The Wilbert Group Blog

Digital Updates | February


Snapchat Discover

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 Super Bowl posts on social media are up from last year, but didn’t top 2015’s record numbers.

Super Bowl LI may have made history as the first NFL championship to go into overtime (which in turn made for a somber morning here at The Wilbert Group), but it wasn’t the most socially engaged Big Game. 2015 still holds that title, though numbers are up from last year. Twitter reported over 27.6 million Tweets using #SB51, and 64 million people posted on Facebook. What is notable about this year is the role mobile and video played. Over 90 percent of Facebook’s interactions took place on mobile, and Super Bowl-related videos were viewed over 262 million times. This was bolstered by big players like NFL and major sponsors using Facebook Live and video content to bring viewers closer to the action and give users a chance to replay their favorite ads. Also interesting were three surges in Tweet counts during the game: One during the Patriot’s game-winning touchdown, one at the end of Lady Gaga’s spectacular halftime performance, and one when Danny Amendola tied the game. I was too busy pouring another glass of wine to tweet during that milestone. #RiseUp?

#2 The New York Times has eight people working on its Snapchat channel.

When fun, filter-heavy Snapchat first hit smartphones everywhere, who would have guessed it would become a popular platform for news media? It turns out the app’s millennial base loves the visually-pleasing, easily digestible news stories from outlets like CNN, Vice, Cosmopolitan, ESPN and Food Network. The New York Times recently announced the launch of their own Snapchat Discover channel based on the newspaper’s Morning Briefing. They currently have about eight people working on the channel, which will provide visuals from the newsroom along with animation and a distinctive design framework in the hope of reaching a younger audience and experimenting with digital storytelling.

#3 Brands should be using emojis on Instagram.

To emoji or not to emoji? For social media managers, the decision to introduce emojis into business Instagram strategy – especially if there is B2B aspect of the brand’s PR strategy – has been a tough call. There hasn’t been much research on the subject, and emojis tend to have a bad reputation with those unfamiliar with them as they can appear childish or unprofessional. However, according to a recently-released report from Quintly, over half of all Instagram posts use emojis, and use of the quirky miniature graphics can lead to better post engagement. Posts without emojis had an interaction rate of 1.77 percent, and posts with them had 2.07 percent. Luckily for us, the emoji library is rapidly expanding, allowing for brands to find and use the emojis that align with their key messages, whether its Domino’s taking full advantage of the pizza emoji or Starbucks using different colored hearts to launch a new product line.

Media Moves: Trump vs. the Media


We love getting – and sharing —  the latest newsroom scoop. In Media Moves, we highlight changes in journalism and the media both locally and nationally.

President Donald Trump’s battle with the media is unprecedented. News junkies wonder how this tension will change the media landscape, a landscape that already has been fundamentally altered in recent years due to technological and cultural shifts.

Here’s what some journalists have to say on the topic:














Steve Adler, Editor-in-Chief at Reuters:

“It’s hardly surprising that the air is thick with questions and theories about how to cover the new Administration…So what is the Reuters answer?…We already know what to do because we do it every day, and we do it all over the world…I am perpetually proud of our work in places such as Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, China, Zimbabwe, and Russia, nations in which we sometimes encounter some combinat

ion of censorship, legal prosecution, visa denials, and even physical threats to our journalists. We respond to all of these by doing our best to protect our journalists, by recommitting ourselves to reporting fairly and honestly, by doggedly gathering hard-to-get information – and by remaining impartial. We write very rarely about ourselves and our troubles and very often about the issues that will make a difference in the businesses and lives of our readers and viewers.”

Read the full article.

Michael Wolff, columnist at USA Today:

“At the Wall Street Journal, there has been a debate about how to characterize, what many regard as, Trump’s disregard for the truth. Should his misstatements be labeled as outright lies? The Journal’s editor, Gerry Baker, argued, no, the facts should be clear, but a motive, to purposefully mislead, should not be assumed…The issue may not be Trump at all, but, the startling socio-political divide he’s revealed. It’s two nations opposed to each other, with the media almost entirely on one side of the divide. It’s not so much Trump that the media doesn’t know how to cover, but a social movement that sees the media as one of its significant enemies. In this, Trump’s behavior, his constant tweets, his tit for tats, his free associations, his high baloney quotient are all designed to disrupt the media foe, and, among other things, give it a nervous breakdown. In other words, the media is taking the Trump bait.”

Read the full article.

 Margaret Sullivan, media columnist at The Washington Post:

“One thing is certain in the presumptive era of President Trump. Journalists are going to have to be better — stronger, more courageous, stiffer-spined — than they’ve ever been…What we can’t do is buckle. What we can’t do is slink off and hope someone else will take

care of it. We have to keep doing our jobs of truth-telling, challenging power and holding those in power accountable — as the best journalists did during the campaign itself. We have to be willing to fight back.”

Read the full article.

Matthew Ingram, senior writer at Fortune:

“A weakened and increasingly marginalized traditional media, fighting with the tools of a previous era, surrounded by more nimble adversaries who know how to use social platforms for their own ends, and a president who is actively hostile to the traditional press. Not that long ago, it probably felt like things couldn’t get any worse for the media—but they just did.”

Read the full article.

Rise Up for Smart PR


The first thing I do in the morning after pouring myself a cup of hot coffee is turn on the news. I watch the news every morning because being in PR means it is crucial to know what’s happening in the world, the country and locally.

And just in case you were sleeping under a rock, what’s happening in Atlanta is that the Falcons are playing in the Super Bowl. Smart PR professionals identify ways to take advantage of a trending news topic to generate excitement for clients. We are supporting


Natalie Fultz with Fox 5 interviews Mike Gomes, senior vice president of the Atlanta Falcons, at Atlantic Station’s  Rise Up Rally.

our clients as they “rise up” with Falcons-themed social media campaigns, events and PR programs.


  • Our client Atlantic Station is this year’s host of the Official Atlanta Falcons Rise Up Rally. The first event, before the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers, was a huge success between media turnout and the incredible number of dirty bird fans who attended. With the Super Bowl nearly upon us, Atlantic Station is hosting another Rise Up Rally on Jan. 29 and we can’t wait to help host journalists and fans on the big day.


  • We also launched a successful social media campaign for client Peachtree Center, Rise Up Fridays, where fans can either post a selfie in their game attire on Instagram or go to Guest Services at Peachtree Center and be entered to win a Matt Ryan Jersey. So go show your Falcons pride!


  • Fisher Phillips partner Terri Stewart appeared on 11Alive this morning to discuss some of the workplace do’s and don’ts for employers and Atlanta Falcons fans leading up to Super Bowl LI. Watch her discuss calling in sick, office gambling and dress code policy for fans wearing Falcons apparel.


Of course, we have some of our own Dirty Birds right here in the office! The Wilbert Group is hosting Falcons Spirit Day next Friday; we’ll be decked out in black and red and may even have some hot wings. Follow us on our Instagram to see our pics.

Go Falcons!

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 1/13/17


1. newsEngin.17001262_121816-Avalon-Biz-01Mark Toro has a hard deadline to meet, and he knows it by heart. “April 13, 10 a.m.,” the managing partner of North American Properties said on a recent tour of construction for the second phase of Avalon, the company’s marquee Alpharetta development. That’s when Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Brooks Brothers and a number of other luxury retailers, restaurants and a new office tower are slated to open. A recent Atlanta Journal Constitution profile on the property more details regarding what’s coming for the development, which J. Scott Trubey says, “has set the bar for walkable urban centers… and for the gospel of ‘experiential retail.’”

2. It has been 13 years since Kurt Warner last played football for the St Louis Rams, but a part of his heart remains in the area. Last month, Kurt, wife Brenda and oldest son Zack presented fully-furnished new homes in north St. Louis County to a pair of single working mothers as part of the “Homes for the Holidays” program, in partnership with Aaron’s, Inc. and Habitat for Humanity. Read more about the companies’ donations in this St. Louis Dispatch article.

3. Temperatures are already warming in Atlanta, but that doesn’t mean winter is over quite yet. The seasonal celebration continues at Atlantic Station, which right now is hosting the city’s largest outdoor ice skating rink. In fact, Fox5’s Paul Milliken took to the ice himself this week on the 10,000-square-foot rink, which opened in November and will remain operational through February 19th. General admission to the rink is $13 and $10 for children under the age of 12.

4. Cass Hollis has returned to law, joining Fisher Phillips’ employee benefits practice as of counsel after taking an eight-year hiatus to raise her children. Hollis, 45, had practiced for a decade at Powell Goldstein (now Bryan Cave) before leaving in 2008 to become a full-time mom. She said she started thinking about returning to practice this summer as her three children, now aged 10 to 15, got ready for the new school year. Fisher Phillips’ Atlanta’s managing partner D. Albert Brannen told the Daily Report, “It’s an investment—but we think she’s the right person in the right area.”

5. Americans are likely to mention a good brand experience to an average of nine people. This means setting the experiential stage in a way that is relevant to a retailer’s best shoppers is critical for long-term loyalty. However, experiential marketing is fluid, requiring constant evolution to remain relevant. North American Properties’ Liz Gillespie spoke with Forbes’ Bryan Pearson regarding strategies her company has implemented to connect with consumers, including supporting free community yoga classes with complimentary yoga mats and water bottles.


Media Moves


As former journalists, we still love to get —and share— the latest newsroom scoop, especially when it involves recruiting a great reporter over to our team. In Media Moves, we highlight the latest happenings in journalism and media, and this is an especially exciting edition for us.


Bisnow Gets a Boost from Forbes, Huffington Post

Big news from CRE pioneer Bisnow this week – the “(almost) never boring” publication’s content is heading to and Huffington Post online. This partnership means up to 100 million people will be able to access Bisnow stories.

Announcing the deal, Bisnow editor-in-chief Mark F. Bonner said, “Expanding our reach is at the heart and mission of Bisnow. And in an effort to strengthen that vital muscle, we are joining the forces of two of international media’s most vital and well-read outlets: Forbes and The Huffington Post. That alliance takes shape today in the form of two syndication deals that will give our content the potential to reach upwards of 100 million readers around the world. Though Bisnow is far from unique in forging syndication partnerships, this represents a coming of age that gives our team a crucial opportunity to wade into a deeper pool.”

Over the next 90 days, Bisnow’s stories will begin to appear on the Forbes and Huffington Post websites. This is a great scenario for real estate PR pros, and gives our clients an opportunity to reach a wider audience.

Creative Loafing Editor Headed to Atlanta Magazine

Per a recent tweet from his account, Creative Loafing Atlanta news editor Thomas Wheatley will join the Atlanta Magazine staff as articles editor on Jan. 18. Of the move, Wheatley tweeted, “After years of working with great journalists and friends, I’m packing up at @CL_Atlanta and joining the talented crew at @AtlantaMagazine.”

Wheatley, an Atlanta native and University of Georgia graduate, covered transportation, the environment, urban development and state and local politics for CL. Prior to joining the publication, he was a staff writer at a weekly newspaper in north Fulton County and Flagpole in Athens, Ga.

How to Build a PR Program Around an Industry Event



In every industry, there are key events that provide an ideal time for companies to tell their stories to B2B audiences. We have many clients in retail real estate, and every year the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) hosts two major events, one in Vegas in May and one in New York this week. The industry gathers in a focused way– providing the ideal platform for a company to increase brand awareness, strengthen thought leadership and share news. For each of our clients, we begin months in advance pondering the question: What should we do at ICSC?

This week, North American Properties is giving virtual reality tours of the soon-to-be renovated Colony Square at its booth, and we built a program around that which includes an innovative 360-degree video to share on social media, and inviting journalists, including ICSC’s Facebook Live team, to visit the booth and experience the virtual reality tour. Avalon in Alpharetta, which is preparing to double in size early next year, is heavily featured at the conference, and we created custom social media graphics about the expansion. And Avalon was selected for the cover of the December issue of Shopping Centers Today, ICSC’s magazine, due to an award win we secured, earning NAP buzz heading into the conference.

For our newest client New Market Properties, we set up interviews for CEO Joel Murphy with key journalists including Commercial Property Executive’s Suzann Silverman. Joel is also being interviewed by ICSC on its live Facebook feed and we are leveraging the event’s hashtag #NYnDM to grow New Market’s still-new social media program. We are setting up meetings for client Bayer Properties with key journalists from Chain Store Age and Shopping Center Business. We also secured coverage in Shopping Centers Today’s show daily for Bayer with an update on The Summit at Fritz Farm, a mixed-use development opening Spring 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky.

So, what is the best way to use an industry event to create a PR moment for your company? Here are our top five tips:

  • Plan. As part of your yearly PR planning process, decide what events will be a focus and begin creating 360 strategies around those events well in advance.
  • Generate pre-event coverage. Pitch stories so your clients will be in trade and business publications before and during the event. You want people already talking about you when your plane lands.
  • Set up meetings with journalists and have something compelling to share with them. Find out from the event’s organizers what media will be attending. Reach out to reporters and editors in advance and set up meet-and-greets for your executives. Arm your executive with talking points and something newsworthy to share, such as research or insights on an industry trend.
  • Consider releasing news. If your company has a new deal to announce or fresh research to share, peg it to the event. You can share it with reporters on the ground, tweet it with the event hashtag and generate buzz during cocktail hour.
  • Get social! Most events have hashtags that are widely used, providing an ideal time to grow your following within the industry and build relationships with influencers.


A Season of Thanks


With Thanksgiving approaching and the year’s end in sight, my thoughts have turned largely to gratitude. We have had a year of change at The Wilbert Group. I am now the sole owner of the firm. Many members of the team have taken on more responsibility. And we’ve hired a new group of rockstars, including people with hardcore digital content/social media savvy.

While our change was good, it was not always easy. Change is rarely easy.

We could not have done it without our clients.

The best thing is we did not just survive 2016, we thrived. We grew our revenue, our client roster, our capabilities and our team. And perhaps most importantly, our partnerships with our clients yielded tremendous results. Whether landing media hits in outlets such as The New York Times, USA Today and Bloomberg for client Revenue Analytics or rolling out a sophisticated social media/content program for EA Homes or helping Randolph Williamson launch a website, we delivered. That’s what it’s all about.

Our clients have believed in us. They’ve trusted us to tell their stories. They’ve helped us really go deep and learn their businesses. We are thankful and we work hard every day for every client to earn that trust.

So before we lock up the Wilbert offices and turn our attention to family gatherings, turkey and pecan pie, we are rolling out a series of videos, with individual members of our team talking about our clients and the successes we’ve had this year. The theme is thankfulness.

Here’s a sneak preview, with account executive Hank Sforzini talking about client Fisher Phillips.

You’ll be seeing these, along with case studies, pop up in your social feeds (if you follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – and I hope you do!) during the next week.

As a firm, we are stronger than we were a year ago. We owe that to our clients.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 11/3/16

  • screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-2-28-02-pmThanksgiving is a day for being grateful for family and friends and this year, Atlantic Station is urging its stores to close on the November holiday. In a recent memo sent to its 48 retailers, Barbara Garret, the general manager of Atlantic Station, encouraged stores to “prioritize time spent with friends and family.” Garret continued, “Closing on Thanksgiving will not only boost employee morale, but also allow our retailers to refocus efforts on Black Friday, a more lucrative shopping day for our retail mix.” To read more about Atlantic Station’s decision, check out this 11 Alive article.
  • The Atlanta Apartment Association’s 29th Annual Food-A-Thon capped off this year’s drive with a big parade last month. The event is in partnership with the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Organizers said the goal is to help provide food to hungry families in metro Atlanta and north Georgia. Fox 5 Atlanta has a great photo gallery of the parade, which raised enough money to provide 7.8 million meals to the hungry.


  •  Amazon’s business model is rubbing off on retailers, and changing the way we shop in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. In late September, Bed, Bath and Beyond began testing a beta version of its new “Beyond+” loyalty program, which takes a page out of Amazon Prime’s handbook, offering perks that include free shipping and 20 percent off every purchase, for an annual membership fee of $29 per year. According to a recent Business Insider article quoting Revenue Analytics’ Jared Wiesel, “The success of Amazon Prime has permanently altered customer perceptions about paying for shipping.”
  • Hoteliers are concerned about slowed revenue growth matched with increasing expenses, particularly as the industry cycle nears its peak. David Marvin, founder and president of Atlanta-based Legacy Ventures, shared his strategies for how to control costs as revenue continues to grow, though at a slower pace. Speaking with Hotel News Now, Marvin said the recovery has been anemic. Demand has slacked, but is growing, and supply remains within the long-run averages. Therefore, he expects the industry to bump along at its current level of revenue per available room with some slight improvement in the future.
  • Did your office have a Halloween party this year? Hopefully you avoided this potential pitfall to the scary fun. According to a recent 11 Alive article quoting Fisher Phillips Josh Viau, “Halloween parties often do not get as much attention as other holiday celebrations in the office, but the costume element actually adds an extra element of risk for employers.” Viau continued, “To address this added element, employers should be sure to clearly communicate their expectations beforehand.”

Sometimes “Sorry” Is the Hardest Word . . . But Wells Fargo Needs to Say It



The continuing PR nightmare at Wells Fargo isn’t being helped by new TV ads and outreach to customers. The beleaguered bank is spending millions trying to repair its reputation – but is wasting that money because it seems loathe to say the one magic word.


Wells Fargo is forgetting one of the top tenets of any PR crisis. Say you’re sorry. Actually apologize. Do the one thing Donald Trump will never do. Because saying sorry actually resonates with people. Everyone wants to give the bad guy a second chance as long as they apologize and appear contrite.

How can Wells Fargo not say sorry after paying $185 million to federal regulators to settle charges that its bankers met unrealistic sales goals by opening as many as 2 million bogus accounts for existing customers and noncustomers? How can it not apologize after firing thousands of employees and while government investigators are considering civil and possibly even criminal charges against the bank?

The bank’s one attempt at sorry came in late September when then-Chairman and CEO John Stumpf testified before a Senate panel. But his attempted apology was muddied by his otherwise clueless testimony and lack of contrition. You can’t just say the word; you need to act like you mean it.

In fact, the only positive step Wells Fargo has taken in the crisis thus far is pushing Stumpf out the door, albeit too slowly. As I stated in a recent recap of the top PR blunders of 2016 (with Wells Fargo solidly at No. 1), the buck has to stop with the CEO, who at the time of that writing was still focused on blaming the 5,300 fired employees.

But since Stumpf’s early retirement, Wells Fargo has missed new opportunities to say sorry.

A week ago, the bank sent customers a prepared statement that said a lot, but did not apologize. The word “sorry” never appeared.

Beginning this week, Wells Fargo began airing TV ads nationwide. Maybe you’ve seen them, with the pretty horses and signature stagecoach thundering across the screen. And, again, lots of words and vague promises – but not a single sorry.

The closest Wells Fargo has come to an apology recently is a company-wide speech new CEO Tim Sloan made Tuesday. He told employees he was “sorry for the pain” they have suffered. But that was an internal message, when the biggest apology is owed to the rest of the world.

If Wells Fargo wants to legitimately turn this PR disaster around, it needs to start by saying that one word. Go ahead, say it.

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.”