Are You Taking Advantage of “Special Offer” Media Opportunities, Or Are They Taking Advantage of You?

The pandemic impacts hit the U.S. business markets in mid-March 2020. Conferences and events, and the fertile business development grounds they provided, were cancelled, postponed or pivoted to online formats that were unfamiliar (at least way back in 2020) to most professionals.

“I generally speak at the Name-That-Conference for industry professionals and get a few solid new business leads out of that engagement each year…,” was the start of many a pipeline-focused conversation. But that pipeline ran dry with a highly transmissible virus attending all the same gigs.

Smart professionals and their firms turned their attention to content – and in most cases, this was what we PR-types refer to as “owned” content (the firm controls and distributes it without going through any gatekeepers, a.k.a. editors/reporters/producers). Webinars, newsletters, resource centers, blogs and even forays into the broadcast realm – in the form of podcasts and video series – proliferated.

This desire to educate, share and engage with potential clients in new ways was music to many in-house professional services marketers’ ears – and in the absence of third-party engagements, focusing on firm-produced media channels seemed the perfect pivot. But there is a dark side.

With the launch of these owned media channels, particularly podcasts and “online magazines,” there’s an emerging new category of “media” out there, and it appears to be confusing even the best and the brightest – somewhat intentionally.

Using recently encountered real-world examples, allow me to describe three different wrinkles on this media trend that should raise questions for communicators, marketers and business developers:

  • Example A: An A/E/C industry-focused “online magazine” with a well-targeted title and corresponding URL is “honoring” firms with various self-selected awards (think “top interior designer” or “best plumbing contractor.”)
  • Example B: A podcast has emerged in the IT space with a flattering name, online presentation and a cool-enough concept: the episodes profile the cream of the IT crop and discuss issues of interest to the top players in the space.
  • Example C: A family of podcasts in the legal industry, managed by a single producer, targets lawyers, identifies the podcasts within the family of managed productions that align with the lawyers’ expertise, and lines them up to participate.

Here’s the “owned” media catch: there is another brand behind each of these media channels.

  • In Example A, an A/E/C software developer produces the online magazine – and pushes pop-ups and other company promotion to viewers. (We had to dig in a bit to get to this as it is not overtly disclosed.)
  • In the case of Example B, the IT podcast is obviously and proudly branded by a service provider. We’ll discuss why this can be a red flag below.
  • In the legal podcasts described in Example C, while not obviously branded as law firm or legal tech productions, each is sponsored by and aligned with a specific legal brand.    

Companies create these owned channels for fairly transparent reasons:

  • Access to potential clients (whether their ultimate target is your firm or your firm’s clients).
  • Desirable audience overlap between their brand and the goodwill brought by your firm/professionals (and keep in mind these channels include “subscribe” and “follow” buttons – as well as active chatbots in some cases).
  • A halo effect that your firm brand can bring – providing them credentialing implied by your participation (and, therefore, approval) of their channel.
  • “Shared” media cross promotion on social channels as you help to amplify your participation.
  • Real estate on your website when you post your participation on your domain of authority.
  • SEO fodder.

And that leads us straight to the questions these “opportunities” should raise. Before you jump in wholeheartedly, ask yourself:

  • Is it wise to align our firm brand with this brand? Do we know the sponsoring outfit and its reputation with our own audiences – including clients, prospects, referral sources and the industry generally?
  • Do we want to provide our “implied approval” of this vendor and/or their product(s)?
  • Might our involvement or participation signal an “allegiance” – however tangential – that could be misconstrued by others in the space?
  • Is the sponsoring brand’s audience desirable to our business development goals?
  • Is the production value reflective of our firm’s standards?
  • Is the “sales” approach acceptable to us and our connections? (For example, will the channel spam our clients if they follow or register?)

Beyond these questions, as you evaluate these opportunities compared to traditional media outlets, consider that:

  • There are no audited circulation or subscriber numbers, so the audience noted may or may not be as advertised. Even if the numbers are there, they may or may not represent a large extended family of the producer, rather than solid targets for your business development efforts.
  • The traditional ethical canons associated with the fourth estate, don’t apply. There is no semblance of editorial independence here – so the rules of balanced reporting, separation of editorial and paid content, and protocols for handling correction requests may not be applied.

Now please don’t get me wrong, there are some seriously impressive owned media channels out there. It has long been a goal to land a client in the Costco Connection or to have the cult-like following of a channel like the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer. My only caution is to do the work to identify the sponsor of the media channel before replying to the come-on, granting interviews, posting accolades on the firm website or sharing the content with your entire LinkedIn network. Otherwise, you could very well end up doing someone else’s marketing while undoing your own.

Traci Stuart

September 20, 2021 at 4:10 pm Leave a comment

Pandemic Roiling Your Media, BD Plans? “Embrace the Suck”

We’re past Labor Day weekend and the “Hot Vax” summer has seamlessly transitioned into “Back to School/Back to the Office” life. We’re almost back to those 2019 school buses, cubicles and bridge-and-tunnel vibes!

Actually, no.

We are, instead somewhere in our fourth (or fifth?) COVID wave, with lots of office opening delays and ample school anxiety. And, while we may have been able to compartmentalize work and home in the before times, it just isn’t possible now. For us as individuals and as professional services providers, we are just going to have to “Embrace the Suck” as the military mantra goes.

The Wall Street Journal reporter Elizabeth Bernstein recently authored the piece, “How to Deal With Stress in Your Life: Embrace It,” where she broke down the expression:

My Uncle Sidney, a retired U.S. Navy physician and Vietnam veteran, has a military phrase he uses as advice for what to do when life is lousy: Embrace the Suck.

He’s dispensed this colorful guidance to me in several stressful situations—when I’ve been anxious on deadline, dealing with a difficult family member, and, most recently, struggling through the pandemic.

“The point is, when you’re stuck, surrounded or suffering, you need to assess where you are, learn to live with it, and try to advance,’’ Uncle Sidney says.

From a media relations standpoint, nearly every story is seen through COVID-tinted glasses. To break through, it’s crucial that thought leaders avoid trying to act as though a total “reset” button has been pressed. This massive elephant remains firmly in the room, despite our best efforts to move it along, and is spawning media-rich developments like vaccine mandates, health care surcharges and employee testing.

Individually, or as a firm, you may not want to talk about the pandemic; but, you really can’t not.

Collectively, we remain in a lousy situation. However, as the pandemic grinds on, there are emerging “winners” and maybe not “losers,” but definitely folks who missed their media rocket rides.

What are the consistent elements of success?

  1. Availability and willingness to express uncertainty.
  2. Being a quick study.
  3. Understanding that today’s media topic du jour can be displaced in minutes, with stories scrapped as new information becomes available.

COVID’s waves have had media topic counterparts: bankruptcy, tax, labor and employment, health care, more tax, more labor and employment, traditional labor, etc… As we continue to wind our way (hopefully soon!) toward the exit, opportunities will remain abundant.

Professional services thought leaders and practice and industry group heads also need to guard against the karmic drag of the pandemic sapping their creative spirit and entrepreneurial focus.

Later in the article Bernstein quotes Dr. Robyn D. Walser, an assistant clinical professor in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, on the importance of staying focused, “‘Just because there are these super-wicked problems in the world does not mean you give up on what matters to you.”

What matters personally is paramount, but, what matters for your firm and your practice is also crucial. Business development plans inked in 2019, early 2020 or even last September need to be revised. New goals need to be set. And a willingness to ride the wave of a news cycle where you can’t always give definitive answers needs to be embraced to help for you and your brand to stand out – and, ultimately, advance.

Michael Bond

September 10, 2021 at 6:15 pm Leave a comment

Should Professional Services Firms Podcast? It’s Complicated.

Podcasts are an ascendant media form right now. According to a recent report from Edison Research and Triton Digital called “The Infinite Dial 2021,” approximately 28% of the U.S. population over the age of 12 listens to a weekly podcast, a 17% increase from the 2020 survey numbers. In addition, 62% of the same group listens weekly to online audio, with more than a third owning a smart speaker.

For professional services firms looking to creatively market and communicate with clients and prospects, podcasts are ripe with potential. However, just like the blog dialogue that has gone on for more than a decade, careful consideration is warranted.

The internet is littered with the tombstones of abandoned domains that once were blogs. Accounting, legal and real estate companies enthusiastically jumped into blogging only to lose momentum. The prime culprits?

Audience opacity – Measuring audience (including filtering out internal/cell phone/working-from-home employee hits) is very technical – ripe for exaggeration by outside measurers (number padding) — and often too complex for in-house resources. How much of our target audience “read” our blog last month? Much of the time firms simply aren’t sure or are looking at bad data.

Audience size and growth – With or without good data, lots of blogs fail to attract many eyeballs. Building a core audience, sustaining the group and tacking on modest – but not infinite growth – should be the goals. However, lots of blog stewards see early numbers with big jumps up and down and react like overconfident or panicked stock investors, pushing a flood of content or shutting things down.

Losing a “champion” – Blogs should have a stable of active writers and, ideally, an editor overseeing the content to fit the puzzle pieces together. The editor, star writer or invested marketing/BD partner is often its “champion.” When they leave or lose interest, a blog often struggles.

The “next big thing” – Blogs beget social media which beget podcasts. All of these initiatives can work in synergy; but, cohesive content planning takes effort and a fair amount of manpower to pull off. When marketing departments are sent to explore new communications vehicles, they are often pushed to launch new channels without considering the impact on existing plans. “We need to have a podcast because I love The Daily” shouldn’t be the sole factor driving a program’s development.

All of the pitfalls of blog launch, maintenance and growth apply to podcasts. Here are some “must haves” if you are really serious about the space:

Technical acumen – Whether in-house or partnering with an outside provider, podcasts need to both sound professional and be visible on major platforms.

A host or hosts – One or a rotating set (up to three) of familiar voices who set up episodes and often conduct interviews is ideal.

Something unique – This is probably the most challenging one. Here’s the hard truth: No one is going to choose a law firm podcast over their favorite true crime series. You are competing, not for leisure hours, but for working hours – and you need to offer actionable content. Reading client alerts aloud isn’t it. Tell stories, field questions, unveil data and reports. Then, do it again.

For all the interest in podcasts, measuring ROI remains challenging. Creating a content-hungry channel can exhaust contributors and drain resources away from existing and under-consideration developments. What’s the alternative?

Be a guest – Identify and develop a relationship with a podcast that reaches your target audience. Land a booking, and let the producing team handle the rest. Once posted, you and your company promote the heck out of it.

Do a limited series – Find sufficient content and technical tools to skillfully publish a multi-part series. Then, just end it. Evaluate the results and consider if you want to do it again or try something broader.

Podcasts are an effective tool for reaching audiences, but they should be part of a balanced media and content diet. Consult your marketing and communications professionals for the approach that’s right for your firm.

Michael Bond

March 25, 2021 at 3:46 pm Leave a comment

The Pandemic is Changing Professional Services Communications, And That May be a Good Thing

Broadcast has always been the hardest medium in which to secure opportunities for clients. The reasons are numerous, including its focus is narrower than a daily newspaper’s, commentary openings are time-sensitive and go quickly, and they often require a trip to the studio – a friction point. The last point has changed, dramatically, and maybe for good. It is now expected that every professional services spokesperson has a webcam and some level of Zoom (or equivalent) proficiency. For broadcasters, it is also now not expected that every on-camera source be made-up and lit to the highest standard. Many of us are Zooming from our living rooms that have been converted to classrooms – and that’s OK. From our perspective, media outreach now regularly includes more broadcasters. We’re less concerned about getting clients to TV studios or arranging for crews to visit offices. The general acceptance of lowered production standards in broadcast actually is part of a broader, even pre-pandemic, trend of “casualizing” communications.

In the early-to-mid 2000s, paper was still king. Working in-house at a professional services firm, my duties involved layout (on Quark), coordinating production with printer vendors and envelope stuffing of client alerts and newsletters. (As a reminder, the internet existed at this point and email was already a thing.) Around the time of the Great Recession, more and more firms started shifting to email communications, as protestations from more senior partners gave way to cost efficiency and a grudging acceptance that everyone was reading on their computer or their BlackBerry/iPhone. Glossy stock became an email template, and arguably, production “quality” at best shifted and at worst went down. The move was in keeping with the times, and we have never seen a return to the paper days.

The shift from paper to email client communications meant that turnaround time was greatly reduced. Client alerts could go out the same week — or even day — the developments occurred. We’re starting to see a similar shift emerge on the video side. In addition to freeing up commentary sources for quick turnaround broadcast opportunities, fluidity with technology and comfort with being “on camera” is poised to push more professional services firms to experiment with “novel” (to their industries, anyway) offerings such as Facebook Live webinars and Instagram stories. From a communications perspective, this is welcome. Technology and its associated distractions have made all audiences moving targets, and professional services firms need to go where the eyeballs are. It’s not even inconceivable to see a day when the emailed client alert morphs into a Facebook Live session.

The fallout and changes from this unprecedented period aren’t fully known yet. But, no doubt professional services communications are being impacted and will look different. The adoption and use of technology and social media have been sped up by necessity. This isn’t a bad thing. While handshakes and hugs (hopefully) will return, our old way of communicating, and associated production standards, may not.

Michael Bond

September 25, 2020 at 2:41 pm Leave a comment

Understanding the Timeline: When Will a Lawsuit Be Covered by the Media?  

In law school, the correct answer to in-class queries was frequently “it depends.” In law, often there is no black or white, right or wrong – it all depends on the facts and the analysis of the law. This dynamic also applies to media coverage of lawsuits.

Lawsuits are filed in every court in every state every day. No two lawsuits are created equal, and thus, media coverage won’t be equal – it depends on many factors and the lawsuits’ various stages.

In gauging your suit’s coverage potential, let’s explore a simplified run-down of the timeline and cycles of lawsuit coverage. For now, we’ll focus only on civil lawsuits (as opposed to criminal).

What Is Covered?

Before we get into triggers for lawsuit coverage, it’s important to understand which lawsuits attract media attention and why.

Both the parties to and the subject matter of lawsuits determine whether they will receive media coverage. Civil cases brought against large corporations, celebrities or billionaires generally get the most attention, simply because the case revolves around someone or something we know. Similarly, lawsuits coming from the U.S. Supreme Court attract extensive coverage, as the issues they address tend to be controversial and national in focus – or both.

Cases with strong business implications are often newsworthy – and if not within the context of a daily newspaper, these are often issues covered in industry-specific outlets. For example, a California-venued case involving an environmental emissions may not make it to the business section of the San Francisco Chronicle, but it may be important to manufacturers of food products nationally – making it a hot one for a publication like Food Safety Magazine or Food Quality & Safety Magazine.

Generally speaking, the most “media-genic” lawsuits involve issues to which a preponderance of the population can relate – civil rights, employment, privacy, consumer protections, and the like. Class actions tend to command coverage when they threaten to strike a blow against large companies or well-recognized brands.

Geography – of both the court venue and the parties to the case – are often factors in which lawsuits are covered. For example, if a suit is filed in Los Angeles or targets a Los Angeles-based company, it might be covered more extensively in the Southern California area than it would in other cities.

Filing of the Complaint

A complaint sets out the facts and legal reasons a plaintiff believes are sufficient to support a claim against the defendant – essentially, it outlines the justification for the lawsuit. When a complaint – noteworthy for any of the aforementioned reasons – is filed, lawyers (and their clients) can expect media attention as these filings are public, and there are often astute reporters assigned to the courts who review such filings.

At this stage in the process, it’s all about the allegations. Take, for example, a lawsuit against a major food brand alleging false advertising claims on one of its products. Once the complaint is filed with the court, it will likely be covered nationally by daily newspapers, as well as in the legal and food industry trade publications. Depending on the brand and reach of the claims, broadcast coverage is also a possibility. This said, the same filing and allegations against a smaller or more regional company may only merit a passing mention in trade media – if at all.

Usually, interest in and the potential for coverage of complaints is short-lived — dying down in the days shortly after filing, unless it is a controversial or particularly timely topic. And unfortunately for many companies and brands, the interest in the outcome – say a quick dismissal on summary judgement – rarely sees the coverage the filing and initial allegations saw.

Pre-Trial Phase

Many activities are set in motion when a case is pending trial, but they aren’t all necessarily newsworthy. This does not mean that what happens in the pre-trial phase is any less important – in fact, the events might be the most critical in determining who wins the lawsuit – however, media coverage is triggered by big developments rather than the more nuanced legal wrangling that takes place during the pre-trial phase.

Discovery, motions and court hearings are important in uncovering the evidence that either side may use in trial or to support an array of motions. The majority of this information is limited in its availability to members of the media, and the only publications likely to cover any significant updates tend to be the legal trades – whose ranks are often filled with reporters and editors more educated on the ins-and-outs of trial practice. There is one motion, however, that you’ll often see in media coverage – a summary judgment motion.

A motion for summary judgment is filed by the defense counsel urging the court to find that the plaintiff has not established a material fact to continue the lawsuit. Essentially, the defense is asking the court to declare “the plaintiff has not established this case; therefore, the lawsuit is dismissed.” If the case is actually dismissed and has generated coverage upon filing, you can generally expect coverage of the summary judgement. This said, a seeming “technical” dismissal is not nearly as information rich as the filing of a complaint, so lawyers (and their clients) are often left unsatisfied by the disproportionate attention given to the “nasty allegations” and the limited reception to dismissal of said allegations.


With 95 percent of lawsuits ending in settlements, media consumers rarely learn exactly how matters – even those much ballyhooed upon filing – end. The details of negotiated settlements are often confidential. And while news of a settlement may drop at any time during the case trajectory, the subject matter, parties and available details – especially settlement amount – determine whether or not this sort of resolution draws headlines.


If a lawsuit makes it through the pre-trial phase without a settlement or summary judgment, then we’ve reached the stage with the most media potential – the verdict or judgment. How the jury or court decides in a certain case makes for great news, especially if it is precedent setting – either overriding a state law or conflicting with another recent decision on the same issue. As with the ongoing worker classification lawsuits in various states (known as AB5 in California), every decision is covered, and they occasionally conflict.

How long does media attention last? Well, that depends on how earth-shaking the decision is. Staying with the worker classification example, the issue has been topical for more than two years, and court decisions continue to be covered extensively. These high-impact issues tend to fuel reports until they’ve been resolved one way or another (like a U.S. Supreme Court decision…).


If a lawsuit is appealed (a near-certainty in major matters) this development will get some degree of media attention – again, especially if it involves a major corporation or issue. Appellate proceedings can take several months before oral arguments, and, like pre-trial motion play – the trajectory for appeals is nuanced. As a result, only the biggest and broadest appellate decisions make waves in the media.

Altogether, factors like subject matter, companies involved, location and lawsuit stage play crucial roles in the media interest in a lawsuit. Just like in law, the answer of when a lawsuit will get media attention versus when it won’t is simple – it depends.

Michael Panelli

September 9, 2020 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

Exploring “The New Rules of PR” for ProServe Communicators

It’s a given that business professionals need to evolve and shift their methods to stay on top of industry trends and succeed in their chosen fields, and for those of us in public relations – whether you’re in an agency setting or in-house, the need to adapt our thinking to maximize efforts (the old “do more with less”) and achieve optimum outcomes (a.k.a. “what have you done for me lately”) has accelerated in the current environment.

Ben Kaplan, the CEO of TOP, a global agency network,  recently presented on what he sees as “The New Rules of PR.” The webinar outlined five core rules for communications pros looking to drive gains in awareness for their firm and skillfully leverage breaking news.

Kaplan led off with a few comparison examples of “old way”/ “new way” PR questions that come up frequently in day-to-day operations. The first, and most relatable, was a question with which every campaign should start, “What upcoming company news do we have to announce?” It seems fairly direct and on-point, but it is also an “old way” question. How can one take it a step further? Kaplan suggests tweaking it to “How can we package the data to create a newsworthy trend?” Doing so ensures that the communicator’s mindset is already contemplating the approach to sharing this information. He notes that communicators have to start putting the audience first when pitching: It’s a two-way conversation, and because there is so much noise out there, what one person says isn’t the only thing that matters. Incorporating data into an approach from the outset can help break through the noise and grab a reporter’s attention.

Each of Kaplan’s “old way”/ “new way” examples hold five guiding rules for professional services communicators:

To get more coverage, package more data.

Data is an increasingly important part of the PR toolkit. Not only does it get a pitch noticed over competing messages, it helps tell a story that is valuable to others and can connect to a firm’s values/positioning at the same time – a win-win-win. Communicators are increasingly asked to be data packagers.

Great PR leads to great Google rankings

To excel in PR, one needs to know related fields, including Search Engine Optimization (SEO). PR and SEO go hand in hand as the marriage of the two can build inbound links at a much faster pace than traditional methods. For example, one may leverage a timely news peg by developing a data study to post on the firm website. This can then be pitched to media, and if there is a hit, media outlets may link to the full study, generating inbound traffic and boosting SEO.

PR is more scalable with pitch blueprints

There are a variety of pitch blueprints that can help scale stories faster. A “Geo Ranking” approach would compare different regions to each other to generate local news at a global scale. This may be done by running a flash survey on a trending topic, ranking the states based on the responses and pitching localized versions of the results to media in each ranked geography.

A “Predictor” style looks at how one can make logical predictions about what will happen at an upcoming event. For example, let’s say Apple is holding an event to discuss new features on their latest device. A PR pro can look at the data from prior periods and current trends to forecast what will happen. From there, they can pitch the prediction during the build-up before the event.

A “Battle” method explains the pitch in terms of a war-like battle that is filled with drama and intrigue. For a well-known example from the consumer realm, the “Cola Wars” between Pepsi and Coke even sounds like an intriguing story. Communicators may insert their firm or spokesperson into the story as a key player, important witness or armchair quarterback to the drama between the large companies.

Finally, a “Big Number” tactic involves summing up the individual benefits to create an impressive statistic based on cumulative impact. For example, one may be tasked with promoting a pro bono matter that, as a stand-alone, is of marginal interest, but when aggregated with the firmwide impact of such service and/or the implications of this matter on those similarly situated, the achievement – the “big number” — becomes much more impressive.

Work laterally, instead of sequentially

To compress time and get hits faster, PR professionals are advised to work laterally instead of sequentially, leveraging multiple communication channels at the same time to hit the largest relevant audience possible. By working serially, an approach espoused in the days when “scoops” were reporters’ and producers’ stock in trade, made more sense, but given the speed of news media today, it means communicators can bottleneck their own results – or worse, miss the news window all together. The best approach is to cast the widest possible net from the outset.

Competitor coverage is good for you

Professional service providers (especially lawyers) may see a great news piece highlighting a competitor and become irritated that they (or their firm) wasn’t in the story. PR pros can help turn this feedback around: instead of focusing on the negative, you may be able to leverage the competitor coverage. As the communicator, we now know who is covering the topic – so that part of the work is done. Now, you need to get creative in identifying a related topic.

If the competitor in question is a Goliath-type company, it is probably already getting widespread media coverage for virtually everything it does. PR pros can insert their spokespeople into each Goliath company’s trending conversation by offering timely insights, analysis and data that the journalist may not be able to find elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

My biggest takeaway from Kaplan’s presentation is that communicators remain extremely valuable. Earned media has the highest return on investment (ROI) of any marketing discipline – including the fact that many of these hits live on the internet forever. As long as communicators continually evolve their tools and execution, there continues to be a big upside to PR efforts in our crowded and competitive media landscape.

Joey Telucci

August 31, 2020 at 3:12 pm Leave a comment

Unspooling Twitter Threads

2020, what a year! Thanks to a raging global pandemic I’ve been spending more time at home, eating in more often and keeping tabs on the thoughts of prominent epidemiologists – just as I planned! My current crushes are Dr. Anthony Fauci (America’s heart throb), Dr. Ashish Jha of Harvard University and Dr. Thomas Inglesby of Johns Hopkins University (Maryland Strong!). From a communications standpoint, I’ve been reminded of Twitter’s ability to provide direct-from-the-source messaging, often in the form of threads – a tool frequently used by public health professionals and one that more professional services companies should consider.

A Thread?

Twitter is all about relatively short, direct messages. A poster has 280 characters to say what is on their mind. For issues that require a deep dive, threads are the way to say more through a series of connected tweets.

How to Thread

Creating a thread is easy. Start a new Tweet, when ready for the next item in the thread, press the plus button. Best practice is to note how many tweets will be in the thread, for example:

Each tweet in the thread will show up on your timeline, with a button that allows viewers to see the whole series:

The Thread Reader App Twitter bot can also make threads easier to read.

Why Write a Thread?

Here are three reasons to write a thread:

Limited Media Opportunities – Your organization may have what it feels is important news or insight it wants to get out, and the current news cycle is crowding it out.

Deep-dive Breakdowns – Threads offer the opportunity for a technical dive or detailed breakdown of developments. Such granularity may not work well on other outlets.

Complete Message Control – If a person or organization wants to comment or correct comments attributed to them, Twitter threads offer the opportunity to do so with no filter. One can even refer a reporter to a tweet or thread when they are seeking comment. This is particularly useful with crisis communication.

In addition, Twitter threads offering real-time analysis on breaking news can later form the basis of longer client alerts.

Use Twitter for messaging, media monitoring and business retention and development. (You do follow your clients on Twitter, right?). It’s a powerful communications platform, and a crucial element to any communications plan.

Michael Bond

August 3, 2020 at 6:04 pm Leave a comment

How A/E/C Firms Can Use Social Media to Keep Projects Visible During a Pandemic

Pre-pandemic, commuting workers and visiting travelers provided construction projects with built-in audiences to monitor and observe progress on a day-to-day basis. Now, with normal activity curbed because of COVID-19, facilities are being built without spectators, and architecture and construction marketers are left to find new ways of promoting projects and maintaining visibility.

In the absence of traditional marketing and business development avenues, social media has become a “go to” channel for expanding project messaging beyond “just the facts.” With studies showing that the pandemic and subsequent shelter-in-place mandates have driven an uptick in social media usage, now is a good time to share project stories and communicate broader community value.

Some of the creative ways firms can promote projects include:

Virtual milestone celebrations – Milestones are still great for generating buzz around a project and celebrating these touchpoints in a project timeline can cut through the monotony and isolation of pandemic living. With careful planning and coordination, virtual celebrations are an opportunity to highlight the collaborative efforts of all project stakeholders – owners, donors, project teams and end users – in shaping facilities that help enhance the community. Video-friendly platforms,  like Zoom, can be used to seamlessly facilitate and captured socially distanced celebrations with multiple speakers. Recordings can be easily shared on company websites, social media channels and used for other marketing activities.

Bring followers behind the scenes – Just because people aren’t walking by your project every day doesn’t mean they can’t follow its progress. Remind followers how your firm is helping to create a brighter future by showing the thought and planning behind the project’s creation. Consider providing a sneak-peek glimpse of schematics or renderings from the planning stages or creating an interview series with project team members talking about different aspects of the project’s development. Showcase your firm’s experience in executing innovative techniques and applying creative solutions during a pandemic.

Call upon local artists – As businesses have boarded up windows and doors in many cities across the country, murals and other forms of artistry have emerged as symbols of support and hope. Blank exteriors, including jobsite coverings, can become literal canvases for artists to display works and bring attention to timely issues and causes. Some have seen these efforts garner national exposure – often boosted by sharing via social media channels  grow. Leveraging loyal artist followings can expand your project’s visibility to new viewers and audiences.

Social media marketing is a great way to bring the community in for a view from behind a design and/or builder lens, and a branded hashtag campaign can help viewers follow progress with real-time updates. With so much uncertainty about the future, messaging should incorporate how, once completed, the project will meet today’s needs and how will it continue to serve and provide value in the future. Are there flexible features that can be highlighted? Breakthrough sustainable materials? Inventive technologies or operational pivots being employed? While post pandemic fallouts remain to be seen, for now, the forward-looking nature of project progress can provide viewers with a sense of hope and a way to continue feeling connected to the surrounding environment.

Vicky Jay

Sign up for our mailing list, by clicking here.

July 28, 2020 at 3:19 pm Leave a comment

What Entertainment and Sports Can Teach Us About Staying Engaged With Your Audience During a Pandemic

As the country slowly starts to “reopen,” two key and highly visible industries remain largely stuck in limbo – sports and entertainment. Billions of dollars have been lost as all major sports have been paused and museums of all sizes have closed their doors. Considering the adage “out of sight, out of mind,” compounded by the universal mental stress and strain caused by shutdowns and mass layoffs, staying relevant to audiences and finding ways to grow one’s brand awareness is an urgent challenge – and one with lessons for professional services companies.

On May 28, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) livestreamed a panel discussion, “Connecting During COVID-19: How Entertainment & Sports Organizations and the Media Are Staying Engaged,” hosted by Shawn Warmstein, the Vice President of rbb Communications. The panelists included: Janet Smith, Vice President, Brand Communications, for the Atlanta Hawks; Kevin Iole, Combat Sports Columnist for Yahoo! Sports; Jewel Wicker, a Freelancer for Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter; and Shauna Wilson, Director of Communications for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (HOF).

Each of the panelists outlined how they’ve pivoted their strategies – from Smith’s team setting up programs for feeding health care workers, to Iole and Wicker writing stories on the human-side of the athlete/artist, to Wilson opening up the HOF’s video vaults for fans. The common theme throughout: recognizing the uniqueness of this moment and adapting activities and offerings accordingly.

Similarly, professional services companies have also made on-the-fly efforts to keep clients and prospective clients engaged. Although their work was not “shutdown,” these past few months have not been business as usual.

The pandemic has created a scramble for business owners confused about finances, regulations, compliance and, more recently, how to navigate retaining staff. In light of these uncertainties, professional service firms have made a tremendous effort to develop COVID-19 resource centers populated with content addressing key questions and pain points. Not only have the resource centers been a way for firms to provide valuable insight, they’ve also enabled firms to promote their expertise in various and emerging areas of law, accounting, construction, etc. A key pivot seen is the level of proactivity: rapid-fire news summations and analysis have become the norm.

Some professional services firms have also taken it a step further and conducted short surveys to get a gauge on the top operational and recovery concerns of their clients and the industries in which they operate. Seeking more direct feedback from clients has allowed firms to understand today’s challenges, as well as anticipating those looming on the horizon. A client or industry survey isn’t a new idea, but the rapid rollout of one is – especially for traditionally slower-moving professional services firms.

The pandemic has reminded professional services providers of the importance of entrenching themselves in their clients’ businesses and industries. Maintaining client relationships – and, like sports and entertainment, staying visible – is paramount to retain and develop business, both now and in the future. Showing an understanding of what a client is going through and being able to provide the appropriate professional guidance can go a long way. Should we go through this again in the fall or winter, clients will remember the companies that adapted to find meaningful ways to engage with them during a challenging time.

Joey Telucci

June 15, 2020 at 2:59 pm Leave a comment

Making Legal Articles Accessible to More Than Just Lawyers

Writing is an art. It’s no simple task to just pick up the pen (or keyboard, rather) and start composing. But, once you get the juices flowing, it can be even harder to keep it going and have it make sense – especially when you’re used to writing a certain way.

As a lawyer, you may find it challenging to adjust your style and tone for a contributed article when you’re used to writing memos, motions and briefs. Writing for a non-legal, industry-specific audience, however, is not the same – and requires a different level of attention to detail.

The key is to remember this isn’t law review. Most editors aren’t looking for the legalese-heavy pieces (though certain exceptions apply, like writing for a legal journal – but that’s for a different post!), and they may come back and ask for revisions if the article is too technical. It’s in your best interest to come across as clearly and as simply as possible – for your goal is to convert readers into clients.

Leverage Your Knowledge, But Don’t Sound Precocious

Writing for a judge differs vastly from writing for an industry-specific audience that includes fellow counsel business executives and possibly members of the judiciary. If you write an article with terms like “heretofore” and “demurrer,” a judge would understand – but your business audience likely won’t. You don’t want to risk confusing the reader with unnecessary jargon. Depending on who your audience is, you should aim for a simpler piece, explaining yourself thoroughly and analyzing and concluding in a way a layperson can understand. If you feel the need to include a legal term, make sure you explain what it means and provide a clear example.

There’s a particular line from Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” that seems fitting: “Even though the sound of it, Is something quite atrocious, If you say it loud enough, You’ll always sound precocious.” Don’t overwhelm your readers with precocious language; rather, guide them with easy-to-explain words, concepts and examples.

Stick to Your Word Count

Most editors will give you a handful of editorial guidelines when you commit to writing for their publication. One is a word count, which may range as few as 500-600 words to as many as 1,500-2,000 words for certain trade publications. Editors can be strict with their word counts, so you’ll want to follow these guidelines as closely as possible.

It’s a bad look if you turn in 1,000+ words for a 500-word article. In such cases, consider the topic you’re discussing and see if you can cover it in fewer words. If you’re focusing on the top workplace considerations for employers, could you trim it from the Top 10 issues to the Top 5 or Top 3? Beyond this sort of winnowing, where are the easy places to cut?

If you find yourself short of the word count, review the article and see if there is an area that you can expand upon. Also, with each section, consider if a non-lawyer will understand what you are saying. If not, perhaps you can include a bit more detail, using that extra word count, to further break down examples or concepts.

Cut the Citations, Save the Words

I took a legal writing course in law school (at Pacific McGeorge, we called it “Global Lawyering Skills”), so believe me when I say I completely understand and appreciate the value of legal citations. A legal audience can decipher the citation, but you shouldn’t assume a general audience will be able to understand. By including these citations, you run the risk of confusing your readers with a Bluebook-compliant citation that – ultimately – isn’t necessary (and, given online publishing, is likely to be cut).

Legal citations can be lengthy, which ultimately adds to your word count. If you’re in a pinch for trimming words to get under a certain cutoff, take out the citations first. It’s the easiest step to trimming fat off an article without sacrificing content. Don’t leave it to the editor to figure out what’s critical in your piece.

There’s a time and place for citations, but, generally, this isn’t it.

A byline article in a trade publication can offer great exposure to a targeted audience, ripe with potential clients. To catch their attention – and hold it as they read your article – you’ll want to strike the right balance. An informative, detailed-but-straightforward article with real-life examples will go a long way toward helping the reader understand your message. Lastly, do not forget to include contact information like an email address – it’s a great way for the reader to follow up with you if they have questions, and, it’s a launching point to establishing a relationship.

Michael Panelli

April 23, 2020 at 4:42 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts

Blattel Communications

Follow Us on Twitter

Recent Posts

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 44 other followers

%d bloggers like this: