Today’s Snowstorms Could Launch Tomorrow’s Best Marketers

My little part of the country recently received our second major snowfall of the winter season. Not so little, actually. Millions of people were impacted by the storm that raced across the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and New England portions of the United States in mid- and late January. Thousands were left without power and stranded on snow-swept roads. And more is undoubtedly on its way.

As I peered out my living room window to admire the beauty of that snowfall and to take inventory of any challenges it might present to my neighbors and me as we prepared to start our days, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing from that picturesque scene…. My buddies and me, maybe 12, 13 or 14, marching valiantly through the freshly fallen snow, shovels in hand, ready to save the days of those stranded in their driveways or on the roads.

Where were those hardy young entrepreneurs, layered in their winter gear with determination in their steps and dollar signs in their eyes?

Yep! I was lost in a moment of nostalgia. The sad truth is that the scene I longed to see is nothing more than a fond memory. I’ll wager a guess that, instead of knocking on doors or racing to their phones to call their friends and organize their crew of winter snow removal warriors, the kids on the particular Sunday morning I have in mind raced to their tablets and game consoles to wage war in pixelated worlds free from the frigid air and wet roads of that day’s reality.

“What a shame,” I thought to myself. Yes, I was mourning the loss of youthful drive and work ethic that seems to have been a 20th-century phenomenon. However, more so, I found myself shaking my head as a marketer. In that same moment, it dawned on me just how much opportunity today’s kids were missing to make some honest bucks. Because in today’s world, they wouldn’t have to patrol their neighborhoods looking for cars to dig out and sidewalks to clear. From their same tablets and smartphones, they and their parents could put the word out via their social media channels, email lists, text groups and instant messengers that they were available for hire. Man, the money my buddies and I could have made during those January blizzards if only we had had Facebook Live, Snapchat or Nextdoor!

Nextdoor bills itself as “the world’s largest and fastest growing social network for neighborhoods.” (I could have said that about the evening-long sessions of Red Light, Green Light my friends and I played up and down our street growing up.) However, times have changed. According to its website, Nextdoor is now active in nine countries, four of which (France, Italy, Spain and Australia) joined its ranks just in 2018.

I’ve been a member of Nextdoor for more than five years. I didn’t use the app very often in my previous neighborhood, primarily because I already knew many of my neighbors and knew where and how to reach the local services I needed. However, when my wife and I moved to our current neighborhood two and a half years ago, I was the new kid on the block and had to start from scratch. Our first full summer, I needed help in ridding our lawn of moles. I went to Nextdoor for help. I posted my need, and within minutes received recommendations. I hired a service based in my general area, and he delivered. By delivered, I mean he caught six moles on my property in three months and advised me on how to keep them away. Moments ago, I went to Nextdoor again to search on snow removal for my neighborhood and found about a half-dozen options, mostly private citizens simply offering up their shovels and snow blowers, either free of charge or to make some walking around money (for when the snow is removed). Of course, my page also filled immediately with roughly a dozen ads for landscaping and snow removal companies.

For safe measure, I visited Facebook and searched on “snow removal services near me.” I received more results than I had time to review, some as recent as just hours earlier and some as old as 2012. Those listings also included videos showing snow removal capabilities.

I even tried Craigslist for my geographic location. I was more amazed by what I found here than on Nextdoor. I saw 10 listings for snow removal of some kind posted within just three days of our impending storm, many of which appeared to be no more sophisticated than individuals offering their services and plows. A few featured photos of a tractor or cleared parking lots.

I’ll take this moment to revisit my childhood. Before I accepted my first “real” job as a teenager, I spent a summer walking my neighborhood asking if I could mow lawns for any of my neighbors. Within a couple of weeks, I had a half dozen or more clients…enough to the point that I had to buy an appointment book to track my customers and my billings. I was in business. I should add that by this time, I was now living in Florida, where the lawn-mowing business lasted nearly all year. I made enough money to keep me in movies, fast food, gas, and car washes.

My point is that if I had had today’s technology, I would have saved time knocking on doors, and instead would have had customers coming to me, especially when they compared my “neighborhood teen with his dad’s lawnmower” rates to those of established landscaping companies.

One last thing: every day, we see or hear stories about young kids who are making millions on YouTube playing with toys or video games because they’re viewed by millions of other kids their age and younger who then know what “stuff” they want their parents to buy them. These child “influencers” are reaping the rewards of the technology the rest of us take for granted. I’m not recommending that each of us launch a YouTube channel or Instagram page for our children so they can start paying for their college and our retirement before they’re out of training wheels. I’m merely suggesting that we leverage the technology they already love to help them learn the value of hard work…also, targeted marketing.

We should do what we can to instill in our kids the notion that using technology can put real dollars in their piggy banks, rather than racking up Fortnite V-Bucks or World of Warcraft tokens. And the bonus for parents might be shoveled driveways…without a visit to the chiropractor.

A History of Storytelling

Storytelling is an essential component of the human experience. Rob Dietrich shares a history of storytelling from caves to epic poems to modern technology.

Storytelling has always been an essential component of the human experience. Humans have an innate desire to tell and listen to stories. A child asks her parent for a story before bedtime. A teacher tells his students a story to help make a lesson stick. Friends share advice by summarizing past experiences with each other. Stories entertain and educate us. They help us relive the past and prepare for the future.

From Caves to Epic Poems

The first example we have of human storytelling is on the walls of caves in Chauvet, France. In 1994, archeologists discovered paintings that depict various animals- deer, lions, wooly mammoths- as well as the eruption of a volcano. Researchers believe the inhabitants of the cave valued these illustrated stories so highly that they considered them to have sacred or magic properties. Carbon dating places these illustrations around 36,000 years old.

The ancient Egyptians took storytelling to the next level. Their hieroglyphic language, a series of pictographic symbols, is widely considered to be history’s first example of a written language. Developed around 5,000 years ago, this writing system allowed them to communicate more detailed ideas. Decoding this alphabet revealed ancient Egyptian stories about life at the time, beliefs about the afterlife, kings, wars and plague. The stories also revealed the evolving complexities of storytelling, such as humor and satire.

Around 2,700 years ago, Homer united the ancient Greeks with his epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. These stories were recorded and distributed to the surrounding city-states, and have been credited for establishing the Greek culture. It is highly likely that this was the first time humans realized the fantastic power contained by a good story!

“If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

Storytelling Meets Technology

As history progressed, humans took and improved upon the stories written by the generations before them. The ways and types, along with the manner of telling stories became numerous. Shakespeare captured the imagination of the masses with his plays. In 1556 the first newspaper was published in Venice, covering the economic, political and military happenings of the time. Improvements in printing press technology and the spread of community theater allowed a wider circulation of stories and ideas. Then the 20th century arrived bringing the radio, movies, and TV. These media opened up a whole new world of ways to tell and share stories, removing any barriers that lack of education and an inability to read previously put forth. Then, of course, came the Internet and the digital age of storytelling and idea sharing.

While the complexity, styles, manners, and themes have changed over history, storytelling has been around since the first prehistoric humans were able to point and grunt. Whether they’re creating a culture and unifying a nation or lulling a child to sleep, never underestimate the power of a well-told story.

Want some help telling your story? We can help!

Chasing Confidence and 4 Tips to Catch It

Breaking Through Imposter Syndrome

I remember my first agency job and the butterflies that never really seemed to go away. I remember thinking, “I’m too inexperienced for this” and “don’t they know I have no clue what I am talking about?” I marveled at the fact that super-sharp professionals were asking for my thoughts and feedback. I had an overwhelming case of Imposter Syndrome. For those of you who have abounding confidence, you may not be familiar with this condition. Wikipedia defines Imposter Syndrome as:

a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.

Yikes! No wonder the butterflies were in a constant flutter. While I’d like to say that it eventually went away and I got into a rhythm and everything fell into place, that’s not quite how it happened. I had a few rough years and some not-so-great work experiences. I was told on more than one occasion that I needed to speak up and talk more in meetings. I was also told there was no place in the agency world for wallflowers. I was also once told that I needed to laugh more in the office, but that’s another blog post entirely #amIright?

I’m happy to report this is no longer an issue for me. Work confidence isn’t a problem; I can lead a meeting and a client with ease and yes, I can now laugh freely in the office. So, if you’re currently in the position that I was many moons ago, and you’re wondering how I did it; I’m going to let you in on four small tips that worked for me.

  1. Watch/ Learn from Those In Your Agency You Admire

This is obvious, but I studied people. I watched how they approached each client, I paid attention to their body language in meetings, and I observed how they would walk into a room. I would note how they took notes, leaned in, twirled their pen and shook hands. I WATCHED EVERYTHING. And after this creepy phase, little by little, I imitated them (this still may have been part of the creep phase…). I would incorporate some of the same behaviors in my work style. When a situation or a meeting came up, I would think to myself, “What Would ‘Work-Idol’ do.” Eventually, this roleplay became a way of life, and the line between my “act” and my actions became blurred.

  1. Prepare

Know your stuff. When you do your homework and know your client and their business backward and forwards, you can rest easy in your expertise. Your client hired your agency because you can provide a service that they cannot do for themselves. They’re great at producing widgets, and you’re great at telling the widget story. Rest easy in that, but also make sure that you do indeed know what you’re talking about. Don’t be afraid to ask questions but also be sure you’re proactive, too.

  1. Dress the Part

Ok, this isn’t going to win me any new fans. I know one of the perks of working at an agency is the option to look like you’re an unaware college freshman who bought into the myth that people wear their pajamas to class. (Side note, if you’re a high school senior, THIS IS NOT A THING, get dressed before you leave your dorm room.) For those of us who are in the agency world, it may be easy to fall into the trap of sporting “loungewear” if we do not have a client meeting. I would caution you against this. Whether we like it or not, how we present ourselves outwardly says something about us to the rest of the world. Unconsciously, it may be difficult for our coworkers and counterparts to take us and our work seriously if we look like we got dressed in the dark. And even beyond others, think about how dressing “smart” makes you feel about yourself. If you know you look like you should be there, you’ll work like you should be there. So, unless your Mark Zuckerberg (and even then, it’s questionable) leave the hoodie on your futon, freshman.

  1. Fake Confidence Until You’re Confident

This may seem silly or easier said than done, but it is true and actionable. Early on in your career, or if you find yourself in a new job or a new company, it’s okay to be nervous. New things can be scary. Rest easy that you are smart, thoughtful and have the brainpower needed to do the job. As noted above, if you need more information to prepare, ask questions and then make notes of what you are told. Speak up and let others know your thoughts and ideas. The more you throw out there, the more those around you will see and know that you have insights to offer. Even if you don’t always knock it out of the park, you have demonstrated thought leadership.

Chasing confidence takes time. Some of us exude it from the get-go, and some of us need to practice. For me, it didn’t come naturally, but I kept speaking up, kept learning more about my clients and their industry, kept preparing each day both internally and outwardly, and I found something amazing happened. I forgot I felt like an imposter, the butterflies packed up and move elsewhere, and I realized I was a valued member of my team who had the talent to be there. I hope that you’re able to evict your fluttering friends, too.

We work collaboratively with our clients to empower them to do the best work they can. Ready to meet your new PR best friend? Let’s connect!

Meet Rob Dietrich

Greetings! I’m the newest addition to the O’Keeffe tribe. My 14-year PR career has been primarily focused on B2B clients- from massive industrial processes to minute imaging devices. I’ve spent time in a mix of corporate and agency positions, gaining experience in a wide range of industries and applications. I’m fascinated with learning the stories behind these products and processes and communicating them to the world.

O’Keeffe is an incredibly gifted and versatile agency, which attracted me from the start with its “do anything” attitude. The culture teems with creativity and a supportive tribe mentality that makes me want to contribute my very best work.

Why did you choose this industry?   

PR chose me! I believe I descended from a long line of oral historians, as our family gatherings involve retelling every embarrassing story from years past. I’ve always enjoyed writing creatively and finding the interesting bits in every application- so PR seemed a natural fit.

What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the industry?  

Treat every client like they’re your top client. Also, tell the truth. It isn’t a “vertical transportation device”- it’s a ladder. But it’s a perfect ladder and here’s why.

If you could tell our clients one thing, what would it be?

These people genuinely care about your success. They take ownership of their work and contribute their best, day after day.

What’s the last book you read?

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food by Anthony Bourdain.

Favorite word?

Gemütlichkeit

Least favorite word?

Literally. Like literally.

What profession other than PR would you like to attempt?

There’s so much that interests me. Maybe author/ historian? National park ranger? Pilot? Astronomer? I could go on.

What’s the best thing about our line of work?

No matter how many years you work in this industry, there are always so many new things to learn. Every day is new and different and weird in all the right ways. I also enjoy the feeling when a story I’ve crafted catches on and spreads like wildfire.

Tell me two truths and a lie.

I’ve climbed two different mountains on the Appalachian Trail. I appeared as an extra in the movie Milk Money. I can play guitar, bass, banjo, drums, and piano.

Meet Jocelyn Summers

Hi everyone! My name is Jocelyn Summers, and I am the newest member of O’Keeffe PR. I love storytelling and exploring the impact of the written word on people’s attitudes. I am a fanatic of all things digital but have a love-hate relationship with HTML. I have experience in corporate communications and have developed public relations strategies for local non-profits. I approach every day as an opportunity to learn a new skill.

What drew me to O’Keeffe was their culture. From the moment I stepped through the door, I knew they were passionate about their team and equally passionate about their clients. I am excited to be a part of the tribe!

Why did you choose this industry? 

I have a passion for writing. When I was a kid, I convinced myself that I was going to be the next J.K. Rowling. But through the years I learned that you don’t need to write a novel to tell a story. So, here I am!

What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the industry?

Be tenacious. I know that this is easier said than done, but if you fall, get right back up, take a lesson from it and try again. If you listen to feedback and constructive criticism, you will be amazed at the skills you develop.

If you could tell our clients one thing, what would it be?

We do care about each of our clients. The passion I sensed my first time meeting the team has only grown since I’ve joined O’Keeffe.

What was the last book you read?

A friend of mine gave me “You are a Badass,” by Jen Sincero for my birthday and I have read half way through it. It’s a fact I already knew, but I appreciated the reminder.

Favorite word?

Cattywampus. Say it out loud; you’ll love it too…

Least favorite word?

Definitely. I spelled it wrong in the 3rd-grade spelling bee, and I have second guessed myself on it ever since.

What profession other than marketing would you like to attempt?

As you may have guessed from other information in this post, an author. Move over J.K. Rowling, J. Summers is the new kid in town!

What is the best thing from your line of work?

I love that I don’t know exactly what my day is going to look like when I walk into the office. I thrive off of the energy and fast pace of being a part of an agency.

Tell me two truths and a lie.

I have a great sense of direction. I am allergic to cats. I am a vegetarian.

Meet Tiffany Ridenour

Hello! My name is Tiffany Ridenour, and I’m one of the bright, new faces here at O’Keeffe. I just graduated from Miami University with a dual bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing and Strategic Communication. During my time there, I was an active member of PRSSA, where I learned a lot about public relations and other career paths. I have a passion for writing and connecting with people, two things that just may come in handy.

I found my way to O’Keeffe PR by not listening to everyone who said the only way to get into the business is networking, even though it’s essential. I’m the first in my family even to attempt college, so giving up wasn’t an option. I found the firm by seeing what was out there and so far, I love what I found. I can’t wait to see where this tribe takes me. 

Why did you choose this industry?

I love writing. I know PR is more than that, but it’s one of the critical things to succeed. You have to be a great writer. Of course, I didn’t like it at first, but it grew on me. After taking a few classes in college that had me create PR campaigns and press releases, I knew it was what I wanted to do.

What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the industry?

Don’t wait around for jobs to appear on those career websites. Go out, research companies, network. You don’t need to know someone to get into this industry, even though it helps A LOT. Figure out who you want to work for and reach out to them. The worst that could happen is they say no.

What are some projects you have worked on?

While at Miami, I created a mini social media campaign and content strategy plan for my hometown, the City of Hamilton. I also created a public relations campaign for a local business in Oxford, Ohio where I created and designed a website for a client.

What was the last book you read?

Besides all those dreaded books that college classes make you read? “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte. Next on my list is “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen.

What’s your favorite movie genre?

I enjoy horror movies. Like public relations, horror movies have twists that you could never expect or when something will pop up and cause a crisis. It’s hard to predict how everything will turn out, and that’s what fascinates me.

Where do you get your news from?

Like most millennials, I look at Facebook. I use Yahoo when I’m on the go, don’t have time for social media or something important is happening. When I’m home, I’ll probably turn on a local news station.

What is your least favorite word?

Musk. It’s my equivalent to moist.

What profession, other than public relations, would you like to try?

Nursing. I like helping people and making those personal connections is what means a lot to me. Plus, I very rarely get grossed out by things.

Tell me two truths and a lie.

I’ve never been out of the country. I have two dogs. I have a daughter.

How Being a Step-Mother Has Made Me a Better Public Relations Professional (and Vice-Versa)

Looking back, I stumbled into the world of public relations much like I did the world of step-motherhood. If I’m honest, neither were my first choice and had I known ahead of time the hours, frustration and exhaustion each would bring, I’m not sure I would have dove into both quite as fervently as I did. With that said, after time, effort, and a little wine, I know I am exactly where I belong.

Flexibility

When you’re a step-mom, you enter a no-mans-land of parenting. I say no-mans-land because no man (or woman) ever grows up to say they want to be in that land. You have many of the same responsibilities as bio-parents (packing lunches, taxiing around town, sitting through various sports practices and cleaning up vomit) without many of the perks (breakfast-in-bed on Mother’s Day, input in daily decisions and the uninhibited love of the child). You learn early on that the relationship between you and your spouse, you and your step-children and you and the rest of the world is a dance. It’s a constant give and takes and one must be able to navigate and adjust expectations on a dime. Things don’t always go as planned. Many times the only thing you can expect on is the unplanned. These little humans are complex, and so are the many relationships that go along with them. Bobbing and weaving is a daily occurrence, and one must be able to recover quickly or be knocked out of the ring.

Similarly, if you want to succeed in the world of public relations, you must learn to be flexible. We’re talking full-on splits flexible. Clients, media, and even your agency team is ever changing. Agility and the ability to think on your feet are a must. If your client calls you an hour before they’re to appear on a live morning show to tell you they have an aggressive case of pink eye, what do you do? If you pitch your heart out about your client’s new product, and your media friends are excited to tell the story, but at the last minute the product is canned, what do you do? Flexibility is critical, and a level head is a necessity. My stepdaughters’ have given me many opportunities to strengthen my flexibility muscles, and I’m thankful they have, especially since the examples above are real-life pages from my career book.

Gentle Persistence

Secondly, as a step-parent, you quickly learn the art of gentle persistence. No one likes to be hounded. Having someone constantly looking over your shoulder and asking if you cleaned your room, fed your turtle, or used shampoo to wash your hair, is not pleasant. I have learned that my girls hear me ask the first time, but for various reasons (My Little Pony Friendship Adventure is on, they’re making paper bag puppets, or an intense game of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is about to go down) they are “unable” to accommodate my request. While I refuse to give up on my original ask, I step into their world, see the importance of what’s happening to them at that particular moment, and take a step back. Later, when the time is right, I gently remind them of my original request or direction.  While this is by no means fool-proof, and there are times that they give me the proverbial take-a-hike look, most of the time they respond favorably.

Likewise, we need to put ourselves in the shoes of our media friends. Many are stretched thin and working against razor-thin deadlines. When you’re feeling that kind of pressure, the last thing you need or will respond to is a PR person asking for the third time if you received their pitch. Conversely, as a PR professional, we still have the responsibility to our client to leave no stone unturned when telling their news. After all, if we’re not gently persistent in sharing their story and telling folks why it’s important, who will?

Creativity

The next thing my girls have taught me is that creativity is king. Like adults, their brains are being bombarded with thousands of messages every day. From school to friends, to PBS Kids, they’re being served up lights, sounds, and ideas that make my faux-momma mind tired. If I want to cut through the clutter and make memories with my girls, I need to be memorable. I need to think of new ways that will engage them and give them something to think about after the day or the event is over.

Equally, as PR professionals, we must be able to think differently.  Every day we are tasked to be creative, whether we’re approaching an old story in a new way or taking a story and making sure we tell it in a way that it receives the attention it deserves. This skill is necessary for both roles, and I am grateful my girls have pushed me to develop this ability, even on my off days.

Thick Skin

Let’s be real for a minute. I love my girls. They are a part of my life that I never thought I had room for, but I do. They have expanded my heart and made my life fuller (and more chaotic). With that said, I’m not their bio-mom. I never will be their mom. Remember what I said above, as a step-mom you do many of the same dirty deeds that their birth mother does, but often you don’t reap the same rewards. I’ve learned not to take this personally (most of the time).

PR professionals need to apply the same roll-off-your-back mentality to avoid burn out. There are many time times that we hear no thanks (or just NO) from a reporter, journalist or client. We can’t take this personally; it’s the world we work in.

As for my girls, many sweet moments happen, too. The way they snuggle in for a story at night or to watch funny animal videos on YouTube, the good night hug, and even when they tell me that my Ranch dressing is better than their mom’s (I’m #1 at something!). I relish these special moments the way I relish when a reporter does an amazing piece for my client. You take the good with the bad, and you choose to remember the good when the laundry is piling up, and emails and phone calls to your media friends go unanswered.

Focus on the Relationship

Lastly, my girls have helped me hone my relational skills. Just because I married their Dad, doesn’t mean that instantly we felt like a family or that they trusted me. Quite the opposite. I sat on the sidelines for longer than I’d like to admit before I realized that if I wanted to be embraced, I needed to embrace. I needed to dig in and show up for them. I needed to read books with them, play Calico Critters, watch Larva (if you don’t know what this is, you should). I needed to get to know them and what makes them tick before I could put any expectations on them. The same goes for our clients and media friends. We need to do our research and make sure we’re bringing them stories that are right for them. Everyone prefers to spend time with people who have taken the time to invest in them. My girls have taught me to put the time in before expecting the reward.

When I started my career in marketing, I had no idea that I would one day be a part of the PR tribe. In the same vein, when I started dating my husband, it hadn’t occurred to me that I would enter into the position of bonus-mom. Both were unexpected and at the time, challenging. Now that I have *ahem* a few years under my belt, I can say both are exactly what I want for my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My girls have shown me how to be a better bonus-momma at home and a better PR professional at the office.

Meet Lisa Dyson

Hi, I’m Lisa Dyson. I’m new to O’Keeffe PR but not new to the business, not by a long shot. I began my career in marketing by helping a then emerging brand gain local awareness.

Hi, I’m Lisa Dyson. I’m new to O’Keeffe PR but not new to the business, not by a long shot. I began my career in marketing by helping a then-emerging brand gain local awareness. Today that brand is a household name, and I get to say that I was a part of the early foundational growth. Seeing a brand flourish from the ground up is like a runner’s high, you want to keep achieving at that level over and over again!

These days I get to help many different brands gain maximum exposure and reach levels of recognition and awareness they did not know possible. Telling a brand’s story in a new and impactful way is my passion, and I consider myself lucky to have found an agency/tribe that is equally as passionate!

What’s your best piece of advice for a new marketer?

Always tell the truth. It’s possible as marketers to be so excited about your client and what they offer, you begin to attribute super powers to them. While it can be flattering for the client, we need to step back and tell their true story so well that there is no need for embellishment. When you always tell the truth, you allow your brand to create its real success, and it never needs to be measured to a fairytale you inadvertently created.

If you could tell our clients one thing, what would it be?

We see ourselves as a part of your inner circle. Our job is to help you shine, and we genuinely celebrate your wins and successes! Don’t hesitate to think of us as a part of your team; we already feel we are.

What’s the last book you read?

Henry and Mudge Get the Cold Shivers by Cynthia Rylant. I have a 6-year-old. Enough said.

Favorite word?

Garlic. No matter what comes after it, I know I am going to love it.

Least favorite word?

Diet. It automatically brings a sad face.

What profession other than marketing would you like to attempt?

I’d love to open a small floral and gift shop. I’m attracted to all things sparkly and pretty, and I love the color, and life fresh flowers bring to a home. Being able to create beautiful arrangements that make people smile would be a dream.

What’s the best thing about our line of work?

I love what I do for a living, so it honestly is difficult to choose one thing. I think solving a problem or creating an innovative solution through team collaboration is always a highlight. When a team is firing on all cylinders and ideas and thoughts are coming together, magic happens. I love the rush of team synergy when you know you’re onto something special. It is invigorating!

Tell me two truths and a lie.

  1. 1. I’m allergic to kiwi  2. I’m deathly afraid of lightning  3. I am an avid tandem bike rider

Learn more about me! Check out my full bio here or take a look at my LinkedIn profile here. And if you have any guesses about which statement is my lie, send us a tweet.

Why Media Training Matters

If you work in the PR industry, booking an interview for a client is only half the battle. What happens when you send that person into the interview without any media training? Often times, it can resemble an on-air or in-print implosion if they haven’t been adequately prepared for what to expect. Media training is a necessary asset in our trade, but one thing many don’t talk about is how media training can go terribly wrong.

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte recently lost four massive endorsement deals after his scandal in the Olympic Games Rio 2016. Many might look back unsurprised, but how many people would have been able to predict this before it happened…and during his pre-scandal press interviews, no less? Well, seasoned PR professionals could have smelled something fishy, and it wasn’t new doting-dad, Olympic fish Michael Phelps.

As I watched interview after interview with Ryan Lochte before the scandal took place, there was a sneaking suspicion I just couldn’t shake. His responses seemed entirely canned; they were so utterly repetitive that it became very clear to me that he was media trained in the same way that a parent forces memorization on a child with flash cards in the 4th grade. Broken record responses such as, “I felt like a big fish in a small pond,” and “I guess I just matured” swirled about when he was asked how he emerged from his scandalous party-boy reputation from Olympic eras past. I wasn’t buying it.

I get it; even the finest PR professionals in the world can only do so much when it comes to media training someone who’s not grasping it. However, here are just a couple quick tips that come to my mind when working with someone like Lochte.

  • Spin your talking points throughout various interviews; it offers the audiences of different media outlets new glimpses into who you are, and builds more credibility. You don’t want to risk being perceived as a talking head. (Unless you’re David Byrne, that is.)
  • If you make a claim, do everything in your absolute power to back it up. Lochte lost all credibility by painting one picture in his media interviews, and behaving the exact opposite less than a week later.
  • Believe what you’re saying. If your PR person tells you to say something that you don’t feel accurately represents you, find a way to massage that statement into something that is at least 2/3 accurate. We don’t recommend lying, but saying you’ve matured when you’re still a platinum-blonde-bleached party boy in Rio is the worst kind of oxymoron.
  • Realize that once you’ve said it on the record, there’s no going back. Although, here’s one silver lining in the news world: you (and Lochte) can take comfort in an interesting quote from Jack Warner of Warner Bros. fame: “Today’s headlines – tomorrow’s toilet paper.”

I recently watched Florence Foster Jenkins. Working in PR, one scene particularly amused me. Spoiler Alert: a New York Post critic decimated affluent, yet terrible operatic singer Florence after her volunteer performance at the Carnegie Hall. Her (somewhat) dedicated husband bought every New York Post paper within a mile radius the following day to prevent her from reading it. That was 1944. This is 2016. We live in a highly digitalized world where negative media is transmitted like the common cold. So just remember, next time you have a date with the media, consult a good PR expert for some effective media training first.