What Did We See at CES? Plenty – A Review from the Ketchum Team

 Lisa Sullivan,  Melissa Kinch and Chip Scarinzi, Ketchum

The robots have left the building.

CES 2019 is now in the rear-view mirrors of the more than 182,000 industry attendees, exhibitors and media who spent the better part of a week scrutinizing what’s happening – or being promised – in the wild world of consumer electronics.

From rollable TVs to plant-based meat, CES never fails to shock and awe attendees. Here are a few trends that both excited us and gave us pause as we look ahead to what 2019 has in store for technology communicators.


ces 2019 trends - consumer electronics show


The elephant remains in the room. And it’s getting bigger.
Apple may not have had an official CES presence, but its headline-grabbing giant billboard right across the street from the Las Vegas Convention Center — CES ground zero – declared, “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.” And that certainly got attendees talking. Sadly, they got little dialogue on the topic from the majority of exhibitors, very few of whom made any direct references to what they’re doing with consumer data.

It was a valuable lesson on the importance of listening to your audiences wherever they choose to give you feedback. A scan of product launches and keynote speeches would have completely missed one of the most important topics coming out of the show: namely, are consumers reaching a tipping point when it comes to giving brands permission to profit from their data?

As we’ve discussed before, consumers report being increasingly uncomfortable with their personal information being mined/shared/sold, let alone stolen, and don’t trust companies with their data. But they also don’t know what to do about it and, evidently, neither do most brands. Engaging in a proactive data dialogue is a great start, but most companies appear to see more risk than reward from that strategy.

If someone had an ironclad data security story, they could really stand out. But few are being that bold. Instead, companies are bracing themselves for probing questions about data and security – and hoping no one will ask.  And the statute of limitations on saying nothing is running out.

Adios, off-the-shelf.
Personalization has always been a big theme at CES. But it really exploded into view at CES 2019, prompting an interesting paradox.

On one hand, brands are encouraging consumers to adopt more technology to be healthier, sleep better and find an escape from stress; on the other, it’s widely believed that too much technology and “screen time” can lead to increased anxiety (as we learned from Ketchum’s consumer survey this summer) among other negative outcomes.

Thanks to an ever-growing rate of connectivity, people and their products are increasingly linked – as are plenty of behind-the-scenes machines. Technology is being tailored to the user’s needs and likes in never-before-seen ways. From cars that understand and react to your mood, in real-time, to a bed that monitors your sleep patterns and makes in-the-moment adjustments accordingly, customization is easier and more impactful than ever.

Technology communicators will need to be mindful of treading that fine line, and understanding when personalization goes from useful to invasive.

Show and tell works.
Unveiling and showcasing the newest, “next-gen” widget is a trade show staple, and CES is no exception. But different this year was the number of companies who displayed exactly how a product – be it a smart toilet in a built-out bathroom or a rollable TV in a living room-like suite – could be integrated into the actual setting where it would be used.

Such hands-on, real-world experiences enable attendees and media alike to see and better understand the benefits and capabilities of a product, contextually.

This is a particularly effective way for brands outside the industry to have an authentic voice. When non-tech companies who are new to CES find their white space, they have the chance to be recognized as real leaders.

The name game.
For years, artificial intelligence was called… artificial intelligence. Now, in an attempt to stand apart from the crowd, many companies are putting their own stamp on names or descriptions that imply AI without actually saying it: intuitive intelligence, lifelong learning intelligence, etc.

Ditto for the debate around connected home vs. smart home vs. intelligent home. Or the distinction between driverless, self-driving and autonomous. Each evolution is designed to elevate the conversation and differentiate the brand.

But not all of these alternatives can enter the vernacular of the mainstream consumer. Will they really differentiate the brands that are pushing them? Or will they serve only to confuse consumers who are scrambling to get a grasp on what each of them really means?

There’s no one way to win.
As many brands illustrated at CES, you don’t necessarily need a glossy presentation or giant booth to garner attention. As in previous years, brands of all sizes found ways to make their presence felt – with or without a booth on the show floor.

Beyond the expected frenzy of traditional media relations outreach, some used CES as a recruitment or internal communications platform; others focused on hallway conversations, offering thoughtful insights or product displays just to those influencers that mattered to them. While others found value in the growing number of side events and conferences that break up the breadth of CES content into a series of more focused conversations.

Each product, brand and company lifecycle is different, as is each target audience. By planning far ahead and questioning some of the accepted norms of tradeshow attendance, brands can carve out a unique strategy that works for them.

Getting real.
Creating an inspiring presence at CES has always been equal parts technology leadership and future vision. The industry wants to be wowed, to be shown not just what will be possible tomorrow, but what technology will be able to do five, 10 or 50 years from now. In part, it’s about selling a dream.

But one trend we noticed this year is that those dreams are perhaps more rooted in reality than in years past. We can all picture a fully autonomous transportation system, a smart city, or a home that predicts your every need. At the same time, we want to know what we’ll be able to buy in the next 6-12 months.

It seems that the technology industry has listened and taken note. We saw a number of brands this year tempering once-wild expectations with a more realistic approach as to when and how an emerging technology will make it to prime time. And, a few companies – notably in the highly-anticipated 5G space – were called out for over-promising.

A successful CES strategy is many months in the making. Arguably, just as the dust is settling on CES 2019, it’s a perfect time to think about the lessons learned – and how they can be applied both to the remainder of this year, and to getting a jump start on CES 2020.

Distilling the insights above, we believe it comes down to one core theme: take the time to think strategically, question accepted “best practices,” and plan a new path.

There’s a place at the CES table for many companies and many approaches. The trick is figuring out who you are, who you want to reach, and what messages you’re trying to convey in support of your business goals. Then, calibrate your CES planning accordingly.

We’d love to help you figure it all out.  Contact Melissa Kinch, Lisa Sullivan or Chip Scarinzi.

What Did We See at CES- Plenty – A Review from the Ketchum TeamAbout Lisa Sullivan:
Lisa is the director of technology for Ketchum and has a passion for bringing innovative and disruptive ideas and technologies to market. Based in San Francisco, she’s on a permanent quest for the latest technology innovations, the hottest new restaurants and the perfect glass of cabernet.

About Melissa Kinch:
Melissa is partner and managing director of technology for Ketchum, specializing in corporate communications, issues management, business-to-business branding, corporate branding and strategic philanthropy/CSR.

About Chip Scarinzi:
Chip Scarinzi is a senior vice president, account director in Ketchum’s San Francisco Technology practice, where he draws from more than 15 years of experience in consumer and enterprise tech. A dyed in the wool sports fan, he is the author of Diehards, a non-fiction book that explores the evolution of sports fandom.


Gillette Takes A Stand…Is This the Beginning of a New Trend for Popular Brands?

David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision PR Group

Gillette launched a new commercial on its website and YouTube on Monday, which is in response to the #MeToo movement.  The ad urges men to hold each other accountable, set a higher standard for conduct then in the past, and step up if they see men acting inappropriately towards women.  The commercial is called “We believe the best men can be” playing off of Gillette’s legendary tagline, “the best a man can get”.  The ad has been viewed millions of times.  It is generating strong responses with many saying they will never purchase a Gillette product again.  Others have praised the company for taking a stand on a highly debated social topic.

Gillette Takes A Stand...Is This the Beginning of a New Trend for Popular BrandsIn making this ad, Gillette broke all of the conventions that say brands never take a stand on social or political issues (true Starbucks, Nike, Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby and a few others have been the exception to this rule) for fear of alienating consumers who oppose the position the brand is taking.  Many are predicting Gillette will suffer with lost sales because of this commercial and other companies will use it as a cautionary tale of why not to take positions on major issues.  They are wrong, the Gillette ad is the future for brands.  In this highly polarized society, we will begin seeing brands take more active positions on politics and social issues.

Why will we see this trend?

  1. Today’s consumers expect brands to take stands on social and political issues.  This is particularly true of millennials who give greater loyalty to brands with corporate social responsibility appeals.  But it is also becoming true for all consumers.  A recent survey showed 59% of American consumers will only purchase from a brand that shares their values and if the brand doesn’t they will shop elsewhere.  This percentage is growing annually.  Brands are paying attention to this trend.  Taking a stand on social issues also allows a brand to stand out from its competitors among consumers.
  2. Social media is forcing brands to take a stand. Just look at the power that a tweet by Parkland survivor, David Hogg had with advertisers abandoning Laura Ingraham or the reaction by corporations such as SanDisk, Samsung, SodaStream, Pfizer Inc., IHOP, Nautilus Inc.’s Bowflex, Ancestry.com, NerdWallet, Indeed.com and Pacific Life Insurance after social media lit up to Tucker Carlson’s remarks on his show that immigration was responsible for making the United States dirtier.  Deciding to advertise or not is taking a stand.  But social media is no longer just content with companies pulling ads from shows.  Social media influencers are demanding the brands come out and take a stand on a variety of issues from immigration, Me Too, Donald Trump, and other major political and social issues.
  3. Brands are realizing that America is divided and polarized as no time since the Civil War and the divisions are widening. As a result, with more sophisticated consumers and a more polarized culture brands can no longer avoid taking a stand.  That means brands realize they must come down on one side or another in the great divide.
  4. Employees are demanding their companies take a stand on issues. Just as consumers select a brand based upon its values, employees are opting to join companies that share their values on issues.  This is especially important in the current job market.
  5. Investors are demanding more social activism from brands. This trend is growing and brands realize to satisfy their shareholders and board of directors they must stand up and be counted on key social issues.

Gillette’s commercial whether you liked it or disliked it is the trend that all brands will be following.  Brands can no longer stand on the sidelines on political and social issues.  To do so will mean losing consumers.  Look for more brands to follow Gillette with social issue commercials and stands throughout 2019.

David E. Johnson: Lessons Learned: Let's Rock Public Relations in 2018!About the Author: David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision PR Group, a public relations and public affairs agency.  Additional information on him and company may be obtained at www.strategicvisionpr.com.

The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership Names Faculty Director and Announces 2019 Schedule

Leslie Grossman at GWUCommPRO Editorial Staff

Leslie Grossman was appointed faculty director of the new Women’s Leadership Program at the George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership (CEPL).  GW CEPL has scheduled two 3-day women’s leadership programs for 2019:  April 3–5 and October 16-18, both to be held at GWU’s Alexandria, Va. Graduate Center. Grossman’s appointment and the 2019 dates for the executive leadership program was announced by Ina Gjikondi, director of executive education and coaching.

The Women’s Leadership Program at GWU CEPL was introduced October 24, 2018 with a highly interactive 3-day program developed by Grossman. It is designed for women executives in the private and public sectors who aspire to positions of greater influence and impact or have been identified as high-potentials in their organizations. The program provides participants with transformational communication skills, executive presence and guidance for building trust, culture, vision and thought leadership. In addition to Grossman leading the sessions, the program features experts and leaders as guest speakers and panelists.

“Our first women’s leadership program in Fall of last year, under Leslie Grossman’s direction, received accolades from the women leaders attending,” said Gjikondi. “We heard from participants that the transformational nature of the program produced great impact on their confidence and communication skills, and provided solutions to the unique challenges many women leaders face.” Gjikondi added, ” It is clear that women executives benefit from a gender-specific program and that Leslie Grossman was the right choice to lead it.”

Grossman is a senior fellow at GWU CEPL. In that role she leads workshops, including the Step Up to the Mic program, and is an executive coach in the CEPL Leadership Coaching Program. Previously, she founded The Women’s Leadership Exchange, a national conference program for women entrepreneurs and executives. She is the author of two books including “Link Out: How to Turn Your Network into a Chain of Lasting Connections” (Wiley). She is a graduate of The George Washington University Columbia College, attended New York University in Counselor Education and is a certified executive coach by Vistage International.

For more information or to register for the women’s leadership program, go to https://cepl.cps.gwu.edu/womens-leadership-program or contact Ina Gjikondi at gjikondi@gwu.edu and 202-994-5313

Celebrating Black PR History: Diverse Voices

For the Museum of Public Relations’ fourth annual Black PR History event, they are exploring the subject through the personal histories of industry leaders from agencies, corporations and academia. These esteemed panelists are all contributors to  Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership, the first-of-a-kind book sponsored by the PRSA Foundation and published last year by PRMuseum Press . During this program, panelists will bring their Diverse Voices to life. This event is brought to you by the Museum of Public Relations in partnership with the PRSA Foundation and the Black Public Relations Society (BPRS) – NY chapter.

Jan. 30, 6–8:30 p.m.
85 Broad Street, 27 floor

You must REGISTER to attend this free event. 

The evening’s event will be followed by a network reception and book signing and will be live streamed on the PRMuseum Facebook page.

The Panel

Diverse Voices Panel

  • Judith Harrison (emcee)
    SVP, D&I, Weber Shandwick, past president PRSA Foundation, current president, New York Women in Communications
  • Helen Shelton
    Senior Partner, Finn Partners
  • Denise Hill
    Assistant professor at Elon University’s School of Communication
  • Neil Foote
    President, National Black Public Relations Society, and President, Foote Communications
  • Terry Edmonds
    Former speechwriter to President Clinton
  • Andrew McCaskill
    Senior Vice President Global Communications, Nielsen
  • Brandi Boatner
    Social and Influencer Communications Lead, Global Markets, IBM


CEOs and Live Social Video: A Top Trend for 2019

New York, NY Just three years after the launch of Facebook Live, live video is set to become a dominant communications tool for public relations and marketing professionals in 2019. That’s a top takeaway from the Social Media Video Survey just released by D S Simon Media.

Key findings include:

·       57% of communicators are using live social video

·       81% of communicators plan to increase live streaming next year

·       Use of CEOs in live video will grow dramatically

“Obviously, it’s working,” says Doug Simon, CEO of D S Simon Media, which conducted the survey and has been producing live social video events for years. “Communicators are using live video to break news, share thought leadership, take customers and prospects behind-the-scenes, and even engage them in content to build relationships in the B2B space.”

The Most Popular Site for Social Streaming by Communicators

Additional results showed that Facebook is the most popular site for social streaming, used by 63% of communicators, followed by YouTube (46%) and Instagram (45%). Twitter is only used by 4% of communicators for live video, suggesting the platform may be more effective to promote events on other sites and to engage with other influencers.

Those familiar with these platforms understand that these varying usage rates correlate to the unique benefits each site offers. Looking beyond these limitations, Simon explains “You no longer have to settle for sharing the content on just one social site.” Multi-channel streaming is positioned to be the next big piece of the live video streaming puzzle, as only 17% of communicators currently implement it. “Increasing use of multi-channel streaming is going to be a key trend in 2019 to amortize costs and maximize reach,” Simon adds.

The Role of the CEO in Live Video

The survey found that 40% of respondents have featured their CEOs in live social video, a significant number considering how new this tactic is. 57% plan to increase this use of CEOs in 2019. “Making you CEO accessible to the media makes your brand seem more authentic,” says Simon. “Live video allows for content control while achieving this strategic objective. Communication skills are more important than ever for a successful CEO.”

Martin Waxman, CEO of Waxman Communications who reviewed the findings, notes “You have to look at training your CEO to be comfortable in the live setting.

How Video is Valued by Communicators

How are communicators using video? The survey found:

·       92% create awareness for campaigns

·       52% turn leaders into influencers

·       44% connect with partners

·       22% win attention at events and tradeshows

Andrea Coville, CEO of Brodeur Partners, notes that “The sensory nature of video and changing methods of delivery—from livestreaming events, to short form stories on Instagram and Snapchat—gives marketers more options to stay relevant, especially with younger Generation Z audiences who have voracious appetites for video.” Adds Deirdre Breckenridge, CEO of Pure Performance Communications, “Live video is so great for a brand to show the people behind the company.”

One telling result shows that 86% of respondents use video for social engagement, while only 46% use to increase earned media coverage. Simon elaborates, “Failing to use video to earn media when you have already created it for social channels is a big mistake. This is magnified given that more than 80% of journalists will use video you provide them as you produced it.”

You can receive a copy of the free survey by emailing survey@dsimonmedia.com or by downloading it here.  


The online video survey was completed anonymously through Survey Monkey by 125 communications professionals both in the agency world and members of in-house teams.

Token2049 Returns in Full Force to Discuss the Future of Crypto and Address Blockchain Industry Resilience

Token2049 Returns in Full Force to Discuss the Future of Crypto and Address Blockchain Industry ResilienceCommPRO.biz Editorial Team

TOKEN2049, the premier crypto conference in Asia, will return to Hong Kong on 13-14 March 2019, bringing together the global crypto industry, including high profile industry leaders, successful projects, and thousands of blockchain market participants. Building on the success of its inaugural 2018 event, the upcoming conference is expected to double in size, attracting more than 2,000 entrepreneurs, investors, developers, academics, and industry enthusiasts. Charlie Lee, Creator of Litecoin has been confirmed as keynote speaker at the 2019 edition of the conference.

TOKEN2049, the flagship event of Asia Crypto Week, will investigate the blockchain industry’s journey thus far, overcoming major roadblocks from scalability to regulation and the current state of affairs on the road to mainstream adoption while educating entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors on what to expect in future years. With its sold-out 2018 event featuring Charles Hoskinson of Cardano, Bitcoin Oracle Vinny Lingham, and a special appearance from AI robot, Sophia, TOKEN2049 is expected to top the accomplishments of the previous year.

Christopher Strauch, Co-host of TOKEN2049 said: “Despite the ups and downs over the past year, the attitude, belief system, and drive to improve the industry has not strayed far off course from the original goal – to build a decentralised ecosystem that empowers and benefits the masses. TOKEN2049 is a celebration of this resilient industry, which in its infancy is already making headway in achieving these ambitions.”

Creator of Litecoin, the peer-to-peer Internet currency that enables instant, near-zero cost payments to anyone in the world, Charlie Lee has an extensive career in software development and has been involved in the blockchain industry since 2011. Charlie Lee previously was a software engineer at Google for six years, working on projects such as YouTube, ChromeOS, and Google Play Games. He then joined Coinbase, the digital currency exchange, as the Director of Engineering, before leaving to focus full-time on the success and growth of Litecoin in 2017.

“The need for global crypto conferences like TOKEN2049 is crucial in an industry that is changing considerably by the second. Over the past number of years, I have seen people and projects come and go but the hardcore believers remain. I personally am looking forward to connecting with these fellow enthusiasts and participating in some compelling discussions and debates at the upcoming conference,” said Charlie Lee.

Speakers at the 2019 event also include Max Kordek, President of the Lisk Foundation; Justin Sun, Founder and CEO of the Tron Foundation; Bill Barhydt, Founder, and CEO of Abra, and

Bonnie Cheung, Partner at 500 Startups. Other renowned industry influencers will be announced in the coming weeks.

The event will also hold an exclusive pre-screening of the documentary CRYPTOPIA. Created by award-winning producer Torsten Hoffmann, CRYPTOPIA features many well-known industry luminaries, including best-selling author and bitcoin champion, Andreas Antonopoulos; early investor and Bitcoin Cash advocate Roger Ver, NEO Founder, Da Hongfei, CEO of Xapo, Wences Casares; and CSO of Blockstream, Samson Mow. The screening will be followed by a live Q&A session on stage with many of the protagonists featured in the documentary.

As the main event of the inaugural Asia Crypto Week, TOKEN2049 will join a number of other independently organised educational, investor- and developer-focused events taking place in Hong Kong from 11-17 March 2019. The first of its kind in the region, Asia Crypto Week will provide participants with the opportunity to join dedicated meetups and breakout sessions, and customise their itinerary according to their specific interests, to make the most of their time in Hong Kong. The week will bring industry veterans and enthusiasts together, providing a platform for thousands of experts to share knowledge and experiences.

“These mediums for discussion are crucial for key players from institutional investors, to developers, communities, governments, and enterprises to connect, exchange ideas, and learn from each other’s experiences, while working towards a common goal of a thriving blockchain ecosystem,” concluded Strauch.

For more information on TOKEN2049, visit: https://www.token2049.com/

Trending in 2018: Top 10 Reports

Trending in 2018: Top 10 ReportsEditor’s Note:  As we close the books on 2018, we celebrate our partners and their generosity in sharing their wisdom and insight with us. We are grateful that you are a member of the CommPRO community. We look forward to continuing to bring great content to our readers in 2019. If you would like to promote your reports, whitepapers and case studies in 2019, please send an email to fays@commpro.biz.

Top 10 Reports


1.)  What are the Top Goals for PR People in 2018?

2.)  Download the Data-Driven Influencer Strategy E-Guide

3.)  How to Use LinkedIn for Business and Personal Growth

4.)  Content Strategy: 7 Essential Steps 

5.)  Communicating CSR Across The Globe 

6.)  Report: Healthcare Marketers to Focus on Emerging Tech, Audience Segmenting and Impactful Storytelling in 2018 

7.)  Are You PR Agency Ready? A Before-You-Start An Agency Search Checklist 

8.)  Download: Use Competitive Intelligence to Build a Better Communication Strategy

9.) 4 Takeaways: What Marketers Should Know About Visual Storytelling in 2018

10,) Content Marketing Solutions that Drive Business



Brand Marketing and Social Purpose Veteran Larry Koffler Joins BCW

CommPRO.biz Editorial Staff

BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe), a leading global communications agency, just announced that Larry Koffler has joined as Executive Vice President, Managing Director in the agency’s Brand Solutions Practice in New York. He will join BCW on January 14, 2019.

Brand Marketing and Social Purpose Veteran Larry Koffler Joins BCW - Announcement“Larry has had an extraordinary career leading integrated communications programs that bridge brand, corporate and purpose for some of the world’s most iconic brands and organizations,” said Chris Foster, President, North America, BCW. “His award-winning experience across a wide variety of industries will be invaluable to clients – and in particular purpose-driven clients – that need powerful programs that exceed expectations and drive meaningful results. I am excited for what he will add to BCW’s celebrated brand solutions business.” Koffler will report to Thomas Bunn, Executive Vice President, Managing Director, Brand Solutions.

Koffler joins BCW from Edelman, where he spent the entirety of his career and most recently served as Executive Vice President, Group Head, Business + Social Purpose. In his 26 years at Edelman, he developed, managed and implemented integrated communications programs for a broad range of clients in the consumer- packaged goods, financial services, food and beverage, retail, sports and entertainment technology and wellness industries, delivering brand/corporate citizenship counsel, executive positioning, influencer outreach, and digital and experiential marketing services. Notably, Koffler led the team and media relations effort to bring the award-winning Dove Campaign for Real Beauty to life in the U.S. in 2006.

Before leading the Business + Social Purpose practice, he was the global client leader for Unilever which encompassed more than 10 brands, practice areas and offices. Earlier in his career at Edelman he spent several years in the agency’s Sports and Sponsorship Marketing Group.

“I am excited to join BCW as it is driving our industry forward with the power of its integrated communications programs that drive real transformational change for clients,” said Koffler. “I look forward to further strengthening that expertise and to working with a team that is passionate about helping clients make a positive impact on their business and the world around them.”

2019 Marketing Trends We Can Expect: AI, More Instagram & CoWorking is Taking Over

Alyson S. Campbell, CEO & Founder of Heart & Soul PR 

With each new year, we evaluate as marketers what tools are truly valuable and what isn’t really moving the needle. As we head into 2019, here are some of the key trends we can expect to influence the market:

Technology will continue to have a huge impact on marketing. 

With continued innovation in AI, AR/VR, practitioners can create even more compelling assets for their clients and projects. These new tools also allow PR practitioners with additional content optimization in new and enhanced ways. We are storytellers, after all. 

According to a report from Adobe, just 15% of enterprises are currently using AI, but 31% said it is on their agenda for the next 12 months. In a survey done by MeMSQL of over 1,600 marketing professionals, 61%, regardless of company size, pointed to machine learning and AI as their company’s most significant data initiative for next year.

And for those businesses who already cited that they were using the technology, the top-performing companies surveyed said they were more than twice as likely as their peers to be using the technology for marketing (28% vs. 12%). 

Instagram will continue to grow as a platform thanks to its growing number of users and better advertising options than before.

Earlier this summer, Instagram hit more than 1 billion monthly active users, growing from 800 million in September 2017. As a result of enhanced advertising options for marketers including Stories, more marketers have continued to embrace the platform, with more than 25 million business accounts and 2 million active advertisers on the platform, according to Statista.

But Facebook can’t be ignored and as the owner of Instagram. The Baby Boomers segment (55+) is now the biggest group of users on Facebook. Facebook Messenger presents a continued growth opportunity. Across the board, 1.3 billion people use Messenger every month and 8 billion messages are exchanged between people and businesses every month, according to a report by Communications Marketing Review.

Coworking/flexible workspace will only continue to grow. 

There are currently more than 14,411 co-working spaces around the globe and this number is expected to rise to 3.8 million by 2020 and 5.1 million by 2022. According to a report on Allwork.space, coworking spaces now take up 27 million square feet of office space across the United States and have grown more than 200% over the past five years. In major metropolitan cities like London, New York and Chicago, coworking spaces are expanding at an annual rate of 20%. Much of the growth of the coworking space has been fueled by the growth of self-employment (33% of working America is now self-employed) in addition to other flexible work set ups by companies offering flexible work hours and work spaces to attract more talent. 

Marketing Week’s Career and Salary Survey 2019 shows that flexible working is very important or important to 90.1% marketers, according to a sample of 4,400 people working across the industry. WeWork, is set to become the world’s second most valuable startup after Uber, with now more than 287 locations worldwide. Beyond entrepreneurs who largely drive its customer base, startups and larger organizations are getting in on the flexible co-working space trend. Brands including HSBC, Samsung and Microsoft, as examples, have all taken space in WeWork. 

These are just a few of the trends we can expect as we head into the New Year. There are certain to be more tools and other related key trends that will guide our marketing practices, especially with the continued rise of technology advancements, social media platform capabilities and the changing ways in which we work.

2019 Marketing Trends We Can Expect: AI, More Instagram & CoWorking is Taking OverAbout the Author: Alyson S. Campbell is the CEO & Founder of Heart & Soul PR, and has worked in the public relations and media industry for nearly 15 years including for leading agencies including Porter Novelli, Padilla and FleishmanHillard. Her experience spans the business to business and business to consumer industries and she has developed and implemented award-winning campaigns for clients including Procter & Gamble, Mercedes-Benz, Hewlett-Packard and Snapfish by HP, British Airways, Timberland, Hass Avocado Board, Special Olympics World Games, Girl Scouts of the USA and many more. For more information, visit www.heartandsoulpr.com



How to Own Your CEO Brand Webinar

On-Demand Video

Webinar Overview

CEO’s are integral part of the internal function of a company, but the role of a CEO has expanded in the recent digital marketplace. The old model kept CEOs behind the scenes. The new model brings the CEO to the spotlight. CEOs today are recognized thought leaders, industry experts, and highly visible representatives of the brands they live. Learn how to take control of your personal brand and perfect how you want to be represented online.

In this webinar, Jeffrey Hayzlett, primetime TV & Radio Host, keynote speaker, best-selling author and global business celebrity will explain the importance of a CEO’s personal brand and the secrets you can use to protect your own. With the influence of social media and the restructuring of social reputation in the digital era, the branding approach has changed the game for business leaders everywhere. Join the pros and register today.


Jeffrey Hayzlett, Chairman & CEO, C-Suite Network | @JeffreyHayzlett

Jeffrey Hayzlett is a global business celebrity, a prime time television show host on C-Suite TV, and a radio host on CBS Radio’s Play.it and C-Suite Radio. From small businesses to international corporations, his creativity and extraordinary entrepreneurial skills have enabled him to lead ventures blending his leadership perspectives, insights into the c-suite and business strategy, mass marketing prowess and affinity for social media. He is a well-traveled public speaker, the author of the bestselling business books, The Mirror Test and Running the Gauntlet, and one of the most compelling figures in business today.

Jeffrey is a leading business expert, cited in Forbes, SUCCESS, Mashable, Marketing Week and Chief Executive, among many others. He shares his executive insight and commentary on television networks like Bloomberg, MSNBC, Fox Business, and C-Suite TV. Hayzlett is a former Bloomberg contributing editor and primetime host, and has appeared as a guest celebrity judge on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump for three seasons. Drawing upon an eclectic background in business, buoyed by a stellar track record of keynote speaking and public appearances, and deeply rooted in cowboy lore, Jeffrey energizes his role driving and delivering change. He is a turnaround architect of the highest order, a maverick marketer who delivers scalable campaigns, embraces traditional modes of customer engagement, and possesses a remarkable cachet of mentorship, corporate governance, and brand building.



Cyber Security Is A National Concern

Michael Figueroa, Executive Director,  Advanced Cyber Security Center  

Several Federal agencies are tasked with protecting our interests from cyber security threats. Most notably, the FBI and DHS take strong leadership in this area, but just about every agency from the Treasury to the FCC has a role to play. 

Last spring, the White House decided against retaining the National Security Council Cyber security Coordinator position. An unassuming title for a vital job, the coordinator served as the country’s “cyber czar,” tasked with collaborating with cyber security resources across federal agencies to distill a fire hose of a threat intelligence down to a prioritized list for the President’s review. The coordinator had the best position to not only examine the breadth and depth of the cyber security attack domain, but to assess the country’s position to respond defensively, offensively, and diplomatically.

Our adversaries are getting more sophisticated in their cyber attacks. From economic espionage, to intellectual property theft, to probes on our critical infrastructure, to foreign influence campaigns using social media platforms, and now “deep fake” content attacks that distribute digital impersonation videos of people doing and saying things that they never did or said, the country is facing a threat condition. The ACSC believes that it is imperative to have strong, knowledgeable leadership at the highest levels of our government to harness resources and coordinate public/private response. For that reason, we submit that the President should reinstate the cyber security coordinator role and empower it build the partnerships and intelligence-aggregating functions needed to counter modern threats. 

The Cyber Czar Role

This administration has struggled recently to establish a robust cybersecurity policy. The Administration released its National Security Strategy for the United States in December 2017, a policy document stated cyber security concerns as critical for national security. Unfortunately, the strategy followed the theme established in an earlier Executive Order by passing off national cyber security responsibilities primarily to industry, with such statements as, “the U.S. Government will work with the private sector to remediate known bad activities at the network level to improve the security of all customers. Malicious activity must be defeated within a network and not be passed on to its destination whenever possible.”

Michael Sulmeyer, the Belfer Center’s Cyber Security Project director at the Harvard Kennedy School (an ACSC member), called this “trickle-down cyber security,” responding, “we get more bang for our buck if the government and large service-providers can block threats before they reach businesses and operators of important systems.” 

Then in July 2018, Vice President Pence and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen unveiled plans for a DHS National Risk Management Center and kicked off a campaign emphasizing public/private sector collaboration.  That Center is a good start to something the ACSC has been discussing for years, the need for public and private entities to collaborate against larger digital threats.  By collaboration, we mean a vigorous passing of information back and forth between the government and private sectors.  Too many times in the past, private industry was promised “a conversation” and found itself on a one-way street — passing information over to the government and receiving very little value in return. This effort at DHS is a promising step, but it’s focus on critical infrastructure risks and its positioning within one agency severely restricts the benefit potential. 

Collaboration Is Key

Building stronger cyber security defenses is a daunting task that the Administration cannot achieve without broad public and private sector collaboration, deprioritizing the Administration’s leadership position places the U.S. at a severe disadvantage on the global stage. Back in 2009, cyber security policy expert and early ACSC champion Melissa Hathaway, who led President Obama’s 60-day cyber security policy review as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and whose report helped shape the job description of the cyber security coordinator position, discussed the merits of having a strong cyber security leader in the White House. “[T]he government is moving out on a number of different areas, but sometimes you need a coach or the team lead to help get everybody continuing to work toward specific goals.”

Responding to reports of the position’s elimination, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral (ret.) and member of the ACSC Board of Directors Michael Brown, stated, “I think the position should be retained – and upgraded as per the Cyber Security Commission’s recommendations in 2016.  Both the George W. Bush and the Obama administrations recognized that cyber security is a critical mission and priority for the nation, affecting national security and public safety. And it has been recognized through prior administrations, both Republican and Democrat, that cyber security is a whole of government responsibility. For that reason, and the need to be engaged strategically with other nations and the private sector, the nation needs a leader focused on cyber security and working directly for the President.” 

The government needs to do more than say that cyber security is a national security imperative. It needs to demonstrate it to our adversaries through clear and substantial force projection. Cyber attacks have leveled the global playing field and the country needs strong leadership to regain our historical advantage. State-sponsored and criminal syndicate hackers are developing capabilities that can cause as much damage as conventional weapons. Defending against these attacks requires strong coordination to effectively harness the power of collective resources across the public and private sectors. At its most basic, the cyber czar position is not only critical for advising the President on how the government should defend itself. It serves as a critical conduit for organizing industry and coordinating response to community-level threats. The US has substantial cyber defense capabilities and thought leadership ready to assist if called upon. Our government needs to stop making excuses and start working the way it should, harnessing that power to modernize our defensive profile.

Keeping Cyber Defenses Strong

The US government is showing signs of being unable to effectively respond to major, community-level cyber security events. Many of the top people in cyber security positions across the government have left in recent months to seek work and shelter in the private sector.  The exodus has shifted the top talent out of government, further depleting its leadership potential.  To continue ceding its defensive capabilities to industry would not only further weaken our country’s ability to defend itself en masse, it would leave vulnerable all state and local municipal organizations that lack the resources that they need to defend against common attacks. A renewed cyber czar position, assumed by an individual with industry respect, could establish a strategy to give civil servants stronger purpose and help stem the tide of departures. 

While the private sector’s cyber threat perception and intelligence gathering capabilities far exceed that of the government, the intelligence community’s ability to aggregate and process unstructured information from varying data sources is superior. Reducing the ability for the Administration to build constructive engagement with industry by eliminating key leadership positions will only widen the trust gap, making it more difficult for the Nation to respond to community-level threats when they occur. 

The ACSC echoes Adm. Brown’s recommendation that the Administration bring back the cyber security coordinator position, and also elevate it to report directly to the President. Furthermore, we urge the President to charge the position to leverage the Nation’s independent security information sharing groups, including the ACSC, to establish stronger trustworthy communications with the private sector. Doing so will better prepare the Nation to actively defend against advanced cyber security threat agents rather than be forced into a position of responding and recovering from inevitable attack.

About the Author: Michael Figueroa, executive director of the Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC), a regional collaborative building a stronger community defense to solve common cyber security problems across Massachusetts and New England.


PR Trends that will Resonate in 2019

Nikkia Adolphe, PR Director, Media Frenzy GlobalNikkia Adolphe, PR Director, Media Frenzy Global

As PR professionals, we are constantly tasked with keeping our fingers on the pulse of what is current and meaningful in our client’s respective industries. However, the task does not end with our clients. PR professionals must also look within, and most importantly, outside of our own industry to stay ahead in a profession that has been traditionally slow to transform. No longer limited to reputation management and press outreach, PR is morphing into an integrated, collaborative role that requires both a higher level of thinking and desegregated approaches.

Immersive Storytelling Moves into the Forefront

From retail and movie production to advertising and now PR, immersive storytelling has found its way into new spaces beyond gaming. Both public relations and journalism are experiencing breakthrough technological advances as storytelling moves beyond 2-D. The next iteration of innovation in PR will advance far beyond traditional case studies, press releases and b-roll and will include immersive storytelling.

In 2019, viral video content, 360-degree video and the imminent rise of virtual and augmented realities will fuel a different way for PR professionals to tell stories. Understanding the true value in the future of immersive technology, our agency partnered with immersive technology company You Are Here Labs, and a VR/AR influencer, Cathy Hackl, to help launch the world’s first Holographic Press Release™. The technology presents a new way for organizations to introduce a new product or share their brand story with their target demographic through everyday apps such as SnapChat and Facebook. PR professionals must realize content has moved past the written word and into the future of immersive storytelling and that their audience is waiting to meet them there.

The PR Professional Skillset Expands

PR pros of the future will no longer be siloed to media pitching and press release writing as integrated tactics. They will have to master the bigger picture by wearing the hat of a marketer and social media manager. The PESO Model (paid, earned, shared and owned content) will become PR’s biggest untapped opportunity, as professionals will need to have the same data-driven mindset as marketing. As an agency, we approach content creation through integrated efforts.  For example, our PR team pulls from long-form content we create to assist our marketing team with curating email marketing copy,social media posts/captions and content for our company newsletter. As companies become more customer-centric in their approach, I believe there will be an increase in collaboration between PR and marketing, to foster greater continuity in the client experience.

Content Creation Grows

Today’s brands are becoming more agile in their approach to content creation, consistently churning out blogs, articles and video.. No longer reserved for journalists, companies and organizations like Coca-Cola and UPS are publishing their own news and editorial content to newsrooms located on their website. With this, one of the most prominent trends of 2019 for PR professionals will involve producing more content that mimics the 24-hour news cycle. PR professionals can no longer sit on stories and ideas in hopes that trade or business publications take notice. By nature, PR professionals are true storytellers, so we must start crafting content that speaks to our client’s audience with the intent of surpassing the reach and influence of more traditional outlets within their respective industries.

PR Measurement Improves & Integrates

Measuring the value of Public Relations has been the industry’s Achilles heel for decades. While PR does not follow the standard marketing framework, data-driven insights and analytics will become more imperative for PR professionals – especially when it comes to creating brand awareness, understanding audiences and driving brand storytelling. The once impenetrable silos are starting to disband as communicators start to recognize the benefits of integrating those functions. Additionally, marketing and PR measurement of earned, owned, paid and social media will be integrated into a single online dashboard to help meet the needs of multiple departments. PR professionals will then be able to leverage this data to establish themselves as a central piece to key data that will ultimately impact decision making.

Of all the predictions mentioned, the only constant trend in communications is change and PR is at a crossroads. As an industry, we can choose to adjust and take advantage of the countless new opportunities available to our industry, or, we can resist, refuse to adapt and ultimately, get left behind. The choice is up to us.

About the Author: An enthusiastic and creative storyteller, Nikkia brings to Media Frenzy Global nearly a decade of experience as a public relations and communications professional.  As Public Relations Director, she oversees PR and communications efforts by providing ongoing strategic direction for a variety of innovative and disruptive companies across the US and Europe. Her passion as a PR maven and writer has allowed her the opportunity to work with a variety of global companies, media outlets and research firms in the business, technology, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality industries.


The State of Data-Driven Communications

Survey Finds Reliable Media Data that Drives Communications Strategy Remains Elusive


Dec 2018 PublicRelay New Report


To gain a better understanding of the day-to-day role of measurement and media analysis, PR News and PublicRelay surveyed selected communicators at the director level and, separately, at the VP level and above. Key findings highlight: 

  •  Accuracy and Insightfulness are Essential. 61 percent of respondents desire to make media intelligence more insightful. The most important changes VP-level and director-level communicators desire from their media relations intelligence process is better accuracy and insight, above speed, lower cost and comprehensiveness. 
  •  Inefficient Use of Time. Nearly 40 percent of director-level communicators find it difficult to understand the media data they receive and spend a large amount of time cleaning up the data to seek out legitimate insights. 
  •  Desire to Focus on Other Activities. 69 percent of communicators said they’d rather spend time building strategic messaging plans and 65 percent said they’d prefer to spend efforts pitching or focusing on influencer outreach rather than media analysis.

Access the full report and discover the evolving and growing role that data is playing in communication strategy.

2019 Blockchain Marketing and Trends

Edwin Handschuh CoFounder/CEO, 1Konto

There are many parallels between the blockchain-driven ICO mania and the internet IPO boom of the late 90s/early 2000s, and I expect the marketing of blockchain companies to follow a similar path as their early tech contemporaries.  Changes begin with marketing, which in 2017 was idealistic and ICO-centric, 2018 was building through the bear and 2019 will get back to basics.  Gone is the focus on how a company is funded and back is the underlying tech, products and problems being solved.  Much like the internet, blockchain must increase adoption, reframe the public narrative (people still bring up Pets.com!) and show maturity as it exits the volatility of the last two years.

To accomplish this, I expect a shift in marketing efforts from lavish parties, conference sponsorships and Lamborghini giveaways to micro-influencers, educational content and guest blogging.  Venues and platforms where companies and their teams can connect in meaningful ways with an audience will prove exceedingly valuable in building  a community interested in growth of the project (and not just ‘when moon’).  This mix of education and marketing allows for transparent updates showing future customers, in real time, the process of building the fourth industrial revolution from the ground up.  Re-establishing the link of the community to the project will strengthen and align interests as market pressures and expectations are removed from the equation.

On the event side, we are seeing a decline in ticket sales and a pivot from blockchain-centric to the more inclusive FinTech banner.  The bear market’s suppression of enthusiasm and an over saturated conference schedule in 2017-2018 has driven event fatigue.  I expect to see a further reduction in large-scale cryptocurrency events as sponsorship appetite and attendance continues to dry up into the middle of 2019, at which point prices and events may reverse the trend.  Conversely, one segment bucking the trend are smaller, curated conferences pairing investors with appropriate projects.

For the first time in the digital asset space, there will be a real focus on regulations and regulatory approvals in 2019.  The reasoning for this change is due to increased enforcement actions in 2018 resulting in subpoenas, fines and closures for multiple projects marking the end of the wild west.  Investors are driving this push as they know the government isn’t going anywhere and it’s in everyone’s best interest to be compliant to the best of their ability.  Predictably, companies are responding by taking the necessary steps to be on the correct side of the law.

This newfound adherence is another sign that the cryptocurrency and blockchain market is maturing with the passing of the ICO.  Another sign of this maturation, the traditional venture capital market is once again the majority funder of early stage companies in the space.  The removal of crowdsourced ICOs will increase marketing efforts in SF and NYC as they are the hubs of startup funding.  With this move to the traditional tech investor, we will see blockchain move from being the buzzword to a purposefully implemented technology.  Investors and companies are realizing that blockchain isn’t a panacea and will first advertise what they are doing and the problem they are solving.  Like the internet, the fact that their products are on the blockchain should be invisible.

The marketing and messaging of projects will be tighter and focused on education and outcomes, not hype.  Consumers will have a better understanding of what this technology can do and how it can solve daily problems and improve their lives.  Investors will continue to fund the technological advancements and assist the industry in maturing alongside regulations, not despite them.  2019 will be the foundation on which mass adoption of blockchain technology will be built.

2019 Blockchain Marketing and TrendsAbout the Author: Edwin Handschuh, Co-founder and CEO of 1Konto, is responsible for managing overall operations and resources of 1Konto. Prior to starting 1Konto with his brothers, Ed was in wealth management at Wells Fargo Advisors where he worked primarily with high net worth individuals on growing, managing and protecting their assets. He achieved great success in this role by understanding what clients required to make sound investment decisions, and identified their problems and solutions in advance.

Ed’s primary interests for the last 15 years has been within the financial markets and technology space. The inner workings of markets, psychology, politics and the role tech plays in all of the above, has always fascinated him. His knowledge of these topics assisted him in his prior job, but are more important today and moving forward. It’s allowed him to identify the cryptocurrency markets need for a broker-dealer in the space and the comfort of navigating the broker-dealer regulations to make it happen. The management and responsibility aspect of his financial advisory role made him confident in his abilities of setting a vision, communicating that vision and putting the team together to make it a reality.  Realizing that he enjoyed assisting people and making their lives better by securing their retirement, Ed felt he could impact more people in a bigger way through 1Konto.

Ed graduated from Drexel University with a Bachelor of Science and finance


3 Ways to Attract Top Talent in This Competitive Market

Harvey Hudes, Founder & CEO, Caliber Corporate Advisers

People are your company’s most valuable asset. It’s no secret that employees and the quality of the work they produce directly influence a business’s reputation and its growth potential. But are today’s recruiting practices helping companies attract and retain the right talent to meet their evolving needs?

Within the communications and technology spaces in particular, we’re seeing more and more companies grappling with the best way to find that next hire – regardless of experience level required. This is especially true for more senior talent within niche industries as there is a small, select group of professionals with the relevant experience required to hit the ground running.

I’m a firm believer that collaboration among small to mid-sized business owners fosters an environment for growth across the board and makes us all better business owners. Relying on the advice of others has always served me well, particularly in the last 8 years of growing our team at Caliber. We’ve found there to be three key items that have enabled us to attract the right members for our team…

1. Standard benefits are table stakes — and great culture wins the jackpot. In 2018, things like competitive compensation, health insurance, and a 401(k) have not been impressing as much as they may have just a decade ago. Businesses hoping to hire the best people for the job must go beyond the basics and offer what employees truly value: a great corporate culture.

Cultivating a powerful, positive corporate culture is key to hiring great people — so if you don’t have one yet, I encourage you to take the necessary steps to create it. Building a culture that’s genuine and authentic to your business requires a lot of time and effort but is well worth the resources you’ll expend. Once established, be sure to carve out enough time during the interview process to explain your corporate culture in-depth and to allow potential employees to get to know who they’d be working with day-to-day. Taking these steps will help people envision their future working environment — and ultimately decide it’s where they want to be.

2. Improving quality of life improves company loyalty. Potential hires carefully consider how their job will fit into their lives outside of the office. Major factors that candidates think about as they decide their next career move include the length of their new commute, how much time they have available to take off in case of illness, and what the company vacation policy deems enough time for R&R. If you offer flexibility that improves their quality of life, potential candidates are more likely to accept an offer and stay on longer with the company.

Offering a generous PTO package (perhaps even an unlimited policy), one or more dedicated remote work days, and/or full-time remote work arrangements can go a long way toward demonstrating that your company cares about work/life balance. There is a major shift to remote working but what is right for some, may not be right for you. Dip your toe in the water before going all in with a new approach.

We’ve found that when employees’ work environment needs are met, and when they’re encouraged to recharge when they need to, they’re more empowered to deliver their best possible work product. And that’s great for them – and for the business.

3. An investment in people is an investment in your company’s future. There’s a cartoon about investing in employee development that’s been floating around the internet for years. I’m convinced it keeps circulating because it rings very true. The cartoon features two managers talking about their employees. The first says, “What if we train them and they leave?” The second manager replies with a worried look on his face, “What if we don’t…and they stay?”

Employees focused on continuous improvement tend to excel the most. Consequently, employee development is a key to attract top performers while also driving overall growth. Supporting employee development in whatever way your budget allows will payoff tenfold in the end. Whether by simply granting time off to pursue continuing education opportunities, or by going all out and paying for courses, seminars, and/or conferences, your company will reap the benefits.

Share Your Own Tips in the Comments

We like to follow the age-old motto of “practice what you preach” and have found these to be the keys to our employee success so far but we’re always looking to evolve these tactics. What are some of your own strategies for attracting top talent?

So please do share your own findings on best hiring practices — and best of luck in your talent acquisition endeavors in this competitive environment.

A Good Beginning (But Maybe a Bad Ending For Alexa)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

I admit that I’m a skeptic. Maybe that’s why I always wanted to be a journalist because I’m hesitant about believing everything people say without supporting evidence.

As a journalist, I knew that during interviews or, when provided with facts sheets, I might be getting a biased view of a story (because I believe most people, if not everyone, are not completely honest in their discussions with journalists. They either lie or provide incomplete information to bolster their viewpoints.

When I crossed the border to public relations territory, after a few New York City newspapers and a wire service I worked for folded, I witnessed that the majority of PR people chose spokespeople for their accounts, not because they had expertise in the products, but because of their name value, a practice I fought against on accounts that I either managed or played a significant role in as a senior vice president/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, where I managed or played key roles in some of the most prestigious sports and non-sports programs and also traveled the world with high-ranking government officials as a media advisor. I insisted that spokespeople must be a natural fit.

(One story that I enjoy telling is when Pele, the soccer star, first became popular in the U.S. A not very high level account person on a building supply provider account on which I played an important role, came into my office and said, “I was told I have to run this by you, but I’m going to do it regardless of what you say. I’m negotiating with Pele’s agent for him to do a series of radio interviews and speak at builder meetings. What do you think?” “I wouldn’t do that,” I said. But before I could finish my sentence he got up and replied, “I knew that unless you chose the spokesperson you would say no” and stormed from my office. 

Because I had a previous similar situation with this person, and, importantly, I had an excellent relationship with his client over the years, and knew that it wouldn’t damage the excellent client-agency relationship, I did nothing and waited for the fall-out. Three days later, the supervising manager of the account came into my office and said, “Did you know that Pele isn’t fluent in English?” And I told the supervisor the situation, adding that maybe it’ll teach him to listen before thinking he knows it all. Needless to say, the idea of using Pele for radio interviews was dropped. A different client used Pele to introduce a new soccer ball, and we crafted a publicity program that didn’t include him to do much speaking in English.)

I often retold the Pele story to account people who wanted to use celebrities, especially sports stars, as publicity spokespeople, and ended the story by saying, “Make certain that the individual is a natural fit with your product, as I always did on accounts that I controlled or played key roles in. Natural fits include Brooke Shields and Calvin Klein, or the many all-star baseball players I used in promoting Gillette’s All-Star balloting program when they were the sole sponsor of the game, using an addiction expert from a national facility to speak about the affects on impressionable children when their favorite athlete does something unsportsmanlike and using Olympic great Bob Mathias in Olympic-related programs. (Sadly, most sports stars have as much expertise in the products they hawk as I would if I was teaching a course in brain surgery.)

The November 30 editions of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times had stories reporting that former boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. and music entrepreneur DJ Khaled, settled charges with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission for helping promote fraudulent cryptocurrency deals.

This is a good start.

For many decades, I’ve believed that using celebrities as spokesperson or in TV commercials promoting products that that they probably don’t have any expertise in is a form of PR and advertising fraud.

Especially distasteful to me, is seeing successful actors like Alex Trebek, Tom Selleck, Fred Thompson, among others, that have hawked financial products to senior Americans. (My advice: Consult a good lawyer or accountant instead of listening to actors reading a script before making financial decisions.)

It’s known in the sports marketing universe that many athletes can make more money from endorsing products than from their playing field salaries. Among the lucky salespeople who have are Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Maria Sharapova, Kobe Bryant, Roger Federer Derrick Rose and Phil Mickelson.

And then there’s Peyton Manning, who has been featured in commercials for so many different products that it’s difficult to keep track without a scorecard.

But it’s just not star athletes and famous actors that are now hawking products. A weight loss product has been using Marie Osmond to try to convince TV viewers that they can lose weight, (and maybe have a figure like Marie) and Rick Harrison of “Pawn Starts” can be seen in TV commercials for an identity theft protection company.

I’m certainly not against people endorsing products that they use in their daily lives. However, in my experience I know of individuals who endorsed a product or PR program, but scoffed at them privately.

Nevertheless, there are some PR programs that are a perfect fit for a spokesperson to promote a client’s product or message. But in my experience, most PR programs use celebrity spokespeople because the account team can’t think of anything else. A well crafted PR program should be able to work without the use of a celebrity endorser. If it can’t, it’s a faulty program. And it shows a lack of creativity.

It’s not that I am against using celebrities as spokespersons as part of a publicity campaign. What I object to is using celebrities as a vehicle to influence impressionable people of all ages to purchase a product that may be unhealthy or that they don’t need because the potential customers are star struck.

For years, during the Golden Days of Hollywood, major film stars promoted smoking, despite it already being known of its negative affects on health. On the sports scene, the first major athlete that I recall being extensively used as a product endorser was baseball’s Joe DiMaggio, who hawked a coffee maker. (At least DiMaggio was known to drink coffee.) 

Of course, some products deserve the attention they receive by using celebrity endorsers. One that stands out is a commercial having actor Ray Liotta tell how he quit smoking. What makes this endorsement more creditable to me than most of the others is when Liotta says, “It works for me” and doesn’t sell it as the greatest thing since the creation of Earth.

On December 3, the New York Times ran a huge article beginning on page one of its business section detailing how companies are looking for ways to promote their products on smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo, which currently do not permit paid advertising.  But I’m willing to bet a few Lincolns that in the future the voice of an actor or sports star hawking a brand will accompany your request when you ask Alexa for the latest weather.

There’s a saying that’s famous among advertising agency and sales people: “I can sell an ice box to Eskimos.” Too many people in our business believe doing so makes them a good PR person. Fortunately, not all people in our business feel that way. (Count me among the latter.) There’s another saying that I believe in: “Each morning when I shave I have to look at myself in the mirror.’

Impressionable people, especially children and older adults without family members to help with their financial affairs, are easy targets for celebrities they trust. Many don’t realize that the product endorsers are reading from a script written by writers who are told what to write by agency account executives, whose sole purpose is to increase the sales of client products (what I consider a legal con game.) Many of these endorsers like whatever product pays them to hawk. Remember the Verizon Wireless “can you hear me now” guy, who discovered that Sprint was a better product? (Question: could money have had anything to decide which product to endorse?)

While it’s not legally a crime to endorse a product that the endorser doesn’t use or know much about, it certainly is morally corrupt, which doesn’t seem to bother many people in our business, who use celebrity spokespeople because it’s easier to book them on TV programs or arrange print interviews.

There’s a law principal, caveat emptor, which is Latin for “Let the buyer beware.” People impressed by celebrities endorsing products should remember it, and also should remember that celebrity endorsers are not the best people to believe about products they hawk.

As for celebrities who endorse products that they don’t know much about, there’s also a saying for them. It’s “To thine own self be true,” as Shakespeare wrote in “Hamlet. The line also applies to PR agencies who are only interested in gaining publicly for their clients, even if their spokespeople are hired gun-slingers who will promote anything that comes with a paycheck.

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




NFL Needs to Heed Cliché Sports Sayings When Fixing PR Crisis After Running Back Hunt’s Violent Video

Scott Sobel, MA Media Psychology, kglobal Agency

There is a time-worn saying in football and other sports, “Do your talking on the field.” In other words, bragging and promises are meaningless unless you out preform your opponent in a game. A variation of that saying also applies to effective crisis management; if you don’t back-up your corporate promises with actions a big part of your audience will stop believing you and go somewhere else to buy products or services.

NFL Fans Fuming About Abuse Investigation The NFL can’t expect a quick silver bullet fix after Kansas City Chief’s running back Kareem Hunt kicked and shoved a female acquaintance. The incident was caught on a Cleveland hotel surveillance video taken in July. The Chief’s didn’t fire Hunt until the video showed-up on TMZ. The team and league are asking for public forgiveness because they said they couldn’t get a copy of the video and were in the middle of conducting their own investigation – I repeat, the incident happened in mid-summer and the tabloid news web site TMZ was indeed able to get and show the video days ago, leading to Hunt’s immediate firing.

Hunt is also asking for forgiveness but it’s another example of needing to back-up his apology with action on the field of public opinion. The star running back allegedly had another public fight in June and the NFL didn’t investigate that one quickly either and no charges were brought, in part, because there apparently wasn’t a smoking gun video.

The NFL is accused of historically not responding quickly to crisis, unless it is forced to respond faster and with a sense of social responsibility. As in good PR crisis management, response must fit the crisis and there must be a plan to prevent another similar crisis. The NFL hasn’t necessarily followed those dictates. Remember, a few famous examples of player violence, misdeeds and reputation disasters: 2007, former NFL quarterback Michael Vick was arrested for participating in a dog fighting ring. He eventually apologized and preached against dog fighting (he played again in the NFL after serving prison time). 2014, then star NFL running back Ray Rice was recorded on hotel video knocking out his fiancée in an elevator, he never played another down in the NFL – Rice has reportedly volunteered to counsel Kareem Hunt. Just a few days ago, 49’ers linebacker Rueben Foster was fired by his team after alleged domestic abuse violations only to be immediately hired by the Washington Redskins and may play again next season.

And then there are the cases of how long it took the NFL to respond to the player concussion scandal and the controversy about players taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

The NFL’s reaction time brings up another crisis-applicable and sports-related saying, “Speed kills.”  In other words, the faster a player is, the more likely that player will be a successful athlete and beat a slower opponent. The lesson to be learned here is that the faster the NFL, or any business, reacts appropriately to crises, the faster the crises evaporate, get out of the news cycle and stop affecting reputation. Now it is up for discussion whether poor reputation immediately impacts NFL ticket sales or broadcast ratings, but, of course, a poor reputation is never, ever good.

One thing is sure though, youth football attendance has declined and is it possible that is at least partially a result of parent’s concerns about the reputation of football crises and the state of player role models at the NFL level? And what happens to the NFL if it continues to have reputational problems … what would happen to any business with consistent problems with its reputation?

To paraphrase another sports cliché with a crisis PR twist, the NFL needs to keep its eye on the reputation ball and act quickly and decisively, back-up apologies with action and instate violence prevention programs and not just talk a good game.

About the Author: Scott Sobel is Senior Vice President, Crisis and Litigation Communications, at kglobal, a Washington, DC-based full-service communications firm that influences public policy, increases market share + builds awareness for our commercial and federal clients. He counsels some of the world’s best-known corporations and is also a former in-house corporate public relations practitioner; major market and TV network police and investigative journalist and a media psychologist. https://kglobal.com/who-we-are/scott-sobel; https://www.kglobal.com/






Are Women Risk-Takers? – Exhibit One: Mary Barra

Leslie Grossman, Senior Fellow & Faculty, The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership

When discussing the lack of gender equality in the C-Suite or on the Boards of the Fortune 500, men are sometimes heard to explain, “Women don’t have the guts to make the tough decisions.” Women are viewed as great at soft skills, nurturing their people and creating positive cultures, but they are rarely described as risk-taking, which is synonymous with saying they lack courage. Recent events, as well as research proves that women leaders are both courageous and risk-takers.

Are Women Risk-Takers – Exhibit One-Mary BarraEnter Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors. Recently, Barra showed her fearlessness by making the tough decision to cut the GM workforce and close plants making slow-selling auto models in preparation for the future. Some may say she was harsh. Others are applauding her courageous move, including her willingness to take political blowback. Barra says she made this decision to make sure “GM is lean and agile to get in front and lead in autonomous and electric vehicles.” Who says women are not courageous?

Ginny Rometty, CEO of IBM, continues to pursue her strategy of investing in new technologies. Though total revenue has declined for 2 years in a row, IBM’s revenue in nonlegacy areas has risen by 69%. She has promised to invest $1 billion in the development and commercialization of the cognitive computing system, another future growth area for the company. Ginny Rometty is a risk-taker.

The list goes on of Fortune 100 women leaders willing to take risks with the goal of future growth and success. Indra Nooyi , former CEO of Pepsi, Ellen Kullman of DuPont, and Marilyn Hewson of Boeing to name only a few, are women leaders who are fearless for the future of their organizations. Yet only 5% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women. Some of that is due to the myth that women are not risk-takers.

According to the Everest Project’s 2-year study “The Eve of Change – Redefining Corporate America” released in 2016, women take ‘smart risks’. According to the study, “Women rely on their relational skills of involving others to convert potentially dangerous risk into informed advantage. They get the right people on the team, collaborate, get buy-in, and bring others along as a way to manage, mitigate or minimize risk. They transform their companies by taking smart risks.”

Women, in fact, do have “the right stuff”. If that’s true, what’s creating the female deficit? We can all admit that conscious and unconscious bias is alive and well, and usually attributed to men. Perhaps not only do men need to be convinced that women are courageous risk-takers, but women need to be convinced as well. Many women have limited beliefs that stop them from going for the career they really desire. Women do not lack the intelligence, attributes or ambition of an effective leader; but what they may lack are the specific skills to level the playing field and transform unconscious gender bias into gender equality.

Skills like relationship-building with influencers, direct communication, leadership presence, amplification, and vocal confidence are not taught in either undergrad or graduate programs. Some women learn these skills along the way from a male mentor or sponsor, but most women are isolated from learning the techniques that will propel their career. A few universities, like The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership offer such training for executive women. A few smart corporations realize the need to groom more women for leadership. Women who are ambitious to contribute seek out women’s leadership programs for themselves. If you know the future success of your business requires diversity at the top, or are a woman who wants to move up the ladder send them my way. My vision is for a world of gender equity which will drive positive change for the global economy.

“We fundamentally believe that we will make better business decisions if we have diversity in thinking … and that requires equal gender participation.” — Jonas Prising, Chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup (Source: World Economic Forum)

About the Author: Leslie Grossman lives her purpose – developing, coaching and transforming women executives and entrepreneurs to achieve their personal visions of success.  Her focus is on supporting and training women to become effective communicators with leadership presence and confidence and to build trusted relationships throughout their careers.

Founder of the Women’s Leadership Exchange, a national conference program from 2001 – 2010, a former business owner, and a Chair for Vistage International, Leslie is an executive leadership coach, trainer, speaker and facilitator of groups and advisory boards.  She presents workshops to many organizations, including LATAM Business School, Impact Leadership 21 and Leading with Edge; and is a senior fellow and on the faculty of The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership. She is the author of 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). Her TEDx Talk: “The Value of Having an Entourage” is highly viewed and espouses how the most innovative ideas and results come from collaborating among trusted allies.  She can be reached at Leslie@lesliegrossmanleadership.com

How to Speak Up When You Can’t Find the Words

Laleh Hancock

For many of us, the hesitancy to speak up has often been influenced by our taught notions about communication. To varying degrees, we have learned to hold back our true thoughts for fear of the consequences of what we might say – whether that is offending or dishonoring someone, or being seen as stupid, rude, or unkind. At work, we may be afraid of receiving ridicule, admonishment or rejection for highlighting issues, sharing ideas, or asking too many questions.

Staying silent can actually stop you, your business, organization or team from progressing, as well as undermine your personal and professional relationships. So how can you begin to speak up and create a greater impact in your life and of those around you?

Eliminate the fears, doubts and other distracting thoughts

When you have fears or doubts about speaking up, what are they really? The only time we fear something is when we don’t have all the information and we think we are going to be caught off guard. Rather than seek clarity, we’ll allow our head to start spinning through all the worst-case scenarios, or maybe even talk to someone who adds their fears and worst-case scenarios, compounding our own.

Any fears, doubts and stories we tell ourselves to stop us from speaking up are what I call “distractors” because they distract you from what is actually possible and available. They divert you from your ability to ask questions, seek information, share ideas and take actions that would contribute to those around you.

Start recognizing the distractors when they present themselves (whether they are your thoughts or fears, or someone else’s) and take charge to change them. Look at things from a different point of view. Rather than tell yourself all the scenarios of why you shouldn’t speak up, ask yourself: “If I were not worrying about ______ what would I choose here? What do I know that could contribute here?”

Don’t try to find the perfect thing to say

Nothing gets you tongue-tied more than getting stuck trying finding the right thing to say, at the right time, in the right way. There truly is no such thing as the perfect words and the perfect result. What if speaking up was about what you could add to the conversation to change things, or open more doors?  What if it’s not about having the best idea, or the answer to all the problems. Trying to be perfect keeps you stuck trying to find a single perfect tactical maneuver, rather than allowing you to speak from adding to the overall picture.

Ask yourself:  If I wasn’t trying to get it right, what could I say that would create greater here? What questions could I ask or ideas could I contribute that would open the door to multiple opportunities? When you speak up as someone who is not trying to find the right answer and solution, but to contribute as a catalyst to help change or add more, you can speak more from curiosity of what can be possible, rather than trying to be perfect and correct with what you say.

Ask more questions

One of the biggest secrets of being a successful salesperson is knowing that 90% of the time, you don’t want to be the one talking. You want to know what your clients and customers require, and be able to spin your product or service to show how it fits what they are looking for.  When you can’t find the words, what if you asked more questions?

If you don’t know what questions to ask, start with: “What questions can I ask that will get this client/customer/team/colleague to share their requirements with me?” Most people already know what they want to hear, and if you ask them questions (and listen to what they say) they will tell you what is important to them.  Then you will have more information about what you can say that will provide them with what’s needed.

Acknowledge the gift of silence

How often have you been silent and observed the people around you? There’s information you gain by being aware of body language, tones and attitudes, and noticing what kind of interactions people respond and don’t respond well to. It gives you more information. Just like with poker, not showing all your cards (or saying the first thing that comes into your head) can actually be an excellent strategy.

If you are willing to be silent, most people will need to start talking as they don’t want that gap of silence, and they’ll give you information and insight into what they might require to hear from you. Rather than judge silence as a problem or something you shouldn’t be doing, what would change if you recognized it as an ability and skill you can use to your advantage?

Ask: How can I use both silence and speaking up to my advantage?

Speaking up becomes easier when you are willing to communicate without judgment of you, or of anyone else. Don’t deter yourself with fabricated fears, doubts, or pressures to be perfect. Observe, listen, ask questions, and you will be able to find the words and talk effectively and authentically to create greater for everyone involved.

How to Speak Up When You Can’t Find the WordsAbout the Author: Laleh Alemzadeh-Hancock is a life and communication coach, management and professional services consultant, and facilitator of several Access Consciousness® special programs including Right Voice for You and Being You. Laleh has inspired and empowered hundreds of thousands of individuals and families including Fortune 500 executives, government agencies, non-profit organizations, athletes and veterans. A lifelong entrepreneur and passionate change-agent, Laleh strives to seek out possibility in every problem and aims to facilitate strategic change and optimal growth for all her clients. Through her organization, Global Wellness for AllLaleh inspires individuals to create wellness in all areas of their life and seek greater success. Follow Laleh on Instagram and Facebook.



Balancing Fun and Professionalism At The Holiday Office Party

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D

Are you planning to attend your office holiday party? I hope so. This is a great occasion to relax and have a good time — and can be a highly anticipated, positive antidote to year-end stress. But anytime you combine fun with professionalism, it can also be a challenge. Here are ten tips to insure that you make a great impression while you mix and mingle at the office party. 

1) Prepare your “party intro”

The way you greet your fellow party-goers can have a huge impact on their perception of you. The best party introductions combine business information with a personal twist. An example would be: “Hi, I’m Stacy/Steven from Marketing. I’ve been with XYZ for just a few months, and this is the first social event I’ve attended. It’s so nice to meet co-workers face-to-face.” 

2) Pick your spot

Behavioral Investigator, Vanessa Van Edwards, advises stationing yourself near the end of the bar so that, as people exit with a drink in hand, you can start a conversation with something as simple as “Hi, is the red wine good?” Her second favorite place to stand is at the end of the buffet line, so that right after people fill their plate you can invite them to join you in finding a place to sit. She also notes that you can easily see by people’s body language which folks are searching for a place to go (or scanning the room for a friendly face) and would welcome the invitation. 

3) Look approachable

Some nonverbal behaviors can bring out the best in people. Smiling is one of them, as it directly influences how other people respond. When you smile at someone, they almost always smile in return. And, because facial expressions trigger corresponding feelings, the smile you get back actually changes that person’s emotional state in a positive way. 

You probably knew that. But did you also know that slow onset smiles lead to even more positive reactions? So, rather that approaching people with a grin, begin with a slight smile and let it grow organically. And don’t close off. If you want people to see you as comfortable and approachable, don’t cross your arms and legs or use objects (your drink or plate of food) as a barrier. Doing so makes you look guarded or insecure. Instead, hold your glass or plate to the side of your body so that the core of your body is exposed. 

Above all, resist the urge to check your email or texts. Instead give other party-goers your full attention. (This is a great time to improve your eye contact by making a practice of noticing the eye color of everyone you speak with at the event.) 

4) Take a stand

To project a poised and professional look, it is important to stand tall. Slumping by rounding your shoulders and collapsing into your chest makes you look vulnerable and submissive. When you stand tall, with your shoulders pulled back, your feet about hip-distance apart, and your head held high, you assume a posture of confidence and self-esteem. 

Balancing Fun and Professionalism At The Holiday Office Party5) Limit your alcohol

There are many reasons why you should watch your drinking at an office party. (And, I’m sure, many career-limiting examples of colleagues who didn’t!) But one reason that might not be as obvious as others is that alcohol impairs your ability to read body language. Brain imaging research found that alcohol reduces the ‘coupling’ between the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex – a part of the prefrontal cortex – and inhibits the ability to assess and properly respond to nonverbal cues. So if you want to accurately gauge how people are reacting to you, and how to respond effectively, it’s advisable to stay sober. 

6) Dress for success

Clothes make a visual statement about how you see yourself. Van Edwards and her research team recently conducted a study about the impact of colors on other people’s perception. They found that if you wear blue, you appear to be calm, wise, and stable. Wearing orange or yellow makes you look positive and upbeat. And red denotes passion, attention, and sexiness. 

Your appearance is part of your personal brand. Think about the impression you want to make and dress to accentuate it. You might even choose to add a “conversation opener” – a colorful scarf or unique piece of jewelry. In general, stylish and fun is fine, but flashy or too revealing sends a message all its own. 

7) Reach out and touch someone

Usually considered to be the most primitive and essential form of communication, we are programmed to feel closer to someone who has touched us. In fact, touch is so potent and effective that a study on handshakes (by the Income Center for Trade Shows) showed that people are two times more likely to remember you if you shake hands with them. The trade-show researchers also found that people react to those with whom they shake hands by being more open and friendly. 

Holiday office parties offer lots of opportunities for handshakes and even hugs among colleagues, but be aware that not everyone likes to be embraced or thinks it is an appropriate greeting in a business setting. Van Edwards advises those who are reluctant to hug to subtly angle their left shoulder away and quickly offer their right hand for a shake. Watch for this signal and respect people’s right to choose. 

8) Get up close – but not too personal

The anthropologist, Edward Hall, coined the word “proxemics” to describe phenomena like territoriality among business colleagues. And it was he who first noted the physical zones in which people feel most comfortable dealing with one another.

At an office party, there’s nothing wrong with leaning slightly toward the person you’re talking to; in fact, this body language cue indicates that you’re engaged and interested. But be respectful of other people’s space. If you’re at a business function in the U.S., (even if that function is a party) never get closer than 18 inches. If you get any closer, you risk entering the “intimate zone” that Americans reserve for family and loved ones. Few people will feel comfortable if you invade this personal space uninvited. (Another reason why some people may not like hugs.) 

9) Buddy up

Gayle Hallgren-Rezac and Judy Thomson, co-authors, WORK THE POND! Use the Power of Positive Networking to Leap Forward in Work and Life, advise you to work the room in pairs. The role of each “tag teammate” is to keep an eye on the other person, to make introductions, and to make sure that both of you are comfortably engaged in conversations. 

10) Show your gratitude

Another tip from these master networkers is to seek out the person who is hosting the party. (This is probably an executive or senior leader.) Thank him or her for sponsoring the event. You don’t have to go overboard with praise, but acknowledge that you appreciate the chance to connect with some new people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. If this senior person is open to continuing the conversation, mention something positive that your team is doing. (Think of one or two examples ahead of time.) Of course, this is also a perfect time to thank all your co-workers who have been helpful or supportive in the past year. 

If lucky enough to be invited, you definitely should attend your office holiday party. Don’t pass up the opportunity to have fun while expanding your network, building your personal brand — and making a great impression! 

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