Author: hermanoff

What’s on your to-do list for 2017?

A New Year’s resolution is a promise you make to do something to improve your life or to do something nice for someone else. Maybe it’s something for your family, your kids or someone special you know. Dozens of articles tell us that most personal New Year’s resolutions never happen. So with that in mind, how about doing something nice for someone else? There are hundreds of nonprofits — so why not reach out to one of them? It’s a great psychological high for you, and a smile on someone else’s face. If you call now, there’s sure to be someone available to help you, so pick up your phone and start that conversation right now. You will know in your heart, you have done the right thing. Happy Holidays and a great 2017!!!

Happy 2016!!!

Happy 2016 to you! Let’s hope that the New Year brings smiles and good health, fewer political debates, plummeting crime statistics, wise business decisions and most of all, a sense of humor and compassion to us all!

Worldcom Group Partner – The Pollack PR Marketing Group presents their Ten Defining Moments of 2015 (We couldn’t have said it better ourselves)

Every year The Pollack PR Marketing Group  creates their own “list”, which they call the “Ten PR Defining Moments.” Considerations for making the list is not so much the PR moment itself, or a blip that made the news in 2015, but rather their implications, such as lessons learned or their lasting impact within the PR industry. Hey, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Thanks to The Pollack PR Marketing Group with offices in Los Angeles and New York for allowing us to share this. Happy New Year!!

And so the 2015 Ten PR Defining Moments picks are …

  1. Late night TV talk shows did a flip when two major talk show hosts retired
  2. Facebook stayed in the limelight by allowing users to get more touchy-feely, well past the like button
  3. “Black Friday” got upended, but with little success
  4. The unthinkable happened when a retailer actually chose to close on the biggest shopping day of the year
  5. A GOP candidate made the entertainment news in one noted publication rather than political headlines
  6. Facebook and Twitter faced new challenges from a snappy newcomer
  7. New millionaires stemmed from a most unlikely place and kept brands smiling
  8. Public opinion gained ground and forced change
  9. Gender identity and equality made headlines and forced social change in attitudes
  10. Who would have thought that cartoon-like figures would make the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year?

8 steps to clean up your online reputation

social media pr
Sean McGinnis recently wrote an interesting post about online reputation and how he ended up in porn.One day, he Googled himself to discover an adult movie called “The Fluffer” had been released and the star character’s name was none other than, you guessed it, Sean McGinnis.An SEO expert and Web strategist, he set about to take back the rights to his name on Google.
As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy.

Negative reviews, untrue comments, and trolls are pushing their way to the top of search rankings so, when someone Googles you, they find all of these negative things said about you online that might be 100 percent false.

Cleaning up your online reputation is now a very real thing—and just one person, or one movie, can ruin for you fairly quickly.

The proper process goes a little like this.

Conduct an online audit

Likely you already know what’s there, but it doesn’t hurt to do a Google search, see what is being said, and where it lands in search results (second listing, first page or third listing, second page).

Do this both logged into your Google account and logged out (or you can open an incognito window in your browser without having to actually log out; do this in Chrome by going to “file” and then click on “new incognito window”).

Logged-in results will show you what your friends, colleagues, peers, and clients will see, and incognito results will show how the rest of the world perceives your online reputation.

It’s important to have both.

Use terms such as “I hate COMPANY NAME” or “COMPANY NAME sucks.”

Also, do searches on key employees or executives at your organization.

Create an online reputation strategy

Based on what you learn from the audit and what internal and external implementation resources are in place, put together the company’s online reputation strategy—and make sure it’s tied to your goals.

The very first thing you should do (if you haven’t already) is set up Talkwalker alerts to let you know when someone says something about you online—positive, neutral, or negative.

Then write down what it is you’re trying to accomplish (push one review from the first page to the second or fill the first page of search results with positive information about your organization) and get to work.

Create a clean-up list

With the online reputation audit complete and your strategy in place, now comes the clean-up.

As you create the list, read the reviews, read the comments on blogs and in discussion forums, and read all other negative things people are saying about you.

Aggregate all of that information into one place to help you decide if your products need to be tweaked, your customer service needs to be enhanced, or your operations need some work, particularly if there are negative comments about the same things over and over again.

More often than not, people just want you to respond to them. They want to be heard. When they post something and it goes unanswered, their fire is fueled.

As you create the list of things that need to be cleaned up, make a list of sites where your team should respond to complaints.

You will want to create some pre-approved messages for your team to use when responding—such as, “I am so sorry to hear about your troubles with our company. If you’ll privately send me your phone number or email address, I’ll be glad to help you offline.”

What this does is show anyone else who reads the complaints that you are responsive, but takes the conversation offline where you can be helpful.

In the best cases, the person will go back to the site after you’ve helped them and post how grateful they are for your help.

Assign a person or a team to do the work

They will need usernames and passwords, branding guidelines, sign-off on copy/images, and the power to make changes without a laborious approval process.

The one thing you should think about when you assign a team to do the work, particularly for those who are responding to customer complaints, is that these people are representing your organization in a very public forum.

Just like you’d only send experienced people out to meet with high-profile clients or to close a big sales deal, you want your clean-up representatives to have enough business experience to make informed decisions.

That’s not to say an intern or a young professional who has great social media expertise can’t help—they can.

You just want those people to be supervised by someone who has the expertise to make the right decisions devoid of emotion and defensiveness.

Begin the clean-up

Some of this is painful because you’ll need to work with the social networks’ customer service departments to reset login data, delete a profile, or take down an untrue review.

This could take weeks.

According to the social networks, you are guilty until proven innocent. They assume you’ll say and do anything to take down negative reviews…especially if they are true. You have the burden of proof on you and they’ll make you jump through a gazillion hoops to make sure you’re telling the truth.

Be patient. Follow the messaging outlined above. Create compelling content that is written both for humans and robots. The negative reviews will move.

Build your online reputation through social media

There was a time when social media didn’t make sense for every organization. Now, though, it is the best and most efficient way to connect with your customers and prospects.

There is one social network every organization should be on, no matter what you sell: Google+.

Not only does Google rank you higher if you use their social network to promote your content, it helps to push down the negative content if it has been shared on Google+.

Google also now allows you to connect your social networks to your analytics so you can see not only the biggest drivers of traffic to your site, but what keywords they used to find you, what conversations (or pictures, or links) drove them to you, and what they did once they arrived.

Content is prince

Like McGinnis, you may find a fictional character has your name. Or you may find untrue reviews, blog posts, or stories.

But many of you will have negative reviews that are, unfortunately, true.

The very best way to manage these is to create content that is interesting and valuable, and something people want to share.

You cannot delete the negative information. The best you can do is push it off of page one results.

Implement the strategy

Once you’ve cleaned up the organization’s online reputation and figured out how you’re going to use content to build a strong reputation, it’s time to put your strategy into action.

You’re about to become transparent.

In the past, we had the perception that we are in control of our reputation even with an issue or crisis.

The curtain has been pulled back now, and the only way to participate in the conversation is by being transparent: You’re opening yourself up to criticism and feedback.

  • Allow employees to talk about your products or services publicly.
  • Establish a one-to-one communication channel where customers can engage and converse with you in real time every day.
  • Proactively ask for feedback.
  • Don’t hide criticism: Address it publicly.

Once you’ve decided to be transparent, honest, authentic, and human in your online conversations, the content, brand ambassadors, influencer marketing, customer reviews, and a solid product or service will help you cross the marathon finish line.

Warren Buffett famously said: If you lose money for the firm, I will understand. If you lose reputation, I will be ruthless.

An organization’s online reputation, today, is only as good as its search results.

This is an excerpt from the newly released “Spin Sucks” by Gini Dietrich, founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. She also blogs at Spin Sucks, where a version of this article originally appeared.

Sandy Hermanoff on FOX2 News Discussing GM Crisis


A study conducted by the The Center for Auto Safety, a private watchdog group in Washington DC, reports that 303 deaths occurred after airbags failed to deploy in 1.6 million compact cars recalled last month by General Motors Co.

General Motors issued this statement in response:

“As knowledgeable observers know, FARS tracks raw data. Without rigorous analysis, it is pure speculation to attempt to draw any meaningful conclusions. In contrast, research is underway at GM and the investigation of the ignition switch recall and the impact of the defective switch is ongoing. While this is happening, we are doing what we can now to ensure our customers’ safety and peace of mind. We want our customers to know that today’s GM is committed to fixing this problem in a manner that earns their trust.”

Just how bad is this crisis situation for General Motors’ business? Should the company have responded and reacted differently?

VIDEO: Auto analyst John McElroy, public relations and marketing executive Sandy Hermanoff and FOX 2 legal analyst Charlie Langton discuss the crisis with FOX 2’s Murray Feldman

10 Must-Know Tips for Getting the Message Out on Twitter: Guest Post


Being able to engage your audience on Twitter is a must-have skill for any communicator. Here are some insights into getting your message out there and raising brand awareness.

  • Share your brand-related and produced content.
  • Tweet regularly. Four to seven times per day is a good average.
  • Check your tweet after posting to ensure there are no typos.
  • Include a call to action. Followers want to be engaged, but you have to provide them with the means to do so. Give them an opportunity to be part of the conversation.
  • Hashtags are an effective tool for pushing your content. Pick a word in your Twitter messaging that can be used as a relevant search term and hashtag it. This will allow your Twitter feed to be targeted in searches. Search “#pr” is a good one to see how it work
  • Share quotes and photos that are relevant to your audience.
  • Create Twitter lists of industry experts and follow them.
  • Follow relevant associations and industry competitors, especially influencers.
  • Retweet the best content from those associations and competitors.
  • Monitor your Twitter account all day, responding when necessary.

To learn more about using Twitter to engage your followers, join us for the PR News webinar How to Make Your Twitter Feed Sticky with Visuals and Vine on Friday, March 14 at 1:30pm ET.

Follow Richard Brownell: @RickBrownell

Also follow: @hermanoffpr and @pamperry

social media pr

Open Secrets: What Makes Email Subject Lines Work?

In a series of “think-aloud” studies in 2011, the Carnegie Mellon professors asked participants to sort through emails in their own inboxes and in inboxes developed for the study.

The results? Readers were most likely to open emails with subject lines focusing on:

1. Utility, or relevance: People are most likely to open emails when the subject line focuses on “information I can use to live my life better.”

2. Curiosity: Carnegie Mellon is heavily invested in “knowledge gap” research. That is, once people know what they don’t know, they’re eager to close the gap. So this study tested emails with vague subject lines, not entertaining ones.

Curiosity worked when recipients:

  • Knew who the email was from but were uncertain about the contents
  • Understood the contents because of a detailed subject line but were unfamiliar with the sender

Utility was more effective than curiosity in getting emails opened. And the more emails recipients received, the less effective curiosity became.

The researchers did not look into the effect of interesting, or feature-style, subject lines. I suspect that engaging subject lines that raise interest in the topic, but don’t spell it out clearly, would also be effective.

But unless your reader knows you personally and will be driven to open your message solely based on your relationship, I do not recommend using vague or empty subject lines.

Given the research, here are three ways to make your subject lines more effective:

1. Focus on readers’ self interest.

The best subject line I received last year came from Portland Monthly’s Shop Talk e-zine. It said: “Talk to Tim Gunn | Free Kiehl’s Product | Bad Mall Photos.”

You had me at Tim Gunn!

Opportunities, offers and discounts drive the most opens, according to Lyris Technologies. So focus on what’s in it for the recipient, not what’s in it for you, the sender.

2. Make it interesting.

Among the most popular subject lines for my e-zine, Wylie’s Writing Tips:

  • “Pleading for shorter sentences”
  • “Don’t commit verbicide”
  • “Can you read me now?”

Why did these lines get higher click-through rates than usual?

Because they focus on what the reader will learn and they sound intriguing.

3. Make it easy.

EmailLabs studied 23,475 email campaigns of more than 650 companies. They found that:

  • Recipients opened email messages with subject lines of less than 50 characters 12.5 percent more often than those with 50-plus characters.
  • The click-through rates for the shorter subject lines were 75 percent higher than for the longer ones.
  • Some email platforms truncate subject lines after 5 words or so. So limiting your subject line to 50 characters or less will also ensure that it displays fully in inboxes and on mobile devices. Plus, shorter subject lines are easier to understand at a glance.

Copyright © 2014  Ann Wylie.  All rights reserved.

AnnWylie_headshotAnn Wylie works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. To learn more about her training, consulting or writing and editing services, contact her at
Email: ann at

Newspaper Op-Eds: A Frequently Overlooked PR Tool

Newspaper Op-Eds are very important pieces to the puzzle of comprehensive coverage for a client. We use them for our clients. Here is an article from Public Relations Tactics by Scott Berman.

newspaper op ed

op ed

Newspaper op-eds — signed opinion pieces on the page opposite editorials — are important PR tools too frequently overlooked by communications professionals. And for many of those who use this tactic, efforts often stall because of common pitfalls in the three-step op-ed process: envisioning, preparing, and marketing. Nevertheless, there are internal and external benefits to op-eds that make the effort pay off.

Putting together an op-ed can serve as a catalyst for organizations to develop language on important issues. Thus, an op-ed is a manifesto for external and internal public relations: helping organizations stake claims on a range of important issues.

Possible hooks are not hard to find. Try your own files. There are news releases and speeches whose still-relevant content likely reached a limited audience. Your organization is probably fighting some of the same battles described in those documents. Use them. I once developed a piece that was derived from a months-old news release about a dangerous, overlooked loophole in federal law that created hazards on city streets. The issue — to make laws that would save lives on roadways — remained pertinent and was again of keen interest when a particular kind of traffic accident occurred: demonstrating why the issue mattered. In turn, op-ed language can be used for interviews, speeches, and other internal and external communications.

Further, decision- and lawmakers are keenly aware of the opinion pages of national and regional newspapers. They read, think about, and are often sensitive to op-eds. Many officials regard such print forums as particularly prestigious and influential, whether or not they like the opinions that appear there. Although a quick, routine news package is likely to reach more people, it tends to be fleeting, unless there is a crisis. Op-eds have staying power. They may show up in the paper, in that official’s news summary at the office, in their staff’s files, or in later letters to the editor. They can be conveniently reviewed, held in the decision maker’s hand, copied at a moment’s notice, and cheaply circulated.

Build the op-ed around a timely or regional hook. Watch news coverage for possible opportunities. For example, I once found a newspaper list of needed infrastructure projects in all 50 states. This was of great interest because the issue directly affected my client. I then checked and used the data to market localized versions of an op-ed on the subject nationwide. More than a dozen appeared.

Newspaper editors rely on the anniversaries of news events for updated coverage. For instance, I once tied op-eds about the need to restore a monument to reported comments by a state official, the anniversary of D-Day, and July 4. Another time I tied versions of a piece to the anniversary of the introduction of a historic bill in Congress. A year and a half later, I revisited the issue in a version linked to the anniversary of when the law went into effect.

Too many agencies and organizations blanket mail op-eds without any reference point or clear local angle. Others lack a valid hook, besides an organization’s desire to get ink on a particular issue. Make connections between your issue and hooks that are logical, newsworthy, and of strategic value to your client. In addition, be prepared to describe the piece to editors accordingly. Help editors identify relevant issues of interest to their readers, even if the topic or hook is unconventional or unexpected.

Also, think of op-eds in terms of internal relations. I once asked a technical expert to edit a draft of an op-ed for accuracy. “I’ve been here for 30 years, and no one has ever asked me to review anything like this,” the expert said appreciatively, even though speeches and releases were prepared through the years that touched on aspects of his area of expertise. Let experts know you need them — they will appreciate it and their future help will come in handy.

Op-eds can be credible components of media kits. With a newspaper’s copyright approval, such pieces can be copied and serve as meaty, thought-provoking items for others as they form perceptions about your organization.

The majority of op-eds are targeted to one or two newspapers and, when not printed there, are presumed dead. Prepare a prioritized list of publications to approach in turn. Work your way through it as you receive answers. Remember, placing an op-ed is like getting a date — you only succeed if you ask.

Find out who handles op-eds at the target newspaper. Regarding op-ed pitch letters and communication, be ready to offer one exclusively in terms of time, content, or circulation area — whatever the editor requires. Make appropriate follow-up calls, and take no for an answer with courtesy — you may have other op-eds to offer in the future.

Source: Public Relations Society of America

Top 7 Reasons Why Your Company Needs Social Media

pam perry social media expert

An avalanche of new opportunities is available on the Internet in the form of social media sites. These sites serve as a strategic public relations and marketing tool to build your brand and target key audiences for your business.

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter enable individuals, groups and companies to easily publish, share and interact on the web. By joining a social site, you can discover topics that people are talking about and what they think about your business and how to improve accordingly.

Here is a list of popular sites to give you a quick overview of how each serves its purpose:

Facebook: Facebook is considered the heavyweight of social networking. From uploading photos, to making status updates, which allows users to inform their friends of their whereabouts and actions, is the epitome of social media.  It’s a great way to keep in touch with friends and family as well as marketing tool. In addition, you can create a fan page for your company or start or join a group related to your company.

  • Forty-five percent of Facebook’s 45.3 million active users in the US are 26 years old or older. Nearly a quarter of all Facebook users are over 35 today. Facebook is growing in every age and gender demographic. The fastest growing segment is women over 55, up 175.3% as of February 2009.


Twitter: Twitter is considered a more basic format of Facebook. The users known as “followers” are allowed to send brief messages, only limited to 140 characters known as “tweets.” Followers can search by name and follow your daily tweets. There is no limit on how often you can tweet, but make sure the information is related to the company that followers would find interesting and useful.

  • For example: Your company can use Twitter to inform followers of the latest company news or upcoming events. This is a hassle-free way of disseminating information in a mass message.


LinkedIn: Unlike all the other major social networking sites, LinkedIn is dedicated to helping people connect for business rather than social purposes. It’s useful to search for consultants and contractors and identify people in companies that you hope to do business with in the future. It’s also become a major source for posting professional job openings.

  • For example: LinkedIn can be used as a socializing platform for you to interact with other like-minded people, especially those in the same industry. It can be used to establish consistent and deeper relationships for future benefits such as colleague recommendations.


YouTube: This site pertains to videos only. Although you may think it has nothing to do with your company, businesses have discovered it’s a great way to provide information to prospects. You can make a video of the products you sell, describe your services or even video testimonials and easily upload them to YouTube.

  • For example: By using YouTube, your company can embed a watermark so users watching the video know which company and website the video is from. This is another way of building your company’s brand.


Top 7 Reasons Why Your Company Needs Social Media

  • It’s free, fast and flexible.


  • Establish yourself as an expert in a field, while staying on top of your field and your competitors.


  • Target potential and current audiences without resorting to spam. Since the users make the decision to connect with your company, marketing messages will be anticipated not disregarded.


  • Engage with user-friendly options such as photos, videos, blogs, and status updates. Traditional media is passive while, social media is interactive.


  • Market and build your brand while engaging audiences.


  • Enhance credibility by controlling and communicating directly with the key audiences.


  • Learn directly from audiences on social media sites such as Facebook. These platforms let the company learn directly what customers are saying about its service and products.

For more information contact, Pam Perry, Social Media Strategist at 248.851-3993 or 248.690-6810.

How to avoid being misquoted by the media


Brad Phillips on how to avoid being misquoted by the media




Brad Phillips is author of The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview. He is also the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm, and blogs at Mr. Media Training, where a version of this story first appeared.