1. The Wilbert Group is proud to have helped shine a light on a compassionate and important organization, Destroy Pancreatic Cancer. Spokesperson Mark Gelinas and board member Mike Broxterman were recently featured on HLN’s MichaeLA to discuss the foundation’s mission and founder John Couvillon’s legacy. You can watch the full segment here.
2. Amazon has a plan for a new distribution hub in Atlanta that will ultimately employ about 1,000 full-time workers. The new “fulfillment center” in Jefferson will be Amazon’s second in Jackson County, and the announcement comes amid the Fortune 500 company’s push to provide rapid delivery — including same-day — to more customers. Jared Wiesel, partner at Revenue Analytics, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Scott Trubey that Amazon’s push to open more fulfillment centers is part of its goal to enable delivery within hours, saying “Two of Amazon’s greatest competitive strengths are around convenience and price.”
3. Preferred Apartment Communities Inc. (PAC) recently purchased Rockbridge Village, a roughly 102,432-square-foot retail center in Stone Mountain that is anchored by a 68,632-square-foot Kroger grocery store. Commercial Property Executive profiled PAC’s new asset, which it acquired through its wholly owned subsidiary New Market Properties LLC. The company financed the purchase through a non-recourse first mortgage loan originated by The Prudential Insurance Company of America.
4. General contracting firm New South Construction Company has completed construction of two Georgia senior living communities. The Glen at Lake Oconee in Greensboro and Thrive at Frederica in St. Simons are the latest to join New South Construction’s portfolio of senior living communities across the Southeast United States. New South president Huntly Gordon spoke with Multi Housing News about the projects, saying, “We’re proud to deliver modern luxury accommodations for future residents.”
5. In the past few years, there’s been a flood of intown Atlanta chefs and restaurateurs expanding OTP. While that hooped highway known as the perimeter can often feel like a solid wall when it comes to cultural differences, the fact is that literally millions of people live in the suburbs outside 285, all of whom eat and many of whom have the disposable income to eat quite well. A recent Creative Loafing article on the phenomenon profiled several OTP high-end food locations, including Avalon in Alpharetta, home to Ford Fry restaurant El Felix, a sister concept to intown Superica.
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 sales 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.”
On the heels of a disappointing first earnings report for Snap, a new report indicates that the photo-sharing platform is having trouble attracting new users. Downloads for Snapchat in April 2017 fell about 16 percent, while Instagram downloads were up 19 percent. This is significant because Instagram recently unveiled a stories feature its CEO openly admitted was a Snapchat copycat, and it’s proven wildly popular and pulled Snapchat’s heavy Gen Z fan base away. In fact, Instagram announced this morning that it is introducing augmented reality facial filters in yet another Snapchat copycat move.
Facebook launched reactions over a year ago, allowing users to let content creators know if their posts made them feel happy, sad, angry, etc. Typically, the reaction options don’t change for holidays or seasonality like, for example, stickers on Instagram, but Facebook broke that pattern for Mother’s Day. About a week ago, a sweet, purple flower emoji appeared among the reaction options, and Facebook rolled out additional options for showing Mom love on her big day, like custom photo frames.
Mother’s Day wasn’t an arbitrary holiday for Facebook to test this feature: People thanking their mothers drove more posts in one day than any other topic, with more than 105 million Mother’s Day posts in 2016. This just goes to show that more people are taking to social media to celebrate special days, and brands need to have a strategy in place to get the most out of a holiday.
If you’re a casual user, you might not realize that Twitter is struggling, but its shareholders are very aware. In what’s being called an effort to change market perceptions, Twitter is upping its live-streaming game. This move is behind the rest of the market, as Facebook and Instagram have been urging users and brands to “go live” for months, but it appears that Twitter wanted to take its time and make the move into live video carefully, in a way that appeals to both users and advertisers. They’ve struck 12 live streaming content deals with outlets like Bloomberg, Live National and the WNBA to begin this fall, hoping to appeal to millennial cord cutters. For individual users, Twitter and Periscope recently unveiled a new analytics dashboard for live videos in hopes that brands will get on board.
Competing for the title of most hated company in America is obviously the last place any organization wants to be. Yet United Airlines now finds itself in that rarefied air after a public relations disaster of epic proportions that not only will stain the company’s reputation for years to come, but also threatens to undercut its all-important bottom line. A full recap of last week’s event can be found here, but a quick outline will show the train went off the tracks right when United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz “apologized” for “having to re-accommodate” the elderly doctor who was bloodied and manhandled in front of stunned onlookers, and ultimately, millions of online viewers.
Ouch, bam, crash. The bewildering remark was never walked back or corrected in the immediate aftermath, a glaring PR blunder on full display around the globe. If that wasn’t bad enough, Mr. Munoz decided to double down on his awkward stance hours later in a letter he sent to United employees, calling the passenger “disruptive and belligerent” while also managing to praise his employees for going “above and beyond to ensure we fly right”. Like throwing a can of gasoline on a fire, this was a classic and painful example demonstrating how a single blunder or wrongful act by an organization can quickly morph into a full-blown public relations crisis and media circus if mishandled. The most devastating wounds for United and any other organization caught up in these types of situations are always self-inflicted. It’s not the initial blunder or misdeed that can sink you, but rather, the follow-up response.
So what public relations lessons can be learned from the United crisis? Whether the initial problem was caused by an ill-advised decision or events beyond your control doesn’t matter. The correct strategy has a singular focus of putting out the fire ASAP, and sometimes that means your organization must expose itself to short-term pain rather than follow a defensive instinct – which risks much more serious consequences. What you say, or don’t say, in a very narrow time window that opens immediately after the storm begins will likely determine whether the crisis is just a headache that eventually passes or leads to long-term, irreversible damage. A few key principles to remember:
Move Quickly: Don’t dilly-dally or stonewall. The story is going to be told by the media with or without your input, especially if you’re playing at the level United Airlines does. Your audience and customers will form an opinion about your company whether they hear from you or not. The sooner you get moving the more likely you will retain at least some control over your own narrative. The first 24 hours of a potential crisis is where success or failure is usually determined. Keep the stream of information flowing, even if it’s just bits and pieces at first.
Stick With Facts, Tell The Truth: Some PR specialists may advise you to steer clear of the facts and not admit wrongdoing in hopes of skating through potential disaster. But United Airlines is exhibit A of why this is not a good approach. Acknowledge the facts as they are. United’s original response was that the plane was overbooked. That actually was not true. Passengers were removed to make room for other United employees who needed to get to another city. So they created a credibility issue to complement the viral video that was already doing enough damage. See Lance Armstrong, Paula Deen and other notable figures who chose the lying/denying route. This doesn’t help, and leads into the next key principle of…
Apologize: None of us like to admit when we’ve blown it. That’s especially true in the corporate world. But a sincere, forthright and clearly worded apology is probably the number one medicine for stemming the bleeding of a public relations crisis. This is about damage control, not damage avoidance. If Mr. Munoz had originally come out and owned up to what happened, apologized, and immediately assured the public they were taking action to fix the problem, things would not have spiraled out of control. Of course, he did say this the following day, but it was too late by the time of his third statement. The key is to keep it at a mistake (singular), instead of having a pile-up of errors and ensuing controversy.
Don’t Ignore/Insult/Accuse Customers: All language geared toward your paying customers should be neutral in tone and non-accusatory. That’s even when they may be in the wrong, though it certainly wasn’t the case with United. The instinct to “circle the wagons” internally can become a major turn-off for a watching public. This would seem like common sense, but for many, it’s not. Approach your communications from the vantage point of working with your customers to solve a problem they’re having and make amends if necessary. The robotic language displayed in United’s initial statement conveyed a tone-deaf stance, and the visuals certainly didn’t help. The opinions of your customers matter. They are the lifeblood of your business after all.
One last note: Don’t become complacent. This can happen in any organization. Oscar Munoz was recently honored as “Communicator of the Year” by PRWeek less than a month before this incident. He had impeccable credentials, incredible resources, and access to some of the top PR minds in the industry. And ultimately, none of that mattered.
By sticking to a few key basics, you’ll be able to successfully navigate any storm, minimize damage, and come out stronger on the other side.
1. Are indoor shopping malls becoming extinct? Or is a resurgence upon us? That depends on whom you ask. Many retail industry watchers are down on malls—and with good reason. Big bankruptcies are driving big vacancies. The flip side is, these big vacancies are driving strategic redevelopment opportunities that could revitalize models with an experiential retail twist. GlobeSt.com recently caught up with Nick Garzia, director of leasing for Atlantic Station to get his take. “I don’t think malls are becoming extinct, but I do think they are changing. A stratification of product type has been taking place over the past several years.”
2. If you’re headed to downtown Atlanta this spring, you’ll want to read this Atlanta Journal Constitution article detailing the top restaurants within walking distance of the city’s major sites. Our favorite is Peachtree Center’s retail center, whose culinary options include Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Panbury’s Hand Pies, Tin Lizzy’s Mexican, Aviva by Kameel Mediterranean and several other spots.
3. Teen members of the U.S. Bank Boys and Girls Club in Cincinnati now have a space all for themselves. Aaron’s, Inc. partnered with Boys and Girls Clubs of America in 2015 to renovate clubs across the country and their latest renovation occurred last week in The Queen City. The teenagers helped design the space and associates from Aaron’s took over from there. See this local CBS article and video for more information about the Teen Center, which is now equipped with new technology, sectional sofas, tables and chairs and a new sound system.
4. Another quarterly earnings season is in the books, and while there were a few star performers, it was another dismal one for retailers. It seems almost a daily occurrence — headlines littered with the next retailer that struggled under the weight of aggressive competition and changing consumer preferences. To help make sense of what retailers can expect from the coming price war, and how they can win each battle, check out Revenue Analytics’ Jared Wiesel’s article in Total Retail.
5. On the latest episode of NPR WUKY’s Business Side, Brennan Fielder talked with Lindsay Bayer-Shipp, creative director and brand strategist at Bayer Properties, the Alabama-based developer set to debut the Summit at Fritz Farm, a sprawling new retail and dining complex on Nicholasville Road at Man O War Boulevard in the shadow of Fayette Mall. The grand opening event is this Thursday, April 27th.
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.”
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.
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.
The draining, dull, dismal workplace has become an archetype in popular culture. For decades, the stereotypical American office has been depicted by movies and television as a maze of cubicles in a sea of gray and white. In the 1999 comedy Office Space, Peter Gibbons exclaims, “We don’t have a lot of time on this earth! We weren’t meant to spend it this way!”
And to be honest, you shouldn’t have to.
Consider a few stats:
One survey from Management Today indicates that 97 percent of workers consider their workplace a symbol of whether or not they are valued by their employers.
A Gallup poll of 25 million American workers suggests that unhappy employees can cost up to $550 billion in lost productivity, annually.
Another recent survey of Americans who work in traditional office spaces reveals nearly half feel their workplace design and décor has no personality. And, only one in four indicate they would be proud to show their office to family and friends.
With those numbers in mind, it’s easy to see why both workers and employers should have a vested interest in office design.
The Wilbert Group entered 2017 with a refreshed office space. With a focus on wellness, our team collaborated with an interior designer to optimize our office design by balancing the ‘me’ with the ‘we.’ By combining community spaces for collaboration with private spaces for focus and relaxation, we created a workplace that inspires us.
1. Hard hats and construction trucks are beginning to move out of Avalon’s new wing, Boulevard East. The experiential mixed-use mecca in Alpharetta will unveil its second phase expansion to the public with a 13-hour grand opening celebration this Thursday, April 13. To see a preview of the new shops and eateries, read this Atlanta Journal Constitution article, which features an inside look at Avalon’s highly anticipated Boulevard East.
2. Any businesses relying on independent contractors – including shared economy or “gig” economy businesses – should pay close attention to a recent court ruling that granted Uber a significant victory in the industry’s ongoing misclassification battle. That’s according to Fisher Phillips Columbia, S.C. attorneys Steve Mitchell and Sheila Bias, who penned an op-ed in Midlands Biz detailing how employers can apply the lessons this ruling teaches. Reviewing the factors the court cited should assist in establishing preferred practices that will minimize the changes of a misclassification lawsuit and maximize the chances of success should such a lawsuit be filed against your business.
3. Atlanta has a new destination where you can grab some lunch and see dozens of artists creating work right in the heart of Midtown: The Creative Hive Project, which has brought individuals and arts organizations to Colony Square. Mixed in with restaurants, retail and offices are a dozen artists or arts groups working right out in the open. To learn more about when you can see the Creative Hive Project at Colony Square, listen to this WABE story.
4. Edward Andrews Homes’ Alpharetta community, Larkspur, is a new take on the “active adult” formula. Its target market is “a generation of buyers that are trading in their large family homes and entering a new chapter lived on their own terms,” says Caroline Simmel, senior vice president of marketing. Imagine yourself living in one of these beautiful homes with this Atlanta magazine article.
5. A new standard of luxury can be found in the Maisonettes at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta, a collection of three villa-style private residences (from $2.8 million) that are part of The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta. Each three-level abode features a one-of-a-kind floor plan and plenty of outdoor space. Hardwood floors, marble accents, massive windows, and hand-crafted stone fireplace mantels give the units a sleek, elevated feel. Check out the incredible pictures and learn more in this Robb Report article.
First came Snapchat. Then, Instagram Stories. Now, Facebook Stories is rolling out to users in Chile, Greece and Vietnam. The feature was first tested in Ireland, and its expansion shows that ephemeral photos and videos resonate with users across different platforms, even though other apps already possess this service. While some users grumbled about yet another Snapchat clone arriving (and they have a point – who has time to post short clips three separate times?), it makes sense for brands constantly battling Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm. Brands can’t post more than a few times on the day on the platform if they want to keep a high position in newsfeeds, but Stories would allow them to share content throughout the day and keep constantly atop their audiences feed. If this feature expands to the U.S., it could mean that Facebook will be able to bring back their share-happy younger audience (the average age of an American Facebook user is 40) and brands will be able to up their content game.
Apple has unveiled a new iOS app called Clips, a content creation platform reminiscent of Snapchat, Facebook Live and video editing software like iMovie. It allows users to stitch together videos and photos and add filters to create a “story” (are you sick of that term yet?). The app’s most unique feature is the ability to insert a soundtrack, making it easy to edit higher-quality video content from your smartphone. Clips will not launch alongside its own dedicated social network, but will allow users to post their creative content on Facebook or Instagram. This is great news for brands that don’t have many resources to dedicate to video editing but need to post that kind of content on social media. Video is here to stay, and brands need to get on board.
On the heels of the popularity of Facebook and Instagram’s live video features, Twitter is preparing to launch a live video API with more powerful integrations than the platform’s existing Periscope tie-in. This move raises the question of whether Twitter will stay committed to keeping Periscope its live video app, or if it will roll more of the broadcasting and livestream browsing into its main app.
Twitter makes more sense as a home for live video than Facebook or Instagram, so it’s important they do this right and make it easier for users to share and interact with this type of content. Journalists love Twitter, and millennials and Gen Z use the platform to get their up-to-the-minute news and for coverage of major events rather than tuning into CNN or a traditional broadcast outlet. In fact, 59 percent of Twitter users rely on it for news, so this could make it easier for media outlets to get live video content to an audience of cord cutters and smartphone addicts.