Monday, July 21, 2014

Philly’s top PR firm gives advice to recent grads

Posted by Greg Matusky
Perhaps it’s something in the water, or maybe universities are just doing a better job of preparing graduates for the world of public relations, but our Junior Associate class of summer 2014 is turning out to be the strongest we’ve ever hosted here at Gregory FCA.

Each summer, we bring in eight to 12 Junior Associates as either college juniors or post grad candidates as paid members of the Gregory FCA team. It’s a great way to experience the industry and this year’s class is knocking our socks off with their attitude, aptitude, and aspiring altitudes and expectations for their careers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What if the aliens are already among us? When computers revolt

Posted by Greg Matusky
COMPUTERS: Are they becoming more like humans? 
I have been working a lot lately in some pretty funky technologies -- quantum computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other stuff I don’t fully understand, but somehow manage to write about and promote.

One of my most brilliant clients, Stephen DeAngelis at Enterra Solutions recently wrote a blog post for Scientific America where he considers where all this is headed and the threat that self-aware computers might pose to human beings. As he points out, self-aware computing has been the subject of any number of Hollywood movies, starting with HAL from a 2001:Space Odyssey up to and including Skynet from The Terminator. He tends to think that computing has a long way to go before computers can view themselves as beings with all the nuance, understandings and foibles of human beings.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why Fox is the most trusted news source in the country and MSNBC is the least

Posted by Greg Matusky
TRUSTED NEWS: Recent survey finds Fox News
most trusted source, MSNBC the least.
Outrageous. A sham. Totally biased.  Bad data. Disgraceful. That just might be your response to a recently publicized survey that found Fox News to be the most trusted news source in America, while MSNBC to be the least. In fact, an astounding 25 percent of respondents cited Fox as the most trusted source, while only 10 percent said that MSNBC was their most trusted news source.

Friday, June 20, 2014

One company’s prescription for failure or why I don’t know what I am talking about

Posted by Greg Matusky
Perhaps my biggest joy of being in public relations is that every day, I am fortunate to work with a different business that views the world in a unique light and can offer new insights and learnings that I can use to grow as a professional. 

And then, there are the others. Companies locked in their own desperate struggle with the same old, same old. Unwilling to listen or to change, they defend the status quo out of a misplaced notion that change acknowledges some failure of the past.

Take last week, when I was summonsed to a sales call by a technology provider that really had no interest in learning anything new, and went out of their way to let me know it, challenging and criticizing my every recommendation. They showed a stunning lack of awareness of contemporary public relations and communications, all the while contending they knew it all. They obsessed on the inconsequential, while dismissing imperatives. At one point, debating the role of magic in marketing. Man, I wish that was a joke!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

You won’t believe what Ed Snowden’s body language is really saying

Posted by Greg Matusky
My fascination with Edward Snowden has regrettably brought me no closer to any conclusions on whether this NSA leaker is a patriot or a parasite. In an earlier blog post, I reviewed both Glenn Greenwald and Luke Harding’s books about Snowden and shared some of the troubling inconsistencies in Snowden’s story and the storytelling contained in each book. Not ready to cast judgment, I stumbled upon a recent Business Insider article that interviewed Dr. Nick Morgan, a communications and body-language expert, whose review of Snowden’s recent Brian Williams interview left him similarly puzzled. So I rang up Dr. Morgan, whose new book, Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact, is a must-read for any PR professional, and sought his input into the enigmatic Ed Snowden.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Top Philadelphia crisis communications firm gives tips to preserving organizational reputation

Posted by Greg Matusky
Outside of its people, an enterprise's most valuable asset is frequently its reputation. Organizations go to great lengths to build a brand that will effectively communicate their value to clients, employees, prospects, investors, and an organization's other, key constituents. Why, then, do these very same organizations fail to comprehend, plan, or execute effective practices that will protect their reputation in the event that something unforeseen occurs?

In today's digital economy, the threats are more complex and the odds are growing that your reputation could suffer potentially catastrophic damage that will undermine your hard-earned goodwill with your valuable constituents. Even good businesses are susceptible to the same risks we have seen take down industry stalwarts. Consequently, every organization should have a plan  to identify, minimize, and potentially respond to threats that could cause irreparable damage to your reputation.

Here are the six steps we recommend:

1. Identify and prioritize risk. A comprehensive crisis communications plan begins with a fundamental understanding of internal and external threats, and a ranking of risks in terms of their potential damage. Is the threat regulatory? External? A natural disaster? Workplace safety? Digital breaches?
Corollary: The most effective way to plan is to first establish exactly where the greatest risks reside, and which ones deserve the most serious consideration.

2. Understand the value of transparency and the impediments inherent in it. Many companies believe in transparency, but because of regulatory or legal pressure, can never live up to its spirit and intent. Take for instance the recent case study of a hospital-client. Under fire for medical malfeasance, the story was shaped by outsiders motivated to mischaracterize the hospital’s actions. Handcuffed by HIPPA, the hospital struggled to explain itself. Yet, by proactively contacting the media, sitting down with them and explaining their situation, the hospital garnered tremendous respect, and a more judicious treatment once the story broke.
Corollary: By fully understanding the opportunities and constraints of transparency, organizations can more effectively plan for real-world scenarios and respond in ways that preserve reputation even under fire.

3. Appreciate the intricacies of micro-audiences. There was a time when organizations could talk to broad audiences through a single channel. But today, audiences have splintered, requiring each and every one of them to be addressed personally, and often through their own unique channel. A comprehensive communications strategy takes into account all audiences and how messages that assuage one might enrage another. A CEO who communicates the need to “gain efficiency” to investors might precipitate a mutiny by employees who interpret his comments as, “cutting my job!” 
Corollary: Smart planning demands a careful identification of each audience’s point of concern and a messaging platform that plays to each, without needlessly alarming another. (Or, creating a messaging platform in advance provides sufficient opportunity to seek input and objectively evaluate how they will play with all of an organization's various micro-audiences).

4. Train under real-world, live-fire conditions. Crisis communications is far from the old Xerox sales training program. Rather, the best training uses real-world examples and then tests your messages, and your messenger, under pressure. Training conducted in front of peers and managers, before video cameras and bright lights, smacks of the real-world pressure that crises present. That's how you improve performance.
Corollary: Steel-temper your spokespeople by conducting live-fire training, complete with the tough questions the media and others will ultimately ask, and you will significantly improve "go-time" performance.
5. Build your reputational assets today for future withdrawals. Nothing smacks of insincerity more than an organization that tries to "trade" on relationships with the community or policy makers that never existed. An organization that took, but never gave back, and then asks for help at the first sign of trouble. Build a bank account of goodwill you can draw against during tough times.  It's hard to see, but more valuable than you can imagine.
Corollary: By being gracious today in your relationship with the community, shareholders, investors, clients, customers, regulators, and others will pay dividends tomorrow when seeking support and understanding if something bad happens. Build your deposits today in case you need to cash them in tomorrow.

6. Judge not by the mistakes made but by the contrition, learning, and response made under pressure. Americans are a forgiving lot, but only to those who understand the power of an apology, when one is due. Learn from mistakes and respond in the positive. Even a bungled initial response can be forgiven if an organization works to change over time and ultimately demonstrates it humility and humanity.
Corollary: “God is not done with me yet,” said Jesse Jackson years ago, after creating a crisis of his own doing. God is not done with any of us, but we sure can minimize the number of times we must call on Him. Rather than pray for a miracle, plan to act accordingly in the event a crises occurs.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gregory FCA’s summer reading list for the PR pro in all of us

Posted by Greg Matusky
We’re a little early this year. But with the long, grueling winter, we thought it might be appropriate to offer our summer reading list a bit earlier -- the week after Memorial Day. Here’s what we see should top the list of any PR pro’s beach reading this summer:

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