Why the Generation Gap Can Be a Good Thing

“Bridging the Generation Gap” is a phrase often heard these days, thanks to challenges presented by rapidly evolving technology, modern thinking that inevitably accompanies youth, and an aging boomer population that can’t always keep up. Employers are seeking advice from articles like this one from Fast Company, but there’s really no perfect solution to keeping different age groups – and likewise different backgrounds, viewpoints, and experience levels – all on the same page. So while companies are still learning to embrace these challenges, the variety presented by generational diversity can actually be quite advantageous for their clients.

For example, clients are able to choose from a broader scope of skill sets and a wider knowledge base. Younger professionals might have more familiarity with current software programs, while building and executing effective strategies usually comes with a longer resume.

Communication bases are also better covered. Tech-savvy youngsters are likely to be more in touch

with the latest social media platforms while seasoned veterans can be more comfortable engaging in face to face contact, both of which are important avenues for communication depending on the audience or situation.

And though younger generations, especially those without family commitments at home, are more available for networking and making new connections, the deep-seeded relationships that come from decades of community involvement are invaluable.

So while companies might be inclined to seek vendors that are “young and energetic,” or “senior and experienced,” keep in mind that balance is best, and the generation gap might actually work in your favor.

Corporations Responding to Racial and Economic Inequality

Over the past few weeks, corporations around the country have been evaluating internal and external communications, practices, values and actions regarding racial and economic equality and Black Lives Matter. Some corporations have spoken out and taken action, while others have remained silent. It has brought attention to corporations’ histories and has made having a plan of action to address these issues a necessity.

Corporations must address these issues and take action carefully. Consumers are aware of brand activism now more than ever, and certain actions could be seen as ingenuine or tone-deaf. Consumers will take into the account the diversity of company boards, overall company employee diversity and where organizations are investing their dollars.

As large brands and corporations have been releasing statements and signing pledges, the public has been raising questions about how genuine these statements and pledges really are. Over social media, consumers and employees are seeing these statements as not being enough. Consumers and employees want companies to take action, whether that is through donations or education on these issues — for themselves and their employees. In the examples below, I have outlined how corporations are taking action and addressing these issues.

Some companies have taken a bold and action-filled approach though statements, donations, supporting new law and promoting internal education. For example, The Home Depot CEO Craig Menear released a statement announcing the company will be contributing $1 million to the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and that he has “begun working with our associate resource groups to facilitate internal town halls to share experiences and create better understanding among us all.” In addition, Menear signed a letter of support for passing the Georgia Hate Crimes Act, a specific and clear bill against hate crimes.

Other companies have had to reevaluate their stance and policies to support their employees. For example, Starbucks and Taco Bell had to revisit their policies on employees wearing Black Lives Matter attire into work. Starbucks, originally stating these BLM accessories did not “currently adhere to policy,” reversed their statement and now allow baristas and other employees to wear Black Lives matter T-shirts and pins. Taco Bell in a recent statement had to address an employee being fired in Ohio for wearing a Black Lives Matter mask into work.  After apologizing for the situation, Taco Bell said in a statement, “Our goal is to ensure our policies are inclusive and keep our team members and customers safe…while our policies at restaurants do not prohibit Team Members from wearing Black Lives Matter masks, we are working to clarify our mask policy so this doesn’t happen again.”

Corporations are finding other ways to make employees feel seen and recognize these issues. Companies such as Target and Nike, in addition to making statements and donating tens of millions of dollars to BLM organizations, have announced that Juneteenth will be an official corporate holiday in efforts of supporting their employees.

Brands are also considering their packaging as it pertains to systematic racism. B&G Foods, parent company of Cream of Wheat, announced they will be reviewing their packaging regarding concerns of the Chef image: “We are committed to evaluating our packaging and will proactively take steps to ensure that we and our brands do not inadvertently contribute to systemic racism…B&G Foods unequivocally stands against prejudice and injustice of any kind.” This comes after the parent companies of Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s and Mrs. Buttersworth’s announced they will be revisiting the imaging associated with these products due to the outcries of racial stereotyping.

As a public relations professional navigating this new world, it is encouraging to see corporations and brands speaking out, taking action, standing by their values and reevaluating and adapting their policies. I am happy to see that companies are taking steps toward education, awareness and recognition to make their employees feel seen and respected. From a public relations view, it is apparent now more than ever, that consumers want to see brands standing up for their values and taking action. As our country continues to address racial and economic inequality, corporations will continue to respond and evolve their programs to support their employees. For a full list of companies addressing BLM, see here: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/companies-donating-black-lives-matter/

Communication Strategies for Nonprofits During COVID-19

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc in nearly every industry with a ripple effect. The infectious disease is creating an array of problems in our world, while putting enormous financial pressure on nonprofits. These organizations rely heavily on fundraising events, and many of these events are being canceled in response to the CDC’s guidelines. Additionally, corporate donations are far and few between while most companies are understandably concerned about their own financial security. In addition to a lack of financial resources, social distancing is creating a barrier between these organization and volunteers lending a hand. I have compiled a list of effective communication strategies that nonprofits should be implementing during the pandemic to stay top of mind for donors.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fundraise

With so many businesses struggling right now it can feel awkward to make a financial ask. One of the biggest questions nonprofits continue to ask is whether it’s appropriate to be fundraising right now. The simple answer is yes, it’s okay. That said, it’s extremely important that your messaging does not appear tone deaf, and that you empathize with your donors. Now more than ever, the language and tone of our communication really matters. Keep in mind that even though it seems everyone is impacted by the pandemic, there will be individuals and businesses that have the means to support you. Provide them with information on how your staff and services are being impacted during the pandemic. Don’t deny people the opportunity to help because you are afraid to ask. It’s universally understood that we are all in this together.

Stay Engaged

The global health and economic situations are constantly changing. With an influx of information being shared online every second, it’s important to be present and stay engaged. Most companies are implementing a COVID-19 landing page on their website including information on their response efforts. Additionally, right now is the time to double down on your social media presence. Sharing high quality graphics is an easy way to stand out while people are quickly scrolling through the internet. It’s also important to post updates as often as needed and not allow long periods of time to go by without sharing content with your audience. People value personal connection, especially during a time of social distancing. Lead with empathy and use simple messaging that is clear, concise and direct about your call-to-action.

Show Compassion

With people and businesses being impacted in so many different ways, it’s crucial to be sensitive to the situations people might find themselves in today. People are worried about their health and safety, the health and safety of their loved ones and are likely worried about their financial situation. Resist the temptation to make this pandemic all about you. Donors care a lot more about your mission and the people you serve than making sure your organization is surviving. Additionally, it’s a good time to also show compassion towards your fellow nonprofits also trying to continue their good in the world. This could be as simple as sharing something positive you see on their social media channels.

Share Your Positive Stories

In today’s world, it seems like everything the media reports is bad news, and it’s coming at us all day long, through our phones, laptops and TVs. Nonprofits typically have a plethora of inspirational, heartwarming stories that they can share to stand out from the constant noise. Now more than ever, we all need to hear and read these good stories. Continue to remind your donors about the incredible impact that they have on your organization by sharing your most compelling stories. Keep in mind that these stories are often re-shared by viewers as a way of uplifting family and friends, aka more people learning about your organization! That’s a win!

Be a Resource

Use the current situation as an opportunity to also educate the community on what we can all be doing to stay safe and help others. Everyone is busy and most likely too immersed in personal things to connect the dots on how a ripple effect might cause a negative impact on your organization. It’s important not to contribute to the noise with opinions, but focus on the facts and only quote medical experts from the CDC, WHO and NIH. Use your ability to connect with others and encourage your community to respond by giving them a call to action. This could be asking donors to write a senator or lawmaker or donate certain needed items to your organization. If your situation is complicated, perhaps host a webinar to provide all the necessary tools and information they might need to get involved and help.

In Closing..

During times of crisis, nonprofit leaders should take the opportunity to showcase inspirational leadership. Now is the time to step forward and offer your community hope and optimism. The months ahead will be challenging, but they don’t mean you have to stop. Continue to remind your employees, your donors, and your community that the mission of your organization is unwavering.

The Lighthouse Foundation

The Lighthouse Foundation

Peach Bowl 50th Anniversary Celebration

The Situation

The Lighthouse Foundation is a non-profit corporation, which provides vision and hearing services to over 7,000 indigent Georgians each year. This organization sought to create an event focused on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Peach Bowl that would publicize their name and serve as a fundraiser. The relationship between Lighthouse and the Peach Bowl was pre-established as it was as originally founded as a fundraiser in 1967 by Lighthouse supporter George Crumbley, whose goal was to create a source of ongoing funding for the Lighthouse’s work.  

The Approach

HBI was hired to create, publicize and promote a fall fundraiser as well as build relationships with sponsors and the community. In order to reach prospective sponsors, HBI sourced professional committee members to target CEOS at desired corporations. In order to do build an effective committee, HBI utilized its relationships within the Georgia sports industry and the business industry. HBI guided the committee by providing materials needed to help get the word out about The Lighthouse and the Peach Bowl 50th Anniversary Celebration. Along with the executive committee, HBI pitched the media story angles connecting to sports leading up to the event and post event. 

A Successful Celebration

The Results

HBI secured 16 million impressions in coverage for The Lighthouse’s celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Peach Bowl, as well as built significant relationships between The Lighthouse and leading corporations. The event’s guest list was filled with sports celebrities and business professionals. The event was emceed by 2001 Hall of Fame inductee and legendary University of Georgia and NFL kicker Kevin Butler. There was a great lineup of speakers including Vince Dooley, Warrick Dunn, Leeman Bennett, Kim McQuilken, Chuck Dowdle, Brad Nessler, William Pate, Bill Hartman and President and CEO of Peach Bowl Inc. Gary Stokan. Guests also enjoyed a Hall of Fame tour, dinner on the Hall of Fame playing field, a live auction, video highlights from past Peach Bowls and door prizes. In addition, the ceremony included testimonies from those benefiting from The Lighthouse. HBI secured logistics for the event including sponsorship materials, emcee, photography, the program and run of show.  In addition, the event raised over $70,000, which directly supports the programs of the Lighthouse including eye screenings, eye exams, glasses, surgeries and hearing aids for uninsured and underserved Georgians.

Christian City

Christian City

2019 Community Champion Awards

The Situation

Christian City is a Georgia-based, nonprofit organization that provides vibrant living, life-changing hope and a community of loving friends through housing, health care and crisis intervention for children, families and adults. The 500-acre campus is in Union City, about 15 minutes south of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The organization has seven major programs that include a residential program for children under 18, foster care and adoption programs, programs for runaway and homeless youth, graduate transition for independent living, senior living programs, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers and volunteer programs. 
Christian City’s Safe Place Runaway and Homeless Youth Program is part of the National Safe Place program which serves youth who are at risk of falling pray to sex traffickers. Christian City provides immediate response to pick up and transport any child is on the street or homeless and provides intervention and advocacy to find a permanent solution to whatever led to the child’s homelessness. 
Christian City, well known in the Union City and Fayetteville areas, tasked HBI with raising its profile in the Atlanta community. HBI and Christian City decided a fundraiser event held in the city of Atlanta would be the perfect solution. The proceeds of the event would go to Christian City’s Safe Place Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, which serves children from the metro Atlanta area to South Georgia. Statistics show in the first 48 hours on the street, over 30% of boys are girls are unknowingly lured by traffickers into the sex trafficking industry. With over 3,300 homeless children in Atlanta from ages 14-25, this issue hits home to many individuals who live in these areas of Georgia. The goal for this project was to establish an annual fundraising initiative for Christian City’s ongoing work in the state and support its Safe Place Runaway and Homeless Youth program.

The Approach

HBI coordinated with Christian City to create an engagement plan as a guide for media and community engagement. With HBI’s help in 2019, Christian City created the Community Champion Awards (CCA) named in honor of individuals and businesses that have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment toward the betterment of the Atlanta community. CCA recognizes an individual, nonprofit and corporate organization for their substantial contributions to the Atlanta community. To raise its profile in the Atlanta community, HBI knew highlighting the incredible work Christian City does for those in need, and especially for the children all over Atlanta, would appeal to many individuals inside and outside of Atlanta. This event would be used to raise awareness of Christian City and its many programs in the Atlanta community. In doing this, the event would meet the organization’s goal of raising money for the Christian City’s Safe Place Program through sponsorships and garnering participation from the Atlanta community.

Christian City and HBI identified an executive committee (to serve as ambassadors for the awards ceremony), the honorees and the emcee. HBI worked with Christian City to craft its messaging and create all event materials from scratch in order to promote the Christian City programs. This included event sponsorship packets, fact sheets, event programs and invitations. In 2019, Christian City nominated Stephanie Blank for the individual category, Westside Future Fund for the nonprofit category and Delta Air Lines Inc. for the corporate category.

Christian City and HBI wanted the event to be exciting, family friendly and draw attendees. With this in mind, the Georgia Aquarium Ballroom was selected as the venue location, with windows open to the whale share and beluga whale exhibits. HBI also helped organized a powerful lineup of entertainment and speakers for the event to keep the fundraiser fresh and upbeat. 

A Successful Celebration

The Results

HBI established Christian City’s annual fundraising event, the Community Champion Awards, on September 19, 2019 at the Georgia Aquarium. The event was a success, while promoting its ongoing work in the state of Georgia and staying within budget. Significant relationships were built between Christian City, leading corporations and prospective donors including Delta Air Lines, The Arthur M. Blank Foundation, Choate Construction Company, The Marcus Foundation and more. Christian City successfully secured part owner of the Atlanta Falcons and Montag & Caldwell Managing Principal Ron Canakaris and Brakkam Aviation Management President & CEO Miguel Southwell as the honorary event co-chairs. 
The event was one to remember, with the reception and dinner being held in the Georgia Aquarium Ballroom with windows into the whale shark and beluga whale exhibits. The night began with a wonderful VIP reception with hos d’oeuvres, a photo booth and music. To welcome the guests to a delicious dinner was a drumline performance from South Atlanta Highschool. To follow suit, renowned Atlanta broadcast journalist Monica Pearson served as emcee, invocation by the CEO of HOI and former Atlanta Falcon John Burrough, keynote speaker U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia BJay Pak, and video tributes for each of the nominees. Each of the nominees gave touching and emotional speeches. The night ended with a special performance from the youngest runner-up on America’s Got Talent, Angelica Hale. In total, the event raised over $200,000 for Christian City’s Safe Place Program.
Additionally, securing the attendance of key Atlanta leaders was a large indicator of success to Christian City. The event was filled with leaders from multiple organizations such as Public Broadcasting Atlanta, the Carter Center, Lexicon Strategies, Covenant House, Emory University and more. HBI’s outreach to Atlanta organizations helped capture the perfect audience to increase visibility in the community.

Blackhall Studios

Blackhall media event

Blackhall Studios

Introduction to Atlanta

The Situation

Hope-Beckham was hired to introduce Blackhall Studios and CEO Ryan Millsap to the Atlanta business community. HBI leveraged its extensive network of business leaders and media contacts to facilitate introductions and placement opportunities for Blackhall Studios.

The Approach

HBI coordinated with Blackhall Studios to create an engagement plan as a guide for media and community engagement. HBI then conducted an initial assessment of the business community’s knowledge of the film industry. HBI invited Atlanta media to tour the film studio and provided a film industry fact sheet for attendees. HBI built a content calendar for Blackhall Studios and began posting on social media. In addition to this, HBI arranged the Rotary Film Panel. HBI prepared and coordinated the panel members, edited the presentation video, drafted key messages and run-of-show, sent invites to potential attendees, and secured attendance of key media. During the COVID-19 pandemic HBI worked to publicize in Atlanta the offer of Blackhall Studios to provide emergency medical space utilizing its now vast, but quieted studios.
Photo of the studio lot

The Results

The HBI team was able to connect Blackhall Studios with numerous important contacts in the Atlanta business community. In addition to introductions, HBI secured Blackhall media coverage in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Film Chat and The CEO Show. The impact of aligning Blackhall Studios with appropriate business contacts is evident in increased brand visibility as well as a positive public perception.

Is This For Real? The World We Live In Thanks to COVID-19

A few months ago, the world was mourning the death of legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant. Tragically dying in a plane crash, Kobe was taken away from this world way too soon. I remember reading the first news alert on my phone and immediately texting my Dad, “is this for real?” Approximately 45 days later, I said those exact words to my Dad once again. Sadly, thanks to COVID-19… this world is very real.

So what does this new world look like to me? Well, for starters, I haven’t had dinner with my family in 6 weeks. It’s a total bummer since I just celebrated a birthday – alone. My parents are in their 70s which puts them in a high-risk group. If you know me at all, you know my Dad is my favorite person and making the decision to stop going to their house was incredibly difficult. While I think it would be fine to see them on occasion, especially since I don’t go anywhere else, I just felt it was that “just in case” factor that I could control.  My dog Georgia still plays at their house on the weekends since she brings them such happiness – and honestly, a sense of normalcy that is very much needed.

Besides missing my family, I really wish I could see my friends.  However, three of my close friends are nurses – one at Grady, one at Emory and one at WellStar. As you can imagine, they are in direct contact with people who test positive every single day. I worry about them constantly which is not productive… they just tell me to stay home and continue social distancing to help flatten the curve. As badly as I would like to see them again soon, I don’t want that day to be in the hospital. I have so much admiration for my friends and everyone else on the front line – I can’t imagine being at a hospital right now and seeing what this awful virus is doing to the world.

Being alone in my own thoughts all the time is overwhelming. I’m not used to living in a world where I’m in a constant state of anxiety.  I would say that the only reason I have not completely lost my mind is because of work. I am so lucky to have a job where things haven’t really changed all that much. Hope-Beckham has been working remotely since mid-March, and we have no plans to go back to the office any time soon. However, our new business model hasn’t stopped us from being the great publicists we are. Instead of in-person meetings, we now meet our clients over Zoom. Instead of planning for events, we’ve been helping with crisis communication plans. Instead of pitching the media about new products our clients are launching, we’re pitching the media about what our clients are doing to help fight this invisible nemesis we all share. We’re making changes to ensure our indefinite work from home model does not affect our client work.

When people ask me what negatives Hope-Beckham has seen because of COVID-19, I’d say that we’re pretty lucky since it takes me a minute to think about what the negatives actually are. The current economy and world outlook isn’t a great situation for anyone to be in, but as a company, we’ve been doing just fine.  The one major negative is that we no longer see each other every day. We are such a close-knit group that it’s definitely noticeable that there’s nobody sitting next to you to discuss the score of last night’s game or the latest episode of whatever TV show we all binge watched last weekend. However, we still operate on the same 9-5 schedule, though hours and days seem to be a little more flexible as time goes on. We have weekly team meetings via Zoom so we can catch up on what everyone is doing client-wise. We still chat with each other just as much if not more than we used to in the office. Quite honestly, being on a routine and giving each other some semblance of normalcy makes for a much less isolating life.

It’s an interesting world we live in right now.  Everyone is practicing safe social distancing, sheltering in place and adjusting to the “new normal.”  I don’t know a single person who doesn’t understand the importance of flattening the curve. As scary as the world is right now, I’ve been forced to slow down and truly appreciate everything I have – including the world’s cutest assistant.

A Note from Hope-Beckham Regarding COVID-19

In these perplexing and uncertain times, the Hope-Beckham team is sending positive and encouraging thoughts to each and every one of our clients, colleagues and friends. The HBI team values our relationships with each of you, and we are thankful for your friendship and support.

Like many of you, the COVID-19 outbreak has changed the environment we are familiar with. The HBI team is following and taking the CDC guidelines around COVID-19 very seriously.  To ensure the safety of our staff and clients, we will no longer be seeing clients for in-person meetings. HBI has taken the appropriate measures for our team to work remotely in the safety of our homes, and we are fully confident each of our team members is equipped with all of the tools they will need to continue to serve our clients to the utmost degree. Even though our office doors are temporarily closed, we want you all to know that this in no way inhibits our dedication, work ethic and service to our clients and colleagues. The services we offer to our clients is our priority, and even more so in these times of COVID-19.  We are always available for you via email or phone call. 

We want you all to know HBI is here for you, your colleagues and your businesses during this stressful time. HBI is more than happy to assist you all in any way possible and in order to support your company’s mission and touching work you all do in our communities. Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of our team members if you are in need of support or guidance. Thank you again for your support and faith in our company. We are proud to partner with each and every one of you.


Paul Beckham 
Chairman & CEO 

Generation Z Paving Their Own Way

Lately, every time Generation Z is in the media it is negative. We have credited generation Z with killing many industries from chain restaurants, shopping malls and even magazines. As a member of Generation Z myself, I do not understand why everyone is blaming us for these new changes. Sure, we grew up with more technology, and everyone likes to say we always have our faces in a screen, but it also means we have more knowledge at our fingertips than ever before. Generation Z is not actively ruining industries, but we are trying to pave our own way into this world.

Baby Boomers and millennials are mad that their favorite chain restaurants and malls are going out of business and want to believe that it is because Generation Z thinks they are too good for these standard restaurants and stores. However, this new generation is cares more about their local community and would rather support locally owned businesses rather than large corporations. Blaming an entire generation for this problem is just not fair. People of all ages are changing their habits and preferences because new information is constantly available and society is focused more on a healthy lifestyle, which most chain restaurants are not. On top of being entrepreneurial, this new generation wants to be unique and showcase its individuality through its style, and that does not include stores that are in every city.

Another noticeable shift in media has been the decline of the magazine industry. Many magazines have stopped print editions and now only exist in the digital world. Everyone is blaming Generation Z for killing magazines, but the reasons are admirable. Generation Z is very focused on protecting the planet and trying to save resources. Since almost everyone already has a smartphone and another digital device, why not read articles on these rather than printing paper only to read it once and throw it away?

Every time a new generation takes over as the new purchasing power and workforce, there are cultural shifts. While everyone likes to blame the new generation, no one is commenting that older generations are just as bad. Baby boomers love their technology and from my experience, they’re on their phones and smart devices more than anyone! Generation Z is trying to navigate the world with new information and with this comes new traditions and lifestyles. So, if Generation Z is annoying you with all its changes, just remember, we mean no harm; change is not always a bad thing.

A New Decade of Public Relations

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It’s hard to believe we’re already almost a full month into the new “roaring twenties.” What isn’t hard to believe is that the new decade means all sorts of new PR trends are on the rise! Here, we will look at what PR pros have already projected to see starting in 2020.

First up, in the realm of social media, Ragan Communications expects a heavier emphasis on social “stories.” Stories began as a SnapChat feature, a temporary 24-hour post that only your followers could see. Today, we see this feature on Facebook, Skype and even some dating sites. Stories have also become increasingly popular on Instagram where millennials use them as highlights and essential marketing tools.  Additionally, Facebook uses the 24-hour Stories feature to communicate with brands as well. “Facebook asserts that Stories inspire shopping and stronger customer relationships with brands. According to a Facebook-sponsored survey, 62% of people polled say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories,” Ragan reports.

Next, Public Relations Today predicts a rise in interactive engagement. We typically see this now on mobile devices through Twitter Polls, augmented/virtual reality or even filters on several social media apps. “More than 90% of buyers are begging for more interactive content… If you’re spending on content, make it interactive, or you won’t keep your customers engaged—but you can bet your competitors will,” says Public Relations Today.

Last, Forbes predicts that 2020 will be the year of the micro-influencer. An influencer can be described as a user on social media who has secured substantial credibility within an industry. An influencer has a large following and, thus, a very large audience that can be persuaded. “You see influencers with large followings all the time, but do they really have an impact on their followers?” asks Forbes. Forbes Councils Member and author Darian Kovacs feels that a micro-influencer will prove to be more popular in the upcoming decade because they are easily tracked down, manageable and are willing to work alongside you rather than for you. She states, “These influencers are important for brands because they have built trust with niche audiences and can connect your brand to that audience. This makes it easier to narrow down the right influencer for the right task.”

What other PR trends do you think we will see in 2020?