Women, It’s Now or Never: Create Your Own Economic Reality

February 6th, 2013   •   2 comments   

Recent studies and news reports have surfaced about the lack of women in leadership positions worldwide (example here and here) and the reasons behind it. Simply said, women need to work to create their own economic realities. I’m not saying here that we can’t. What I think is intriguing is that we haven’t.

Men dominate the boardrooms, C-suites and world affairs. We pay so much attention to race but so little to gender. I happen to be writing a book with the great @AnneDGallaher about some of these issues and we hope to get it published in the next few months (#exciting). So why are there so few women in leadership roles? I’d LOVE to hear from you women out there—and hey, chime in, because maybe Fox News in New York will find this and focus on this issue. We love @FoxNews and they have picked up this blog before, so you never know. That’s why I love blogging—you just never know who will stumble across your work. This is advice I give my clients all the time. read more

WOW: Delta REALLY Does Memphis After All

January 25th, 2013   •   no comments   

With yesterday’s news of Pinnacle headquarters moving to Minnesota, I cannot help but weigh in on some key lessons we have learned:
1. Delta controlled our MSCAA for way too long, and the Delta Sky puff piece on Memphis last year was a big smoke screen.
2. In my opinion, leadership is likely changing due to lack of creativity and frankly, the pressure is on.
3. Rumor has it, the Delta had very close contact with MSCAA and inserted power on the Pinnacle board.
4. Do you think the Pinnacle bankruptcy and the Delta move had anything in common?
5. How opportunistic and a great business move for Delta to let Pinnacle go into bankruptcy and then…be the hero to pull them out and finance/own the comeback.
6. Moving and owning them means more restructure and benefit for Delta and personal satisfaction by their leadership. Of course, this is all just my own speculation and my own opinion of how this went down—predictable and now obvious in my opinion. My guess is there’s not enough sand in the sandbox for all the egos that exist. As I said in my June blog, Delta has some leases to fill and Pinnacle is moving.
7. You know you strike a cord when you get an anonymous phone call that says your Op-Ed is “not good for you or your firm.”

Revisiting Social Media Policy: Recent NLRB Rulings

January 22nd, 2013   •   no comments   

A considerable portion of our business at Howell is social media strategy, implementation and guidance. New regulations and rulings affect any client with even one employee. Even if a client does not participate as a business within social media channels, more than likely their employees do.

One of our strongest recommendations is to develop a social media policy and to recognize that one size does not fit all. Continue to update it once it’s been implemented and customize this policy for your individual business culture—this is more important now that ever.

We often see social media policies that include verbiage that attempts to regulate negative comments about that business in the online space. For example: “Do not discuss internal matters publically,” or, “Do not speak negatively about fellow employees or the company itself.” Those who violate these policies can find themselves in hot water—or even fired.

However, it’s important to take note of a series of recent rulings and advisories in which labor regulators have declared many such “blanket” restrictions illegal within nearly all private sector businesses. According to and article in the New York Times, “The National Labor Relations Board says workers have a right to discuss work conditions freely and without fear of retribution, whether the discussion takes place at the office or in the social space.” read more

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

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