Location, Location, Location

November 21, 2017

by Dan Ward

When planning a special event, the walk-through is critical. You look at the space and account for placement of signage, locations for media and VIPs, sight lines for cameras, background music that could interfere with your plans, including anything outside of your control that could impact your event.

Unfortunately, the event planners at The Weather Channel missed a couple of steps, and it offers a lesson for all of us.

The Weather Channel set up a live stream to broadcast the implosion of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, with what appeared to be a great wide shot of the dome.  Everything was great for about 40 minutes, right up until the first explosion.  That is when a Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) bus pulled up directly in front of the camera.

So instead of a livestream of a massive demolition, viewers saw a bus … with some dust in the background.

Lesson: for your next event, make sure your audience has an unobstructed view.


Dangers of Cut & Paste

September 26, 2017

by Roger Pynn

I always feel bad when I’m reviewing résumés and come across an applicant who self-eliminates with a stupid mistake.  I feel bad because I long ago decided it isn’t my job to teach someone to read what they write before sticking it in the mail.

Today’s example was a chap who appeared to be a pretty good fit for a job we have open (see description below if you are someone interested in joining a really good PR firm that demands excellence of itself to provide excellent service to excellent clients).  However, he sent a cover letter along with his résumé and some writing samples in which he clearly had cut and pasted a paragraph from another cover letter he’s using in his job search.

His opening paragraph was OK: I am writing to express my interest in the position of Communication Specialist with Curley & Pynn. As a communications professional with over a decade of experience reaching out to the public I know what it takes to get people talking.

But two paragraphs down things went south: I will love to be able to bring my assets to The Florida Bar Foundation as your next Marketing Coordinator and Social Media Coordinator.  I am excited about this opportunity and welcome the opportunity to discuss with you my credentials. Please contact me to arrange an interview. I look forward to meeting you and thank you for your consideration.

No … the boldface and underlines were not his, but added for emphasis.  I just wanted to make sure you saw it.  I let slide that this guy actually said, “I will love to be able to …”  Lord, this guy has a college degree!  Albeit, from an online school I’ve never heard of before.  He positions himself as a Seasoned bilingual communications professional experienced in network, cable and local news, with both English-language and Spanish-language speaking audiences.

Now … to the real reason I wrote this post.  We’re looking for good talent.  Please see below, email us or pass the word.  Extra points to those that get our name right.


It’s time to stop “working” and start getting paid to do what you love.  At Curley & Pynn – The Strategic Firm®, our award-winning team of creative thinkers is excited to offer you this opportunity.  As a communications specialist, you can do big things in an environment that will challenge you to contribute 100 percent every day, while empowering you to succeed.

Our specialists play a critical role in the implementation of communications strategies for clients from varied industries.  No two days are the same at Curley & Pynn, but there are several things you can expect to do:

  • Research, research, research.  It’s the bedrock of every communications plan.
  • Write compelling stories about our clients, their products and services for news releases, blogs, social media posts and more.
  • Publicize those stories by pitching them to news media, developing eye-catching collateral, planning and executing events, and more.
  • Brainstorm new and innovative ideas that bring our strategies to life.

What you need:

  • Bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing, public relations, journalism or a related field.
  • Overwhelming desire to grow your career.
  • Writing skills stronger than the Hulk.
  • Annoying obsession with details.
  • No fear to call a reporter, get rejected and call again.
  • Confidence to raise your hand and take responsibility for new projects.
  • Penchant for to-do lists and ability to juggle.

Ideally, you’ve had some on-the-job experience and are ready for the next step in your career.  Solid internships and a high level of maturity go a long way, too.  Experience with graphic design and digital marketing will earn you bonus points.

What we have:

  • Experienced, friendly and enthusiastic mentors who will always have your back and are invested in helping you grow.
  • Long-standing relationships with some of Florida’s most well-respected organizations, including globally recognized brands.
  • Generous benefits:  a competitive salary, health benefits, three weeks of paid vacation time, financial support for professional development activities and reimbursement for continuing education.
  • Work-hard, play-hard mentality, which often leads to cookie breaks, birthday celebrations, happy hour and more.

Interested?  Email your resume, writing samples and a meaningful cover letter to Dan Ward at dward@thestrategicfirm.com.  In your cover letter, tell us which of the Five Steps to Professional Success you have applied on the job.


Sticks and Stones

September 21, 2017

by Dan Ward

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

When and why did that rhyme I learned as a child warp into “sticks and stones should break the bones of those whose words might hurt me?”

A new study by The Brookings Institution shows that of 1,500 college students surveyed nationwide, an astounding 19 percent believe that violence – physical violence – is an appropriate response to prevent a controversial speaker from speaking.  Let that sink in.  One in five attending college in a country that is in many ways defined by its protection of speech believe that mere words should be met, and stopped, with violence.

A majority believe it is appropriate to stop hateful speech by shouting it down so the speaker cannot be heard, and a plurality believe that hate speech is NOT protected by the First Amendment.

How did we reach a point at which young people believe the response to speech with which they disagree is to force it to stop, with violence if necessary?

One of the things taught to me as a child, and reinforced in college, was that First Amendment protections are not extended only to those with “acceptable” viewpoints, but more importantly to those with whom we strongly disagree.

I realize times have changed and we live in a charged political environment, but I remember the conversations I had with friends and family as a young man, conversations in which we discussed the need to protect hateful speech, because doing so defines who we are and what makes us different.  Our willingness to tolerate hateful, horrible words is what sets us apart.  I can only hope we find our way back to having those kinds of conversations.

As communicators, it is our job to protect and preserve First Amendment rights, and to ensure that the next generation understands these rights. As a father, I want my children to be confronted with ideas and language they find disagreeable and even hurtful.  I want them to seek out this language.  And I want them to respond not with violence or shouts, but with better arguments.

The way to confront hateful speech is not sticks and stones.  We can only defeat hateful speech with reason, with conversation, with more speech.


Mistaken Identity

August 23, 2017

by Dan Ward

Have we lost our ever-loving minds?

When I first read that ESPN pulled a broadcaster from covering an upcoming University of Virginia football game in a decision tied to the events in Charlottesville, my reaction was “he must have said something horrible.”

Nope.  He didn’t say anything.

The broadcaster was pulled from the ESPN assignment “simply because of the coincidence of his name.”

Given his Chinese heritage, few would confuse ESPN’s Robert Lee with the Confederate General who died nearly 150 years ago.  But rather than trust in the intelligence of its viewers, ESPN pulled Lee from the game. To avoid what may have caused a few moments of discomfort, ESPN touched on a controversy that has it and its communications team on their heels.

In the wake of Charlottesville, we should certainly remind ourselves that what we say matters, that we should think before we speak, and that we should be mindful of the impact of our words.

But avoiding conversation is not the answer.  ESPN says it regrets that “who calls play by play for a football game has become an issue.”  They should regret making it an issue.


Never Say Never

June 2, 2017

by Roger Pynn

We can all hope that British Airways never again has an IT failure like the one that stranded thousands of passengers over the weekend, and while it may be a laudable objective, saying you plan to never let something terrible happen again is an all-in bet you might not want to make.

“Once the disruption is over, we will carry out an exhaustive investigation into what caused this incident, and take measures to ensure it never happens again,” BA CEO Alex Cruz said.

Those advising Cruz on messaging should have known better and that in an industry that has been taking so many hits, erring on the side of caution is the best rule.  Just as you can’t be sure you won’t have an unruly passenger or turbulent weather, you can’t promise technology won’t fail.

So what makes sense in a case like this when the pressure is on?  Perhaps you advise your executive to acknowledge that “in today’s technology dependent world we all know the potential for glitches, but it behooves us to investigate this situation exhaustively and do everything in our power to find solutions and redundant protection for the future.  We truly apologize and appreciate the patience of all those who were inconvenienced.”


It is Still “WIFM?”

May 10, 2017

by Roger Pynn

Kudos to McKay Advertising’s Christian Bayne for this post titled Brand Marketing is BS.

I’ve written before about my disdain for the term “branding.”  Branding is only a verb if you are a cow, and yet people are still hanging on like rodeo cowboys to the claim that what they do is branding.

Bayne writes “Today, people are not loyal to brands, they are loyal to their needs.”

That is absolutely true.  Companies (brands) trying to earn consumer loyalty need to stay attuned and true to customer needs.

The urge to put your brand on every message is understandable, but if you “brand” everything you’re missing the point.  Once you have the ear of your customers, focus on them, not yourself.  They want to know what’s in it for them.


Citizen Journalists Are Always Ready – Are You?

May 5, 2017

by Dan Ward

In the aftermath of the United Airlines “re-accommodating” incident, we’ve seen more headlines about airlines acting badly, usually accompanied by grainy cellphone video shot by concerned passengers.

There’s blood in the water, and “citizen journalists” at airports around the country are at the ready to report on any misstep.

What happens when they leave the airport and point their cameras at your company?

Many organizations “media train” their corporate spokespersons and C-Suite executives (we prefer to call it message training, because the process works beyond the traditional media interview).  But how many are training their front-line staff, the people who interact with customers on a daily basis, and whose comments and actions will be recorded by citizen journalists as soon as anything goes wrong?

Front-line staff need to know that they work in an environment in which every action they take may be recorded and reported.  They need to understand how to communicate the company’s key message with every customer they meet, in the knowledge that their interactions may be published on a blog or podcast.  They need to understand that their actions and comments could mean the difference between a happy customer and a viral video that will cost revenue and jobs.

Are your employees ready?


%d bloggers like this: