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Even When It’s Global, It’s Local


PR for Non-Profits Aiding in Relief Efforts Halfway Around the World

by Barb Harris and Sharon Kreher, teamworks communication management

Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda), slammed through several Filipino islands recently, leaving behind it mass destruction, death, and people without food, shelter and water. Government agencies and nonprofit organizations all over the world began mobilizing to help.

One of these nonprofits is our client Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). This organization provides meals for starving and malnourished people all over the world. In the Philippines, we work with mission partners that have a great reach over the 7,500 islands of the Philippines. Due to FMSC’s ongoing relationship with these partners, we already had food on the ground and they were able to start distributing food to those in need.

On Monday, November 11, FMSC began a coordinated communication effort. As soon as they had heard from several of their mission partners about what the initial need would be for more meals, an e-blast was sent to FMSC’s strong base of thousands of donors and volunteers. They also posted information, requests for donations, and requests for volunteers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels.

In the three markets where FMSC has packing sites – Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicagoland and metro Phoenix, the PR team set to work making the global story local. We outreached to the local media to share how local residents could help people half a world away. We asked them to share our website to donate, stressing that FMSC, through our mission partners, were already on the ground helping people. We invited them to our packing sites so they could see first-hand the volunteers packing meals that could be headed to the Philippines.

In Phoenix, the media was quick to respond. Given that many of the meals volunteers pack at the local site go to the Philippines (12 million last year alone), this story “brought it home” for them. TV crews came (all at the same time!) to film a room full of fourth graders and senior citizens packing meals that would be headed to the storm-ravaged areas. The FOX-affiliate story ended up running not only in Phoenix, but in Greensboro, North Carolina and Philadelphia as well.

What was the impact? Donations came in at record numbers, and volunteer sign-ups increased quickly. But the story of a local Phoenix couple really illustrated how local media can bring a global story home:

Carlo and his wife saw the FOX broadcast and drove to the Phoenix packing site the next morning to see if they could volunteer. You see, their families are in Tacloban, the city hardest hit by the typhoon, and this was the most direct way they could see to help feed their family and friends who are facing an enormous crisis.

Natural disasters and crises happen all the time, all over the world. When working with nonprofits, a skilled PR person must know well what the organization does and recognize how a global story could be local. They must be able to react quickly and reach the media with a solid story full of facts and visuals. They must help fulfill the media’s need to tell the global story in a manner that allows local audiences a way to relate and respond to it. Having the ability to tap experienced PR people in key local markets (like our national network of PR veterans in markets across the country) allows our clients to quickly and effectively make their story, even if it’s a global story, local.


First Annual Snark Free Day Takes Flight

An idea that blossomed at last year’s National PRConsultants Group Conference takes flight today.  Snark Free Day, already generating national attention, has an ambitious goal:  to eliminate negativity, cynicism and #snark in person and online.  This group of national PR pro’s has a simple objective:  to clean up communication one nice word at a time.  The statistics support it; we don’t tolerate it in schools; we cringe at headlines about verbal bashing; so let’s all take the challenge today.  Try it at work and at home.  Censor the #Snark, and see how you feel at the end of the day.

Add a comment to this post — How can #SnarkFree make your day better?

Full press release follows, along with a video about the campaign’s notorious celeb, Jonathan Snark.

For more information or additional images, please contact

News Release

Public Relations Professionals Declare October 22 “Snark Free Day”

To Clean Up Communication One Nice Word at a Time

October 21, 2013 (Nationwide) A group of public relations professionals aim to make a single day in October one that is free of harsh comments, rude social media posts or sinister sarcasm. Declaring October 22 as Snark Free Day, the nationwide affiliates of PR Consultants Group (PRCG) are committing to a kinder way of communication and encouraging others to participate. The group often coaches clients on communication styles for messaging, media releases, web content, blogs, social media and more. Through October 22, they share these same principles with anyone who communicates face-to-face, pen to paper or screen-to-screen.

“We know that alienating the audience is never a good thing. And, with all of the focus on cyber-bullying, we have noticed that people aren’t held as accountable as we should be for what we say online. We’re asking others to commit to taking just a moment before we speak, send or post to think about the effect our words have on those who receive them,” said Snark Free Day Co-Director Nicole Candler of Nic Creative.

To promote participation in Snark Free Day, the group has developed a sketch video featuring a “World Class Jerk” named Jonathan Snark. More information about Snark Free Day can also be found on Follow the discussion at #snarkfreeday.
“We’re asking our friends, colleagues, family and others to share Snark Free Day on October 22 as one day in which we don’t say or write anything snide, sarcastic or mean,” said Snark Free Day Co-Director Melissa Libby of Melissa Libby PR.

The statistics support the importance of going “snark free”…

  • The Healthy Workplace Bill, a movement to define “an abusive work environment” and to provide resources and protection by law, is slowly gaining momentum.  Some 25 states have introduced the bill, but no laws have been enacted.
  • Some 49% of adult Americans have been bullied or witnessed it, according to the Healthy Workplace Campaign.
  • A study on workplace bullying called it “a global health and safety issue” (Ellen Pinkos Cobb, Esq., The Isosceles Group, Boston).
  • Some “48 states have passed some form of anti-bullying legislation in schools, (yet) there has been no serious effort to enact legislation prohibiting bullying in the workplace” (

With less snark in the world, PRCG hopes many great things happen. Snark-attacked victims won’t be grumpy or lash out at others, people feel better about themselves and their relationships with others, and that other adults – and children – may follow the lead and be kinder to their co-workers, customers, family and friends.

About PRConsultants Group

PRConsultants Group (PRCG) is a nationwide group of public relations consultants, each an expert in their respective geographic areas and media markets. Clients who access PRCG, get personalized and targeted service in each local market with the broad reach of a national agency. The group was founded in 1992 and has grown to include 48 affiliates across the U.S. with the ability to form global partnerships.

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Author Bio:  Amy Kossoff Smith, Founder/Editor of PRCG Powerlines and Founder/President of Write Ideas, Inc., has 20+ years’ experience in retail PR & promotions.  She also publishes an online parenting magazine, The MomTini Lounge.  Featured on The Today Show and all local TV networks, she also publishes a national wire column.  And, for the purposes of this #SnarkFree post, she believes 100% in the wise and true advice, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”


The Snark Free Day Challenge – Can you do it?

By Melanie McCraney, Founder of McCraney Communications

Snark Free Day, a day devoted to kindness, civility and verbal restraint sounds like a good idea – easy and even fun.  A day devoted to eliminating rude, harsh or sinister sarcasm.  Do you have what it takes?  Who’s not up for that?  Piece of cake, count me in!

On October 22nd, folks are being asked to put their snarky ways aside and just be nice. It’s Snark Free Day, and coast-to-coast, people are taking the pledge to go Snark Free.  Others are asking, “What is snark and is it really so bad we need to be free of it?”  Stealing a line from, the brainchild of Snark Free Day creators PRConsultants Group, “Basically, snarky behavior is rather commonplace and can otherwise be identified as sarcastic, snide, cranky, snappish, mocking, conveying contempt, snippy, grumpy, rude, seemingly morally or intellectually superior, and other dwarves that aren’t sleepy or happy.”

So why can’t we all just be nice? For one thing, snark can be irresistable, and it sells. Grumpy Cat has built a $3 million brand around snark; tweeting zinging memes that I frankly wish I had thought of first, “If you need to cry, use a tissue, not your Facebook status.” 

Is your Twitter trail a string of meanie memes? Does your Facebook feed come off like a snarky walk of shame? In private messages do you try to mask your snark with hash tags, smiley faces or, if you live in the south, “bless her heart”?

  • “Ran into Lillybet in Whole Foods. Huge, needs her own zip code, bless her heart.”
  • “They’re spinning the divorce as friendly, but I saw her at Fon Fon with her trainer #workouttime.”

We could go on and on, and that’s the problem, we do. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Toss the snark free concept into conversation, and see where that gets you. Tonight my daughter asked me if I was listening to her. “No, I’m writing, so I’m not really listening,”  I said.  “Oh, like when you’re playing Ruzzle,” she snarked. Learned from the master, bless her heart.  #createdamonster

On October 22nd we can come together and smack down snark for one gloriously kind (if not dull) day where if one doesn’t have something nice to say, one says nothing at all. Can you think of anything worse? Me neither, but I’m going to give it my best. I’m gonna tackle it like Kanye campaigning for Kim to get a star on the walk of fame #dreamon. I’m all over it like Miley on Robin Thicke.

Kidding aside, and good thoughts prevailing, please join us on Tuesday, October 22 to celebrate Snark Free Day and find out what all the kindness is about. Melissa Libby said it best on her blog, “‘Snippy, snappy or snide need not show up.”  Watch this YouTube video and see for yourself. Ouch. Convicting, right? Have no fear, fellow snarksters; we’re joining forces to eliminate the snark from the start of the day ’til its finish. If you think you can’t go an entire day without backfiring on your co-worker or leaking sarcasm into every conversation, visit or follow @jonathansnark on Twitter for help.  Take the challenge…see you there!

Author Bio:

Melanie McCraney is a media strategist and founder of McCraney Communications, a Birmingham public relations and brand development firm that helps people shape their messages and tell their stories. McCraney also serves as the Alabama affiliate of PR ConsultantsGroup, a nationwide network of public relations specialists serving the needs of national accounts in local markets.



ONE DAY, SNARK FREE. REALLY. Public Relations Professionals Declare October 22 “Snark Free Day”

Immediate Release

Contact: Melissa Libby,, 404-816-3068
Nicole Candler,, 502-550-0252


Public Relations Professionals Declare October 22 “Snark Free Day”

OCTOBER 11, 2013 – Wouldn’t it be great to have one day when people go out of their way to be polite, kind, and considerate instead of rude, sarcastic, and snarky?

A group of public relations professionals aims to make a single day, October 22, 2013 “Snark Free Day.” The nationwide affiliates of PRConsultants Group (PRCG) are committing to a kinder way of communication and encouraging others to get on board.

Experts at coaching clients on communications styles for their strategy, media releases, web content, blogs, social media and more, the membership of PRCG is hoping to put the principle of not alienating the audience to work on a person-to-person level. 

“Instead of taking the cheap shot, take the high road,” said Toni Antonetti, a director of PRCG. “People have been emboldened by the anonymity and immediacy of online commenting. On October 22, we’re asking others to commit to taking just a moment before speaking, hitting send or posting to think about the effect our words have on those who receive them. Be snark free for one day.”

To promote participation in Snark Free Day, the group has developed a sketch video featuring a ‘World Class Jerk’ named Jonathan Snark. More information about Snark Free Day can also be found on Follow the discussion at #snarkfreeday.

One PRCG affiliate summed it up simply: “It goes back to one of the earliest lessons we learn in life: ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’ If that snappy, snarky comment is right on the tip of your tongue, keep it there,” said Melissa Libby, one of the developers of “Snark Free Day.”

Added Libby, “It’s a little thing, but if everyone does it, maybe people will find that being nice has more lasting, deeper rewards. Go on, go Snark Free!”

About PRConsultant Group

PRConsultants Group (PRCG) is a nationwide group of public relations consultants, each an expert in their respective geographic areas and media markets. Clients who access PRCG, get personalized and targeted service in each local market with the broad reach of a national agency. The group was founded in 1992 and has grown to include 48 affiliates across the U.S. with the ability to form global partnerships.


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The PR Advice I Never Thought I’d Give

By Melissa Libby, President, Melissa Libby & Associates

Back in PR school the professors beat it into our heads: Never, ever, no matter what, should a client respond with “no comment.” And so we dutifully advised our clients accordingly and worked hard to craft carefully worded messages to right a wrong or soften a situation. Every question got a response. Every grievance was taken seriously and equally. Every hater was loved.

Maybe it’s because the Internet has made complaining so much easier. Or maybe, as I suspect, it’s given people the anonymity to lash out in ways they never would in person. But whatever the case, online complaining has reached an all time high and I’ve started advising my clients to ignore it. Advice I never, ever, no matter what, thought I would give.

Don’t get me wrong here. There are still many situations where a response is required and is the professional solution. Perhaps a restaurant server spilled salsa on your favorite jacket and did not offer to have it cleaned. Or your cable guy failed to show up at the scheduled time three days in a row. The provider failed and you deserve a response.

But if you are just irritated because your neighborhood tavern traded out broccoli for green beans on your favorite dish or you don’t like the color of the new cable box and this has caused you to take an hour of your time to post unconstructive, lewd, rude rants on as many websites, user review sites and social media pages as you can? Well, this is a situation we can’t win.

I didn’t come about this decision lightly and it still pains me every single time I give this advice. But answering people who have not tried to handle a minor grievance on their own is seldom fruitful. There is nothing to appease them. In fact, I’ve seen it have the opposite effect. Engaging negativity begets more negativity. So we just let it go. And it goes away.

I have a friend who can carry on a lengthy, detailed conversation while it sounds (to me) like her children are being murdered in the backyard. And then suddenly, an indistinguishable (to me) sound gets her attention and she has to go because little Joey has fallen off the swing again. It’s amazing. And yet, as PR professionals we need to be like my friend, the one who can tell the difference between the attention-seeking noise and the real business need.

Author Bio:  Melissa Libby, President of Melissa Libby & Associates, is among the 48 nationwide PRCG affiliates who have declared October 22, 2013 as Snark Free Day – a day without harsh comments, rude social media posts or sinister sarcasm. Learn more about PRCG’s commitment to a kinder way of communication at and encourage others to participate.


Be the “un”

By Kim McKeeman

CEO, McKeeman PR

I was working on our PR agency’s business plan and had to take a step back and really, honestly look at why a client works with our company.  Forget the 30,000-foot vision for a minute, and get down to reality.

It sounds easy.  We do this for our clients all the time.  We help them define what makes them unique, compelling — what makes a customer turn right into their parking lot instead of left into their competitor’s lot.  Sure, it sounds easy.

Instead, I looked at it from the other side.  Why don’t our clients work with other agencies?  We know what they’ve told us.  “They’re too big.”  “They staff our business with inexperienced people.” “They’re not local enough.”  “They’re too expensive.”

Essentially, many of our clients don’t like much of what makes traditional agencies traditional agencies.

Interestingly enough, I agree.

And very likely that’s why we think one of our key differentiating factors (yes, it’s marketing-speak) is that we’re pride ourselves in being more of an “un-agency”.  Remember when 7-Up was marketed as the Uncola?  People knew what cola was, but immediately knew this was different.

I’m okay that our agency doesn’t fit the traditional mold.  In fact, I’m more than okay with that.

Seth Godin shared this week in one of his blogs, “what’s the problem with weird”? Different is good and interesting.  And it’s even better when it fills a need.

Don’t get me wrong.  We focus passionately on doing more of the right things traditional agencies do.  It’s the unhealthy traditional agency behaviors we avoid like the plaque.  Or, like we avoid movies that headline teen pop stars.

Great work doesn’t come just from managing traditional undertakings even better.  It’s sometimes about having the courage to ask questions, remove barriers and “be weird.”  Or, just put “un” in front of that product, and your customers and your people will get the picture.

Author Bio:  Kim McKeeman is a public relations professional whose career spans two decades. As the owner and CEO of McKeeman PR in North Carolina, she leads her team in bringing well-known national and regional food, beverage and retail brands to life in local markets.  Kim is also the mother of three teenage boys.


Prepare Now for Social Media Opportunities

By Deb Trivitt, President, Trivitt Public Relations

Omaha Gives 2013 was a recent opportunity for Omaha non-profits to raise money via a social media campaign orchestrated by the Omaha Community Foundation.

This one day fundraiser (yep, just 24 hours) was hugely successful for some agencies and woefully disastrous for others.   I have two nonprofit clients.  One in each category.  What was the difference? Why did one raise $23,000 and the other $3,000.  I think this video, How to Increase Your Online Giving With Social Media, explains it.

We are now working to get both clients’ online presence better established and identifying on-line ambassadors to use their influences so when Omaha Gives next year, they’ll both be successful.

BTW this works for product introductions, marketing events, special events, and any time you need to get a message to many.

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