Fast Five

  • 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

    In Chapter Events, Fast Five on
    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.
     
  • Fast 5 Questions with Alicia Thompson, Managing Director, Porter Novelli

    In Career, Fast Five, ICON 2017 on

    Alicia Thompson, APR, serves as managing director of Porter Novelli and has over two decades of experience in public relations and communications.

    Alicia’s expertise falls squarely in consumer products and services. Throughout her career, she has worked with such brands as Arby’s Restaurant Group, Interface, Teavana, Nestle/Gerber, Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen, Coca-Cola, BellSouth, Fletcher Martin Ewing and Cohn & Wolfe. She has deep experience in food and beverage, QSR, casual dining, franchising and crisis/issues management in this category.

    Join us for an opportunity to meet Alicia, and other world-class speakers, at the 2017 PRSA International Conference in Boston October 8-10.

    1) What, in your view, is the biggest challenge facing the PR industry today and why? 

    The consolidation of communications marketing disciplines. As the lines between PR/Advertising/Digital/Social continue to blur, the “traditional” tenets of PR and the work product of PR agencies blurs as well. And as other marketing discipline agencies add PR offerings, PR agencies have had to offer other services. One has to ask if any of them are doing a phenomenal job with offerings outside their core competency.

    2) What industry trend is hot now? Do you think the trend is here to stay? 

    The continued role of influencers as key content contributors. Yes, it is here to stay. The research is clear – people trust their peers and people with whom they have things in common. With this data point in mind, agencies and companies are going to leverage influencers more in the future as ongoing contributors. The key will be finding authentic advocates who truly connect with the target audience.

    3) If you could go back in time and meet yourself 10 years ago, what advice would you offer her? 

    Begin with good leaders! The best job experience can be completely unraveled by a poor leader. Ten years ago, I was fortunate to work for a great leader, but it certainly was not on my list of criteria. My best advice to myself 10 years ago, or anyone today, is to put good leadership at the top of your criteria list.

    4) Please tell us a little about your ICON session. 

    Our session – Becoming a PR Leader: The Art and Science of Mentorship – draws upon research from the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and personal experiences to discuss the importance and impact of mentorship on leadership and long-term professional success. The content is intended for young professionals embarking on their career journey.

    5) What are you reading? 

    I’ve got several books that I’m reading right now. At the top of the stack is Patrick Lencioni’s “Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable.” Oddly enough, my favorite book is Spencer Johnson’s “Who Moved My Cheese.” It is a simple tale about dealing with change.

  • Fast 5: Five Things to Know about Social Media and Crisis Communications

    Elaine Driscoll, Massachusetts Gaming Commission

    @ElaineDriscoll  @MassGamingComm


     

    The words “community policing” typically conjure up images of police officers walking the beat. In the 21st century, cops on the beat have moved online as well.

    The Boston Police Department was one of the pioneers of the use of social media as a communications and outreach tool. Elaine Driscoll was with the Boston Police Department when it began using Twitter in 2009, and it has turned into a method of community engagement as well as crowdsourcing tips. Elaine, a media relations professional with almost 20 years of experience in public relations, crisis communications and community outreach, now serves as Director of Communications at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

    We caught up with Elaine in advance of the Social Media Summit to talk about social media, crises and what she looks forward to most about the summit.

    Q: What role can social media play in a crisis?

    Social media is the gasoline that spreads a crisis like a wildfire; it can also be the bucket of cold water that helps to put the fire out. The traditional sense of “news cycle” now has far less significance when considering the timing and strategy for addressing a PR crisis. As a result, an organization must be prepared to be nimble and decisive with an initial response, whether the crisis was anticipated or a spontaneous occurrence.

    Social media also provides an organization with a quick and efficient mechanism to respond directly to the masses. This direct access to the public provides an extraordinary ability to control the presentation of your message and influence public perception minus the filter applied by traditional media outlets, but that’s IF you get your response right. You can count on the court of public opinion to let you know quickly if the response is inadequate (Hello, United Airlines).

    Q: You have worked at both the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and the Boston Police Department. How have those organizations used social media to communicate to their audiences?

    The Mass Gaming Commission and the Boston Police Department have different missions, but they are similar in their need for a robust communications infrastructure. MGC and BPD require a communications outreach strategy that is efficient and practical for executing a high volume of external communications, provides for two-way interactions and public participation, and enhances transparency. Both agencies depend on social media to achieve their organizational priorities and goals.

    Q: Can you give an example of how you may have effectively managed social media during a crisis in the past?

    Social media is a tremendous tool to assist with the management of a crisis, particularly one involving public safety. It’s important to note that it will only be truly effective if it has been test-driven before an organization needs it to perform. Building an audience and your organization’s reputation for communicating prior to an inevitable crisis is paramount. The BPD is highly adept at crisis communications because of how they utilize their communications system when they are not in crisis. The BPD was one of the first police departments in the country to use Twitter. It started in 2009 by simply issuing public safety and traffic instructions for a St. Patrick’s Day parade. In the years that followed, the department’s use of Twitter and other social media channels evolved significantly and became everything from a friendly and innovative way to connect with the community to the remarkably effective use of crowdsourcing tips and investigative leads.

    The 2011 Occupy Boston movement offers an interesting case study in the department’s advanced use of social media. Other cities had a far more contentious experience with the Occupy movement than Boston. I believe that strong and non-adversarial communication was a major contributor to the largely successful outcome of the 70-day protest in Dewey Square – much of that communication took place over Twitter, which was an approach unique to Boston.  That same year, the BPD’s Twitter account had more followers than any other police organization in the world.

    Q: With the number of social media platforms out there, how can organizations effectively monitor the conversation and address crises?

    There are many effective ways to monitor social media conversations. I prefer Tweetdeck and Meltwater News. When an organization is deciding which social media channels to use as part of its communications infrastructure, it depends on what you are selling and to whom – a high fashion boutique has different communication needs than a government agency. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all strategy except that I would always urge quality over quantity. I don’t think most organizations can adopt every social media channel and do them all well. An organization should identify where it is most likely to reach its target audiences and master that communication before casting too wide a net.

    Q: What are you most looking forward to about the Social Media Summit?

    I enjoy the opportunity to share my experiences and also deeply appreciate the chance to learn from my peers. As PR practitioners, we have to continue to evolve in our trade and enhance our skill set in order to stay relevant and keep up with an ever-changing world of traditional and social media.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics (https://prsaboston.org/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 on the fly! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, authors’ 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 (mailto:josh@joshuamilnepr.com) and pitch your subject expert!

  • Fast 5: Making Social Media a Judgement Free Zone

    Jenna Reynolds, Planet Fitness

    @JennaAReynolds  @PlanetFitness


     

    Jenna Reynolds is a proud tiny-house owner and dog mom who spends her days as a Digital Communities Manager professional at Planet Fitness World Headquarters, the home of the Judgement Free Zone. She spearheaded the creation of Planet of Triumphs, the company’s very own social community, where elevating positivity and inspiring members is the goal.

    We caught up with Jenna to talk about how social media can help people achieve their fitness goals, what she is looking forward to at the Social Media Summit, and what life is like in a tiny house.

    Q. Just when the news feed couldn’t seem to be any more crowded, the flow of information seems to have picked up to a dizzying pace. How can brands break through that noise?

    A. Every brand’s focus should be on what works for them and their brand personality. Planet Fitness members’ feeds are filled with the latest fitness and diet trends. We aim to break through that noise by empowering our members with positive messaging about our Judgement Free Zone and by celebrating their fitness triumphs, big and small.

    Q. What was the drive behind creating Planet of Triumphs? Why was it important to create a social community for Planet Fitness?

    A. We have seen first-hand the amazing things that are possible when our members encourage and support one another in our gyms. We wanted to forge a special community where they could do so digitally as well. The platform has truly taken on a life of its own and our members have used it to detail their fitness journeys, cheer each other on and ask for support when they need it.

    We surveyed a focus group of our members, and more than 70% said that they don’t post their fitness experiences on traditional social channels as they are afraid of being judged; Planet of Triumphs provides them a place where they can feel comfortable doing so.

    The platform has become an important part of our brand, and our CEO visits the site every day to learn about our members’ stories and offer words of encouragement. As a company, we are diligent about keeping the site from becoming overly promotional and instead have let our members build their own community and celebrate their everyday wins.

    Q. What advice would you give brands that are nervous about engaging on social media?

    A. It is all about trust. Using social media helps immediately open up direct feedback and establish trust between your brand and consumers. It isn’t just about pushing out content. It should also be about how your fans respond and the learnings that you can distill from that, not just in terms of social media, but in all areas of your business.

    Additionally, my biggest piece of advice would be to closely monitor your response volume and ensure that your social media strategy is equipped to handle it.

    Overall, don’t overthink it. You’ve got this!

    Q. What are you most looking forward to about the Social Media Summit?

    Lanyards. Besides that, connecting with other social media advocates. No matter the industry, it is always a positive learning experience to hear about other brands’ successes and challenges, along with the trends that they are witnessing, when it comes to social media.

    Q. You say you are a tiny-house owner. Doesn’t it get a little cramped?

    The winter months can test my two dogs’ patience but otherwise, we utilize our yard which has a mini outdoor theater, fire pit, dining area, etc.  I am social by profession and personality, so not being able to entertain a lot of people has been the biggest challenge; however, I am also addicted to re-decorating, so living in a smaller space has helped me to successfully limit my HomeGoods visits.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics (https://prsaboston.org/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 on the fly! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, authors’ 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 (mailto:josh@joshuamilnepr.com) and pitch your subject expert!

  • Fast Five: Tweeting from the Train

    In Crisis, Events, Fast Five, News, Social Media on

    Lauren Armstrong has been a Public Information Officer at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority since June 2014. A passion for helping others motivates her to provide the best customer service to those who ride the T. Communicating via social media, managing mbta.com, and tracking operational performance data, is a glimpse into her day.   @MBTA

    We caught up with Lauren in advance of the Social Media Summit to talk about how the T uses social media and what she looks forward to most about the summit.

    Q. What role can social media play in a crisis?

    I think social media is one of the most powerful, and sometimes underestimated, communication tools available. It can be used to interact directly with stakeholders during a crisis, answer their questions/concerns and provide accurate and timely information.

    Q.How does the MBTA use social media to communicate with its audiences?

    Our use of social media is two-fold. Firstly, we use it to announce service delays/disruptions, news/updates, media stories and important reminders. Secondly, we use it as a tool to engage one-on-one with riders. We can answer their questions, resolve their complaints and pass along the much-appreciated operator shout-outs that we receive.

    Q.Can you give an example of how you may have effectively managed social media during a crisis in the past?

    Winter 2014/2015 was an opportunity to announce service schedules and updates to answer questions like, “What kind of service will be running tomorrow?” “Is my bus on snow route?” or “Will my commuter rail train be cancelled?” But it also gave us a few opportunities to highlight the work being done by MBTA employees to keep platforms and bus stops clear of snow and ice.

    Q. How can organizations use the vast amount of data available from social media and website traffic to spot and address potential crisis situations?

    Organizations can use data available to get ahead of a potential crisis. For example, when our web team spots a high increase in traffic to our winter service updates page, we make the decision to redirect our homepage right to our winter page. That way, customers get the exact information they’re looking for and don’t have to spend time looking around for it.

    Q. What are you most looking forward to about the Social Media Summit?

    I’m excited to connect with other leaders in the social media industry, and am looking forward to sharing what we do at the MBTA.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics (https://prsaboston.org/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 on the fly! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, authors’ 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 (mailto:josh@joshuamilnepr.com) and pitch your subject expert!