bad palm oil production is. This article gives a different perspective and lays out facts not normally known. It shows, with statistics, that the beef industry is the number one cause of deforestation and that sustainable palm oil producers are leading the environmental conservation efforts. And the article was accompanied by an infographic.

      palm oil article with statistics


      2.  Listen to social media conversations about the topic: Look for gaps and areas of high interest.

      A mortgage company discovered that young women who were first-time home buyers talked a lot about not understanding the mortgage process. This ties in with the figures from the US Financial Literacy Study. They realized that no-one had addressed this issue with this audience in a way that they could understand. It was an “Aha! moment” that led to an excellent series about first-time home buying and how mortgages and interest rates work.


      3.  Use research: You can either use data from existing studies or preferably, do an original study on an aspect of your topic that hasn’t been done before.

      HerRoom.com, an online lingerie company, tested all the sports bras they sell and made a series of videos of women running in each bra. Initially, this content did not make much of an impact. Research uncovered the fact that damage to unsupported breasts during exercise is, in fact, a medical issue and an expert at a UK University had done in-depth scientific research on the topic.

      An interview with her posted on the page as a podcast raised this content from blah to important, and health bloggers and the mainstream media took notice.


      research in content increases quality


      4.  Find the differentiating brand story: Weave that story into all your content so it shows how your brand stands out.

      Nichols Concrete Cutting is a small, independently-owned company in the San Francisco Bay area. They were very skeptical that there was such a thing as a brand story. After all, they cut holes in walls and structures. No story there, right?

      However, talking to the companies that hired them, the one phrase we heard repeated was – “only he could do this, he’s an artist.”

      He did the seismic retrofit on the original quad at Stanford Univerity so delicately you’d never know it had been done. He removed a concrete parapet from the balcony of a million-dollar penthouse on Russian Hill in San Francisco that no one else would touch. And there are many more projects like these. That’s his brand story and it certainly got the interest of both trade press and mainstream media.

      Stanford quad for quality content

      Image by Anna Fox, Flickr.  Creative Commons

      5.  Use vibrant, original visuals that enhance and extend the story: A picture is worth a thousand words. So make sure the visuals you choose or create do just that. Don’t slap a stock image on a blog post just because you need an image. Think very carefully about the image you choose. It needs to give the viewer a better sense of the story – give them more insight, or an emotional connection to the story.

      At the  City Creek Center Mall in Salt Lake City there is a fountain that combines water and fire. This had not been done before. There were many images of the opening, but a short video of the “Fire Fountain,” shot on a phone and posted immediately after the fountain was first turned on, got a lot of attention. It was picked up and used by sites like The Huffington Post and Gizmodo, resulting in more than 160,000 views.  The standard corporate video of the ribbon cutting and opening day got only 67 views!

      Excellent quality content requires planning, skill, and attention to detail. It must be interesting, different, and creative. It’s easy to churn out content day-after-day when it’s mediocre content. But if you truly want to make an impact and get results, find those rare people who can create high-quality content.

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