Fast Five

  • Fast 5 With Barry Wanger, APR, Fellow PRSA and President and Founder of Wanger Associates

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    Barry Wanger, APR, Fellow PRSA, president and founder of Wanger Associates in Newton, has closed the award-winning agency he founded 32 years ago.  He has worked in communications for 52 years, including serving as a newspaper editor and reporter, director of public affairs for major universities, and political press secretary.

    Barry is a former president of the Boston Chapter of PRSA, chaired many committees, served on the Board for nearly a decade, and was co-chair of the Hospitality Committee at ICON17. PRSA Boston recently sat down with Barry to learn more about why he decided to work in PR, highlights from his career and what’s next for him.

    How did you get started in public relations?

    Like many of us in the field, I started as a newspaper editor and reporter for papers in California, Connecticut and the U.S, Virgin Islands.  After I became a press secretary for presidential and other political campaigns. When I was handling Tom Atkins campaign for mayor in Boston in 1970, he introduced me to Ed Bernays, who is regarded by many as the father of public relations.  We became friends and he inspired me to go into PR.

    What were some of the major campaigns you’ve conducted over the years?

    I’ve probably worked with more than 100 clients but my most memorable projects would include The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist, the largest private property robbery in American history; the launch of the $100 million American Business Collaboration for Quality Dependent Care, the biggest corporate business collaboration of all time; the first International Youth Employment Summit that brought together more than 100 journalists from 25 countries in Alexandria, Egypt, and the 50th anniversary of the Framingham Heart Study.

    You’ve won more than 30 public relations awards over the years. Which are the ones that were most meaningful to you?

    I’m most proud of being elected a Fellow of PRSA. As far as individual honors, the Diane Davis Beacon Award from our chapter and the Chrystal Bell from the Publicity Club of New England are the most meaningful as they both are for lifetime achievement.

    Your career in communications has involved more than public relations. What are some of the other things you’ve done that are most memorable?

    I think covering forest fires in California and the Vietnam protest rallies in Washington were among the highlights of my journalism career.  In politics, working on Sen. Muskie’s presidential primary campaign in New Hampshire and dealing with the famous “crying” incident was an unforgettable experience.  I also loved my time in Washington heading public affairs for the National Endowment for the Humanities, promoting some of their major grants and going to the White House to celebrate NEH’s 25th anniversary.

     

    What’s next?

    I’m putting the final touches on a biography of Arnold Hiatt, a philanthropist, political activist, and arguably one of the most successful and influential American corporate executives of the last half of the 20th century. If that’s successful, I may try to do others.  My wife and I plan to do a lot of traveling and I’ll consider working on short-term projects as part of a team for other PR agencies.  I also serve on the Board of two nonprofits, give advice to tourists at the Boston Visitor’s Bureau, and am working on my bridge game.  Certainly, I’ll go to more Red Sox games and read books that I’ve been wanting to get to for years.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go. But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your subject expert!

     

  • Fast Five: Tara Goodwin Frier, founder and CEO, The Goodwin Group PR  

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    PRSA Boston recently spoke with Tara Goodwin Frier, entrepreneur and founder of Goodwin Group PR, to learn more about her thoughts on today’s PR job market, the most important skills that agency or companies look for in prospective employees and common mistakes that job seekers regularly make.

    Goodwin Frier is schedule to participate on a panel called “New Year, New Career” that will be held on Monday, January 29th. The panel is designed for any PR professional who wants to grow his or her career or take on new and exciting challenges in 2018. The event will offer an all-star panel including Goodwin Frier, Norine Shults, VP at Chaloner, and a special guest from MullenLowe.

    Here is a Q&A from our conversation with Goodwin Frier.

    Q: What prompted you to launch Goodwin, and what do you like about it?

    A: It was accidental, and I owe the launch of Goodwin Group PR to Edelman CEO Richard Edelman. At the time, I was working as VP of Public Affairs, and after 9/11, the technology bubble burst sending us into a recession. Richard made the decision to close five of the smaller Edelman offices, Boston among them. I had the unenviable task of laying off all the Boston employees as our GM was conveniently out of the country when the news broke and I was second in command. Richard said he was not going to come back to Boston and that if I wanted to take the clients I worked with and start my own consultancy, he was fine with it. At the time I was pregnant with my youngest son, Will, who is now 15. I thought “why not?” so I did and couldn’t be happier that I took the risk. I love seeing our clients grow their companies as a result of our work—one client doubled his revenues from $3-6 million annually because of an offbeat idea we came up with at a meeting!

    Q: What should PR people know about today’s job market?

    A: As a CEO, I’m constantly seeking new talent, and it is highly competitive fighting for the limited positions that are available. Two of the people who have become permanent, trusted employees came to me as volunteers because they were so eager to learn the business and hone their skills. This gave me the opportunity to see them in action and both ended up making themselves indispensable to our team, and we had to hire them. I would advise PR job seekers to look for opportunities at a firm you love even if they don’t have any openings at the moment. You can make an impression either by being an intern, offering helpful suggestions, volunteering on a project or event or generally keeping in touch with suggestions or commenting on a recent article, etc. Our motto is “whatever it takes” and we expect job seekers to be willing to do whatever is needed for the team and our clients.

    Q:  What are the most common mistakes – and winning moves – job seekers make?

    A: Winning moves—DO YOUR HOMEWORK. If you don’t know a lot about our company, we’re not convinced you want to be part of our team. ASK QUESTIONS—the worst thing you can do is show up for an interview and when we ask if you have questions, answer with a “nope.”  RELATE YOUR EXPERIENCE/TALENTS TO OUR WORK—how does what you have done fit with the work you know we do? WRITE A HANDWRITTEN THANK-YOU NOTE—we love old school attention to detail!

    Worst things you can do—SHOW UP LATE TO AN INTERVIEW—on-time is late for us. SEND US A RESUME OR WRITING SAMPLE WITH TYPOS—even one! BE A SUPERFAN—we work with several New England Patriots, and we can’t have people who are enamored with a player or coach. One prospective intern wrote on her Facebook page that she wanted to sleep with Gronk—Um….no thanks!

    Q: What are the top three skills in demand by your clients and account teams?

    A: Media relations, video production and blog/content writing.

    Q: What’s changed the most since you began your career?

    A: Having so many places to pitch and promote content as a result of the internet’s growth and the development multiple social mediums to get your news out there—it can get overwhelming and often, it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. My staff congratulates me if I correctly post/tag client news on our social channels!

    Also, from a crisis perspective, I used to say “The first few hours of managing a crisis will determine the success or failure of your efforts.” Now, with citizen journalists and the immediacy of social media, it’s SECONDS not hours and people need to be better prepared to respond.

    Goodwin Frier brings more than 30 years of media relations, public affairs and public policy experience to her firm. since founding Goodwin PR in 2001, Goodwin Frier has built a company that attracts, engages and sustains clients ranging from small startups and nonprofit organizations to high-profile CEOs, professional athletes and coaches. She is considered an expert in crisis communications, media relations, strategic events and effective content development and curation.  Known for her open and honest counsel, Goodwin Frier helps clients develop communications programs that drive traffic, develop relationships and resonate with key audiences.  She is a driven and focused leader who partners with her clients to deliver exceptional results.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

     

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your subject expert!

     

  • Fast Five Q&A: Norine Shults, vice president, Chaloner

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    On Monday, January 29th, PRSA Boston is hosting a panel discussion called “New Year, New Career”. The panel is designed for any PR professionals who wants a grow his or her career or take on new and exciting challenges in 2018. The event will offer an all-star panel of talent recruiters including Norine Shults, VP at Chaloner, Tara Goodwin Frier, Founder & CEO of Goodwin Group PR and a special guest from MullenLowe.

    Shults joined Chaloner in January 2017. Prior to joining the firm, she spent her career in communications and PR, both on the agency side and corporate side with 10 years at Fidelity Investments. We recently spoke with Shults on why she joined Chaloner, how she works with job seekers and what are the top skills that companies want from employees.

    Q: What landed you at Chaloner, and what do you like about it?

    A: When I was looking for a new job after leaving Fidelity, I signed up for the Chaloner monthly e-newsletter which lists job postings. I’ve known Chaloner for years — since back in the day in NYC — and had always had great respect for the firm. In the October 2016 newsletter I saw a posting for a “VP of Chaloner,” which intrigued me. After reading the job description, I was even more interested. While I thought to myself I’ve never been a recruiter per se, I had been a hiring manager (agency and client side) for 25 years and clearly understand the communications discipline and what it takes to succeed. So, I thought this could be a really neat turn in my career and submitted my resume and cover letter. After four interviews, I was even more convinced this would be a great move and I was thrilled when Amy Segelin made me the job offer last January. What I love about the job is that it allows me to use my communications experience and skills in helping companies and candidates come together for their mutual benefit. I feel such an incredible sense of satisfaction when my client is happy and ready to make an offer, and the candidate, who I am 99 percent confident will be a great asset to the organization, accepts it. In essence, I thoroughly enjoy being a matchmaker!

    Q: How does an executive recruiting firm like Chaloner work with job seekers?

    A: We meet and talk on the phone with job seekers on a daily basis. People approach us for informational purposes or to apply for and/or discuss one of our job postings. It is our longstanding practice to always follow up and have a conversation even if we don’t have a current search that is a match, we want to learn about them, make sure they are in our database and keep in touch for future opportunities. We also proactively reach out to prospective candidates who we believe look like a good fit for a particular search we have underway. The tools we use include our 100,000+ candidate database, LinkedIn and our own professional networks. We are extremely thoughtful and deliberate working with candidates to ensure that the job opportunity is right for them, and that the candidates are right for the clients. This means that we have regular and thorough conversations/meetings. We can’t be 100 percent sure, of course, but we probe and vet to the best of our ability. Chaloner’s and our own personal reputations are on the line. Again, our goal is to ensure a long-term, mutually rewarding relationship between the client and candidate. We want to see that it’s a win-win.

    Q: What are the top three skills in demand by your clients?

    A: Excellent writing and editing skills. It seems like a no-brainer but they are a universal must. Be prepared to provide samples and/or take a writing test, even at more senior levels. 2.) Collaboration/teamwork; no lone wolfs need apply, and leave your ego at the door. Every team player is expected to pitch in and do whatever it takes to get the job done, no matter how “lowly” the task. 3.) Outstanding client service skills and the ability to influence and earn the respect and trust of senior executives. Our clients are looking for professionals who have the gravitas to stand toe-to-toe with executives, albeit in a respectful way.

    Q: What’s your guilty pleasure?

    A: I hate to admit this, but I love watching the “Housewives” shows on Bravo. It drives my husband nuts, but I think they are hilarious and make for a nice escape from the seriousness of the real world.

    Q: What’s changed the most since you began your career?

    A: Everything! Seriously, technology. When I started in 1984, we were still using typewriters and then moved up to DEC machines and floppy disks. It was all old school:  mailing press kits, faxing press releases, pitching the media by phone or taking an editor or reporter to lunch or dinner, cutting out press coverage or getting clippings from Bacon’s. There was no email or social media or BlackBerries or cell phones. And the measurement of results was in its infancy; the sophistication we have now is extraordinary.

     

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your subject expert!

     

     

  • Fast Five Q&A: Jill Goddard, APR, Director of Public Relations and Social Media at Boston Ballet

    Jill Goddard serves as the Director of Public Relations and Social Media at Boston Ballet. With over ten years of experience in public relations, communications and non-profit development, her work has centered on mission-based organizations primarily in the non-profit sector including Covenant House International, Oxfam America, and the Unitarian Universalist Association. She holds a M.A. in Global Marketing Communications and Advertising from Emerson College and a B.A. in Political Science and Journalism from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

    PRSA Boston recently sat down with Jill to learn more about her career and why she decided to join the Boston Ballet.

    Q: How did you get involved with Boston Ballet?

    A: I have always been a fan and admirer of the talent and artistry of Boston Ballet and an arts enthusiast in general. My former colleague and friend, who serves as the director of individual giving for Boston Ballet, told me about the open position and asked if I was interested in being considered. It was helpful to have someone who I knew and trusted at the organization speak so highly of the vision and people behind Boston Ballet—I couldn’t wait to join the team!

    Q: Do you have a favorite campaign/program you’ve run for Boston Ballet (or a previous company), and what were the results?

    A: I’ve been fortunate to work for organizations close to my heart and campaigns that make a difference in peoples’ lives so it is hard to choose a favorite. Most recently, we finished 44 performances of The Nutcracker, a New England treasure and tradition. We did a lot of advanced press and promotions including having the Nutcracker Bear zipline on the Rose Kennedy Greenway to promote tickets going on sale. The video generated great engagement on our social media channels, was covered by The Boston Globe, Patriot Ledger, NBC Boston, NECN, and Dance Magazine, and helped generate awareness and sales. Later, we did a social media campaign where the mice from The Nutcracker escaped the Boston Opera House and went sightseeing around Boston. It was wonderful to collaborate with other iconic Boston attractions like the Museum of Fine Arts and the Boston Tea Party Ships—and see people’s reactions to these mice walking down the streets of Boston.

    At Boston Ballet, I really enjoy that all of its programs have so many fascinating angles and stories to tell. I love to deep dive into the research, find creative ways to engage with audiences of all ages, and help people enrich their own understanding and experience of ballet, its history, and the people behind it.

    Q: It looks like you have worked with other non-profits and associations, how important is PR to their overall strategies?

    A: Whether a non-profit organization recognizes it or not, public relations is essential to their success. To  inspire generosity, mobilize people and make positive change, you must have public awareness, support and engagement. Fortunately, I think more and more organizations are recognizing this and making the necessary investments in bandwidth and budget to incorporate public relations as an intentional management function which will support strategic goals.

    Q: What advice do you have for others who are interested in a PR career in the arts?

    A: Artist, dancer and choreographer Martha Graham said, “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.” The same is true for public relation professionals and that is so important to remember if you want a career in the arts. In addition to best practices and the fundamentals of public relations, bring your passion, creativity, and imagination to the work and you will have great success.

    Q: How has being a PRSA member impacted your career?

    A: There are many ways that being a PRSA member has enriched my career. Often times in a non-profit environment, you are part of a small team or might be the only public relations professional in the entire organization. Being a PRSA member expanded my network of brilliant brains to pick when I have a PR-related issue at work. It also helps me keep up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies in public relations and social media through on-demand webinars, in-person workshops, and articles which I am able to immediately apply to my work.

    I recently finished the APR accreditation process which allowed me to take a step back from the day to day of public relations and look at the broader systems, theories, and techniques behind the craft. As a life-long learner, I’m grateful that PRSA offers these unique and invaluable opportunities. I look forward to all that PRSA continues to offer and all I can offer PRSA in return.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your subject expert!

  • Fast Five: with Richard Chacón, Executive Director of News Content, WBUR, Boston

    As executive director of news content for WBUR, Richard Chacón oversees all aspects of local radio and digital news content for WBUR, Boston’s leading public radio station.

    Richard’s career includes more than 20 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism, public affairs, politics and government. As a journalist, Richard has worked at The Boston Globe, where he covered Boston City Hall and higher education and was the Latin America bureau chief, based in Mexico City. He also served as deputy foreign affairs editor and as ombudsman. In addition, he has worked at New York Newsday, WCVB-TV in Boston and KTSM in his native El Paso, Texas.

    Beyond journalism, Richard also served as director of communications for Deval Patrick’s gubernatorial campaign in Massachusetts, and later served in the governor’s office as director of policy and then as executive director of the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants. He also served as a speechwriter in the New York City mayor’s office under David Dinkins and later as deputy media director for the 1992 Democratic National Convention in New York City.

    We caught up with Richard prior to the 2017 PRSA Boston Annual Meeting where he is scheduled to give the keynote address.  We asked him about the future of news and how media platforms like WBUR are evolving.

    What led you to become a journalist and why did you decide to join WBUR?

    Endless curiosity – about how things happen, why and about the people involved. I’ve had this curiosity ever since I was a young boy growing up in the desert in El Paso, TX. My very first job was as a newspaper delivery boy. I’ve been blessed to have had some wonderful experiences in print, broadcast and multimedia newsrooms and working with some talented colleagues along the way. I’m especially pleased and proud to help lead one of the biggest and best newsrooms in public radio. As WBUR grows and becomes more of a primary source of news and information – especially during this transformational time in Boston’s history – we have an opportunity and obligation to help lead the public dialogue on many important issues in our community.

    Will presenting news to audiences continue to evolve or change in 2018? If so, how?

    Newsrooms across Boston and the country are in the midst of rethinking and redefining how they collect and deliver the news – that includes WBUR. We know that over half of our audience experiences our multimedia content through mobile devices, so our content must be mobile friendly. Visual presentations of content – videos, photos, data visualization – are growing in importance for stories, especially those that are shared through social media channels. Although terrestrial radio continues to reach our largest audience, on-demand listening – whether through podcasts or streaming – is growing in popularity for our audience, especially younger listeners and readers. But even amid all of these changes, it is important that we always remain committed to the traditional values of fair, aggressive and transparent journalism.

    PR people continue to see the lines are blurring between advertising and editorial. Is this impacting how you and your team at WBUR report news? If so, how?

    News organizations are also constantly looking for new business and financial models to help sustain the journalism. Increasingly, we’re seeing the development of “sponsored content” which can sometimes look, walk and quack like newsroom editorial content. As a former ombudsman for the Boston Globe, I think it’s very important that news organizations are both very careful and very clear with audiences about what is advertising and what is news coverage. So far, I believe most organizations – including WBUR – has maintained that line between advertising and editorial but it’s an evolving and ongoing discussions (and debates) that we have on these issues.

    Why was it important to develop online niche sites, such as the ARTery and Edify, or podcasts such as Modern Love?

    As WBUR continues to grow as a multimedia destination for news and spoken-word content, we are constantly experimenting with new forms of presentations and platforms. We have national programs that reach millions of listeners across the United States; and we have sound-rich podcasts that share peoples’ personal stories and perspectives. In our local newsroom, we’ve developed a number of multimedia content “verticals” as a way to chronicle many of the dynamic sectors that are part of our knowledge-based economy around Boston. We’re building teams of journalists to bring WBUR’s high-quality storytelling to these sectors: “BostonomiX is how we cover tech and innovation; “CommonHealth” covers health and science; The ARTery is how we capture our increasingly diverse arts and culture scene; “Edify” is how we cover the many facets of teaching, learning and education. The great news is we are developing new ones for 2018!

     Why is hosting events important to WBUR? How will this continue to evolve in 2018?

    WBUR believes it has both an opportunity and responsibility to lead the public conversations on important topics with newsmakers, thought leaders, idea makers and diverse members of our communities. That’s already what we do every day on air and online. We do it through our selection of news stories and topics, our regular use of polling to key issues like the opioid crisis or climate change, and through our growing use of social media and crowd-sourcing. Convening more public events is a natural extension of our role as a public institution. We regularly host public events at WBUR that include many of our journalists. We also sponsor and produce dozens of other events all over the region because we believe strongly in our role of gathering communities together for thoughtful discussion. Sometimes these events can be a source of revenue for us, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to constantly cultivate and grow our public media audience. There will be some more exciting news on this front also in 2018!

     

    Do you have a candidate for a FAST FIVE interview? Email Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your expert! 

     

     

     

  • FAST FIVE: Five Things Mike Rush Learned in 10 Years Consumer PR

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    For over a decade, Mike has led successful, award-winning integrated campaigns for both heritage and challenger brands in the home, tech, travel, pet and publishing sectors. Since joining 360PR in 2007, Mike has developed numerous influencer-driven campaigns, from pairing Liberty Mutual Insurance with HGTV’s Chip Wade for a DIY homeowner campaign and spearheading the company’s safe driving program with NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer, to a consumer health campaign called “what’s your healthy?” for Aetna featuring The Biggest Loser host Alison Sweeney.  Mike has worked with countless HGTV personalities, authors, celebrities and physicians & veterinarians-to-the-stars, from Richard Simmons to The Bachelor’s Trista Sutter. His passion for home design and DIY has also inspired work for such clients as Cree LED lighting and Honeywell portable appliances. He created the multi-year “America’s Coziest Cities” initiative for Honeywell heaters, which taps environmental experts to define what makes a home “cozy” in winter, generating targeted consumer lifestyle coverage on Good Housekeeping, This Old House, Elle Décor, House Beautiful, The Weather Channel, Accuweather and more. 
    Prior to joining 360PR, Mike worked at Weber Shandwick, where he was nominated for PRWeek’s Young Professional of the Year for his work on Ocean Spray’s “Bogs Across America” campaign, CVS/pharmacy, and Staples. Mike has served on the board of the Public Relations Society of America’s Boston chapter, overseeing educational programming. Mike has also spoken at the PROI Worldwide Global Summit and is the agency’s representative in the PROI Consumer Group.  In his spare time, weather permitting, he can be found sailing around the Boston Harbor, Cape Cod + Islands.
    How do you identify and connect celebrities with brands?
    As an agency, we have a formalized, documented process for connecting brands with third-party experts, whether they be musicians, celebrities, chefs, etc. Our process begins with a mapping exercise where we examine a short-list of potential spokespersons’ spheres of influence – their visibility (e.g. Q score), social reach, skill set/expertise, credibility, their own brand / tone of voice, etc., and how well that matches the client and story, the audience the client is trying to reach and how the person augments the client’s current footprint across channels. We also conduct a comprehensive audit to determine how the spokesperson has been discussed and covered in media to ensure we stay ahead of any potential issues that could arise during the contract term. We will conduct a professional background check on spokespeople before inking a deal as well. This helps ensure less worry down the road and that our clients are protected to the fullest degree.
     
    What should brands keep in mind when negotiating a contract?
    When negotiating a contract, flexibility is key. Spokespeople and their agents often think in terms of 8-hour service days – but it is often difficult to fit all PR activity into one day, especially if it is a set date, and media often have specific needs or asks that fall outside those eight hours. TV producers and guest bookers in particular need flexibility, and celebrity spokesperson contracts should reflect how PR works. One approach is to structure an agreement based on activity versus consecutive hours—e.g. a guaranteed number of phone and email interviews, a set number of television or Facebook Live interviews that can be conducted at any point during the term.  Flexibility often commands a higher price tag but will maximize your PR program’s success.  Service days are ideal for media stunts and events, but are not ideal for longer-term agreements when PR needs to be “always on.”
     
    What is one of the biggest challenges working with celebrities?
    Message training spokespeople, particularly celebrities, is perhaps the most difficult aspect of engagement, aside from negotiating a contract with a prickly agent! It is important to remember that third-party spokespeople are not brand experts nor are they as well-versed in your brand as an internal spokesperson would be. I have seen clients try to spoon-feed pages of key messages unsuccessfully. My recommendation is to condense key messages to *one* thing the spokesperson *must* say in every interview for it to be a success, followed by 1-2 follow-up messages they can add to elaborate. These messages are most effective and authentic when tied to a personal story or anecdote—the personal story is established early on in the spokesperson vetting process.  These top 2-3 key messages are best presented when laid out in a placemat format—and in large, bold font so it can be easily printed as a cheat sheet directly before going into a television interview or phone briefing. Brevity is key. Attention spans are typically shorter with celebrities and interview topics can go wildly off course based on current events, so it is crucial to coach the expert on “bridging” techniques so they can bring a discussion back to your brand’s story.
     
    What does every brand need to know about FTC guidelines when engaging an influencer?
    The FTC guidelines on paid spokesperson disclosure are ever-evolving – but when in doubt, it’s important to remember that transparency is key. Put yourself in the shoes of the average American, and if you’re watching a segment and it is not crystal clear that the talent is working in partnership with and paid by the brand that they are promoting, then it should and needs to be. Build this disclosure requirement into your contract so your client is protected, though it is YOUR responsibility to ensure disclosure happens.  Same goes for social media – sponsored posts must have disclosure upfront so that the average user scrolling through content sees that a post is sponsored at a glance.  Many blue-chip brands were recently slammed this year by the FTC for putting their disclosure, for example #Ad, below the break on Instagram posts.  While they were using the correct disclosure, consumers had to click “more” to view the full copy/caption with the disclosure. That does not mean you need to put #Ad at the beginning of every post, but it should appear before the fold.  And, the FTC has declared #spon is not clear enough – it should say #ad or #sponsored fully spelled out.  And, celebrities who received product for free outside of a contractual agreement need to disclose they were gifted it.  I could go on!
     
    Have you ever had any random or bizarre contract asks for celebrities?
    No – but my two parting pieces of advice would be: (1) Know your audiences – specifically, that your client is one of them! Don’t forget to build in guaranteed facetime for your celebrity and your client’s senior executives. The PR program might be a smashing success, but what will be remembered will be that intimate dinner, autograph or employee engagement activity you ensured your client received as part of the deal. (2) Remember when working with networks like ABC or HGTV or leagues like NASCAR or the NFL that when you enlist a celebrity, you don’t normally have the rights to mention these networks in your media materials!  This can create a hurdle if your spokesperson is up-and-coming and not a household name. Make sure to clarify this contractually and that you set expectations with your client.