Is Your Brand Identity Half-Baked?

Amelia-Varela-headshotBy Anelia Varela, US Director, The Writer

Logos. Colors. Typefaces. Photography. Flick through any brand identity guidelines and you’ll see pages and pages devoted to these ‘core elements’. Problem is, most guidelines stop there – completely overlooking one of the most crucial parts of the brand: its tone of voice. 

A recent, independent study of Fortune 1000 companies reveals that more than 80% of the businesses surveyed have no formal tone of voice (or what some called ‘verbal identity’). And 94% of those have no intention of creating one.

At a time when brands are creating more content than ever, I find this baffling. Every day, people are writing on behalf of your brand, from blogs and tweets to IMs and emails. With no guidance on how to get the right personality across in their writing, they could be undoing all the good your carefully crafted visual identity has done.

Get it right, though, and you could get closer to your customers, change how people feel about you, and stand out from the crowd.

Early adopters are seeing the benefits

Tone of voice is still a relatively new concept in the US compared to, say, the UK, where it has developed into a whole industry of its own alongside branding and design. But if the early adopters are anything to go by, the US could follow suit. Of the businesses surveyed that do have a tone of voice, 80% say it’s just as or more important than their visual identity. And 96% say they would invest in it again.

One company that’s taking its language seriously is technology giant Cisco. When its brand experience team realized that people internally and externally didn’t understand what it was talking about a lot of the time, it set out to fix it. A new tone of voice has helped to both simplify Cisco’s language and make it more distinctive. And it’s being rolled out across the entire company.

“Language is everywhere and too critical to leave to your old style guide,” said Michael Lenz, Cisco’s Global Director of Brand Experience. “Intentionally governing your brand’s voice pays dividends across your customer’s entire journey. The emotional feedback and data have proven it repeatedly. It’s the real foundation of your brand experience.”

Technology and financial services are leading the way

Cisco isn’t the only tech company that’s caught on to the importance of language. Technology and finance companies top the list of those most likely to have a tone of voice. What’s interesting about this is what those two sectors have in common. Both offer complex products and services that most people on the street struggle to get their heads round. And both have had considerable knocks to their reputations in recent years – the financial crisis and the NSA scandal.

A clear, consistent tone of voice is a tangible way to connect with customers and rebuild their trust in your brand.

Why savvy businesses are waking up to tone of voice

Connecting with customers is top of mind, according to the study. The need to make language more relevant to customers was cited as the top reason for having a tone of voice. Differentiation from competitors came in close second, followed by clarity, consistency, and the need to communicate with new audiences.

When you look at all these potential benefits, it does make you wonder why tone of voice isn’t on more companies’ radars. But this could change. Even though 80% of those without a tone of voice say it’s less important than their visual identity, only 14% dismissed it as completely unimportant.    

If any of this has changed your mind, here are some tips to help you come out on top.

Four tips for a successful tone of voice

  1. Get the boss on board. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being in the tone of voice business, it’s that top people can get it moving, or stop it dead. And the research supports that. So if your CEO and senior execs don’t buy in to the idea, get to work convincing them. Need help? We have all sorts of proven results at The Writer that we’d be happy to share. For a taster, take a look at The Proof of the Pudding, a white paper by our colleagues in the UK.
  1. Measure, measure and measure some more. While evidence of other companies’ ROI from tone of voice might help you sell in the idea, nothing will help you convince the skeptics more than some juicy stats of your own. So once you have your tone of voice, test the results by rewriting your most read, most sensitive, and even most complained about pieces of writing. Fewer repeat complaints? More engaged employees? Response rates up? Skeptics silenced.
  1. Use it everywhere. Your tone of voice shouldn’t be confined to the brand, marketing and communications teams alone. Indeed, the survey shows that 80 percent of companies with a tone of voice say it’s reached all functions in their organization. That product manager writing a page of your website? The complaints team dealing with irate customers? The HR team telling people about a restructure? Their words are as important as the ones in your new brand campaign, if not more so. So make sure they have the tools and the training to use those words wisely.
  1. Keep it fresh. So you’ve got your new tone of voice. Great. But what’s right for your brand today might not be right a year down the line. Businesses change, markets change, customers change. That’s not to say you should rip up the playbook and and start again every few years. But do review it every so often to make sure it’s still relevant. And keep it up to date with examples from all corners of your business.

About the Author: Anelia Varela is US director of The Writer consultancy, with headquarters in New York and London. During her 19-year career, she’s worked with some of the Fortune 1000’s biggest brands, here and abroad, to help them find their voice and get their words working harder for them. 



Social Change Campaigns: How Dove Used Data to Raise the Bar

Emma Beck -By Emma Beck, Account Executive, LEVICK

With every marketing piece bidding for our attention— and each trigger point prompting action—an impactful communications campaign today takes more than volume. A campaign that resonates requires messaging tailored to a target audience. It involves gathering and applying data to identify who you want to reach, and then getting to know them, inside and out.

Take Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty.”

The global marketing effort, rebranded in 2010 as the “Movement for Self-Esteem,” breaks down to build back how we, as women and as humans, define beauty. Dove’s initiative debuted the same year as Facebook entered the scene; a year prior to YouTube’s arrival; and two years before Twitter rebooted the digital playing field. With more than a decade to its name, the Campaign for Real Beauty set a legacy for how brands can authentically spearhead a movement that redefines a conversation by pulling at the heart strings of an audience they well understand.

Dove developed its campaign by first culling data on how women globally perceive their own attractiveness, while weighing the impact of this self-view on their self-esteem. When asked to describe themselves, Dove’s research found that only two percent of women chose “beautiful.” This insight paved the framework that the entirety of the campaign would build from: for women worldwide, beauty remained largely a concept shaped around limited ideals of physical attributes defined and affirmed by the mass media. To reshape an engrained standard, Dove would have to begin by tapping into how its target audience felt.

(Source: Twitter)

(Source: Twitter)

In its 12 years, the campaign’s messaging has remained consistent, all while evolving in strategy as digital channels have expanded in offerings. Dove’s efforts launched in 2004 with billboards featuring women across ages and ethnicities pictured alongside two check boxes: Withered or wonderful? Gray or gorgeous? Fat or fit? The year following, the campaign ran an ad series picturing six “real women” in white underwear as a stark distinction to the normalized mainstream lingerie models. By 2006, Dove released the short film “Evolution” charting the makeup-to-Photoshop transformation of the girl next door into a supermodel. Building upon the campaign’s prior elements, “Evolution” broadened the conversation to not only challenge women to accept themselves, but understand the elements distorting society’s functional definition of “beautiful.” The video garnered 1.7 million YouTube views in its first month. Dove went viral before “viral” became a buzzword on the digital landscape.

By 2010, the campaign’s rebrand honed in on bolstering female confidence. The 2013 spot “Real Beauty Sketches,” for example, depicted an FBI-trained sketch artist drawing women based on how they described themselves, and then again based on how a stranger described the woman. Dove uploaded the video to YouTube in 25 different languages, before distributing it to major print and broadcast outlets. The segment reached 114 million earned views and more than 3.74 million shares across 110 countries – a resounding success.

The Campaign for Real Beauty has morphed Dove as a brand into the embodiment of some of the most powerful female archetypes in our culture: a supportive big sister, the mentor that drives us to recognize our power and potential, and the friend committed to inspiring girls and women globally to embrace themselves for themselves. From the early billboards to its current commercials, digital self-esteem tool kits, hashtag campaigns and marketed partnerships, Dove has grasped where its current and potential customer base not only resides, but engages.

Throughout its decade of adaptation, Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty has kept true to the origin of its social mission. Dove deftly mined data to discover the perceptions engrained among the women and girls identified as their brand’s core targets.  Dove might have launched a movement, but its success draws from its audience hooked by the values grounding the campaign’s platform.

What lies next? From the Equal Play, Equal Pay movement to dialogue surrounding the refugee crisis, immigration reform and religious freedom, a breadth of social causes has emerged on the frontline of mainstream conversation. How can organizations leverage this momentum to strategically take a stance and rally the masses to join a movement? What must change-oriented leaders understand about the cohort they want to reach, and how can they seize the attention of an audience already inundated with content?

 The Campaign for Real Beauty is a case study in breaking through to not just build on the conversation, but drive it. Brands today should take note of Dove’s data analysis and deep audience understanding to recognize the power in absorbing every facet of a campaign’s target populace. With more communications channels than ever available to a brand, and more data than ever accessible to guide targeting on the most micro of levels, Dove has certainly set a high – although not insurmountable – bar to follow.

About the Author: Emma Beck is an account executive at LEVICK, a global strategic communications agency. 


Security, Preparedness, and Exposure – The Panama Papers Paradigm

Samantha KruseBy Samantha Kruse, Account Supervisor, LEVICK

The fallout from the leak of 11.5 million documents held by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, first revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, has yet to reach its peak. Though comparatively fewer Americans than internationally-recognized names have been exposed so far, the number of American institutions implicated is on the rise. So, what should U.S. businesses be doing as a result?

With repercussions yet to come for U.S. corporations, individuals, and their institutional advisors, here are four steps that organizations can and should be taking now:

  • Plan for the worst

Identify the specific vulnerabilities of your organization. Map out your top concerns and shore up defenses. FBI Chief Information Security Officer Arlette Hart, reacting to the record-breaking leak of confidential information, cautioned individuals who share data with other parties to be mindful of whether those vendors are properly protecting said data. The consequences of this information leak on privacy, including the particular vulnerability of the legal sector and its sensitive client information, will be far-reaching.

Cybersecurity is at the forefront of many companies’ risk management plans, yes, but how many corporations are concerned with the security of their vendors? Are we too focused on whether an employee might leave a laptop in an airport security line or whether organizational files might be hacked and encrypted by a foreign entity? Americans and U.S. companies ought to take this opportunity to refocus data security efforts.

  • Spell out your intellectual argument 

Your rationale should be easily understood. Prepare your messages on organizational relationships, data security protocols, and reputational integrity. Avoid qualifiers and long-winded explanations. The more precisely you can get the key point across to your audience, the better. When a crisis hits and queries ensue, a company should not be scrambling to draft a multi-page response. A truthful, positive statement that highlights relevant facts is the most effective way to respond at the outset.

  • Line up your champions

Use peacetime to secure and prep your messengers. When your company is implicated in a crisis, third parties add invaluable perspective. Often, you cannot control the narrative on your own. But, if you have already cultivated allies who can add a trustworthy voice to the conversation on your behalf, you have ensured a more wide-reaching, validated foundation of support.

For example, if customers wrongly accuse a food company of fault in a product recall, as the American public did during the peanut paste recall of 2009, engaging third party experts in the food industry who can validate the company’s position   via online and social media posts is a good way to reach concerned Mommy bloggers looking out for their child’s safety.

  • Be flexible and well-informed

Organizations recover reputations more quickly when they communicate efficiently and honestly. Follow the breaking story to inform your strategy. The full picture of the Panama Papers has drastically changed on a daily basis. Iceland’s Prime Minister initially stepped down and then recanted his decision. So much about the ultimate impact of this growing story is still unknown. It is essential that companies monitor social and traditional media conversation to inform strategic decisions about customer and stakeholder engagement. Earlier this week, the same day that a teenager died from an accident as a result of a Takata airbag explosion, Takata airbag user Honda promoted a tweet about the company “pioneering safety.” While the tweet may have been planned for distribution in advance, the company should have adjusted its social media content.

Yet again, the Panama Papers have highlighted the importance of effective communications and crisis preparedness on the international stage. Financial regulations and data privacy will undoubtedly be impacted at a global level as a result of the corrupt schemes that have come to light over the past week. How will you and your organization fare?

About the Author: Samantha Kruse is an Account Supervisor at LEVICK. Samantha has worked with companies and brands in the legal, energy, education, insurance, real estate, agriculture, and professional sports industries. Samantha focuses on reputation management, including data security incidents and product recalls. 


Is Your Public Relations Invisible?

Dian Griesel - featuredBy Dian Griesel, President of Dian Griesel International

Most businesses, products and people benefit immensely from positively framed, quality media exposure. A touch of “fame” or respectful recognition—whether within the editorial pages of magazines and newspapers or a variety of news show segments—can catapult a company into the minds of its desired partners and customers. More so, strategic media coverage can position management as the thought-leaders within their respective industry and as the “go-to source” for information, making them even more in-demand as other media outlets seek their expert commentary. Assuming a company, service or individual would benefit from broader awareness via media placements, it might be time to consider partnering with a public relations firm.

There are several factors to consider when selecting a public relations firm, as “public relations” is a very broad term. There are many services offered under the “PR” umbrella, including writing news releases, strategizing on message points, creating and designing corporate materials, news story placement, crisis planning and management, ghostwriting and creation of thought leader stories. PR professionals also offer expertise and know-how in the new world of social media, including blogging, website content, virtual sharing communities, placement of articles online and all media for social interaction, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more.

It is wise to spell out the specific results being sought from a public relations firm. Is it the goal to build a brand? Are messages targeted at businesses, partners, employees, investors, consumers, regulatory bodies or other groups? Has management or the business plan changed and does this need to be articulated and “sold”? Is a market being disrupted? Is there a David-and-Goliath challenge facing the company? Has a crisis arisen that needs a team of advocates? Does a reputation need to be managed? Is the company just seeking to be more widely known and better perceived? Do its leaders need to simplify complex science or technology for broader understanding? Does an online discussion about the company need to be managed? Do opinions need to be polled? Are citizenship or CSR issues being faced? Taking the time to think about the answers to these questions will better equip companies to find and interview the right communications firm.

Public relations firms are likely to specialize in certain core offerings. The size and needs of a company will determine whether there is one firm that suits all its needs or if more than one firm is necessary. For example, some firms may be greatly skilled at day-to-day public relations, but might recommend (or it just might be wise) to consult with a crisis-experienced firm, should such a need arise.

Firms that specialize in news placements should be able to produce plenty of quality placement clippings as reference to support their claims. Keep in mind—a firm boasting clips for a large-cap company or a celebrity may not be the best choice of a firm if someone is managing a smaller, lesser-known company. The skill set and connections necessary for launching an unknown person or company are much different than those required for touting a household name. Rarely do such skills or connections translate between status or market capitalization.

Firms that say they can “ghostwrite” and create “thought leaders” should be able to present many complicated, in-depth articles that support such claims. Writing in someone else’s “voice” is a unique talent.

Firms claiming to be “leading” anything—particularly in the new world of social media—should also be able to document plenty of proof as to what kinds of worldwide audiences they have been able to garner for both their own firms and those of their clients.

Before hiring any firm, determine:

  • Is the firm experienced in the industry?
  • Can it document strong placements from other clients in the field?
  • Is it asking the right questions? Showing that it understands your objectives and needs?
  • Are writing samples available?
  • Are the pitch letters available that resulted in the story placements?
  • If seeking social media and online help, does the leader of the firm have a strong online presence?
  • Does it only talk about social media—or does it actually talk about which tools work and the strategies to use or not use, and why?
  • When discussing the new buzzword “content”—are well-written articles available?
  • What are the means of dissemination for the proposed content strategy? Is the destination highly trafficked?
  • Is the assigned team process- and strategy-oriented? Or is a “bait and switch” being pulled?
  • How does the agency document its work and results? What metrics can be used to measure success?
  • Is there an out-clause in the contract if no results are seen?
  • Is it willing to provide references?
  • AND—do you like it?

Hire a PR firm for the skills needed. When working with a likeable company and a team—one that is delivering quality placements and also giving strong strategic advice and good counsel—stick with them! If the results being sought don’t materialize as promised within less than a couple of months—it is high time to move on. There are great agencies out there that take serious pride in their work and accomplishments for their clients. A company should find the one that fits its needs and delivers.

About the Author: Dian Griesel is a strategic visibility expert, an author of several business books on corporate communications and the president of Dian Griesel International, a public relations firm that delivers traditional, digital and social media visibility for greater engagement with desired audiences. 


Has SeaWorld Jumped the Shark?

heathBy Heath Fradkoff, Principal & Founder, Ward 6 Marketing

It was announced last week that SeaWorld will halt its controversial Orca performances. Both the theme park’s attendance and company’s stock price have taken a hit since public backlash against their treatment of these creatures reached a fever pitch, largely spurred by the 2013 documentary, Black Fish.

Sea World has announced that they will phase out their Orca breeding program, and the shows will end when the last of their performing Orcas moves on to that deep sea in the sky. However, is that enough to save Sea World as a brand?

To hear the reaction, one must listen no further than the music choice from Thursday’s CBS This Morning. The producers there, with an attention to detail unrivaled in most morning television, often use clever musical selections to highlight or (subtly) editorialize their segments. It’s genius work, really.

Their musical choice following Thursday’s segment with SeaWorld president and CEO Joel Manby? The Cranberries’ 1993 hit, “Linger.”

As in: “Do you have to let it linger? Do you have to, do you have to, / Do you have to let it linger?”

Those of us working in communications fields know that the most effective response to any PR crisis is a quick one. Sea World has let this crisis linger on way too long. And now, even as they’re taking very real steps to change perceptions, they still insist on dipping a toe in the pool rather than diving right in.

Why wait for the performing animals to “pass on” (their shrouded language for “die”) before ceasing Orca shows? Why keep these animals to the same rigorous and detrimental schedules while they remain in “human care” (their shrouded language for “captivity”)?

The message they’re sending the public is, “We hear you loud and clear, so we’re going to squeeze every last dollar out of these whales before doing what you’ve been asking us to do. Please love us!” And this muddles their claims of moving to a more conservational relationship with these and other sea creatures.

Handling communications crises is all about reacting swiftly. After a long delay, the company’s step-down approach may hurt more than help.

Soon enough, SeaWorld itself may be sleeping with the fishes.

About the Author: With more than 16 years of diverse communications and marketing experience, Heath Fradkoff is Founder & Principal for Ward 6 Marketing. Much of his work has been in technology and B2B practices, along with consumer media and product brands like PBS, Associated Press,, Epicurious (Conde Nast), Hitachi and Mitsubishi. His written pieces on behalf of clients have appeared in Advertising Age, Fortune, Forbes, and Financial Times, as well as numerous industry trade publications. 

Scandals in Pro Sports: The Road to Retirement

Jack DeschauerBy Jack Deschauer, Senior Vice President, LEVICK

Two professional athletes are under fire for behavior outside the game. The biggest difference? The degree to which the strength of their individual brands could salvage their legacy.

First, there is Peyton Manning: two-time Super Bowl winner, pro-bowl MVP, five-time NFL MVP, and All-American, retiring after 18 seasons in the NFL. Manning is facing scrutiny over an alleged sexual assault that occurred while he was in college. Next, we have world no. 7 tennis phenom Maria Sharapova: Olympic silver medalist, winner of five grand slams and 14 Tier 1 tournaments, and one of the “100 Great of All Time” per the Tennis Channel. Sharapova could potentially retire at the age of 28 after having recently admitted to failing a drug test.

One of these athletes will be retiring as a seasoned beloved veteran, while the other would be retiring due to controversy. The circumstances and public response suggest that many qualities go into shaping the impact of a scandal, such as the athlete’s personal brand and the timing of the incident.

The public response to the two athletes’ scenarios has also been remarkably dissimilar. Manning has been met with support from fans. At his press conference announcing his retirement, a reporter who brought up the allegations against Manning was verbally attacked by fans. Manning did not respond, other than to say he was not interested in re-litigating something that happened when he was 19. On the other hand, Sharapova, despite having acknowledged fault and asking for a second chance, is being criticized by other leading tennis professionals, the press, and the public.

A component that will influence the effects of these scandals on Manning and Sharapova’s careers is how beloved the athletes are. Peyton Manning is one of the most loved American athletes; a good guy; face of DirecTV and Papa John’s Pizza. Manning is a charitable member of what has become known as America’s first football family. Sharapova, on the other hand, is known to be icy, and has garnered a reputation for occasional bad sportsmanship. Fans are less willing to condemn Manning because his personal brand is built on the idea that he is a decent, family man.

Although Sharapova is not negatively viewed, tennis’ lower standing compared to football, her Russian heritage, and lesser successes, make this a more difficult brand battle for her. Sharapova is not America’s tennis player; she is competing in that space with the wildly successful Williams sisters in a sport that already receives lower amounts of attention.

Timing is also significant; Manning faced scandals during his last year of play, when there was already speculation of retirement, fresh off a Super Bowl victory. Sharapova was preparing for the 2016 Australian Open when her drug use came to light. She had to confront the problem head-on because it affects her ability to continue playing. If Sharapova retires, it will be the result of her inability to recover from this drug scandal, not because her time had come and she had achieved her professional goals.

When athletes retire amidst scandal, it is often the character of the player throughout their career— more than the actions being questioned by the public— that determines how their story ends.

 About the Author: Jack Deschauer is a Senior Vice President at LEVICK. His expertise extends to political affairs, program management, crisis management, grassroots initiatives, corporate communications, media relations, and special event advance and management. Mr. Deschauer has also assisted a number of celebrity athletes through crises, including the NFL’s “Spygate,” the Jayson Williams trial, and the suspension of Tim Montgomery by the World Anti-Doping Agency. 

Australia’s Most Mentioned Issues in the News (March 5 – 11, 2016)

Editor’s Note:  Welcome to this weekly recap of Australia’s news, powered by iSentia

Australia's Most Mentioned Issues in the Media - 3.11

Federal government MPs are reportedly making contingency plans in case the May budget is brought forward by a week as the Prime Minister considers a July double-dissolution election over blocked anti-union corruption bills. July would be the earliest the government could call an election as it waits for its Senate voting reforms to pass and see microparties voted out.

Former world number one tennis player Maria Sharapova admitted on Monday to failing a drug test at the Australian Open, claiming she had continued to take the drug meldonium after it had been banned because she had neglected to read an email that included an updated list of banned substances. Former World Anti-Doping Agency boss Dick Pound said the positive test should be a wake-up call for tennis. The 28 year old is facing a four year ban.

Politicians including Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and PM Malcolm Turnbull attended the Mardi Gras festival in Sydney last weekend, the first time in Australian history a sitting Prime Minister was in attendance. The Labor Party’s float had a message of support for same-sex marriage, and Attorney-General George Brandis told Sky News on Sunday the government would hold a plebiscite, estimated to cost $160 million, on same-sex marriage before the end of the year, if it won the federal election.

Journalist Niki Savva’s new book The Road to Ruin: How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin destroyed their own government detailed a “perception” in the former federal government that Tony Abbott was having an affair with his chief of staff Peta Credlin. Senior Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells confirmed she confronted both Abbott and Credlin about such rumours, and said both denied the affair. Savva has since called for Abbott to “disappear into the sunset” and criticised his recent comments on leaked defense information.

Many US Republican politicians are aghast at the increasingly likely prospect of Donald Trump becoming the official presidential nominee of the party as he has continued to rack up primary wins across the country, while self-declared socialist Bernie Sanders is continuing to push Democrat favourite Hillary Clinton, recently winning Michigan in spite of the polls showing an easy Clinton win.

Quote of the week: “So spare me the lectures about ethics, dignity, loyalty… from those who won something very precious, then destroyed it in record time.” – Author Niki Savva in The Australian, after she announced her book was in its second reprint in less than a week.

The Encroachment of Start-ups on Wall Street

Leslie BoscorBy Leslie Bocskor, Managing Partner, Electrum Partners

The reverberations from the recent financial crisis are, to this day, still being felt. The Complete Credit Collapse and Asset Price Meltdown (often called mistakenly the Great Recession in the media, understandably) , while initially seeming to be a disastrous, cataclysmic event for all those with mutual funds, allowed for an era of change in the way that Wall Street’s day-to-day operations take place.

One of the most notable shifts in Wall Street’s structure is the emergence of start-up companies in the financial sector. Since the securities industry alone cut 28,000 jobs between 2008 and 2009 in New York City, many executives have gone off to form their own companies for reasons previously irrelevant to their decision-making (such as personal fulfillment). This shift in the increase of start-up companies is, in part, due to the lack of value that banks place on entrepreneurial approaches and their limited ability to change their structure in the wake of more pressing concerns. It remains to be seen as to whether emerging start-up companies in the financial sector will dramatically shift Wall Street’s structure again; however, they do pose as serious threats to the safety of otherwise unstoppable financial institutions (which seems quite fitting, given where the fault lies for the creation of the financial crisis in the first place).

While the financial crisis certainly provided individuals with an environment for change (albeit not quite as conducive to success as Silicon Valley’s, given Wall Street’s lack of an ingrained startup culture), Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin indicate a high likelihood of another disruption of colossal proportions. Our monetary system has been developing for thousands of years, and it is entering an inflection point for which sovereign fiat currencies will likely battle fiat Cryptocurrencies for utility position. There exists one simple reason for our collective decision to use Dollars, Yen, Euros, and other fiat currencies: we belief that they will maintain stability. As soon as non sovereign cryptocurrencies can establish that same faith, we will see people migrate to them in part due to the emerging distrust of states in general.

With that baseline, many startups, even if they are not aware of the general trend towards the disruption of our monetary system (not entirely different from the disruption brought on by what is thought to be the first “fiat” currency during the tenure of John Law in France), are creating solutions and opportunities that will contribute to this impending change. In fact, a round of start-ups are emerging on Wall Street for the purpose of using blockchain (the underlying technologies to Cryptocurrencies) for non-currency related stores of value in global financial markets. Due to the highly specialized nature of blockchain’s usage, however, it seems likely that the average person will be left behind in their inability to either a) invest in the technology as venture capitalists or b) understand the technology sufficiently to form their own start-up company.

Change is an inevitable factor across all industries. While semaphore, smoke signals and morse code were all choice methods of communication in the past, we can’t pretend that there aren’t better options for communicating with others; in the same vein, resisting the rapid change in the financial sector would require a willful disregard of the evidence. Innovative technologies seem to be developed every other hour, desired company structures seem to shift in scope and function with regularity, and the tremendous potential for growth  in disruptive technologies continues to amaze.

The impact of Cryptocurrencies and start-up companies on the financial sector will be enormous, forcing change and evolution. Many of the staid, large, and cumbersome institutions will find themselves facing an “evolve or die” world. Most will die, but not without good reason.

About the Author: Leslie Bocskor is an investment banker, entrepreneur and thought and policy leader in the legal cannabis industry. He is Chairman of the Nevada Cannabis Industry Association, which advocates for a responsible industry and the end of prohibition. Leslie works with state and national legislators to help develop cannabis policy. Leslie has been featured in USA Today, Washington Post, Crain’s New York, Fortune, Forbes, Reuters, Fast Company and many other major periodicals. Cannabis Business Executive recently named him one of the 100 most influential people in the cannabis industry. Leslie is Managing Partner of Electrum Partners, a leading industry advisory firm. In addition, he recently launched the Electrum Fund, a fund focused on investments in cannabis related products and services.  

Google Harnessing Big Data to Delete the Zika Virus

Roman TemkinBy Roman Temkin, New York-based Entrepreneur

There’s always a scary-sounding disease out there making headlines. From Swine Flu to Ebola, something is out there that can kill you, and someone is fighting a battle against it. That classic good versus evil dynamic makes for an amazingly compelling news story, but it also leads to an undercurrent of worry that never quite goes away. The latest name to add to this list: Zika virus.

The Zika VirusYou’ve likely seen the photos of babies with undersized heads that have been all over the news and social media recently. Even though there’s some serious push back against early reports that Zika is to blame, the virus is still connected with international fears of dread consequences. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a vaccine that could stop Zika before it happens?

Of course, that would just be step one in winning a fight against Zika. Vaccines are great, but they can’t get rid of disease scourges all on their own. For evidence of this reality, just look at the ongoing battles against measles, which is popping up even in the United States again.

The human race has succeeded in stopping one dread disease in its tracks. The fight against smallpox was won through a combined effort including PR campaigns, knowledge distribution, disease monitoring, tracking and targeted medical responses based on predictive analysis.

Do you know anything that may be able to help gather and track massive amounts of information and then use that information to make accurate predictions? Yep, big data science to the rescue once again. Science may be a long way from finding a vaccine to the virus, but, using data science, they can still implement the other protocols that helped in the eradication of smallpox as well as drastic reductions in polio and, to a lesser degree, measles.

The question then becomes, who will lead the fight against Zika virus? As it turns out, Google has answered that call. The international tech behemoth is in the process of gathering a team of volunteer engineers and data scientists to build a program to track, predict and stop Zika virus. This program will gather data from metrics as diverse as travel, weather patterns, and economic factors to predict where the disease may spread and how to best combat it there or catch it before it arrives.

The program is in its infancy, and no timeline has yet been established. But if organizers follow the big data successes of other similar programs, it’s possible – likely even – that Zika’s days as a growing global pandemic may never be realized, and the disease itself may be headed for extinction.


Tips for Management on Holding an Audience

andrew-ogdenBy Andrew Ogden, Managing Director, Broadcast Media Services

Whether you’re delivering the monthly team review, giving positive feedback or demonstrating the new office system via presentation, every manager or team leader needs to know how to communicate effectively with their colleagues. But with so many distractions and drifting focuses in your working environment, keeping your audience’s focus might not be as easy as you think. In this post, Broadcast Media Services offers five top tips for management on holding an audience and perfecting that effective delivery.

The Neck Down Approach

When a public speaker begins their delivery, they may well start with something big. A joke, a sweeping statement, a controversial line – something to grab attention and force the audience to pay attention through pure shock factor. And once you’ve caught their attention, whatever you say afterwards will automatically filter through and stick in their head, even if it’s less exciting than your opening line.

This rule can also be applied to the varying styles of management and business communication. Whether it’s the landing page of your website, the first slide in your presentation or the joke you throw in before reading the monthly reports, if it’s professionally appropriate and bold, it might just engage your audience for that little bit longer.

Think of it as the front page headline. Newspaper editors know that a great front page headline can increase sales by up to 10%. A great opening line will do the same for the attention span of your audience.

Go Personal

So, you’ve grabbed their attention, but how do you keep it? One way to keep your colleagues interested and engaging with what you’re trying to communicate, is to involve them personally in the topic. Let them share their own experiences, target them with personalized positive commentary, and allow them to feel familiar and comfortable with you.

We’ve all drowned out that robotic voice on the other end of the phone, telling us to Press 1 to repeat our last message. Adding a bit of personal colour and soft self-deprecation can make you appear warmer to your audience, and the more we like someone, the more we want engage with them.

People are more interested in people than in dry facts, figures and opinions. The more you can clothe your messages with people stories or the impact of what you’re saying on actual people the more likely the audience is to stay engaged.

Have Confidence in Your Subject

Nothing makes an audience tune out faster than a nervous, unsure presenter. If you aren’t confident in what you’re talking about, it can show in a negative way – and whilst people might pay you more attention, they’re most likely waiting for you to trip up, rather than engaging with your content.

As a manager, you need to know your topic and team off by heart, and show your enthusiasm for it; talk away from the slides, share ‘secrets’ and restricted information about it with your colleagues, go into as much detail as time allows and make yourself believe that your team care about it as much as you do.

You will know too much for the time available but don’t try to say too much. Don’t show off with knowledge. Take all of your experience in the subject and filter out just the important things. Think: what do I really need to say to this audience?

So, take time to think about what time opportunity you have and say only the essentials.

Sir Winston Churchill used to say that if you wanted him to speak for two hours about the conduct of the war, he could start straight away. If you wanted him to speak for 15 minutes about the conduct of the war he’d need a couple of days to prepare.

Make Your Goals Visible to The Audience

What do you want them to do? This is a very important question to ask yourself. When I have finished speaking – what do I want this audience to do?
Am I looking for a change of culture, is my talk a rallying call, do I require sympathy for my view, do I want them to understand a new bit of equipment?
By setting yourself and your team goals, you’re giving them a target to work for. Similar to the tactic of the carrot and the stick, giving your group a standard to aim for can help motivate them into engagement. If you’ve made your management style likeable enough, sharing your personal management objectives, e.g. receive feedback from at least 3 people, get a 50% increase in profit, connect with everyone in the office, might just spark them into helping you achieve them.

This is a tactic that tends to work well in both customer and business management as it requires very little sacrifice on behalf of the audience. They’re not being asked to buy products or spend anything beyond their time to help you achieve your goal, and they might just be flattered by your faith in their willingness to help.

Limit Distractions

Nothing in the room should be more interesting than you. If possible your audience should have their backs to the window. This means they can’t see anything interesting outside and you’ll be in the most favourable light. One of the biggest reasons your team might be switching off to you might not be your content or delivery at all. If there are easy to access distractions in the room, such as flashing computers, uncomfortable chairs, mobile phones or snacks can easily draw your audience’s attention away – or even distract you from delivering properly.

When planning team meetings, reports, schooling or review sessions, pick familiar places that your colleagues have been in before. This will limit the distraction of new surroundings and distracted sensory exploration, and help them to keep their focus on you. But if you’re in a larger space or open room, simple decorative motions such as shutting the door, closing the blinds and switching off all other screens or monitors in the room can make a real change to your presentation.


 About the Author:  Andrew was a newspaper, radio and television reporter, producer, presenter and director for nearly 20 years before forming Broadcast Media Services Ltd in 1997. BMS has been a Televisual magazine UK Top 50 Corporate Production studio since 2011 and is one of the UK’s leading Media and Crisis Media Training companies.


Executive Briefing 1.19.16 – 2016 is about Evolution; Chipotle Survival Strategy; Be Open To Change

CommPRO-Executive-BriefingIn today’s Executive Briefing we feature the second part of David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision PR Group‘s analysis of the crisis at Chipotle Mexican Grill – A Strategic Communications Survival Strategy.  Also included is Andrew Graff, CEO, Allen & Gerritsen‘s look at how Change is So 2015. 2016 is about Evolution.

As we begin 2016 and start our sixth year of publishing CommPRO, I’d like to take a moment to thank our loyal readers and partners for their continued support. We hope our new readers enjoy CommPRO and welcome your feedback and suggestions so we continue to provide a unique and relevant service. You can reach me at:

Click here to view today’s post.

(2015 Top Webinar) Innovative Leadership: A CEO Roundtable Discussion

Editor’ Note: In celebration of Women’s Equality Day, August 26th, 2015, we’re pleased to share the on-demand recording of this dynamic discussion, hosted by  Cathy Baron Tamraz, Chairwoman and CEO, Business Wire.



The world of strategic communications is evolving at an ever increasing speed.  In times of rapid innovation, it’s critical to have dynamic, purpose-driven leadership at the top of any successful organization.  In this exclusive event, Business Wire and CommPRO will bring together the communication industry’s top professionals to share their insights and advice on:

  • Where the PR/Communication industry is headed
  • Instilling and showcasing a spirit of innovation in the workplace
  • The role of collaboration in the creative  environment
  • How to create a sense of purpose in your organization
  • The value of mentorship and training
  • Mastering the work-life balance

Hosted by Cathy Baron Tamraz, Chairwoman and CEO of Business Wire, this conversation on strategic leadership is sure to inspire and activate communications pros at any level to chart the course for the future of the communications industry.


Participants include…



Cathy Baron Tamraz, Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of Business Wire,Cathy Baron Tamraz

Chairwoman and CEO, Business Wire

Cathy Baron Tamraz, Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of Business Wire, oversees the company’s long-term strategic planning, Internet strategy and global branding. She serves as chair of Business Wire’s executive committee. Under her stewardship, the company has grown to be the leading global commercial news wire, significantly expanding into new markets, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada and Japan among others. Cathy was the main architect in selling Business Wire to Berkshire Hathaway in 2006. Her November 2005 letter to Warren Buffett detailing the synergies between the two firms resulted in the company being acquired.

With a pioneering background in corporate news disclosure, Cathy lead the newswire industry into providing equal access to material news for all market participants in 2000 as the Internet gained commercial traction. Regulatory authorities, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, have sought her input as they develop and refine disclosure rules. In 2000, Cathy was invited to meet with the SEC as they developed their landmark Regulation FD provisions. In 2008, she presented to the SEC’s Advisory Committee (CIFiR) reviewing policies on the use of Internet technologies in the disclosure of market-moving material information.

Cathy was named a “Woman of Influence” by Bizwoman and the New York Business Journal in 2015, recognizing both her professional achievements as well her philanthropic work focused on education, mentorship and health services through organizations such as New York City’s “Behind the Book,” Girl’s Inc., St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Doctors Without Borders and Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.

Prior to joining Business Wire, Cathy worked in the travel industry in Hawaii. She holds a master’s degree from Stony Brook University. She participates in conferences and seminars in the investor relations and public relations industries and has published articles on financial disclosure and new technology.


Barri-Rafferty-headshotBarri Rafferty

CEO, Ketchum, North America

In her current role, Barri Friedman Rafferty leads Ketchum’s nine offices in North America as well as Ketchum Digital and Ketchum Sports and Entertainment (KSE).

In addition, she oversees the complementary businesses, Access Communications and Harrison & Shriftman. She is also part of the eight-member Worldwide Executive Committee, which focuses on guiding the strategy, client service and performance of the agency.

During her tenure at Ketchum, Rafferty has held several different roles to support the agency’s overall business goals, including overseeing the global brand marketing practice and running the New York, Atlanta and Dallas offices. She also oversaw specialty units such as digital, entertainment, sports, and multicultural.

Rafferty has a legacy of client service and continues to advise many of the agency’s largest clients, including Gillette, P&G, Frito-Lay, Weight Watchers, Ikea, Chase and Mattel. As a counselor, she specializes in integrated marketing, brand reputation and corporate reputation and has helped countless clients with award-winning campaigns, including “Tostitos Fiesta Bowl” for Frito Lay, Kodak’s Inkjet Launch and Maxwell House’s “Build a Home America”.

Outside of Ketchum, Rafferty participates in a number of groups, such as the sustainability taskforce for the World Economic Forum. Barri also sits on the board of StepUp, an organization with the mission of empowering girls from under-resourced communities to become confident, college-bound, and career focused. She is also active in the Public Relations Society of America New York Chapter and is a former chapter president. In 2012, she received the President’s Award for her many contributions.  In addition, she is a Capstone advisor and former adjunct professor in the Master’s program in public relations at New York University, as well as an advisory member of the Branding and Integrated Communications program for the City College of New York.

Rafferty has a passion for developing up-and-coming talent, and is particularly interested in the topic of women’s leadership. She is a member of the governing body of OmniWomen, Omnicom’s Leading Women’s Network, for which she holds quarterly panel discussions featuring prominent women within the marketing and communications industry who share their own experiences and offer advice to women.

Prior to Ketchum, Rafferty had a senior role at Lippe Taylor, where she worked on such prestigious brands as Maybelline, Matrix, Escada Beaute and J.F. Lazartigue. She also worked at Slim-Fast Foods Company, Burson-Marsteller and Cone Communications. She received a master’s degree in corporate communications from Boston University and an undergraduate degree in communications from Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University.


Jennefer-Witter-headshotJennefer Witter

Chief Executive Officer / Founder, The Boreland Group

Jennefer Witter is the CEO/Founder of The Boreland Group Inc., a certified woman-owned boutique public relations agency that focuses on corporate visibility. Witter was named one of the nation’s 10 most successful black CEOS and entrepreneurs by MadameNoire Magazine in 2013 ( She is the author of the recently released “The Little Book of Big PR: 100+ Quick Tips to Get Your Small Business Noticed” (AMACOM, 2014).

A recognized voice on entrepreneurship, social media and public relations and a frequent presenter at numerous consumer, trade and academic venues, Witter is often quoted in many prestigious national media outlets including, MarketWatch Radio, The Associated Press and The Huffington Post. She recently co-launched a webinar series – “Kristensen Witter Webinars: Business-Building Seminars for Entrepreneurs, by Entrepreneurs” – that focuses on proving entrepreneurs nuts-and- bolts information that they can readily implement into their business models.

The Boreland Group is headquartered in New York City, with a presence in the Washington, DC-area. The 12 year old firm was named one of “5 Black-Owned Businesses Making a Buzz” nationally by The in 2012 ( The agency produces customized public relations campaigns that raise its clients’ visibility to their specific target audiences. Individual business coaching services are also available.

For more information on Witter and The Boreland Group, visit Follow Witter on Twitter: @JenneferTBG.


Stacey-Cohen-headshotStacey Cohen

CEO, Co-Communications

Stacey Cohen founded Co-Communications, Inc. in 1997, an award-winning full service marketing and public relations firm with offices in Westchester County, NY, Farmington, CT and midtown Manhattan. Stacey began her career at Marsteller Inc. (a division of Young & Rubicam), where she was responsible for expanding the corporate communications program for advertising executives. She then held senior positions in both public relations and marketing over a six-year period at CBS/FOX Video, then the world’s largest home video company.

Under Stacey’s leadership, Co-Communications has been awarded the  Advertising Club’s “Best of Show” (2002, 2010, 2012) sponsored by Gannett/The Journal News, Forbes Enterprise Award (2006), and was inducted into the Westchester County Business Hall of Fame (2008).

She was recently named PRSA Practitioner of the Year (2013) in recognition of her professional achievements, experience, and reputation in the profession.  She chairs the Business Council of Westchester’s Marketing and Communications Council and currently serves on the board of The Business Council of Westchester and United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council. Previous board positions include Association for Women in Communications and The Volunteer Center. Stacey speaks often at industry conferences and has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes, Crain’s, Sales & Marketing and other leading national publications. She holds a B.S. from Syracuse University, MBA from Fordham University and is currently enrolled in a certificate program at NYU Leonard Stern School of Business.

Patrice.featured.imagePatrice Tanaka

Co-founder, Chief Counselor and Creative Strategist, PadillaCRT

Patrice is a serial entrepreneur, co-founding her third PR & marketing agency, PadillaCRT, last September to create the “largest, employee-owned PR agency” and the “15th largest, independent PR agency” in the U.S.

Her agencies have been recognized as the “Best Agency to Work for in America,” “Most Admired Mid-Size PR Agency in the U.S.” and “#1 Most Creative PR Agency in America,” among other accolades.

PadillaCRT’s purpose is to help clients articulate and achieve their purpose.  The agency serves clients in wide-ranging categories, spanning food and beverage, consumer goods and services, healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, technology, agriculture and the non-profit sector.  Clients includes Allianz, Barnes & Noble College, BASF, Bridgestone, Cargill, CarMax, Girl Scouts of the USA, Hass Avocado Board, Land O’Lakes, Merck, Rockwell Automation, RTI Surgical, SAP, United Healthcare, U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Wines from Rioja (Spain), among others.  PadillaCRT also offers a full complement of specialized capabilities, including PR & social media, branding, marketing, advertising, design, digital, database marketing, sponsorships and events, trade support, research, crisis management, among others.

Patrice has been honored by many PR & marketing organizations, including PRSA with its “Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service,” The Holmes Group with its “Creativity All-Star” Award and New York Women in Communications with its “Matrix Award.”  She devotes much of her free time to serving on the boards of non-profit organizations dedicated to helping women and children. Patrice is also a competitive ballroom dancer and the author of Becoming Ginger Rogers…How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, a Better Partner and a Smarter CEO, published in September 2011 by BenBella Books.


Sabrina HornSabrina Horn

CEO, The Horn Group

Sabrina Horn is the founder, president and CEO of the Horn Group, Inc., a digital-communications agency that combines public relations, social and interactive services to help companies in the technology, digital media and consumer markets. She started the Horn Group in 1991 with the vision to build a communications agency that would break new ground in technology markets, employment practices and client service. Today she continues to guide the firm¹s evergreen mission and values, overseeing operations, business strategy and development, and providing counsel to clients.

Sabrina is the only child of two German immigrants; her father earned 48 US patents including inventing the formula for Lycra, her mother the inventor of the glue used to bind books. Instead of choosing science, she chose the communicative route, and with her company, she has put hundreds of hot start ups on the map and helped big brands needing to reinvent themselves in enterprise software, digital media and consumer including PeopleSoft, RightMedia, ServiceNow and Forbes.

She has served as a Board Member on the Council of PR Firms and the Software Industry Information Association. She has authored several research papers including “Public Relations for Emerging Growth Technology Companies” and “Advertising in the People’s Republic of China”.  Sabrina has received accolades for Best U.S. Employer from Working Woman (now Working Mother) and has been consistently recognized by PR Week, Holmes Report and Inside PR as one of the PR industry¹s most successful entrepreneurs and innovators.


Sandra-Fathi-headshotSandra Fathi

President / Founder, Affect

An ardent entrepreneur, Sandra Fathi has spent the last 20 years helping technology, healthcare and professional services companies achieve their communications goals. As President and Founder of Affect, a public relations, marketing and social media agency, Sandra has successfully led the company with consistent growth since the agency’s inception in 2002.

Prior to founding Affect, Sandra worked at a number of leading technology firms and one of the top global PR agencies. Her clients have included Apple, EDS, Ericsson, Nokia and Microsoft, as well as innovative start-up companies.

Sandra is also active in the communications industry and professional community by serving as the past Chair of PRSA’s Tri-State District, former President of PRSA-NY, and as an active member of the PR Council. Her expert commentary has appeared in business and industry publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc., Huffington Post and U.S. News & World Report.  Adding to her accolades, Sandra is recognized as one of PRNews’ Top Women in PR, a PRNews PR Professional of the Year finalist, and a Bulldog PR Agency Professional of the Year.





Peppercomm: Pushing Boundaries for the Next 20 Years

Peppercomm-Pushing Boundaries for the Next 20 YearsBy Jackie Kolek, Partner and Managing Director, Peppercomm

Last month, we celebrated Peppercomm’s 20th anniversary.  Started by co-founders Ed Moed and Steve Cody in what Steve likes to call Ed’s “squalid” one-bedroom apartment, Peppercomm has grown from a two-person to start-up to a 125-person firm with offices in New York, San Francisco, Boulder, CO, and London.  But more important, we’ve evolved from a traditional public relations company to a fully-integrated communications and marketing firm with deep expertise in the consumer lifestyle, financial and professional services and industrial/B2B industries.

Early in 2015, we took advantage of this upcoming milestone to take a look at the firm’s brand positioning, visual identity and website to ensure that they truly reflect where the firm and the industry are headed over the next 20 years.  By putting ourselves in our clients’ shoes, we recognized that our approach of listening to our clients’ audiences first, last and always remains a valuable and differentiated way of thinking. However, this didn’t really speak to our clients’ pain points.

Leveraging Peppercomm’s own Insights and Strategy team, we delved deeper into those pain points.  We interviewed clients and prospects, we talked to our peers and colleagues in the industry and we examined our competitive set.  What we uncovered was that Peppercomm’s ability to push boundaries is what attracts our clients and keeps them with us for more than 15 years in some cases.  It’s what helps us deliver bottom-line results for clients and what helps them to keep ahead of their competition.  It’s also what has helped us to attract and retain top talent both from within the industry and from non-traditional backgrounds.

Whether it’s a highly-regulated professional services firm executing online thought leadership via social media for the first time, a hedge fund opening up its website, a luxury auto brand trying to attract a younger Millennial audience and change the exiting brand perception or a global pharmaceutical company using comedy to improve storytelling and break down barriers between its teams, Peppercomm helps its clients push the boundaries to reach and engage audiences with right messaging on the right platforms.  But, we do it in a way that both mitigates risk and delivers measurable results that show real ROI.

Armed with this insight, we updated our brand positioning and created a refreshed visual identity with a new “P” icon that breaks through a box in a subtle and sophisticated way.  Our totally new website speaks directly to our audiences’ needs and provides them with information in a way they want to consume it, rather than how we want to serve it up.

As we look forward to the next 20 years, brands will continue to be faced with myriad challenges – engaging with the Next Gen, Millennials and Gen Z, reaching new niche audiences, understanding how to leverage new digital and social platforms and grappling with new regulations.  By listening to their audiences first, Peppercomm strives to help clients understand these audiences and apply our knowledge and experience across the fully integrated spectrum of paid, owned and earned platforms to create compelling content that pushes boundaries to engage audiences and drive real ROI.

About the Author: Jackie leads many of the firm’s financial services accounts and has deep expertise in the wealth advisory and personal finance space. She specializes in working with companies with complex or highly technical products and services to package them into compelling stories that engage target audiences. Jackie also leads crisis simulation workshops, where we help clients develop and test crisis processes. She has been quoted in and written articles for industry publications including The Firm Voice, PR Strategist, PR Week, and Investment News. Jackie serves on boards of the PRSA Financial Communications Section.








10 Ways to Monitor Twitter Beyond @Mentions

10 Ways to Monitor Twitter Beyond @MentionsTwitter data is expansive and incredibly valuable. It is used by medical researchers to track the spread of diseases, by the U.S. Geological Survey to track earthquakes, by the financial industry to monitor market moving trends, and by journalists to access eyewitness reports during breaking stories.

In short, Twitter data has become essential to gathering intelligence and understanding trends.

Keep Cool in a Crisis

For brand managers, Twitter is an essential tool for monitoring mentions – especially in a crisis situation.

During a crisis, there is no faster way to check the pulse of the situation than through comments people share on Twitter – in real time. Good or bad, the data informs and is often actionable. Although your brand may not want to respond to every tweet, knowing what’s being said can help guide your decisions on handling the situation.

Unearth Industry Intelligence

The value of Twitter data goes beyond basic brand monitoring and crisis management. Smart brands are setting up searches and alerts for key topics that directly and indirectly impact their business.

Want to get started? Here are ten searches you should start monitoring immediately.

1. Industry topics: Monitor terms that you consistently use in your strategic communications. These are the keywords you want to rank well for. Keeping tabs on discussions around those terms will help you in content planning.

2. Industry trends: Similar to the above, but you’ll have to be a bit cleverer here since you don’t necessarily know what might trend. Search for very broad industry terms, including things that may be negative and keep an eye on what else comes up in the search.

3. Competitor intel: Follow your competitors’ names and watch for any trending news involving them.

Keys to Monitoring Social Media







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PR Measurement Conference – Nov. 18 in Chicago


Join PR News on Nov. 18, 2015 for its PR Measurement Conference at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Commit now to grounding all of your PR efforts in metrics that connect to organizational goals and prove the crucial role that communications makes in thriving b2c and b2b companies, nonprofits and professional associations. Early Bird rates end Oct. 23.

The PR News faculty of PR measurement experts will explore the inescapable role of measurement in communications, and show you how to develop a measurable communications program for media relations, social media, crisis management and brand enhancement. You’ll get updates on the latest trends in measurement standards, with an emphasis on real-world case-study applications of measurement concepts. Extend your stay in Chicago by also signing up for PR News’ SEO Boot Camp, taking place the day before the Measurement Conference.












The Role of Branded Online Newsrooms in the News Reporting Process (ON-DEMAND WEBINAR)



Webinar Overview


As news reporting continues to evolve rapidly, the branded online newsroom increases in value and solidifies itself as the ultimate communications center for an organization. From corporate press releases to blog posts to specialized, industry stories and articles, the duty of the digital newsroom is to house and distribute a manifold of desired and trusted, brand-created content. Furthermore, the branded newsroom must contribute to the overall optimization strategy.

This session will motivate and educate, reaffirming the need to focus on and update your company’s online newsroom. Methods will be shared on how to strengthen the newsroom’s effectiveness, how to prepare for mobile devices, how to supply content most desired by media, and how to use tools within the newsroom that are essential to a communications professional.

  1. Identify and view examples of each of the Top 5 types of content most desired by media.
  2. Enhance a digital newsroom, strengthen SEO and solidify thought leadership within the industry.
  3. Learn how and when to use online newsroom resources such as email alerts, email broadcasts, the Dark Site crisis module and more.

About Our Presenter


Ibrey-Woodall-headshotIbrey Woodall, VP Web Communications Services, Business Wire

As VP Web Communications Services, Ibrey is responsible for Business Wire’s NewsHQ Online Newsroom product. She is a published writer and active industry speaker. Woodall holds a B.A. in Mass Communications and a CIW Webmaster Certification. She has been involved in launching online newsrooms for 3M, Aetna, Bank of America, DISH,  Krispy Kreme, Logitech, Merck, Office Depot, PRSA, Procter & Gamble, Ryder System, Staples and many more.

Contact Info:

954-474-8833– ext. 248,

Twitter: @IbreyWoodall