Unleashing Success: Public Relations & Puppy Raising

by Hilary Bumm

There are surprising parallels between these seemingly unrelated endeavors. Leash up and explore how PR mirrors the art of raising a puppy.

Building Trust

In both PR and puppy raising, trust is paramount. In PR, trust forms the foundation of relationships between a brand and its audience. Similarly, when raising a puppy, trust is established through consistent care, training and bonding. Just as a brand must deliver on promises to maintain credibility, a puppy owner must fulfill their responsibilities to cultivate trust with their furry companion.

Communication

Effective communication is key in both PR and puppy raising. PR professionals craft messages tailored to different audiences, ensuring clarity and resonance. Similarly, puppy raisers use verbal commands, body language and positive reinforcement to communicate with their canine companions. Both require patience, consistency and flexibility to successfully communicate.

Adaptability

In the dynamic world of PR, adaptability is essential to navigate changing landscapes, trends and audience preferences. Likewise, raising a puppy requires adaptability to their evolving needs, temperament and environment. Flexibility, creativity and resilience are crucial in both realms to adjust strategies and approaches as circumstances evolve.

In conclusion, there are striking similarities between PR and puppy raising. Whether crafting a PR campaign or training a puppy, the principles of trust, communication and adaptability must be harnessed to achieve optimum results.

Emojis at Work: Yes or No?

by Holly Brochmann

Emojis: You either love ‘em, or you hate ‘em. If you’re indifferent, you probably lean toward the latter category. In this digital era that thrives on impersonal forms of communication, emojis can inject personality into a text or email. They can convey humor, sarcasm, annoyance, or an array of other sentiments when words alone cannot. They are also fun, whimsical, and often even silly. So what about the use of emojis in a professional setting. Are they unprofessional? 

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, at least in my opinion. It’s mostly a matter of personality and personal preference, though it can be a bit tricky when opposing viewpoints collide. As someone who has big emotions and is also in the business of communications, I’m on Team Love ‘em. With the help of emojis, there’s less room for misinterpretation of an intended tone in a message. For example:

1. I’m so mad at you

2. I’m so mad at you ????

The words are exactly the same, but the emoji completely changes the tone of the statement. Number one comes across as pretty literal – perhaps I actually am mad at you. But in two, it’s pretty clear that my “madness” isn’t genuine, and that my good humor about the situation is intact.

In a personal setting, even if my communication is with someone I don’t know very well, I have no problem letting my personality show through the use of emojis. I’d say I use them in at least 85 percent of my personal messages.

In a WORK setting, however, these are the general guidelines I follow:

  1. With colleagues or industry peers who know me well, emoji away.
  2. When communicating with someone new and I am in a position of authority, I’ll use them, but not in abundance and only as needed. I’m not worried about coming across as unprofessional – it’s more important to me that my tone and intended meaning are accurately communicated.
  3. When communicating with someone new and THEY are in a position of authority (a superior, client, job interviewer, etc.) I follow their lead – if they use them, I will, too. If they don’t, I don’t. In this case, I feel it’s better to err on the side of caution. I don’t want to be seen as frivolous or unprofessional if that’s how they view emojis.

At the end of the day, the use of emojis doesn’t warrant a huge debate. Yet I still took the time to write this blog because emojis are a detail, and to me, details matter.

What’s your opinion about emojis at work: yes or no?

So, why are we here on earth?

by Bob Hope

Every human wants to feel significant and appreciated.  But that can sometimes seem like an impossible goal.

After all, there are eight billion people on earth, and each of us is only granted a relatively short and finite time on earth.  There are millions of solar systems and planets.  Our significance can cynically be seen as not more important than a speck of dust in the continuum of time.

I think I solved that dilemma.  I ventured to a very remote place 25 years ago.  It is the Agalta Valley in the state of Olancho in rural Honduras.  Olancho, if you don’t know, is known as the “Wild West” of Honduras.  Its theme was printed on T-shirts that read, “Olancho.  Come if you will. Leave if you can.”  It was a place of legend.  The legend was the “Lost City of the Monkey Gods.”  The ghosts of the monkey gods were supposedly in the mountains, and anyone who ventured into the valley would be cursed.  Luckily, I didn’t know that.

We traveled eleven hours from the airport in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, the last several hours on treacherous dirt roads winding through the mountains.  When we approached a river or stream, the only option was to find a shallow place to drive through.  There were no bridges.

The only people who lived there were the natives whose homes were tiny houses made of mud bricks and whatever other materials they could gather to use for construction.  They were lovely people, but they had nothing.  Somehow, they didn’t seem poor.  They were happy; they just didn’t have any possessions.  They also didn’t have schools.  It was a place that time and the government had forgotten.

I asked teenagers what they wanted to do when they grew up.  Their responses were based on what they knew.  All the girls wanted to have babies and live in their villages.  The boys wanted to be truck drivers (there were only a very few trucks) and ranch guards.  It was a remote but very simple life.

I was charmed and wanted to do something to help.  An organization called Honduras Outreach, based in Atlanta, had built a ranch there, and church groups had begun visiting and working in villages installing cement floors, building latrines and basins for washing.  That didn’t appeal to me.  I asked if there were other options.  I was told they wanted schools and asked if I could bring some people from the states and help them figure out how to build schools.  I agreed to try.

That was a quarter century ago.  Since then, each spring I gather a group of friends and friends of friends to travel to the place.  There are now over 50 of us.  We’ve helped fund and build marvelous schools, schools that would rival anything you might have in your community.  In a country where only about 60 percent of youngsters ever go to school and only about 60 percent of those make it through sixth grade, our students all graduate from high school and almost all go on to college.  They are bright, bright-eyed, and even though I don’t speak Spanish, they speak English.  It teaches clearly that education is the solution to almost all problems when it comes to building a community and converting difficult living conditions into living in a paradise.

I just returned from this year’s trip.  The school complex is beautiful, and the students are even more beautiful. They are filled with hopes and dreams.  When asked what they would like to do in their lives, answers include being a doctor, or a scientist or a computer programmer.  The schools are mostly built and just need upgrading and maintenance.  When we arrived, there was a brand-new cement building that would become the first grade and kindergarten.  Our group quickly had it painted and ready for students.  There were other projects at the school, but with 50 of us, two teams volunteered to travel to somewhat remote (an hour and a half away) mountain villages and put in the cement floor in homes, build latrines and basins for bathing.  Others divided up to do assorted projects, like installing 125 water filters in homes so they would have clean water to drink.

It is an amazing experience.  Everyone in the group thrives on the joy of helping others, meeting new friends and better understanding what’s important in life.  One of the most amazing things is how people in our group bond and become lifetime friends.

Even those who reluctantly came on the trip are committing to come back in the future.  I am not suggesting that a trip like this is for everyone.  Sometimes our group members come once, and that is enough for them.  However, for everyone, it is an experiment to find a purpose and passion in life that adds to their own sense of significance and inspires them to give back some of the blessings they’ve accumulated.

I love this trip, this work, the people who have become friends in Honduras and greatly love the people who travel with me to this very remote place in the world.   You should consider trying it.  There is a chance that you might be hooked on it forever.  If you want to give it a try, our annual trip will be March 1-8 next year.  You are welcome to join us.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Why are people so mad? What is causing us to become so firmly planted in our ideas and beliefs that we cannot even engage with someone who may differ in those beliefs? It saddens me! So, what can we do to be happier and to coexist? 

There is such heightened polarization in the world, in our country, in our neighborhoods and even in our families. And when you couple that intolerance with the abundance and fascination with guns, we have a real catalyst for tragedy. Is there anything we can do?  I believe there are several things we as individuals MUST do.

First, accept that we are all different; we all have the freedom to believe as we choose. We may live in a neighborhood to which some have applied a label – racist or liberal or wealthy or poor – but the truth is, most neighborhoods are not generic, even if a label has been applied. Look for the good in each other. Find the commonality. We are all human! I am reminded of the remembrance Stephen Colbert shared about this friend Toby Keith after Keith’s recent death from stomach cancer. The two seemed to have very little in common. In fact, Cobert recalls that before meeting Keith for the first time, he stopped and said to himself, “He’s your guest. Make him feel welcome. See who he is.” When Cobert did that he said, “We hit it off like a house on fire. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed talking to him. And, evidently, Toby had a good time, too…” Certainly the public personas of these two would show them as adversaries, but they became good friends. They maintained different political views and different beliefs about many things, but they found their commonality, their humanity. Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet and scholar said, “The lamps are different, but the light is the same.”

Second, be happy! For many, that is an overwhelming and difficult task – and may even seem selfish. The Dalai Lama argues that it is just the opposite. Unhappy people are more self-absorbed than happy people, who are compassionate, helpful, and generous. That is why it is your purpose as a human to seek happiness. The key to happiness is peace of mind. This cannot be bought. Inner peace must come from within. The Dalai Lama espouses that the purpose of life is to be happy. Being happy involves understanding the difference between the sensory or physical and the mental feeling of joy. The sensory/physical is usually short-lived; inner/mental joy sustains itself.

“Be happy” is an easy phrase to say but much more difficult to actually be. Personally, I start by trying to be grateful for what I have. At my age, when I wake up each morning, I am grateful! One more day to enjoy! And before I go to sleep each night, I try to name three things I am grateful for that day. It could be an enjoyable conversation with a friend or family member, a beautiful sunrise or, on a more difficult day, simply that the day is finally over! I try not to worry too much about things. Worry isn’t helpful.  If I have a problem, I try to think of the best plan of action (or sometimes the worst that could happen) and then let it go.  That is not always easy. Mark Twain said, “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.”

When I am able to do these things, I am happier, and I am a kinder, more tolerant person. “Remember, our purpose is not to separate ourselves from one another, but to join forces and collectively enhance the well-being of humanity,” Marcus Aurelius 

Or stated another way – A Muslim, a Jew, a Christian, a Pagan and an Atheist all walk into a coffee shop…and they talk, laugh, drink coffee and become good friends.  It’s not a joke. It’s what happens when you’re not an A!@#$%^.

What to Expect as We Navigate Our Way Through 2024

We have finally made it through the first month of 2024! Now that we have officially kicked-off the new year, let’s take a look at what we can expect to see in the world of public relations.

1. Data is Key

PR professionals are increasingly relying on analytics, tools and artificial intelligence to collect and examine data for more targeted and effective campaigns. By harnessing the power of data, we, as PR teams, can better understand an audience’s behavior, track campaign performance, and make informed decisions.

“A more meaningful and targeted message for the audience can go a long way and have a lasting impact on the brand in question. So keep an eye on data analytics and the tools that make a data-driven approach possible.”

PR Lab

2. AI and Chatbots

AI-powered chatbots are no longer a novelty; they are an essential part of modern public relations. AI-powered chatbots are being used for customer service, crisis management, and even media relations. They provide immediate responses, gather information, and offer a seamless communication network between organizations and their stakeholders.

In fact, our HBE team even attended a PRSA luncheon this month where we learned more about how these AI resources can also assist with event planning, script writing and so much more!

“Artificial intelligence serves as a valuable complement to human expertise, rather than a replacement, in our work. The use of AI-powered tools can help in areas such as analyzing data, providing real-time insights into public perception, generating content, and assisting in crafting strategies and responses.”

– Jenna Guarneri, Forbes

3. Hyper-personalization

Although AI is becoming increasingly powerful and popular, consumers and clients expect personalized experiences. PR campaigns are becoming more granular and tailored to specific audience segments. Hyper-personalization involves creating content and messaging that resonates on an individual level, fostering a stronger connection between brands and their target audiences.

“As consumer expectations shift and the demand for more authentic interactions increases, taking a more humanized approach in the way in which you interact with people is important… In this digital era, where we are seeing an exponential increase in AI-driven technology, emotional connections and the human touch are more crucial than ever.”

– Jenna Guarneri, Forbes

4. Social & Global Responsibility

Consumers are holding brands accountable for their social impact. PR professionals are likely to be helping organizations navigate social responsibility initiatives and communicate their efforts effectively. Ethical business practices and meaningful corporate social responsibility will be front and center.

Additionally, as the world faces an ever-evolving landscape of global crises, from health emergencies to geopolitical tensions, PR professionals need to be prepared for crisis communication on a global scale, emphasizing transparency and providing accurate information to alleviate risks.

“The definition of quality corporate social responsibility (CSR) in 2024 is very different from its definition just a few years ago. Consumers have been gravitating toward sustainability-focused brands for a while now, and they’ve grown ever more savvy at distinguishing real commitment from half-hearted CSR boilerplate. Accordingly, one of the central tasks of any PR firm in 2024 is going to be teaching brands the difference and helping them communicate their initiatives accordingly.”

– John Marino, Forbes

In conclusion, 2024 is marked by an assortment of technology, responsibility, and personalization. To succeed in this industry, PR professionals must continue to embrace data, leverage new technologies, and align their strategies with the values of their audiences. Staying adaptable is key to navigating the ever-changing PR landscape in the years ahead.

What other PR trends do you see heading our way this year? Let us know what you think we should be on the lookout for as we journey onward through 2024!

2023: A Name Change and a Step Forward in Multicultural Communications

By Gina Espinosa-Meltzer

We’re looking forward with excitement as we begin our 30th anniversary year. But first, I want to reflect on what was a very eventful 2023. 

When I joined Hope-Beckham two years ago, we set a goal to embrace the growing multicultural market, and we have done that successfully. 

We changed our name this year to Hope Beckham Espinosa. Adding a Hispanic name to the company, my name, is a clear statement of just how important this market is to us. 

We began 2023 with what became an award-winning multicultural campaign, Seguros al Volante (Safe at the Wheel), a corporate social responsibility effort to help Latinos learn how to drive more safely in the U.S. and to answer their many questions about how car insurance works here. It was also a successful sales, marketing and branding campaign for our client, auto insurer AssuranceAmerica. 

With more than 700,000 Hispanics living in metro Atlanta, more than 1 million in Georgia, and more than 62 million across the U.S., companies are increasingly aware of the fast-gowing Hispanic market. But it’s only a select few that have begun to communicate with this market, and not just by translating marketing materials into Spanish, but by understanding the culture and the ways to reach this audience. 

I urge you not to wait until Hispanic Heritage Month begins in September to start speaking with the Hispanic market, and don’t confine your efforts to that celebration, just as you should pay attention to the important African-American community all year, and not just during Black History Month. 

To help clients with the multicultural market, we continued to strengthen the talent on our team this year. 

We expanded our services to include a full range of communications offerings: media relations, social media, marketing, branding, community relations, events and corporate introductions. 

And because we know corporations are eager to diversify their supplier networks, we’ve applied for certification as both a minority-owned and woman-owned company. We expect to receive those certifications very soon. 

Bob Hope and the late Paul Beckham started Hope-Beckham in 1994, so we will celebrate our 30thanniversary in 2024. I’m incredibly honored to lead this company now, with Bob’s support, in a new direction, and to continue the legacy he and Paul started. 

Thank you to all our wonderful clients. It’s been a pleasure working with you this past year.  

We look forward to adding to that roster this year. Please reach out if we can help. 

The Power of Gratitude

By: Allison Ritter

Thanksgiving – it’s the time of year when we stop and think about the things we are grateful for – that enrich our lives. Gratitude is a strong emotion and is incredibly important in all aspects of your life. Physically, it has been linked to increased levels of happiness and decreased levels of depression and stress. It enhances our mood, promotes better sleep, and can improve our physical health. Socially, gratitude strengthens relationships and can make us more mindful of other people’s feelings.

Gratitude is more than just a mood booster. Studies have shown that gratitude can have a positive effect on many aspects of our daily life.    

Gratitude and Mental Health

Embracing gratitude can improve your mental well-being. By encouraging yourself to show positive emotions, gratitude can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. It can enhance overall mood which helps you to better cope with stress and life’s challenges.

Gratitude and Physical Health

Gratitude can extend to our physical health as well. Research has suggested that individuals who practice gratitude on a regular basis have fewer physical symptoms, experience less pain and overall feel healthier than others. They are also more likely to engage in regular exercise and routine check-ups.

Gratitude and Relationships

Gratitude plays a major role in developing strong relationships. People who express gratitude have shown to strengthen bonds, enhance empathy, reduce aggression and promote feelings of social satisfaction. They report better relationships, both personally and professionally.

Gratitude and Personal Growth

Personal growth is another benefit from being grateful. It promotes a greater sense of self-esteem, increases mental strength, and encourages optimism. Individuals who express gratitude tend to be more resilient when dealing with life’s ups and downs.

It is clear that gratitude helps our entire body, mind and soul. So, let’s embrace the power of gratitude. Start by expressing gratitude for the smallest joys, be consistent in your practice, and gradually, you will find yourself living a life full of appreciation, positivity and happiness. In spite of everything, there is always something to be grateful for.

Picking Out the Right Halloween Costume

By: Riley Carney

“Every day is Halloween, isn’t it? For some of us.” — Tim Burton

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I love the decorations, scary movies, and, of course, the endless candy! My favorite part is picking out a costume. It’s the time of year when you can transform into anyone or anything you desire. Picking out a Halloween costume allows your creativity to shine. Whether you’re a trick-or-treater, a party-goer, or just a Halloween super fan, finding the perfect costume can be a thrilling endeavor.

1. Reflect on Your Interests

One of the best places to start when selecting a Halloween costume is to consider your interests. What movies, TV shows, books, or hobbies are you passionate about? Your costume can be a fun way to pay homage to something you love. Whether you’re a sci-fi fanatic, a history buff, or a fan of classic horror, there’s a costume for you. For example, if you’re a “Star Wars” enthusiast, dressing up as your favorite character like Darth Vader or Princess Leia can be a blast.

2. Embrace Current Trends

Halloween costumes often reflect the current pop culture trends. Pay attention to what movies, shows, or memes are making waves in the year leading up to Halloween. Going as a trending character or concept can make your costume timely and relatable. Think about iconic moments from the past year and how you can recreate them in your costume.

3. Classic Halloween Icons

Sometimes, the classics are timeless for a reason. Consider dressing up as a classic Halloween icon, such as a witch, vampire, zombie, mummy, or a ghost. These staples never go out of style and offer a chance to put your unique spin on a well-known character. You can experiment with various interpretations, from a spooky to a cute and friendly approach.

4. Group Costumes

If you’re celebrating Halloween with friends or family, group costumes can be a fantastic choice. Coordinate your costumes with your companions to create a theme. Whether it’s the cast of a popular TV show, superheroes, or even famous historical figures, group costumes can be both fun and visually impressive.

5. DIY vs. Store-Bought

Do you want to create your costume from scratch (DIY) or buy a pre-made one? DIY costumes can be a good way to express your creativity and save money. However, store-bought costumes are often more convenient. You can also mix and match between the two, personalizing store-bought costumes with unique DIY elements.

6. Consider Comfort

Comfort should not be overlooked! Remember that you may be wearing your costume for an extended period. Make sure it’s comfortable to move and breathe in. If your costume involves a mask or headpiece, ensure you can see and breathe properly. Comfortable shoes are also essential, especially if you plan to walk around or attend a party.

Picking out a Halloween costume is an opportunity to showcase your creativity and imagination. Whether you’re aiming for a spooky, funny, or jaw-dropping look, the key is to have fun during the process. Reflect on your interests, stay up-to-date with trends, and think about whether a classic, a group costume, or a unique DIY creation is right for you. Whichever direction you choose, remember that Halloween is all about enjoying the magic of transformation and embracing your inner character.

Gen Z Brings New Insights to Traditional PR

By: Mariana Lopez

Hello! I’m Mariana Lopez, the latest addition to the Hope Beckham Espinosa team. Born in Venezuela, my education took me from India’s UWC international school for the IB to majoring in Advertising at the University of Florida. The power of communication – shaping opinions, fostering connections, and making lasting impressions – has always fascinated me.

Besides bringing a global perspective, I reflect the outlook of my generation, Gen Z. Let’s explore how Gen Z is reshaping public relations. Born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, this generation embodies tech-savviness, authenticity, and innovation. 

Let’s explore three key communication aspects of Gen Z.

Authenticity at the Core: Gen Z values authenticity above all. In PR, this means a shift toward genuine and relatable strategies. Unlike past generations, members of Gen Z spot inauthentic content instantly. Transparency, honesty and personal connection matter. PR pros should focus on crafting narratives that resonate, forging deep audience bonds. Their agility in adopting new technologies, platforms, and trends invigorates agency approaches, injecting a modern twist into traditional PR.

Born into the Digital Era with Technological Proficiency: Gen Z, who are digital natives, are fluent in social media, influencers, viral trends. Their Tech-Savvy Nature is invaluable for PR. They navigate platforms and craft relatable content. Their insights fuel innovative PR campaigns, combining modern digital skills with established methods. Their grasp of emerging tech and digital trends makes PR relevant and engaging. Their expertise in digital analytics supports data-driven decisions, allowing for precise impact assessment.

Driven by Purpose: Gen Z is dedicated to social and environmental causes. Members of the group expect brands to share their values and drive positive change. PR aligns with this by linking campaigns to meaningful causes. Gen Z seeks brands committed to bettering the world. PR practitioners spotlight purpose-driven initiatives, while Gen Z’s inclusive mindset brings cultural sensitivity to the agency. This is valuable when working with diverse clients or reaching global audiences. Their skill in bridging connections allows them to effectively access new markets.

Incorporating these aspects into PR strategies is transformative. Gen Z’s perspective shifts communication profoundly, enabling PR pros to deeply connect with audiences. 

I’m proud to be part of Hope Beckham Espinosa, contributing to this transformative journey and helping shape PR’s future.

As our two-year anniversary arrives, the Hispanic market is more important than ever

By: Mark Meltzer

July 1 is a big day for Hope-Beckham.   

Two years ago, on July 1, 2021, we merged GPR Global into Hope-Beckham, with Gina Espinosa-Meltzer joining Bob Hope as a managing partner and co-owner of the company and me joining as executive vice president.   

Gina is an expert on the Hispanic market, named as one of the 50 Most Influential Hispanics in Georgia by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. And one of our goals has been to make Hope-Beckham a truly multicultural firm, while still serving our non-Hispanic clients with excellence.  

I say it often, but there are 62.5 million Hispanics in the U.S., or nearly one in five Americans. They are by far the largest ethnic or racial group in this country.   

There are more than 1 million Hispanics in Georgia and more than 700,000 in metro Atlanta, and that number isn’t going down.   

As David Lewis recently told the Atlanta Rotary Club, people and companies in Atlanta have for decades seen the city through a binary framework — black and white. But as Lewis said, that viewpoint is out of date. The population of the city is changing rapidly, no longer just black and white, but increasingly brown. In 2015, the city’s population was 48% white, 33% black and 12% Latino. By 2050, it will be 39% white, 28% black and 21% Latino.  

Since we signed on, Hope-Beckham has been the only one of Atlanta’s Top 20 PR firms with Hispanic expertise. For several years, we’ve represented the Latin American Association, the 100 Black Men of Atlanta and the Hispanic-owned construction company P2K. 

This year, we added the large and fast-growing Hispanic nonprofit Ser Familia, which provides much-needed mental health services to the Hispanic community, and we are working to put on their annual chef-driven fundraiser, Saborea.    

We recently added as a client Park Place, one of the largest privately owned and operated parking companies in the country. It’s a 49-year-old, Hispanic-owned company with operations in 18 cities in 11 states. Its executive vice president, Susana Chavez, is a board member and former chair of the Latin American Association.  

And we’re working with the Atlanta-based auto insurance company AssuranceAmerica, to help grow their number of Hispanic policyholders. To do this, Gina created a corporate social responsibility program — a driving education workshop that provides important information to Hispanic drivers. The program has been praised by Georgia Insurance Commissioner John King, the only Hispanic statewide elected official in Georgia.   

We’ve also added our first Latina staffer, Mariana Lopez, who hails from Caracas, Venezuela, and is fluent in both English and Spanish. She joins Manny Portillo, who is Mexican-American.  

Building our multicultural business doesn’t mean our other clients are any less important. We’re incredibly proud to work with Google, Norfolk Southern, Greenberg Traurig and others. For them, our expertise in the Hispanic market is a nice addition to the other work we do.   

Bob, Gina and I are very excited for what the future will bring.    

If we can help you, please let us know.