The Wilbert Group Blog

Media Moves: Brenda Wood to Retire from 11Alive



Veteran news anchor Brenda Wood of 11Alive recently announced plans to retire from 11Alive in February of next year. Wood stated on 11Alive’s blog that she has, “. . .decided to finally follow my passion, to pursue my longtime dream to develop, produce and give creative voice to new and meaningful artistic projects outside of news.”

She has been with the station for the last 20 years of her 40-year career and has interviewed an array of public figures from President Jimmy Carter to civil rights icon Ambassador Andrew J. Young to Cher.

She has won more than 20 Emmys and was named the 2014 Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame recipient, among other awards. Prime time specials hosted and produced by Wood include: “Remembering the 1996 Olympics,” “A Conversation Across America,” “50 Years of Change,” “Mission of Hope,” and multiple editions of the Emmy winning magazine show “Journeys with Brenda Wood.”

The Top 10 PR Blunders of 2016 (So Far)


What do Harambe, Yahoo, and EpiPen have in common?

They all made The Wilbert Group’s Top 10 PR Blunders of 2016, along with the Delta, The Wounded Warrior Project, a smug pharmaceutical exec, and more.

Digital Updates | September



We’re all about keeping up with the digital world at The Wilbert Group and leveraging the newest technologies to help our clients tell their stories. Here’s the latest:

#1 Snapchat experiments with wearables.

This week, Snapchat – now known as Snap Inc – released Spectacles, a wearable technology that allow you to record 10 seconds of video at a time and sync it to your phone to post on Snapchat. The glasses retail at $130 and have quickly drawn comparisons to Google Glass, the failed hardware venture from the tech giant. However, Snapchat has already shown savvy with its slow release and reference to Spectacles as a social “toy” rather than a sophisticated technology. It will be interesting to watch if Spectacles catch on; if they do, wearables are sure to be the next big trend in social media tech.

#2 Facebook wants you to go Live.

Since its debut, Facebook Live has been a media phenomenon, with news outlets, celebrities and other influential users “going live” to a large audience. Facebook Live works for several reasons, and the most important is a generation of millennials that are watching their phones and tablets instead of television. And publishers have jumped on this opportunity: Hearst is producing 200 Facebook Live videos a month, and Mashable has pledged 35 hours of video per month. For us PR folks, it opens up a new avenue for pitching for our clients since media are actively looking for content to broadcast on Facebook to fill these quotas.

#3 Twitter opens its Moments feature to all users.

 Any Twitter user can now create a Moment, the popular feature that brings news and trending topics to the forefront of the user experience. At launch, only Twitter itself and media partners like Buzzfeed and The New York Times could create a Moment, and they have slowly expanded the feature since then. Today, all users were given the ability to do so. It’s a bit early to say for sure, but this could be an interesting tool for clients announcing news, hosting an event or rolling out a campaign. The feature allows users to pull in a variety of tweets on a subject and it can be embedded on a website.

Know Your (Social) Audience


Social media can be an incredible tool for a company to engage with its audiences and gain recognition. As companies become more social media savvy, there’s a natural desire to have a dominating presence on every social media channel. However, a platform that makes sense for one company might not make sense for another.

For example, many of The Wilbert Group’s clients are in the real estate industry. When we begin a social media program, we work with the client to identify who the audience is and what story the company wants to tell. We then make recommendations around which social media networks make sense for the company, and develop content that appropriately speaks to the audiences using those networks.


For residential real estate, varying price points mean completely separate audiences. If the homes are targeting millennials, a strong Instagram presence is key. On the luxury side, those buyers may be Baby Boomers, who are more active on Facebook. For commercial real estate, a retail developer potentially has a need for a business-to-consumer strategy while a brokerage firm is likely targeting potential clients. While one client might have a need for a Facebook page, another should be focusing its efforts primarily on LinkedIn.

Social media can be time consuming and costly from an advertising perspective. With an increasing number of social media networks out there, it’s important to identify where your primary audience is spending its time to create a strategy that’s purposeful.

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 9/19/16

  1. 21076931-mmmainDiners at the Pizitz Food Hall in downtown Birmingham’s soon-to-reopen historic Pizitz building will have their choice of everything from banh mi to biscuits, Latin street food to Israeli cuisine, developer and Wilbert client Bayer Properties announced. Jeffrey Bayer, president and CEO of Bayer Properties, said, “The wide variety of cuisine we secured for The Pizitz Food Hall is unlike anything else in Birmingham or even Alabama. We can’t wait for the city to experience these unique and exciting culinary delights.” An article further details the revitalized Food Hall, which includes 13 food stalls, two restaurants and a bar.
  1. A recent Think Advisor article profiled the state of the financial tech (fintech) industry and detailed what’s coming next. Wilbert client Marlin’s Russell Walraven, vice president of marketing for Marlin’s Funding Stream, which provides small businesses with loans, gave an extensive interview on the various players in the industry, saying, “Technology has created new opportunities to connect consumers with service providers, but those new providers sometimes encounter growing pains. Non-bank companies saw an opportunity after the financial downturn for small businesses looking for capital they weren’t getting from traditional banks”
  1. Do you pay for Amazon’s ‘Subscribe & Save’ program? You may want to rethink that or at least give your monthly bills a little more scrutiny. The New York Times’ Brian Chen detailed the drawbacks of the program in an article interviewing Wilbert client Revenue Analytics’ resident retail expert Jared Wiesel. Wiesel said of Amazon, “I think they’ve violated the psychological concept of a subscription with their customers in changing prices like this. When people think of a subscription, they think of locking in a set cadence of receiving a good.”
  1. cbs-n2n-2Last week, Avalon hosted a fall fashion event benefitting Bert’s Big Adventure. Noon to Night kicked off with a cocktail reception offering fare from Avalon’s famed eateries followed by a fashion show featuring Bert’s Big Adventure families and Atlanta celebrities modeling more than 100 looks carefully curated by Avalon’s retailers. CBS provided previews of the event, where all proceeds raised helped provide a magical, all expenses-paid, five-day journey to Walt Disney World for children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families through Bert’s Big Adventure.
  1. Set high atop Buckhead’s five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel is the largest high-rise condominium home in Atlanta, a two-story unfinished unit that’s part of the final phase of Wilbert client The Residences at Mandarin Oriental. The penthouse, which is on the market, can be custom designed or the buyer can use the floorplan from architect Robert Tretsch, director of Harrison Design’s Modern Studio, who was enlisted to create a design for the 10,000-square-foot space. To read more about your potential future home, check out this Atlanta Magazine piece.


Digital Updates: August 2016


1. Instagram Stories - Creating

We’re all about keeping up with the digital world at The Wilbert Group and leveraging the newest technologies to help our clients tell their stories. Here’s the latest:

#1 Instagram finally unveils analytics.

Since Facebook bought Instagram four years ago, social media pros have been wondering when The Social Network would introduce its sophisticated analytics dashboard to the photo-sharing app. This month, they finally delivered with Instagram for Business. The new tool allows businesses to promote posts with ease, view valuable information about their followers and measure engagement and impressions. These changes are particularly beneficial for small businesses with great photos trying to reach the millennial audience that calls Instagram home.

#2 Instagram takes a page from Snapchat with stories.

Instagram Stories, an identical sharing platform to Snapchat where photos disappear after 24 hours and can be enhanced with filters, debuted a few weeks ago. The social media community was in uproar, and questions emerged. Would this be the nail in Snapchat’s ad-heavy coffin? Would people actually use the feature? How will it differentiate itself from Snapchat? For clients, Instagram Stories is a great opportunity to test the waters of real-time sharing before making the plunge to launch a Snapchat account. Additionally, it provides a way for brands to push out a constant stream of content without bombarding fans’ timelines. While this feature is in its infancy and the jury is still out, it looks like Stories might just overtake Snapchat in the future.

#3 Facebook’s narrow targeting a problem for large companies.

Facebook advertising is, for the moment, king. We often suggest to our clients – mostly small or mid-sized companies – that in order to work with Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm and get all-important eyes on their posts, they need to spend money on targeted ads. However, some large corporations are shifting their paid Facebook strategy. Proctor & Gamble recently announced that they are moving away from Facebook’s highly-targeted ad suite, stating that the program’s narrow targeting based on both demographics and psychographics doesn’t work for most of their needs. In response, Facebook is offering better tools for large advertisers to target their wide audience while still generating qualified leads. For the time being, P&G won’t cut back on Facebook spending, but will re-evaluate their strategy to increase their reach.

The Art of Storytelling


What do the lead story on CNN, Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night and J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” have in common? They are all forms of storytelling.

A good story compels people. It moves them emotionally or intellectually. Stories come in many shapes and sizes – paintings, fairytales, news articles, tweets and more.

At The Wilbert Group, it is our job to find stories, package them and find homes for them – whether it be a SlideShare, LinkedIn blog, article in the local paper or feature in The New York Times.

Good PR pros are good storytellers (cue the eye rolls). No, we’re not “spinning” stories; we’re bringing factual information to light. And, we do so in a smart, interesting way that will appeal to our audiences.

For example, when the Pokemon Go craze took most of us by surprise, we turned to our clients and asked: how has it affected business? One client, Atlantic Station, told us about plans to meet with a local Pokemon Go group to learn how to best work with them moving forward. We uncovered this story opportunity and took it to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. We even welcomed a reporter to observe the initial meeting at Atlantic Station. The story landed in the AJC’s Sunday paper and online here.


This example happens all the time at The Wilbert Group. We are constantly poking and prodding for the next great story. We do it so often that we’ve highlighted five ways to become better storytellers.

  • Become a subject matter expert. Learn your client’s business. Ask questions, do your research and attend industry events. Just last week, The Wilbert Group attended the CREW Atlanta luncheon and learned about the latest trends in retail.


  • Keep your ear to the ground. Consume the media! Read the paper (or visit the website), follow the right outlets on social media and turn on the news. Listen for stories that may relate to your client. Plus, journalists are the storytelling pros. Pay attention to what they deem newsworthy.
  • Think like your reader. Before you pitch that flat story idea, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Why would you find it interesting? Can you tie it to a national trend or event? How does it affect your life? These are questions the journalist will ask, so beat him/her to it and start thinking like the reader.
  • Find the right home. Not every story should be told with a press release. Technology has opened so many new doors. Maybe your story is best told through a social media campaign. Or, check out SlideShare. We often use this tool to illustrate our client’s bold idea or point of view.
  • Bring on the visuals. Most of us are visual creatures. At the alarmingly fast rate people consume media (and increasingly shorter attention spans), it’s important to capture your audience with a strong visual be it a photo, video, or infographic.

Happy storytelling!


Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 8/4/16

  1. Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 2.31.12 PMA recent New York Times profile on innovation in cities across the country had a great feature of the Pizitz Building in Birmingham, Alabama, which is owned by Wilbert client Bayer Properties. The Times wrote that the ethnically diverse food hall is opening this fall, featuring an unusual start-up incubator program for chefs. Bayer has preserved much of Pizitz’s original architecture, even restoring its ornate, terra-cotta facade from the 1920s. It will have six floors of residential space with 143 multifamily apartments and modern office space on the mezzanine. Bayer worked with the group What to Eat in Birmingham – a Birmingham food blog – to choose restaurants and local products to include.
  1. Amazon recently released its Q2 earnings report and, to say the least, it was impressive. Sales rose 31 percent to $30.4 billion, net income surged to $857 million, up a whopping nine times from a year ago. So what exactly can be attributed to this success? According to Wilbert client Revenue Analytics’ Jared Wiesel, much of it is due to the e-commerce giant’s prime program. Wiesel was featured in Financial Times and USA Today, discussing his thoughts on the earnings report.
  1. pokemon go_1468282374984_3947820_ver1.0We’re sure you’re all aware of the Pokemon Go craze and the lengths folks are willing to go to “catch ‘em all.” But Pokemon Go players could put their jobs at risk if they play the game while they’re on the job, according to Wilbert client Fisher Phillips’ Michael Elkon. “It’s especially important for hourly employees,” Elkon told 11Alive’s Jennifer Leslie. “If you’re clocked in and being paid for your time, then most employers are not going to look too fondly on playing Pokemon Go. Employers could find that you’re not getting your job done or wasting their time,” Elkon added. In Georgia, a right-to-work state, you could even be fired for it.
  1. For those in the hospitality space, property tax bills can be a huge burden. But if they take a proactive approach to property tax assessments, they could see a low-risk high-reward proposition. In a recent Hotel News Now article, Wilbert client Real Property Tax Advisors’ Anne Sheehan detailed the matter from a property tax perspective, saying, “You have to be knowledgeable, and you have to know how to segregate out these intangible components from the taxable real estate and the taxable personal property. That’s not something the CFO of a hotel company can pull out of his books.”
  1. Looking to move this fall? Oozing with Southern charm, the nearly 10,000-square-foot penthouse at Wilbert client Residences at Mandarin Oriental is now on the market for $7.3 million, making it the most expensive in the city. The pad is also the largest penthouse currently for sale in Atlanta. The financial and real estate firm selling the property, iStar, is offering it as an unfinished unit so the buyer can create a completely customized interior. The buyer and iStar will then work with a local architecture firm to design the finalized layout. The current suggested layout includes four bedrooms, a fitness room, a music room, a library, a catering kitchen, and a spiral staircase connecting the two floors.


PR Lessons I Learned from ‘Shark Tank’


14175093191_9c5cffdf72_bHi, my name is Savannah, and I’m addicted to Shark Tank. I watch old episodes, new episodes and Beyond the Tank. At least one TV in our house is turned to CNBC to catch reruns at all times. I buy products and eat at restaurants (and food trucks) solely based on their involvement with Shark Tank. In short, I am an addict.

While Shark Tank helps force me to think creatively — and always makes me wonder what my million-dollar idea will be — I started to realize over time that many of the show’s lessons are actually applicable to public relations. Below are my top four takeaways.

  1. A good, solid pitch is a must. Having a pitch that’s dynamic and gets to the point quickly is key in capturing the Sharks’ attention, the same way a pitch must quickly garner the interest of a journalist. It has to be just the right length while effectively conveying your message. If it’s too long or not getting to the point, you’ll lose interest. 
  1. Know your clients – their audience, competition and industry. The entrepreneurs on Shark Tank must know their business from top to bottom. Similarly, PR pros must know the ins and outs of their client’s business as if it were their own. If you don’t know your client’s target audiences, how can you create a plan to reach them effectively? If you don’t know their competition, how will you be able to differentiate them? If you don’t know their industry, how will you effectively tell their story? All of this is paramount to PR success.
  1. Confidence is key. Anyone who watches regularly knows that the entrepreneurs who enter the tank with confidence are already more likely to get a deal. Like Shark Tank, confidence can make or break you. Clients are looking to you for your expertise in PR, and if you’re unsure of yourself it shows. A PR pro that’s always second-guessing themselves and their decisions can make a client nervous, and ultimately cause them to seek other PR help. 
  1. Hire people smarter than you. It’s completely OK to admit that something isn’t your area of expertise and hire someone who knows more about something than you do. Entrepreneurs are always seeking out partnerships with Sharks who can help them with a part of business they are struggling with, whether it’s manufacturing or marketing. As the PR landscape continues to evolve, companies are going to rely on and hire experts, like social media managers, for example, who can help a company continue to expand its offerings and grow.

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 7/7/16



  1. Wilbertblogphoto(1)How did you celebrate Independence Day? In Atlanta, CRE pros displayed their patriotism by participating in the city’s many events, as reported in this Bisnow article by Jarred Schenke. Wilbert client North American Properties’ Liz Gillespie donned red, white and blue during the firm’s first annual 4th on the Square event at Colony Square in Midtown. The event took place Monday with music, food and a place for spectators to watch the Peachtree Road Race participants.
  1. In the June issue of Real Estate Forum, the magazine profiled “CRE’s Best Bosses.” Coming in at number one is Andrew Wright, Franklin Street CEO and Wilbert client. Wright won based on a poll by Real Estate Forum’s readers, totaling nearly 4,000 votes. The young CEO was 26 when he established the company in 2006. Since then, he has grown the full-service CRE firm from four people to 200 staffers in six offices in major markets throughout the Southeast, all focused on delivering value-added solutions to CRE owners and occupiers nationwide.
  1. WIlbertblogphoto(2)Mickey Mouse toothbrushes. Minnie Mouse watches. Toys, t-shirts and trinkets. Is there a brand or product that simply shouldn’t be Disneyfied? Incredibly, the answer might be no. Disney recently joined with clothing and accessories brand Coach on a collection that includes a $250 wristlet with oversize Mickey Mouse ears, a $1,995 leather motorcycle jacket with a studded Mickey Mouse silhouette on the back, and $245 Mickey Mouse sneakers. Wilbert client Revenue Analytics’ Jared Wiesel detailed his opinion of the matter in this MarketWatch article, saying, “If executed correctly, this unique offering should be relatively insulated from direct competitive threats and create a reason for new and existing customers to engage with the Coach brand.”
  1. Last month, Breakthrough Atlanta, in partnership with the Atlanta chapter of the National Basketball Retired Players Association and Wilbert client Aaron’s, hosted its second Celebrity Basketball Game at The Lovett School’s Wallace Gymnasium. The game featured a friendly competition between Team Dale Ellis and Team Dikembe Mutombo, along with several of their fellow NBA legends. Breakthrough Atlanta’s programs help middle and high school students develop the academic skills and study habits to enroll and succeed in college – and, ultimately, in life.
  1. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s J. Scott Trubey Wilbert clients Colony Square and Peachtree Center were “mixed-use before mixed-use was cool.” Now these Atlanta landmarks are gearing up for major overhauls that their owners say will open the developments to their surroundings. In December, North American Properties and equity partner Lionstone Investments acquired the two office towers and mall and announced plans to turn Colony Square into Midtown’s “living room.” For Peachtree Center, the basic design won’t change, but there are plans to add restaurants and shops in the outdoor plaza to make the complex more inviting.