Tag Archives: Public Relations

How To Craft Messages That Capture Your Audience’s Attention

27 Jun










I found this infographic to be a great way to quickly summarize the points.  Courtesy Ragan Communications:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Be unexpected
  3. Be concrete
  4. Get credible
  5. Be emotional
  6. Tell a story



New York City Targets Energy Drinks And Sweetened Teas in Advertising Campaign

6 Jun

I worked in the Health Industry for over 3 years and the rise in obesity and non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke is a real concern for the state, not jut in Trinidad and Tobago which has the highest rates in the Caribbean, but globally. We started to tackle this in 2011 through a public education programme about the need to lose weight, get active and eat healthy.  It is interesting however to read about the push back by the American Beverage Association (ABA).  The global public health problem of increasing waistlines is not something the ABA can hope to address with Public Relations.  A more appropriate response would be to continue to add more affordable healthier options to their product mix.  Please read this blog by Natalie Zmuda and let me know what you think.

NYC’s Latest Target: Sports Drinks and Sweetened Tea

‘Pouring on the Pounds’ Ads Also Goes After Energy Drinks, Fruit-Flavored Beverages

By:   Published: June 04, 2013
New York City is at it again. The city’s health department launched a new iteration of the long-running “Pouring on the Pounds” campaign, this time targeting sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit-flavored beverages and sweetened teas.

The ads, which will air on TV and be seen on city buses, warn New Yorkers about the dangers of sugary beverages that may “sound healthy.” Past versions of the campaign have gone after soda.

In the latest series of ads, non-carbonated beverages are attacked for being packed with sugars that can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and complications like amputation, heart attack, vision loss and kidney failure. Outdoor ads show a sports drink bottle that’s pouring nauseating globs of fat into a glass. The ads, slated to run through June, encourage New Yorkers to replace sugary beverages with water, seltzer, fat-free milk and fresh fruit.

“Sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit-flavored drinks sometimes sound like they’re good for us, but they are contributing to the obesity epidemic just as much as sugary soft-drinks,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, in a statement.

The health department says sales of non-carbonated sugary drinks have risen substantially in recent years, and the ads are meant to warn New Yorkers who “may mistakenly believe that non-carbonated sugary drinks are healthy.” According to the health department, data from the New York City Community Health Survey shows that, of the 10 city neighborhoods with the highest obesity rates, nine also boast the highest consumption of sugary drinks.

According to Beverage Marketing Corporation, energy drink volume rose 14% in 2012. Ready-to-drink tea rose 5% and sports drinks were up 2%. Those figures don’t separate out unsweetened or lower-calorie options.

Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo referred calls to the American Beverage Association.

Kevin Keane, a spokesman for the ABA, referenced a new study from the Centers for Disease Control that shows over a 12-year period, U.S. youth and adults lowered their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages by 68 and 45 calories per day, respectively. Mr. Keane added that the ABA has reviewed the city’s Community Health Survey and that its claims connecting consumption of sugary beverages and obesity don’t “add up.”

“This obsession that the New York City Health Department has for beverages is really unhealthy, because it’s misleading New Yorkers. The contribution of sugar-sweetened beverages to diets is small and declining, yet obesity rates are going up,” Mr. Keane said. “The facts don’t match their rhetoric.”

Last year the industry was extremely vocal in condemning New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the health department for attempting to institute a ban on the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. That effort was struck down earlier this year by a New York Supreme Court Judge.

“The people of New York City are much smarter than the New York City Health Department believes,” Coca-Cola said in a statement, at the time. “We are transparent with our consumers. They can see exactly how many calories are in every beverage we serve. …New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. They can make their own choices about the beverages they purchase.”


How To Moderate A Lively Panel Discussion

5 Jun

I recommend this blog by Scott Kirsner on how to moderate a lively panel discussion.   However, presentations do work for some panelists and under certain circumstances such as when the panel is addressing a complex or poorly understood topic.


How To Moderate a Panel Like a Pro

by Scott Kirsner  |   1:00 PM May 30, 2013


The panel discussion was invented by someone who liked to sit three feet above his audience, talk with five of his closest friends for an hour, and barely acknowledge that there are 100 other people in the room, usually sitting in uncomfortable chairs.

But until the panel discussion disappears from the agendas of conferences and networking events, you may be asked to moderate one. Lucky for you, the bar is very, very low. If you can find a way to deliver a few fleeting moments of entertainment or interaction, you will be regarded as a rock star. If you can toss in some insight and controversy, they may erect a statue of you at the convention center.

I’ve moderated more than 300 panel discussions at events like the Consumer Electronics Show, the Sundance Film Festival, and various Harvard Business School conferences. Here are a dozen guidelines to put you on the right track when you’re tapped to run a panel.

Don’t prep with your panelists. Many moderators imagine they are running a Congressional hearing, not a panel discussion. They hold pre-panel conference calls, and write lengthy e-mails back and forth hashing out the terrain each speaker intends to cover. Avoid that as much as possible. Your goal is to be a group of smart, funny people on-stage having a dynamic conversation. That doesn’t mean that you as a moderator shouldn’t research your panelists and their work so that you can come up with appropriate questions. My advice is to send your panelists a single pre-event e-mail, listing three questions you plan to open with, and asking them if there are any other issues they think are important to cover. At the event, socialize with your panelists and make sure everyone has met one another, but resist the urge to talk about what you’re going to talk about on-stage.

Sit with your panelists. It’s just not possible to run a good panel discussion by standing at the podium. Sit in the middle of your panelists, so you can easily make eye contact, and if needed, tap someone long-winded on the elbow and say, “Janet, those are fascinating examples, but can we get Bill’s take on this topic?”

Moderators can’t also be panelists. Just as an orchestra conductor would never whip out his viola to play a solo, your job is to encourage your panelists to give great performances. Once you start chiming in or rebutting panelists, the balance gets thrown off. You just can’t play both roles at once. (And just as a conductor would, you also need to be firm about not letting certain panelists dominate the discussion.)

No slides. Letting panelists show slides is almost certain death, and it radically reduces the role of the moderator. Exceptions: If panelists are talking about a visual topic, like retail store design, you can let each speaker bring the same number of example photos to show. If speakers are movie directors, letting everyone show a clip from their latest film, of a similar length, is fine. But letting speakers bring PowerPoints will usually gobble up your time and prevent any kind of interesting interactions from happening.

State your objective at the outset. Don’t write a long-winded introduction. Two sentences will do. Why is this topic important now, and what do you hope to accomplish within the next hour. “With all of the publicity around Google Glass, everyone is thinking about wearable computing. Our objective with our time today is to share some of the thinking about how wearable displays like Glass will change the way we interact with others.”

Never let the panelists introduce themselves. That’s the moderator’s job. Be as brief as you can, especially if the audience is holding a program guide with lengthier bios in it. Three lines is the absolute longest anyone’s introduction should be. No one cares where each panelist worked 27 years ago, or how you first met them.

Involve the audience within the first five minutes. This lets your audience know that you’re aware of them, and it keeps your panelists from acting as if they’re in a bubble. You can ask a few people to introduce themselves just by name, title, and company, to get a sense for who is in the audience. I sometimes ask audience members to applaud or boo in response to questions. “Have you ever had a great idea for improving a process at your company? Please applaud.” “OK, now, have you ever found it difficult to get the necessary resources or support to actually improve the process? Please boo.” It livens up the room.

Don’t go down the line every time. By the time the fifth panelist is answering the same question as four other people have answered, the odds they will contribute something interesting have dropped almost to zero. When you ask a question, two answers is plenty, unless a third person is dying to jump in. Instead, ask a related question, ask for a concrete example, or simply shift gears and ask your other panelists about something else.

Invite panelists to ask each other questions. When you send out your pre-panel email, or when you chat with panelists on-site, ask them to think of one question they’d like to ask their fellow panelists. Often, these questions are sharper or more provocative than the questions on your list — and panelists are often more candid when one of their peers asks them a question, as opposed to the “official moderator.”

High Altitude+Specifics+Audience. As you plan out what you want to do with your time, divide it into three roughly equal categories. “High altitude” are those questions where you give your panelists a chance to discuss what is happening in the world at a 30,000-foot level. Specifics are where you invite them to share funny anecdotes, war stories, or concrete examples — things that the audience can really relate to. Audience means not just leaving time for Q&A, but also coming up with creative ways to bring the audience into your conversation. After you’ve asked panelists about the worst hire they ever made, for instance, you might ask people in the audience to share their stories. If you have a panel of venture capitalists and an audience of entrepreneurs, try asking a few bold entrepreneurs to deliver their elevator pitches and get the VCs to suggest ways to improve it.

Don’t ask panelists for “one final thought.” The lamest way to conclude a panel is by giving each panelist an opportunity for a concluding oration. Typically, they’ll recap what they’ve already said, or look to their notes and cough up some uninteresting musing they didn’t have time to get to (usually for good reason.) Use the time instead for a last question from the audience, or for something forward-looking. “What important new trend will we be talking about at next year’s conference?” “What’s your counter-intuitive, half-crazy prediction about the next five years in our industry?”

You are an airline pilot. It’s your job to land this baby on time. Once you push past your scheduled end-time, audience members will get restless, and you’ll start getting dirty looks from the conference organizer. If you don’t have anyone in the room to flash you the “five minutes left” sign, set your mobile phone to vibrate in your pocket when the end is approaching.

If you attend enough panel discussions, you already know that the worst ones feel like a plodding public access TV show — and you can’t switch the channel. The best feel like a fast-paced, unpredictable conversation between smart people on stage and smart people in the audience. Keep that goal in mind, and you’ll soon be modeling for that heroic statue.


Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column and blog for the Boston Globe, and is a founder of several conferences, including the Nantucket Conference on Entrepreneurship & Innovation. He’s a regular speaker (and panel moderator) at events related to startups and corporate innovation. Scott is also co-founder and editor ofInnovationLeader.com, an information service for corporate innovation officers.

Video Ad’s Success Hinges on Social Sharing in the Early Days

1 May

Courtesy the eMarketer.  http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Video-Ads-Success-Hinges-on-Social-Sharing-Early-Days/1009852

FMCG ranks second, behind entertainment

Digital video has viral potential, and advertisers are increasingly trying to tap into the social-sharing instinct among viewers. Unruly Media Inc., a video technology company, studied social shares worldwide and found that the fast-moving consumer goods and consumer products category (FMCG) made particular strides in the first quarter of 2013, capitalizing especially on Super Bowl placements and increasing the number of social video shares by 78.2% over Q4 2012.

In total, entertainment garnered the most social video shares in Q1 2013, which is unsurprising given the adeptness of the industry at creating video content. Impressively, the FMCG sector was right behind. The two industries accounted for over half of total video ad shares.

Looking specifically at social video ad shares around the Super Bowl, the study also found that the auto sector—a major Super Bowl advertiser—performed fairly poorly.

The Super Bowl is where auto advertisers devote a significant percentage of their yearly budget, and that allocation showed in the increased shares the auto sectors’ videos received in the first quarter of this year—377% more than in Q4 2012. But that didn’t help boost auto above fourth place in the percentage of total shares garnered during that period. It seems auto manufacturers have more work to do to bring their TV ad-spot know-how to the web.

While creating unique, compelling video is critical to getting social shares, there is also a bit of science behind the phenomenon.

Unruly Media looked at social video sharing during 2012 among the 200 most-shared brand videos and found that the first three days after an ad’s debut determined a lot about its success: 10% of total shares occurred on the second day after debut, the apparent high point for video ad sharing. And the first three days saw one-quarter of total shares.

Social networkers are ready and willing to share video; they are simply waiting for content worthy of their attention and endorsement. Online video sharing was a top internet activity among US web users, according to a December 2012 study from NetBase, especially among younger consumers. It was the No. 2 online activity among those between 18- to 34-years-old. And even among those in the 35-to-54 age group, more than half reported sharing video.


Read more at http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Video-Ads-Success-Hinges-on-Social-Sharing-Early-Days/1009852#p3grex8JZYiImEo8.99

Boston bombings show crisis leadership in action

18 Apr

'Clear images of two suspects to be released'

The recent Boston bombings were horrible and devastating to watch.  And my condolences and prayers go out to the families of the 3 persons killed, and all those injured and hurt in anyway.  As a Manager and Public Relations professional, I also followed the response of the State, first responders and various officials to this crisis and how they reacted to the tragedy, contained it and dealt with it.  After the first few moments of disbelief, the response of the various first responders was swift, intentional and structured.  While being horrified at what I was witnessing on my television, I was also happy to see what I suspected was a state that had planned for a terrible situation as this one……from the immediate reactions of the police, medical personnel and others at the marathon, to the emergency staff at the hospitals.  This tragic occurrence however provides us with an opportunity to witness crisis leadership in action and to be able to learn from it, so that if (God forbid) there is another or similar crisis, the leaders and other resources involved can avoid the mistakes made, apply the tactics that worked and grow from the lessons learned.

Eric McNulty, Leonard Marcus, and Barry Dorn from the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at the Harvard University discuss the preparation the city of Boston did in their blog ‘When We’re Hungriest for Leadership”.  This preparation used several methods including a case study of a fictional terrorist bombing in a subway and past marathons and the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration to develop, exercise, and test their preparedness plans.  They also participated in an exchange programme which brought together officials from London, Madrid, Islamabad, and Israel to share their experience with terrorist bombing .  The authors note “Fortunately here, it seems that careful preparation helped civic leaders improvise a swift and effective response to the unthinkable. The city absorbed these lessons and modified its plans accordingly.”

The authors go on to note “Every crisis is potentially two crises: the original event and the response to the incident. When leadership remains calm and composed, they can help avoid turning the reaction to the crisis into a secondary disaster. In this case, the response was sure and swift. In Boston, effective preparation and in-the-moment leadership kept a terrible tragedy from descending into chaos that could well have resulted in more injuries, greater loss of life, and the possible destruction of evidence. Medical professionals, police, and race volunteers provided immediate aid. The professionals called upon long-rehearsed responses and were able nimbly (sic) organize bystanders and volunteers. The area was cleared quickly and efficiently.”

The key to crisis management is preparation.  It is vital to effective crisis management that a crisis is identified before it happens, and when it does, that it does not get out of control.  When last did you review your crisis manual?  Why not do so today?

You may read Eric McNulty, Leonard Marcus, and Barry Dorn’s article ‘When We’re Hungriest for Leadership” at http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/04/when_were_hungriest_for_leadership.html


Francisca Jordan is an accomplished communications strategist and advisor with over (24) years experience in Corporate Communications, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service.  Ms Jordan has assisted several large and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in both the public and private sector by providing winning strategies that transform business, drive sales, engage customers, employees, and other stakeholders and increase brand value. 

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