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The NFL’s Public Relations “Black Eye”

“The NFL policy has become to make crap up as they go along”

-Greg Bedard, Monday Morning Quarterback

Let’s be honest: The perception of the National Football League (NFL) isn’t good at the moment. It’s facing a series of scandals and lawsuits centered on issues such as player safety, drug abuse, illegal distribution of narcotics and other assorted criminal activity. So while the on-field popularity is at an all-time high amongst its fan base, the NFL as an entity has become a public relations disaster. We could examine the cause and effect of any of these issues, but, because we’re in the public relations business, we’ve chosen to examine the recent issues through the lens of a communications professional.

Rather than  the story being about the action happening on the turf and the production of its marquee players, the NFL has been turning out stories day after day that would seem more appropriate for tabloids and gossip sites rather than the pages of the sports section. Many of the sordid details have been covered in national and global media outlets, complete with viral video in some cases thanks to the likes of Ray Rice and TMZ.

It’s not unusual for sports leagues or even corporations to have issues involving its employees, but it’s how they handle these issues that define their reputations.

In public relations, we often refer to the four Cs of communications: credibility, consistency, conviction and clarity. These pillars are what can help an organization successfully navigate its way through difficult times. Adherence to these principles provides the foundation for a respected brand that accepts responsibility and assumes ownership of their mistakes.

When the four Cs are applied to the current NFL situation, and specifically commissioner Roger Goodell, they’re woefully lacking in several areas.


Goodell has found himself in the worst scenario possible for the leader of any organization. When answering the dreaded questions, “Are you lying?” or “Are you simply incompetent?”, credibility is one of the biggest assets, and it’s constantly being tested by every action and every decision. As commissioner of the NFL it is incumbent upon Goodell to come across as credible but his actions have come up short of that threshold. Recently, the NFL and the commissioner have tried to regain credibility by cracking down on offenders, but this reversal, which important to the public’s views of the organization, has also led to questions about consistency.


Inconsistency of action is one of the greatest communications red flags. The NFL is constantly updating and altering its conduct policies on what appears like a case-by-case basis. Only after the exposure of Ray Rice’s actions did the NFL create and implement a domestic violence policy. Without a consistent set of policies to adhere to, the NFL has opened itself up to criticism of how it has handled these situations. To some, it appears as though the league is making it up as it goes along. A consistent message or policy, whether popular or not, provides credibility.


In any corporation, especially one as public as the NFL, people are looking to leadership to make decisions that are right based on the core principles of the organization. When leaders make decisions that run counter to these philosophies or aren’t rooted in the best interests of the league and its stakeholders, they lend themselves to the perception that they lack conviction, or worse, that they don’t believe in the organization’s mission.


Clarity is about standing up to the transparency test. And when decisions have wide-reaching implications with little to no insight into why they are being made, credibility suffers. To date, the commissioner has made a number of decisions based on information that has never been made public. He has failed to disclose important facts, and when these issues are brought into question, he responds with silence.

No one that is a big enough football fan is going to stop watching. However, more is at stake for the league than just their viewership. They cannot maintain their success as a $9-billion organization if they choose to exist in the gray. They have advertisers, the upcoming holiday season with lots of NFL gear to sell, and the general public’s respect to consider. They need to be upfront in their approach in order to regain credibility with sponsors, advertisers and their wide-ranging audiences.










Read more from Alexa Manocchio

Two New VPs Join InkHouse

InkHouse is thrilled to welcome Keith Giannini and Dan O’Mahony as our two newest VPs. Both our Boston and San Francisco offices are growing fast – and having Keith and Danny join our team means that we can continue to deliver the kind of service our clients have come to expect from us. While we continue to grow across all our practice areas – from consumer to real estate – our tech practice continues to thrive. So we are psyched to have two more seasoned tech PR pros on board.

Keith Giannini joins InkHouse Boston from MSLGROUP (formerly Schwartz Communications), where he worked with emerging growth and publicly traded companies across enterprise technology and cleantech markets, ranging from big data to the cloud to mobile to energy management. Keith has jumped in at InkHouse, leading clients from Fortune 500 to fresh startups, and adopting the agency’s culture, from supporting his colleagues to becoming fluent in sarcasm. Familiar with more acronyms than he would like to admit, Keith is great at helping clients distill complex technologies into consumable story lines and thought leadership campaigns that help them connect with their audiences. Keith is a graduate of the marketing honors program at InkHouse client Bentley University. When not focused on helping his clients build brand awareness across all forms of media, Keith is spending time with his two kids, attending concerts (no Miley Cyrus) and keeping up with the latest championship from Boston’s sports teams.

At InkHouse San Francisco, Dan O’Mahony has come on board to help Jason Morris manage the awesome growth we are seeing in San Francisco. When Danny arrived on day one and started his day working on a client launch strategy and finished the day pitching CRM trades for another client’s product launch, we knew we had the right guy on board. Before InkHouse, Dan worked at LaunchSquad; and before that at Schwartz Communications (acquired by MSLGROUP in 2011). Dan’s worked with clients ranging from cleantech to information security to memory hardware, to name just a few. Dan grew up in Marin County – just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge – and now lives in San Francisco. When he’s not working, Dan enjoys living and breathing San Francisco sports, searching for the best burrito in the city and enjoying all of the outdoors activities the Bay Area has to offer.

Read more from Meg O'Leary

“Why Now?” Five Ways To Make Your Pitch Relevant And Timely

As a PR person, I’m a huge fan of working with the press. To take a given story, build out all of the assets needed to make it compelling to a journalist, and then see it through to a published piece is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

That said, it can also be one of the most challenging pieces of PR work. Oftentimes after working days, weeks and sometimes longer to build a concrete story – maybe a news announcement, a case study, data set or trend – there’s a chance that even well-researched media contacts might still turn it down.

“Thanks, but I’ll have to pass.” “This isn’t relevant to what I’m working on right now.” “I’ll keep this in mind.”

There are a range of emotions that hit after we send a pitch, but if your pitches are getting a response like this, don’t panic. It could be because you haven’t answered “why now?” and reporters don’t feel compelled to cover the story. So how do we make sure that our pitch is relevant and timely, and reporters feel they HAVE to cover it? Here are five ways:

1. Ingrain yourself in your client’s industry–When a reporter gets a pitch they’re going to ask themselves whether they have to cover it or not. Reporters are busy, and have multiple deadlines they have to hit each day. Our clients are doing amazing things but, for the most part, a reporter at the Wall Street Journal isn’t going to get fired for not covering most of them. You need to explain the bigger story – the why behind your clients’ product or service.

Read what a reporter has written over the last six months and explain how this story fits into that broader coverage.

2. Include dataA lot of companies out there have valuable data within their organization that is relevant to press. Sometimes you have the good fortune of being able to put together a third-party survey, but almost any company can mine and aggregate their customers’ data to find something interesting tied to their business.

If you don’t have data, consider pulling analyst or research data that’s already out there. It’s one of the easiest ways to add relevance to a pitch.

3. Tie your story to what’s trending–There’s a load of great tools out there to help you see what’s buzzing in the news. Try searching on Twitter or Google Trends to see what the press are talking about. Techmeme is also good source to find relevant themes in tech. See if you can tie your story to what’s already being buzzed about. It’s not as credible as data, but can help your story resonate with a given reporter.

4. Offer an exclusiveIt sounds cliche, but exclusives can sometimes be the best way to drive urgency in a reporter. But they have to be done right. A good exclusive isn’t just giving one reporter a look at a story, it’s giving them access and layers to a story not typical for most announcements. For a good exclusive, make sure to beef your news up with extra sources and facts, so a reporter knows they are getting a unique piece.

5. If all else fails, find a freelancerStaffers have a certain amount of stories they need to file every day. They’re generally not incentivized to cover a lot of the smaller startups out there. Freelancers, on the other hand, are paid per story and often need to find those stories on their own. Not only that, most will actually work with you to make your story more compelling, letting you know what they need to pitch the story to your editor.

Reporters are pitched via email, phone, social and other channels all day. Follow these tips to try stand out and answer the questions of not only “why,” but also “why now.”

Read more from Dan O'Mahony

9 Ways to Prepare for the Unprepared Reporter

Last week in interview between a C-level executive of a Fortune 500 and a reporter at a major daily newspaper, the reporter got on the phone and started out by saying, “Remind me what we are talking about today.”

Cringe. PR person summarizes subject to be discussed. Exec acts polite and pretends to roll with it. Reporters asks spontaneous stream of questions. Call ends. Exec yells at in-house communications manager. Client yells at InkHouse. All asking the same thing:

 “How could THIS happen?”

THIS… after multiple conversations, emails and background materials exchanged between the reporter and the PR person.

But the truth is, THIS happens more and more everyday. As reporters are crunched for time, they often enter interviews without having done much, if any, prep. This is especially true when the PR person suggested the story topic and pitched the interview (versus the reporter coming to you with a story idea in mind). Obviously the subject interested the reporter in the first place or he wouldn’t have taken the interview. But as a PR professional, you can’t count on that meaning that the reporter will have everything in front of him  or her for the interview.

Most PR people jump through hoops to make sure the reporter is vetted, is given all the background (usually in long form and in bullets to make it easier), and to confirm the time and subject matter of the interview.

Yet, despite all this preparation, you should be ready if a reporter seems unprepared. It is just the reality of today’s fast-paced news cycles and reporters who are often stretched too thin.

So how do you prepare for the unprepared reporter?

  1. Expect the reporter to know nothing. Ask him upfront if he had a chance to look at the background that was sent. If not, use the opportunity to open up the conversation and message the news in the way you see fit.
  2. Stay calm, don’t show you’re annoyed… but also don’t be a pushover. This is your chance to take the lead.
  3. Be careful not to mistake a reporter’s silence for unpreparedness. Sometimes silence is the way reporters get you to over-answer questions – especially tough ones. Don’t feel the need to fill the silence. Answer the reporter’s questions and move on.
  4. If the reporter goes off topic, politely steer him back to the intended subject matter. Use segues such as, “Today we’re together to talk about X…” and get back on track.
  5. Similarly if the reporter is asking irrelevant questions, reframe the question in the right direction with transitions such as, “I think a better question is…” or “What’s relevant here is….”
  6. Don’t answer questions based on a flawed premise. For example, if the reporter asks a question that has inaccurate information baked in, politely point it out and don’t answer the question. The same goes for speculative questions based on an idea you are unfamiliar with (e.g. “I hear Google is thinking of entering your space. How do you feel about that?”) This is an important rule of thumb in all interviews, but especially in cases where reporters have not had a chance to do any prep.
  7. After the interview concludes, send the reporter a thank you and follow-up note summarizing the key points of the conversation and also ensure that he has your materials. You’d be surprised how many times reporters will use it.
  8. Don’t go back afterwards and ask your PR team to pull the story. If you move forward with the interview, expect the story to appear. If the interview is going wildly off track, politely end the call. Note, however, that this should only be done in the most extreme circumstances.
  9. Once the story appears, make sure it is on track. If not, you can request the corrections – but only to the facts. Don’t expect a reporter to change tone or opinions – and asking for those kinds of changes can hurt your relationship with the reporter (and the publication) down the road.

Remember it is the job of the spokesperson – along with the PR team – to tell your story in the interview. Don’t let an unprepared reporter keep you from missing the opportunity!

Read more from Meg O'Leary

What I love about InkHouse and why you might like to work here, too

I was recently at an event where a company was asked what makes them special. They talked about how they have a slide – like what you might find in a playground – connecting two floors of their office.

Sounds like fun, except not if you’re in a skirt and heels.

But the comment got me thinking about what truly makes a difference in the workplace for employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with slides, ping pong tables, or even scooters (which we enjoy here at InkHouse)… there are other more important reasons why one chooses to work someplace and more importantly, why they choose to stay:

1. The leadership. I’m grateful that our founders are not only kind and generous, but also genuine, whip-smart, transparent and super creative. People always say that they feel a great vibe when they walk in the door at InkHouse. I remember feeling it, too – and still do. It comes from the top.

2. The flexibility. And I don’t just mean the yoga that Laura Maas teaches here on Thursdays. We work from home on Fridays. The whole office does, except for those who prefer to come in because it’s quieter. We rarely schedule calls or meetings on this day and most of us truly believe it is our most productive day, great for writing strategies, plans, e-books, bylines or simply having coffee or lunch – or drinks! — with clients or the media.

3. The belief in wellness. We have Ergotron standing desks for all to use and when we dole out awards at our weekly staff meetings, employees can choose their very own standing desk as one of their prize options.

Anne likes to stand.

Also, the fresh organic fruit, among other offerings in the kitchen (yes, we eat cupcakes, too!), is much appreciated.

Zoe snags a cupcake at Alison’s baby shower.

As are the massages.

And with our recent spate of pregnancies in the office, we now have a private nursing room.

4. The comradery. I just took a stroll around the office. I saw a couple of my colleagues break into a goofy dance (thank you, Sonos); another petting Freebie (pictured above), one of several adorable dogs who come to work with their owners; a group discussing their day over chocolate covered strawberries (a gift from a client); and another griping about forgetting her yoga pants for Laura’s class. Sounds unproductive, but we work on teams, and it helps to really like each other! Meanwhile, there was a pile of about 50 pounds of toiletries in my office that many had brought in to donate to Cradles to Crayons.

We volunteered there last week and noticed that they were short on soap and shampoo that they include in clothing donations to kids.

5. The opportunity. We just went through a spate of promotions. And a spate before that. And there might be another one coming. At InkHouse, because what we do is different from what traditional PR firms do, we like to grow our own. And that means that there are a lot of opportunities to learn new things and advance not just yourself, but your clients and the state of public relations.

So send us your resumes. We’d love to meet you.

Read more from Tina Cassidy

Storify Upgrades its Platform to Embrace Collaboration


If you’re reading this blog, you probably don’t need a lesson in the power of social media to bring your message to the masses. However, with a relentless timeline of real-time tweets and Facebook posts, it can be challenging to extract stories and themes.

This is where Storify comes in handy. In case you’re not familiar with it, Storify is a Web platform that allows you to curate and publish social information from around the Web into one central location. Its beauty is it allows you to aggregate a collection of social elements from many voices and then publish them as a singular story. If you’re in need of an example of this platform (and a laugh), enjoy the best case of viral marketing I’ve seen in a while: The Storify of a guy live tweeting a couple’s breakup on the roof of his apartment building. We’ve used Storify several times here on the InkHouse blog and reporters often use it as reporting tool, assembling differing points of view on a topic, like this one by Matthew Ingram – or for gathering a selection of social posts from a news event, like this one from Andy Carvin.

As the next stage of its evolution (and likely as a move to bring some additional revenue in for their owner, Livefyre), Storify announced an enterprise version this week which included a redesigned homepage, an updated story editor and a host of new features. Targeted at its big name publishing customers like BBC, Yahoo! and HBO, these new features offer a premium option to those seeking to optimize their online storytelling.

Most notably, Storify has taken a page from Google’s notebook, offering more opportunity for real-time collaboration. Much like with Google documents, with Storify Enterprise you can now have multiple people editing, adding to and fact-checking stories all at the same time. The new platform also features integration with Google Analytics, SEO compatibility and premium-only support technicians. By using analytics to determine the successes of your stories, you can inform your future strategies, honing your ability to create engaging content.

Finally, as a light-hearted bonus, the folks at Storify have hidden a few Easter eggs around their website – including, strangely, an image of Matt Damon somewhere on their homepage. We’ll go ahead and leave that one to you to find on your own.

Storify is an obvious tool for consumer-facing brands, but it can also inject personality into b2b technology companies and non-profits that are seeking to break down the walls that separate them from customers. Ultimately, no matter what vertical you’re in, if your business values social media as a core part of your engagement strategy, Storify provides a tool that can bring it to life.

Read more from Alex Ingram

Has Content Marketing Become the Safety Blanket for Risk-Averse, PR Introverts?

Today in the Holmes Report, I wrote a guest post on how large companies and the media often have a lion and hyena relationship—natural born enemies  who fight over the spoils of newsworthy information. It’s a relationship that grows increasingly cynical as companies get bigger and bigger, when it could and should be much more symbiotic.

One very powerful thing that has actually made this adversarial relationship even worse is the advent of content marketing. We see more and more companies who have never been comfortable with traditional public relations embrace content marketing like a lifeline, thinking that controlled storytelling through contributed posts and the corporate blog is an end run around the perceived risks of media, analyst and influencer relations.

This means companies feel even less inclined to build strong relationships with beat reporters who have a job to do and therefore skirt any communicating through a more objective, third-party lens that reaches a much broader audience. This is a major, major miscalculation on the part of a corporate and marketing communications team. In part, because the opportunities for controlled content are much more limited, but also because  content marketing and public relations complement each other.

Earned media and original stories have always had more influence than contributed, marketing or advertising content, and content marketing gives corporate communications teams channels to amplify earned results. It is truly a 1 + 1 = 3 equation that yields outstanding benefits if done correctly.

Think of content marketing as diet and PR as exercise. When used properly in combination, you end up with a communications program that is healthier than the competition and will help a company look and feel more agile to external audiences.

InkHouse has a saying: if content is king, distribution is queen and she wears the pants. Content marketing and PR go hand-in-hand and the results can be powerful.

Read more from Jason Morris

Brands: Avoid Social Media Regret with These Five Tips

Everyone has that person in their social media feed, the one who is constantly posting about how much he/she hates her boss or how awful the company in general is. As a PR professional, I cringe every time I see this because I know that brands can and do “listen” to these conversations on social media and these posts should be against their company social media policies (if they have one). In fact, a recent study by found that 29 percent of adults ranging from 18-34 are fearful that something that they post on social media could compromise their current or future job prospects.

But what happens when it’s not the employees who are behaving inappropriately on social media but the actual brands themselves? When brands create cringe-worthy moments on social media, users can quickly activate like-minded people against these brands. The more absurd or ironic the blunder, the better. Here are five tips to help brands avoid feeling social media regret:

  1. Have a social media escalation plan in place to help protect your brand’s reputation should a crisis occur. Social media can be a powerful tool when a crisis arises to help manage the issue and control the message, or it can be a brand’s worst enemy when the company behaves in a way that repels customers by being defensive, lacking transparency, or even being just plain cold. Having a clear plan in place with guidelines and best practices can help to avoid turning off users on social media. For guidelines on how brands should behave when tragedy strikes, check out Tina Cassidy’s blog post.
  2. Read and understand a trending hashtag before jumping into the conversation. DiGiorno recently used #WhyIStayed, a conversation centered on why people stay with abusive partners, in a light-hearted tweet about pizza. Needless to say, users were appalled, causing DiGiorno to not only delete the tweet, but to also issue an explanation stating that they did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.
  3. Use separate apps for your personal and work accounts to avoid accidental personal posts on corporate pages.  Who can forget the whoops moment the American Red Cross experienced a few years ago when a post about #gettingslizzerd was accidentally pushed out? Don’t let this be you.
  4. Publicly acknowledge all customer complaints. It may be tempting to ignore criticisms that come your brand’s way on social media in hopes that the issue will fade but this is never a smart approach. Social media is fast-paced and customers who are voicing issues on these platforms expect an immediate response (and will complain louder when issues are not acknowledged). It’s true that some customers will be unsatisfied no matter how much you offer to alleviate the situation, but putting your best effort forward to remedy the issue will always reflect better on your company than not acknowledging them at all. And furthermore, make sure not to push out automated, template responses. Users will notice this and they will call you out on it. Show that the company is run by humans, not robots.
  5. Establish a corporate social media policy that is re-evaluated every six months and communicate it clearly with employees. Not only is it crucial to have a company’s top executives representing the company professionally and appropriately on social media, but all employees should know what the rules of engagement are for discussing corporate and industry issues on social media.

Have you experienced problems in the past with employees using social media? Consider following in the footsteps of the New York Police Department (NYPD). After a series of gaffes, it was announced this week that it will be sending its officers to Twitter school. What are some additional tips that you have to help brands avoid social media regret?



Read more from Christine Comey Lewis

How to Make Your Live Stream Event Better Than Apple’s

Anyone following the live stream of Apple’s iPhone 6 release yesterday – or really, anyone who glanced at Twitter yesterday afternoon – knows that the company notorious for flawless presentation and seamless innovation experienced what many members of the media are calling a “disaster,” a “travesty,” and even an “embarrassment.”

After spending days counting down to a live feed that would share Apple’s new products with millions around the world,  viewers tuned in to Apple’s website  to find a TV test pattern and a woman’s booming voice translating the Apple executives speeches in Chinese, louder than the actual executives themselves.

At a time when companies like Samsung, Google and Amazon have risen up to compete with the consumer technology giant, yesterday’s video presentation was more important than ever for Apple to reach, in real time, an audience beyond those seated at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts.

What is possibly even more terrifying for a brand than a live streaming fail during a major event is the inevitable backlash that occurs on social media within minutes.

While live streaming an event – particularly a press event – can be extremely beneficial in terms of expanding your media reach, your prospective customer base, and your company’s brand awareness, a poorly executed live streaming event will not only deliver a bad experience for those trying to view the event, but could overshadow the entire announcement you were trying to make in the first place.

If you are thinking of live streaming an upcoming event for your company, here are are some tips for successful execution:


  • Hire a vendor. In an effort to keep an event budget low, companies often attempt to cobble together some sub-par live streaming solution through free online tools and cross their fingers that it works. In reality, if your announcement or event is important enough to your company to live stream, it is worth the investment to hire an expert and make sure it is done right. Because you can be sure that if it’s not, people will tweet about it!
  • Conduct a site visit. In addition to assessing the venue for physical dimensions, ceiling height, power needs, lighting, noise and Internet connections, you will have to opportunity to meet the AV staff – and become their best friend. If something goes wrong during the event, they will be the ones with the inside knowledge to help you fix the problem as quickly as possible.
  • Go in with a plan. In the world of event planning, this is known as a “run of show” document that tells stage managers, lighting technicians, audio technicians and technical directors what they should be doing and preparing for behind the scenes. In terms of the live streaming component, your run of show should include floor plans that show the room layout and location of AV, cameras, lighting and catering, as well as webcast information, call sheets, and production schedules.
  • And then have a backup plan. Both the best and worst part of a live event is…that it is live.  Anything can happen, so it’s best to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. The presenter’s wireless microphone could go out. You could lose power. A presenter could come in with a brand new presentation. Having a back-up plan at the ready will help to mitigate some of these unexpected issues. Make sure you have back-up microphones and a reliable power source. Perhaps have a staff electrician present who can manage the power needs. Also have a back-up computer ready to run the slides, and always wire the stage in case a presenter prefers to use their own laptop.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Do a rehearsal. And then another rehearsal. And while we’re at it, how about a third rehearsal. The speakers should wear mics and walk through their presentations, click through any slides and get comfortable with the environment. Those responsible for the live stream should know their transitions, cues for videos, as well as the camera angles desired and how the show will open and close. From beginning to end, every transition, video roll, lighting change and audio cue should be rehearsed.
  • Be able to roll with it. As they say in show biz, “the show must go on.” Regardless of what happens, there is still an audience physically present (and maybe virtually, if you haven’t lost them) that is waiting for a show, so you have to deliver. The back-up plan helps with this, but at the end of the day, there is always the chance equipment will fail, a crew member will call in sick, or the presenter will go off-script. Since there are no second takes with live video, it is best to remain flexible and expect the unexpected.

By taking these tips into consideration, you should be able to pull off a flawless, best in class live streaming event. And maybe big brands like Apple will start looking to your company as an example to follow.

Read more from Kristen Raymaakers

Twitter Changes its Timeline and Users Revolt

Much has been said this week about Twitter’s most recent changes to its timeline, and like in many instances when social media companies make changes to their products, users aren’t thrilled. If you haven’t heard, Twitter is now adding tweets to timelines from accounts users haven’t chosen to follow.

Here’s what Twitter had to say about it in its support document on its website:

When we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting.

Right now, no one really knows exactly what content will be shared but Twitter seems to be treating favorites, mostly by people users follow or by popular tweets that a user they follow follows, more like retweets.  Currently, there is no way to opt out.

While some of the arguments against these changes are valid as Christina Warren from Mashable points out, I think it may be beneficial for those in communications for a few reasons. First, it will potentially filter in breaking news that might be interesting for our clients, as we often find out things we wouldn’t have been exposed to through retweets. This may just expand that universe. Second, it will expose us to a new group of users to follow and potentially engage with.

I know I may be among the minority here, but with so many social platforms to cultivate for clients on a daily basis, I appreciate the extra assistance in finding topics and people that may be interesting to me or my clients.

Here’s a short Storify with some thoughts about the changes


Read more from Alison Morra

“Sensing” a Big Opportunity—InkHouse and Occupational Disruption

When I got into technology public relations back in 1998, we were approaching the peak of the Internet bubble. Just as technology was disrupting the business models of pretty much every company on the planet, PR was going through its own innovation cycle. We were shifting from faxing pitch letters and mailing press kits, to email and online press rooms. And while 2001 saw the Internet bubble pop in a big way, the societal, business and economic changes ushered in by the Internet boom were pervasive and lasting.
The Industry Standard hit its peak during the .com era


Fast forward ten years to 2008, and we were again going through significant change in terms of business, economics and PR practices. This time the disruptions were focused on housing, finance and politics, as we saw Lehman’s fall and President Obama’s rise while economists were forecasting doom in a way unseen since the Great Depression. But amid that sobering backdrop, I was living professionally in a mini-bubble driven by the rapid growth of cleantech which was revolutionizing the way energy was being produced and consumed. This growth would help forward-looking agencies stave off some of the pain of the Great Recession, as it helped offset the impacts of traditional technology companies cutting their spending.
Cleantech investing boomed just as the economy was hitting the Great Recession


Amid the economic turmoil, there was again a shift in PR practices as blogs and the proliferation of social media gave us new insights into the personas, preferences and practices of our number-one constituent: journalists. Thursday deadlines, email pitching and mass pre-briefs under embargo became less critical, with texting, tweeting and SEO-boosting online exclusives becoming more commonplace.

For 16 years (eight each in both Boston and San Francisco), I was fortunate enough to watch these disruptions from the desk of a single employer. I saw hundreds of colleagues come and go, and worked with dozens of companies in cloud infrastructure and applications, information security, open source, mobile, consumer, Internet of Things, Web 2.0 and a number of other markets. That professional stability allowed me to focus more on industry disruption versus occupational disruption, with the conscious mindset that I would only usher in the latter if faced with an outstanding opportunity.

Enter InkHouse.

Today, society and more specifically the PR industry is in the midst of a new wave of disruptions which are pervasive and again, will have lasting impact. These disruptions are impacting the economy and society at large, along with how we do our jobs as PR professionals. From a PR standpoint, it is the realization that “the hit” is no longer endgame for a news announcement or campaign, but really the midway point. The advent of content marketing and publishing, and amplification services means that PR professionals are no longer just selling stories—they’re telling them. More subtle but just as important is the shift from a product PR mindset (embargo, launch, rinse, repeat), to a thought-leadership mindset (continuous dialogue and mind share) that better suits today’s world of Twitter, Vine, LinkedIn and Medium, versus the 20th century PR world of Thursday deadlines and the almighty print clip.

The technological and societal changes are even more substantial than what is happening in PR. Boiled down to the lowest common denominator, the technology driving these changes are “sensors.” The convergence of cheap processing, radios and storage, massive bandwidth, near-ubiquitous connectivity, and cloud-based applications are driving the ability to remotely and implicitly gather information in a way that is changing the way we consume and interact with products and services. The most sophisticated of these sensors are smartphones and consumer electronics, which—enabled by the cloud and mobile innovations of last decade—are driving a new level of audience engagement and personalization. The data generated by these sensors is being collected and analyzed, spawning the growth of big data analytics and applications. The resulting analytics are being used to improve business efficiency, better serve customers and disrupt business models (sharing economy, crowd funding, etc.) in ways not seen since the late 1990s. The Internet-of-Things, powered by smart sensors, mobile and cloud, and fine-tuned based on big data analytics, is the single most disruptive trend in technology today. That disruption needs a PR partner.
IoT is driving disruption across markets (Image Credit:


I believe we are at the forefront of the changes taking place in the PR industry and better suited than any other prospective PR partner to leverage those changes for the benefit of companies in technology-related markets. InkHouse was purpose-built to serve the constantly evolving needs of the industries and companies driving disruption, with substance-based PR campaigns that drive business results. Silicon Valley is one of the epicenters of that disruption.

If you couldn’t tell from the length of this post, I am excited for the incredible new opportunity at InkHouse San Francisco and the occupational disruption it has ushered into my life for the first time in 16 years. If you made it this far with me, I would love to hear from you and learn about the disruption you’re driving, embracing or navigating.


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