The Wilbert Group Blog

Posts tagged public relations

Looking for an Internship?

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The Wilbert Group, a fast-growing boutique public relations firm in Atlanta, is hiring two interns for the summer, one for its corporate practice and one for its real estate practice. Wilbert, a 10-person firm, prides itself on its entrepreneurial culture, in which everyone (including interns) does meaningful work, collaborates with senior leadership and has opportunities to grow professionally. The corporate/professional practice works with some of Atlanta’s largest companies, as well as a handful of leading professional services firms. Wilbert is perhaps best known for its real estate work, and our practice includes high-profile retail, commercial and residential clients.

Applicants should have graduated or have finished their junior year by the start of the internship program. The ideal candidate has studied public relations, has garnered some real-world experience through internships, is a good writer, is both a self-starter and a team player, likes juggling multiple tasks and enjoys a job in which every day is different. The 12-week internships are paid, and Wilbert often hires interns into full-time roles.  If you are interested, please contact managing principal Caroline Wilbert at cwilbert@thewilbertgroup.com.​

Liana and M.C., both former interns who now work at The Wilbert Group full time, at a client event.

Liana and M.C., both former interns who now work at The Wilbert Group full time, at a client event.

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines

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by Shannan Jordan

#1 Camana Bay restaurant Michael’s Genuine was featured on Examiner.com for its recent unveiling of a new fall salad.

#2 Zagat shared a list of new restaurants to visit in and around Atlanta. See what Avalon restaurant was mentioned here.

#3 Multifamily Executive looked to Jake Reid of Franklin Street for his insight on the Class C real estate market.

#4 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shared the news about Riverwalk Village, a mixed-use development slated for to Roswell.

The Top Public Relations Mistakes from October

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by Mark Braykovich

If October’s PR mistakes teach us anything, it’s that the prepared statement – a longtime standard in crisis situations – is sometimes a poor substitute for a strong response from, say, the CEO. While true that there are situations in which putting the top executive in front of the media is a terrible idea, too often and too quickly, it seems, PR people resort to “let’s issue a statement.”

The other lesson from the past month: There’s no shortage of important people doing and saying stupid things, which of course makes their companies look bad and keeps crisis PR practitioners like us busy. Quick advice: Think before you act or speak.

We point out these miscues not to poke fun, but because The Wilbert Group’s Crisis PR and Issues Management team is constantly analyzing others’ mistakes so that we and our clients don’t repeat them.

#1 Red Cross’ PR Disaster. A recent investigation by NPR and ProPublica casts a harsh light on the Red Cross’ efforts in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Isaac. Among the reporters’ conclusions: emergency vehicles were taken away from relief work and assigned as backdrops for press conferences, or dispatched to storm-stricken areas minus any relief cargo “just to be seen”; despite advance warning on Sandy, the agency lacked many basic provisions to distribute to victims; as many as half of the emergency meals prepared for Sandy victims were wasted or never delivered; and the Red Cross, according to its own internal documents, may have fabricated claims of how many people it served during Sandy.

One word sums up this report: Damning. A different word sums up the Red Cross’ PR response: Dismal.

The agency issued several statements to the reporters, who then used them sparingly throughout the article. One Red Cross official – but not CEO Gail McGovern – was interviewed on the record, resulting in a single, short quote in the article. The first on-air interview was granted by the Red Cross to NPR after the story was published and, again, it was not with the CEO but with an agency PR exec.

You might argue, as the Red Cross has, that this represents a failure of the journalists, not the agency. But what is clear is the naivety of the Red Cross’ PR handlers. First, written statements rarely get picked up verbatim, and the longer they are, the more likely much of the verbiage will be left on the cutting room floor. Second, if faced with a scandalous exposé that will most certainly damage your company or organization’s reputation, put the CEO out there for an interview. This sends the all-important message that you are being truly transparent and taking the issues raised seriously. Finally, don’t wait to see how your statement gets used (or not used) or until after publication to give on-air rebuttals or create a blog that blasts the reporting. The Red Cross did all of these things but by then it was too late.

The bottom line: Faced with a negative, reputation-altering report such as this, play offense, not defense. Unless, of course, your offense stinks. Then by all means stick with pre-publication statements and post-publication whining.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman. Photo: NBC.

#2 NBC’s Ebola Embarrassment. Amid America’s panicked response to Ebola, NBC medical correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman did the unthinkable: After returning from Liberia and learning that her cameraman had contracted Ebola, Snyderman and the rest of her team were placed in a 21-day voluntary isolation. So far, so good. But then Snyderman decided she just had to have some carryout food. So she and a couple of team members broke quarantine to curb their appetites.

Snyderman’s apology – about a week later and a week late – came in the form of a weakly worded message read on-air by anchor Brian Williams. “As a health professional I know that we have no symptoms and pose no risk to the public, but I am deeply sorry for the concerns this episode caused.”

The bottom line: When important people do stupid things, they should at least have the courtesy and professionalism to issue a personal apology (in her case, on camera), not via a canned statement she probably did not write. In-person comes across as more heartfelt and credible.

#3 Honda’s Hot Air Bags. Several automakers are reeling from recent disclosures – and resulting recalls – about dangerous air bags. Some of the most serious criticism has been leveled at Honda. In September, The New York Times reported that Honda and air bag manufacturer Takata failed for years to take decisive action before issuing recalls. In a follow-up report in late October, the newspaper detailed the tragic death of Hien Tran, whose injuries following a crash of her red Honda Accord were first thought by police to be stab wounds. Police later determined her air bag, “instead of protecting her, appeared to have exploded and sent shrapnel flying into her neck.”

Honda’s efforts to counter this media offensive have been ineffective at best. A statement on its website reads like a lawyer wrote it, with no expressed sympathy for victims (Honda has said two people, not including Hien Tran, were killed by faulty air bags, and more than 30 people have been injured) or hint of apology. Perhaps playing a role is an expected wave of litigation (in fact, Honda was sued Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles). Yet even for the recent story on Ms. Tran’s death, Honda issued a statement saying it was “too early” to draw conclusions on her fatal injuries. Too early? For an accident that happened two years earlier, in September 2012?

As General Motors is all too slowly learning during its defective ignition switch debacle, a slow, rigid, seemingly illogical response only makes matters worse. With Honda now stating that it doesn’t have enough replacement air bags to repair every recalled car immediately, a more compassionate, consumer-friendly approach is called for.

The bottom line: If your products are alleged to be killing your customers, and your brand’s reputation is taking a beating in the marketplace, play offense, not defense. Canned statements can only repair so much harm and may, in fact, cause additional harm.

#4 Sexist Sentiments from Microsoft’s CEO. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella came under fire in mid-October following his remarks at a women’s forum in which, in response to a question, he said women don’t need to ask for raises and instead should have “faith that the system” will take care of them. Microsoft Director Maria Klawe, who posed the question, immediately disagreed with Nadella, stating, “If you don’t ask, you generally don’t get.”

Nadella was widely criticized on social media following his remarks, and even a Twitter apology in which he described his remarks as “inarticulate” attracted continued bashing.

The bottom line: When important people say stupid things, they should immediately apologize publicly. Of course, as Nadella learned, that still might not be enough to quiet detractors.

 

A PR Product Line for Clients That Want to Start Small

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by Caroline Wilbert

Not every firm is ready for an ongoing PR retainer.  We get that. At The Wilbert Group, we love working with entrepreneurs and start-up companies even if their budgets are small. We too are a young company after all! We also realize large firms may just have one specific need, such as media training, at the moment.

So we’ve started a series of “products” that allow a client to begin with a relatively small commitment. Here’s a closer look at our product library:

Tony Wilbert leading a media training session with Cortland Partners.

CRE Accelerate: For startups in real estate or targeting the commercial real estate industry, we launched CRE Accelerate about a year ago. We have more expertise in real estate than any other PR firm in the country, which means we hit the ground running.

We offer young companies with limited budgets a “PR shot in the arm” during a 60-day period. Clients receive:

•  “What’s the Story?” session

• 1 press release and related media outreach

• Boilerplate/elevator pitch

• 1 byliner (we ghost-write it and place it in a media outlet)

• Social media audit and recommendations

• Final report

 

Media Training: We refined our media training program and re-launched in July. Most of our team members have journalism backgrounds, enabling Wilbert to offer a unique product. Wilbert VP Mark Braykovich, a longtime journalist and former business editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, leads media training.

Our interactive program, which includes mock interviews both for broadcast and print, covers topics such as: what to do when a reporter calls unexpectedly, how to prepare for a scheduled interview, dos and don’ts during the interview, what “off the record” means and when to use it and how to create and stick to your messages without alienating the journalist.

 

Social Audit & Toolbox: This is great for companies that want to execute their own social programs long-term. Often a relatively junior person inside a company is put in charge of social; we arm that team member with strategy and practical tools.

The program includes:

• A deep-dive audit. This looks into everything from which employees should improve their LinkedIn profiles to whether the company’s Twitter content is speaking to the target audiences.

• High-level strategic recommendations.

• Social Toolbox, with a custom stakeholder map, a list of most effective hashtags for that client and more.

PR Done Right: The Top 5 Public Relations Successes of the Past Month

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by Mark Braykovich

When PR is done well – whether by design, pure luck or a little of both – it makes clients look great and their PR agencies look like geniuses. The Wilbert Group’s Crisis PR and Issues Management team keeps its eyes open for such strokes of genius – so that we and our clients can learn from others’ successes.

#1 Delta’s Timely Tweet: A crash is every airline’s worst nightmare. But the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July sent shockwaves of worry far beyond Malaysia’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Other airlines reacted in varying ways, but one of the fastest, strongest responses came from Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.

The airline’s July 17 posting on Twitter was thoughtful and informative, particularly for its international flyers. The Delta tweet read: “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved with #MH17. Delta flights are not transiting area.”

The “thoughts and prayers” message conveys a company with a heart. The “not transiting area” sentence immediately tells Delta stakeholders that they have nothing to worry about.

Sometimes, the best PR comes in just 16 well-conceived, well-timed words.                

#2 Wal-Mart’s Response to Star’s Wreck: Regardless of whether the retailer was culpable for a deadly June crash in which comedian Tracy Morgan was injured when his limousine was struck by a Wal-Mart truck, the company’s media response has been commendable.

Case in point: In July, Morgan and two other survivors of the wreck filed a lawsuit accusing Wal-Mart of negligence and reckless conduct for assigning the truck’s driver to a Wal-Mart facility more than 700 miles from the driver’s home. Often times, companies respond to litigation with a “no comment” – which can make them appear cold and calculating.

But in a statement picked up by several media, Wal-Mart called the accident “a terrible tragedy” and said it was “cooperating fully in the ongoing investigation.”

The company added: “We know it will take some time to resolve all of the remaining issues as a result of the accident, but we’re committed to doing the right thing for all involved.”

Sometimes, particularly in a tragedy, even a tragedy you may be liable for, it’s best to say something that shows you care.

#3 Ebola, Emory and the CDC: The outcry over two Ebola patients being flown to Atlanta for treatment at Emory University Hospital could have overwhelmed that life-saving effort. But a strong PR response from Emory and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was able to withstand a flood of media coverage.

Emory was transparent and open about the situation from the start, beginning with an announcement on its website and a press conference the following day. The hospital also invited CNN into the hospital to interview doctors who would be treating the Ebola patients.

Another nice touch was a letter written by Emory’s head nurse, Susan Mitchell Grant, that appeared in the Washington Post and explained in compelling language why the public’s concerns were unfounded.

Two lines from Grant’s letter stuck with me: “At Emory, our education, research, dedication and focus on quality — essentially everything we do — is in preparation to handle these types of cases.”

Her closing was equally strong: “We can fear, or we can care.”

The CDC, meanwhile, was doing its own part to keep worried citizens informed. One of its best moves was to hold a live Twitter chat on August 4 in which it answered questions from the general public. The live chat was so successful that the CDC followed it a few days later with a second chat, this one for clinicians and healthcare providers asking questions about Ebola infection control.

Sometimes, the worst fears can be mitigated by the best PR campaigns.

#4 LeBron’s Cupcakes: The decision by NBA star LeBron James to return to his hometown of Cleveland was a masterstroke of PR genius. But some of LeBron’s subsequent smaller touches are nearly as smart.

My favorite: Following his announcement, LeBron’s neighborhood outside Akron was overrun with media, police and gawkers. So King James responded a week later by sending boxes of cupcakes to his neighbors to say he was sorry.

Even the cupcake flavors hit the right notes: “Homecourt Chocolate Chunk” and “Just A Kid from Akron Cherry Cola.”

Sometimes, the sweetest PR campaigns are, well, sweet.

#5 Michelle Nunn Cracks a Joke: No political campaign wants to wake up to news that its electoral strategy – laid out in a 144-page series of memos – has been leaked to the media. But that’s what U.S. Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn confronted in late July when her grand plans were laid bare. The media pounced. Her GOP opponent, David Perdue, proclaimed he was “fairly shocked” by Nunn’s strategy.

How to respond? Go on the counter-attack? Blame the leaker or the media? Hibernate? Nunn did none of those things.

Instead, during a campaign stop in Macon, the candidate not known for a sense of humor poked fun at her campaign. “I always thought I wanted to run an open and transparent campaign but this has gone beyond what I anticipated or intended,” she said, drawing laughter.

Nunn then got more serious, noting that the GOP was trying to mischaracterize her record, and contending that the memos were not a campaign blueprint.

The story quickly lost steam. Reporters moved on to new issues.

Sometimes, self-effacing humor is the smartest way to stop a bad headline in its tracks.

Five Reasons Digital and PR Should Be Integrated

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by Caroline Wilbert

Increasingly PR firms are developing digital practices that operate separately from their traditional public relations teams. Staffers either work in “PR” or they work in “digital.” At The Wilbert Group, we take an entirely different approach, believing digital and traditional public relations can and should be integrated at every level.

Five reasons:

Photo: Google Analytics.

#1 Any SEO expert will tell you a media hit in a well-known outlet is “SEO gold” so traditional public relations is inherently driving digital/content goals.

#2 Media hits increasingly mean chatter on social channels. People read news from traditional outlets online – and then hit the Twitter or Facebook icon to share the story.  As an example, one of our clients was quoted in a Wall Street Journal story Friday. The story was tweeted 35 times, reaching more than 40,000 people.

#3 We evaluate paid opportunities to amplify hits further, with promoted social posts on Twitter and Facebook and by using a service called Outbrain that places media hits across web channels.

#4 Blogs and digital content are “the new press release.” Some leading companies, including Coca-Cola, are doing fewer press releases and depending on blog entries to hook reporters. Wilbert recently created a SlideShare for North American Properties, generating more press than a press release on the same topic would have.

#5 Traditional media outlets, especially trades, accept digital content from outside sources. So if PR pros are creating video for a client, they should be pitching it to media sites, as well as putting it on the company website and social channels.

PR Done Right: The Top 5 Public Relations Successes of the Past Month

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by Mark Braykovich

When PR is done well – whether by design, pure luck or a little of both – it makes clients look great and their PR agencies look like geniuses. The Wilbert Group’s Crisis PR and Issues Management team keeps its eyes open for such strokes of genius – so that we and our clients can learn from others’ successes.

Front page of The Plain Dealer.

#1 LeBron’s Return: If “The Decision” of four years ago was the worst sports PR move of all time, then “The Letter” by NBA star LeBron James is the greatest sports PR move of all time. In a thunderous slam-dunk of PR brilliance, James undid the earlier damage and suddenly made himself (and Cleveland) the darling of the sports world again.

His letter on Sports Illustrated’s web site was poignant, seemingly sincere, and the perfect tonic to the hubris King James displayed when he told a live ESPN audience in 2010 that he was taking his talents to South Beach.

“The Letter” was amazing and the delivery perfect: No TV this time, only silence from James so that his written words were quoted, re-quoted and tweeted a zillion times.  The result: Wall-to-wall coverage on ESPN for days and so much media buzz that you can’t put a price tag on it.

I read an article last week that considered whether James – like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson before him – is a basketball genius. Probably. And perhaps he’s a PR genius, too, although I’d like to think a PR pro had a hand in this.

#2 Waffle House Boycott: Poor spelling is easily forgiven during a stroke of genius. And both were on display when Waffle House sent out one of the year’s best tweets on the eve of the USA-Belgium World Cup match. The tweet “We don’t believe in Belgium waffles” was sheer PR brilliance, as the resulting 23,000+ re-tweets and days of media buzz attested.

Okay, so it should have been “Belgian” not “Belgium” waffles. That’s nothing folks chomping on American-made pecan waffles would complain about. Plus, Waffle House quickly made light of it, calling it a “blonde moment” in a follow-up tweet. (Of course, Waffle House has now offended blondes AND Belgians.)

This Yankee Doodle of a Dandy tweet was a perfect salvo to fire up fans of U.S. soccer and Waffle House. It also was unplanned, according to Waffle House, which does all of its social media in-house. Atlanta-based companies now can boast of two of the year’s best tweets. Back in January, Arby’s got international attention when it tweeted during the Grammys about Pharrell Williams’ hat. Later, the restaurant chain bought the hat for $44,100 and now has it on display at its Atlanta headquarters.

The lesson here: A good tweet will make them eat. #3 KFC’s Compassion: What do you do when a customer makes a salacious complaint that grabs national headlines and makes your fast-food chain look heartless? That was the question KFC faced in June when the grandmother of a disfigured three-year-old girl claimed she was kicked out of KFC because customers were scared by the girl’s scars.

Victoria Wilcher. Photo: Corey Perrine, Associated Press.

Almost immediately, KFC apologized and promised to investigate. Good first PR move. But what followed was sheer PR brilliance.

After two different investigations proved the complaint was a hoax – in fact, surveillance tape from the KFC branch revealed that the girl and her grandmother didn’t even visit the restaurant the day they said they’d been shunned – KFC didn’t excoriate the girl and her family. Instead, KFC donated $30,000 to the foundation of a plastic surgeon who agreed to work on the girl’s facial injuries for free.

Late last week, little Victoria got a new eye – although she faces at least 200 more surgeries to repair damage from the attack by dogs.

The episode serves as a textbook lesson on turning the worst possible PR into the very best kind.

CVS storefront. Photo: Wikipedia Commons.

#4 CVS’ Halting Decision: Maybe it was a tad late in coming. And certainly a lobbying effort from a member of Congress had something to do with it. But CVS still gets PR kudos for its recent decision to stop selling in West Virginia a cold medicine that contains an ingredient used in methamphetamine production.

In case you didn’t know, West Virginia is a hotbed for meth labs. In the past year and a half, more than 730 meth labs have been seized there. As a result, pressure was mounting on CVS, Walgreen and Rite Aid to halt sales of single-ingredient pseudoephedrine, often sold under the Sudafed brand name. Drug enforcement officials complain the medicine has become a key and too easily obtained ingredient in meth.

Walgreen and Rite Aid previously capitulated. Now it was CVS’ turn.

“We took this step as part of our longstanding commitment to assuring that (pseudoephedrine) products are purchased at our stores only for legitimate medical purposes,” a CVS spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.

As they say, doing the right thing is always the best PR.

 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

#5 CDC’s anthrax response: The CDC’s early response to reports that dozens of its employees may have been exposed to anthrax was slow and difficult to comprehend. As the crisis has worsened – a second safety lapse was revealed in which a CDC lab accidentally contaminated a relatively benign flu sample with a dangerous bird flu strain that has killed nearly 400 people in the past decade – the CDC’s PR response has improved.

The agency’s director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, who was not publicly visible early on, eventually began granting media interviews and took center stage last Friday at a press conference in which he announced the CDC had temporarily closed its flu and anthrax laboratories in Atlanta and halted shipments of all infectious agents from the agency’s highest-security labs.

Better still, Frieden spoke in sincere and personal terms about the safety lapses that “should never have happened.”

“I’m upset, I’m angry, I’ve lost sleep over this, and I’m working on it until the issue is resolved.”

Those words were accompanied by other strong messages, including Frieden’s promises that the labs would remain closed until new procedures were imposed, a committee of experts will be convened to revise procedures, and staff members who knowingly failed to follow procedures or report dangerous incidents will be disciplined.

Better late than never with a good PR response.

Making News: Our Clients Making Waves

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by Shannan Jordan

#1 Lauren Perry Ford of Cooper Carry spoke with Leesburg Today about the new Textile Conservation Center at George Washington University.

#2 WJCL News looked at the future of Broughton Street as Ben Carter Enterprises continues to work on the $75 million project.

#3 Gwinnett Place Mall is making a comeback. Lori Kilberg of Hartman Simons talks to WSB-TV about what people can expect from the evolving shopping center.

#4 Tony Bartlett, senior vice president of Lincoln Property Co., shares the news of their recent procurement of the leasing assignment for West Paces Ferry Shopping Center in Atlanta.

#5 Sustainability and vacations don’t typically go together, but at Camana Bay they can. See what Destination Magazine has to say about going green on the Seven Mile Beach.

Crisis PR: The Top 5 Public Relations Miscues of the Past Month

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by Mark Braykovich

A poor corporate response to a crisis or major news often makes matters worse. The Wilbert Group’s Crisis PR and Issues Management team keeps its eyes open for such miscues – so that we and our clients can learn from others’ mistakes.

Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

#1 The Facebook experiment: A couple years ago, Facebook notified 689,000 of its users that it was locking them out of the social network because they were either robots or had used fake names. The users had to prove they were real to gain back their access. Turns out it was merely an experiment. Facebook knew all along most of the users were legit; the real purpose of the tests was to determine if users’ emotions could be affected.

Regardless of the business and/or ethical merits of this experiment, Facebook’s PR response when this came to light recently left much to be desired. Rather than issue an apology – which seems prudent when you have 1.3 billion users – Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said only that the experiment was “poorly communicated.”

Sandberg, the now famous author of “Lean In,” leaned away from an apology along the lines of “we’re sorry we did this.” Instead, she only apologized for the way users found out about it.

Sometimes, saying sorry is the best way out of a mess.

#2 Walmart’s snippy editing: Amid the ongoing debate over the minimum wage, New York Times columnist Timothy Egan wrote that Walmart “is a big part of the problem,” paying “humiliating wages” that “force thousands of employees to look to food stamps, Medicaid and other forms of welfare.”

“Working at Walmart,” Egan concluded, “may not make you poor, but it certainly keeps you poor – at the expense of the rest of us.”

Difficult words to swallow in the Walmart C-suite, no doubt. But if you’re the world’s biggest retailer and the nation’s top private employer, certainly you have the backbone to weather such blasts. Not necessarily.

Instead, Walmart chose a PR response that must certainly have felt good at the moment it was conceived and delivered. Walmart PR man David Tovar took a digital red pen to the opinion column and sent the marked up draft to Egan along with this note:

The problem with a “feel good” PR response is that it can backfire. Such as when it goes viral on the Internet and other journalism organizations start fact-checking your edits. Or when people complain that your response is snarky and insensitive toward your own workers.

Sometimes, silence is the best response.

#3 Waffle House shootings: June was a deadly month at Waffle House restaurants. On June 1, a 43-year-old off-duty police officer – and father of seven – was shot and killed outside a Waffle House in Griffin, Ga. Then, two weeks later, a Waffle House employee was charged with shooting and killing a customer during an argument at a Waffle House near Atlanta.

Surprisingly, in the resulting news coverage, Waffle House remained silent. Regardless of the possible legal issues, it seems some corporate response was appropriate.

Something as simple as, “We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life” would have sufficed, or “We are committed to the safety of all of our customers and employees.” Or both.

Sometimes, no comment makes a company look heartless.

Manu Kumaran, former CEO of Medient Studios, at the groundbreaking ceremony for its new studio complex. Photo: Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News.

#4 Medient Studios’ Silence: The recent swirl of news around Georgia-based Medient Studios has been decidedly negative. The SEC suspended trading in Medient’s stock over questions of the accuracy of publicly available information about the company, and the former CEO sued to dissolve the company he founded –a lawsuit that came two weeks after he was fired in a leadership coup.

What does the company have to say about all of this? Nothing. If there’s any hope for survival, it seems somebody should be talking.

After all, this is the same Medient Studios that created a buzz a year ago when it proposed to build a massive filming complex near Savannah. And a company whose stock has tumbled to almost zero.

Yet in the Savannah Morning News, this is what readers got a full day after the lawsuit was filed: “A spokeswoman for Medient said Tuesday the company was preparing a statement.”

Sometimes, silence is not golden.

#5 CDC’s anthrax response: It’s never good when your name is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the news is that dozens of your employees may have been exposed to anthrax. Just as troubling was that the CDC, an agency accustomed to crises, seemed ill-prepared to respond to one involving itself.

Many of the initial news reports in mid-June carried only a brief statement from the CDC, when a disclosure of such significance and seriousness clearly called for their leader to be front and center. But CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden steered clear of the media for several days, even when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a front-page article stating that the incident “is the latest in a series of safety problems” at the CDC in recent years.

Only after several days passed and the likes of NBC News, Reuters and the Los Angeles Times weighed in on the crisis did Frieden begin granting interviews.

Sometimes, your crisis PR plan isn’t as good as you think it is.

Digital Updates: What’s Going On in Social Media

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by M.C. Rhodes

At The Wilbert Group, we’re always trying to stay in the know about what’s happening in the digital space.

Here’s the scoop on what’s up in social media. Don’t forget to like/tweet/post on June 30 in celebration of Social Media Day!

#1 Facebook goes after small businesses. Dan Levy, director of small business at Facebook, said the website now has 30 million small businesses with active pages.

#2 It isn’t dead yet. We’ve heard for a long time now that younger people are moving away from Facebook. However, a new report by Forrester Research shows kids age 12 to 17 are using Facebook more than they did a year ago.

But according to research by Mashable, a lot of people could live without it.

#3 Promoted pins. Pinterest has rolled out “do-it-yourself” promoted pins. Businesses of any size can promote their pins on a cost-per-click basis.

#4 Slingshot goes live. Slingshot, Facebook’s photo messaging app that happens to be very similar to Snapchat, is now available worldwide.

#5 New look for LinkedIn. If you’re a LinkedIn premium user, you’ll notice a new look to your profile. The network is trying to woo users to pay for a premium account with bigger pictures, additional features to make contacting you easier and more information on your page views.