Posts tagged with ‘Fast 5’

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

    In Fast Five, Membership on

    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 and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 



  • 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 (that was organized on behalf by the Jackpot Offer Atlanta Home Buyers) 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. If people need the best homes, people can check out this link here! 
    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.
    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 
  • 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.

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 
  • Fast 5: Q&A with Mike Lawrence, Cone Communications’ EVP and Chief Reputation Officer

    In Ethics on



    PRSA Boston checked in with Mike Lawrence, Cone Communications’ EVP and Chief Reputation Officer, for his take on the state of ethics in PR.

    Do you think practitioners’ personal ethics are being challenged now more than ever in the PR field? Why?

    Etstreet signhics has always been a challenge in PR. There has always been built-in tension for PR folks. On the one hand, they often work with companies or individuals who expect support to look good or sell stuff.

    On the other hand, they need to be a credible source to earned media, which means advocating without misleading. If you haven’t seen the movie “Days of Wine and Roses,” checkout this short clip in which the public relations man (Jack Lemmon) tries to explain what he does for a living. The movie is from 1962. That ought to tell you something about how long ethics has been a

    Having said that, now that shared media and owned media (e.g. blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) have come of age, there are more opportunities for non-journalists and for PR people to be original creators of content that reaches a mass audience. That, in turn, provides more opportunity for ethical missteps such as pay-for-play.

    Describe an ethical situation and how you handled it.

    We had a consumer products client for which we were doing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) work when some of its products were the subject of a recall. In helping the company investigate the situation, it became clear other products were also likely to face recalls down the road. Despite that, the company insisted on saying in its immediate messaging that – based on what it knew at the time – other products were not affected. We kept deleting that language, and executives at the company kept putting it back in, hoping to reassure folks in the short run. We ended up resigning the business.

    If you were given a “do over” for this situation, would you handle it differently?


    If someone has an ethical dilemma on the job, what are the resources they should tap into to help make a decision?

    If their employer has an ethics policy, that’s a good place to start for guidance, as is the company’s ethics officer if such a role exists. Depending on the specific situation, their professional development manager or someone in their human resources department may be an appropriate resource. A mentor can be a valuable sounding board as well. Beyond that, there are good resources on PRSA’s website, and at the International Association of Business Communicators website. Both groups also offer opportunities to ask for confidential advice from experts in dealing with a specific ethical dilemma.

    Do you think companies and agencies should have ethics training programs? 

    Absolutely. At Cone Communications, we do a 30-minute meeting as part of new employee orientation that covers ethics and conflict of interest. It’s meant to empower all levels of staff to be “eyes and ears” for potential concerns. Beyond that, we have done periodic 90 minute staff learning sessions with breakout groups working on different ethical scenarios. It’s impossible to anticipate every ethical risk. But, training sessions can send a signal that ethics are a priority concern, and everyone shares responsibility for maintaining an ethical culture at a company.

    PRSA Boston is hosting an event on October 26 titled Solving Ethical Challenges in PR and Crisis Communications, at Lasell College. Go here, to get your ticket.

    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 and

    pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization.