Posts Tagged ‘PR’

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.

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.


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.


10 Things I Miss Most About Covering Election Nights As A Reporter

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Media Relations:  10 Things I Miss Most About Covering Election Nights

  • Technical problems we all secretly predicted
  • Watching the carefully thought out newsroom election night game plan quickly disintegrate
  • Being assigned to a new candidate at the last second after conducting weeks of research on another one
  • Wondering what genius decided to assign several crews to work under tight deadlines on the same laptop editor
  • Watching normally cordial co-workers turn on each other when things really start to fall apart
  • Trying to be first on air with a winning candidate only to learn the station has no plans to take me live until next week
  • The growing whispers that the others stations whipped us
  • Trying to figure out how to get 20 employees at a hotel convention room back to the station in only two vehicles
  • Feeling lucky no one chose me to stake out until 1am the big losing candidate hiding behind a closed door
  • Getting a memo in my mailbox praising the night’s efforts as if all went perfectly as planned

Client News: USA TODAY

Friday, August 5th, 2016

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Public Relations

10 Reasons You Better Not Blow Off Local News

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Local News

Some brands reach a point when their media relations expectations are more demanding. The brands value national news coverage and their marketing forecasts no longer place a priority on their region’s local media. The organizations decline to make themselves as readily available to local media that they now characterize as small potatoes. However, here are our top 10 reasons brands better not blow off interview requests from local media:

  1. Today’s local TV news producers are often your best contacts on the national level after they jump a couple of new jobs a few years down the road.
  2. Ignoring the local news is like presidential candidates ignoring their core constituencies, the people who brought you to power and will support you when times are tougher.
  3. You would rather stumble on the local news and improve before appearing before the entire country.
  4. Local news appearances allow you to build a library of media experience, which national news producers might check out before sitting you before a camera.
  5. If you can survive some of the wacky technical problems the local news presents, you can handle just about any on-air issue.
  6. You never know what big shots are visiting town, seeing you on the local news and considering how your services might help.
  7. The national news is often nothing more than identifying good local stories and retelling them with higher production value.
  8. The local news still offers one of the quickest ways to reach thousands, if not tens of thousands of people.
  9. It’s not uncommon for people who can’t get on the news to pay for one of those on-air segments that look like the news. So don’t pass up an invitation to take part in the real thing and earn some instant credibility.
  10. The reason parodies of local news, such as the one in “Horrible Bosses 2,” are so funny is because they are so spot on. So seize the day and continue to enjoy a behind-the-scenes experience even if you consider it sensational and superficial.

How To Lose A Media Outlet In 92 Days

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Magnifying lens

We pitch a story idea to a reporter. He says he might be interested and requests to further discuss the idea about a week later on the phone.

On the phone, we discuss the story idea in detail. The reporter indicates he will call our client the following week to learn more.

The reporter does not call the client. We follow up. The reporter explains he is buried in work but is still interested.

A month passes and we don’t hear from the reporter. We follow up and receive an automatic reply. The email states the reporter left the media outlet and took a job as an editor out-of-state.

We contact a different reporter at the same media outlet. He forwards our idea to another reporter, who tells us to call him. During the phone call, the reporter requests we email him a summary of the several angles we discussed for the story idea.

The reporter doesn’t contact us back. We follow up about a week later. The reporter says he didn’t read the summaries we emailed. He tells us he’ll review our information and discuss it with other reporters to decide who might be best to cover the story.

We don’t hear back from any of the reporters. We prepare to follow up again. However, during a Google search, we read a story the media outlet posts from a college journalist. The story is on the same story idea we first pitched 92 days earlier.

Obama’s Immigration Speech: 16 Media Training Lessons

Thursday, November 20th, 2014
  1. Obama cited border security achievements. Lesson: Outline achievements before proposing controversial ideas.
  2. Obama discussed business leaders. Lesson: Identify target audiences and attempt to win their support.
  3. Obama talked about his deportation efforts. Lesson: Address your critics. Again, explain achievements.
  4. Obama talked about illegal immigrants worshiping at churches. Lesson: Humanize your controversial issues.
  5. Obama mentioned George Bush’s point of view. Lesson: Find common ground with someone critics might relate to.
  6. Obama mentioned term “amnesty.” Lesson: Face head on terms that critics use to characterize an issue.
  7. Obama addressed critics questioning his authority. Lesson: Again, don’t ignore your critics. Address them.
  8. Obama stated “Pass a bill.” Lesson: Determine short, snappy sound bites media will gravitate to.
  9. Obama said single issue shouldn’t create gridlock. Lesson: Anticipate and address future problems.
  10. Obama mentioned concern of immigrants taking jobs, hurting middle class. Lesson: Don’t ignore critics.
  11. Obama talked of immigrants picking fruit, making beds. Lesson: Humanize topics for media. Paint pictures.
  12. Obama talked about ripping children from parents’ arms. Lesson: Tap into an issue’s emotions.
  13. Obama talked of immigrants leaving America and starting businesses elsewhere. Lesson: Explain why you’re offering solutions.
  14. Obama mentioned his own children. Lesson: Executives should personalize their ideas. Don’t be robotic.
  15. Obama told story of student. Lesson: The media want to interview real people impacted, not just business leaders.
  16. Obama quoted scripture, raising moral question. Lesson: Try to connect with all potential, target audiences.

Media Training