Public Relations for the little guy: Branding without shouting

There were 27.5 million small businesses with fewer than 500 employees in America in 2009 according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Most of those businesses lack a public relations initiative or corporate communications office yet most need to raise their brand awareness to survive. What do you do if you fall into that category?

Photo courtesy of

For most small business owners or non-profit organizations, the thought of doing one more thing is about as welcome as hearing there is an increase in self-employment tax or loss of tax status. However, most also recognize the importance of branding to increase business or advance the organization’s cause. They may even do some form of promotion, or public relations. Continue Reading

Social media attacks: Are you prepared?

The most nefarious use of social media is when an individual or a group intentionally sets out to destroy someone else’s reputation or business. Shell Oil is experiencing some of the worst the World Wide Web community has to offer.

Image courtesy of

The extremist environmental group, Greenpeace International, launched a Website (Arctic Ready) and Twitter account (@Shellisprepared) with the intention to damage Shell Oil’s drilling operations in the Arctic Circle and it’s corporate reputation. The Arctic Ready site very closely resembles Shell’s Arctic Circle site visually, and significant effort has been expended to craft faux news articles on the site to make the hoax even more believable. To some extent it has succeeded. A Youtube video added to the reality, but it was professionally staged down to the rehearsals. Continue Reading

Media and public relations that work

Every organization wants positive exposure through traditional and social media, and it is possible even for small businesses. Here’s the key: Embrace the “relations” part of media relations and public relations. Build relationships and your organization will land more exposure in various news outlets and among key bloggers who cover your industry. It really is that simple.

The word “relations” implies the profession is build upon relationships. However, along the way the relationship part with reporters seemed to sour as an increased number of public relations practitioners blasted poorly crafted press releases at journalists. They labeled us “flacks.” The term can be accurate. Continue Reading

Social media, crises and “Who” (Part 2)

No organization wants to face a crisis, but unfortunately, crises are inevitable. They don’t have to be major events. Anything that potentially casts a brand in a negative light could – and should – be considered a crisis. A reputable brand that took years to build could bleed away like sand through an hour glass in a short,  but sustained,  social media storm. Is your team prepared to respond quickly?

To find out if you are prepared you need look no further than your crisis communications plan. In Part 1 of “Social media, crises and ‘Who,’” I shared the first five of 10 suggested strategies to consider for who should be included in your crisis communications plan from a social media perspective. I advocated that social media must be an integrated part of a unified crisis plan but too often it is a secondary priority; something to get to when you have time during a crisis. That’s dangerous. You must account for it. Continue Reading

Social media, crises and “Who” (Part 1)

Established fact: Social media has seemingly limitless benefit for organizations in today’s socially – and globally – networked world. It can also be the proverbial gasoline on a fire during a crisis. Bad news travels at the speed of a Tweet; and often gathers social momentum like a runaway train. Ten minutes earlier social media may have been a corporate communicator’s dream vehicle to the organization’s audience; now it’s a crisis communicator’s nightmare. Are you ready?

Let’s face it, every organization is going to face a crisis, and let’s consider a crisis anything that potentially diminishes the reputation of an organization. Unfortunately, the range of issues that threaten a brand is endless.

Because of the speed of communication through social media, corporate communicator’s can often find themselves behind in their crisis response before they know it. That’s why preparation is critical so that the crisis communications plan is thorough, and the best place to begin is by asking, “Who?” Continue Reading

Learning social media from Which Wich

I love social media. As a consumer, I love that I can give a public endorsement of a company where I’ve received great service; or I can [respectfully] pencil whip a company for poor service or product. I recently did both to Dallas -based Which Wich Superior Sandwiches.


Sub sandwiches have become a ubiquitous part of our eating culture. There are seemingly dozens of chain stores and mom-and-pop shops slicing bread and layering it with all manner of ingredients. One of the reasons I eat at Which Wich is the avocado. I love avocado and they serve the freshest. Continue Reading

Media training: Four things leaders can learn from David Stern

NBA Commissioner David Stern still doesn’t get it. There is a reason high-profile people need media training, and  Stern proved it again when he followed one poor media interaction with another.

The first and most prominent was a recent interview with sports talk personality Jim Rome, Stern was asked if the NBA lottery was rigged. Stern initially said, “No,” but over the next few minutes became combative, aggressive, insulting and eventually condescending toward Rome before the interview mercifully ended. Unfortunately for Stern, it didn’t end soon enough. A week later he admitted he overreacted. Too late, it was a public relations disaster. Continue Reading