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Stop Saying You’re Too Old, Please.

By Melissa Libby

I bet we’ve all heard, and maybe said, statements like “We need a 20-something to handle this,” or “I’ll ask my children how this works,” or “I’m too old for <insert social media channel here>.” Although usually spoken in jest, these are harmful words for senior PR practitioners to use. Keep it up and your next line may be “I need a job.”

Staying on top of technology is not that hard. In fact, it’s simple. We’ve done it all our lives! Some may remember the advent of television. Not that difficult to learn how to turn it on, change channels, and watch a show, right? Others may recall their first fax machine. Besides the slimy paper, it was a great advancement for disseminating information and PR people embraced it. How about personal computers? How did we live without them?

Let’s not “age out” of our business by refusing to learn about Instagram or proclaiming Facebook “useless.” Our clients need our continued curiosity and optimism for the future of communications. Our co-workers, employees and media contacts (of all ages!) are proficient in these tools and, in many cases, prefer them. Any PR person who decides he is “too old” for new communication avenues is putting himself on a dangerous path to obsolescence.

This is an exciting time to be a PR practitioner – don’t miss out!

Melissa Libby owns a restaurant PR agency based in Atlanta. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter (@MelissaL), Instagram (@melissalibbyatl) and others!


At the Heart of Public Relations is a Powerful Story

It’s a privilege to be invited to listen to someone tell their story. It’s an even greater honor to be trusted to be a steward of their story, and to help find ways to share it where it most needs to be heard.

When we listen to someone’s story it’s an opportunity to widen perspective, learn and grow. If a story has made an impact on our heart, we will be forever changed and be moved to action. We know that by working together we are able to effect change and improve our world. Stories have the ability to take us on journeys related to challenges, pain and uncertainty but also lead us to places where our spirits can soar as we celebrate unrelenting tenacity, positive outlooks and laser sharp focus that triumphs over adversity and leads to change that can make a difference.

Pretty altruistic, absolutely! I am passionate about the pr profession because I’ve seen first hand how the power of stories can impact brands, reputations and lives. As a former broadcast journalist, my foundation is the discipline and practice of storytelling. I’ve been fortunate to have a career in television news, PR agency, non-profit and corporate communication environments. I can look back now and see the strong impact of telling stories that matter.

Telling a story is the most historical and fundamental communication method that has been around since the beginning of time, yet today it remains one of the most powerful and effective ways to connect and motivate others to action. Our 24/7 information worlds, has pushed us into ferocious consumers of content. Businesses and organizations are forced to wrestle with increasing demands for high production levels of content amid shrinking staff, resources and budgets. With more social tools and digital communication continuing to rise, there’s a great need to rise above the noise and create authentic, rich content that is not only integrated and cohesive, but content that is real, true and fosters meaningful connections.

Solid brand stories earn and build trust with your audiences. When brand stories are authentic and not self-serving, it reaches your target audience with an experience that emotionally makes a connection well before a purchasing or engagement decision is ever made. Telling your integrated brand story effectively is a long-term investment that builds authentic connections over time that leads to loyal brand ambassadors that will share your story.

About the Author:


Laura Archbold, is founder of Encore Public Relations an integrated content strategy firm and co-founder of Red Couch Stories a creative editorial production company in Rochester, Minnesota. She’s been privileged to tell and share stories for more than 23 years and is an invited member of Public Relations Consultants Group (PRCG) and the National Association for Professional Women.


A little girl – and her parents – reach out to a big world


A rare, progressive and fatal disease. A little more than a year ago, this was the diagnosis given to 2-year-old Katherine Belle in Kentucky. It was a devastating and isolating realization for KB’s parents – if only for a little while.

While KB’s diagnosis has been a pendulum of answers and questions; more questions than answers. We know that KB has a rare disease, but we also know she’s not alone.

Her father is an attorney and her mother has a growing list of professional experience as a blogger, photographer, social media explorer and, most recently, Rare Disease Hunter. Together they have started a blog Hope For Katherine Belle and a Facebook page detailing their journey to find a cure for KB. Their sites receive considerable attention (not just because KB is cute) because they are using social media tactics to reach out to a big world to find a cure for their little girl.

For KB’s cause or any other organization, it is critical to engage others.

They rally. Those of us who surround KB and her family struggled with ways to comfort them and help find a solution. We felt equally helpless after each diagnosis. But, KB’s parents, in a time of despair, help redirect the energy to projects that would make a change and even find a cure. At first the supporters began by sharing KB’s story with others. They posted their #hopeforKB message on their on social media networks. Photos of messages in the sand, on chalkboards and displayed in lights were posted by friends across the nation. From KB’s parents high school classmates to world-wide celebrities like Cee Lo Green and Courtney Cox, the hashtag trend elevated KB’s message to a national audience but also provided a great boost to KB’s family and the tribe of followers.

They call. Since then, the tribe has been called to other actions beyond sharing and spreading – things that will have a tangible impact. They’ve been asked to contact their U.S. representatives encouraging them to fund the National Institute of Health’s research programs, to spread the word about Rare Disease Day and, to help provide for medical expenses not covered by insurance.

They shared. KB’s parents told a hard and honesty story. I don’t know how they have been able to see through their tears to do it. I could barely see though mine to read the Dad’s raw and beautiful account of relaying the doctor’s call to his wife.

On the advice of friends – and probably therapists – KB’s parents continue to publish the joys, journey and other pivotal moments since their daughter’s first diagnosis. By sharing their story, they have shown that KB’s disease is not as isolated as they thought. Their social media outreach has linked them with dozens of other parents in the world facing other rare diseases. Through these connections, KB’s parents have learned about research programs, connected with medical specialists, and received a great deal of emotional support.

Their outreach has resulted in an article in The New York Times and their efforts have gained attention from Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. More importantly, it has linked them to professional medical experts and linked them to testing and treatment options that may bring them closer to a cure. Most importantly, it’s connected them with other families also seeking a cure for rare disease.

As a parent, I imagine that KB’s Mom and Dad would prefer to not have this story to tell and share with the world. But they do. The world is amazingly big, but approachably small for a rare little girl in Kentucky.

Nicole Candler, APR is owner of Nic Creative Public Relations in Louisville, Kentucky. She is a member of the Kentucky Commission on Women where she met KB’s remarkable mother, Glenda McCoy.


Snark Gone Bad Can Lead to Workplace Abuse

By Dawn Stranne, President, Dawn Stranne & Associates

Happy Snark Free Day! Today, our group of public relations professionals from every corner of America asks everyone to take some time to think about the power of words and to be snark free, just for a day.

Snark gone bad can cross over the ugly line into bullying at the office. For most of us, we probably experience or dish out a little snark at work now and then. But for those who have been bullied, snark is probably where the bully began the torture.

While Snark Free Day doesn’t address that level of abuse, it is important to those of us who make a living in communications to be aware of such workplace abuse issues.

How is snark different than bullying? Bullying is a pattern that systematically beats down an employee. Make no mistake, morale and productivity can suffer in an atmosphere of bullying or snark.

A 2010 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) found that 35% of the U.S. workforce (an est. 53.5 million Americans) reported being bullied at work and an additional 15% witnessed it.

Surprisingly, there is not a single federal or state anti-bullying law for the workplace in America. Two months ago, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2053 requiring managers to undergo training on preventing abusive conduct at work. California’s new law is a start, but it is far short of the proposed Healthy Workplace Bill, which has been introduced in many states and defines an abusive work environment, gives employers reason to terminate or sanction offenders, allows the target to sue the bully as an individual, and seeks restoration of lost wages and benefits.

The Healthy Workplace Bill calls for action when mistreatment is so severe that it impairs a worker’s health. No bullying case is trivial when a person suffers cardiovascular disease or some other stress-related health complication that prevents them from being a productive worker.

Some think that Federal Employment Discrimination laws would cover bullying. But, they only cover a hostile work environment if the recipient of the mistreatment is a member of a protected status group based on gender, race, disability, etc.

Others say that workplace abuse is best dealt with by employers. According to the WBI, when employers are told about incidents of bullying, nearly half do nothing, while 18% worsen the situation by retaliating against the individual(s) who reported it.

So, what can we do now?
1) Watch for snark gone bad and speak up for conflict-free work zones.
2) Review corporate statements of vision, mission and values—see if they promote a healthy work environment and are upheld.
3) See if a Healthy Workplace Bill has been introduced in your state.

If you know someone who has been bullied in the workplace, offer your support and suggest they consider professional help. Until there are laws against workplace bullies, they will need to look for a new job. Your words of encouragement can mean the difference between a tragedy and survival to someone who has been bullied.


Snark Free Day Returns (Let the retorts begin)

By Felicia Knight, President, The Knight Canney Group

When PRConsultants Group, a national consortium of public relations and communications professionals launched the first annual Snark Free Day last year, the response from some quarters was predictable—even funny. Turns out, some people are just too damned cool to lose the snark, if only for 24 hours. It’s like asking Gordon Gekko to nuzzle a kitten.

The point of Snark Free Day is make people take a moment to think about the effect their words or deeds have on other people. The abundance of snark is especially evident in cyber-space, where speed and anonymity make it oh, so easy to be snarky, i.e. mean.

Here’s a sample of some of what the Internet regurgitated in response to last year’s Snark Free Day:

  • This is like declaring, “Don’t Put Your Goat On the Copier Day” at work.
  • Some PR people have declared today to be “Snark Free Day.” Well then, f*** **u, sincerely.
  • You may call them a dreamer, but you’re not the only one.
  • So…how long do we see this idea lasting?

Well, it’s lasted at least another year, because we’re back with another Snark Free Day. October 21, 2014, to be precise.

Look, we get it. It’s just so irresistible to sling that zinger. We’ve all done it. Everyone laughs; we’re just having a good time. A good time is great, but does it have to be at someone else’s expense? The relentless need to be snarky whether in person or on line, has left us in a place where being polite, being kind, being thoughtful, showing restraint, or offering encouragement are all losing ground to meanness.

Sometimes it’s cloaked in humor, sometimes not. On the Internet, it’s often cloaked in anonymity that invites hubris and hostility—to such an extent that never would be ventured face-to-face. Isn’t it worth 24 hours of your time to think before you speak, post, Tweet, or snap?

Yes, we dreamers are back for another crack at Snark Free Day. We’re ready for another barrage from those who refuse to lose the snark. That’s fine. We’re secure enough in our own knowledge that one day of kindness won’t kill us. It may even make life a little better.

Resources, images, and more available at


Snark Free Day is less than a Month Away! October 21st!


A Gaming Convention Comes to Town

By Stacia Kirby, president of Kirby Communications

When a big convention rolls into town, many of the locals brace themselves for a takeover as their downtown becomes crowded, hotels and restaurants full. Combine that with a lack of understanding as to who is exactly coming to town, and you have a classic case of a PR challenge.

Back in 2003, Gen Con “The Best Four Days in Gaming!” moved its annual convention to Indianapolis from Milwaukee. It is fair to say that the residents of Indianapolis were a bit dubious as to what Gen Con would be like when it took place. Gen Con is not your average convention/trade show. It is the largest annual consumer fantasy, electronic, sci-fi and adventure game convention in North America. Each year over 180,000 gaming enthusiasts converge to share their enthusiasm for all things gaming; whether its tournaments, celebrity appearances, exhibit hall booths, workshops, seminars, anime, art shows, auctions or countless other activities.

At first many of the residents were unsure of all these gamers’ coming to town because at Gen Con attendees don’t just come to see, they come to play. In 2014, we hosted over 14,000 gaming events.

We have worked with the local media to educate them on all aspects of Gen Con, to help them see past reporting it as just a ‘Geek Fest’ to a family friendly, all around worthy event for anyone who likes to game. This effort has helped increase local attendance. Gen Con attracts attendees from all 50 states and 34 countries. The key to working with  the local press is that we’ve allowed the media to experience what the attendees are doing and to see what good business Gen Con brings to Indianapolis.

In 2014, Gen Con brought in over $49 million making it one of the top conventions. We also have increased partnering with local companies to draw them into the mix. This past year a local brewery made a special Gen Con Beer ‘Froth of Kahn’ and local restaurants create special menus. We have brought in local talent to perform and local vendors. The essence of Gen Con is to include everyone and to have fun because that is what gaming is all about. The personality of Gen Con has revealed itself through a concerted effort to be inclusive, to educate the media about the event and allow them to observe for themselves what it means to the attendees and to the city. In 2014, Gen Con hosted its largest show yet!