The Wilbert Group Blog

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 4/25/17



mia-nickgarzia1. 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. 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.


To Get the Most Out of ICSC, You’ll Need PR


Are you attending ICSC RECon this year? If you go without a PR strategy, you’re wasting an opportunity to make a name for yourself in retail real estate. The evidence?

  • ICSC social pages have a BIG audience. Are you a part of that conversation?
  • Media will be there, including National Real Estate Investor, Bisnow, Commercial Observer, Chain Sore Age and more. Do you have a plan to organize interviews and get news out to the right people?
  • And what about your local media? Chances are, they’ll be looking for experts to discuss the conference when you’re back home.

You can make your mark in an impactful way. Check out our SlideShare below to learn how The Wilbert Group can help.


Caroline Wilbert


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Media Moves: April 2017


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

Mitchell Northam is the new hyperlocal digital reporter for North Fulton at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Northam is a native of Maryland and graduated from Salisbury University in 2015. Northam worked for the Delmarva Times as a breaking news reporter and covered sports in the area. He has written for USA Today and SB Nation. He recently wrote an article about #WilbertClient North American Properties’ Avalon expansion.

Read about it:

Details of Avalon’s Expansion: Apple store, four-star hotel among what’s coming 

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 1.42.52 PMThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s yearlong investigative series, Doctors and Sex Abuse, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. The awards were announced Monday.

Read about it:

AJC Doctors is a series finalists for the Pulitzer Prize

Clifton Leaf, the new editor-in-chief at Fortune, announced the magazine has grown in two places this year. The first, video, makes sense, but the other, print, is more of a surprise. Leaf, formerly deputy editor at the magazine, shared his vision recently with min.

Read about it:

Good Fortune in Fortune’s future

The Amazon Echo has surprised everyone with its broad acceptance, and the large number of news organizations already participating on the platform. What will voice-enabled internet mean for journalism? Between Amazon Echo, Google Home and Siri it’s no surprise journalism is making the move to these digital platforms. Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 1.43.43 PM

Read about it:

Voice Enabled Internet and Journalism

Magazines are learning a new language



April Digital Updates




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.

The Importance of Balancing the ‘We’ with the ‘Me’ in Office Design



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.

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 4/12/17


image21. 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.

hive_mind_arise_13. 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.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A Review of Q1’s Worst PR Performances



The old Clint Eastwood movie was whirling through my brain as I recalled some of the first quarter’s biggest public relations crises – and analyzed how they were handled. Instead of a buried cache of Confederate gold (that’s what Clint was after in the 1966 film), I found mostly disappointment in how companies and organizations responded during a big crisis.

But let me start with the good – as in good PR response – before unloading my guns on the bad and the ugly.

The Good

General Mills: The maker of Cheerios recently illustrated what happens when you do a good thing that gets criticized, then do another good thing by responding in the best manner possible. The first good thing was the company’s novel marketing campaign for Honey Nut Cheerios to save the honey bee population by (1) removing the famous mascot BuzzBee from its boxes and (2) distributing 1.5 billion wildflower seeds to people across the U.S.

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What could be wrong with that? Well, a lot, according to some ecologists. They contended the seeds could cause harm if planted outside their native regions. Criticism came from everywhere, such as this comment on “. . . they are sending free packets of wildflower seeds to people all over the country – and some of the flowers included are invasive species that, in some areas, you should probably not plant.”

The second good thing was General Mills’ response on social media. Taking to Twitter and Facebook, where much of the criticism was being leveled, the company pointed out repeatedly – but calmly – that the seed varieties in the mix “are not considered invasive,” were selected for their flowers which produce nectar and pollen that are attractive to bees and other pollinators, and are the same as those consumers will find in seed racks at major national home store chains.

At last, the crisis subsided. And the Cheerios-inspired flowers blossomed.

The Bad

United Airlines: What happens when you prevent two teenagers from boarding a flight because they’re wearing leggings? A huge blowback on traditional and social media – and an unnecessary PR crisis.

That is the lesson United Airlines has learned from its March decision to thwart the legging-clad girls who were traveling on employee passes. Turns out their wardrobe violated United’s passenger dress code.

Twitter did not agree with the decision or policy. Celebrities, feminists and others roundly criticized United, many using the new #LeggingsGate hashtag. Delta Air Lines seized the opportunity to mock its rival, tweeting: “Flying Delta means comfort. (That means you can wear your leggings.)”


The airline’s initial response was speedy but burdened by too much explanation, going on and on about what travelers on buddy passes are expected to wear. As PR pros often say, when you’re explaining, you’re probably losing. Instead, it’s typically much better to investigate, fix the problem, then explain yourself.

Even the company’s global communications director said the carrier should have taken a more thoughtful approach to responding to the dress-code controversy. And it would probably be wise for United to reevaluate what seems like an outdated dress code.

PricewaterhouseCoopers: Never have the Oscars had this much drama. The wrong winner for best film was announced – sorry La La Land, the real winner is Moonlight – and the accounting firm PwC suddenly was an international laughingstock.

The London-based firm did swiftly apologize and promise to investigate the error, stating, “We sincerely apologise to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for best picture.”

Some might argue that short of not making the mistake, there isn’t much PwC could do to mitigate the harm. I’m probably alone on this, but I think infusing some humor in a subsequent response might be useful. I don’t equate handing Warren Beatty the wrong envelope with auditing knee-deep corporate financial records, so why not poke a little fun at yourself?

Regardless, it seems PwC will survive. Last week, the Academy Awards announced it was keeping its accounting firm of 84 years.

Samsung: It doesn’t get much worse than one of your signature products’ batteries catching fire and your next leader getting swept up in a government scandal that brings down the nation’s president. But that has been the Samsung story thus far in 2017.

It was heartening to see the company apologize for the Galaxy Note 7 battery problems at a January press conference, where the company took responsibility for its “failure to ultimately identify and verify the issues” with its batteries. But when you have to issue a second apology a couple months later – as Samsung did in late March – it undermines the first apology.

The second apology, from Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun to shareholders, again referenced the Note 7 debacle as well as the company’ involvement in scandals that led to the ouster of South Korea’s president. In fact, Jay Lee, next in line to run Samsung, remains jailed on embezzlement and bribery charges – never good for your corporate reputation.

My advice to Samsung: Stop doing stupid things so you don’t have to issue any more apologies. And get back to reminding us of the innovation that made you a global tech leader.

The Ugly

Uber: The grand disrupter of the taxi industry steered its way into oncoming PR crises at almost every turn in the first quarter. In no particular order, the company (1) was accused of sexual harassment and discrimination, (2) came under attack from a #deleteuber movement in response to CEO Travis Kalanick’s role on an advisory panel to President Donald Trump in the wake of Trump’s travel ban, (3) watched in horror a video published by Bloomberg of Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver who had complained about pay and (4) picked a fight with Google.

How do you deal with these rolling crises? Well, (1) Kalanick issued a heartfelt apology – at times with tears in his eyes, according to one report – for the company’s lack of diversity and promised to do better, (2) Uber released a statement criticizing President Trump’s travel ban, and shortly after Kalanick resigned from the advisory panel (3) Kalanick apologized, again, for venting on the taxi driver and stated he needed to change as leader and “grow up” and (4) the fight with Google is ongoing over whether the head of Uber’s self-driving unit stole trade secrets from Google.

The most promising response has been Kalanick admitting he needs to grow as a leader and get C-Suite help at Uber. Additionally, Ariana Huffington, Uber’s only female board member, has taken on a larger role at the company. Young, entrepreneurial companies often face growing pains and bouts of immaturity. But Uber also needs to clamp down on its CEO and try to keep him out of the news for the rest of the year, if possible.

USA Gymnastics: When a news article starts like this, you’ve got a full-blown PR crisis on your hands.

“Top executives at one of America’s most prominent Olympic organizations failed to alert authorities to many allegations of sexual abuse by coaches — relying on a policy that enabled predators to abuse gymnasts long after USA Gymnastics had received warnings.”

Sadly, before and after the Indianapolis Star’s December report that revealed that more than 368 gymnasts had alleged abuse by coaches and other authority figures over two decades, USA Gymnastics did not respond appropriately. Instead, what response there has been has been slow, less than transparent, and without an apology.

USA Gymnastics logo

The only positive step was the forced resignation of Steve Penny, the organization’s longtime president. But that came months – if not years – too late.

Following the Star’s revelations came additional reporting by the likes of 60 Minutes, hearings before Congress (although USA Gymnastics declined to send anyone to testify before the Senate – not wise), new allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of coaches and doctors, and withering criticism, including from Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu, who called for Penny’s resignation and an apology from the board.

Yet USA Gymnastics has continued to rely on canned, cold video and written statements to defend itself. It also has battled over the past year to block the release of court documents regarding sexual misconduct. And its attempts at an apology have been weakly worded and severely lacking.

In the end, the organization leaves the impression it cares more about its reputation and legal defenses than the welfare of its athletes.


The Wilbert Group at PR News’ Video Workshop in Washington, D.C.



On Facebook people spend five times longer engaging with video content than they do with static images, stated by eye-tracking research conducted by Facebook. While a great picture is still worth a thousand words, a great video may be worth five thousand.

And it’s not just Facebook. Seventy-four percent of all web traffic will be video-driven this year, according to data from Syndacast.

That’s why we’re focusing big-time on video at The Wilbert Group this year, investing in people, equipment and training to help our clients tell their stories. Recently, my colleague Nick Banaszak (a former broadcast journalist who has brought his considerable video storytelling skills to The Wilbert Group) and I traveled to Washington, DC, to attend PR News’ Video Workshop at the National Press Building.

We got great tips on production, post-production, audience engagement and how to go live on various platforms. We discussed best practices for video, platform by platform. Here’s a quick look at what works well on each:


  • Up to 85 percent of all video watched on Facebook is watched without sound, so what your video looks like is much more important than what it sounds like.
  • Regular uploaded videos can be up to 45 minutes long and live video can be up to 90 minutes (not we recommend that).
  • The most successful videos on Facebook either have an emotional hook or they teach people something, such as how to cook a meal.


  • For most people, the maximum length is 140 seconds. Some influencers can post longer video.
  • Shareable, short videos that provoke a conversation do well on Twitter.


  • The length must be between four and 60 seconds.
  • File formats: .mp4 or .mov only
  • The content should be aesthetically pleasing and trendy


  • Videos can be 10 seconds maximum.
  • Even as a brand, you want to be humorous on Snapchat and make video feel as though you are documenting your day

And when we weren’t brainstorming about how to most effectively use video on our clients’ social channels, we managed to find time to post on our own. You can’t go to Washington, D.C., without taking (and sharing) a picture in front of The White House after all!

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Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 3/29/17


online-retail1. Retail is a fickle industry. With a mix of eCommerce stores versus brick-and-mortar locations, it’s important to understand what consumers want year to year to ensure your business continues to succeed. Jennifer Post recently published an article in Business News Daily with the top four upcoming trends to watch in retail. Revenue Analytics’ retail expert Jared Wiesel said in the piece, “Retailers should connect on the individual customer’s terms. They need to be included in the process, and whether they want emails, texts or alerts through an app, companies should adhere to those preferences.”

2. Mark Toro is a hugely successful businessman who founded the Atlanta office of North American Properties. But how did he get there? 11 Alive’s “Executive Profiles” shined the spotlight on Toro last week, with an in-depth video detailing his journey to the founder of the Atlanta office of NAP. Some highlights include: Toro coming from a family of builders, his studies at Rutgers University, his instrumental role in the development of several high profile real estate projects across metro Atlanta such as Avalon in Alpharetta and his role repositioning Atlantic Station as a premier destination in Atlanta.

Ichicoro-Birmingham-Pizitz-Food-Hall-Door-Signage-1600x20003. High-end European-style food halls, which bear only passing resemblance to their Americanized shopping-mall cousins, are cropping up all over the South. The establishments, like St. Roch Market in New Orleans and Krog Street Market in Atlanta, act as hatcheries for emerging local culinary talent by combining dozens of small-kitchen operations that feature everything from raw bars to ramen, burgers to bakeries—all built around communal seating banks. Just opened: Pizitz Food Hall in Birmingham, Alabama, which was profiled in Garden & Gun magazine, detailing the 18 food stalls and 30,000-square-foot space.

4. President Donald Trump hasn’t yet made clear how his administration will deal with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — which is tasked with making sure American employers are creating safe workplaces for their employees. Construction Dive’s Kim Slowey interviewed Fisher Phillips partner Ed Foulke this month to discuss what he expects out of a Trump OSHA, with Foulke saying the organization “will likely focus on a lighter approach and help employers comply with regulations rather than hitting them with stiff penalties and several citations.”

TheMain-2026a15. Last Friday, the main event in the city of Norfolk, Virginia was The Main, the city’s newest downtown hotel and conference center. Dancers danced, champagne flowed and the governor of Virginia anointed The Main as a transformative property that will help reposition not only the port city, but also the state, as a prime tourism and conference destination. This article covered the event and new hotel, quoting Rob Uhrin, a principal with Cooper Carry, who said the hotel was designed to actively engage the community with plenty of public spaces, including outside patios off the beer garden and a small outdoor park off the building’s main first-floor seafood restaurant, Saltine.

March Digital Updates



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 Yet another Snapchat clone arrives via Facebook.

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.

#2 Apple throws their hat in the video ring with Clips.

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.

#3 Twitter prepares to launch live video.

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.