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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.


Shiny objects and made-up comments fuel PR controversy

This photo from a recent Vanity Fair article (2013) shows the glare from a building, that has resulted in a PR controversy.

By Lisa Faulkner-Dunne, Lisa Faulkner-Dunne and Associates Public Relations

It certainly seems like common sense, and basic ethics, to avoid making up names and  posting rash and inflammatory comments on your client’s digital media pages, or even worse, on their adversary’s or competitor’s  pages.

Yet this ridiculous junior high type behavior happens. In Dallas, a former NBC anchor-turned-PR-specialist (hired, no doubt because he had “good media contacts,”) recently disgraced himself, the law firm that hired him and a high profile client at the City of Dallas, by resorting to such tactics. The client, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund,  owns a high- rise glass building whose reflection is allegedly burning and ruining exhibits at the adjacent Nasher Sculpture Garden.  Much discussion has taken place including possible solutions, name- calling and fault-finding.

The PR guy made the equivalent of prank phone calls, only with higher stakes, as he posted arrogant puffery behind made-up names to make his client look better, and inflame discussion on a variety of blogs and comment strings.

When the house of cards tumbled, he resigned; saying the law firm and his client had no idea what he was doing. Hard to believe, hard to prove, and the client took a definite hit in the ensuing detailed coverage.

The Dallas Chapter of PRSA chastised the so-called PR specialist in a letter to the  editor, in carefully chosen words. But, my favorite letter to the editor came from long-time Dallas PR guru Martha Tiller, who warned that journalists are not trained public relations specialists-and may not have the same grasp of issues. I applaud her honesty.

Sad story of our city

I appreciate your coverage of this story. My heart aches for the Nasher, our police and firefighters, and the city. With all due respect to our media friends who get into public relations, real PR is so much more than trying to manage the news.

Alas, many of them simply do not have the background and training to give proper counsel. Neither do law firms.

Martha Tiller

The take-away?  Something I think we already know…Don’t make things up!

Author Bio:

Lisa Faulkner-Dunne’s has more than 25 years of experience in public relations including several years with the City of Dallas Mayor’s office. In 1992 she created her own agency, where clients have included a variety of retail and non- profit brands. They include Dunkin’ Donuts, Red Mango Frozen Yogurt, MADD, Parkland  Hospital Foundation, Richardson School District Foundation,  March of Dimes; Blockbuster, 7-Eleven, JCPenney, Olive Garden, and Southern Living Plant Collection. Through Citizen Paine PR she has handled projects for: Levi’s, Dockers, Duracell, Hilton Garden Inn, XM Radio, ENOVA, Lipton Tea, Polaroid, Cover Girl, Pampers, Hoover and Old Spice.

Lisa is a charter member and former director of PRCG (PR Consultants’ Group). She volunteers with Ronald McDonald House, and serves as publicity chair for several community organizations.

Lisa is a graduate of Leadership Dallas and is the recipient of numerous awards including a Women in Communications Matrix Award, two Silver Anvils from PRSA, and a Lifetime PTA Membership award. Lisa holds a B.A. from The University of Kentucky and an M.P.A from Southern Methodist University. She lives in Dallas with her husband and too many dogs.  She has never made up a name, ridiculous or otherwise, in order to garner more comments on a story.


Making the Most of the Photo Op

By Linda Little, Linda Little Public Relations

At a recent client event announcing the student winners of a national app challenge, I was reminded about the importance of providing good photo opportunities to the media.  There were the usual speeches and the check presentation in the high school’s technology classroom.  But with several TV stations and other media in attendance, we needed more than a photo of the group around an oversized check.  I pulled the client and the students over to a computer station where the students could show what they had created so far and interact with this business leader.  I knew it was the right move when all the media immediately started taking photos.

In this photo, everyone can be easily identified for the photo caption and it tells more of the story.

Photos are playing an increasing role these days in our PR efforts…not only to gain more coverage from our news releases and events but to increase visibility on blogs and photo-sharing sites.  Jill Ulicney, PR Newswire’s manager of photo products, answered questions in her #ConnectChat and provided some “tips for using photos for PR.”  Here are a few highlights:

What are the benefits of using photos with press releases?

PR Newswire’s Web analytics show that adding a photo to a release can increase views by up to 1.8x.  Distributing a photo with a press release results in broader reach than if the photo or release is sent alone.  Press releases with multimedia content are shared more often than plain text releases via social media.  Multimedia news releases have longer online life.  They generate visibility for an average of 20 days vs. 9.4 days for text-only release.

How many photos are ideal?

I always suggest using at least one.  Use your logo if you don’t have other images handy.  Research shows that sharing multiple photos in a Facebook album can result in a large increase in clicks.

What makes a good photo?

PR photos should be high-res, at least 300 dpi and nine inches on longest side.  Clear images with good lighting and composition are key.  Larger photos are preferred because an image can retain quality if it must be sized down, but quality is lost when enlarged.  Mobile device cameras are improving, but photos from digital SLRs are still preferred.

Also, action shots are more interesting to viewers.  Show the subject doing something instead of having them pose.  Posed large group shots don’t always read well and are less likely to grab attention.

Professional photographers are often the way to go.  They have experience getting the best shots and top-of-the line equipment.

Besides the photo itself, what else should PR pros consider?

It is important to remember photo captions to give context to your images.

What makes a good photo caption?

Major keywords should be at the start of the caption, which should not exceed 2,000 characters.  Photo captions should hit the five W’s – who, what, where, when and why – and can included the URL for the company site.

To read more tips,  go to

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