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Bring Your Non-Profits Into Focus

Barb Harris and Sharon Kreher, teamworks communication management,

We live in an increasingly visual world, where electronic and social media is driving an ever greater need for more and higher quality photos and graphics. In our work with non-profit organizations, we’re seeing many of them scrambling to assemble high-resolution photo libraries that effectively represent their work. Tight budgets generally preclude these organizations from hiring professional photographers, so they rely on the contributions of staff members and volunteers to record their activities and events. The results run the gambit from wonderful candid shots that capture the spirit of their work to blurry shots of the back of peoples’ heads.What can these organizations do to make their photo generation consistently productive?

  1. Be Prepared.

Make a “shot list” ahead of time to ensure you capture the elements you want.

 2.  Keep Snapping

With digital, it costs you nothing and may be the difference between a good photo and a great one. Plus, it’s nice to have different angles for different uses. Photos are great for a quick social media update or news story, or for use in things like newsletters, brochures and event slideshows. Having lots of different options is always helpful.

3.  Be Creative.

You know what you need to capture in a photo, but how can you make it more interesting?

  • Take photos from varying angles and heights. Stand on a chair for a different perspective.
  • Facility spaces are always more interesting with people in them.
  • Capture faces that are filled with expression.
  • Look for active shots rather than a typical head shot.
  • Pay attention to what is in the background of your photo. Does it help tell a story or does it distract from your story? Does it give credit to a sponsor? Does it help define the setting?

4.  Don’t be shy!

Let people know you’ll be taking photos so you won’t feel hesitant to get up close for that personal shot.


  • Take photos of speaker/presenter – close up or from the side of the room, capturing the first few rows of audience.
  • Take photos of groups of people interacting with one another.
  • Make sure rooms are well lit. Try to use natural light as opposed to flash when possible.
  • Create unique photo opportunities – perhaps with signage, props.


  • Photograph a speaker/presenter from the back of the room – they’ll be too small and you’ll get a room full of the backs of heads.
  • Take photos of groups of people at a table such that the main focus is on their backs. Instead focus in on a few sitting next to one another.
  • Take photos of people without enough light or lit from behind.

Generational Faux Pas

Generational Faux Pas
by Heidi Langer, Langer Marketing & Communications LLC

Nothing screams Baby Boomer more than a double space after a period. Really? Oops, just double spaced after the period! Hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Yes, I’m a Baby Boomer. Actually straddling the fence with Baby Boomers on one side and Generation X on the other. If I fell off the fence, I’d likely fall toward the Baby Boomers as I feel more like them in more ways than I care to share, especially when it comes to typing and spaces. I learned to type in my high school “stenography class” which is the same place I learned to read and write shorthand, take dictation and remember about 8-10 sentences at a time before I had to write them down in shorthand. Remember shorthand? Anyone over about 45 should remember it. I still use it today. Comes in handy when I have to take notes really fast. An invaluable skill I say. But both the double space after a period and the shorthand all came from the same era – the 1980s. So for 35 years, I’ve been double spacing, using shorthand and exuding all sorts of other faux pas that scream my age. Does anyone really care? Is a double space really that bad? There are some, such as New York Times technology columnist and author of True Enough, Farhad Manjoo, who recently wrote an article for and says that “…typing two spaces before the start of a new sentence is absolutely, unequivocally wrong.” Seems pretty drastic if you ask me.

What I want to know is who decided to take out that extra space after a period anyway? It appears double spacing started ‘way back when’ because we typed on actual typewriters that used monospaced typesetting, which means every letter took up the same amount of space when typed. So a double space after a period was required to make it easier to see when a new sentence started. Double spacing created a more reader-friendly paragraph. Today, computers don’t use monospaced typesetting, they use proportionally spaced fonts that automatically adjust spacing based on the size of the letter. Thus, they automatically create a more reader friendly sentence/paragraph. In essence, the computer does the letter spacing for us. It’s just so hard to remember not to double space. Frankly, I wish there were a shortcut in word processing software, similar to the search/replace function, which would let me search and replace all double spaces with single spaces. With no luck in sight for that type of function, this Baby Boomer believes she will have to buck up and single space to fit in with the rest of the Gen Xs, Millennials, and the newest kids on the block, Generation Z. Now all I have to do is get rid of my 1980s leg warmers and my hair scrunchies and I’ll be all set!

Heidi Langer is the owner of Langer Marketing & Communications LLC in Cleveland, Ohio. The company was founded in 1995 and specializes in public relations, marketing, special event management and association management. Whether your project is multi-faceted or small and simple, we provide the personal service you require. You’re not just a client – you’re a friend. Follow us at @hlanger321 or find us at


Texan meets his match in federal court over Facebook

By Kay Floyd

A Texas gun store owner has found himself in a heated battle with a federal judge that, as it turns out, has nothing to do with guns. Instead, it concerns his Facebook. Yes, that is what I said, Facebook

As reported in the Houston Chronicle, Jeremy Alcede lost his store, Tactical Firearms, and shooting range in Katy, Texas, in a bankruptcy proceeding last year. Over the years Alcede was known for his street signs that showcased his own brand of political commentary, ranging from Obama, to immigration, to former Governor Rick Perry.

On April 3, the judge ordered Alcede to turn over his Facebook and Twitter passwords to the new owners because he judged them to be business assets. The judge, Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeff Bohm, wrote a 30-page opinion in support of seizing the passwords. Alcede refused. As a result, Alcede was held in solitary confinement from April 9th through April 17th. Alcede contends that Facebook is his personal property and he should not have to share it. This could become a landmark social media case for business owners and entrepreneurs.

On Friday, April 17th, Judge Bohm stuck to his guns (no pun intended) and would not reconsider his opinion, nor did he agree to release Alcede on bond. Alcede’s attorney predicts that he will continue to refuse the order to turn over the passwords because he considers them personal.

It may be that Alcede is confusing the Facebook policy statement with his contention that he doesn’t have to provide the passwords to his Facebook account. Facebook states: “You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.” However, a business’s Facebook site is yet another communication vehicle to reach current and potential clients. Alcede’s Facebook is the company’s voice and is speaking for the brand, not solely for Alcede himself. I am guessing that Judge Jeff Bohm came to this same conclusion and ruled as he did.

The Houston Chronicle reported on May 27 that Alcede provided access to his account and was released from jail after sitting there for weeks. He didn’t finally agree with the judge, but some say he gave up access to his account because one of his friends was diagnosed with cancer. He plans to appeal the judge’s ruling.

Aside from this overall issue, I am amazed at this scenario: Solitary confinement. In America. In Texas. Over Facebook.

Kay F. Floyd, APR, is owner of Kay F. Floyd & Associates in San Antonio, Texas. She has more than 30 years’ experience of providing public relations consultation in the areas of strategic planning, corporate communications, communications audits, media relations, special events, promotions and merchandising.


Running Your Own Halloween Haunted Attraction? You Need PR and Social Media.

By Alex Greenwood

Just chillin’ like a villain. (Tweet this, will ya?)Every September, the fever grips me. I gleefully examine the latest arrivals of spooky stuff at the store. I check my podcast stream for new episodes of The Halloween Haunt podcast (rest in peace, Hauntcast) and start doodling ways to make my little green corner house the spookiest on the block. I actually look for fun (safe), ways to scare little children.

I’ll admit it. I am a Halloween fanatic.

Why? I think much of it has to do with a visceral delight I (and many other “normal” humans) get from being frightened. I won’t psychoanalyze myself any further; suffice it to say I love Halloween and a good scare.

Apparently, so do many others. As writer Steve Cooper wrote in Forbes

"Halloween is the fourth most popular holiday that gets consumers to open up their pocketbook—next to Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, according to Alliance Data Retail Services (ADRS), a marketing and customer loyalty solutions provider. "

It gets better. According to America Haunts, there are at least 1,200 haunted attractions charging admission nationwide every year, with 300 amusement parks “dressing up” for Halloween and more than 3,000 charity attractions that open for one day on Halloween or one of two weekends in October.

"The site also reports that the typical haunted attraction averages around 8,000 guests, depending on the market and size of the attraction. Some attractions do exponentially better. The haunted attraction industry generates between $300 and $500 million in ticket sales per year."

There’s even a trade group: The Haunted Attraction Association.

"Imagine: this half a billion-dollar industry basically thrives in a six-week window once a year. If you own a haunted attraction, it better be good, it better be accessible…and people better know BOO about it. If you have a haunted attraction, you have to be damn good at marketing it, or you’re not going to make it (there are virtual graveyards of failed haunt attractions out there)."

Forget for a moment that we’re talking about haunted houses. Let’s talk about any product or industry–for example, aluminum siding. Do you need aluminum siding every day? No. Every week? No. Every year? Probably not. Yet what do you see on local TV? Commercials for aluminum siding. Why? Do the aluminum siding salespersons presume everyone watching will “Call now”? No. What they assume is one of two things:

1. Some people out there in TV land do need siding in the near future, so why not reach out to them?

2. Many viewers will eventually need siding, so they want their company to be “top of mind” when that day comes.

It’s a basic precept of marketing–if people don’t know about  you, they’ll never buy anything from you. This means that even if what you sell is a rare purchase, you better make sure your name is out there.

Let’s apply this rule to haunted attractions.

One thing I see over and over (with a few notable exceptions) is that haunted attractions do a lackluster job of keeping in touch with patrons throughout the year. Now, no, I do not believe you should run a TV ad in February for your haunted house. It would be weird. (Though I do think a little pattern interrupt–say, an ad in July is a good idea–but that’s not the point.) No, you should not be running ads year-round. However, you should be doing something else to keep your name out there. You should be active in social media.

Wait, wait. Come back!

Here’s the good news: it’s free (of charge, generally). The bad news: it takes time, and if you do not consistently participate, it doesn’t work.

So, being active on social media costs you time and creativity, year round. The benefits? If you maintain a consistent, entertaining presence on your Twitter of Terror, Gothic Google +, Fearsome Facebook, Icky Instagram and even Lethal LinkedIn, you can foster a regular, top of mind relationship with haunted attraction fans. This way, when your hot and heavy marketing push starts in September, you’ll have an army of brand ambassadors ready to help you spread the word.

"Can you imagine the increased bang for your TV buck if  hundreds of fans share your TV spot on YouTube and Twitter and Facebook? What if you have social media-inflamed excitement building over ticket or fastpass giveaways, or people posting pics with your scareactors from the wait line outside your attraction on Instagram?"

And what if your haunt space is used for special events or other commerce the rest of the year? Social media is a great way to let your fans know what’s happening when the lights are on and the monsters are in storage.

It’s  horrifically fun to create an affordable social media (and or PR) strategy to market your haunt. Don’t be scared!

Alex Greenwood owns AGPR is Kansas City, MO. Reach him on Twitter @A_Greenwood or on his website at


Crisis Response: You must be swift, you must be decisive, but above all, you must be accurate


In the weeks following the Germanwings Flight 9525 crash, Lufthansa Group and its Chief Executive Carsten Spohr faced tremendous pressure as they crafted messaging for customers, employees, investors and the general public. PR practitioners (myself included) have closely observed the company’s response strategy unfold. One of the biggest twists came in late March, when Lufthansa said it knew of the pilot’s depression diagnosis, but did not prevent him from working.

The recent history of flight disasters underscores the critical need for airlines to deploy swift and decisive crisis communication, but not at the expense of accuracy.

My evaluation of Lufthansa’s crisis response aligns most closely with that of Scott Farrell, president of global corporate communication for Golin, who is quoted in this Wall Street Journal article:

Mr. Spohr deserves credit for his timely appearance before the media, and his genuine and heartfelt comments. However, in the need to be timely he became victim to a phenomenon we call ‘the fog of crisis’…Companies in the early hours of a crisis are best off telling media and others only what they know, and that they’re in the process of gathering facts and information rather than speculating. In a crisis, credibility is king and this is the best way to preserve that valuable asset.

Photo credit: “D-AKNF A319 Germanwings” by Mark Harkin licensed under CC 2.0 


Making a Difference with Media Relations

By Hope Brown, APR

Principal, PublicCity PR

 If you ask the average six-year-old what he or she dreams of becoming when they grow up, I’m betting “public relations professional” doesn’t rank high on the roster of responses…you know, probably somewhere just behind fairy princess or superhero, I assume.   That said, even a “grown-up PR professional” can feel like they’re making a difference in the world, if given the opportunity.  The team at PublicCity PR (PCPR) was recently given such an opportunity, thanks to our partners at Brogan & Partners, and the dedicated team at the Michigan Women’s Foundation (MWF).  Together – with the support of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Detroit Crime Commission (DCC) – we launched Enough SAID (Sexual Assault in Detroit) – a public/private partnership and fundraising campaign, which to date has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions, some of which can be directly attributed to media relations efforts.   More on that to come…

In 2009, more than 11,000 unopened, untested rape kits were discovered in a Detroit Police Department storage unit.  The kits represented thousands of unprosecuted sexual assault cases, and potentially thousands of sex offenders still on the streets.  Due to economic constraints in Detroit and Wayne County, limited funding has been available to date to address the backlog.  From this need, Enough SAID was created.

The goal of Enough SAID is to advocate for additional public monies and raise private sector funding (the first known effort of its kind in the country!) from major corporations, local businesses, families and individuals alike.  The funds will be used to finish testing the remaining kits, investigate resulting cases and prosecute the rapists.

On Jan. 6, 2015, PCPR executed a press conference to unveil Enough SAID.  Resulting press coverage appeared far and wide…and specifically traveled far enough to reach the viewing eyes of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, and her husband, Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey.  They sent a $25,000 donation to Enough SAID about a week after the launch.  As Peg Tallet, chief community engagement officer of MWF told Crain’s Detroit Business in a subsequent interview about the surprise contribution, “National publicity for the campaign attracted the couple’s attention.”

See, so you can indeed make a difference as a media relations professional…no magic wand or cape required.

If you’re interested in learning more, contributing or helping to fundraise for Enough SAID, please visit


4 Myths About Being an Independent PR Practitioner

By Deborah Trivitt, APR

I’m not a fan of the recent fad to make a list of the “best,” “worst,” “most,” “least” of anything. I’m pretty sure the people making the lists are arbitrarily picking from their favorites or least favorites to make the list.  I doubt any real research goes into the making of any of them.

Recently PRSA Tactics columnist Tim O’Brien, APR, invited me to participate in making the list 4 Myths About Being an Independent Practitioner

As I prepare to begin year 18 as an Independent Practitioner, I can assure you his list is “well-researched, and insightful.”