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Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 5/23/17

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photos.medleyphoto.14115631  1. During the height of rush hour on March 30, thick black smoke swelled above Atlanta. First responders sprung to action to tame the massive fire roaring beneath I-85 in Atlanta. According to North American Properties’ Mark Toro, “This breathtaking moment was a shock to our system – a shock our city sorely needed.” In this Atlanta Journal Constitution op-ed, Toro challenges all Atlantans to use the I-85 collapse as a lesson for why we need to commit to expand MARTA and make it a part of our daily commute.

2. Change is afoot in the commercial insurance industry. The forward-looking technology landscape and the growing regulatory environment are reshaping the vital ways in which the industry engages with customers, especially in the U.S. Laura Calugar recently interviewed Franklin Street’s Ted Holler in Commercial Property Executive to discuss how his company had adapted to recent changes.

3. For investors in Amazon, the most important number to remember is 20. When online MW-FM357_amazon_20170511175400_MGsales hit 20 percent of all purchases in a given retail category, a surge in Amazon growth is sure to follow. But not all retailers are falling prey to Amazon’s business model. In this MarketWatch article, Revenue Analytics’ Jared Wiesel said, “Most pockets of retail success today have some sort of protective moat around their business that helps them fend off Amazon.”

4. Recent headlines about Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly have undoubtedly increased awareness regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. With the heightened interest amongst employees regarding workplace rights, Fisher Phillips’ Michelli Rivera says, “Metro Atlanta employers should brace themselves for more sexual harassment-related inquiries.” In this op-ed for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Rivera offers proactive steps that can better protect Atlanta businesses – and hopefully keep them out of the headlines.

5. On the heels of back-to-back grand openings of two major mixed-use developments, the Bayer Properties team arrived at ICSC’s RECon conference in Las Vegas with a fresh viewpoint on how retail is changing and what today’s consumers are seeking. In this Shopping Centers Today article, CEO and president Jeffrey Bayer said, “We are excited to be here this year surrounded by retail experts to learn from each other and discuss the future of the ever-evolving industry.”

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April Digital Updates

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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 takes on yet another rival network: Pinterest.

Instagram is already encroaching on Snapchat’s territory with its popular Stories feature – which succeeded in stealing Snapchat users – so it makes sense that the photo-sharing giant is now going after Pinterest with its latest update. To the joy of its users, Instagram introduced the ability to save posts earlier this year. Now, you can sort those posts into “collections” that are eerily reminiscent of Pinterest’s boards. This update makes it more important than ever for content creators to create truly valuable, save-worthy content to allow it to live a second life for a user, whether it’s a recipe, design inspiration or a secret menu dish at a restaurant. As Engadget sums up the opportunity for businesses: “If you can create your ideal outfit by saving posts into collections, you might be more likely to buy that outfit.”

#2 LinkedIn continues to undergo a complete makeover.

LinkedIn’s facelift is in full swing. While there isn’t one noteworthy update to include here on the blog, I wanted to touch on this because, as social media managers, we’re constantly learning and relearning how to keep our client’s content fresh as LinkedIn shifts seemingly every day. Important changes for content creators include: The ability to use video, new photo sizes and filters and a new algorithm for the feed. LinkedIn also plans to revisit its publishing tools, including the ability to save articles for later and improved tagging, ultimately making the blog posts look much cleaner and full of dynamic content like photos, block quotes and graphics.

#3 Snapchat is reaching an increasingly older demographic.

Snapchat isn’t just for millennials anymore. The app – which recently made its IPO – is experiencing increased usage in those ages 25 to 44, far from its typical younger audience. Forty-one percent of users ages 25 to 34 used the app more often today than during Jefferies’ first survey last June. Forty-four percent of the 34 to 44 demographic use Snapchat more now, the firm said.

It’s not atypical for older users to follow typically young early adopters to new platforms – just look at Facebook and Twitter. However, that migration sometimes drives the younger users away because the platform isn’t cool anymore, or because grandma and grandpa are now able to view their content. This shift may be a ways off for Snapchat, but something the app should consider moving forward. Hopefully, they can continue to provide content – from news stories to fun face-altering filters – to keep their original base happy while expanding to new audiences.

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

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  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.

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Perfecting Your Pitches: Tips from The Wilbert Group Pros

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As a recent college grad, I came into the working world excited to use the skills I had acquired in school. However, I also was fully aware I still had a lot to learn when it came to the PR industry. Thankfully, at The Wilbert Group I have the opportunity to work alongside industry experts and former journalists who have years of experience building relationships with reporters and successfully placing stories. My colleagues have provided me with tactics to improve my pitching strategy. So for all those who are looking to sharpen your skills, here are some pitching tips from The Wilbert Group pros:

Don’t be afraid to put in extra work: Journalists are always looking for trends, so next time you are pitching, think about the bigger story. Instead of solely focusing on your client, do some research for the journalist and roundup some additional sources or examples of companies participating in the trend as well. Sure, it may be more time consuming, but the payoff will be worth it! Reporters will be more likely to run the story, and they will see you as a valuable insider. Plus, it is a great way to foster partnerships with others in the industry.

Offer reporters a digital tie-in: As people are changing the way they consume media, publications are looking for ways to adapt. Many news outlets have embraced social media platforms (event Snapchat!) to reach their audiences. Know what platforms the publication uses, and personalize your pitches. Many reporters are looking for ways to increase their social media presence, so provide images for Instagram or recommend creating a Snapchat story. By doing this, you can amplify your media hits and help your client reach a broader audience.

Make it personalBlog: Reporters receive hundreds of emails each day, so as PR pros, it is our job to help our client’s news stand out. Often times, that can be accomplished through a well-researched and personal pitch. Go beyond reporters’ beats- find out what they are personally passionate about and spark their interest. Read through their previous work and make sure to tailor your pitch to fit their writing styles. Not only does this method produce better media results, it also allows for more creativity and fun.

Of course, our industry is always changing, so it is crucial we stay on top of the latest pitching strategies. There will always be room to grow, but here at The Wilbert Group, we see it as an exciting challenge.

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 6/3/16

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  1. 031416_weekend_roundup_jp01Have you gone down Peachtree in Midtown recently? We’re guessing yes, and we’re guessing you’ve noticed the giant MIDTOWN letters sitting at the corner of 15th Street and Peachtree, standing eight feet tall and spanning a total of forty feet. While these may seem like a tourist trap, Jill Vejnoska at the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote that a funny thing happened outside of Wilbert client Colony Square: “People started liking them. A lot.” Jill wrote a great feature in the AJC, saying, “Almost as soon as the letters appeared, people began taking selfies with them, sometimes posting them on social media with the hashtag #IAmMidtown. In just two months, they’ve become a staging spot for all sorts of public events, from jazz concerts and a “Bike to Work Day” promotion to an Earth Day celebration.” Welcome to the new hottest spot in Midtown!
  1. The laws of supply and demand have become more complicated at Orlando’s big theme parks as they make shifts in pricing strategies. Recently, Disney has aggressively raised prices. In October, the company revamped its annual-pass system to make it much more expensive for people to visit during Christmas and spring break. Then in February, it announced tiered one-day ticket prices. The Magic Kingdom costs up to $124 on the busiest days. According to Matt Busch at Wilbert client Revenue Analytics, “The right pricing strategy can benefit both the company and the customer — that idea of…. managing demand so you don’t have these crazy crowds that can’t be served well.”
  1. UnknownLooking for an estate near Athens? Wilbert client Beaver Dam Farms, the 973-acre estate formerly owned by country singer Kenny Rogers, is heading to auction on July 9. The estate is centered around a 12,000-square-foot mansion and includes three private spring-fed lakes, five guest houses and a clubhouse and a lake clubhouse. Also on the property is an equestrian arena that includes 44 stalls and two swimming pools, as well as two clay tennis courts and an 18-hole golf course. The owners said they will sell the property to the highest bidder “at or above $3.5 million fully furnished.” You can get more details from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and, a Wilbert first, TMZ!
  1. Jeffrey Bayer, president and CEO of Birmingham-based Wilbert client Bayer Properties, has been named to the board of trustees for International Council of Shopping Centers. Bayer is a part of the select group of international leaders in the retail industry that serve on the board. “It is a privilege to join the international leadership of ICSC,” Bayer said in a statement. “ICSC is the most influential organization in our industry and represents thought leadership and innovation. I am truly honored to sit on its Board of Trustees.”
  2. Atlanta-based national labor and employment firm and Wilbert client Fisher & Phillips has ditched the ampersand and rebranded as Fisher Phillips. The firm unveiled a new logo, tagline and website to go with the streamlined name as part of the campaign to update its brand. “Fisher Phillips is a strong, modern firm that can take on the toughest cases for the most discerning clients. Our brand will now reflect that,” said its chairman, Roger Quillen, in an announcement from the 350-lawyer firm.

 

How Mark Bisnow Did the Impossible: Built a Profitable Business News Outlet in Today’s Market

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When Bisnow first came to Atlanta in 2009, Mark Bisnow hired me to write for the commercial real estate e-newsletter. I had left the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was freelancing for a variety of companies, including Coca-Cola. It was a fun few months putting my reporter cap back on, and I was intrigued by the model. Mark wanted breaking news, lots of photos of people (not traditional head shots!) and witty, not-too-serious writing. He understood commercial real estate is a people business and he played to that.

Quickly, I was too focused on my own entrepreneurial dreams (i.e. The Wilbert Group) to freelance, and Mark needed a full-time person anyway. He hired Jarred Schenke who has done an incredible job and made Bisnow an important player in the Atlanta CRE news game. Bisnow nationally has done very well also and has developed a lucrative events business to complement its e-newsletter model.

Yesterday, Fortune broke the story that a private equity firm paid $50 million for Bisnow. As so many media companies struggle to stay relevant and turn a profit, entrepreneur Mark Bisnow started a media outlet, grew it and sold it for a pretty penny.

Here are four reasons I think he was successful:

  • He understood he needed to go niche (and not try to be all things to all businesspeople)
  • He played to people’s shrinking attention spans and desire for visual content
  • He got that email is still a very important channel (Snapchat is cool, sure, but the power of email is way under-rated)
  • He hired good journalists and gave them clear direction
  • He married lucrative events with business journalism

The good news for all of us who love CRE news is that Bisnow and Jarred will continue to operate as usual.

Congrats to Mark Bisnow and team on their success!

Media Moves: February, 2016

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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.

Charlotte Business Journal Reporter Turns PR Pro

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Will Boye

Will Boye, commercial real estate reporter at the Charlotte Business Journal, has joined us at The Wilbert Group. Boye will open our second office in Charlotte, overseeing PR efforts for key accounts including Crescent Communities, Skanska and Lincoln Harris, and aims to help grow our presence throughout the region. Boye was with the CBJ for 12 years, and covered banking and finance from 2003 to 2009.

 

AJC Reporter Joins Dallas Morning News

Atlanta Journal-Constitution city hall reporter Katie Leslie has announced she will depart at the end of the month. Leslie will relocate to Washington, D.C., where she will cover Texas delegation and congressional policy for The Dallas Morning News. Her replacement has not been announced.

Long-time staffers Rick Badie, Christopher Seward and Tom Sabulis also recently left the paper. Badie has joined the United States Postal Service as communications programs specialist.

 

Shake-Up at WSB-TV

Nicole Carr is joining WSB-TV in Atlanta next month. She comes to the city from Raleigh, North Carolina, where she has been a reporter at WTVD since 2013. She replaces Rachel Stockman, who recently moved to New York and helped launch LawNewz.com, where she is senior editor.

Research Shows Half of Newspaper Readers Only Read Print Edition

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For the past several years, the consensus has been that print is a dying form of media consumption. With news available online, on apps and on social media, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before print publications become obsolete.

However, data from Pew Research Center, which conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research, indicates that half of newspaper readers rely on print-only editions.

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Pew Research Center conducted a study of three vastly different local news environments in U.S. metropolitan areas and found that approximately half of newspaper readers who receive the print edition did not access the paper online. Print-only readers tended to be in their mid-50s or older and are less likely to have gone to college.

“Even in the digital age, home distribution remains a key link between newspapers and their readers,” said Michael Barthel of Pew Research Center. “And should the print product become a thing of the past, evidence from these three cities suggests that the impact would be felt disproportionately by about half of their audience – indeed, a particularly vulnerable contingent at that.”

To read the report in full, click here.

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines, 1/4/2016

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  1. Aaron's Turkey Donation with Action Ministries

    Aaron’s Turkey Donation with Action Ministries

    During the holidays, most families are concerned about the latest and greatest gadgets on everyone’s wish list. The last thing they worry about is if they’ll be eating a meal on Christmas day. But for hundreds of families in Georgia, not eating on Christmas was a very real possibility. That’s why Wilbert client Aaron’s teamed up with Action Ministries to donate over 200 turkeys to local Atlanta families this holiday season. Fox 5 Atlanta has a gallery of the giveaway, with photos of families, volunteers, and smiling faces. Additionally, Wilbert client Skanska donated hats, scarves and gloves to over 500 students at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School last month.

 

  1. On Dec. 11’s All About Real Estate edition of the Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio show, hosts Todd Schnick and Bryan Nonni were joined by CEO and Managing Broker of Wilbert client Terrace 24 Realty, Mike Minihan. In this episode, the trio discussed the concept of Terrace 24, the company process, its value to consumers and industry professionals, trends in real estate and much more. You can listen to the full show here.

 

  1. President of Pinnacle Search Partners, William Creekmuir

    President of Pinnacle Search Partners, William Creekmuir

    Furniture Today profiled Wilbert client William Creekmuir, a former senior executive with Simmons and LADD Furniture, who is now the new owner of executive search firm Pinnacle Search Partners. Creekmuir has served in a leadership role with Pinnacle since January and will serve as its president. He served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of publicly traded LADD, and over a 15-year period worked in the United States and Ireland for the international public accounting firm KPMG, where he was responsible for college recruiting in the Carolinas and was a partner.

 

  1. Although the holidays are over, there’s still plenty of time for ice-skating. The Atlanta Journal Constitution rounded up the top places to go skating in Atlanta, including Atlantic Station, where you can lace up at Skate Atlantic Station, home to a 10,000-square-foot, open-air ice skating rink through Feb. 14. Additionally, through Jan. 24, skaters can enjoy the Rockefeller-inspired rink at Avalon, a mixed-use development in Alpharetta. Special events will be held Jan. 7, Jan. 14, and Jan. 21.

 

  1. Although you (hopefully) already had your holiday office party, this 11 Alive article on employer liability at such events is still a good read. Michelli Rivera, associate at Wilbert client Fisher & Phillips, details what kinds of legal risks employers can face if they provide alcohol at a company holiday party, and beyond. Rivera said, “Liability is a real concern for employers who know that company holiday parties can be the precipice of harassment and discrimination claims.” So whether it’s next year’s holiday party, or a Mardi Gras celebration, be sure to keep your company protected against any potential lawsuits.

Crisis PR: Nothing Beats an Apology from the CEO

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One of the tenets of crisis PR is to get the CEO out front of the issue quickly to show that they are (1) concerned about the issue and (2) doing something about it. Toss in a heartfelt apology and you’re likely to do even more to mitigate the crisis.

The power of this simple act was on full display again this week. Chipotle Mexican Grill, stung by an outbreak of norovirus at a restaurant in Boston that has sickened more than 100 college students, was a bit slow in its early response to the crisis – which made national news.

Chipotle CEO, Steve Ells, speaks out on The Today Show.

Chipotle CEO, Steve Ells, speaks out on The Today Show.

On Thursday, however, founder and co-CEO Steve Ells went on NBC’s “Today Show” and apologized. “I’m sorry for the people who got sick,” he told host Matt Lauer. “They are having a tough time, and I feel terrible about that.”

His comments came across as genuine. It helped that he looked like a college professor instead of a slick CEO in a $2,000 suit. He also went on to say that the “silver lining” in the outbreak was that Chipotle is instituting new food-safety procedures that will put the company 10-15 years ahead of industry norms.

“I believe this will be the safest restaurant to eat at,” he said.

Ells, in a matter of a few minutes, conveyed his concern and explained what he and Chipotle were doing to fix the problem. He went a step further by saying “I’m sorry” – and nothing says I’m sorry better than a CEO saying I’m sorry.

Even the stock market took notice. Chipotle shares closed up 5 percent Thursday – despite a new disclosure that a Chipotle restaurant in Seattle was being closed by health inspectors following an E-coli outbreak.

Which means we may be seeing more of CEO Ells in the near future.