Why I Guessed Jack Sammons Would be Appointed Chair of MSCAA

January 17th, 2013   •   no comments   

Yes, it was a guess–a predictable one though. Jack Sammons is a great choice to lead our airport authority into a new chapter. He is a good businessman and he understands politics as well as economic development. He has served on Memphis City council and ran for Shelby County Mayor. Although he was defeated, I helped with his campaign and got to know Jack and watched him navigate the political waters. He has great connections and for the most part–the business community likes him. He’s the natural choice and that’s why I guessed he’d be appointed chair. read more

5 Lessons I Learned From My First Deer

January 7th, 2013   •   no comments   

Post by Kiersten Bagley

The first deer, what a life experience. As random as it may be, I always said killing a deer (on purpose, without using my car to do so) was just something that I wanted to do before I died, at least once. Today I got my shot, literally. It taught me more than I could have expected or anticipated. read more

The Dark Side of New Media: #Newtown

December 25th, 2012   •   4 comments   

I am a Mom. That says it all and my kids are my greatest joy, accomplishment, satisfaction in my life, hands down. Nobody can ever imagine the loss of a child. I can’t. What I can say is that gone are the days of privacy, mourning, delay—as the media is relentless and is now combined with social media on steroids to get information from millions of different directions. Some of it is true, lots of it is rumors. In a time of CRISIS, this is a problem. Here are my thoughts as they relate to the tragedies of the days we live in: read more

One Thing We Know: Changes are Coming for #SM & Business

December 18th, 2012   •   no comments   

While it may be true that there is a lot we don’t know, one thing we do know for sure is that changes are coming in social media for businesses. Not just the applications and tools themselves (such as privacy changes), but in how businesses adapt and execute social media to do business. read more

We need better PR in the Memphis skies

December 6th, 2012   •   no comments   

This Special Guest Column by Amy Howell appeared in the Commercial Appeal on December 6, 2012.

“A lot of negative energy is being spent in Memphis on hammering Delta Air Lines over its high fares and continued cuts in service at Memphis International Airport.

While efforts such as the new “Runway Robbery” billboard campaign may raise awareness of the high ticket prices and diminished service and could help apply pressure for recruiting other airlines, I believe they are bad PR for our city.

Delta Air Lines is a business whose ultimate goal is to make money and be a dominant player in the airline industry. The reasons it has been able to control our market are perhaps more complex than we know. However, Delta is not the problem. The problem is that for whatever reasons Memphians do not have choices and competition for flights into and out of Memphis International.

In business, a successful company’s brand is developed over time through deliberate strategies and key messages. In the absence of a deliberate strategy, a company’s image can be defined by issues, public perception and the lack of clear vision and communication. It’s what I call letting someone else tell your story instead of telling it yourself.

We need a clear vision and strategy for our airport. What is happening in the void is that the critics of the Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority and the airport’s management are telling the story — in the media, on billboards and through social media. If I were in charge of public relations for our airport, here are a few things I would recommend to its leadership:

1) Create a positive, comprehensive, long- and short-term plan for the airport using key resources (both private and public). The plan should be accountable, measurable and project positive financial outcomes for progress in economic development. It would include recommendations for difficult decisions and changes in management and operations that may not be politically comfortable in the short term, but would be good for Memphis and Shelby County over the long term.

2) Communicate this vision and plan and get as many people as possible to help carry the banner for its message; this would involve city, county and regional governments, the Memphis Regional Chamber, the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau and the business community at large. I would run this effort like a United Way campaign on steroids, leaving no stone unturned and ensuring that the entire choir sings from the same hymnal page.

3) Use good PR to further the message. Employ the Internet and social channels to help tell the good stories about Memphis that can help us when people search the Web for news and information. Create an “airport good news” PR machine and be vigilant about promoting this news consistently and broadly.

And for the community at large, I have four other pieces of advice:

1) Subscribe to the “perceptions are reality” theory — because it works. Memphians are what we say we are — in the press, at our City Council meetings, on Twitter, Facebook and the blogs. If we want to be perceived as a city with great choices, great people, great opportunities, we must reflect it.

2) Ditch the negative. Outsiders are looking in at Memphis. If we can’t move forward — by agreeing to disagree at times — we will be left behind by more progressive, forward-thinking, open-minded cities. Negative campaigns make us look small-minded. How many great cities do you know that have become successful by slinging mud and pointing fingers?

3) Share and communicate Memphis’ mission/vision/brand to the world. We can’t expect to have a strong message about the airport if it doesn’t fit hand in glove with the message about our city. The campaign has to be developed around positivity, rather than bringing up negative connotations that we as a city are trying to move away from. A national perception, for example, is the violent crime rate in Memphis; why should we develop a campaign that furthers and gives unnecessary merit to that reputation? Rather than using negative billboards to call attention to what’s wrong, we should be putting billboards up about what’s right.

4) Stand up and stand out. We need businesses and individuals who will go on record and up to bat for our city. Anonymous campaigns undermine trust.

Finally, I think we must be a city more tolerant of differing opinions. While I may not agree with everything a person says, this doesn’t mean I don’t respect him or her and won’t listen to another point of view. We need more embracing of the “let’s agree to disagree, but we are all in it together” mentality.

Vibrant cities have busy airports and I believe our airport is our most important economic driver. Businesses, both large and small, depend on a viable airport, not only for expansion purposes, but also for recruiting and retaining talent. A strong campaign to promote airline and flight choices in Memphis impacts us all and should be one of the top priorities of our city and community leadership. Negative campaigns are not the solution.”

#Klout is catching on!

November 15th, 2012   •   1 comment   


Thanks to @LaurenLeeFox13 of Fox News Memphis for this interview with me about Klout and how people are warming up to this metric of scoring influence online (link to Fox story). As many of you know, my friend @MarkWSchaefer wrote a book about it which I would encourage everyone to go read called “Return on Influence“–the story of Klout and how people are being identified by brands as “influencers” and, most importantly, how these people are using their influence to create revenue.

read more

Big Media or Big Brother?

October 26th, 2012   •   no comments   

Never in my 20+ years working in public relations have I witnessed such a decline of fair, unbiased coverage in the mainstream media. Today I saw something very scary–in a way unreal to me. Fox News posted a “Bias Alert” regarding major media ABC News’ lack of coverage of newly reported evidence in the Benghazi attack. The link is here. read more

Turning Online Into IRL: The Importance of Relationship Marketing & SM

October 19th, 2012   •   7 comments   


I had the honor of speaking at #SMatWork12 (hosted and promoted by the Harrisburg, PA Social Media Club) on the importance of using social media well in a crisis. My co-panelist, @DebWeinsten and I spent an hour or so sharing some of our tips and stories. As I reflect on the great content shared by fellow “crew” members (@GlenGilmore @MarkWSchaefer @AnneDGallaher @Alanbr82 @profS @ryansauers @DanChristPN @MarisaCorser) it struck me that I was there to see my friends as much as hear the content shared. While on the second leg of my flight I was surprised to see @MarkWSchaefer and we arranged to sit together (of course) from Charlotte to Harrisburg. On the flight Mark helped me think through a client issue and I may have the opportunity to bring Mark into a client project that could have huge potential. When I was listening to @GlenGilmore give his compliance and policy talk, I was struck by the power of our business relationship and how much work we have done together for clients. I am systematically trying to cultivate exciting and meaningful work for this fantastic “crew” and find ways to monetize our relationships. Together we are like a “virtual agency”–a powerhouse of professionals who have been successful in the traditional workforce now turned digital. This meeting in Harrisburg is at least the 3rd or 4th time we have all been together (probably more).

I was also humbled by the constant reference to how it all started at #BroganMemphis (3 years ago). We didn’t know each other well then (and Mark Schaefer tells the story in his new book, Return On Influence) but we do now! The value of the social media space is the PEOPLE you meet, the authentic relationships you form and the projects and opportunities that arise as a result. Thank you Anne Gallaher for asking me to speak, sponsoring the event and for the lovely Harrisburg hospitality! And thanks to my dear cousin, Patrick Tipton @PatrickBTipton for driving six hours to see me and to hear the speakers. Twitter will make you purchase plane tickets if you do it right and the ROI is definitely real.

Emerging Young Professionals & Social Media #GoProOrGoHome

October 5th, 2012   •   no comments   

Don’t be surprised when your future employer Googles you.

Post by Kiersten Bagley

The internet – it’s not just for cat photos and animated gifs anymore. It’s a networking tool. I was recently invited to an event hosted by the University of Memphis Journalism Department and was asked to be on a panel of “Pros” and share advice on the power of internships. Side note: I’m a great case study – see the post. From both the professionals and emerging professionals panels, there was a similar underlying message: social media can make you or break you in the professional world.

Here’s a short round up of tips and some answers to questions posed by the audience: read more

Clear Communications: Calming the Crisis Sea

September 24th, 2012   •   no comments   

I am writing this from the 5th floor of a condo in Seacrest, Florida overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, the “Emerald Coast” as the beaches of South Walton are called. I’m here with my team teaching crisis communication and discussing organizing an event here next year for those in PR who want to learn more. We found some shells on the beach yesterday and I’m always drawn to the broken and tumbled shells—worn out but still beautiful. I feel that way sometimes, especially when getting through a crisis. We are reading PR News’ Crisis Management Guidebook, Volume 5 and let me tell you, it’s worth the price I paid to get it. Excellent material here and advice/examples that you can use. One of my favorite chapters in the book highlights the importance of the voice of the leader in a crisis—so true and so important.

The excerpt written by Assaf Kedem (formerly VP/Director, Senior Writer and Editor of Alternative Investments at AllianceBernstein) has this quote: “Companies that neglect employee communication practices in good times stand a greater chance of failing to achieve their communication objective when things turn sour.” Very true. In my experience working with clients through crisis, the voice from the top must be clear, concise and constant. Statistics show that a crisis will happen to most organizations at some point—often by surprise. I tell my clients that often it’s not WHAT happens to you but HOW you HANDLE the WHAT that happens. Here are seven steps in Kedem’s narrative that help create a culture of communication in times of stress:

1. The message must come from the TOP

2. Don’t paper over it: don’t spin bad news, but tell it like it is

3. Communicate your leadership, muster employee support and set the example

4. Supplement written communications with verbal ones. This is very true and here’s a quote that I love: “In challenging times, there can be no substitute for voice. Verbal communication—especially if it’s face-to-face—is more personal. Speech offers such audible and visual catalysts as cadence, diction, body language and intonation that can help convey thoughts, sentiments and emotions more fully and effectively…”

5. Keep the communication going, even if it’s regurgitating

6. Consider additional channels (hotlines, social media, etc.)

7. Don’t forget recognition: recognize employees who are contributing and carrying the company banner of support

It is difficult to prepare for a crisis but important to try. We are going to be updating client crisis plans as having that discussion and planning session at least helps. The closest thing to having a full plan is having a culture of good communications. This culture can weather a storm much better than that of poor communications. How well would your company do in the rough sea of a crisis?

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