WordWrite Storytelling Blog

What I learned from crisis media training

Posted by Catherine Clements

There are two main aspects to every crisis situation that receive media attention: the initial event and then how it’s handled. As seen in the news lately, it can be easy for a crisis to spin out of control. United Airlines is a prime example.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a crisis media training session for a client. During the training, I learned some key techniques communicators can use to help companies focus on their key messages, give them control of the situation and to avoid pitfalls during interviews.

Put your main message first

Time is of the essence in responding to almost any crisis. When crafting messaging, make sure the most important information is highlighted. Clearly and concisely lay out 

the one thing you want everyone to remember. It’s crucial to start with your key message.

When answering questions, always keep your messaging in mind. You can always come back to it with one of these techniques:  

  1. Bridging: The use of transitional phrases to pivot during an interview, or using the message to shift discussion to facts that answer the question.
  1. Flagging: Alerting the interviewer that you’re about to say something important. For example, “Let me put that into perspective…”
  1. Hooking: Using an aspect of the reporter’s question to lead the reporter back to your key messages. For example, “I’m so glad you asked because...”

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When creating your messaging, keep in mind your audience, which is not the journalist or an industry expert. Use common, accessible language. When interviewing for TV, look directly into the camera. Show that you’re human! Demonstrate empathy for the situation and be sincere.    

Maintain control

Whether you’re being interviewed on camera or hosting a press conference, it’s important to remember that you are in control of the situation.

If a journalist or reporter reaches out to you for a story, it’s okay to ask what the interview will be about. Just think, you wouldn’t go to a job interview without knowing what the position is for –the same applies to interviews with the media. Find out when the reporter’s deadline is so you know how much time you have to prepare.

During the interview, avoid using filler words or repeating yourself. There’s no need to answer in complete sentences; this separates your message further from the question. Plus, you don’t want to forget your answer due to nerves or getting caught up in the question. It’s important to not repeat the question when it is negative. Instead, give short and concise responses. 

Remember that any video can be edited, taken out of context, or used by another journalist. Avoid saying things like, “As I already said to ‘the reporter’s name.’” Whether your interview is for print, TV or radio, play it safe by assuming everything is on record and that microphones are on.

Your press conference should have both a time frame and a purpose. Remember that you invited the media to come talk with you in the first place, not the other way around. This is your opportunity to communicate your story. Don’t get forced into choosing between an A or B situation.

Be prepared

Take the time now to plan your communication flow and designate a spokesperson, in the event of a crisis. You and your team can prepare by brainstorming possible situations and identifying the appropriate messages to share. Having a crisis communications response plan prepared and in hand will benefit everyone involved.

Knowing you are in control of a situation during a crisis can give you the reassurance you need to be a more effective crisis communicator. Download our free crisis communications guide!

I want my crisis and media training guide! 


Catherine is an account associate at WordWrite Communications. She can be reached at catherine.clements@wordwritepr.com 

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Topics: public relations, crisis communications

Fewer Words, More Laughs: How Humor Can Improve Your Business Communications Strategy

Posted by Hollie Geitner

“Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you're probably watching the wrong channel.” 

Groucho Marx

A good laugh is cathartic. I find I’m in a much better mood when I’ve had a chance to laugh. Often times it’s my husband who is responsible for this. Out of nowhere he will come up with these hysterical one-liners—often directed at himself—and it’s hard not to laugh. You see, he’s an engineer—not known for his communication skills. I would even say he’s a man of few words—not because he isn’t social—he is, but because he doesn’t need many words to get his point across. He uses humor. He’s self-deprecating, honest and real. He doesn’t take things too seriously, unless he has to. Those who work for him find him likeable, approachable and one of the most effective leaders they’ve ever had. The point here is not to stroke his ego—although I’m sure he is loving this boost! The real takeaway is that you don’t need an expansive vocabulary to be a great communicator. When you get people to respond the way you’ve intended, you’ve succeeded. Comedy is a great way to achieve this.

I think we can all admit that corporate communications has always been a bit, shall we say, “dull”?  Your typical corporate piece—whether a memo, email or article—is dry and either excessively wordy or lacks any real context to help the reader understand what it is they are supposed to do once they’ve read it. Ultimately, it is quickly forgotten, or worse, not even read because no one has the time, energy or desire to read something that takes so much effort.

You’ve all watched Jon Stewart’s, The Daily Show, right? Jon was damn funny—whether you agree with the direction he leaned or not. His stories were, as Chris Bliss outlined in a TED Talk, “grounded in a commitment to facts.” Not only were they funny, they were effective. In fact, a Fairleigh Dickenson market research study showed that Daily Show viewers were more informed than other cable news show viewers. Those who watched the Daily Show were about as informed and knowledgeable as those who listen to NPR. 

In Chris’ TED Talk, he explained the brain science behind this and it makes a lot of sense. When adrenaline is released in our brain, it signals a “fight or flight” response. We all know that feeling. On the other hand, when we experience “mental delight”—such as when we attend a comedy show—our brain releases endorphins which bring down our defenses so we can take in the moment more. We can even retain what we just read or heard better. How many times have you shared some of the jokes you’ve heard at a show because you laughed so hard you couldn’t wait to tell others? Chris explained that comedy is “inherently viral” and only more so now that we have social media and a 24/7 news cycle.

So, as a communicator, how can you effectively use humor as part of your strategy? I will admit, humor timed poorly or that appears to be too edgy can be risky—especially in a corporate setting. Finding a good balance is key and the safest place to start is usually by poking fun at yourself—not in a manner that erodes your credibility—but in a way that shows you are genuine and just as vulnerable as everyone else. This kind of humor can be incorporated into speeches, in collateral materials, shared via town hall meetings, in emails and other forms of communication. It’s worth noting that it can be more challenging to convey humor in words than when shared verbally because it’s easy to misinterpret something in writing. The appropriate tone is more difficult to capture so it requires more finessing than perhaps when delivered in person. One way to do this is to adopt a more conversational tone in your writing. Less corporate speak, more real language. Write as if you talking to your audience.

Timeliness is the most important thing to consider when infusing humor. We’ve seen too many examples of attempts at being funny falling flat because the timing was off—as was the case with shoe designer Kenneth Cole who sent out an insensitive tweet linking his new shoe line to what was happening in Cairo, Egypt. A successful example at humor is Oreos perfectly timed ad tweeted during last year’s Super Bowl blackout: “You can still dunk in the dark.” As some have said, they “won social media” that night. That, they did.

Speaking of timeliness, check out the Wall Street Journal's 2017 report on What Research Says About Humor in the Workplace

Top marketing professionals know that business works better with a level of entertainment. Learn how to use humor in your business communications at Pittsburgh's first humor writing conference, Communicating with Comedy. The evening's featured speakers include local blogger/podcaster/comedian John Chamberlin, Philadelphia humor writer and founder of HumorOutcasts.com Donna Cavanagh and local author, psychologist and award-winning humorist Nancy Berk. It's no secret that businesses today often succeed or fail based on their ability to connect with their audience through content, social media and viral marketing. Join us for an evening of laughter, learning and a networking Happy Hour at Communicating with Comedy on Thursday, May 11 from 4-7 p.m. 

Register Now

How do you use humor as part of your communications strategy? Share with us in the comments below.


Hollie Geitner is vice president, client services for WordWrite Communications.You can find her on Twitter @JustHollieGHollie Geitner


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Topics: public relations

No border wall can stop a crisis – and what that means for your crisis PR

Posted by Paul Furiga

In the 21st century political world, there’s a debate over borders and building walls to protect them. 

In the communications world, if recent crises have taught us anything, it’s that no border and no wall can stop a crisis from spreading.

The historical barriers of language, time zone, newspaper printing schedules and television satellite availability are no longer speed bumps slowing the speed of global damage to an organization’s reputation in the 21st century. Our always-on, internet-connected world has made every regional crisis a potential international crisis.

How do I know this? Because in recent weeks, I’ve been asked to comment on the United Airlines crisis by media outlets as far-flung as South Korea and the United Kingdom.

In any given year, WordWrite manages crisis PR for about a dozen major crises, 10 of which are never public and a couple of which dominate the news. Because passengers-519008_1920.jpgof our team’s background in journalism and crisis communication, we’re often asked to comment on crises in the news.

I was surprised that two of my recent United interviews would be with the Alex Johnson morning show on TBA eFM, the top-rated English-language radio station in South Korea and the weekly magazine The Drum, which started in Glasgow, Scotland.

What’s most interesting about the interviews is the similar thread in both: How does United’s poor handling of the “re-accommodation” of Dr. David Dao affect its international standing?

When Dr. Dao was dragged off a United flight for refusing to give up his seat to United crew traveling to another destination, the event was captured by other passengers and posted to social media almost immediately, driving the global news cycle. United’s clumsy and tone-deaf initial responses only fed the global media beast.

Overseas, Dr. Dao’s Asian heritage became the focal point of coverage. Alex Johnson wanted to know how United’s handling of the former Vietnamese refugee would affect United’s desire to grow its business in China, where Weibo, the larger-than-Twitter Chinese variation of the social media platform was consumed for days with the crisis.

At The Drum, Ronan Shields focused on the social media spread of the crisis, using the great statistics that social media provides to show just how damaging the crisis was far beyond the domestic airport gate in Chicago where the incident happened.

In his article, Shields quoted me as saying that, in the 21st century, every passenger is a potential publisher and that as a result, airlines need to revamp their social media policies and be more proactive when something goes wrong.

Air travel is among the most public of industries. It’s hard to hide a jetliner or what happens on it. But really – regardless of the industry that you’re in or what your organization does to provide value, the same rule applies:

In the 21st century, every customer, employee, neighbor, supplier or other stakeholder is a potential publisher. How is your organization factoring this into your crisis communication planning?

If you’re not, it’s time to start. You may never fly the friendly skies of United. And you may hope to never experience the unfriendly crisis that the Dr. Dao incident created. But what’s your plan? How will your organization make sure that a seemingly small problem doesn’t become an international crisis that demands a full-court press from your crisis communication team?

A good place to start is to make sure your team is prepared to answer media questions in the midst of an evolving crisis. Click below to learn more on our approach to this challenge.

I want my crisis and media training guide!

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Topics: public relations, crisis communications

Law firms without a PR agency place their clients at risk

Posted by Jeremy Church

In any given year, our WordWrite team handles more than a dozen crises. Most never see the light of day. A few are the kind that dominate the headlines.

This work has earned our firm a quiet reputation for mitigating the public aspect of serious corporate crises. Clients, potential clients and (increasingly) their lawyers, frequently seek our counsel on crisis issues.

Much of this is a byproduct of our heritage in journalism and crisis communications. Our agency’s senior leaders have nearly 70 years combined experience handling crisis issues, both large and small.frankfort-105591_1920.jpg

In a crisis, our goal is to turn potential bad news into the best headline you never read. We often joke that it’s tough to win industry awards for quietly solving problems that are never in the headlines. The nature, sensitivity and privilege of confidentiality we enjoy with our clients prohibits us from discussing much of what we’ve done.

In Pennsylvania, however, the degree to which correspondence between agencies and their clients is protected has recently come under legal scrutiny that jeopardizes the ability of a PR firm to offer strategic guidance without potentially having that advice become public record.

In March of 2017, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that attorney-client privilege does not apply to a company's email correspondence with its PR consultants. Throughout a lengthy court battle and subsequent appeal, Excela Westmoreland Hospital claimed a document shared with its media relations firm was protected because the PR consultants were part of the legal team offering advice to the hospital. The court found that the PR agency had been hired only to handle a media event and not to aid in any consultation with attorneys on strategy – legal or otherwise.

To improve the likelihood that courts will recognize exchanges between clients and their PR agency as “protected,” leading law firms recommend that a company’s outside counsel hire a public relations consultant with deep crisis communications experience.  It doesn’t matter if the client has an immediate need for PR support or an existing contract with a PR agency.

In fact, global law leader Reed Smith suggested in an article written for Corporate Counsel magazine that it might actually be preferable for clients to use a different crisis PR consultant from the one they are already using, especially if the client’s existing PR firm lacks crisis experience.

“(C)onsider a public relations firm specializing in crisis management to improve the odds that the company and its counsel will get the media advice needed, with the proper level of attention given to confidentiality and the legal purpose behind the retention,” the authors wrote.

Some law firms might argue their clients are better off following a strict “no comment” policy with the media. If that’s the case, why bother having a PR agency in the fold?newspapers-53323_1920.jpg

Former accounting giant Arthur Andersen is a prime example of how this strategy can backfire. In 2002, it was convicted of obstruction of justice for shredding documents related to its audit of Enron, which led to the subsequent high-profile scandal that destroyed the energy trading company.

Andersen’s attorneys always believed the firm would be vindicated. They focused on having their day in court and avoided use of the media to carry their message, which eliminated the possibility of potentially winning the hearts and minds of the people.

Andersen did win the legal battle but lost the PR reputation war.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the conviction three years later, the damage was done. Under taint of scandal and without an effective defense in the eyes of the global community, clients and employees abandoned the Andersen ship. Today, Arthur Andersen exists in name only after once employing more than 85,000 people worldwide.

During more than 15 years of handling crisis communications for dozens of organizations, we’ve been fortunate to work with many professional service clients, including several law firms.

That’s how we know law firms and PR agencies with a background in crisis communications can effectively collaborate.

Organizations grappling with a crisis need help preserving their reputation during the legal battles that play out in front of a media audience increasingly conditioned to follow the scandal du jour. Individual circumstances of a crisis dictate the degree to which counsel can share or comment on information related to an ongoing legal matter.

However, as we often advise our own clients, you can be responsive to the media (and other stakeholders) and protect your legal standing without using the words “no comment.”

Otherwise, like Arthur Andersen, your clients could be tried and convicted in the court of public opinion long before they have their day in actual court.

Image Credit: pixabay


Jeremy Church is a partner and the vice president of media and content strategies at WordWrite Communications. He can be reached at jeremy.church@wordwritepr.com.


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Topics: crisis communications

Why you should use Instagram to tell your company’s story

Posted by Catherine Clements

Whenever I reach for my phone, one of the first apps I open is Instagram. As it turns out, I’m not alone. According to a Pew Research Center study, 51 percent of Instagram users check their feed on a daily basis, and 26 percent of users check on a weekly basis. On average, Instagram users open the app six times over the course of the day. Users are clearly looking for new content, so why not let it be yours? With over 600 million users on Instagram, it’s time to start sharing your organization’s story.

Humans are 55 percent more likely to remember information when seeing it with an image, according to Brain Rules. This is a great opportunity for content creation and brand awareness. Although only about 9 percent of US small businesses are on Instagram, there has never been a better time to leverage your brand on this platform. Not only is there less competition among business accounts, but content has a better chance of engagement. Unlike Facebook, which relies on an algorithm for displaying content, Instagram shows all posts chronologically. So if you’re posting regularly, your brand can gain visibility.

Instagram is a powerful medium because it allows social media marketers to show rather than tell. Users, especially millennials, want to see a company’s product, service and personality in action. Let audiences connect to the human side of your organization by giving them an insider’s view to your business, using humor and sharing meaningful content. Ultimately, these tactics will make your business more relatable and memorable by helping to establish trust and allowing your company to build relationships with followers and prospective customers.  

Continually creating visual content for Instagram can be a challenge for businesses. But there are several ways you can use this powerful tool to tell your company’s story in new ways, and without needing professional photography. Not sure how to get started? I’ve put together a list of classic content ideas and examples below to help you out.

1. Behind-the-scenes


Why it works: People love seeing what’s going on backstage.


2. Office 


Why it works: It allows followers to be inspired by your work space.


3. Product Demo


Why it works: It’s a great way to promote a product or service without seeming like you’re advertising.  


4. Throwback


Why it works: It demonstrates your company history.


5. Awards


Why it works: It makes you look more credible and trustworthy.


6. Employees


Why it works: A great staff makes a great company.  


7. Customers


Why it works: Customers see that you care. Plus they’ll share it with their friends.




Why it works: Quotes typically have a higher engagement rate because they stand out in a user’s feed.


9. Infographics


Why it works: Infographics allow you to communicate a lot of information in a small space.


10. Food


Why it works: Everyone loves food! It’s guaranteed that users will pause at this photo.


Want to learn more about growing your business through social media? Download our whitepaper.


Catherine is an account associate at WordWrite Communications. She can be reached at catherine.clements@wordwritepr.com

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Topics: social media, storytelling

3 Updates to Facebook’s algorithm you should know about

Posted by Catherine Clements


Before the 2016 presidential election, most people probably couldn’t tell you why certain content came up first in their Facebook News Feed. As it turns out, the biggest measurement that ranks content is engagement, which includes any interaction with the post in the form of likes, comments, views or shares. It’s especially important that social media marketers understand how information generates the News Feed.

Since the backlash on Facebook after the election, transparency has never been more important. After all, it was engagement that made fake news so well-circulated during the election. Though Facebook has now started to flag fake news stories, it has made users question how they consume information. 

It’s no secret that the amount of content on Facebook is only increasing. With over 1.23 billion active daily users, content from news articles to live video is shared every second through Facebook’s News Feed. With such a large volume of posts, Facebook aims to deliver the most relevant and timely content to its users. In a continued commitment to transparency, Facebook shared three updates to how it ranks posts in your News Feed.


1. A filter for authentic content

The reason why your news feed seems so personal is because it is!  When ranking posts, Facebook looks at how you interact with a friend or Page. For example, if you commonly like a friend’s posts, those updates will surface to the top of your feed. To increase the amount of authentic content, Facebook created a model to identify when Pages are posting spam. If enough users hide certain posts, Facebook will mark the content as inauthentic, and it will appear much lower in the Feed. This forces digital marketers to post content that’s relevant and helpful to users.

2. A real-time News Feed

For a while now Facebook has looked at engagement as a measure of timeliness.  But with the current update, Facebook will also measure how interactions change in real time. For instance, if a certain topic is receiving a lot of activity, Facebook indicates that it may be more important to a user, thus displaying it higher in the News Feed. When your favorite band releases their national tour dates, Facebook knows that this information is timely and relevant to you. That content might rank higher because more people at that time are talking about it across Facebook.

3. A video completion rate

In order to help users find the best videos, Facebook has rolled out a percent completion metric. This measurement looks at how long users spend watching a video. Videos labeled as compelling, which are viewed at least halfway through, will rank higher in the News Feed. 

Ultimately, Facebook’s algorithm forces marketers to think deeper about why an audience needs to hear their story. Because the News Feed is all about the user, it’s important to learn how to authentically connect with an audience and create timely, relevant and educational content. People aren’t going to tell their friends about a boring story in “real life,” so why would they share one they don’t care about on social media? Creating engaging content will improve your brand’s trustworthiness and can serve as the basis for a solid social media strategy 

Are you interested in reaching your audience through social media? Learn more about our services and contact us here.

Catherine is a public relations intern at WordWrite Communications. She can be reached at catherine.clements@wordwritepr.com

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Topics: social media

PR Lessons Learned from the 2017 Academy Awards

Posted by Robin Rectenwald

More than 32.9 million viewers tuned in to ABC on February 26 to watch the 89th Annual Academy Awards, a show immediately followed by a 24-hour news cycle covering the highlights and the bloopers.

While most of us hope that our companies will someday receive as much media attention as the Academy Awards, this year’s Oscars exemplified important PR reminders that we should all consider when we’re in the spotlight – even for the wrong reasons.

1. Keep your promises

You might remember that the Academy was under fire last year when not one person of color was nominated for an award. After the Academy was hounded with tweets and the trending hashtag, “#OscarsSoWhite,” Academy leaders promised to change. Here’s the tweet posted on January 22, 2016 making a commitment to diversity.

















One year later, The Academy proved its credibility by keeping its promise. We not only saw a diverse pool of nominees, but many were delighted to see Mahershala Ali win Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight, becoming the first Muslim to win an Oscar, and Viola Davis becoming the first black actress to have an Emmy, a Tony and now, an Oscar, for her role in Fences.

2. Check your facts 

The much anticipated “In Memoriam” segment was especially relevant with the sad news of actor Bill Paxton’s passing at age 61 just hours before the Oscars. While the Academy loves to pay tribute to these beloved members of the film industry, viewers expect to see the photo of the right person.

That wasn’t the case for costume designer Janet Patterson, whose photo was missing from the segment. Instead, the Academy showed a picture of Jan Chapman, a healthy and very much alive producer. Even worse, Jan Chapman had warned the Oscars of this common mistake.

Thanks, Oscars, for the important reminder: check and double check your facts.












3. Make sure you know what you’re talking about

During the show, Jimmy Kimmel hilariously tweeted to President Trump expecting that he’d be watching. Unfortunately, as much as he talks about Twitter on his show, Kimmel proved to the world that he doesn’t know how to use Twitter. After posting his tweets, he awkwardly stared at the big screen waiting for his tweets to post to President Trump’s account. After a few moments, he embarrassingly asked, "We don't see what's up there, do we?" In other words, Jimmy Kimmel doesn’t know how to use the popular social media tool that he claims to use so often. Watch the video clip here.

4. Capture your audience with a story

Many claim that Viola Davis had the best acceptance speech of the night and I can tell you why – she told a story! In her speech, Viola Davis told the audience why she was grateful to become an artist and the type of stories she wants to share as an actress. Her touching story affected many, including celebrities in the audience who were caught on camera with tears rolling down their cheeks. In case you missed it, below is an exert from her speech and a link to watch the entire clip.

“There’s one place where all of the people with the great potential are gathered – and that’s the graveyard. People ask me all the time, ‘What kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?’ And I say exhume those bodies, exhume those stories. The stories of people who dream big, and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost. I became an artist and thank god I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” View Viola's full acceptance speech here. 

5. Show a positive attitude

And the moment we were all waiting for – Best Picture. After three and a half long hours, many viewers were fighting sleep to see which film won Best Picture, but Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty wouldn’t make it so easy. After they were given the wrong envelope, Dunaway and Beatty announced the wrong winner – La La Land. It wasn’t until the entire cast of La La Land took the stage and began their acceptance speeches that the audience learned that Moonlight was in fact the winner of Best Picture. Jimmy Kimmel came back out on stage and immediately said, “I blame Steve Harvey.”

Kudos to Harvey for not letting Jimmy Kimmel or any Twitter trolls get the best of him. Harvey, who famously announced the wrong winner in the 2015 Miss Universe pageant, could have been just as angry to be associated with the Oscars mistake. Instead he made light of the situation. Here’s what he tweeted out the next day:


The Academy Awards have been an annual film industry event for nearly a century, but as this year’s broadcast demonstrates, there are always lessons to learn and things to remember when all eyes are on you.

Keep a few of these lessons in mind next time you participate in a PR activity, whether writing content for social media, participating in a media interview or speaking at an event. By doing so, you will earn credibility and respect from your audience.

Robin is a senior account executive at WordWrite Communications.  She can be reached at robin.rectenwald@wordwritepr.com


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Topics: public relations

Four ways PR pros bring value to your business

Posted by Robin Rectenwald

Recently, our WordWrite team attended the annual PRSA Renaissance Awards of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Pittsburgh chapter, which recognize the stellar work of PR agencies and professionals in our home region.

There were nearly 50 winners in nearly a dozen categories. From the audience I saw just a snippet of these campaigns, yet it struck me: PR professionals and agencies bring great value to an organization. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a small business or nonprofit, public relations can help you achieve your business goals. Below are four ways PR professionals can bring value to your business.

1.   We’re creative 

PR professionals are people who love to consume the media. We don’t focus on just one outlet or subject. We have a long list of media that we follow. Why? Because we’re constantly thinking of new ideas for our clients. PR professionals make it a daily habit to brainstorm, write, re-write and think of ways to tell stories in creative and innovative ways.

2.   We have direct connections to the media

PR professionals make value the “relations” in public relations. We work diligently to establish relationships, especially with the media. Most PR professionals develop contacts in their home city and across the country. By establishing ourselves as credible sources, journalists often turn to us for assistance with their stories. This is one way to get your business can get in front of your target audience. 


 3. We use tools that make your life easier

As with many industries, the PR field has great software tools to make our jobs easier. As PR pros, we make the most of these tools. These tools can help your company target the right journalists and media outlets, keep track of your media mentions, analyze your social media efforts and even keep an eye on your competitors.

As someone who has worked inside an organization without access to these tools, they save time and eliminate headaches to produce and track results.

Bonus: by hiring a PR firm, you get an entire team of PR professionals with a variety of experience, additional relationships and the ability to collaborate. With a PR firm, your return on investment is higher because you got a team as opposed to just one PR professional. 

4. We offer an objective eye

Sometimes you need outside perspective to help you figure things out, whether it’s a strategy, dealing with a crisis or helping you prioritize your goals. Hiring a firm provides an ongoing relationship in which you feel comfortable sharing your ideas, your achievements, your fears and anything else that is on your mind. Our experience working with many organizations gives us the expertise and experience to help you think through problems and strategically plan for the future.

Want to know more about how we help our clients at WordWrite? Take a look at some of the services we offer here.

Editor’s note: Congratulations to all the 2017 PRSA Renaissance Award winners, including Robin, who received the PRSA Member of the Year Award!

Robin is a senior account executive at WordWrite Communications.  She can be reached at robin.rectenwald@wordwritepr.com

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Topics: public relations, awards

Why traditional PR still matters in 2017

Posted by Robin Rectenwald

As the newest member of the WordWrite team, I’m absolutely thrilled to be working for clients who value the power of PR. Prior to coming to WordWrite Communications, I was the director of public relations at a local nonprofit organization. Without a budget for paid advertising and other marketing campaigns, I had to rely on social media, media relations and community relations to share our mission.

Do you know what I learned? In the era of social media, PR still makes a huge impact on business goals.

How do I know this? Almost every time the organization was mentioned in an article, we received emails and phone calls from people interested in donating or volunteering. This is the power of PR.

You may have read articles in the past couple of weeks listing the top 2017 trends in the marketing and communications world. My advice – don’t forget about traditional PR this year. Here are three reasons why.  

You Can Reach a Mass Audience

Major news outlets are the best way to reach a large audience at once.

The American Press Institute recently reported that most Americans still get their news directly from a news organization, such as a newspaper, TV newscast, website, or newswire (88 percent), with a smaller percentage of people reporting that they get news from word-of-mouth (65%), social media (44%) and search engines (51%).

While most Americans have smartphones, the study also found that we still rely on traditional media to access the news. The API report found that Americans on average followed the news using four different devices or technologies including television (87%), laptops/computers (69%), radio (65%), and print newspapers or magazines (61%).

Even in the era of social media, this study shows that traditional media gives you the opportunity to reach mass audiences more effectively than hoping for increased organic likes on Facebook.

You Gain Third Party Credibility

It’s true: You can’t always trust what you read on the internet. Case in point, Google and Facebook were recently under fire due to the amount of fake news that flooded the internet, during the U.S. presidential campaign. Critics claim fake news influenced the results. Is it any surprise then that Pew Research recently found (see chart below) that more people trust news coming directly from the news media than they do from social media, even in an era of profound distrust for the news media.


You Can Improve Your Google Ranking

Traditional media not only helps your credibility with real people, it also boosts your credibility with Google. Successful search engine optimization includes having your website linked to other authoritative websites. If a major news outlet puts a link to your website in a news article and shares it on social media, it will help increase your search rankings as well.

 Here at WordWrite Communications, we put a lot of time into strategic media planning and we encourage your company to do the same. Yes, newspaper staffs are shrinking and broadcast TV faces a decline in viewers, but people are still reading and watching news. When you have a good story to tell, share it with a respected journalist and see how PR will help your business goals.   

Robin is a senior account executive at WordWrite Communications.  She can be reached at robin.rectenwald@wordwritepr.com.


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Topics: public relations

Storytellers On Both Sides Can Help Stop The Spread of False News

Posted by Hollie Geitner

There is a controversy brewing right now but unless you’re a journalist or work in public relations, you’re probably unaware. Even then, it might be under your radar, however this particular case has relevance to what we see, hear and read in the news today.

Here’s the gist – (que air quotes) ”a semi-famous” former Intel employee turned comedian, Dan Nainan, was recently exposed for lying about his age (among other things) while continually selling himself as an expert millennial in news stories. You can find him quoted in the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Business Insider, Forbes and many more.  The problem? He’s 55 and has apparently woven quite the web of lies in an attempt to make himself relevant.  It took years and a Daily Beast piece to officially out him.

How’d he do this? Well, let’s explore it a bit. Most public relations professionals use Help a Reporter Out (HARO), a free service that connects journalists looking for sources with subject matter experts. Developed by a PR guy, Peter Shankman, HARO sends several daily emails with queries from journalists writing about a wide variety of topics, all organized by subject or industry. It allows PR professionals to scan the queries to see if they (or their clients) are a good match for the story. Then, they pitch the reporter. It’s a win-win, right? I always thought so, having had some success with it myself over the years.

The Nainan case and subsequent follow-up in piece The Observer by Ryan Holiday reveal an underlying problem ­– verifying facts has become a lost art for some media outlets. But, let’s not place the blame entirely on news media. Whatever happened to integrity and honesty? Not just journalistic integrity, but on the PR side as well?

Con artists have been around since the dawn of time, so why does it seem that truth has gone out the window more than ever? Fake news stories and the incessant sharing of such nonsense has taken over social channels. Politicians from every corner of the earth take pride in pulling the wool over their followers and constituents’ eyes. Conscience? What’s that? Few seem to have one anymore.  This is all my opinion, of course.  


Let’s face it – it is relatively easy to spot the fake news stories that people share on sites like Facebook and Twitter. It is the public’s fault for not being responsible enough to look before spreading false news. The real problem is when legitimate, well-respected, historically significant news organizations like the New York Times, USA Today and CNN post or air stories that haven’t been properly vetted or fact checked.  

Barton Swaim, a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, addressed this very issue in a column last month. In it, he argued that while fake news is damaging, it isn’t likely to sway opinion or change someone’s allegiance to something or someone they care about. 

According to Swaim, “the false or inaccurate story published in a mainstream venue, by contrast, does the opposite. Maybe the story consists of mostly true statements, but it’s built on an egregiously false premise. Or maybe it includes a key line that infers far more than the facts allow. Or it presents a tendentious interpretation of the facts.”

Faulty sources, incomplete facts, misinformation and biased reporting can have significant consequences when presented by authoritative sources like those mentioned above. No doubt it has become increasingly difficult for many journalists to be impartial when writing their stories, but there are still many who take their jobs seriously and spend the time and effort to get it right instead of first. We can only hope the Dan Nainan case will spark more news outlets to verify sources and information before rushing to publish a story.

For those of us in PR, let’s remember our responsibility here as well. Truth and honesty should be the foundation from which we work. If it’s our job to tell our clients’ stories, it’s also our responsibility to do so in a way that helps, rather than hinders a journalist. We understand more than anyone that reputations can plummet faster than the stock market after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. It’s in our own best interest to avoid bombarding journalists with non-stories or intentionally trying to dupe reporters with misleading facts or false information. Please, for the sake of all of us who rely on the news – DON’T BE A DAN.

Photo credit: Pixabay


Hollie Geitner is vice president, client services at WordWrite Communications. She can be reached at hollie.geitner@wordwritepr.com.



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