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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.


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

  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.

Dragon Con – Starring PR as one of the Super Heroes


How does one bring 70,000 people to the city of Atlanta? Enter the phenomenon Dragon Con.


Dragon Con Attendees Showing Off Their Costumes

Dragon Con Attendees Showing Off Their Costumes

A huge emergence of sci-fi and fantasy, gaming comics, literature, art, music, and film gurus, Atlanta is taken over by this special universe during Labor Day Weekend as attendees transform the city, traveling in costume acting out their superhero powers – and attending the convention.


As a public relations professional, I could not help but think about the PR campaign behind this sci-fi and gaming spectacle.


Dragon Con’s team created a smart Facebook media relations page and website devoted to media relations and awareness. Of course, those elements were just part of a multifaceted approach. From strategy to implementation, a PR campaign starts early and doesn’t end until the hard results come in – how many people did we reach, who covered the event, where are the opportunities for the next campaign?


Dragon Con Visitors in Batman Costumes

Dragon Con Visitors in Batman Costumes

Dragon Con’s record attendance speaks volumes about the effectiveness of the public relations team. After all, great PR drives more than media hits; it drives measurable results.


It takes the hands of many to pull off Dragon Con, but our role as PR professionals is and will always be to bring heightened awareness of an event, business, product, or campaign – and if we do it well, 70,000 Dragon “Con-ians” may just show up.

A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words


Media relations is often the bread and butter of PR. Everyday, we work with journalists to tell our client news and position them as thought leaders. And once we secure that media hit, we amplify the story across a multitude of digital channels to reach a broader audience.


For example, we set up an interview with New York Times Corner Office columnist Adam Bryant and our client Mark Toro, managing partner of North American Properties. The story ran on page two of The New York Times Sunday Business section last week. To further share this story beyond NYT circulation, we pulled quotes and created images to share on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


Mark Toro, managing partner at NAP Atlanta

Mark Toro, managing partner at NAP Atlanta

Picture your Twitter feed – text heavy, right? Including an image in a tweet draws the user’s eye when scrolling through the news feed. Pulling out compelling quotes and making them visually appealing is a great way to repackage a traditional media hit on social media channels.

Ultimately, the link was shared 531 times on LinkedIn, 397 times on Twitter and 489 times on Facebook. A single tweet with The New York Times graphic generated 650 impressions alone.

News You Can Use


In an inspired PR play this week, our real estate team seized an opportunity to insert one of our clients into an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story about Donald Trump’s return to ATL and what could come of his former prime piece of Midtown real estate. It was a move that we PR pros can execute with our eyes closed, but some newbies may need a quick lesson on what newsjacking is and why it’s ever-so-important in today’s media landscape.


Donald Trump (left) with daughter Ivanka and partners Gil Dezer (second from right) and Mark Randall stand next to a scale model of the proposed $300 million Trump Towers project in Midtown Atlanta in April 2007.

Donald Trump (left) with daughter Ivanka and partners Gil Dezer (second from right) and Mark Randall stand next to a scale model of the proposed $300 million Trump Towers project in Midtown Atlanta in April 2007.

Newsjacking is essentially piggybacking on a news item and inserting your client’s expert opinion on the subject. It’s about taking advantage of a fleeting opportunity that may not seem glaringly obvious for a client (in this case we had a real estate attorney comment on Trump’s failed tower, so fairly obvious connection), establish a connection and move quickly. If the general story is out (again, in this case, Trump coming to Atlanta is a big news story that all news outlets are covering), reporters will want to get their slant out as fast as possible.


Here are a few additional tips:


1) A critical element of successful newsjacking is having existing relationships with reporters. Because the pace moves quickly, reporters are more likely to pick up the phone and consider the idea if they already know the person on the other end. Work on creating and maintaining a tight database of reporters, and constantly keep in touch.

2) Move fast. Because this is a real-time process, avoid clients who require a large-scale approval process. When you jump on the opportunity, make sure your clients are comfortable talking about the subject. Journalists nowadays are covering multiple beats and are required to produce a ton of content, so the faster you move, the better resource you are for them.

3) Be precise and add more than what the journalist may be seeking. Capitalize on the news trend but provide extra value to the story.

4) Offer a few different sources and angles. It’s hard to get sources on the phone, and if one doesn’t answer, the reporter may need to quickly move on to the next one. Craft an organized email that outlines each source, his or her title, phone number and email address, and the topics they can address.

The Wilbert Group Named Top PR Firm in Atlanta


Public relations website Everything PR has named The Wilbert Group one of the top three PR firms in Atlanta. Everything PR credits The Wilbert Group’s growth and success to founder Tony Wilbert’s journalism and networking expertise, and states: “It is no easy task to turn a small public relations agency into a large company with a nationwide presence.”

Top PR Firms in Atlanta

Top PR Firms in Atlanta

The Wilbert Group serves clients nationwide and in the Caribbean in real estate (residential and commercial) and corporate services. In response to growing demand, the firm recently hired Niki Taylor as senior account executive for the corporate practice and Meredith Pierce as account coordinator for the real estate practice. The firm continues to meet and exceed client expectations as it progresses into its seventh year. For more information, visit

How the Atlanta Business Community is Making It OK for Staff at Buckhead Landmark


by Suong Nguyen & Caroline Wilbert

Our founder Tony Wilbert has been a regular at the OK Café since he was a reporter at the Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Back then, he got many of his scoops over his near-daily 7:30 a.m. breakfasts. Shortly after Tony started our firm, a relatively unknown Kasim Reed was running for his first term as mayor. Tony was on his campaign committee and introduced Reed to key players in the business community over breakfasts at – you guessed it – the OK Cafe. The Atlanta landmark has continued to be a favorite place for Tony to connect with clients, journalists, friends, mentors and community influencers. Like a lot of local businesspeople, he likes the food, the friendly staff and the networking scene. And also like a lot of local businesspeople, he was saddened when a fire closed the restaurant just before Christmas. Here’s a Storify we created about how the business community came together to raise money and show support for the staff at the OK Café. We can hardly wait until it reopens this spring!​

Two Icons Leave An Indelible Mark on Atlanta


by Tony Wilbert and Mark Braykovich

Carl Sanders being sworn in as governor. Photo: AP.

The passing of two Atlanta icons – former Governor Carl Sanders and real estate magnate Herman Russell – rekindles several fond memories for Tony Wilbert, who wrote about Russell during the 1990s and 2000s, and Mark Braykovich, who worked for Gov. Sanders at the law firm Troutman Sanders until 2013.

Most people remember Sanders as the progressive Democrat who pushed to desegregate schools and the state capitol, but Mark also recalls him as the brilliant legal strategist who served as counsel to many of the deans of Atlanta business, such as Tom Cousins.

At Troutman Sanders, legions of much-younger lawyers regularly marched up to his 52nd floor office – where Sanders held court from his old governor’s chair – to solicit his advice or approval. Several of them would proudly tell you “I’m a Sanders guy,” meaning they had been handpicked by him to work at the firm he founded after losing his second gubernatorial bid to Jimmy Carter in the early 1970s.

Sanders always took time to chat. Just wander into his office and he would regale you with stories about politics past and present, his meeting with JFK, and his wife Betty’s artwork that hung in his office.

Even in his later years, Sanders’ mind remained sharp and he would rifle out tough questions. He also was smart enough to know when he needed to pass the reins at Troutman Sanders, choosing a young partner, Bob Webb, to succeed him. The move paid huge dividends as Webb orchestrated mergers, geographic expansion and unprecedented growth for Troutman Sanders.

Russell was similarly brilliant and successful, says Tony. The construction firm he founded, H.J. Russell & Co., played a role in building numerous Atlanta landmarks. Look out across the Atlanta skyline, notes Tony, and you’ll see them: Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Dome, the Atlanta Federal Center, Georgia-Pacific Plaza, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Herman Russell in front of one of his many Atlanta projects. Photo: Lanna Swindler.

He was a trailblazer known for knocking down racial barriers and making unconventional business decisions. The one Tony remembers most was Russell’s 1996 decision to name NOT one of his children to succeed him at H.J. Russell, but an outsider, R.K. Sehgal.

Later, however, he returned leadership of the company to his family, selecting son Michael to be the CEO and his other son, Jerome, to be the company’s president.

During his unparalleled career, Russell won every major civic and commercial real estate award and recognition in Atlanta. In 2004, ULI Atlanta bestowed upon Russell its prestigious Frank Carter Community Achievement Award named for the founder of Carter.

Tony also recalls Russell’s amazing work ethic. He was known for working an average of 14 hours a day for 40 years. In fact, when he stepped aside as CEO in 1996, he told (then reporter) Tony that he looked forward to working “part time.”

“Eight hours [a day] is part time for me,” Russell said.

Media Moves: What’s The Scoop?


by Savannah Duncan

Charles Gay. Via

As former journalists, we still love to get —and share— the latest newsroom scoop. In Media Moves, we highlight the latest happenings in journalism and media.

#1 Meet the Press. Charles Gay recently shared his first The Biz Beat blog as the new senior editor for the paper’s business section. He’s been an editor at the paper for 16 years, covering a slew of topics including community news, state politics, business, sports and all manners of local news.

#2 Rest in Peace. Ben Bradlee, executive editor of The Washington Post for 26 years, passed away on Oct. 21. He was 93 years old. President Obama said, “A true newspaperman, he transformed the Washington Post into one of the country’s finest newspapers, and with him at the helm, a growing army of reporters published the Pentagon Papers, exposed Watergate, and told stories that needed to be told — stories that helped us understand our world and one another a little bit better.”

#3 Bisnow Business. National Bisnow editor Amanda Marsh recently announced that she is leaving Bisnow on Oct. 31 to pursue a freelance writing career. She has been with Bisnow for six years.