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.…

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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…
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    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…

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    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…

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    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.



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    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…

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    PR Industry Trends

    5 Lessons Learned from ‘Frozen’

    FrozenYou’d never know over a year has passed since the theatrical delight ‘Frozen’ skated its way into our hearts. In that short time, ‘Frozen’ has gone from a holiday box office hit to a pop culture icon with female lead, Elsa (played by Idina Menzel), paving the way. TIME even named her the “Most Influential Character of 2014,” and her merchandise has topped the Christmas lists of little girls everywhere. Here are five PR and marketing lessons we can learn from this Disney masterpiece:

    1. Appeal to multiple audiences Audiences across American quickly fell in love with Frozen. Even I have to admit I crank up the volume and rock out when “Let It Go” comes on. Not only do kids love it – the obvious target – but parents also enjoy the catchy music and pithy dialogue. Even dogs love it! By appealing to such a wide variety of audiences, Frozen got full market penetration and immense success.

    2. Take a modern approach Frozen has been acclaimed as the most progressive Disney movie ever, and the strategy obviously worked. Disney decided to roll with the times and created…

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    PR Industry Trends

    Warren Buffett on Reputation – The Dude Gets It

    Late last week Berkshire Hathaway leader and perennial investment rock star Warren Buffett sent his bi-annual letter to the “all-star” leaders of the more than 80 different companies that Berkshire owns. The central theme?

    We can afford to lose money – even a lot of money.  But we can’t afford to lose reputation – even a shred of reputation.
    The dude gets it. One of the most influential business leaders and financial minds of the last century is telling his top managers that money can be recovered much easier than reputation. And this nothing new for Buffett – he said it back in 2010 when he took over as Chairman and CEO of Solomon Brothers. Back then he said “lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.”

    reputation moneyCharacteristic of Buffett, those two quotes say more about reputation than thousands of reputation management, brand and image consultants (me included). A few key points:

    It’s all about actions. Buffett makes it pretty clear that it’s what his management does – not just what it says – that will…

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    Nobody Needs the Doctor’s Office

    Convenience is the most important aspect of the new healthcare world.

    These days, a sore throat doesn’t always warrant a call to your primary care physician. Instead, a quick search on your favorite health site can give you the information you seek and you don’t even have to leave your desk. Ever heard of WebMD? (Uh, yeah).  The last place any of us want to be is in a doctor’s office, waiting to be seen, waiting to get an answer and just waiting to catch what the guy next to us has.

    At the Virginia Society of Healthcare Marketing and PR (VSHMPR) Fall Conference, I learned consumers are no longer accepting the traditional patient-doctor relationship. We are empowered. We are informed. We are connected. And we’ll take drastic measures to avoid a doctor’s office.

    One medical groupThat’s why One Medical Group is reinventing the doctor’s office. If you ask them, they prefer not to be categorized as a doctor’s office at all. They don’t treat patients, they engage with members. Appointments are not only guaranteed to start on time, but also last longer and offer a higher quality interaction. They also…

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    PR Industry Trends

    Top 3 Beverage Alcohol Trends for 2015

    It’s not even December, yet the web is already buzzing with predictions on what’s hot in the wine and spirits industry in 2015. Maybe someone took their cue from Walmart, which started selling Holiday decorations the day after Halloween.

    Like it or not, trend reports, much like holiday decorations, no longer wait for sweater weather. Jumping on the band wagon, here are three emerging beverage trends for 2015.

    The Boilermaker Celebrates a Comeback

    In 2015, craft cocktails will share the spotlight with simpler, more straight-forward drinks, such as a shot and a beer, known as a “boilermaker.” Case in point, The New York Times recently published a full-page feature on the classic pairing. Some of these pairings are the usual cheap-whiskey-and-cheaper-beer marriages one expects, but more sophisticated duos are making their way into bars across the country.

    Wine Pairings Go East

    Asian food will continue to be a huge trend next year, so think about how to educate your audience on clever pairings for your alcohol beverage brands. For the best pairings with Ramen noodles, Vietnamese Pho and Korean street food-inspired grub, Wine…

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