PR Masters Series Podcast, Episode #34 – Scott Allison


The Stevens Group has been presenting the PR Masters Series Podcast for almost two years now.  This series is part of the ongoing partnership between The Stevens Group and CommPRO to bring to PR,digital/interactive and marketing communications agencies the wisdom of those who have reached the top of the PR profession.  Today’s special guest is Scott Allison, Co-Founder, Global Chairman & CEO, Allison + Partners.



About Our Guest

Scott is global chairman and CEO of one of the fastest-growing global communications firms in the industry. Known for its unique culture, Scott founded Allison+Partners with a vision to build a positive and entrepreneurial environment where talented people at all levels could do great work and thrive.

Scott oversees the firm’s Global Board, while continuing to provide communications counsel to many high-profile executives and clients. He is an expert in issues management and crisis communications; presentation and media training; and is regularly called upon to speak about issues facing the public relations industry. Prior to founding Allison+Partners, Scott was the West Coast president of Connors Communications and a senior vice president and partner at The Gable Group.

Scott is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society and serves on the advisory board for ISOThrive, The Fraternity and the Church of the Resurrection. He is a recipient of the Monty Award given to San Diego State University alumni and was a finalist for both the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® and the American Business Award’s Communications Executive of the Year. A patron of San Diego State University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies, Scott provided a founding gift to the Glen M. Broom Center for Professional Development in Public Relations and funds a scholarship that supports internship opportunities for students.

3 Reasons Why PR Professionals Need to Adopt New Technologies

Ben Chodor, President of Intrado Digital Media

The PR industry is under increasing pressure to innovate, evolve and make better use of data to prove its value. As Gartner’s most recent CMO Spend Survey explains: “CMOs must appease the often-skeptical Chief Financial Officer’s (CFO’s) expectations for return on investment (ROI) to justify future budgetary commitments.” Unfortunately, PR has historically relied on soft metrics like impressions and struggled to provide KPIs that line up with marketing expectations and prove a campaign’s impact on business objectives. Traditional PR trackers don’t paint a full picture of all efforts. Newer technologies are needed to demonstrate the significance of PR impact.

There are three primary reasons why PR needs to embrace new technology to thrive and innovate.

PR tech is business-critical, but its value is often misunderstood

One of the most common complaints about PR is how difficult it is to judge Return on Investment (ROI). Measuring the effectiveness of PR efforts is critical to justifying its cost. CMOs are looking for measurable outcomes and are more interested in earned media coverage or an increase in web traffic than receiving a list of reporters that were pitched with no feedback. PR leaders are faced with increasing demands for accountability. This means processes that can deliver measurable results are of the utmost importance and with digital ROI becoming easier to measure, the need for accountability continues to grow.

Analytics dashboards and media databases enable PR to not only show results, but also to hold itself accountable. But these solutions don’t provide the full story of all of PRs efforts. New technologies such as workflow automation and content management tools, audience engagement platforms and artificial intelligence solutions are just some of the tools that PR needs to embrace to continue to stay relevant.

A similar trend has recently been seen in martech where platforms like Hubspot, Marketo and the Adobe Marketing Cloud have empowered marketing leaders to operationalize campaigns and tactics making marketing more predictable and scientific – while removing the guess work and organizing data into impactful, actionable reports.

PR tech should not require multiple subscriptions, log-ins and features that were bolted together 

As marketing and advertising tech has innovated and progressed – PR has been left behind. The legacy technology that’s available to PR pros today requires logging in and out of multiple platforms to build, distribute and track campaigns – leaving them to use a combination of manual, flawed and inaccurate processes and gut instinct to report on the success of their work.  It has become mission-critical for PR professionals to understand and implement newer technologies that better fit their needs, or risk falling behind.

PR professionals also need to take the time to step back to understand how their efforts impact the overall goals of their clients. For PR pros to truly demonstrate their importance they need access to all of their data (earned, social, user-generated content and wire and newsroom performance) in one place instead of across different platforms. This data will help them make better informed decisions going forward and allow them to rely less on their gut instincts.

Traditional PR tech is not enough to support the innovation and creativity that industry strives for 

PR got its start through traditional tactics like event coordination, crisis communications, reputation management, trade shows, media relations and press release distribution. Now it’s all about new tools and technology. With more publications available than ever before and a 24/7 breaking news cycle, it has become harder to secure earned media coverage as the news cycle becomes more difficult to navigate. The right solutions can help communications professionals streamline everyday tasks. However, PR will need to make integrating these tools an important part of their programs if they want to remain competitive in the years to come.

Public relations is ultimately about relationships. Since success in PR is based on the ability to connect with people, help others and manage relationships, many professionals are understandably worried about assigning technology to these tasks. But technology and relationships should not be opposing forces. They should be combined to help make relationships even stronger.

About the Author: Ben Chodor is President of Intrado Digital Media. The company recently launched Notified, the first end-to-end workflow automation platform for PR and marketing professionals. Twitter: @s57BenChodor  @Notified, LinkedIN




Understanding Connected TV Advertising Fraud & What We Can Do About It

Dan Lowden, CMO, White Ops

It’s an intuitive progression: fraud follows money. Wherever there’s a new marketplace taking root, fraudsters will swoop in and try to capture a chunk of that cash before they get found out and evicted. In digital advertising, those fraudsters often use sophisticated bots to carry out that theft. These sophisticated bots live on consumer devices, looking like humans, and behaving like humans when they visit websites, click on ads, fill out forms, take over accounts, and commit payment fraud. 

The CTV marketplace is a new and lucrative place for fraudsters to operate. This market is set to surpass $10B by 2021, and has grown so quickly that streaming services and technology partners are trying to keep up with anti-fraud measures.  

Understanding What CTV Advertising Fraud Is and What It Looks Like

The CTV ecosystem includes a variety of device manufacturers, ad platforms, server-side ad insertion (SSAI) services, and content stores that all come together. This complex world, along with industry standards still being developed, means attackers can employ fraud techniques through device impersonation without being detected. 

Device impersonation – also known as device spoofing – is one of the most common types of CTV fraud. Using this tactic, ad requests are faked to look like they’re coming from CTV devices, but the ads served aren’t shown on CTV devices or real people. Instead, sophisticated bots are “shown” the ads. The advertiser would never know unless they have the right bot mitigation solutions in place. Spend is wasted on ads that are never seen by anyone.  

Fraudsters can impersonate whole devices – like Roku, Smart TVs, Chromecast, Fire TV, and others – and their apps. CTV-geared ads on these devices are delivered using SSAI on an app-by-app basis. SSAI fraud—such as the recent discovery of ICEBUCKET—is hard to detect, because all of the requests seem as though they’re coming from a single IP address.  

Combating CTV Advertising Fraud

Despite the increase of fraudulent activity targeting this market, there are a number of tactics advertisers can put in place to protect themselves while ensuring their exposure is minimal and their spend is directed where it’s intended: 


The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has put out guidelines and recommendations, such as app-ads.txt. This offers a way for publishers to give specific permissions to who can sell their ad space. With app-ads.txt, buyers can ensure they’re working with only verified and legitimate sellers. The IAB has also released guidelines, the Identifier for Advertising (IFA) series, as another way for all participants in the CTV space to make sure that they’re coming from a place of education and preparation. 


Industry players must come together to build standards across the CTV ecosystem. They should also come together to pool their resources and share successes and failures – otherwise known as a collective protection approach to fighting against fraudsters. This concept means leveraging findings from one fraudulent activity found within an organization and then implementing protection solutions systemwide to other areas of the business who may be experiencing similar fraudulent behaviors. Active and consistent participation in industry collaboration allows advertisers and publishers to stay on the forefront of new developments in the ongoing fight against ad fraud.  

Implement a comprehensive fraud detection solution

Organizations have traditionally relied on in-house teams to combat fraud and hackers. However, as bots become more sophisticated and attacks become more frequent, many in-house solutions are struggling to keep up. Having a bot mitigation partner with a global view to stop threats and attacks can significantly reduce the cost, and impact of a million bots trying to commit ad fraud. 

Teams should discuss options to bring in third-party vendors to help manage new challenges. This not only enforces a new bottom line for the company’s security measures, it significantly reduces their costs. A combination of in-house defenses and a partnership with a bot mitigation provider that detects fraud pre-bid is the best layered protection against cybercriminal activity.  

Understanding the Advertising Fraud Problem and Working Toward A Solution 

The only way to truly combat CTV advertising fraud is by understanding the nuances of today’s fragmented landscape and proactively protecting themselves from bad actors and sophisticated bot attacks by using industry best practices and educated preparation. What worked six months ago may not work now. The only way we can fight back against a more sophisticated opponent is through knowledge-sharing and collective protection, both formal and informal. This will allow the CTV ecosystem to thrive as it continues to grow. With the market still in its infancy, now is the time for CTV platforms to take the necessary steps to ensure it remains fraud free. 

About the Author: Dan has more than 20 years of executive-level experience in technology marketing. He has successfully driven brand leadership and demand generation for large enterprises and fast-growth companies in cyber security, wireless services, and mobile computing. Previously in the cyber security space, Dan was CMO at Digital Shadows, CMO at Invincea (acquired by Sophos), and VP of Marketing at vArmour. Previous roles also include VP of Marketing at Digby (acquired by Phunware), VP of Marketing and Business Development at Wayport (Acquired by AT&T), and marketing leadership roles at IBM ThinkPad, NEC Technologies and Sharp Electronics. Dan holds an MBA in International Business from Rutgers Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Science from Rider University.


Does Using “Shuffle” Mean You’re Already ‘Stuffed Full’?


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

“What do you want to watch?”
“I don’t know; what do you want to watch?”

That conversation must be happening in more homes than just mine, which probably inspired Netflix to introduce its new “Shuffle” feature, aimed at defeating this common viewing dilemma.  But, should people who have to ask their TVs to “play something” even be watching television?

This past July, the entertainment-streaming icon started testing a new “Shuffle Play” button, placing a familiar-looking shuffle icon on select users’ accounts.  Those who have the feature might find it below their user profile icon or on the left side of the home screen.  When Shuffle is selected, Netflix serves a chef’s choice of shows “based on viewing history, preferences, and playlists.”

Problem solved:  No more aimless scrolling and probably fewer arguments began by “Anything but that.”  It’s nice to have choices.  It’s also nice when someone/thing helps identify them.

But, will Netflix’s Shuffle keep people too tied to their iPads and cemented to their sofas?  Does imploring one’s device to “play something . . . anything” signal digital drunkenness and suggest that the streaming service should stop serving?

In the midst of the pandemic, Netflix has been a hero for the homebound, keeping many a step away from wit’s end with easy access to inexpensive entertainment and even educational content.  In the second quarter of 2020, the streaming service added an impressive 10 million new subscribers, bringing its worldwide total to about 193 million.

With so many customers already contently streaming, why does Netflix even need to add a new feature?  Well, like any successful organization, it wants to keep its value proposition fresh and exciting.  As a Netflix spokesperson says, “We’re always looking for better ways to connect members with shows and films that they will love.”

The company also needs to keep pace with competitors’ offerings, like HBO Max’s recommendation engine and NBCUniversal’s random play on Peacock.  Likewise, Comcast’s Xfinity has integrated creative voice commands, such as “Surprise Me” and “Happy Stuff” in order to serve up spontaneous and hopefully stimulating shows.

In varied marketing roles, I’ve come across a couple of closely related psychological concepts that help describe the consumer itch Netflix and its competitors seem to be trying to scratch:

  • Satiation effect: people eventually grow tired of things they initially liked.
  • Variety-seeking behavior: enjoyment often increases with different experiences.

So, Shuffle might pull Netflix users out of their streaming ruts by providing them with an endless array of custom-curated and personally-satisfying program choices.

However, whether it’s taking excessive vitamin C or bingeing The Office, too much of even a good thing is too much.  At some point, people need to turn off their TVs, put down their iPads, and move on to other things.  The question, then, becomes:  Does a shuffle feature make streaming too tempting and difficult to deny?

Pulling oneself away from an interesting program can be hard, which I experienced firsthand earlier today.  In order to do some “research” for this piece, I turned on our TV to check out Xfinity’s voice commands.  The channel happened to be on a high-diving competition, held on a beautiful stone bridge, over a river somewhere in Europe.  I sat memorized for at least 10 minutes before returning to my senses and remembering why I was sitting there.

The bottom-line, though, is that I was able to break free from the screen without any extraordinary effort.  Most people can muster at least the same amount of resolve, even when specially-selected programs are shuffled at them.

Speaking of resolve, I recently wrote an article that asked whether TikTok is addictive.  The conclusion (spoiler alert) was “No.”  When compared to commonly accepted addictions like alcohol and gambling, the app is not addictive in any scientific sense.

TikTok’s screen-swiping and Netflix’s Shuffle are similar in that both deliver virtually infinite, individualized video content.  However, 15-second smartphone clips from ordinary people are much different than 2.5-hour professional-produced films.  Is one spontaneous selection harder to resist than the other?

There should be a study, but it seems that TikTok’s bite-sized content could be harder to forgo—like eating potato chips versus stuffed baked potatoes.  Both are good, but eating an additional stuffed baked potato is a big commitment, whereas popping one more potato chip, then another, is easy to start and sustain.  So, if longer programs have even less allure for consuming ‘one more,’ it seems that neither Netflix nor TikTok is truly addictive.

Having cleared the ethical hurdle, there’s still one more important consideration—effectiveness:  Will people really want to use Netflix’s Shuffle?  So far, reviews of the feature appear tepid; for instance, some have tweeted:

  • “Interesting new feature @netflix … but what kind of insane person just says, “yolo, let’s spin the Netflix wheel of fortune”? (@TurnerLevison)
  • “they been testing this for months on mine and it’s trash, they put two things on your recently watched and if u shuffle again it’s just Netflix Originals.” (@BlondDaya)

Unfortunately, Netflix didn’t include me in its test market, so I haven’t been able to try the feature, but I have a hard time seeing many people using it.  First, Netflix already curates at least somewhat customized selections that users can see at a glance on their home screens.  Second, it may be frustrating or even mildly offensive to receive specific recommendations that make one wonder, “Why are they suggesting that for me?!”

To that point, after I stopped watching cliff-diving, I asked Xfinity to “Surprise Me.”  It suggested Hallmark Channel’s “Tulips in Spring.”  I had no problem declining that recommendation, which must have been meant for someone else in this house.

Given TikTok’s ‘swiping’ success, it wasn’t a bad idea for Netflix to test a ‘surprise me’ feature for its streaming service.  It seems unlikely, though, that the same consumption behavior will transfer to considerably longer program content, which makes Shuffle Play a fitting selection for “Simple-Minded Marketing.”

About the Author: Dr. David Hagenbuch is a Professor of Marketing at Messiah College, the author of Honorable Influence, and the founder, which aims to encourage ethical marketing.

Are People Talking About You?

Jill Kurtz, Owner, Kurtz Digital Strategy

Recommendations of friends are trusted more than any other form of brand marketing. This is true for consumers of all ages. Social proof, a psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior in a given situation, also factors in. Bottom line, getting people talking about you to their friends is a powerful way to market your business.

People love to hear, watch and share stories with the people who they are connected to. The story features on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Google encourage users to share their choices and experiences.

How do you become the topic of these stories? Deliver products, services, and experiences worth sharing.

People Are the Basis of the Best Stories

People value authentic human connection in a brand experience. So, your people need to be at the heart of your storytelling. Tell stories about your people, both personal and business-related. Your audience will be interested to get to know them.

Be Visual

Create opportunities for visual connections to your brand. Post pictures and videos that tell your story. Offline, create photo ops that anyone can use to share an experience related to you.  This can be something that is part of a brick and mortar experience or even the packaging or presentation of your product. Make both something people will want to share.

Creativity Wins

As you create text, images, and video, be creative. How can you tell your story in a unique way? Can you find another perspective? What haven’t you talked about before.

Often, businesses avoid the things that people ask about the most because they are not “on message.” Embrace your audience where they are. Start where they are to capture interest and then use your story to take them to the place you really want them to be.

Be Consistent

Tell your story, but stay focused. Be consistent in your brand messaging, keywords and imagery. Keep all your content connected. Your great stories should build the larger picture of your business.

PR Masters Series Podcast, Episode #33 – Ron Culp


The Stevens Group has been presenting the PR Masters Series Podcast for almost two years now.  This series is part of the ongoing partnership between The Stevens Group and CommPRO to bring to PR,digital/interactive and marketing communications agencies the wisdom of those who have reached the top of the PR profession.  Today’s special guest is Ron Culp, PRAD Professional in Residence, Instructor and Professional Director, Graduate Professional Program Director – Public Relations and Advertising at DePaul.



About Our Guest

Prior to joining DePaul and becoming an independent public relations consultant, Ron Culp held senior public relations positions at four Fortune 500 corporations and two major agencies. Ron’s career spans a broad range of communications responsibilities in government and industry sectors including business-to-business, consumer products, pharmaceutical and retailing.

Ron’s two agency stints include being partner and managing director of Ketchum’s Midwest offices and head of the agency’s North American Corporate Practice. Prior to Ketchum, he opened and served as managing director of the Chicago office of Sard Verbinnen and Company, a leading financial communications firm.

Previously, Ron was a corporate officer and senior vice president, public relations and government affairs, at Sears. During his Sears career, Ron managed internal and external communications, marketing public relations support, state and federal government affairs, community relations and the Sears-Roebuck Foundation. Earlier in his corporate career, he held senior communications positions at Sara Lee Corporation, Pitney Bowes and Eli Lilly.

Following graduation from Indiana State, Ron began his career as a reporter for The Columbus (Ind.) Republic before moving to the New York State Assembly where he served as director of member services (the public relations support unit) under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Ron is active in several civic organizations including the Economic Club of Chicago where he is a former board member and past vice chair. Culp serves on the board of Gilda’s Club Chicago, Public Relations Museum and Library, PRSA Foundation, Indiana State Foundation and the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, which he also chaired for five years. He was listed in Crain’s “Who in Chicago Business” from 2009 to 2017.

Culp is the only individual to receive both the Distinguished Service Award and the Hall of Fame Award from the Arthur W. Page Society, which is comprised of senior communication professionals, agency heads and leading academics. In 2011 he was honored with the John W. Hill Award by the New York Chapter of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and a year later he received the PR Professional of the Year from the Chicago chapter of PRSA. He also is featured in the PRSSA book, “Legacies from Legends in Public Relations” (2007) and was named to the PR News Hall of Fame in 2008. In 2012, Ron received the David Ferguson Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Relations Education by a Practitioner, and in 2017 he received PRSA’s Gold Anvil, the organization’s lifetime achievement award.

Ron and his DePaul colleague Matt Ragas are co-authors of a business basics book for PR professionals entitled “Business Essentials for Strategic Communicators” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and they jointly edited “Mastering Business for Strategic Communicators” (Emerald, 2018). Also in 2018, Ron compiled and edited an eBook entitled, “The New Rules of Crisis Management.”

Ron and his wife, Sandra, fund a scholarship at their alma mater, Indiana State, for first-generation college students. In addition, Ron sponsors an annual PRSSA scholarship for student mentors.

Visit Ron’s career blog, Culpwrit, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

The Stevens Group and TPC Growth Announce Strategic Partnership to Help Maximize Acquisition Earn Outs for Acquired PR Agencies

Acquisition Earn Outs Depend on Multiple of Revenues and EBITDA. New Partnership Intended to Help Sellers Grow Each

CommPRO Editorial Staff

The Stevens Group, a leading facilitator of mergers and acquisitions in the public relations, digital and influencer marketing, social media and experiential marketing agency categories, today announces a strategic partnership with TPC Growth to offer CEOs of agencies in these categories who have sold their firms with consulting services designed to maximize earn-out potential post-acquisition.

The goal of this joint venture is to benefit acquired agencies by helping to assure continued growth, both internal and external, to maximize the seller agency’s traditional earn out potential.

TPC Growth collaborates with agencies in the categories listed above to identify pathways to organic growth at the account and enterprise levels, increasing revenue and profitability, providing agency-business planning and positioning, plus strategic new business development to drive revenue and maximize earn out potential.

 “With the TPC Growth offering,” Art Stevens, Managing Partner, The Stevens Group said, “we believe TSG can jointly offer a service that not only assures the selection of the most compatible acquirers under the most favorable financial terms, but also help acquired agencies significantly increase their business and EBITDA during the three, four or five-year earn-out that follows.”

Too Good to Fail: How Nonprofits Can Survive These Times

Linda Descano, CFA®, Executive Vice President, Red Havas

“Stay the course.” Growing up, that’s what we were told to do when times got tough. But the COVID-19 pandemic rewrote the rules overnight, making “staying the course” during a crisis a decidedly poor choice, especially for nonprofits. 

With the potential for an extended period of “never normal” (as opposed to the “new normal” we’ve been hearing so much about), nonprofit executives face existential challenges. Fundraising events have been canceled, income streams terminated or deferred, and volunteers unable to serve in person. It’s natural for nonprofits to feel anxious about their organizations and uncertain about how to communicate with stakeholders. When the Charities Aid Foundation of America surveyed 544 global nonprofit organizations to learn how the pandemic is affecting them, almost all (94.4 percent) said they were negatively impacted. And now that the coronavirus pandemic has been so closely followed by an urgent global call to end systemic racism and social injustice, there’s concern, too, that there’s little room for competing causes right now. 

In truth, the coronavirus and the murder of George Floyd have also reminded us of the importance of helping others. The world’s needs are greater than ever, and the nonprofit sector simply cannot be allowed to fail. The stakes are too high for both nonprofits themselves and for the millions of citizens around the world who rely on their services. In the U.S., community-based charitable organizations deliver more than $200 billion in services each year, touching more than one in five Americans

My colleagues and I at Red Havas recently explored these themes in our white paper, Too Good to Fail: How Nonprofits Can Meet the Communications Challenges of a Pandemic-Altered World. Through conversations with nonprofits, among other research, we developed four key takeaways for nonprofits to inform post-COVID communications plans, strategy and planning in 2020 and beyond:

  • Throw away the blueprint. For nonprofits, 2020 has been the ultimate test of creativity and adaptability. With no playbook to follow, they have been called upon to lead by instinct as much as experience and to remember that constraints can breed innovation. And innovate they must, as they plan for a “never normal” in this fluid situation. This doesn’t mean abandoning strategy and long-term goals, but revisiting them to ensure that all messaging mirrors the current state of affairs and that nimbleness is built into any plan so that it’s easier to pivot and course-correct as the situation evolves. 
  • Plan both long-term and short-term: Nonprofits frequently operate in a reactive mode, with the energy and resources to do little more than put out fires. As a result, many were caught completely off-guard by the coronavirus pandemic. But this will not be the last crisis we face as a society. Nonprofits must do a better job of proactively preparing for all types of future emergencies. The key is to plan in sprints versus marathons. Ask “what if” along the way, and adapt the timing of the sprint based on how quickly the situation is evolving. For example, in the early days of the pandemic, things were changing daily to weekly; today, the pace has slowed marginally, but enough so that it’s sufficient to plan four to eight weeks at a time. But don’t plan in a vacuum. Evaluate the changing attitudes, behaviors and expectations of stakeholders like board members, donors, partners, beneficiaries, media and other watchdogs to guide decisions about how, when, where and what to communicate.
  • In the absence of events, don’t underestimate the power of content creation. Many nonprofits depend on events, large and small, as their content creation engines. With events deferred or cancelled outright, they struggle to drive interactions and engagement with their audiences. The same is true even for those who did have robust content libraries in place—that content likely doesn’t strike a chord in light of what’s happening now. However, going “silent” isn’t an option—especially with more people online than ever before in an effort to stay on top of news and to find help for themselves or others. This is the time to be creative across all available channels and to lean on thought leadership to contextualize existing messages in a way that highlights how the organization’s mission fits into the current environment.
  • Expect a “phyrtual” future.  The global pandemic has made people’s “virtual” lives indistinguishable from their “real” lives, making it imperative for nonprofits to consider ways to blend the two. As virtual becomes more normal than not, a digital experience will have to be part of nonprofits’ planning mix. Create hybrids, not just for remote work but for remote service delivery, incorporating a mix of experiences and engagement models. Think virtual VIP events, Instagram Live fundraisers, online auctions and more. 

Nonprofits that do not act with speed to innovate, execute and deliver what people need today risk collapse. Those left standing will use the new ideas and resources that come out of these crises to permanently improve their ways of working and communicating. Moreover, this is a chance for them to show donors, volunteers and communities served who they really are—how they’re taking care of people, changing their mission to align with the realities and constraints we now face, protecting employees and building support in new ways.

About the Author: Linda joined Red Havas in 2015 to spearhead the agency’s digital, social and measurement practice areas. With more than 15 years of experience, she specializes in providing strategic counsel and tactical implementation of integrated communications programs, incorporating PR, media relations, social media, content partnerships, influencer marketing, thought leadership and advertising. Her work includes a variety of sectors including financial services, economic development, pharma and corporate responsibility. Previously, Linda was managing director and global head of content marketing and social media at Citi, where she launched numerous digital firsts and served as president and CEO of Women & Co., the bank’s award-winning financial lifestyle community for women.

Her honors include PR News’ 2018 PR Professional of the Year, 2018 Campaign U.S. Digital 40 Over 40, 2014 Fox Information Technology Distinguished Alumni Award from the Fox School of Business at Temple University, 2014 Pinnacle in Leadership Award from the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, and 2013 Changing the Game Award from Advertising Women of New York (now known as She Runs It).  Linda also served as a judge for The Content Council Pearl Awards in 2018 and 2017. Linda serves as a capstone mentor and advisory council member for the Fox School of Business M.S. in Digital Innovation in Marketing program. She currently serves on the board of directors of New York Women in Communications (and is a past president) and Servo Annex, a digital consultancy.

PR Masters Series Podcast, Episode #32 – Dick Martin, Author, “Marilyn: A Woman In Charge”


The Stevens Group has been presenting the PR Masters Series Podcast for almost two years now.  This series is part of the ongoing partnership between The Stevens Group and CommPRO to bring to PR,digital/interactive and marketing communications agencies the wisdom of those who have reached the top of the PR profession.  Today’s special guest is Dick Martin, Author, “Marilyn: A Woman In Charge.”



About Our Guest

Dick Martin writes about public relations, marketing, and ethics. He has authored four books for the American Management Association and articles for such publications as the Harvard Business Review, Chief Executive, and the Journal of Business Strategy. Capping a 33-year career with AT&T, from 1997 to 2003, he was Chairman of the AT&T Foundation and executive vice president responsible for the company’s public relations, employee communications and brand management worldwide. The Holmes Report called his first book, Tough Calls, one of the 5 best PR books published in the first decade of the 21st century and “by far the best book about the realities of working in corporate communications for a large American corporation.”

He is a frequent speaker to business groups and has conducted ethics workshops for the Institute of Public Relations, the Arthur Page Society, Rutgers University, and other organizations. He co-authored Public Relations Ethics: How To Practice PR Without Losing Your Soul, with Donald K. Wright, chair of the public relations department of Boston University’s College of Communications.

Most recently he wrote a biography of Marilyn Laurie, his predecessor at AT&T and the first woman to become a policy-making officer at a Fortune 10 company. Marilyn: A Woman In Charge will be published by the PR Museum Press on September 8, 2020. Martin  was one of the first recipients of the Arthur W. Page Center’s Award for Integrity in Public Communication.





Women Supporting Women: Moving Forward Together

Free Livestream: August 25th, 2 p.m. ET

It’s well documented that women have been bearing the brunt of Covid-19.

Women make up the majority of frontline healthcare workers, primary caregivers of children and the elderly, and workers in the service industry, resulting in 55% of unemployed workers vs 13% unemployment rate for men (April, 2020, Bureau of Labor Statistics). Domestic violence is at a dangerous level due to the restriction in movement.

It’s a time that women especially need support– in the form of resources, solutions and an empathetic ear – from other women who understand.  Yet research shows this may not be the case.  A 2016  study from She Speaks reported that 54% of women say women are supportive of other women sometimes, but not often.

Perhaps it’s because they are too busy, overwhelmed or simply don’t know how to support others.

CommPRO invites women leaders and their allies to learn how to put into action a simple plan for women to support women and change the narrative. We need an antidote to help women get through the next wave of this pandemic, leading into  the fall and winter until a vaccine can protect us all.

A creative, and very simple solution began five months ago when the pandemic first hit the U.S. A meetup called Women Supporting Women evolved from a virtual initiative at GWU – Center for Excellence in Public Leadership.  It brought together a geographically diverse group of women, meeting one hour each week, facilitated by Leslie Grossman, faculty director of GWU’s Executive Women’s Leadership Program. The women formed a bond supporting one another in personal, business, creative and community endeavors, and most of all, provided emotional support during a most trying time. This was not a networking group, or a business or mastermind group or even a happy hour.  It was unique.  It was focused on women supporting women at the most challenging time most of us have faced in our lifetime.

Join the founders and members of this group to discover how women throughout the world can create their own Women Supporting Women group, a safe place to share what is going on in their lives – emotionally, spiritually, business-wise, familially and more.  It’s a place to share ideas and opinions; a kind, authentic space; a place to share ideas; a place to laugh and renew; a space where we encourage others and hear their stories.

As we continue to reinvent daily life and find reassurance in connections with our friends and family during these unprecedented times, have you also explored some of the unexpected benefits of connecting outside your normal circles? Join us for a lively discussion about a geographically diverse group of women who came together virtually and have formed a bond supporting one another in personal, business, creative and community endeavors. Share your stories and explore ways to encourage others to Find Your Links. The group found that finding something more than business professional connections; that we need emotional support, too. Start enjoying the benefits of women supporting women across the globe.


Janet C. Salazar

Janet C. Salazar is a social innovator, human potential activist, serial entrepreneur, speaker, writer, humanitarian and a global leadership strategist. Her fascination and energy is focused on the intersection and convergence of leadership, innovation, investment, partnerships, inclusion and philanthropy for equitable economies and social good. 

Janet is the Executive Chairman and President, Chief and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Permanent Observer to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at Foundation for the Support of the United Nations (FSUN). Appointed in 2006, Janet has built a solid ecosystem of deep connections and influencers in the global diplomatic community, and continues to be a strong voice for public-private partnerships inside the United Nations. 

Her commitment to influencing leadership decisions to foster strong partnerships have led to many tangible collaborations globally. Janet is widely known for bringing the business perspective inside the UN by convening global fora and dialogues around global issues in partnership with UN entities, UN Missions and Fortune 500 companies.  

Janet is Chairman and CEO of Salazar Global Group (SGG), A Holding Company with subsidiaries in consulting, development, advisory, green technologies, health solutions and systems, distribution and licensing, capital fundraising, and impact investment. She is the CEO and Founder of IMPACT Leadership 21™, a global business platform providing leadership solutions and world class training on building inclusive and sustainable economies.  

As a sought-after public-private partnerships specialist, and a Certified Executive Master Coach, Janet is advisor to international entities, CEOs and influencers on inclusion, leadership, impact investment and philanthropy.

Janet is a partner at Undercurrent, a global organizational design, process and change consultancy. Undercurrent serves a new breed of leaders who feel a profound responsibility to confront global crises with their organizations and the passion of their their people — answering the call to transform their businesses into a greater force for good and disrupt the old rules of capitalism.

Janet is the creator of the innovative dialogue series, Conversations With Men™, the groundbreaking executive forum created to engage men in leadership roles to accelerate women’s leadership at the top and achieving gender parity. She created Conversations With Men™ One on One: Navigating Gender Dialogue in a Woman’s World, an executive coaching program for male leaders on how to effectively navigate gender-related challenges in today’s increasingly diverse work place.

A writer by heart, Janet is currently working on her first book project, collaborating with some of the most brilliant minds and thought leaders in the world. Janet  is above all a passionate advocate and defender of the right to freedom in all forms. 


Leslie Grossman, Faculty Director, Executive Women’s Leadership Program, The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership, Executive Leadership Coach

Leslie Grossman’s personal vision is a world where there is gender equity at the highest leadership roles of all organizations. As an executive leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker and workshop leader, Leslie devotes all her work to achieving this purpose. 

Leslie created and leads the Executive Women’s Leadership Program as Faculty Director and Senior Fellow at The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership. This was preceded by five years as chair/executive coach for Vistage International, the largest global CEO peer advisory organization, where she facilitated groups of CEOs and senior leaders. Recently returning from her second speaking tour in Japan under the sponsorship of the U.S. Embassy, Leslie keynoted and lead roundtable discussions with women entrepreneurs and executives about the actions of successful leaders. Leslie emcees the annual Impact Leadership 21 Conference at the United Nations in addition to her role as Advisor on Women’s Issues.  She is an executive leadership coach, working with clients privately and facilitating Mastermind groups for women leaders. She speaks, facilitates and informs male and female leaders on becoming aware of their unique styles, how to be more effective together, and opening the lines of communication and collaboration. In 2019 she presented “Courageous Conversations between Men and Women” at SHRM, New York City. 

Prior to starting Leslie Grossman Leadership, a coaching and training company, she co-founded the Women’s Leadership Exchange (WLE). WLE provided the knowledge, tools and connections to support  women  to lead and grow multi-million dollar businesses.  WLE produced 85 conferences throughout the U.S., attended by 65,000 women from 2002- 2011. Previously Leslie was CEO of NYC-based PR/marketing firm, Communications/Marketing Action, and was active in many professional associations including as President of NAWBO-NYC. 

Leslie has written two books:  Link Out: How to Turn Your Network into a Chain of Lasting Connections (Wiley) and Sellsation! How Companies Can Capture Today’s Hottest Market: Women Business Owners and Executives (WPE Press). Based in New York City, Leslie graduated from The George Washington University, B.A. Psychology/Business; attended New York University graduate school for Counselor Education.  She is certified as an executive coach by Vistage International and certified in Emotional Intelligence (EQ-I 2.0). Leslie is a wife, mother and grandmother. Learn more about Leslie at


Deanna Brown, Founder: ShineOn Global and Senior Consultant with K2OHSolutions

In the Business World:  Transformative Leader | Builder of Dynamic Teams | Innovative Disruptor

In Life: Slightly Geeky Executive | Best Friend to Amazing Women | Lucky Mom and Wife | Faux Chef | Hiker | World Traveler & Insatiable Learner of All Things Cool

My vision is a world where business has a genuine commitment for the people served. In a society where we have unprecedented connection at the speed of light, it’s more crucial than ever to embed the traditions and values that still serve well. Honesty. Dedication. Follow-through. Doing the homework and knowing the territory. These never go out of style. Reaching for excellence through fresh ideas and organizational energy. My purpose? Inspiring others to transform and succeed. Creating innovative solutions that add value to the world around us. Lifting each other to new levels of “better”. It’s how life should be lived and business conducted.With a background in foundational business growth, leadership development, strategic consulting and team building, I’ve focused those skills within organizations that grew from the first dedicated handful of professionals to highly profitable organizations serving and supporting hundreds of team members. Combining the industries of medicine, real estate and computer software has allowed me to develop multiple lenses and insights to serve organizations at all levels. From the groundwork of needs and ideas, to the nitty-gritty of the processes to move everyone forward, I’m there creating strategies, solutions, and unifying teams with the vision that drives it all.


Kathy Opp, President,  K2OHSolutions, LLC

Kathy is a seasoned business executive providing strategic planning and process improvement services, organizational culture assessment and change management, facilitation, as well as leadership, management, and team coaching.

Kathy is the former president and executive director of the Western States Land Commissioners Association, an organization of 23 western states and industry affiliates who manage over 515 million acres of school trust lands for the benefit of funding public education in the respective states.

Over the past 30 years, she gained significant experience in state government as a commissioned bank examiner, a financial officer, a division administrator and as a Deputy Director for the Idaho Department of Lands. She also worked for five years with Boise Cascade Corporation, a Fortune 500 timber and wood products company. She held several positions in the Timber & Wood Products division, including Senior Planning Associate and Business Unit Controller, and served on several new manufacturing plant startup teams in the U.S. and abroad.

Kathy holds the following professional credentials:

  • Accredited by Human Synergistics in the administration and interpretation of the Organizational Culture Inventory® (OCI®), the Organizational Effectiveness Inventory®(OEI®), Leadership Impact® (L/I) and Management Impact® (M/I).
  • Certified Strategic Doing™ practitioner
  • Certified team coach using Team Alchemy©
  • Certified administrator of the EQ-i 2.0 and EQ 360 products.
  • Trained practitioner of the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas by Strategyzer

Kathy was born and raised in the San Francisco bay area and relocated to Boise, Idaho in 1984. When not serving clients, she likes to travel the globe, cook, ride bicycles and spend time with family. She is a RYT 500-hour certified yoga instructor and continues to teach her yin yoga practice on Monday nights when in Boise.


Charlotte Hyams Porter, Senior Liaison for Regional Engagement and Field Operations at FEMA Headquarters, Washington, DC

In this role, she is responsible for internal and external communications, serving as the principal advisor on national preparedness to FEMA’s regional partners, and developing a prepared workforce for the National Preparedness Directorate (NPD). Building on a successful history of stakeholder engagement and disaster response, Ms. Porter is creating a streamlined and coordinated engagement strategy across multiple FEMA components to achieve improved alignment, efficiency, and transparency among FEMA’s internal and external partners, before, during, and after disasters.

In September 2018, Ms. Porter was deployed as the Director of FEMA’s Hub of Philanthropic Engagement – Puerto Rico for eight months. This innovative initiative was part of FEMA’s overall
recovery support to the government and people of Puerto Rico, following the catastrophic hurricane season of 2017. The Hub served as a bridge between philanthropy and Puerto Rico’s
recovery needs and fomented a more robust nonprofit sector through resource identification, facilitation, and training. While in this role, Ms. Porter built a first-of-its kind functional
organization and program, including the development of processes and procedures in accordance with Agency regulations, identification of and engagement with new FEMA partners and
stakeholders, and the establishment of a team of experienced project specialists to map recovery needs and research funding resources and opportunities.

From November 2015 to May 2019, Ms. Porter served as the Deputy Director of FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division (ICPD) where she led a team that developed
research-based tools and programs to build and maintain individual and community preparedness capabilities resulting in a more prepared and resilient Nation. Under Ms. Porter’s direction, ICPD implemented numerous strategies to help foster local, state, regional and national preparedness by cultivating partnerships and networks, and supporting local initiatives related to disaster

Prior to this position, Ms. Porter was the Director of the Office of the National Advisory Council (NAC) at FEMA headquarters where she provided strategic direction and guidance to the NAC on
emergency management policies and programs. Ms. Porter started her career at FEMA in 2010 as the Senior Advisor to the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, where she coordinated Agency
engagement with state, local, tribal, and territorial stakeholders and the nonprofit organizations that represent them. In this role, Ms. Porter established relationships with elected and appointed
officials and constituency groups, facilitating dialogue on emerging issues, providing technical assistance, and communicating critical information.


Joan Wangler, ICF Master Certified Coach , President, EDIN (Each Day Is New) Associates, Senior Leadership Coach and Faculty Member at The George Washington Center for Excellence in Public Leadership  

I’m a senior leadership coach known for holistic leadership coaching, a process of working with people that leaves them feeling more competent and fulfilled so that they can make a better contribution to their organization and find meaning in what they are doing. Some clients call me a “dream catcher.”

My passion is launching and facilitating leadership communities of practice such as the Creative Learning Group (CLG) initiative with leaders at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the Goddard Civility Collaborative. The primary focus of these communities is on building and sustaining emotionally intelligent, innovative coaching and mentoring organizational cultures to deliver outstanding results.

I coach senior leaders facing complex personal and organizational transition challenges with great heart, wisdom and innovative thinking.I was one of the original designers of NASA’s award-winning Leadership Alchemy program and co-created theEnvironmental Protection Agency’s Transformational Leadership Conversations, an organization-wide community of practice promoting leadership conversations that inspire hope, possibilities, and action at all levels.

My education includes:

Masters in Education, University of Massachusetts; Masters of Science, State University of New York at Albany

Master Certified Coach, International Coach Federation; Certified Professional Effectiveness Coach by New Ventures West

Certifications in The Leadership Circle 360, Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Conversational Intelligence and William Bridges Transition Management


Bryn Biren

Bryn Biren was born and raised in Staten Island, NY.   She graduated from the George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and earned a Master’s degree at Richmond College. She was an elementary school teacher for 34 years, serving as the Project Arts coordinator for her school.

Bryn and her husband, Richard ( a retired administrative law judge) are the parents of two children and have five grandchildren.

She has spent her life involved in community activities. Bryn has served as the past President of Temple Israel and has been on its Board of Trustees since 1989. She has been on the Board of Trustees of the JCC of Staten Island for 25 years. In addition she is involved in the HIllel of the College of Staten Island, Project Hospitality, the UJA, and is currently a Trustee and coordinator of the Dr. Ronald Avis Foundation at Temple Israel.

In her spare time she loves designing and making beaded jewelry, doing wirebending, taking yoga and Pilates classes, and “Helping people to find solutions to their problems”.


Ann Korando

Ann Korando is a highly accomplished non-profit professional and one of the country’s leading fundraisers for science, technology, engineering and math education. Korando founded BBFK, LLC, a private consulting practice focused on providing corporations, foundations and government agencies strategic guidance on fundraising strategies, public relations and program development. Her work includes helping organizations raise money for existing programs, as well as designing and implementing new signature educational programs for corporations and non-profits in STEM education.  Over the past 25 years, Ann has raised over $200 million for the different partnerships.  Previously, Korando was CEO of EarthEcho, a non-profit dedicated to the legacy of Jacques Cousteau; Senior Director of Development for NSTA, a national organization of science teachers and Director of Development, Public Relations and Events at Science Service, an organization dedicated to increasing the public’s understanding of Science through publications and competitions. In this role, she secured Intel as title sponsor for both the Science Talent Search and the International Science and Engineering Fair and helped create and design the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge. Ann is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, Nashville Tennessee and holds a Bachelor of Science degree and Executive Non Profit Management Certificate from Georgetown University, Washington, DC.


Fay Shapiro, CEO and Publisher, CommPRO Global, Inc., BitAngels Investor Network – New York City Leader

Fay Shapiro is founding member and publisher of Her passion is achieving ROI for both clients and colleagues by delivering business-building results for professionals working in public relations, investor relations and marketing communications. Fay grew up in the world of communications, learning the ropes as editorial director at Bacon’s Information (now Cision), and then venturing into the publishing world with Oxbridge Communications, BurrellesLuce, O’Dwyer’s, and Bulldog Reporter. Founded in 2010, is today a global community of influencers involved in all aspects of the communication field, and media hub for the industry.

Fay is also active in the blockchain ecosystem through her role as city leader for the BitAngels Investor Network. The brainchild of industry leaders Michael Terpin and David Johnston in 2013, BitAngels has grown from being the world’s first angel network for digital currency startups to the largest. BitAngels is an open, thriving community of skilled blockchain professionals, companies, developers, and others, with local events in key cities to create growth and connectivity in the blockchain space and with online communication and collaboration.



Tried-and-True Tactics for Managing Up, Down and Sideways

Linda Descano, CFA®, Executive Vice President, Red Havas

When my friend Maria Ungaro asked if I’d join a panel Licensing International was hosting for its Young Professionals Network (YPN) on managing up, down and sideways, I didn’t hesitate to say yes, for two reasons. 

First, this is a topic that has come up in numerous conversations since the pandemic has hit. We’re all working in “2D,” as Sharon Weisman calls this new work-from-home reality (or, as others have put it, live-at-work reality). I’ve been giving a lot of thought about management from the vantage point of the different roles I’ve played in my career—from individual contributor to people-manager to cross-functional project manager to three gigs in the C-suite.

Second, I’d be sharing the screen with two of Licensing International’s 2020 Rising Stars—Krystyna Braxton, apparel licensing manager, NFL Players Inc., and Louis Yenik, licensing manager, Crunchyroll—alongside the YPN Committee chair and program sponsor, Amber Alston, content marketing manager at Flowhaven

So it was a no-brainer.

Managing yourself

In my view, managing yourself is key to effectively managing your relationships with others, be it your manager (up), direct reports (down), or functional colleagues (sideways and diagonal). It’s vital to take ownership of your actions and proactively manage your relationships. This allows you to pivot on your front foot and reflect before you respond—versus reacting in the moment, which can undermine in seconds the reputation and credibility you’ve worked to build. 

The five tactics foundational to managing yourself are:

  • Integrity
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Active listening, meaning listening to learn and understand versus listening to confirm your point of view 
  • Self-confidence, meaning knowing your strengths, being keenly aware of your blind spots and trusting your gut 
  • Balance—and not just work-life balance, but also emotional balance, so you’re always staying in control of your emotions and the situation

Below are some of the tactics that have served me well in managing relationships with others.

Managing up

  • Walk their walk and talk their talk. Know your manager’s priorities and goals, as well as what and how they are expected to communicate to their own manager and other executive leaders. Then adjust your communications style, tone, language and format—whether that’s using bullets in an email or providing PowerPoint summaries—to match what your manager prefers and wants. This will help you better anticipate their needs and better position you and your team to stay aligned with their goals.
  • Keep them in the know. Actively communicate what you’re working on—both progress and potential roadblocks. Similarly, communicate changes that could have a significant impact; don’t let your boss be taken by surprise. Own and manage the information flow.
  • Focus on insights and solutions. When bringing a problem to your manager’s attention, don’t put the onus on them to digest and solve it. Bring forward your own insights and potential solutions, providing the rationale to support your position. Most managers appreciate getting the information in a drama-free, succinct and clear manner.
  • Mind their confidence—and have their back. This should be self-evident: If your manager speaks to you in confidence, then it needs to be treated with the utmost care and respect. Even when confidentiality isn’t the issue, never undermine your manager with others.

Managing down

  • Maintain a healthy communications flow. Keep information flowing so your employees feel like part of the team and connected to the larger organization. And even though many of us can’t walk around the office these days, emphasize that your “open door” policy remains in effect. Encourage people to come to you with issues, and make the time for one-on-one informal check-ins.
  • Listen to learn and teach. While you may have a POV—and it could be the absolute right thing to do—listen thoughtfully to the ideas and insights your direct reports bring forward. Use their ideas as a springboard for coaching them to process their perspectives in the context of the company’s financial, competitive or regulatory environment. That helps employees learn to apply that “filter” to new situations.
  • Be specific, straightforward and consistent. My Grandmom Nina taught me to mean what I say and say what I mean, and her advice about being direct has served me well in all my relationships. Provide your reports timely, constructive feedback—but also “feedforward” with suggestions and expectations for future performance.
  • Keep your inner micromanager in check. Let employees do their jobs, giving them the autonomy and responsibility they need. Have their back and guide them so they are set up for success. 
  • Give thanks and celebrate. Too often we focus on the missteps and the never-ending to-do list, and we don’t take time to thank employees and acknowledge their wins. Taking a moment to focus on the good can have outsized impact on employee morale and productivity. 

Managing sideways and diagonally

  • Align yourself vertically. Stay in lockstep with your manager so you have the resources and support you need.
  • Know where you have discretion and where you don’t. Understand how much latitude you have to present your team, function or business’s needs and negotiate their position—versus where you need to take a big-picture perspective. 
  • Mind the landscape. When working across functions, lines of business or even markets, everyone will bring different perspectives and priorities to a project. Take time to understand the different motivations and definitions of success so you can present your position in a way that can be heard. This demonstrates that you’re invested in the success of the project or initiative, not just that of your own team.
  • Stand by and own the outcomes. Whether you agree with the final decisions or not, as a team member you need to own the team’s outcome. Speak up during project meetings so your voice is heard. But don’t sabotage the team when communicating outwardly just because some of your preferences weren’t adopted. 

What tactics have served you well? I’m always looking to up my management game and hope you will share your takeaways with me!

About the Author: Linda joined Red Havas in 2015 to spearhead the agency’s digital, social and measurement practice areas. With more than 15 years of experience, she specializes in providing strategic counsel and tactical implementation of integrated communications programs, incorporating PR, media relations, social media, content partnerships, influencer marketing, thought leadership and advertising. Her work includes a variety of sectors including financial services, economic development, pharma and corporate responsibility. Previously, Linda was managing director and global head of content marketing and social media at Citi, where she launched numerous digital firsts and served as president and CEO of Women & Co., the bank’s award-winning financial lifestyle community for women.

Her honors include PR News’ 2018 PR Professional of the Year, 2018 Campaign U.S. Digital 40 Over 40, 2014 Fox Information Technology Distinguished Alumni Award from the Fox School of Business at Temple University, 2014 Pinnacle in Leadership Award from the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, and 2013 Changing the Game Award from Advertising Women of New York (now known as She Runs It).  Linda also served as a judge for The Content Council Pearl Awards in 2018 and 2017. Linda serves as a capstone mentor and advisory council member for the Fox School of Business M.S. in Digital Innovation in Marketing program. She currently serves on the board of directors of New York Women in Communications (and is a past president) and Servo Annex, a digital consultancy.

Decode Your Value to Identify Strengths You Never Knew You Had

Wendy Glavin, Founder & CEO, Wendy Glavin Agency

During these tough times, people have been sick, lost loved ones, their jobs, and income. With concerns about the rising COVID-19, worries about children returning to school and their safety, protests about racial injustice, the upcoming Presidential election and more, many people are in-limbo.

While we can control our external circumstances by wearing masks, practicing social distancing and sanitizing our living spaces, to a point, how can we manage and move beyond uncertainty?

Many of us have heard or read about doomsday surfing. “There’s nothing wrong with staying informed. But we need to practice self-care and balance our consumption of grim news with gentler kinds of stimulation, for our own health and the sanity of those around us.” — The New York Times, 2020.

Let’s take this advice a step further. What about seizing this time to reflect on opportunities? It’s tough to do this when you’re feeling down, unmotivated, stressed and worried. However, we only have two choices: to give up or keep moving forward.

After thinking about my 25-year career as a marketing communications veteran having worked in corporations, for agencies and as a consultant, I wanted to launch my own marketing, PR and social media agency.

I shared this idea with friends, colleagues and my family who cautioned that there were already many agencies in New York City and there’s too much competition. I guess I was looking for confirmation bias because when one of my colleagues said there’s more than enough business to go around, I launched Wendy Glavin Agency in 2016.

The power of looking back at your background, experiences, relationships, hobbies and interests will help you find common patterns and transferable skills. More importantly, what are your core values?  

As Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” What this means is our values define us. Knowing what they are gives us a competitive advantage.

Often called soft skills, values include being honest, loyal, passionate, ethical, positive, dependable, adaptable, collaborative, creative, possessing strong communications skills and emotional intelligence.

Alyssa Merwin, Vice President of LinkedIn’s Sales Solutions, North America, said sales professionals need to learn, “Active listening, problem-solving, critical thinking and relationship-building.” 

While it may seem counterintuitive to learn interpersonal skills, digital classes on emotionally intelligent communication techniques are some of the most popular online courses. 

“Communication is one of those skills that’s universal,” explains Emily Poague, Vice President Marketing, LinkedIn Learning. “It’s something that everyone feels like they need to work on,” and demand for soft skills has increased since the pandemic.  — CNBC, June 2020.

During these uncertain times, I want to help as many professionals, startups, and brands to define their value in a commoditized marketplace. Defining (or decoding) your value means more than the work you do; it shapes your life and choices.

Weekly, I participate in Lunchclub AI’s service which pairs people with others based on their objectives like, brainstorming with peers, finding a co-founder, raising funds, mentoring others and more.

I’ve spoken to many young adults who feel stuck after graduating, startup founders strapped for cash, and others across the U.S. and globally that have been furloughed, laid-off and are living day-to-day. 

While the stimulus package has helped many people to continue to pay their rent, make mortgage payments and have some financial backing, it’s ending on July 31st. 

Instead of ruminating about what will happen, when there will be a vaccine, how long will the pandemic last and other worries, learn how to manage uncertainty by creating new opportunities for yourself.

Regardless of your product, service, new idea, side gig, or a new career path, perhaps it’s time for you to do some of the reflective work. It doesn’t have to take days, weeks or months; just focused thought and digging into who you are and what you believe. Then you can let your values guide you.

I’ve started to help business professionals to decode their value. It’s my way of giving back to help others grow through a brand decoding process, so they can identify and shape their brand value. 

Getting out of a holding pattern, even when you’re managing a lot of change, means taking the next step to rediscover and embrace your true value. If you want to learn more about the steps to Decoding Your Value, then you can find additional information here.

One of my favorite quotes is from Eric Thomas who said, “Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Focus on the 24-hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be.”

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 30-year veteran of corporate, agency, consulting and small business ownership. She specializes in B2B2C marketing communications, executive writing, PR and social media advisory. Her website is: Contact her at:

Reputation Management: The Three Degrees of Preparation

Tom Bestwick, PR & Outreach Specialist, Hallam

The times are changing. Lockdown restrictions are starting to ease, allowing the economy to begin climbing back to its feet. Non-essential businesses are opening again – some after nearly six weeks of their doors being closed. New normals are being established everywhere we look – new normals that we expect will still be in place for some time yet. 
During April, I outlined in The Drum the three steps that brands had to get right to protect their brand reputation during COVID-19. The scene is developing all the time and, with it, so do the necessary communication and reputation management trends and steps that are going to be required for any business wishing to ‘get it right’ post COVID-19.
I’m even coining this the three degrees of preparation (yes, I find ourselves singing these words in the same ilk of The Script’s 2012 hit title), but, nevertheless, through our research and from what I have seen unfold in China, I am predicting that there are three stages to be aware of when it comes to getting your reputation management spot on in the forthcoming weeks and months.
These are: 

  1. Preparation – returning to a new normal
  2. The Response – the need to pivot, innovate and adapt
  3. The Rebound – reviving your campaigns

We have taken an in-depth look at all three points in greater detail…



  • Preparation: Preparing for your new normal

The lockdown is being lifted, sure. You feel safe to return to your business and get it back up and running again, but the first thing any business owner is going to need to accept is that anything is still far from normal.

Do not try and just return to normal

COVID-19 is still prevalent and a high risk. People, including your colleagues and customers, are still cautious and nervous and you need to adapt to match it.
The companies that have thrived are the ones that have readily accepted that fact. Here are some of the actions they’ve taken to do so:

  • Completed rigorous colleague and customer risk assessments
  • Considered and implemented social distancing measures, in line with Government advice
  • Last, but definitely not least, communicated the above two points effectively through their digital assets

Health, well-being and hygiene NEEDS to be your top priority in your communications

One of Hallam’s clients, Daltons Wadkin, applied the first two points impeccably, putting together risk assessments for each role within their business and made operational changes around the offices to ensure social distancing rules were met. 
These new rules and changes were communicated beforehand too and each colleague knew what they were walking back into. Beyond that, colleagues that could still operate from home were told to do so.

Remember, your colleagues are your biggest and most important asset and they are more than likely going to be nervous and anxious about returning to the office under the circumstances. By making and then communicating those changes, or even liaising with them over their own thoughts, it will go a long way to making them feel safe. 

Be proactive with your communications – create security & clarity for your employees

As a company, think about how you can communicate this internally. FAQ sheets are a quick, easy, and effective way for your colleagues to get the answers they need and keeps them from feeling in the dark and worrying about the unknown. 

Harvard Business Review documented how China’s largest kitchenware manufacturer, Supor, instituted very specific operational guidelines and procedures for its employees and instituted health checks for them and their families from the early stages of the outbreak and procured preventative equipment. It was well prepared for a timely resumption of work.
Back here in the UK, Costa is another business that has implemented effective practices that garnered positive reactions, not only by their colleagues, but customers as well. Those businesses with soul and that put health and wellbeing on a pedestal above everything else will thrive within their community.  

Keep your communications clear and concise

If you’re planning on re-opening, outline how and when and what is being done to proactively make your facility as safe as possible. If you made changes to your opening times on Google My Business, or your website and social media assets prior to lockdown, make sure they are changed to avoid unnecessary confusion.


  • The Response: Be prepared to adapt 

As part of your new normal, your customers have new priorities that you need to be aware of. Here are just a few things that your customers are going to be thinking about:

  • Home working lifestyle (despite the softening lockdown, a lot of people will be remaining at home for long time to come yet)
  • Returning to work lifestyle
  • Home entertainment and the ability to be social
  • Healthcare, hygiene and wellness (in particular around mental health, with data showing us that four out of five adults are worried about the impact COVID-19 is having on their life)
  • A cut in luxury and non-essential spending
  • The UK’s key workers

Ask yourself this question. If you’re not already, how can your business support a customer range that falls under one of these categories? Can any of your response campaigns be tailored around this?

Netflix introduced Party, allowing people to binge watch movies and boxsets together virtually, multiple businesses, including Dyson, New Balance and Jaguar Land Rover have pivoted their business models to support the NHS, while several institutions across the UK launched mental health initiatives to support colleagues, customers and their community during Mental Health Awareness Week towards the end of May.
And now, maybe, it’s your business’ time. This is your opportunity to be creative with your brand and cut through the clutter and noise to leave a positive lasting impression.

Think about how you can communicate these changes to your customers, too. Recent research showed that email open rates have increased 25% in comparison to pre-COVID-19. Along with social media, this is currently looking like the most effective way to communicate business changes.

Ensure your brand remains positive in its communications

Business pivots are simply not achievable for all businesses. Regardless, there is still a responsibility to deliver positive messaging to its community. There has been a lot of negative press since the start of this crisis and people are craving something good to talk about. 

In our last article on this, we spoke about how companies can come together to do their bit by supporting local initiatives and charities. Your brand has still got a big opportunity to make an impact – one that will be remembered for a long time.

  • The Rebound: Reviving your campaigns

There is going to be a market rebound. Statistics show that China experienced a faster recovery rate than expected – just six weeks after the initial outbreak.

Harvard Business Review shows how congestion delays stood at 73% of 2019 levels, up from 62% at the worst part of the epidemic, which was a firm indicator that the movement of people and goods was resuming.

Given the slow ease of restrictions here in the UK, we can expect a similar market rebound. This very topic is something that has been covered by Hallam’s new CEO, Julio Taylor, in a recent column in The Drum. This is what he had to say about this topic: “My message to brands out there is that what you were in February will not be as effective towards the end of this year when a degree of normality returns. It’s going to be a different world and it is going to be those brands that evolve with it – those that are smarter – that will be remarkable and stand out.” 
As the number of new cases begins to decline and the recovered overtakes the current cases, it is time to consider how you launch your brand recovery plan. 

Ask yourself, is the market ready for this?

Remember, your consumers are in recovery mode just as your business is – consider it, cautious optimism – and there is a fine balance between getting your strategies and campaigns right and wrong. 

These types of brand campaigns take time. They often take more insight (often into new consumer trends you perhaps had not delved into before) and creativity to get right and time is of the essence. Your consumer’s sentiments are far different now to what they were prior to COVID-19. It comes back to what Julio said: “It’s going to be a different world.”
Don’t let all that good work you did during lockdown go to waste with a bad campaign or tone death messaging, which could leave you planning for a long-term recovery.

Prepare for possible setbacks

COVID-19 has not just gone away, nor has a vaccine been delivered, or Track and Trace been implemented. In place, we’re also local lockdowns being enforced. We’re just finding new ways to live with it and with that, unfortunately, comes with the obvious threat of a second spike. 
Be mindful of that when it comes to your brand new campaign ideas and brand recovery launches. You’ve hit that pause button before and you may need to do it again. Keep yourself and your colleagues fully in the loop with the Government’s latest guidelines and act accordingly – always with the foresight to keep your colleagues and customers informed with transparent communications.

Bonus: Don’t forget about the influence of PR!

As PR & Outreach Specialist here at Hallam, it would be remiss of me not to make the most of this blog by speaking specifically about your PR activity.  A lot of what I have spoken about relates to internal communications and messaging, but your external PR output shouldn’t be neglected as part of that. Our PR team is working with multiple different brands and businesses to produce content that is still newsworthy and current. We’re using newsjacking tools every day to source new opportunities and liaising with business figureheads to find out what’s important to them and tailoring our content to fit.

Tip… not every journalist wants to cover COVID-19

We’ve been privileged to work on some great articles recently that have achieved coverage across, local, regional, national and trade publications – not only in the UK, but abroad too. This Includes:

Final Thoughts

To conclude, things are changing and what is clear is that businesses and brands are needed to change with it. Reputation is hard earned, but incredibly easy to lose and a company’s communications strategy – both internal and external – is going to be key to protecting that standing you have built up.

A business’ ability to be honest, proactive and adaptable and timely will make the biggest differences in the coming weeks and months. These three factors allow you to create clarity for your workforce, gain insight into possible new markets, pivot if necessary and, finally, act at a time when the market is ready. 
We may be working in a new normal, but what hasn’t changed is how our brand’s voice and thoughts are still required and wanted. It just comes back to getting it right and we’re on hand to help achieve that, whether it is assisting with a business’ new campaign, or assisting with internal messaging and press statements.
In the meantime, stay safe and you are thinking about how you can improve your PR output and master your reputation management during COVID-19. We’d love to hear from you and discuss how we can help.

About the Author: Tom is Hallam’s PR & Outreach Specialist and is an expert in brand reputation, campaign management, and crisis communications. With over seven years of PR experience behind him, he joined Hallam in Q1 of 2020 with a diverse background after holding comms roles in the football, leisure management, and retail industries. Tom graduated from the University of Huddersfield in 2014 with a First-Class BA (Hons) Degree in Sports Journalism. Find out more by here.

PR Masters Series Podcast, Episode #31 – Denise Hill, Ph.D., APR Assistant Professor Elon University School of Communications 


The Stevens Group has been presenting the PR Masters Series Podcast for almost two years now.  This series is part of the ongoing partnership between The Stevens Group and CommPRO to bring to PR,digital/interactive and marketing communications agencies the wisdom of those who have reached the top of the PR profession.  Today’s special guest is Denise Hill, Ph.D., APR Assistant Professor Elon University School of Communications.



About Our Guest

Denise Hill is an assistant professor at Elon University’s School of Communications, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in strategic communications. Dr. Hill is a former chief communications officer with more than 30 years of corporate communications and public relations agency experience. 

Before joining Elon University, Dr. Hill was vice president of corporate communications and public relations at Delhaize America, the U.S. operation of global Fortune 500 grocery retailer Delhaize Group. She previously held chief communication officer positions at Quest Diagnostics and a business unit of Wyndham Worldwide. In addition, she served as a vice president of communication at Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Cigna. She started her career at a Carl Byoir/Hill+Knowlton public relations agency in Philadelphia. 

In addition to her Elon University teaching experience, Dr. Hill was an adjunct instructor of corporate communications and public relations at New York University. She also taught communications at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

She holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in communications from Temple University, and a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her academic research focuses on public relations and social change, how public relations was used to help marginalized groups in the United States gain civil rights, and African American public relations pioneers. 

Dr. Hill is a member of the board of directors of the Public Relations Society of America. In addition, she is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society, where she serves on the new member liaison subcommittee. Dr. Hill is a member of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the American Journalism Historians Association, and an advisory board member of The Museum of Public Relations. She also serves on APCO Worldwide’s International Advisory Council as a member of its Corporate Communications Strategies subgroup. Dr. Hill serves on the board of directors of Easterseals of North Carolina and Virginia, and she chairs the organization’s development and communications committee. She is a former member of The Seminar, the premier organization of chief communication officers. She also is a former member of The Executive Leadership Council, the preeminent organization of African American business executives. 

Bob Pearson Announces the Launch of The Next Practice — A Founder-Driven Collective of Firms

Bob PearsonBob Pearson, Founder & Chair at The Next Practice Group

Changing times lead to new mindsets and models.

Technology is relentlessly evolving our patterns of content consumption, our ability to harness data to gain new insights and democratizing our ability to build new platforms, tools and techniques.

COVID-19 is reminding us that talent is borderless. Global human networks are replacing dots on a map.

Our personal experience has taught us how important it is for founders to always remain founders, so that innovation continues, forever, as we build the best value for our clients and our teams every day.

The answer, for us, is simple. Build a new model that is ready for the future.

Today, we are announcing the creation of The Next Practice, a founder-driven collective of firms that spans the marketing, communications and technology needs of organizations of all sizes. Our teams can lead a business transformation process, create a new digital media or lead management campaign, build new analytics models, handle your technology needs from cybersecurity to server migrations and think through how social purpose can tie business and societal needs together in more innovative ways.

The name, The Next Practice, reflects our belief that best practices are an exercise in studying the past, often leading to mediocre insights. Industry leaders don’t accept this approach and constantly search for the next practice, hence one of two reasons for our name. The second reason relates to how we work. Our Founders are practitioners. Instead of being delegated down, your biggest challenges will be delegated up, to the people who will put their experience into practice.

Our approach requires a different business model so that our Founders remain focused on our clients and innovating their offering. Operationally, the parent company, The Next Practices Group, exists to support each Founder and their firms. The Group is at the bottom of the org chart looking up. Financially, Founders will always have a significant stake in their firms and the parent company.

Here is an introduction to our leaders:

Brain+Trust –  Tim Hayden is Founder & CEO and Tracy Arrington is Chief Operating Officer and Partner. Tim has been a founder and is an advisor to many emerging technology companies, a past VP of Marketing at Zignal Labs, and he led the North American mobile operations at Edelman Digital. Tracy is an author and a Professor and Director, Brand Marketing & Analytics, Program in China for The University of Texas at Austin.

CHANGEx – John McNeel is Founder & CEO. John is also Co-Founder and Chairman of the charitable giving platform in/PACT. He was previously President, Global Clients for TBWA, Worldwide Operations Director for Saatchi & Saatchi (P&G) and Chairman and CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Middle East.

Ringer Sciences – Yash Gad, Ph.D. is Founder & CEO. Yash has a PhD in Biophysics, Computational Biology and Neuroscience and was a key data science architect at W2O Group. Yash’s first company he founded was Simvivo, also an analytics-driven firm.

RocketSauce Media Labs – Dave Pierpont and Julia Thuman, are co-Founders & CEOs. Dave was most recently SVP of Performance Media and Julia was SVP of Client Partnership for Ansira, a marketing technology agency. Dave started his career in the U.S. Department of Commerce. Julia was also SVP of Marketing & Sales for Targetbase (Omnicom) and Vice President of Client Service for RAPP (Omnicom).

The Next Practice – Chris Foster is Founder & CEO. Chris was Worldwide Chief Operating Officer for Saatchi & Saatchi, President, Asia for Young & Rubicam and President, Global Clients for Publicis Groupe.

Victory CTO – John Cunningham and Chris Chilek are Co-Founders and CEOs. Chris and John have a long history of building companies, and designed Victory as a Digital Transformation hub for clients internationally. In the last five years Victory’s team has helped companies of all sizes gain momentum and achieve new capabilities.

The Founder & Chair of the Next Practices Group is Bob Pearson, who launched GCI Health and was President and Vice-Chair at W2O Group. Pearson is an author of four books, advisor to media software companies and lecturer at the State Department and the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School, University of Southern California and Syracuse University.

The President of the Group is Colin Foster, who was Global Head of Social Media at Novartis and a Managing Director for Social Media at W2O Group.

Mike Gehb is our first advisor to the firm. Mike was Chief Financial Officer for Copithorne & Bellows, Porter Novelli and Vice President of Finance and Operations for Omnicom/DAS (Diversified Agency Services).

The Next Practice is the name that we will refer to for the collective. It will become a global organization, over time, that can provide additional support to each Founding firm.

Our offering has five key pillars — Analytics/Data Science, Digital Media (paid, earned, shared and owned), Technology Services, Software & Stories and Social Purpose. Within Software and Stories, we are featuring software companies that can provide an edge for our clients. The initial group includes AIMeCASTAirtoryFractalFORGEin/PACTNextWorks and Proof.

The firm’s founders live in Connecticut, Dallas and Austin, but work in Zoom, Teams and Ring Central for now. Although revenue is not being reported today, we do expect to make the PRovoke Media top 250 list by the end of 2020.

We conclude our launch post with the sharing of The Next Practice beliefs, which all founders have helped shape. We believe every word here and will live it each day as we set out to build a firm that is both rewarding to work at and increasingly valuable for our clients.


Chris Foster, Yash Gad, Dave Pierpoint, Julia Thuman, Tim Hayden, Tracy Arrington, Colin Foster, John Cunningham, Chris Chilek, John McNeel, Tim Bahr, Michael Gehb and Bob Pearson

Our Beliefs

  • The Next Practice never ends, it’s a journey
  • The Founder’s mentality fuels innovation and drives growth… forever
  • Shared value means everyone wins
  • New times require new working models
  • Bottom up leadership drives intellectual equality
  • Our own tools and platforms help us walk the talk
  • Audience driven decision-making
  • Technology enabled the passion-economy, we give it it’s voice
  • Business can make the world a better place
  • No Assholes need apply (really)

The Pandemic Has Shown Us the Best Way to Build a Team Is to Nurture the Individuals Within It 

Linda Descano, CFA®, Executive Vice President, Red Havas 

When invited to write about building team spirit among employees at a time when we so desperately need to remain connected, my inner networker kicked right into gear. I went to those who I consider “my team”—current and former colleagues, as well as friends and family members near and far. When asked for their insights and experiences as business owners, executives, people managers and rank-and-file employees, they didn’t disappoint.

And most shared a singular sentiment, reporting that the team-building tactics that have risen to the top for them during the coronavirus have been the social activities that many organizations have put into practice during lockdown. Think virtual happy hours and trivia games, Wellness Wednesdays and Fancy-Dress Fridays and Bring Your Child or Pet to Zoom Days. Also well received: handwritten notes from managers or the heads of their business unit, as well as care packages that included hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes and, in some cases, the all-important face mask. Even more impressive, a handful received an actual roll of the most precious commodity of the pandemic—that’s right: TP.

Mentioned less frequently, yet also highly valued, was the one-on-one sense of “mental well-being” imparted by managers who granted their employees greater flexibility in how they bundled their work-personal time in a given day. Other managers gave the gift of time on the company’s dime for employees to spend on self-care, ranging from one hour per day to a few hours per week.

What also was interesting was the number of people who gushed about how they felt even more connected to their colleagues—especially those in other cities, countries and continents—and how much more deep and meaningful their conversations had become now that the wall between their professional and personal lives had been disassembled and they had little choice other than to bring their whole, real self to the table. This wasn’t just the case within peer-to-peer interactions, but also between people of vastly different levels who hadn’t had much face-to-face time in the past.

All of this was truly inspiring and heartwarming. But it also begs a question: Why did it take a pandemic crisis for so many organizations and leaders to show employees that they care? To offer the flexibility that so many of us need or just crave? To recognize that we have families and fur babies that need us? To celebrate our quirks? To acknowledge our vulnerabilities, and give us the space we need to be our best selves? 

I put that question to several folks whose leadership I’ve strived to emulate and, frankly, no one had a good answer. The majority did say, though, that while their companies had flexible work, care-giving support, mental health support, and similar policies in place before the pandemic, they often were activated at the discretion of individual managers versus granted as “universal right” by virtue of being an employee of the company. The pandemic changed that seemingly overnight, as organizations came under intense scrutiny for how they were supporting employees during this crisis.

As the spotlight shifts to other issues, and we settle into new routines in the “next normal,” let’s hope this experience ushers in a new, more human-centered approach to leadership with actions that support the “people-first, people-matter” words we’ve been hearing and have come to believe. It’s up to each of us to deliver—our teams, our families, and we ourselves deserve it.  

About the Author: Linda joined Havas PR in 2015 to spearhead the agency’s digital, social and measurement practice areas. With more than 15 years of experience, she specializes in providing strategic counsel and tactical implementation of integrated communications programs, incorporating PR, media relations, social media, content partnerships, influencer marketing, thought leadership and advertising. Her work includes a variety of sectors including financial services, economic development, pharma and corporate responsibility. Previously, Linda was managing director and global head of content marketing and social media at Citi, where she launched numerous digital firsts and served as president and CEO of Women & Co., the bank’s award-winning financial lifestyle community for women. Her honors include PR News’ 2018 PR Professional of the Year, 2018 Campaign U.S. Digital 40 Over 40, 2014 Fox Information Technology Distinguished Alumni Award from the Fox School of Business at Temple University, 2014 Pinnacle in Leadership Award from the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, and 2013 Changing the Game Award from Advertising Women of New York (now known as She Runs It).  Linda also served as a judge for The Content Council Pearl Awards in 2018 and 2017. Linda serves as a capstone mentor and advisory council member for the Fox School of Business M.S. in Digital Innovation in Marketing program. She currently serves on the board of directors of New York Women in Communications (and is a past president) and Servo Annex, a digital consultancy.

PR Masters Series Podcast, Episode #30 – Jeff Winton


The Stevens Group has been presenting the PR Masters Series Podcast for almost two years now.  This series is part of the ongoing partnership between The Stevens Group and CommPRO to bring to PR,digital/interactive and marketing communications agencies the wisdom of those who have reached the top of the PR profession.  Today’s special guest is Jeff Winton, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Winton Associates.



About Our Guest

Jeff Winton established Jeff Winton Associates, a full-service communications agency, in February 2020 after a four-decade communications and corporate affairs career with leading corporations and respected public relations and advertising agencies. Jeff’s global experience spans highly diverse and dynamic industries, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, animal health, agricultural, consumer healthcare and consumer products.

Jeff previously served as Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Alkermes plc, where he created and led a new function that encompassed corporate brand and reputation; corporate, product, internal, sales and R&D communications; patient advocacy; corporate social responsibility; and corporate events. Prior to this role, Jeff was Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Astellas Pharma and responsible for building and evolving the company’s corporate affairs function to better support its strategic priorities.

Earlier in his career, Jeff held global communications leadership positions at Eli Lilly and Company, Pharmacia Corporation (until it was acquired by Pfizer Inc.) and Schering-Plough Corporation (until it was acquired by Merck & Co, Inc.).

Jeff has received several prestigious industry awards throughout his career, including the 2017 Plank Center John Koten Corporate Mentor Award, the first annual Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Health Academy Excellence in Public Relations Award and the 2015 Chicago Skyline PRSA Professional of the Year Award. He is active in several professional organizations, including PRSA, The Seminar and Arthur W. Page Society. Jeff also serves on the board of advisors for The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations.

Jeff graduated with distinction from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, with a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and currently serves on its Dean’s Advisory Council. Additionally, Jeff completed graduate level courses at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

An avid equestrian who competes in several competitions across the country each year, Jeff belongs to several professional equestrian organizations.

Are You Prepared to Talk About Your PPP Loan?

Lauren Parker, President + CEO, FrazierHeiby

Shake Shack. Potbelly. Kanye’s Yeezy brand. These are just some of the large corporations that faced criticism after receiving government funds from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The program was part of the federal CARES Act, which set out to help small businesses maintain payroll and other expenses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the program did offer relief to small businesses across the country, including my own, it’s been widely criticized for lack of oversight and accountability in doling out cash to large, publicly traded corporations. (Shake Shack and Potbelly have returned the money.) 

Following demands for increased transparency, the U.S. Treasury Department has published a complete list of businesses that received loans of $150,000 or more. This has opened the door for media, customers, partners and other stakeholders to ask questions about how that money was spent. 

If you lead communications for a large company that took advantage of the program, you can stop reading this article and pivot to others on crisis communications. If you’re a leader with a small business of integrity that received a PPP loan, now is the time to prepare for questions internal or external audiences may ask. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Remember honesty is the best policy. If your business did receive PPP money, don’t try to hide the fact. With the information now publicly available, you’re only creating a challenge for yourself if you try to dodge questions or act aloof. 

Be human. These are scary times, especially for small business owners who feel the pressure to not only provide for themselves and their families, but the hard working people they employ. Demonstrate vulnerability and care for your employees by speaking about how the funds were allocated (payroll, healthcare, rent, etc.) — all in an effort to keep people on the job. 

Don’t speculate about the future. While the hope is that this small business benefit allowed many to stay afloat, there’s no way to know what’s ahead. If you receive specific questions about whether or not there will be layoffs in the future, don’t speculate. Rather, let your key audiences know that you’re committed to doing the right thing for your employees and the business, and that you’ll keep the lines of communication open. 

With 4.9 million forgivable loans worth a combined $521 billion across 5,500 lenders, the PPP data offers much for inquiring minds to examine. With the economy top of mind for everyone, avoid being caught off guard by unexpected questions and think through your messaging today. 

About the Author: Lauren Parker is president + CEO of FrazierHeiby, a marketing and communications firm based in Columbus, Ohio. Lauren has more than a decade of experience counseling clients through crisis and reputation management, brand positioning, social media engagement, employee relations and digital communications strategy. You can find her on Twitter at @ImLaurenParker or connect by email at

Three Key Takeaways from the COVID-19 Reset Webinar Series 

Simon Erskine Locke, Founder & CEO of CommunicationsMatchTM 

Over the last three months, renowned Columbia and Harvard professors, industry-leading marketers, and behavioral experts have shared insights into impact and opportunities for leaders at all levels in all functions interested in the integration of strategy, marketing, and communications around COVID-19. 

In the most recent webinar, our distinguished panelists Michael R. Solomon, marketing expert, consultant, author and professor and Leslie Zane, President and Founder of Triggers® Growth Strategy, provided a behavioral framework for understanding the drivers of consumer decision-making and shared perspective on ways in which companies, marketers, and communicators can leverage these changes to grow their businesses. Stephan Wiedner, CEO and Co-Founder of Noomii, added perspective on steps business leaders need to take to help organizations realize these opportunities. Read the summary/watch the replay here.   

The webinars, organized by the Marketing IMPACT Council™ in partnership with CommunicationsMatch™, and supported by, The Financial Communications Society, and Capitol Communicator, provide three critical takeaways for communicators:  

1) What Clients Value is Different

What clients value has changed during the pandemic. Professors Noel Capon (Columbia Business School) and Amy C. Edmondson (Harvard Business School), and Founder & CRO of Researchscape, Jeffrey Henning, offered insights into the ways in which companies need to think about the greatest value they provide in the new landscape. A value-based approach to meeting clients’ changing needs should be the foundation of reset discussions. (Click here to read the summary/watch the replay of the first webinar.) 

2) The Business You are in has Changed

Changes in consumer behavior and the acceleration of existing trends by 3-5 years, are not only changing companies, but also the role of leaders, marketers and communicators who now need to be in the transformation business according to Marketer of the Year, Arun Sinha, and Time magazine Marketing Innovator, Rishad Tobaccowala. Companies and agencies that have been able to refocus messaging and business models will be able to not only survive but thrive. (Click here to read the summary/watch the replay of the second webinar.) 

3) Behavioral Change is an Opportunity

Generally resistant to change, consumer behaviors have become unfrozen noted Solomon and Zane in the most recent webinar, and changes are expected to stick. The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation taking place and created new opportunities for both new brands and old favorites. The keys to unlocking these opportunities are an understanding of, and the ability to tap into, underlying drivers of behavior and the need to create “psychologically safe workplaces” that encourage speaking up and innovation. (Click here to read the summary/watch the replay of the third webinar.)                 

The conversations John Greco, Chairman of the Marketing IMPACT Council™, and I have had with our panelists have underscored the importance of resetting strategy, messaging and communications for what Rishad Tobaccowala described as the “new strange.”

They reinforce the key Marketing IMPACT Council™ ideas around the critical importance of aligning organizations across functions and levels, and the value of CommunicationsMatch™’s tools that enable companies to virtually find and engage communicators and marketing resources needed to at a minimum to survive and ideally thrive in the years to come. 


The idea of value is at the heart of the Marketing IMPACT Council™. Our VALUE Equation™ is an acronym and a mnemonic for VISION, ALIGNMENT, LEADERSHIP, UNDERSTANDING, and EXECUTION across functions. These five drivers must be continuously optimized and integrated to create, grow, and maintain the maximum value for all stakeholders and apply to both for-profit and nonprofit entities. We provide members tools and access to resources to unlock value – such as this webinar series – that help council members address the question, if you only had one more dollar, how would you invest it to create the GREATEST SUSTAINABLE IMPACT on the VALUE of your entity and brand.

Learn more and join at

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

Carmelo Cutuli will Manage the Media and Information Sector of Confassociazioni

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Confassociazioni, the body that aggregates Italian federations, associations, companies and individuals who carry out or represent professional activities in Italy and Europe, inaugurates the confederal sector that aggregates the Italian media.

Carmelo Cutuli, Of Counsel, Senior Advisor Italy, TransMediaGroup Inc.Confassociazioni has, of today, over 1,030,000 members in Italy, including over 650 large professional associations and 220,000 companies. Carmelo Cutuli, Confassociazioni’s long-standing officer and international professional in institutional and media relations, has been appointed president of the new branch.

With a degree in economics, Cutuli is a member of the Ordine dei Giornalisti del Lazio and the Public Relations Society of America and is professionally involved in institutional, external and media relations at an international level. A passionate communicator, he was one of the first Italian professionals to take an interest in digital communication tools, offering advice to several North American public relations companies, among these, the Florida based Madden’s TransMedia Group .

He worked for years in a public company where he was in charge of international marketing and communication, dealing with important internationalization projects, with particular reference to the North American continent.

Former member of the board of one of the oldest and most important Italian-American Chambers of Commerce, he has also held the positions of director and president in some important friendship organizations between Italy and the United States. He is currently President of the Rome Chapter of the Order of the Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, the oldest and most consolidated organization supporting American citizens of Italian descent.

The new branch dedicated is dedicated to the Italian Media sector,” said President Cutuli, “and is aimed to foster networking among the various players in this industry, which is unfortunately very fragmented and unsupported in Italy today, especially when it comes to online media, encouraging interaction between members and the Confassociazioni System, a vast multi-sector business network where the media can find their natural stakeholders and contribute to the development of networking opportunities.

The management structure, chaired by Carmelo Cutuli, is composed of: Francesco Pira, Vice President; Michele Ficara Manganelli, Head of the Swiss Italian Area; Alessandro Conte, Head of the Central Italy Area; Patrizia Paesano, Head of the Islands Area; Giulia Reina, Vice Secretary General. To these initials will be added, in the coming months, further delegations.

“We are very pleased – said the National President of Confassociazioni, Angelo Deiana – to count among our members, as well as among the professionals in our renewed organization chart, the representatives of the media and information world. We are now ready to welcome in our network, which sees exponential growth rates of associates and organizations, newspapers, media networks and all the actors, including informal ones, in the world of information, offering them the value of our membership system”.