Archive for the ‘Public Relations’ Category

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

By Leisah Woldoff

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,

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

10 Tips To Lose Credibility With News Media

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017


  1. Make major shifts in key messages within short periods of time.
  2. Make statements that don’t match actions.
  3. Prohibit certain news outlets from attending media briefings.
  4. Ask reporters to profile your organization without providing a story angle.
  5. Answer questions before ensuring leadership is on the same page and then backtrack.
  6. Hammer away at opponents’ actions and then downplay allies’ similar conduct.
  7. Act as if important issues don’t matter.
  8. Share misleading soundbites.
  9. Blame the media.
  10. Lie.


Good, Bad And Ugly Of President-Elect Trump’s News Conference

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017


The Good

  • Delivery. President-elect Donald Trump speaks with confidence. He talks conversationally with reporters the same way he might talk with friends or strangers he just met. Generally, he doesn’t memorize lines. He fluctuates his voice and uses his hands for emphasis, giving his delivery an extra punch.
  • Stories. To reiterate his efforts to avoid conflicts of interest in business, Trump shared a story of a friend who recently offered him a $2 billion deal which he turned down.
  • Preparation. He was prepared to handle questions about conflicts of interest and the Trump Organization. He brought a second person to the podium to detail the steps he is taking to avoid these conflicts of interest.
  • Props. To demonstrate his efforts to avoid conflicts of interest, a table stacked with folders of documents was by his side. Props and similar visuals are an excellent way to drive home key messages.

The Bad

  • Soundbites. You should consider soundbites and quotes that stand out and help audiences relate to complicated issues. But some of Trump’s soundbites went too far. He said, “I will be the greatest jobs producer that God ever created.” Describing his incoming administration, he said, “It’s a movement like the world has never seen before.” Such over-the-top statements can erode credibility.

The President-elect also said, “Obamacare is a complete and total disaster.” This is not true. Healthcare reform has provided health care to more than 20 million people. The New York Times reported health care costs are rising at a slower rate under health care reform. People continue to sign up for health care under the Affordable Care Act. These are not the elements of a disaster. These are the elements of a public policy that needs fixing. But calling health care reform a “complete and total disaster” reinforces politics as usual where each side insists on viewing policy as black or white or in extremes. Real life includes large shades of gray.

  • Defensiveness. When talking about Russia and Vladimir Putin, he said, “Do you honestly believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me? Does anybody in this room really believe that? Give me a break.” The election is over. Trump shouldn’t continue to debate his qualifications compared to Hillary Clinton.

Trump raised questions about the accuracy of some reporting. This is fine. He also praised some media. However, he continued to mock the mainstream media. Attacking the media in general will please your supporters but not win over others.

  • Sarcasm. Trump sometimes addressed members of the media with sarcasm. Sarcasm might work on TV when you can hear him and see his body language. But sarcasm often doesn’t work in print. People who might read his sarcastic comments might misinterpret them.
  • Nastiness. Reporters can be nasty. However, they cannot force you to be nasty. Trump engages in verbal jousting with reporters, sometimes being condescending toward certain media outlets.
  • Evasiveness. The media asked some questions up to three times because they didn’t feel Trump fully answered the question the first two times. For example, he didn’t answer a question about how negative reports about Russia would impact his relationship with Putin. He didn’t answer if he will undo steps President Obama took to punish the Russians. He also offered no details on his plan to replace health care reform.
  • Speculation. He speculated about how certain information got out to the public and the media. Stick to the facts. Stick to what you know. Don’t speculate.

The Ugly

  • Social media. A reporter asked him about his Tweet earlier in the day that read, “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” Nazi Germany is responsible for the murders of more than six million people. Such comparisons are very inappropriate.

10 PR Lessons From President’s First News Conference Since Trump’s Election

Monday, November 14th, 2016

Public Relations

President Obama’s first news conference since the election of Donald Trump offers more than additional fodder for a nation divided politically. Business leaders should study the news conference for lessons on how to navigate tough questioning during difficult times and about competitors.

  1. Focus on key messages. Critics of President-elect Donald Trump fear a drastic turn in America’s relationships with other countries. However President Obama argued the United States will maintain core relationships with other countries and he expects a certain level of continuity. This point of view is a key message to quell anxiety among the public.
  2. Explain it simply. When a reporter asked about the future of the Democratic Party, President Obama did not delve into information overload. He recommended the party go through reflection while maintaining inclusiveness and not wavering on its core beliefs and principles.
  3. Avoid lingo. When discussing the Democratic Party’s defeat, the president did not take the tone of a political science professor. Instead he pointed out the importance of politicians showing up and competing everywhere.
  4. Share stories. When discussing the importance of campaigning everywhere, President Obama shared his own story of success in Iowa and how he repeatedly visited the state.
  5. Localize. The president explained political movements are not confined to the federal government. He touched on differences people can strive for at lower levels of government such as city councils and boards of education.
  6. Don’t memorize lines. When speaking to reporters, President Obama appeared to talk with them the same way he might discuss similar questions with friends and family.
  7. Use your hands. Business leaders often ask us if they should keep their hands still when speaking. Our answer is “no” unless someone normally speaks with little movement. Using your hands when speaking often relays the passion you might feel about a particular point. Anytime the president raises his hands when speaking, listen to the throng of still cameras clicking away.
  8. Don’t get defensive. The president’s party lost the election. President-elect Trump might reverse some of President Obama’s achievements. Reporters asked tough questions. However he never turned defensive.
  9. Avoid no comment. Reporters asked the president if he still believes the president-elect is not qualified for the position and if Trump’s temperament is ill-suited for the office. In a perfectly transparent world, President Obama would have answered those questions directly. He didn’t. On the other hand, he didn’t avoid answering such questions all together. He argued The White House will change a person and what people say when governing is often different from what people say when campaigning. Providing some information and insight is better than responding with “no comment.” In addition, when a reporter asked the president to comment on one of President-elect Trump’s appointments, President Obama argued it would not be appropriate for him to comment on every appointment. Explaining why you won’t comment is better than simply not commenting.
  10. Provide substantive soundbites. To reduce the notion that Americans might quickly see a dramatic and quick turn in public policy, the president said such change in government is not like a speedboat and is instead more similar to an ocean liner. Such a soundbite is an effective way to communicate a very complex subject matter.


Disney’s 14 PR Lessons To Help Make Businesses The Happiest Ones On Earth

Thursday, October 27th, 2016



We recently visited Walt Disney World in Florida. You don’t need a billion-dollar budget for your business to put some similar ideas in place:

  • Sweat the small stuff. Details separate companies from competition. In Dinoland at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, tiny dinosaur toys sat on a ledge above where families waited in line to meet Goofy and Pluto. At the Starbucks in Epcot, the barista added chocolate drizzle to drinks in the shape of Mickey Mouse.
  • Provide convenience. We didn’t rent a car. From buses to trams to monorails, an extensive infrastructure provided us easy access and transportation to Disney parks throughout the day and night. People with fun personalities, one who provided tidbits of behind-the-scenes information, drove modern buses which showed Disney shorts and movies on monitors above seats.
  • Communicate well. A Disney employee put a smile on her face and struck a friendly tone even when telling people they couldn’t venture into roped-off areas or stand in spaces reserved for oncoming foot traffic. When we stood in line to take pictures with characters, employees warned us when those characters would take short breaks so no one panicked. Security sparked friendly conversations when checking bags at park entrances.
  • Don’t be cheap. Tickets for Disney parks are not inexpensive. However, elaborate shows and fireworks displays are some of several reasons you feel the ticket prices are well worth it.
  • Share stories. Disney doesn’t miss opportunities to weave stories of Walt’s inspirational influence or, while we stood waiting in line, share information with us on screens about legendary animators.
  • Be flexible. When families posed with famous Disney characters, professional photographers gladly shot additional stills with your smartphones even if doing so might mean you wouldn’t buy their professional shots. And photographers and their teams didn’t hurry us along. They allowed families sufficient time for different poses and interaction with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy.
  • Don’t engage in high-pressure sales. At Epcot, a face painter proactively told us where we might find a similar service the next day. He didn’t try to sell us on immediately spending our money.
  • Cross promote. While we shopped at Disney Springs, Star Wars and Marvel stores drew us in. An employee standing at an entrance passionately congratulated customers who successfully lifted Thor’s hammer. While we ate dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom, the menu reminded us of Disney’s experience in Hawaii.
  • Hire brand advocates. We never heard Disney employees publicly complaining about their work, bosses or schedules. We didn’t witness them with disgruntled faces, finishing off cigarettes outside stores or restaurants. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, even employees sweeping the ground and pushing carts asked if they could help us find something. Other employees danced and sang along with shows at parks. Another employee offered us a fist bump.
  • Quickly address concerns without passing the buck. When one of our park entrance cards didn’t provide access into the Magic Kingdom, an employee raised his hand and someone within seconds walked over and quickly fixed the issue.
  • Tie into calendar events. During our visit, Disney’s Magic Kingdom held special, nighttime events tying into Halloween, allowing people to wear costumes and trick-or-treat for candy.
  • Deploy an awesome mobile app. The MyDisneyExperience app helped us navigate to rides and locations. The app showed us pictures taken of us by photographers at scenic locations. Also, the app let us signed up for Fast Passes, which helped us choose rides and times to essentially jump to the front of the line.
  • Be visual and interactive. A Magic Kingdom store called Crystal Arts selling hand-blown glass attracted a crowd inside with an employee demonstrating how to make the glass. At Magic Kingdom, A Pirate’s Adventure – Treasures of the Seven Seas provided us a map and sent us on a scavenger hunt to find “treasure” in Adventureland.
  • Know how to say goodbye. When leaving Disney parks, employees said goodbye with the same enthusiasm with which they said hello. They offered small compliments, said congratulations to those wearing branded birthday buttons and welcomed us back. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a row of employees wearing oversized Mickey Mouse gloves waved goodbye and offered high fives at closing time.