Sweet Surprise Dinner

aOne of the biggest challenges in public relations is to continue to capture and increase interest among our audiences – one of the hardest audiences being media. So how do you host a media dinner in the center of a major global media hub filled with influential writers who are constantly invited to multiple dinners a night?

With this challenge in mind, the NC Sweet Potato Team decided to add an element of surprise. On behalf of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission (NCSP), we partnered with Dinner Lab, a social dining experiment uniting undiscovered chefs with adventurous diners. Our team reached out to local media with a lone promise: enjoy a delicious, one-of-a-kind dining experience. What was our selling point? The air of mystery – mystery chef, mystery pop-up venue, mystery menu (with sweet potatoes of course).

Turns out, suspense wins! Held in a vacant factory penthouse lit up by skylight windows, the dinner was attended by more food editors and bloggers than we expected (fortunately no one had to sacrifice a seat).  Dinner Lab sold out tickets to consumers who exclaimed the dinner was “one of the best…

PR Industry Trends

Terminate the Robo-Writers

Striking out with media pitches? Blogging to the sound of crickets?

Maybe your readers think you’re a robot.


Credit: Flickr User isherwoodchris

Robots, it seems, are infiltrating the ranks of real, live writers.

A robot “wrote” (a rather rote) news story about a Los Angeles earthquake last spring. The content originator for the earthquake piece is a software algorithm called Quakebot. The writing bot used key information from a U.S. Geological Survey report to populate a content template.

The narrative arc? Less than earthshaking. Here’s the lead:

A shallow magnitude 4.7 earthquake was reported Monday morning five miles from Westwood, California, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A reporter at the Los Angeles Times humanized the Quakebot report and converted it to a front-page story with this much-improved lead:

Seismologists say Monday’s magnitude 4.4 tremblor near Westwood could mark the beginning of the end for L.A.’s years-long “earthquake drought.”

Now there’s a hook with context and dramatic tension. Score one for humans.

But robots aren’t the only ones strangling the life out of today’s writing. Quakebot has its share of human counterparts too, including staff writers at aggregator…

Digital Marketing

Coming up at #PRSAHealth

During the second week of May, health care communicators from across the country will gather in Cleveland at the 2015 PRSA Health Academy Conference. Experts from national health systems, associations and agencies will discuss some of the biggest trends and challenges facing the industry.

PadillaCRT is the presenting sponsor of the event, and as a member of the health team, I’m looking forward to joining the conversation. Two of the programs, especially, have caught my eye.


1. Think Like a Scientist, Communicate Like a Storyteller, presented by Spectrum.  As a media relations specialist, this is a big one for me. Yes, we know that human interest stories are often the quickest way to capture someone’s attention, but what lies beneath the emotion? Data. Without research and insights, you’re only telling half the story. A solid foundation based in data is critical for a good healthcare story, and I’m looking forward to hearing what the Spectrum team has to share.

2. Making Cause-Related Marketing Social, presented by New York–Presbyterian. Everyone knows that NYP does social well – they engage with influencers every day. Just recently, they dedicated…

Crisis Management

Oh Shift! Brand Takeaways from #LillyforTarget

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Whether or not you’re a fan of the brightly colored patterns and dresses created by Lilly Pulitzer, you can find something interesting about the massive scramble to buy the coveted products at Target yesterday.

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From: BuzzFeed

The line went on sale early (around 3 a.m.) Sunday morning, with traffic so heavy that inventory was wiped out in hours, even though the site was shut down due to maintenance numerous times. The brick and mortar stores saw their items disappear even faster, with words like “bloodbath” being used to describe the effort.

It was a chaotic and profitable answer to the supply + demand + brand equation. It was also an interesting study on whether such partnerships put luxury designers at risk of “watering-down” their brand or alienating an extremely loyal customer base. Did Lilly Pulitzer do either with their Target partnership? You decide.


Preserving a Brand

It is important first to understand the Lilly Pulitzer story. The company was created by heiress Lillian Pulitzer Rousseau, socialite and wife to Peter Pulitzer. The couple…


Off & Running: As Candidates Announce Run for the White House, Attack Ads Follow

Democrat Donkey Republican Elephant Mascot Boxing

We’re more than a year and a half away from the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but candidates have already begun making their official declarations to run.

Conservative firebrand, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was the first to announce officially. Kentucky Sen. Paul Rand followed suit and came out swinging against reporters in his first TV interviews. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it official on Sunday, a surprise to … well, no one.  The only thing that came close to overshadowing Hillary herself was the chatter about her new campaign logo. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio declared on Monday. This election has the potential to be history making with the possibility of Clinton become the country’s first woman president and Rubio becoming the first Hispanic president.

This is only the beginning. Other presidential hopefuls are still weighing their options, waiting in the wings for the right moment to announce or playing coy with the media and the public. According to the New York Times, at least a dozen Republicans and a few Democrats have already expressed an interest in running.…

PR Industry Trends

How Are Millennials Changing The Way We Live?

The last generation born to the 20th century is beginning to earn more responsibility and buying power in the economy, and our attitudes are beginning to influence how we live, work and play in a very real way.


A couple of Millennial attitudes to highlight are that we’re the generation with the least faith in institutions and have the highest support of political independents (50 percent of Millennials consider themselves politically unaffiliated according to Pew Research). We also like multitasking, are comfortable – if not addicted – to the Internet, and we feel secure maintaining some level of a public Internet life.

These broader attitudes are gradually disrupting the way we live, including how we travel, find news and consume media. We tend not to be confined to a preferred news outlet or car service, for example. Rather, we seek out the information or services that are providing the best option at any given moment. We don’t care as much where information or services come from; we care about the quality and relevance they offer to our lives.

Three examples that come to mind from my life:

  • The…
  • PR Industry Trends

    In Defense of Publicists

    Recently I sat across from some restaurant “publicists” at a dinner and as I listened to them and fed them ideas for promoting their client, I was amazed (appalled?) at the lack of understanding. I asked myself, “Does anyone think they can write a release, get it out on PR Newswire and call themselves a publicist?” It suddenly occurred to me why my industry has such a lack of empathy from the world: People who don’t put in the effort expect a grand pay off. Is that a Millennial thing? Naivety? Or idiocy?Public relations concept in tag cloud

    Needless to say, I was annoyed, upset and a little shocked. When people ask what I do, I say public relations for alcohol. I’m sure many think I just drink all day and tinker around. OK, sometimes. But in all seriousness, I consider myself a fantastic publicist, and yes, I say PUBLICIST, and I’m not ashamed. And for those naysayers out there, it’s considered one of the hardest jobs in the U.S.

    Public relations is about perception. It’s all about how one perceives the topic of conversation and approaches the situation…


    Oscar Winning Health

    As I was sitting in the movie theater watching previews of the many Oscar-nominated flicks that came out this winter, I noticed a theme: health has again made its way into our movies.

    Still AliceMovies like Cake, Still Alice and The Theory of Everything are offering glimpses into diseases and conditions which many of us have never seen. These powerful stories allow us to deeply understand things like chronic pain, Alzheimer’s and ALS from the patient’s perspective. And, these actors can’t help but get Oscar buzz when portraying such raw and honest emotion, often doing major research and even meeting patients in order to bring real authenticity to their performance.

    In fact, a new series on cancer research set to release in March is deeply personal to those involved in the project. Ken Burns, the filmmaker, lost his mom to cancer. Sharon Rockefeller, the project’s initiator, is a colon cancer survivor. And, Edward Hermann, the narrator, died of brain cancer shortly after completing work on the film. I’m not sure you can get more personal or genuine.

    Even more than a blog post or video that claims…


    2015 Food Trends: What we love, hate and can’t wait to start

    Each January is jam-packed with trend analyses and predictions, and the food/beverage/nutrition world is no exception. Here, instead of restating what was or professing to know what will be, our cross-category team of food marketing experts shares its hopes and dreams for the good, the bad and the not-yet-developed trends.

    FOOD MEDIA – Max Martens

    A trend I hope to see continue:  

    Printed recipe illustrations

    Seeing recipe ingredients deconstructed and laid artfully side by side demystifies complex dishes and gives us publicists a way to gain awareness for ingredients that aren’t always visible in a finished dish.

    HappinessIs (Source: HappinessIs blog)

    A trend I hope to see fade:


    They aren’t unique to food journalism, but in this genre I’m tired of seeing the likes of “the five pancakes to eat before you die” and “top 20 restaurants with secret menus.”

    A trend I hope to see start:

    Some sort of reconciliation between the extremes of typical eye-grabbing consumer food headlines

    Deprivation and decadence. Diets vs. deliciousness. Let’s face the fact that food can be really good ­AND good for you if you do it right.



    Digital Marketing

    Beyond impressions – key PR metrics for 2015

    The New Year provides new opportunities to do great work for your clients.  In the wine industry, success is measured by the number of cases sold and marketing, sales and PR are ultimately evaluated by how much they contribute to the “bottom line.” At the end of the day, the main question is: How much was sold?

    As communication professionals, we appreciate a good challenge. How PR contributes to sales and how to measure that connection is an evergreen challenge.  A recent PR Newswire survey proved that the most common PR goals are (still) outputs, not outcomes. Who doesn’t want media coverage (an “output” goal), but how do media hits translate to very real outcomes, like web traffic, conversions, sales leads, etc.? PR measurement guru Katie Paine is known for her opinion that “HITS are How Idiots Track Success.” While I wouldn’t go that far, there are great metrics to complement your target number of impressions when creating 2015 goals for your client.

    Earned Media

    A media placement is the result of hard work, but don’t stop at reporting the number of impressions. Observe…