What is Crisis Management?

Accidents happen, and that’s a fact of life. A crisis is any situation that is threatening or could threaten to harm people or property, seriously interrupt businesses, damage reputations and possibly negatively impact the bottom line. Crises do not discriminate; from Apple and Microsoft, to government officials, to the small 5-person non-profit – a crisis can happen to anyone.


The difference between success and failure during a crisis often depends on preparation and communication. How rapidly and effectively you react in a crisis is critical, and it can make the difference between recovering well, or not at all.


One factor that determines how a company will withstand a crisis is its ability to respond to the crisis. In 2011, Sony’s PlayStation Network suffered an outage which resulted in tens of thousands of customer accounts getting compromised. Despite Sony being a multi-billion-dollar corporation, hired an outside crisis management firm. With that firm’s help, Sony got ahead of the crisis, and a month after it happened, 95% of PlayStation Network users returned. Two months after, Sony saw a 15% increase in their number of customers because of the goodwill they created.


An effective crisis management team can stay on top of a troublesome situation and repair the damage – if any – to a person or company’s reputation.


Once the media finds you during a public relations crisis, it’s tough to be breaking news. It is imperative to mitigate challenging situations and position your organization as cooperative, but not a focal point for more media attention. A Crisis Management Firm will work with you to develop a crisis communications plan organized around preventive actions, preparedness actions, and potential-response actions.


Publicly Related is government certified in crisis management and crisis communications. Bree Gotsdiner, owner, has over 3 years in fire service – locally and nationally. She is also a consultant to the U.S. Government. Publicly Related has clients world-wide, including small and medium companies, best-selling authors, professional athletes and sports teams.


A quality Crisis Communication Firm knows that the best practice is to assess the problem, engage all key stakeholders, plan the work ahead, work the plan accordingly, and communicate complete transparency.


Take a reasonable amount of time to accurately assess a situation. Sometimes, the facts of everything can turn on tiny, minute information. Fight every instinct to react and/or overreact. The best way to address a problem is to keep your collective cool, get the facts, and obtain objective guidance. Develop a clear picture.


Once you have the key stakeholders engaged, decision-making and internal communications will be more effective that acting alone. Your Crisis Communication Team and key stakeholders will form a team. This team needs to create a plan for the work ahead to mitigate the circumstances and lower your overall risk.


As important as planning the work, everyone has to work together on the plan. Be proactive; objective assessments and planning will lead to confident decisions.


Last, communicate as transparently as possible. It is absolutely essential that honesty and transparency happen, or else your company will make the crisis worse by being fact-checked. Consider and respect your audience to know how to best tell them what they need to know, when they need to know it. If that means releasing information piecemeal, so be it.


A Crisis Management Agency will be able to expertly guide you or your organization through a tough situation and get your company back to standard day-to-day operations.

How Do I Become a Paid Public Keynote Speaker?

It is more and more common these days to see people obtaining public speaking jobs. There are the informational sessions where speakers are trying to sell you information, and there is also the famed $20,000 speaking gigs and TED talks. How does someone get a paid speaking gig? It is not as hard as it seems; it takes effort and persistence, and there are some easy tips for lining up speaking gigs.


  • Establish credibility. It is not enough to claim to be an expert, you have to sound like one. Identify your audience, be it an industry, a group of organizations you want to speak for, or subject matter. Jim Harper from the Cato Institute said that if you, “…go to the events that interest you, and pretend like you know what you are talking about, pretty soon people will believe you! That’s what I did.”

  • Put Yourself Out There. Speak for free in places where there will be people who can hire you for a fee. When a person is starting out, it becomes a matter of exposure. Check your local Kiwanis, Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Clubs.

Look for three events you feel qualified to speak at and introduce yourself! Find a topic that fits their event with a specific title and description. Give a brief paragraph on why you are qualified to speak. Make it an easy choice for them to select you (so study up on their event).  Ignite and Pecha Kucha events happen regularly, and those are great opportunities to cut your teeth. If academics are more your speed, H-Net regularly updates its Calls for Papers.


  • Speaker Directories. There are websites that list speaking opportunities for a fee. Speaker Services and Speaker Zone are two great resources to check out.

  • Network, network, network! Smile when you deliver your speech when appropriate, audiences always respond better to smiles. Vocal coach Jessica Poepsel says, “Even when on the phone, people sound better when they smile. I always tell my voice actors to smile when giving lines.”

Ask for referrals at the end, right from your platform. Keynote speaker Rich Fettke says this when he speaks to groups, “As you can tell, I am really passionate about what I do. If you know of a group who could benefit from this message, please hand me a business card afterwards.”


Make sure to invite prospective clients to future events so they can see you in action.

  • Create a Web Site! With a web site, clients should have a one-stop location where they can decide if you are perfect for their event. Include downloadable one-sheet brochures, testimonials, program descriptions, media coverage (if any), results gained for other clients, and your speaker video.
  • Join Organizations where people can hire you or can refer you to others. Review these memberships annually to make sure the fees are worth it.


With these tips, the jump from speaking for free and speaking for fee can be a less daunting prospect! Patience and persistence is key, here. Don’t give up if your first few attempts don’t give you the greatest results.

How Do I Become an Expert on TV?

There is no ‘hidden secret’ to becoming a television expert. Becoming a sought-after expert takes a little PR work, and a bit of branding


  • What Are You An Expert About? Make a list of all of the topics you can talk about as an expert. An industry expert will be able to provide insight that other people are not talking about – that’s exclusive content for smaller media outlets, and exclusive content creates value for them.

  • Talking Points: Try to have about five points for each of your expert topics listed above. These are statements in sentence format that convey concepts or commentaries. A video game expert would talk about handheld devices vs. mobile gaming. For each talking point create several lines of discussion or commentary so the host, producer or journalist knows your opinions on the issue.

  • Create a Bio: This is your introduction for many people, and it has to count. Media will look for credentials, education, experience that qualifies you as a subject matter expert. If you do not have direct experience, write an academic article or two, or make yourself a regular at events pertaining to your subject matter. Having accomplishments will cement your qualifications, and make you a more selectable candidate for TV.

  • Develop Contacts: Know whom you are going to contact in advance. Don’t wait for breaking news to start figuring this out. Make these connections ahead of time, and the expert they contact might just be you. Let them know you are standing by for the next time they need someone of your expertise. The media moves at a rapid pace, so if they cannot find an expert, they will move on quickly.

  • Stay Ahead: Experts are experts because they know plenty. People who come off as unknowledgeable have a hard time being a contact. Stay abreast of new trends and industry information, so you remain a hot commodity to the media.

  • Invest in Yourself: The media loves an expert who is well-prepared for the camera. Staying on point to convey information quickly and accurately are invaluable to producers. Having a media trainer will also assist you with talking points.

  • Practice! Tape yourself at home with someone reading you questions off-camera. Watch this video and look at the little mannerisms you do. People often have little quirks we do not see until we watch ourselves. Taking the time to practice will give you a more polished media presence.

  • Tape Yourself: These are important for your marketing strategy! Many shows do not offer a taping service. Bring a blank tape with you to the studio and ask the producer if you can have your segment recorded – do not count on this, though. Ask friends or family, or invest in high-quality recording equipment and program it to record your show.

Following these simple steps will help you identify, acquire, develop, and bolster media contacts. Like all things, this requires patience and persistence, but it pays off when you’re finally on television.

What is a Press Release?

A press release is a news story written in the third person by any organization, entity, or by individuals that seek to demonstrate to an editor or reporter the newsworthiness of a particular event, service, person, or product.

Writing a press release may seem daunting, but by following simply grammar and spelling rules, as well as some easy-to-learn guidelines, and your press releases will grab a reporter’s attention and curiosity to want to learn more about your announcement.

  • A Great Headline: The start of a press release, like any magazine article, book, and promotional pamphlet, is the most important start. This is usually a single line of text that tells readers what the press release is about. It can be an effective tool to grab the attention of journalists, so constructing a press release from a journalist’s perspective is essential.
  • Start by Getting to the Point: Reporters and editors are busy people, so it is safe to assume that they will only read the first sentence and scan the rest. Unfortunately, that is being generous. Get to the message quickly, and every important point should be addressed in the opening sentences. Every paragraph after should support the information.
  • Informative: Going along with a great headline, being informative is essential to keeping a reader’s attention. “I want to be a trusted resource for media so I’m trying to give the journalists the information when they need it so they don’t have to go anywhere else,” said Gillian Pommerehn of Crosby Marketing. Answering who, what, when, where, why, and how will assist readers in understanding your release.
  • Grammatically Flawless: While it was stated above, it merits repeating. Too many press releases suffer from spelling mistakes or bad grammar. Let others proofread your release before sending it out.
  • Hard Numbers: Pack your press release with hard numbers that support the significance of your announcement. If you claim a trend, it needs to be backed up. Reporters will not be expected to submit a story without proper evidence.
  • Include Quotes: There is no source more concrete than a direct quote. Quotes cannot be replicated, so a good quote from a spokesperson or company official give irreplaceable weight to your press release.
  • Contact Information: Either as a header – preferably – or a footer, contact information must be included. Without including this information, you can render your press release ineffectual. Include a name, phone number, email address. Do not forget to add “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”
  • Length: One page is preferable, but two pages can work depending on the content. Generally, the shorter, the better; this forces the writer to include only the most salient information. Once the essential information is listed, all of the general pieces of information should be covered. If a reporter has additional questions, that is what the contact information is for.

After all of this, make certain to end your press release with ###, which is standard in journalism. Following these easy tips should make your press release far more eye-catching.

How To Hire a PR Firm

Your company has decided it is time to implement a PR plan. Maybe a plan already exists – it has been sitting on a shelf waiting for resources to implement it. Perhaps it is time to re-brand your company to adjust to changes in your industry. It could be that something your company did went awry and you need a crisis team to manage negative publicity and navigate you back into safer waters. Either way, it helps to know what to expect and what to ask for.

Not all PR firms do the same thing, nor are they the same size. One PR firm might have 5 people and they specialize in crisis messaging; another firm has dozens of people and they will support your sales team with an effective marketing program; finally, a third firm might be one person who will drive website traffic through SEO-friendly content.

In order to pick the right PR firm and partner, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is the goal? Both you (their client) and the PR firm have to be clear about expectations, goals, and capabilities. You might value lead generation above media exposure or marketing optimization above event management. Know what matters to you most and why before you go shopping for a PR team.
  • What type of services do you need? If your business will need help with content creation, video production, or sales and marketing integration, make sure you are looking at agencies that provide all of those PR services.
  • What credentials matter most? When you ask agencies about their success stories, ask about market experience, but don’t ignore a firm’s knowledge of businesses of similar size and trajectory as yours. You might also press agencies about their track record of overcoming challenges with creative solutions.
  • What are your resources? This relates to budget, but also to your own bandwidth to support a full-scale PR program. Do you have the time and resources to commit to supporting a firm on a daily basis? Do you have an in-house communications team who could use some bolstering? A reliable PR firm should be able to tell you what they can do in relation to what you can afford and offer.
  • What size agency do you want? Freelancers can be a tempting compromise between no outside help and a full-fledged agency. Many freelancers are accustomed to being a ‘jack of all trades, but a one-person operation cannot match the impact of a team of dedicated experts.

The most important thing to remember is to be open about your company’s wants and needs. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ firm or agency. It could be that some firms exclusively work with large companies, and others are more ‘boutique’ and offer specialized services. You may want to consider working with an agency on a project-by-project basis before hiring them full time.

It is not an easy process to hire a PR firm, but these tips make the process less complicated.

Developing a PR Plan

Want to make sure your business’s name gets heard this year? You need to plan for PR.

Components-of-Successful-PR-PlansWhen it comes to PR the time to set your goals, assignments and objectives is when you are developing your PR plan. The PR plan is a defined set of goals and actions to help your business achieve optimum results in the media.

When planning your PR activities for the year, as a general rule, consider the full year ahead, plan for six months, and expect to revise after three months. Like most business activities, PR requires flexibility and a recognition that things will change over time. However, there are a number of factors that’ll make a measurable difference to your company’s success if you take them into account at this early stage.

Assess & Plan
First, review the past year in terms of PR activity. If your business received media attention last year, review the resulting coverage with an analytical eye. Determine the angles and pitches that worked well and resulted in positive coverage. Take note of which journalists reported in your favor and which didn’t. Look at the overall amount of positive, negative or neutral coverage you received. If you subscribed to a media measurement service, assess the results of your campaigns and, if possible, compare your progress against your competitors.

Next, consider your overall business objectives, and use these as a basis for developing your key media messages. Make sure that what you say and how you say it reflects what you’re trying to achieve. Your messages will form the backbone of your communication activity for the year.

Finally, develop a plan of attack. Review your business plan through the eyes of a journalist–what would be of interest to your customers or investors? Identify potential media opportunities that could occur during the year, such as product launches, expansion activities and new service offerings, and develop a calendar that lists the events. If you can, try to organize major news events to create the most buzz. For instance, if your company is introducing a new line of beach apparel, time the launch in the spring to coincide with warming temperatures.

Always remember to put your goals and objectives in writing so you can refer back to them throughout the year and evaluate your success.

Tools & Tactics
Once you’ve sketched out your plans for the year, it’s time to consider the activities that’ll enable you to achieve your objectives.

  • Establish a news release calendar to plan out the news releases you intend to issue throughout the year. You may need to revise this calendar as you move through the year, but it’ll give you some initial structure to adhere to and help you stay focused on generating news.
  • Media outreach in the form of pitching reporters and placing articles is still the essence of PR, and the foundation for any PR program is a solid media list. Before engaging in any PR activities, take the time to carefully research and build a database of key reporters. Your list should contain the contact details of the publications and journalists that pertain to your industry and be organized according to how valuable each is in terms of reaching your target audience.Once you’ve created a list, schedule time on your calendar for media outreach. Contact each reporter individually to introduce yourself and to arrange informal meetings where you can discuss the outlook for your company and industry.
  • Publications’ editorial calendars offer an excellent vehicle for planning media exposure. Researching them will enable you to identify opportunities to offer yourself as an expert source, contribute an article or even suggest a feature on your company. Once you’ve set your list of targets, begin contacting them as soon as possible. Most editorial outlets have deadlines several months ahead of their publication dates. Pay careful attention to the closing dates, or you’ll risk losing out on the opportunity.
  • Contributed or “bylined” articles can be an excellent way to generate exposure and establish yourself as an industry expert. Research magazines, newspapers and websites to find those outlets that are open to such articles, then contact the editor to propose a topic. Remember to make sure the focus of the media outlet is in sync with your business objectives and the article contains your key messages.
  • Case studies are very attractive to the media because they offer a tangible, real-world example of the benefits of your product or service. The challenge with developing case studies is they require active customer participation. So talk to your clients and ask them if you can report on their successes. While this’ll require your customers to share their “war stories,” it offers them–and you–a chance to shine.
  • Speaking opportunities offer another avenue for generating exposure. When planning your PR activities for the year, research conferences, trade shows and webinars for opportunities to nominate yourself as a keynote speaker or a member of a panel discussion. The value in securing such engagements can be tremendous, especially for a growing business; however, they also require vigilant planning because most speaking opportunities are finalized several months in advance.
  • Blogs and social media have grown in popularity as communications tools because they offer a way to have an active discussion with a motivated audience. When considering PR tactics, don’t forget to research the blogs that relate to your industry and get to know the styles and personalities of their authors. Technorati , the leading blog search engine, is a great place to start. A presence in the blogosphere can add to your company’s perception as a thought leader. But remember, all material published on a blog is open to a wide audience and can initiate a line of discussion that may not always jive with your point of view.The internet also contains a number of social media networks such as del.icio.us and Digg. These networks are used to store and share content and information–like articles–among members. Additionally, if you have video content that you’d like to share with a consumer audience, you should familiarize yourself with video sharing sites such asYouTube and Metacafe .
  • Crisis planning is also an essential part of your business’s PR plan. This should include all possible negative scenarios and the appropriate responses to them. Ensure that other members of your business are aware of crisis procedures, and take time to do a test run to help iron out any inconsistencies or holes in your plan.

Planning your PR strategy now will not only help generate new ideas and opportunities for you and your business to shine, it’ll give you peace of mind in your day-to-day operations. While PR plans are always subject to change, planning ahead will enable you to stick to your overall goals and maintain your focus.