Archive for the ‘Public Relations’ Category

Interview: Senior News Producer’s Story Pitching Tips

Monday, January 8th, 2018

TV news stations are focusing more on social media than on-air newscasts. So what’s your story’s social media component?

Denver Senior News Producer Greg Deffenbaugh, right, worked with The Flip Side Communications President Keith Yaskin, left, when Keith was an investigative reporter at the Fox Television station in Phoenix.

When Greg Deffenbaugh first entered the field of broadcast journalism a decade ago, television stations followed the traditional format of reporting the news of the day to viewers.

Today, the focus is on digital, with viewers’ opinions and concerns playing a major role, says the KDVR-TV senior news producer in Denver.

“It’s definitely changed in the past 10 years since I’ve gotten into the business,” Deffenbaugh says.

The typical newscast used to consist of two anchors who would sit at a desk and talk to a reporter. Now there’s more of an emphasis on how to tell the story differently, through a touch screen, using social media examples on a huge monitor or telling the story through a video.

“I was told once by a news director that they want to see it, say it, show it.”

One new trend with some stations, is allowing viewers to comment on stories as stations report them, with their comments scrolling on the screen during the newscast. Deffenbaugh says that owners of media companies feel that getting viewers involved in the newscast provides a way to increase interaction between the anchors and their audience.

One reason for this effort is that traditional newscasts don’t exist anymore, he said. If there’s breaking news, the station often goes live on Facebook rather than devote the whole newscast to that news. For instance, when there’s a big storm, the station will dedicate one newsroom member to cover the storm and that person will stay on Facebook for hours, flipping between live shots and talking to reporters. “There’s more of a focus on social media and our digital products than over the air.”

One reason for this is that social media allows a news team to report on a story nonstop without any commercial breaks. “It’s not just us telling information, it’s us having a conversation,” Deffenbaugh says. In the early days of social media, two or three staffers would post news stories online, but now the station has five team members dedicated to online coverage, and everyone in the newsroom, including producers, contribute to social media.

“There’s a whole strategy – not only posting stories, but engagement and telling stories differently, and being involved with the community. That plays a big part in knowing who your audience is.”

Win weather, win the day

Deffenbaugh credits weather as “a major key to our success.” The Denver station has six meteorologists on its staff, four of them are certified. In severe weather markets, viewers count on the station to report what their morning commute will be like, what to wear that day and how to keep their family safe when dangerous storms approach, he says. Research shows that viewers for local television stations tune in for weather reports, so Deffenbaugh explores new ways to tell the story differently than competing stations in the market. He works with his managers and team of meteorologists to give viewers the latest information and how it will impact them in the coming hours, all while focusing on making sure they keep a digital perspective in mind.

‘Not the same business’
The challenging part of the broadcast news industry is that it is always changing. Reporters in many markets are pitching stories, shooting those stories and also editing them. We call them multimedia journalists. “They can do everything, and they are a real asset to the newsroom,” Deffenbaugh says.

From a producing perspective, it can be challenging when utilizing multimedia journalists during breaking news. “They need to be able to go live, and most of the time they don’t have a photographer with them, so getting them the tools they need is always in the back of my head.”

This emphasis on social media and the changed definition of news has led many of his former co-workers from his first television markets to leave broadcast journalism, Deffenbaugh says. “It’s not the same business we went into.” When “you have a multimedia journalist background, you can use your skills to go into so many things.” Many have gone into public relations or started their own consulting firm or video production companies.

Part of this reason is also the grueling schedule, which often includes 10-hour days and being on call “basically all the time” even though there is an on-call schedule.

“I feel a lot of people don’t know what they are signing up for when they decide to go into broadcast television and many do move on because of the commitment does take. But at the same time, if you’re passionate about it like I am –  I live and breathe this stuff – you’re going to excel because there are so many people who say it’s not for me.”

-Leisah Woldoff


Broadcast journalism

Interview: Hotel Executive’s 5 Tips For B2C Success

Monday, January 8th, 2018

How big of a role does communications play in the relationship between a business and its consumers?

“Business-to-consumer communications are the foundation of all businesses and critically important to success,” says Aaron Greenman, Interstate Hotels & Resorts’ executive vice president of acquisitions and development for Europe. This is how businesses represent their offering and their value proposition, as well as convey their meaning to their customers.

Greenman is responsible for identifying, negotiating and managing all acquisitions and business development activity for Interstate Hotels & Resorts in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

He joined Interstate in fall 2007 as head of development in India and in 2010, the company promoted him to senior vice president of acquisitions and development for Europe, working closely with his European colleagues to build on the company’s platform in the region.

When he started in that role, Interstate had 10 hotels throughout Europe and presence in several countries. During his tenure, Interstate has added approximately 100 management agreements in Europe, and today the company has nearly 80 hotels and over 12,000 rooms under management, in addition to 25 hotels in the pipeline, making Europe one of Interstate’s fastest growing regions.

Greenman, who is based in Brussels, Belgium, shares five tips about B2C (business to consumer) communications in this graphic:

Building Brand Loyalty With Bowling, Yoga And Free Pie

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Two days before Thanksgiving, The Wehner Group at RE/MAX Fine Properties, a Scottsdale real estate firm, handed out free pies to clients to thank them for referrals and business over the past year. This gratitude event also included food, children’s activities and photos with a Rock n’ Roll Santa.

The Wehner Group

This annual gratitude event is not the only time the company expresses its thanks to clients. Since 2015, the company has hosted numerous appreciation events throughout the year.

Jennifer Wehner, who launched her real estate career in 2003, leads The Wehner Group, a team that has grown to 12 people who have over 70 years of experience helping buyers, sellers and investors achieve their real estate goals. These events are “a way to give back to our clients,” she said. Clients are trusting the team with what can be the biggest investment of their life and “they also trust us with referrals to their family and friends.”

Last year, the Wehner Group added a community service component to their events, with raising money for the Sunshine Acres Children’s Home. At the gratitude event, the home requested baking ingredients to use for baking with the children, which clients donated at the event.

Since introducing these events, their referrals have doubled each year, Wehner said. The group has also been “in hypergrowth mode.” Last year, the group was at $40 million worth of volume and expects to close 2017 with over $77 million, she said. Twenty percent of this is from referrals.

Wehner spoke to The Flip Side Communications to share some tips to help companies build brand loyalty:

  1. Stay in front of the consumer. In addition to hosting events, The Wehner Group is active on social media and uses direct mail and phone calls to remain on their clients’ minds. Recent social media posts have included open house listings, photos of homes for sale and examples of the steps they’ve taken to help clients sell their homes.
  2. Continue to learn and grow. “Our goal is not to just do these nice things (such as host special events), but as people are buying a home, providing the best customer service experience that we possibly can.” She recommends learning about the foundation of customer service by reading books like “Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service” by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles.
  3. Give back. Hosting events are a way to give back to clients and to express gratitude for their support. Their events have included golfing at Top Golf, bowling at Dave & Busters and happy hours. In January, they will have a yoga event at a park for those clients who want to exercise. Timing is important – “in Arizona, movies work best in the summer” – and they learned to avoid scheduling events near Christmas because people’s schedules are already so full at that time.
  4. Get feedback. The Wehner Group often sends out surveys to see how they can improve. They also encourage clients to submit testimonials to Zillow, a real estate website. Outside of the real estate industry, Wehner encourages businesses to use
  5. Have a solid business plan. “It all comes down to having a solid business plan,” Wehner says. “No matter how you are going to build your brand loyalty, it needs to be in a written business plan that you consistently review every week or every month at the bare minimum.”

-Leisah Woldoff

How Companies Can Jump To Help Communities

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017
Altitude Trampoline Park

Altitude Trampoline Park in Phoenix offers an opportunity for businesses to play dodge ball as a team-building exercise. Photo courtesy of Altitude Trampoline Park

During this week of Thanksgiving, we thought we’d share something that we are thankful for: businesses that give back to their communities.

Whether it is large companies or small businesses, we appreciate all those whose efforts make our community a better place to live.

In this post, we are profiling a business that opened just six months ago but has already committed itself to giving back.

After learning about the devastation that hit Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, the owners of Altitude Trampoline Park in Phoenix decided to hold a fundraiser to help those affected.  

On Oct. 8, the trampoline park hosted a two-hour fundraiser, which included a week-long silent auction with items and gift certificates that co-owner Joe Berman collected from nearby businesses. Altitude donated 20 percent of proceeds from the cost of jump passes to the fundraiser and, along with the silent auction, raised more than $1,200 to donate to Red Cross relief efforts.

Over a period of a week and a half, the park also collected “boxes and boxes and boxes and bags and bags” of clothing, toiletries, dried food and other items to send to Puerto Rico, Berman said.

Altitude Trampoline Park, which opened this past June, is also focusing on how to help local schools. So when Berman heard that a local school needed some assistance, he jumped in to help.

A K-12 school for high functioning students with an autism spectrum disorder needed to raise funds for an adaptive playground designed to meet the students’ sensory needs. So Berman scheduled a fundraiser on Nov. 2, with Altitude donating $5 for every $20 that was spent. In addition, the trampoline park continues to raise funds for the school during special needs jumping sessions, which are held 10-11 a.m. on the first Sunday of each month and 10-11 a.m. on the last Wednesday of the month. During these hours, the lights are kept low and quieter music is played than at regular times.

Berman has also introduced a reading program called Bouncing Books, which recently launched as a pilot program with a local elementary school. Berman works with school librarians or administrators to award students with a free Icee and jump pass after they read a certain number of books.

Altitude also does fundraisers for schools, religious institutions and organizations. “Anyone who wants to make money while having fun,” Berman said companies have also held team-building activities there, such as an hour of dodge ball during the workday or after an evening meeting. 

“I really care about our community,” Berman said. He appreciates that as a business owner, he has a platform like this where he “can really help make a difference.”

Ways businesses can give back to their communities shares 10 other ways that businesses can give back to their community:

  1. Promote local businesses.
  2. Participate in holiday food drives.
  3. Sponsor a youth sports team.
  4. Set up a collection jar.
  5. Hold a contest.
  6. Sponsor an event.
  7. Adopt a brick.
  8. Build a house.
  9. Offer your skills.
  10. Encourage employee volunteerism. 

– Leisah Woldoff

Crisis Communications: How To Handle The Words “Go F-Yourself”

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

Media Training and Crisis Communications

Azcentral reported that the Maricopa County recorder apologized for telling a voter on Facebook to “go F-yourself” after the voter criticized the county’s ballot materials.

If people are criticizing you publicly, how can you avoid telling them to “go F-yourself”? Maybe you prefer “eat s—t” or stop being an “a——.” And if you utter those words, what then?  Tip one:  Avoid foul language. Then follow these recommendations.

Take conversations offline. When social media criticism tempts you to write “go F-yourself,” gracefully give the person a phone number or email address to further discuss the situation. Don’t delete the criticism. Be bold enough to thank someone for their feedback. Calm down, plan out your thoughts, decide whom should respond and address the criticism with the person directly without the public glare of social media. Also, know your regular social media followers well enough to understand when a comment is not worth a response. 

Respond rapidly. If a crisis erupts, get your side of the story out there quickly. Be timely. Don’t wait. Don’t hide. Don’t say, “No comment.” Don’t misleadingly claim that someone took your statements out of context or that you assumed you were off-the-record. 

Choose where to officially respond. Will you respond during a news conference, during a one-on-one interview, in a news release, as part of a blog or on social media? Where will your target audiences most likely go to receive information about you and your organization? If you respond on Facebook Live, don’t say, “Are we live?” If reporters request a follow-up interview, will you display the courage to take questions?

Address the issue directly. Don’t mimic politicians who flood the airwaves with words but never actually answer the question. Don’t be vague. Don’t awkwardly change the subject.

Decide if and how to apologize. PR professionals may urge you to apologize. Your attorney may raise concerns about stating, “I’m sorry.” Will you directly apologize to someone or apologize in general? If you apologize, will you sound genuine? Speak from the heart instead of from notes.

Educate. Is your response an opportunity to educate the public and employees about the topic? 

Monitor responses afterward. Don’t stay secluded in a bubble where yes-men shower you with accolades. Is the crisis continuing? How many people still call for your resignation? How many people continue to characterize you as a clown? Or are people thanking you for taking responsibility?

Create a plan. Don’t wait for someone in your C-suite to tell someone to “go F-themselves” to build a plan and team to handle a crisis. Take action now!

If you don’t like these recommendations, you can go …  find additional ideas elsewhere. We welcome your suggestions.


Creating Dramatic Halloween Makeup Transformations

Monday, October 30th, 2017

For most of the year, Tamara Bickley, founder of Makeup Artistry by Tamara, enhances the beauty of her clients with makeup for weddings and other special events. But in the days leading to Halloween, her work has much different results, which can sometimes be horrifying.

She’s made herself up for Halloween for about eight years and after she started her business in 2012, she started doing Halloween makeup professionally. She receives most of her Halloween-based clients from social media:  “I will do up my face and put it out there on social media to show people the diversity of what I can do.”

She said she only uses herself as the model for examples of her Halloween makeup, not for her glamour or other make-up work. To demonstrate her general make-up artistry, she uses before and after photos of her clients. “I like to do that so people can see the difference in how I can enhance one’s beauty.” But when it comes to Halloween makeup, she’ll use herself as an example “so people can see how I can take what I look like and I can change it and make myself look completely different in so many ways.”

Plus, she can make herself up at the spur of the moment whenever she wants to try a new look. Her Halloween make-up ranges from Day of the Dead artwork with colorful designs to animal faces to characters with rotting flesh.

“My real passion is special effects,” she said. “I would love to do makeup for films, but there’s really not that much out here in Phoenix.”

She recently made herself up as a lion and then picked up her kids from school in full makeup. She shot video of their reactions. “My children were horrified,” she said. “They did not think it was cool. They were not impressed because they’re used to me doing crazy makeup around Halloween time.

“I think deep down they think it’s cool, but two of them are teenagers so they have to pretend it’s not cool.”

As embarrassed as they act, though, they don’t hesitate to ask her to do their makeup when they want to dress up, she notes.

She only uses safe, high-grade makeup on her clients, often the type that is used on movie sets. “It’s not going to clog your pores or give you a rash.”

Most of the makeup purchased in Halloween stores isn’t good for your skin, she said. “You have to be careful when you’re doing your own makeup – to use products that are higher-grade, especially when you’re putting it on kids.”

Although it can take up to two hours to create a unique Halloween look, depending on how intricate the design, it only takes her about five minutes to remove the makeup:  “The Makeup Eraser takes off all of it,” she said.

Tamara Bickley has also created her own makeup line, Tami B Custom Makeup. The custom foundation uses ingredients that are vegan and chemical-free and includes a consultation and color-match session. For more information, visit her website,

– Leisah Woldoff

I Wore The Wrong Shoes To My Presentation

Friday, May 19th, 2017
explore thedeepestwaters


Loren gasped. We stood in a parking lot outside a building where I would soon provide a presentation to executives. She looked at my feet. A black Ecco shoe covered one foot. A black Banana Republic shoe covered the other.

When I put on my shoes on in the early morning in our garage with the lights off, I slipped on shoes from different pairs. Realizing this in the parking lot did not panic me. After all, I can share stories of earning a living on live TV as a news reporter.

Once, after days covering a hurricane and with no access to electricity or showering, I returned to the TV station. Someone unexpectedly asked me to appear on set to provide viewers additional thoughts about the storm. I quickly shaved without cream, gashing my chin. On set, one of the anchors tried to stop the bleeding during a commercial break. He then reassured me my chin was OK. It wasn’t. After presenting my hurricane story on camera, the anchor ended the segment by promising viewers I was OK. The blood on my face, he explained, resulted from shaving.

This is why unintentionally wearing mismatched shoes for a presentation did not scare me. I initially decided I would share the story as an icebreaker. Then Loren pointed out the larger Ecco shoe might appear as a modified walking boot. This persuaded me to stay silent about my shoes and dare someone to ask about what happened to my foot.

While we set up for my presentation in a conference room, the shoes turned into only a footnote when Loren and I realized we left our laptop at home. Leaving behind our laptop did not panic me. After all, I can provide a presentation without a computer.

But my audience would miss a couple key components without my laptop. Loren called my Dad. Could he pick up our laptop and drive 30 minutes to our location? Could he also bring my other Banana Republic shoe?

My Dad somehow arrived prior to the start of my presentation. Loren met him downstairs and then called me into a side hallway as the audience began filling their seats. She handed me the laptop bag. I looked inside a side pocket where we normally store documents or computer accessories. She had stuffed the matching shoe inside. I walked back inside the conference room holding a laptop and wearing matching shoes.

While I provided my presentation in the conference room, the laptop turned into an afterthought when Loren and I realized the copy store did not print one of our three handouts. Not including one of our handouts did not panic me. After all, I can provide key points on a whiteboard.

But how did the missing handout escape us? When we picked up the handouts, the cashier asked us to review our copies. I looked at them and confirmed our order. The different handouts looked similar. However, the copy store had printed double the amount of one of the handouts and none of another.

Did I mention my presentation focused on preparing ahead of time for a potential media crisis? The mismatched shoes, forgotten laptop and missing handout did not strengthen my self validation on speaking about the importance of preparation.

After my presentation ended, one executive told me the seminar exceeded his expectations. Two other CEOs characterized the presentation as excellent. The aforementioned issues had not panicked me. After all, I can still make my wife gasp, laugh and be proud of me within the same morning.

American Airlines Incident: Why You Should Media Train Employees Even If They Won’t Talk To Reporters

Monday, April 24th, 2017
During a media crisis, be prepared for reporters who seek your organization’s permission to report the story live from your property. (2)



When I worked as a television reporter and arrived on the scene of an incident involving a company, I normally first encountered a frontline employee before one of the organization’s executives. The employees sometimes stayed silent other than telling me I would need to wait for a spokesperson’s arrival. But other employees frequently talked to me, gave me information or got into a confrontation with me. I specifically remember an apartment complex office employee arguing with me with the camera rolling about our story on the property’s swimming pool.

In the recent American Airlines video involving a crying passenger, you can see an employee getting into it with another passenger. Media training is not only for top executives. That’s because executives aren’t normally on the frontlines of their businesses with daily, face-to-face contact with customers and unexpected visits from members of the media. Some of the same techniques executives learn during media training work when handling upset customers or any member of the public who might raise questions about your business. Even if you instruct employees to keep their mouths shut when a reporter unexpectedly arrives, those employees must still handle agitated customers armed with smartphones shooting video. And while those customers may not be journalists, journalists often can’t wait to get their hands on that video. We remember numerous times when companies escalated situations because frontline employees did not know how to properly handle our concerns.

You don’t need to train every employee to become a spokesperson or learn by heart every one of your brand’s key messages. But you should take steps to ensure an employee’s initial encounter with a reporter or angry customer doesn’t generate news before the real spokesperson shows up with all the right answers.

Hear This!

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Video Production

Preparing For A Media Crisis

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Preparing For A Media Crisis