Posts Categorized: Uncategorized

Harold Burson was a PR Legend Who Shaped the Industry

Harold Burson, cofounder of global agency powerhouse Burson-Marsteller (now BCW) who died last Friday in Memphis, Tenn., was an icon in the public relations industry. He was 98, and still worked three days a week until late last year. Burson cofounded Burson-Marsteller in New York in 1953, and the agency grew to become a global force with a deep roster of international clients. A Memphis native, Burson attended the University of Mississippi, then joined the U.S. Army where he worked as a reporter for the American Forces Network, writing scripts for radio broadcasts on the Nuremberg trials, notably the proceedings against Hermann Göring.... ⇢ read more

“Why am I only on TV for 6 seconds?”

Many clients ask me, “…when TV crews come to film, they interview me for eight minutes, shoot other interviews and things for an additional 20 minutes.  So why is the entire TV story only two minutes long with a total of SIX seconds of me?”  It is a great question. During interviews in the past, I would stand either behind the photojournalist or just out of frame to make sure my client stays on message, isn’t caught off-guard by wayward questions and for me to jump in at the end if they forgot to something critical. (Secret Sauce #1) However, one thing I... ⇢ read more

Follow the Happiness

“Will it make us rich?” “Will it make us famous?” “Will it make us happy?” Before I started my own public relations consultancy, I worked at larger marketing firms. At one of the agencies, we had a three-pronged new business philosophy. Before pursuing a new account, we’d apply the “rich, famous or happy” filter to any opportunity. If we couldn’t answer “yes” to at least one of the questions, we'd pass. I took that with me into private practice, and have been using it for most of the 15 years I’ve been on my own. Lately, though, I’ve whittled those criteria down to one:... ⇢ read more

Managing Client Expectations

It’s October. This time last year, many of us in Red Sox Nation were living the dream. The Yankees were sent packing for the off-season and the Boston Red Sox were en route to winning the World Series. This year, the Red Sox, who many sports pundits thought could be the first to repeat as world champions since the Yankees won three straight from 1998 – 2000, limped out of September in third place in their division without so much as a passing glance at a wild card berth. Despite a rough spring training, Red Sox leadership was happy to fan the... ⇢ read more

Client transparency in a crisis is essential, but the secret sauce is vulnerability

As a communications professional, I’ve come to accept — and joke about — the negative terms used to describe our profession. From the more genteel “wordsmiths” to the oft-derogatory “spin doctors”, “PR hacks” (and a few not publishable names), PR professionals probably have as many negative monikers as lawyers. Years ago, finesse and spin were lauded as masterful and strategic, especially during a corporate crisis. As the public has grown more astute, transparency emerged. I’d submit a further ingredient is actually the “secret sauce” in effective transparency: vulnerability. I once heard a Captain of Industry say that he found he was most... ⇢ read more

Do Not Occupy

Waiting to board the final leg of a two-flight trip, a number of things go through my mind. First and foremost was this blog post. It was four days late and I really don’t like being late. I thought, "What should I write about?" A few things popped into my head, some focused on customer service. I started to be more aware of my surroundings as I boarded the aircraft. Listening to announcements a bit more intently, seeing how the agent eyed my phone, noticing how the first flight attendant was probably having a long day, avoiding eye contact.Turning the corner, navigating... ⇢ read more

Facebook Taps Journalists Again

Facebook grabbed headlines last year when it cut its “trending topics” editorial team. Now, it’s back in editor hiring mode.  Recently, the social media leader announced plans to hire what it is describing as a “small team” of veteran journalists – likely 10 or fewer – to choose content that will be featured in a section of the news tab, a much-discussed product Facebook will begin testing on portions of its U.S. user base toward the end of October. The journalists will help select the content that users see in a section of the news tab called Top News. Contents of the... ⇢ read more

Ten lessons for marketers from the D23 conference

The new P’s of marketing may just as well be pixels, princesses, pirates, pixie dust and pre-orders. They inspired ten lessons for marketers at the D23 conference. Thousands of Disney, Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm fans descended upon the Anaheim Convention Center for the ultimate biennial celebration of enchanting animation and swashbuckling storytelling. I attended with great interest as the much-ballyhooed event proved to be a smorgasbord of product rollouts, behind the scenes access and exclusive sneak peeks. As a marketer, I had a chance to embark on a master class in action as The Walt Disney Company (DIS on NYSE) burnished... ⇢ read more

The Importance of Humanizing Your Clients

A number of years ago, we represented the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), which has provided patients with in-home nurses for 125 years. The services provided by VNSNY are essential, and they help many patients and their families, but to many people, the health care industry is dry and incredibly serious. So, how do we promote such an organization to the press in a way that is fun and interesting, while still highlighting the importance of the service it provides? Finding the Story We found our answer in Sandra Fleming, the VNSNY nurse who zipped from client to client on... ⇢ read more

How to Reverse a Downward Spiral of Public Outrage

Airbnb, formerly a big, bad corporate bully, has found a way to endear itself to local communities. What it’s done serves as a modern model for excellent community relations and earns five stars from this public relations consultant. In 2013 the company launched its Open Homes Program, a disaster response initiative that makes it easy for Airbnb hosts to provide space for people in need when disasters strike. As far as I can tell, Airbnb receives no financial gain from doing this. Recent floods in Northern California prompted Airbnb to activate the program in February and then extend the program to March... ⇢ read more