PR Lessons Learned From November 2, 2021

PR Lessons Learned From November 2, 2021Arthur Solomon

Not a day passes when PR people who pay attention to the news cannot learn lessons from the happenings. But November 2 provided lessons from two high profile events – the World Series and the elections and the lessons from both were similar: Thinking outside the box is often the key to success.

What PR lessons did the World Series provide?

The Situation: The Atlanta Braves overcame what many observers though were insurmountable odds to defeat the Houston Astros in the series. The teams played below .500 baseball until the 111 game of the season. And they accomplished the feat despite losing their best player, outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., for the season, when he was injured on July 10. In addition another outfielder Marcel Ozuna, who led the National League in home runs and runs batted in last year hasn’t played since May 25, following allegations of domestic violence. But unlike too many PR people, who refuse to make mid-course correction to an approved plan and ride it to the end, Braves management thought outside the box. Instead of writing off this season and prepare for the next, the team’s general manager remade the Brave’s outfield in mid-season and the new players helped the Braves win the World Series. The Lesson: Always think of an approved program as an outline that might have to be corrected if it is not producing the desired results. And never be fearful of telling a client that changes have to be made. Doing so goes against the grain of much PR thinking once a client has approved a program. But I’ve done so many times and doing so was always appreciated.

What PR lessons did the election provide?

The Situation: Democratic Governor Phil Murphy was expected to win reelection easily in New Jersey. Instead at the time of this writing at 12:23 a.m. November 3, the race between Murphy and his Republican opponent, Jack Ciattarelli is still to close to call (although Murphy has edged into the lead). The Lesson: After the launch of a new program produces 

early favorable publicity results, too many people in our business declare the program a success. But history shows that often the final results of an expensive program are less than a client expected. Democratic seers in New Jersey were ready to party before the first ballot was cast on November 2. Instead they now have to evaluate the short comings of their plan. When selling a program to a client, I always underestimated what I believed the results would be. By doing that and delivering more than the expected results, I always had a happy client. 

Advice to Remember

Both of the above examples emphasize out of the box thinking. In our high turnover, cut-throat, team-oriented   business, which, I believe, is intended to keep individuals from complaining  to management that they are not getting the credit they deserve, if you want to get your just due do not be a sheep. Think for yourself and make certain that top management knows of your contributions to programs. If you don’t do so, PR history shows that you’ll most likely end up like the lamb that is slaughtered.


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

 




A Conversation with Andrea Williams, Author, ‘Baseball’s Leading Lady: Effa Manley and the Rise and Fall of the Negro Leagues’ & Special Guest, Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

 

Guests

Andrea Williams

Andrea Williams is an author, journalist and editor. Prior to turning to writing full-time she worked in marketing and development for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Besides her book, Baseball’s Leading Lady, Effa Manley and the Rise and Fall of the Negro Leagues. Andrea is the best-selling author of the children’s book, We Are Family co-authored with Lebron James. She now lives and writes in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four children.

 

 

Bob Kendrick

Bob Kendrick is the President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) in Kansas City, Missouri. The Kansas City Globe named Bob on their list of “100 Most Influential African-Americans in Greater Kansas City” in 2009 and he was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. He attended Park College on a Baseball scholarship and earned his BA in Communication Arts.

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Host

Michael Zeldin

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

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

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

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

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




The Need for Both Humans and Tech in the Fight Against Ransomware (INFOGRAPHIC)

Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing

While COVID-19 rages on, a second pandemic is ravaging businesses everywhere.  Since the start of coronavirus, ransomware attacks have risen over 400%.  The costs associated with the attacks will top $20 billion in 2021, or $2 million per business affected.  Even with measures being taken against coronavirus, ransomware will not be defeated as easily.  Current predictions show 75% of organizations facing attacks over the next 5 years.

What has caused ransomware to expand so dramatically?  To start, there are more opportunities out there for attacks to be successful.  In the age of remote work, businesses are using more software and networked devices than ever.  Moreover, it’s lucrative.  Criminals can get multi-million dollar payouts in anonymous Bitcoin with little concern of being brought to justice.  Perhaps most importantly, ransomware has gotten easier to use.  One no longer needs to be a talented hacker to commit cybercrime.  “Gangs” now provide ransomware-as-a service in exchange for 20% or 30% of the ransom.  

Despite the growing threat, businesses are not investing enough in preventing cyber attacks on their systems.  The majority of businesses have an IT security budget of less than $10,000.  That’s less than 1/9th of the salary for an average cybersecurity engineer.  If businesses don’t want to pay millions later, they should consider investing thousands now.  The problem is particularly acute for small and medium businesses.  6 in 10 of them lack even a policy for what to do if they are hit with a cyber attack. 

Can tech bridge the divide?  Not entirely.  Cybersecurity software can do some of the work in preventing ransomware, but it introduces new challenges.  Artificial intelligence solutions aren’t foolproof.  Many are riddled with false positives and excessive alerts.  The average employee has neither the time nor the training to sort false positives from the real threats, and they ignore the AI’s warnings on all matters at their own peril.

Humans and tech need to work together to prevent ransomware.  No matter what software comes out, human expertise is an important part of cybersecurity.  Trained analysts can spot malicious code and warning signs better than average employees. They can understand context, relevance, and attack motivation better than software at this time.  This makes it possible for them to tease out the real concerns from a sea of false positives.  In an ever-expanding world of cyberattacks, businesses need the best in class technology AND cybersecurity expertise.

 

Humans and tech are needed to stop ransomware


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




Paradise Lost?

Paradise Lost?

 

Years ago, when we were representing the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, we conducted a national study of retired judges to examine the influence of media upon their decisions. No longer contained by the sanctity of their robes, they were free to be more transparent – “Of course we were influenced by what we read in the media,” came the unvarnished responses. The judiciary may be the Third Estate in the realm, but it is certainly affected by the Fourth.

Some years earlier, when I was in law school and on a national moot court team, I spent a month in the stacks of the law school library, searching for “the truth.” Two decades before 9/11, the question that year was about airport searches. Computers were in their early days and the Web was not yet in civilian use, so days and nights were spent hunting and reading one case after another: legislative histories, case notes, dicta, and anything else I could find. I was certain that if I kept reading enough, going back far enough in time, that the wisdom of stare decisis – precedent – would, like the apple in Genesis, reveal itself. The hunt for the truth is intoxicating and the further we go back in time, the more we believe that there was a period, free of politics, when wisdom reigned and Socratic questioning revealed perfection.

History has a way of garnering unanimity in a way that eludes the present. President Abraham Lincoln? He had staunch opposition everywhere, including in his own cabinet and among some of his generals, let alone the Confederacy. Today we are effectively all Lincoln fans.

Am I alone in my faith in the mythology that truth and justice percolate from time immemorial and that Karma keeps score? I may have been intoxicated by the weathered bindings and yellowed pages of hundreds of law books in my search for ultimate truth, but I think most of us share the illusion of ancient wisdom. This creation myth is everywhere. Jesus and his disciples. Moses and his tablets. Buddha and the tamarind tree. The Founding Fathers. Those were the days, we think, when certainty reigned.

If my illusion of finding ultimate truth was crushed by the stacks in that now long-gone law library, I am not alone. We revere the Founding Fathers as if they were apolitical. As if the clarity of their mission and their break with Mother England was always evident. In truth, only about a third of colonists supported independence. Looking backwards, we are certain they had it all figured out. There is even a judicial philosophy – first discussed about 50 years ago in conservative legal circles – referred to as “Original Intent.” It is articulated with reverence but applied, of course, with fickleness. It is an argument you only hear when the original intent neatly aligns with your current position.

What would happen if we read more than just the popular history books’ take on the Founding Fathers? For In House Warrior, the daily podcast I host for the Corporate Counsel Business Journal carried by multiple media partners, I recently interviewed a film maker and two scholars on related issues, including Richard Hall, Director and Co-Producer of the four-part series, “Confounding Father: A Contrarian View of the U.S. Constitution”; Dr. Marshall DeRosa, Professor of Constitutional Law and Judicial Process at Florida Atlantic University and author of The Confederate Constitution of 1861: An Inquiry Into American Constitutionalism; and Dr. Allan Lichtman, Distinguished Professor of History at American University and author of the new book, Thirteen Cracks: Repairing American Democracy after Trump.

The U.S. Constitution is the longest-lived constitution in the world, but even at its founding in the summer of 1787, it had many critics. Compromises led to the Electoral College, the three-fifths clause, the fugitive slave clause, the continuation of the African slave trade for 20 years and an ineffective and nearly impossible to complete impeachment process, to name a few. What would happen if we paid attention to the original intent of the delegates who had opposing points of view? If a number of them, including Robert Yates and John Lansing of New York and Luther Martin of Maryland, hadn’t departed Philadelphia earlier than the September 17, 1787 signing day, it might be a very different document.

In the words of eminent revolutionary era historian Gordon Wood, Luther Martin was “full of predictions and most of them came true…” Martin was, among other things, strongly antislavery, anti-empire, and foresaw Washington, D.C. becoming isolated nearly two hundred years before the term “inside the Beltway” became popular. Had he and others prevailed, we likely would have been better served and our politics today would be entirely different.

As filmmaker Richard Hall wrote after the film, “We are currently mired in absurd debates over criticisms of the more revered Founding Fathers. Our mantra during production of the film was: The more we elevate the founders, the more we diminish ourselves.”

In the show with Dr. DeRosa, we discussed the unknown world of the Confederate Constitution. Dr. DeRosa shocks us with the things we get wrong about this little-studied document, the unknown or forgotten parts of Northern hypocrisy, the fears of Southern emergence and the efficiency of the executive in the Confederate Constitution.

On Real Washington, the weekly podcast I co-host with Michael Zeldin of That Said with Michael Zeldin on CommPRO, we interviewed Allan Lichtman, Distinguished Professor of History at American University and author of the wildly successful series, The Thirteen Keys to the Presidency and Predicting the Next President: The Keys to the White House. He has accurately predicted every U.S. presidential election since 1984. He discussed his latest book, Thirteen Cracks: Repairing American Democracy After Trump.

We are, like our forefathers and foremothers, imperfect. Most of us are just trying to do the best we can with what we know at the time.

Early this morning, like many mornings, I was hiking in Rock Creek Park, a national park I have hiked literally thousands of times over the years. There are still some of its 3,700 square acres I do not know well, but many paths I know blindfolded. Despite this familiarity, I am constantly amazed by the fact that each time of day, each season or reversing direction radically changes perspective. The things we notice – the sights, sounds and smells – all change. It is as if we are somewhere else entirely.

We are all on a journey with nothing certain but our ultimate destination. Maybe we are all on similar paths and it is just our perspectives which differ? A different time of day, a different season, a change in direction, and with that simple change in perspective, we might see the world the way others do.

Having gone blind in 1652, John Milton wrote his masterpiece, Paradise Lost – the twelve-volume poem about the fall of Man, the temptation of Adam and Eve and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden – entirely through dictation with the help of friends.

“A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.”

Enjoy the journey.

Richard Levick

Listen to A Front Row Seat at the 1787 Constitutional Convention

Listen to The Unknown World of the Confederate Constitution

Listen to Thirteen Cracks: Repairing American Democracy After Trump




Culture Fit: 4 Ways To Match Yours With An Employer

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Marie Raperto, The Hiring Hub

A culture fit. Something that both a candidate and a company want. How do you determine a company’s culture and how do you show them that you have what they want?

  1. Research.  Look for their values, do you like the backgrounds of the people working there. Read the online reviews. Look at their social media posts. Try to connect with employees. What does their office look like? What is the story/mission behind the company?
  2. Questions.  Once you determine that a company has the culture you want, make a list of cultural fit questions you might be asked.  You want your answers to fit with the employer.
    1. What are the best aspects of your current job?
    2. What do you like least about your current job?
    3. Of all your jobs, which one was the best and why?
    4. What type of physical environment do you like?
    5. What is your management style?
    6. What characteristics did your best supervisor have?
    7. In-person or zoom meetings?
  3. Be Prepared. Think about what your cultural fit really is. What work environment makes you the most productive? Happy? What management style works best for you? And why? Do you want to make friends at the office? Do you want to work mostly alone or with a team? Do you expect to be promoted quickly and does the company provide that environment?  The more you know what you want, the easier it will be to describe to a potential employer.  If you want a true culture fit, honesty is the best policy.
  4. Interview.  Look at any office pictures on social media. You want to see how they dress, how formal or informal they are.  The old rule of thumb said you should always dress in a suit and tie. But, today, you want to be interview appropriate. If everyone at the employer is in jeans, you should show up business casual.



Opinion Series: Science for Social Good, Part II – Gun Violence: How Research and Communications Can Help Solve Our Growing Problem

 pawn shop in Gulfport, MS

Using Research to Attack the Problem of Gun Violence in the U.S. 

Dwayne Flinchum, President, ScientificBrandsTM

As reported by Everytown for Gun Safety, between August 1 and September 15, there were at least 30 instances of shootings on school grounds, killing five people and wounding 23 in total. That marks the most shootings on campus in a back-to-school season since the organization began keeping records. Annually, more than 3,000 children and teens (ages 0 to 19) are shot and killed, and 15,000 are shot and wounded – that’s an average of 51 American young people every day.

The New York Times reported that in 2020 the U.S. experienced the largest increase in murder since national record-keeping began in 1960, according to data collected by the F.B.I. Their annual “Uniform Crime Report” reflected a 29 percent increase in murder and stands as the official count on an abnormally violent year. The previous largest one-year increase of 12.7 percent happened in 1968. 

FBI statistics indicate nearly 40 million guns were legally sold in 2020, the highest level recorded since it began tracking the data in 1998. In January alone, U.S. gun sales surged 60 percent to 4,137,480. At this pace, gun sales in America will reach nearly 50 million in 2021. Millions of legally purchased guns often end up in the hands of criminals and gang members through theft, according to Mark Bryant, executive director of the Gun Violence Archive, an organization that tracks gun violence nationally using police statistics and media reports. The fact is that the US population accounts for only about 4% of the world population, but Americans own 48% of the guns in the world.

According to Nature.com, Congress — spurred by advocacy that followed some high-profile school shootings — has now authorized $25 million for each of the past two years to go to the NIH and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the study of gun violence as a public-health issue. Incredibly, the new money comes after more than two decades of what has essentially been a freeze on funding to study gun violence. And that’s left a massive knowledge gap, says Asheley Van Ness, director of criminal justice at Arnold Ventures in New York City, a philanthropic organization that pledged $20 million to gun research in 2018, in part because of the poor federal funding. “For decades we just have under-researched basic questions on gun violence,” she says.

What Can Science Achieve?

Everything begins with science and data — or at least, it should. That’s what I have learned as I have read about the most daunting challenges of our time in trusted news outlets, and as I have worked professionally with nonprofit organizations seeking to deliver solutions. There are ominous and unsettling dangers being presented like the progressing climate emergency, increased gun violence and the threat of a lingering COVID-19 pandemic. As if those threats were not enough, we also are realizing emerging devastation of drought, wildfires, water scarcity, food security, poverty and other issues that will surely have ripple effects. How do we face such daunting tasks like the exponential increase in gun violence? Let’s begin with logic.

Wise decisions begin with data. Research gives us evidence, data that can inform and guide smart public policies and legislation. Statistical results should also be shaping our public opinion but the politicization of these issues has prevented a groundswell of support to do better. In the best of times — and through the better angels within us — these empirical data would also drive coordinated community action. Sadly, our media climate and politicians have compromised any chance for a reasoned public narrative on these issues. Many media organizations exist only to serve echoed content to confirm fixed perceptions among like-minded audiences. Our nation is in desperate need of principled leadership, better public education, and regulation of self-declared media “news sources” that conflate and confuse these issues.

The risks are far too great to move forward without everyone understanding the data and working together to take every possible action to create the necessary change. Science can lead the way to smart planning on a philanthropic and civic level as well. Whole movements can galvanize us to create positive change. I still believe in the power of people and social movements. I believe in the prospect of science for the people, and in people taking smart action. Better advocacy and communication around these complex problems can help achieve an intelligent and important national conversation.

The current trends in gun violence are pointing toward dire consequences if we don’t trust the data and let scientists, public health and safety advocates, professionals and policy experts lead us on the path of common sense. Politicians must stop catering to the lowest common denominator and taking their lead from a biased trade association. We must reduce the proliferation of handguns and assault weaponry and improve controls to manage the manufacture and commercial sale of firearms. Only 21 states and the District of Columbia currently require background checks before the sale of a firearm. We simply must do better. Now is the time to save ourselves and protect future generations with sensible decisions.

Science matters because it provides us with an objective pursuit of truth. Coordinated marketing and communications can help disseminate the truth. As we confront the most perilous times in modern human history, it is time to listen to the data, come together and support effective solutions being presented. Our inaction as a nation of civilized people, be it through bickering or apathy, will simply be too disastrous to bear. 

(Click here to read Opinion Series: Science for Social Good, Part I – Climate Crisis: How Science and Marketing Can Avert a Cataclysmic Global Crisis)


Resources:

BradyUnited: https://www.bradyunited.org/ 

Everytown for Gun Safety: https://www.everytown.org/ 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/22/upshot/murder-rise-2020.html 

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01966-0?fbclid=IwAR0OF78-rIx7k_vlZWtTtOtSZ804s6uVgkd8VxF5pDJKcHXuh4TyAmYTz5A 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2021/10/09/gun-violence-2021-record-school-shootings-active-shooter-drills/6054557001/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2021/02/10/this-is-how-many-guns-were-sold-in-all-50-states/43371461/ 


Dwayne Flinchum is the President of ScientificBrands™About the Author: Dwayne Flinchum is the President of ScientificBrands™With 30+ years of experience, he has worked in the strategic planning and development of brand identity, media, marketing and communications initiatives, leading image-defining engagements for global companies and nonprofit organizations. Flinchum founded IridiumGroup and led the firm to success as a brand consultancy for global clients by managing strategic and creative consulting for preeminent private foundations, professional associations, and national cause-based member organizations. For 18 years, he played a significant role in differentiating and building the Accenture brand worldwide. In 2016, Flinchum became a member of the Leadership Team and the Director of Marketing and Communications at the Child Mind Institute and in just three years, achieved accelerated growth of 300-400% across KPIs to dramatically grow audience, build brand awareness, and extend the reach of the public education program and its online resources.




Celebrate Communications Week 2021 – A Special Invitation from Ragan Communications

 

CommPRO Editorial Staff

We’re pleased to share this invitation from Ragan Communications…

Ragan would like to invite you to celebrate Communications Week with them during an in-person reception on Tuesday, November 16th at 5:30p.m. in New York City.  Communications Week is designed to celebrate communicators like you, and while the educational events the week of Nov. 15 are virtual this year, they are excited to announce this “Pop-Up” reception, giving you the chance to join colleagues in person!

The two-hour event will include networking, a panel discussion on 2022 predictions and a communications technology showcase. The reception is hosted by Ragan and MWW and will take place at MWW’s headquarters building in Manhattan’s Herald Square. This is a free event by invitation only and Ragan is limiting the number of guests to comply with the NYC Covid safety standards, including that all guests show proof of vaccination.  

Please RSVP HERE by November 5th to attend. If you do not register by this date, they may not be able to accommodate you since space is limited.

The reception will include:

  • Great food and drinks
  • Networking with other communicators
  • Compelling panel discussion: Predictions 2022
  • Sponsor showcase

We hope you are able to join us for this invitation-only reception during Communications Week on November 16 in NYC, hosted by Ragan and MWW and sponsored by an amazing group of companies. For more details and to RSVP, go HERE. As a reminder, all attendees must bring proof of vaccination to the event.

We look forward to seeing you (in-person)! If you have any questions or need help with your complimentary registration, please contact Jen Mazurek at Ragan Communications.

See you soon!

Ragan’s Communications Week Team
www.Commsweek.com
www.Ragan.com

PS: We hope to see you (virtually) at the Future of Communications Conference on Nov. 17, the day after the Nov. 16 reception. Register here if you haven’t already!

 




Evins Communications Named Agency Of Record For Forbes Travel Guide

Forbes Travel Guide

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Forbes Travel Guide, the global expert on genuine Five-Star service, today announced the appointment of Evins Communications as its communications agency of record, effective immediately. The only independent, global rating system for hotels, restaurants and spas, Forbes Travel Guide has been recognized internationally for 63 years as the authority on luxury. Evins will lead Forbes Travel Guide’s core marketing communications campaigns, including the promotion of the Forbes Travel Guide 2022 Star Ratings and Forbes Travel Guide Luxury Summit.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Evins in support of our forthcoming marketing efforts as we prepare to launch and pursue exciting new initiatives in the coming year,” said Filip Boyen, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide. “Evins first joined the Forbes Travel Guide family in 2020, and we are excited to expand our partnership as we enter a post-pandemic world and develop unique strategies that cater to the pent-up demand for travel.”

An award-winning marketing communications and public relations firm, Evins will be responsible for communicating Forbes Travel Guide’s vision and differentiation through brand communications positioning, media relations and thought leadership platforming. The appointment of Evins follows the agency’s recent rebrand and debut of Evins PR+, a new business-focused PR model that uses insight-driven marketing communications strategies focused on achieving tangible and measurable business goals. Making a consequential impact for clients by transforming market data and intelligence into actionable insights and strategic programming represents, Evins PR+ encompasses a full range of integrated services within the Agency’s specialized practice areas of Brand Essence & Content Strategy; Food, Wine & Spirits; Health & Wellness; Luxe Living; and Travel & Hospitality.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be working with such a distinguished brand in the travel and hospitality space,” said Mathew Evins, Chairman of Evins Communications. “Forbes Travel Guide has long been a definitive authority on luxury hospitality, and now more than ever, travelers and the industry alike need guidance as they begin to navigate the world of travel once again. We are very excited to be working with Filip and his team and look forward to a beneficial and successful partnership with Forbes Travel Guide brand.”

For more information on Forbes Travel Guide, please visit www.forbestravelguide.com.




5WPR CEO On Marketing Trends for 2022

2022 Marketing Trends

 

Marketing has definitely changed. From social media to sales, from search-queries to email response to online sales, a marketer has to listen, analyze and respond in real time. Social media platforms continue to grow, These platforms have become ubiquitous in the broader internet ecosystem. Marketers are learning that data has to be handled carefully or false and misleading information can circulate  in the blink of an eye. Businesses are using real-time data to elevate their products and services. There are multiple digital tools available for marketers to use, and they change regularly as technology evolves. Keeping this in mind, given below are marketing trends that will shape 2022. 

1) Personalized content experiences – It is not always easy to grab the attention of consumers. Hence, brands like Spotify, Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook personalize content for users. Personalized content is dynamic, as it updates in real-time to ensure customized user experiences. Information overload coupled with shorter attention spans give websites  little time to make a positive impression. If marketers can provide each consumer with personalized content, they can cut through the noise and get people to pay attention. For instance, the beauty brand Aveda uses content personalization to match their products to customers based on their concerns. They present visitors with interactive quizzes like the hair and scalp check quiz. Consumers are asked pertinent questions about their problem areas. Their answers are cross-referenced with four million possible solutions to curate a personalized treatment for each customer. 

2) Digital transformation  Marketers are tapping into the power of digital transformation to gain insight into customers’ needs, and then to use that information to inform and improve products and services. The opportunities provided by digital transformation are being seized upon by a lot of brands. This is evident in examples ranging from Netflix’s subtle use of viewing data to develop original programming, to KLM’s #happytohelp’s use of a speedboat  to help a tweeting customer stuck in a traffic jam. Examples of digital transformation include adopting new technologies like cloud computing, using digital tools like social media to drive product engagement, and partnering with market intelligence companies like McKinsey and Gartner to hone digital strategy skills. 

3) Thought leadership – People are gradually becoming immune to hard-selling tactics. If they are pressurized to make a purchase, they get defensive. Thought leadership is the process of  increasing the visibility of expertise and improving market influence to achieve goals such as building brand strength and generating new business. For instance, GE has built a website that is addictive and characterized by unique brand knowledge. 

4) 4Es of marketing The 4Es embodies the new approach to customer value proposition and includes engagement, experience, exclusivity and emotions. Purchasing decisions are not influenced by products only, as they are influenced by experiences and emotions too. Emotional branding is essential these days. Reward programs and deals are effective ways to engage customers.


Ronn TorossianAbout the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency




OP-Ed: The Greatest Sports Hype Of Them All 

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Arthur Solomon

When it comes to hype, one business stands far above all the others combined – the sports business. Well, maybe not. The propaganda of the “investing” business is at least as equal. But that’s for another column. This one is limited to the sports biz.

Examples:

  • Major League Baseball (MLB) calls its championship event the World Series, which would be true if the world consisted of the United States and Canada.
  • MLB also designates a Most Valuable Player (MVP) each season. But the MVP is often not on the championship team, so how valuable can he be?
  • The National Football League (NFL) calls its championship game the Super Bowl, even though the best teams often don’t qualify. 
  • Predicting the Most Valuable Player of the NFL is easy. It invariably is awarded to a player on the winning team of the Super Bowl. The only exception was in Super Bowl V (1971), when Charles Howley of the losing Dallas Cowboys won the award.
  • Both MLB and the NFL also receive millions of dollars of free publicity each year when the announcement of new players to their Hall’s of Fame are announced (and also during spring training for baseball and the NFL draft.)

Unlike any other business, the professional sports industries, and its semi-professional affiliates, known as college sports, are hyped by a supposedly impartial but largely acquiescent media and sports marketing sponsors.

But nothing compares like the false hype of the Olympics, the Summer edition, which was played in Tokyo earlier this year, and the Winter supplement which will begin on February 4 in Beijing, China. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says that politics has no place in sports and promotes itself as bringing the world together in peaceful harmony. But the history of the Olympic Games has a dark side — a history of awarding its games to totalitarian countries that uses it as a propaganda tool.

Ever since the Nazi Olympics, sports marketers have joined the IOC in believing that democracy takes a back seat to international sporting events. In addition to the 1936 Berlin games, and the Sochi (Russia) Olympics in 2014, the IOC also awarded its games to the Soviet Union in 1980, Yugoslavia in 1984 and China in 2008 and 2022.  (Fueled with sports marketers’ and TV network’s money – much of it from American companies – the IOC will keep on selecting mostly totalitarian countries to host their games as increasingly citizens of democratic countries balk at footing the ever-increasing cost of playing host to a short-lived athletic event.)

During the run-up to the 1936 Olympics, U.S. sponsors stood on the sidelines, as they do today, when the U.S. Olympic officials decided to participate in the Nazi Germany, despite vocal opposition from prominent U.S. sports and government officials, including the U.S. member of the IOC. 

Among those urging the U.S. not to participate in the Nazi Olympics was Judge Jeremiah Mahoney, president of the Amateur Athletic Union, who led the efforts to boycott the Olympics, saying that participation would be equivalent to an endorsement of Hitler’s Reich.

Other notables supporting a boycott included New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, New York Governor Al Smith, Massachusetts Governor James Curley and Ernst Lee Jahncke, a former assistant secretary of the US Navy, who was a member of the IOC. Jahncke was expelled from the IOC after publicly speaking out against sending a U.S. team to the Nazi Olympics. Also, U.S. Embassy officials in Germany supported a boycott.

Nevertheless, the sponsors and the IOC remained silent, ignoring the fact that the first Nazi concentration camp opened three years earlier.

As the days to the February 4 opening ceremony in totalitarian China grows closer, calls to boycott the Beijing Olympics will increase because of China’s dismal human rights record and its aggressive military actions. For months members of Congress have asked that the games be moved or that NBCUniversal should limit its coverage only to sporting events and not televise the propaganda aspects of the games, which the Chinese government is certain to emphasize. Of course that might be difficult to do, even if NBC wanted to do so, which is doubtful because they have so much money invested in the Olympic Games, as well as other  business interests in China, because much of the television content will be produced by China’s world feed.

As an individual who has been involved in many aspects of Olympic Games, I believe it is the most important of all sports events. But as an individual who believes that democratic countries must speak out about the evils of totalitarian regimes, I believe a stand must be taken. That’s why I support a boycott of the China games. It’s certainly a better method of expressing displeasure than going to war.

This article began by pointing out how important hype is to the sporting world, and how sports’ flagship event, the Olympics, has been awarded many times to totalitarian countries that use them for propaganda purposes. 

But until major U.S corporations refuse to give propaganda platforms to totalitarian countries and view the Olympic Games only as the money-making event it is, things will stay the same.


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

 




What’s Next in Advocacy and Government Communications?

Free Webcast

November 9, 2021, 5 PM ET

Hosted by: The George Washington University

Master’s in Strategic Public Relations

 

What's Next in Advocacy and Government Communications?

EVENT OVERVIEW

When senior executives turn to communications staff for guidance and counsel, are Millennial and Gen Z professionals answering the call differently? Issues including environmental stewardship, data privacy, and social impact and corporate social responsibility are increasingly taking center stage as public policy challenges. Join us for a candid conversation about the challenges and opportunities ahead for young people seeking careers in advocacy and government communications. 

Hear from a talented panel who are shaping how internal and external stakeholder communication responds.  The panel will share how they have built their careers as advocates for change and as public servants and get their advice on how you can follow a similar path. 

The GWU Strategic PR program and CommPRO are pleased to offer this opportunity for you to learn from these young professionals and ask them questions about work, grad school and career planning.

Register now to hold your place.

HOST:

Lawrence J. Parnell, M.B.A., Associate Professor and director of the George Washington University Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program

MODERATOR:

Troy Blackwell, Jr., Founder & CEO, Ready for Change

PANELISTS:

SPECIAL GUEST:

Scott Thomsen, President of the National Association of Government Communicators

ABOUT OUR SPEAKERS

Lawrence J. Parnell, M.B.A. (HOST)

Lawrence J. Parnell, M.B.A. is an award winning Public Relations professional and academic who is an Associate Professor and director of the George Washington University Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program. He has served in this role for 12 years and has built the GW Master’s program into one of the best known and admired programs in the US. Professor Parnell also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Strategic Communications at the GW School of Business.

He also operates Parnell Communications, a strategic communications and leadership training advisory firm. In this role he advises government, corporate and non-profit organizations on executive development and strategic communications.  

Prior to coming to GW, he had a successful 32-year career in the private and public sector. He has worked in government, corporate and agency settings and in national, state and local political campaigns. He was recognized as PR Professional of the Year (2003) byPR Weekand was named to thePR NewsHall of Fame in 2009. The GW Master’s program was named the “Best PR Education Program” for 2015 by PR Week

He is a frequent author and speaker on communications strategy, crisis and issues management, leadership skills and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at industry conferences and universities around the world. He is quoted often on communications management and crisis communications by the national, business and trade media. 

He is the co-author of a leading public relations textbook – “Introduction to Strategic Public Relations – Communicating Effectively in a Socially Responsible World” from Sage Publishing. In its first year, (2018) the text was adopted by over 30 leading undergrad PR programs across the country. The second edition of the text, titled: “Introduction to Public Relations” was published in October 2020 by Sage Publishing.  He also contributed as a co-author of a chapter on CSR in the book “Nation Branding and Public Diplomacy” (Peter Lang Publishing) published in 2017.  He is active on Twitter at @gwprmasters and on Face Book and Linked-In under his name. 

Troy Blackwell, Jr. (MODERATOR)

Troy Blackwell is the Founder of Ready for Change, a political action committee dedicated to get-out-the-vote activities and increasing voter participation among youth. He founded the organization after mounting a progressive campaign for New York City Council. Troy advocated establishing a citywide office of ethnic media to better serve New York City’s diverse 8.5 million residents. A seasoned communications strategist, Troy previously worked for now Vice-President Kamala Harris and traveled to 10 states in a press operations capacity. He has counseled nationally recognized organizations including Color of Change, SEIU, and Communications Workers of America. He has been a board director for PRSA-NY, the Museum of PR, and the Black PR Society. Troy’s communications work has been recognized via CRAIN’S NY Notable LGBTQ Executive, PR Week most purposeful person under 30, and PRSA-NY 15 under 35.

 

Benjamin Backer

Benji Backer is a lifelong conservative activist and the President and Founder of the American Conservation Coalition, the largest American conservative environmental organization. Benji has been awarded the Grist 50, Forbes 30 Under 30, Fortune 40 Under 40, Britannica 40 Under 40, RedAlert 30 Under 30, and GreenBiz 30 Under 30. Benji grew up in Wisconsin, recently graduated from the University of Washington, and is an avid Wisconsin sports fan. He spends his free time hiking, skiing, and drinking unsweetened iced tea.

 

Crystal Carson

Crystal Carson serves as communications director to Former First Lady Michelle Obama. Previously she was a managing director at Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote Initiative, and worked as a media consultant for President Obama’s personal office. Prior to this – she worked for the Obama Foundation, on rapid response for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and as chief of staff for the communications director in the Obama White House. Crystal is a graduate of Central Piedmont Community College.

 

Jordan Lacy Johnson

Jordan Lacy Johnson most recently served as a National Press Advance Lead for the Biden-Harris campaign, specializing in press advance and event activation in Georgia. Prior to the Biden-Harris campaign, Jordan was a member of the executive communications staff for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, where she oversaw strategic communications and engagement for the Mayor. Jordan previously served as the Communications Director for the Mayor’s Office of Resilience, 100 Resilient Cities program pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation where she led efforts on a wide range of environmental and educational issues. Previous experience includes work with Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland and the Obama White House Office of Public Engagement. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College, a historically Black college and university.

Scott Thomsen – President of National Association of Government Communicators (SPECIAL GUEST)

Scott Thomsen is the director of communications and public affairs for the Ventura County Fire Department. He has more than a decade in government communications after working for news organizations around the country, including The Orange County Register and The Associated Press. He currently serves as president of the National Association of Government Communicators, which is dedicated to recognizing, developing and advocating for excellence in government communications.




Rules of DIY PR

Mike Paffman, CEO, VIRGO PR

When talking about Public Relations, most companies talk about how they want to see positive content about their products or service in the media. Nowadays there are numerous media outlets serving every interest, activity or hobby. For people to know that a business exists, PR is a key component. Due to the pandemic, some businesses have seen an incredible loss in revenue. This, however, should not impact PR efforts. As given below, there are some rules to be followed in order to develop a DIY PR strategy. 

1) Set your goals – To save time and money in the long run, it is essential to review past and current performance. It is important to think about the key issues that a business is looking to address with PR. It would also help to look towards competitors. A pandemic can impact how often a product or service is being mentioned in the news. Earned media can be a useful way of gaining publicity without paying for it.  For instance, during Halloween 2020, Home Depot created and promoted a 12-foot-tall skeleton sculpture. The skeleton sold out quickly, became the subject of sarcastic articles, and went viral on social media. Hence, it is important to set goals and then focus on execution. 

2) Build an email list – DIY PR entails creating an email contact list to keep followers in the loop and to capitalize on past customer interactions. It would be wise to compile a list of past customers and to encourage users to submit their email address when they visit the website of a business. Those emails should be used to share updates and newsletters. Helpful content can make subscribers feel like they are getting useful information without paying for it. It is necessary to create content that people care about; content that provides solutions and even entertains. This could be a great way to create positive public opinion. 

3) Look into virtual opportunities  Keeping the pandemic in mind, it would be wise to look into virtual opportunities like events and conferences. Since these virtual events require no travel, they remove the constraints of time and budget. With virtual formats, entrepreneurs can attend one event in the morning and one in an entirely different location in the afternoon. Virtual events can also increase a company’s operating time and get more work done for clients. More and more businesses are seeing the benefits of a remote staff, and tools designed for virtual work are also becoming plentiful. 

4) Patience and persistence – PR can take time. One of the most common frustrations with PR is that results can sometimes seem very slow in coming. Since PR is about influencing the perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of others, its goals take some time to achieve. Not everybody can be persuaded to alter their behavior or thinking. However, PR is the art of persuasion, and one needs to stick to it. The single common factor across phenomenal performers in PR is persistence: the determination not to give up, sometimes in the face of overwhelming odds. It is important to monitor progress at regular intervals and to revise strategy if something is not working as it should. 

5) Partnerships with micro-influencers  PR practitioners have to recognize the marketing power of social media influencers. They should consider different types of influencers and what clients will gain from each type of collaboration. Micro-influencers help to create strong personal brands with a focus on one particular industry such as fitness or travel. Consumers want to follow influencers who create personalized content.


Mike PauffmanAbout the Author: Mike Paffmann is CEO of Virgo PR, a leading PR firm.




Is Your Virtual Team Tuning Out?

Is Your Virtual Team Tuning Out

 

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.

Love them or loath them, virtual meetings are here to stay.

For many leaders, conducting meetings online is familiar and comfortable, especially for international teams that always met virtually or industries where frequent videoconferencing was routine.

But if you found the switch from in-person to virtual meetings to be a major challenge, you are not alone. Various studies have shown that it is more difficult to get virtual teams to bond, harder for informal leaders to emerge, tougher to create genuine dialogue, easier for misunderstandings to escalate – and yes, easier for participants to tune out.

As an international keynote speaker, the transition from face-to face programs to webinars and virtual keynote speeches wasn’t natural for me and it wasn’t easy. But after eighteen months I’ve become more effective in this medium. Among the many lessons I’ve learned to date, here are five to keep in mind as you prepare to lead your next virtual meeting.

1. Don’t get so caught up in the technical side that you forget about people

Charles Eide is the founder of Eidecom, one of the largest event companies specializing in virtual events. He knows that a basic laptop probably doesn’t have a microphone that’s nice enough to supply completely clear audio, so he suggests a high-quality headphone with a built-in microphone. Rather than relying on natural sunlight, he advises you have some basic lighting items like a ring light that’s placed slightly above your screen to give your audience a bright view. (Eide’s tip that I adopted immediately was to avoid WiFi drops by plugging my computer directly into the modem through an ethernet cable to ensure stable internet connection.)

But, as crucial as it is, mastering technology isn’t the main challenge for online meetings. Eide says the largest obstacle for leaders is creating meaningful connections to your team members online. I agree.

In my face-to face presentations, I loved the personal connections I made with audience members by having informal conversations before or after the event. It was during these “offline” interactions that people asked important questions and shared success stories. I also gathered valuable feedback from reading body language cues – the eye contact, smiles, nods, or puzzled looks that let me know if the point I just made was clear or needed further explanation. Going from such a rich communication medium to a leaner, virtual one made it harder for me to remember that I was still dealing with people.

The risk for all leaders is to overlook the importance of basic communication skills, such as showing empathy, ensuring inclusion, active listening, telling stories, asking open questions, co-creating guidelines for team interaction, breaking into small discussions groups, and all the other attention-enhancing strategies that can get overlooked when staring at a computer screen.

2. Keep your meetings short

My previous in-person seminars were full-day programs. As I moved to online webinars, meeting planners requested 2 ½ – 3 hours, maximum, and my 90 minutes keynote speeches were edited to be delivered in half that time.

In Eide’s experience with large events, he has seen the same time issue, and he shares this insight for all meetings: “Whether it be a huge annual conference or a small meeting, you must understand the needs of a virtual audience. Your team members tuning in on their laptops will simply not have the same attention span as they would for an in-person meeting. Shortening the length of your meetings will provide the right balance for engaging your team virtually.”

3. Project virtual presence

Because my areas of expertise include body language and leadership presence, I understood from the beginning that projecting presence virtually would be significantly different for me than it was in face-to-face presentations.

This is true for you as well.

While in-person meetings allow about 7 seconds to make a first impression through your walk, stance, facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, and tone of voice, on a computer screen it’s only your visual image that sets that initial impression. And it does so very, very quickly. A study at the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging that discovered it takes the brain just 200 milliseconds to gather most of the information it needs from a facial expression to determine a person’s emotional state. That’s why you can’t wait until you’re on camera to “warm up.” You’ve got to appear already expressing the facial expressions and emotions you want to project.

In most cases, the expression that serves you best is a smile while making “eye contact” with the dot on your screen. A genuine smile stimulates your own sense of well-being and is inviting. It signals that you are approachable, cooperative, and trustworthy. In addition, smiling directly influences how other people respond to you. 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.

Also, pay attention to your gestures. On stage or at the front of a meeting room, large gestures are fine, but on screen you are more effective when you keep your gestures close to your body and within the frame of the camera. Sweeping gestures that continually go out of sight are annoying and counterproductive. Smaller, slower gestures will enhance your credibility and help the audience more easily understand your message. To do this, you’ll need to back away from the camera so we can see your arms and hands, and so you aren’t just a talking head. The more of your body we can see, the more trustworthy you appear.

4. Build virtual trust

Trust is the foundation for any successful collaboration. It is the glue that bonds team members and builds commitment and engagement. With collocated teams, trust grows out of mutual work experiences and personal interactions – usually extended over time. Virtual teams don’t share this context. Members often have no idea of the work environments of their counterparts, nor do they have insights into a teammate’s work ethic, past performance, or personal life. That’s why it’s helpful to take a few minutes at the beginning or end of a meeting for “small talk,” so that participants can build or deepen personal relationships.

5. Nail your ending

A final tip for keeping your team from tuning out comes from Eide: “It’s always tough to craft your meeting’s ending but try to do what you can to avoid the generic, ‘does anyone have any questions?’ phrase. Provide a conclusion slide that recaps the presentation and includes a call to action. Whether you’re proposing some new solution to a problem or have a branded message to pass along, include something that speaks to the emotions of your team. As a bonus, consider including a surprise at the end, such as a downloadable video, research paper, or statistics sheet that reinforces your message. This gives them something to think about well after the presentation is over.”


5 Body Language Hacks that Make You Look Like a LeaderAbout the Author: I offer keynote speeches, webinars, and one-on-one coaching sessions. For more information, please email: Carol@CarolKinseyGoman.com or phone: 1-510-526-1727. My website is: https://carolkinseygoman.com/




What Do You Do When You Need People to Reassess Who You Are?

The Essentials in Rebranding 

Jeremy Dale, CMO, Likewize

The most important advice I can give any organization considering a rebrand is, for it to be successful, it must be done for a good reason. Rebranding to help the marketplace better understand your business is a good reason – rebranding to escape negative press is possibly the worst. In my career I have led two fundamental rebrands – the ITV Digital rebrand in the UK, featuring comedian Johnny Vegas and his sidekick Monkey, and, most recently, Brightstar’s transformative rebrand to Likewize. The following are the key learnings I have picked up along the way.

Realize when the time is right. You need a compelling reason to change, backed up by logic. In the case of Brightstar (now Likewize), we were so well-known globally as a mobile phone distributor that people struggled to understand how over recent years’ we fundamentally evolved to become a tech protection and support company. Despite our efforts, we struggled to disassociate from the historical understanding of what the Brightstar name meant – so we realized we had to take the huge (perhaps risky and scary) decision to change our name. Despite being fully aware that we may lose brand awareness, CEO Rod Millar and I knew this was necessary to give our company the platform it needed to push on to the next level. 

Rebrand with substance. Consider the reason why the company exists, then establish your mission and values. For Likewize, it was not just about people reassessing who we are – we needed to inspire people behind the message that we are the tech safety net for all our client’s customers, ultimately elevating our importance in the tech ecosystem. The question I always ask myself is ‘how does the company make the world a better place’? If we can articulate that well, then we will be able to provide clarity and inspiration for both employees and customers. 

Understand the power of a name. There is no more impactful way to demonstrate a fundamental shift in who you are than to change your name. When Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammed Ali, it was because he had new beliefs and the name change signified his desire to be viewed as a different person than he was before. The differences between who we were as Brightstar and who we are as Likewize is similarly so dramatic that the only reasonable way to demonstrate this to a public audience was to present a new name which showcased our new personality to the marketplace.

Take a chance. Often the biggest challenge in a rebrand is getting everyone on the same page. What I have found is too many competing opinions makes it very easy to create a camel with seven humps – for Likewize we were not going to allow that to happen. Rod and I made the bold decision to limit the development process to a small, driven team that was willing to take on the risk associated with a complete transformation. We kept the new name from the board until we had almost completed the rebranding. When we did bring them in, we had roughly 90 percent of the rebrand in place, including launch videos, and we presented it almost as a fait accompli.

It is important to say there was no guarantee this would work. We only did this because we knew that the new brand was so good, we were so excited about the new assets we had created. If we had come up with something average that did not get universal approval it could have been a nightmare. However, we believed we had found a great position that brought clarity and inspiration – and the board loved it (fortunately!) 

Have convictions. As CMO and CEO you end up becoming the cheerleaders for the new brand, so you must be steadfast in your belief that what you are doing is right and back yourself all the way. Likewize aside, there will almost inevitably be challenges along the way. When I lead the ITV Digital rebrand, the shareholders were not initially sold on Johnny Vegas as the face of the campaign. However, having full confidence that he would be a huge success, I put my job on the line and told them they could fire me if it wasn’t brilliant. That showed them how confident I was in Johnny and the campaign, so they backed me. 

Showcase your passion, always. I always say I have to sell things in all the way through the channel. First of all, you have to sell the idea to yourself, then to your team, then to the next group of people and then to the end consumers. It can all fall down at any step in this journey. You have to make sure you generate enough momentum up front that will flow through all these stages – you can only do this by making sure everyone sees how passionate you are about the project, at all times. I often suggest acting lessons for marketing executives to help them be able to stand up and sell the idea confidentially and enthusiastically on multiple occasions. I must have done the Likewize rebrand pitch one hundred times and each time I have to have the same energy and conviction. You have to convey your message on both a rational and emotional level – the head and heart – both have to work. 

If you are confident in the reasons behind your rebrand and the new name and brand assets, the impact can be almost immediate. Within 24 hours of announcing Likewize’s rebrand, we had a major telco who we had been trying to get a meeting with for years, call us up and invite us to come in for a meeting. If you search Likewize on the internet now you will see there is no confusion as to who we are and what we do. 

The bottom line is this, your branding should clearly convey who you are as a company, display your values, and clearly articulate how you make the world a better place. That is what brand management is all about.


Jeremy Dale, CMO, LikewizeAbout the Author: Jeremy is an author, speaker and change agent. His book ‘The Punk Rock of Business’, highly recommended by the likes of Marshall Goldsmith, focuses on the required changes to how we work that the technological revolution demands. As Chief Marketing Officer of Likewize, Jeremy has recently led the company’s transformative rebrand, redefining the company as a global tech protection and support leader. 

Prior to Likewize, Jeremy launched OTRO a digital fan club of 17 of the world’s top footballers, and as CEO he took the company from concept to a $100m valuation. Jeremy also spent eight years as CVP at Microsoft leading the retail channel.

With over 20 years of experience in the consumer electronics industry, some of Jeremy’s career highlights include overseeing all marketing for the highly acclaimed iconic RAZR phone while he was Chief Marketing Officer for Motorola. He created the hugely popular Orange Wednesdays initiative during his tenure at Orange. At ITV Digital he led the rebranding of the company and created the much loved ‘Al and Monkey’ advertising campaign, while as Commercial and Marketing Director for Nintendo’s UK business Jeremy launched the legendary Pokémon franchise and spearheaded the resurgence of the Game Boy brand. 

Jeremy has gained wide recognition and won many awards including a BAFTA for the launch of Pokémon. He was named in the UK’s Marketing Power 100 and was listed in Total Films 100 Most Influential People in the Movies.

 

 




Track Your SEO Efforts

Jill KurtzJill Kurtz, Owner, Kurtz Digital Strategy

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a pain! First you need to figure out your keywords and the other elements that go into ranking well. Then you need to do the work. Finally, you need to figure out if your SEO strategy works.

Search results are highly volatile. There are so many factors:

  • Ranking algorithms change and those changes are never announced or specified
  • Ranks drop based on what you do
  • What people search changes
  • Competitors catch up and throw you off the top

In the midst of all this, you need to know if your SEO efforts are working and find areas for improvement. Not easy.

SEO Elements to Track

Keywords remain a top factor in SEO. Track your rankings for each over time. I recommend that you look once a quarter.

It may be tempting to look more often, but rankings are very volatile. I have seen clients literally go from rank 1 to rank 49 for a keyword one day and then surge back to rank 1 the next day. All that with no changes to their website!

You also want to track what competitors are doing. Always be on the lookout for new competitors as well. What keywords are they competing for? Where do they outrank you?

Google is, of course, the search engine people use most. So, you will want to look at your Google Search Console for any flags or errors and address them immediately. I suggest you log in once a month. This assures that no issue seriously damages your SEO effort.

Never Stop

SEO is not one and done. You need to constantly assess your progress and make changes. That may mean tweaking content around a newly emerging keyword or keyphrase. It can mean fixing broken links. There’s always maintenance to do.

Keep researching SEO best practices. These change all the time as the search engines evolve and as people change their search behaviors. For example, all sites are now ranked based on their performance on mobile devices. Google just added several new ranking factors they call “page experience.”

New factors emerge all the time. Marketers need to keep up with the latest and ensure their sites are optimized to perform.




Everything You Need to Know About Accepting Bitcoin Payments

Financial Experts Share Their Opinions on Bitcoin

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Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing

Due to the unprecedented growth of Bitcoin this year, cryptocurrencies have attracted considerable public interest around the world. Large corporations invest money and human resources in them, and economic experts call Bitcoin the future of finance. It is quite natural that businesses around the world start accepting payments in bitcoins.

By accepting payments in BTC, the business owner makes it clear to his customers that he cares about them and keeps up with the development of technology. This will attract new consumers and eliminate certain types of fraud.

What does a modern businessman need to know about accepting bitcoin payment in 2021? Let’s try to figure it out:

Top 3 Bitcoin Payment Gateways.

Choosing the right payment platform will allow your business to start accepting Bitcoins as payment for goods and services. The most popular gateways that can significantly facilitate the life of a business owner include:

BitPay. With the BitPay app, you can accept Bitcoins as payment for more than 40 integrations with popular e-commerce platforms and point-of-sale systems, and convert them into 8 optional currencies for bank deposits in 38 different countries.

B2BinPay. This service allows companies from all over the world to make transactions, store and accept online payments in a wide range of cryptocurrencies, offering the lowest fees.

Colgate. This platform allows your business to accept Bitcoin and Altcoin payments and receive payments in Euros, US dollars, or BTC. CoinGate provides a wide range of solutions for various types of business needs, such as e-commerce plugins, APIs, and point-of-sale apps with payment buttons for various platforms, such as websites, Android, and iOS.

Mobile apps.

To optimize payments in BTC for business, developers have come up with a number of mobile applications. The operation of these programs resembles direct transfers to an online wallet.

The seller must connect the address of their wallet to the application and enter the required amount in fiat currency, and the application will generate a QR code with the desired address and the amount to be transferred to BTC. The client only needs to scan the QR code using the mobile app and sign the transaction.

These services can be used on most smartphones and tablets. Some of the most popular ones include Connfly, BitPay, Blockchain Merchant, and Coinbox.

POS terminals.

The recognition of Bitcoin as an effective payment method has led to the active emergence of hardware solutions for retail outlets. They can take the form of payment terminals that specialize in Bitcoin, or they can be presented as APIs that can be integrated into existing POS terminals.

The most popular POS terminals at the moment include:

– Coinkite is a Bitcoin payment terminal that resembles contact terminals with PIN code input.

– BitXatm is a German startup that created Sumo Pro, a crypto device with a POS terminal function.

– XBTerminal – a device that allows customers to pay from any mobile Bitcoin wallet using a QR code. It also allows you to make payments from mobile devices offline via Bluetooth.

Invoices.

If a business receives payments through invoices, you need to consider a number of points. In addition to the required amount in fiat currency, it is also recommended to include the estimated amount in bitcoins, at least approximately.

The invoice must include the wallet address where the clients need to send the funds. Since the public key is a long and random string of numbers and letters in uppercase and lowercase, it’s a good idea to include a QR code as well.


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




Has Freedom of Speech Become Passe at a State University in Florida Perhaps Now Bowing to an Emperor Called Governor?

Has Freedom of Speech Become Passe at a State University in Florida Perhaps Now Bowing to an Emperor Called Governor

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Tom Madden,  Founder & CEO, TransMedia Group

If not, then why were three University of Florida professors swiftly silenced after daring to offer to assist plaintiffs in a lawsuit to overturn a law restricting voting rights?

Is criticizing your state now in the same bracket as don’t bite the monarch’s hand that feeds you?   Don’t shout fire on a crowded campus?   Yes, political pressure forced freedom of speech to take a back seat, at of all places, a university!

The professors, all political scientists, were barred from assisting plaintiffs in a lawsuit to overturn the state’s new law restricting voting rights.  It raises questions of academic freedom and First Amendment rights, and maybe is evidence of some states skidding to new lows constitutionally.  

Or bowing too quickly to a modern magisterial set called governors!

According to reports, university officials told the three that because the school was a state institution, participating in a lawsuit against the state “is adverse to U.F.’s interests” and could not be permitted.  

It’s unclear whether Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, was involved in the decision, but judging from his past actions on various other fronts, it seems likely he might have played a regal role in squashing their rights to free speech. 

DeSantis prefers institutions marching to his drumbeat like his ordering local school boards to cease requiring schoolchildren to wear facemasks or lose state funding.  Opposing vaccination passports to board cruise ships and mandates altogether, which he and others with similar views equate with the vile, despicable orders issued during the heinous reign of NAZI Germany.  

Funny, the other day I suggested to my condo manager that since now those residents fully vaccinated will no longer have to wear facemasks in our building, it would be nice if they could voluntarily show they were vaccinated.  Someone who overheard me shouted “NAZI Germany!”

The university’s refusal to allow the professors to testify was a marked turnabout for the University of Florida.  

Like schools nationwide, the university has routinely allowed academic experts to offer testimony in lawsuits, even when they oppose the interests of the political party in power.  Leading experts on academic freedom said they knew of no similar restrictions on professors’ speech and testimony, and they called the action probably unconstitutional.  

One of the professors in the latest filing testified with the University of Florida’s permission in two voting rights lawsuits against Florida’s Republican-led government in 2018. One suit forced the state to provide Spanish-language ballots for Hispanic voters. The other overturned a state-imposed ban on early-voting polling places on Florida university campuses.  

But university officials reversed course after a coalition of advocacy and voting rights groups sued in May to block restrictions on voting enacted this year by the Republican-controlled State Legislature. 

Among other provisions, the new law sharply limits the use of ballot drop boxes, makes it harder to obtain absentee ballots and places new requirements on voter registration drives. Plaintiffs argue that the law disproportionately limits the ability of Black and Hispanic voters to cast ballots.

In a letter to university officials, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Florida branch noted Mr. DeSantis had signed legislation this year requiring universities to annually assess the state of academic freedom and ensure that students hear a variety of viewpoints, including those with which they disagree.

Barring the professors’ testimony would seem to go against the grain of those very tenets, the ACLU noted.  The university “simply should not be looking to Governor DeSantis to decide which speech activities it will engage in,” the letter added. “That is precisely the opposite of the values that universities are thought to stand for.”

While I agree with Gov. DeSantis on many other issues, and feel terrible about what his brave wife Casey is having to contend with and pray she’ll beat her breast cancer, I still say in this instance involving free speech, three cheers for the ACLU!  


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

 




Combating Misinformation the Right Way and Avoiding PR Crises

Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

Last year, nearly 1 million reviews that had been submitted on the popular travel platform Tripadvisor ended up getting removed as they were determined to be false. About 3.6% of the total number of submitted reviews were removed from Tripadvisor, according to the company’s second transparency report. The company also stated that it managed to catch nearly 70% of the fake reviews before they were made public on the platform, thanks to its moderation algorithm that goes through reviews before they’re posted. 

Combating Misinformation the Right Way and Avoiding PR Crises - Ronn TorossianBack in 2019, the company dismissed an analysis from “Which?”, a consumer group, that claimed about 250,000– or one in seven reviews on the website– were fake. The latest transparency report from Tripadvisor also shared details with the public regarding paid reviews. Paid reviews are a strategy that has slowly increased in popularity due to businesses looking to improve their rankings across a variety of platforms by generating positive reviews. 

According to Tripadvisor’s report, there were paid reviews that were removed in 131 countries in the last year,  as well as an increase in these types of reviews stemming from India – although not necessarily relating to businesses in the country itself. Because of that, India made it to the top of the list for the largest number of paid reviews in the last year, while the position was previously held by Russia, which dropped out of the top 10 list. Additionally, the investigation found over 50 new paid review websites, and also blocked submissions from nearly 400 paid review websites in the last year. 

Not only that, but according to the report, despite the decrease in travel in the last year due to the pandemic, the trend of sharing paid or false reviews on the platform continued as regular. Furthermore, because of the reduction in overall submitted reviews, the pandemic posed other types of challenges for the platform. Those challenges led the fraud investigation team to manually assess over 250,000 other reviews, and nearly 50,000 of them were manually removed for violating the company’s posting guidelines. The reviews included insensitive comments encouraging people to ignore government guidelines and restrictions, and even spreading misinformation. 

Tripadvisor has been sharing its transparency report with the public since 2019, in an attempt to earn more trust from travelers and to show that the company takes community standards \seriously. The head of Trust and Safety at Tripadvisor, Becky Foley, stated that the company uses the best tech and human moderation practices to combat misinformation on the platform. 

Given the rampant spread of misinformation all over the internet these days, companies can learn from the example of Tripadvisor, and invest in creating their own moderation teams or tools to combat similar instances. That way, they can get ahead of the spread of misinformation, and avoid walking into a PR crisis.


RONN TOROSSIAN - HOW MANY FOLLOWERS DO YOU NEED ON INSTAGRAM TO GET PAID?About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.




Business Development 101: B2B Marketing Best Practices

B2B Marketing Best Practices

 

Sierra Powell, Freelancer

Several factors influence B2B marketing practices. A business always requires you to have enough skills for you to operate it effectively. It is always not wise to get involved in a company with the mind that you will try. That is because you have invested in it, and every business person fears losing.

Due to the advanced technology, how business people relate with one another continues to change, just like the customers’ demands. Nowadays, you have to invest more in technology to make your business successful. Although it is hard to get a perfect B2B solution, the following practices have been proven to work.

Build a Data-Driven Strategy

Every business must have a properly laid strategy for it to be successful. A business strategy acts as a business guide. It is what will guide you on what you are supposed to do and at what time. That will enable you to save a lot of time and strategy.

The most crucial thing in a strategy is the content it has. If you make a strategy with poor content, then it is evident that your business will fail. The best way to go about this is to build a data-driven system. That will enable you to make a faster decision, reduce wastage, and also increase customer experience.

Offer High and Interactive Content

In B2B marketing, the most important thing is the content of your strategy. When preparing the strategy for your marketing, it should be of high quality and also interactive. Customers usually do not have time to go through the irrelevant stuff. They usually go straight to the point. That means you need to go directly to the critical issues to avoid putting unnecessary content.

The content should also be interactive. That will ensure that the customers are involved. In every business, a proper understanding of your customers is one of the most critical factors that will enable you to go far. They need to get involved in most of the activities in your business. The only way to achieve that is to have interactive content. Through that, you will extract the essential information for your business. Customers usually speak the truth about their interaction with your business. If you involve them, you will get where you are not doing well and need to improve, moving your business to the next level.

Leverage Social Media as a Conversational Tool

The most important thing as a business person is never to forget about social media. Technology has advanced, and social media plays a vital role in businesses. Most of the business operations of companies are being done on online platforms.

The most important way to operate B2B marketing is by having open communication between the two businesses. That will enhance cooperation and transparency. Good communications between the two companies will enable them to solve issues affecting their customers, know whether there is enough stock, and identify first and slowly moving items. The only way to maintain a proper conversation is online because it is quick and effective. That will generally help to move your business to a higher level. 

Target Audience

The essential thing in every business is to know the audience you are creating the content for. Creating content without adequately understanding your target audience is a waste of time and resources. That is because you can create content for those who are not even interested in your products.

It is essential to understand the most important message about your target audience, such as what they like and don’t. That will enable you to create content that satisfies the needs of your audience. You can also get feedback from them to find out their experience with the products you offer. Whether you get negative or positive feedback should not discourage you. It should help you make necessary changes to fit the customers’ demands. You can also enlist the help of an affiliate agency to help connect your company to other businesses that will help you grow.

Invest in What Motivates a Purchase

You should always invest in what motivates a purchase. That is because the more the purchase, the more successful your business is and vice versa. Every business requires a proper strategy to be successful. You can apply the practices mentioned above, and you will be sure of the success of your business.

 




The Museum of Public Relations Presents The Growing Role of Native Americans in Public Relations

Free Virtual Event

Thursday, November 11, 6 PM ET

 

Native Americans public relations professionals—spread across some 570 tribes across the US—have had to overcome communications challenges few of us have had to face. Many serve as social activists campaigning against environmental infringements and advocating for better healthcare on the reservation. Others serve to rectify long-standing misperceptions about Native Americans, working to eliminate demeaning portrayals in our popular culture in movies, sports, commercials, and textbooks. And many serve to represent tribal interests before big business and government, while preserving their unique tribal identities and passing the culture along to the next generations.

During our Native American Month celebration on November 11, meet the public relations leaders of tribes from across the country, as they share inspiring stories about the role of communications in promoting economic opportunity and preserving well-being throughout all of the tribes.

Emcee

Catherine Hernandez Blades, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, SAIC

Keynote

Mark Trahant, Editor, Indian Country Today Phoenix, Arizona

Panelists 

Randy’L Teton, Public Affairs Manager, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Fort Hall, Idaho

Brandon Scott, Director, Communications, Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Candace Hamana, Communications and PR Professional, Indian Health Service, Phoenix, Arizona

Simon Moya-Smith, Adjunct Professor of Indigenous Studies, University of Colorado Denver; freelance writer for NBC News, CNN, Lonely Planet, and Fodor’s Travel; citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation

Jaynie Parrish, Executive Director, Navajo County Democrats, Arizona

Collin Price, Principal, B-Team Strategies, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; member of the Ho-Chunk Nation

REGISTER

Thanks to our Sponsors

“Native American Public Relations” is sponsored in part by: The Bonnie Yablon Foundation, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication Department of Advertising and Public Relations at University of Georgia, CommPRO, and Muck Rack.