Mental Health Awareness Month: Why Kids are the Key for a Mentally Healthier World

By: Holly Brochmann

Mental health is a topic I’m always eager to discuss, so when my colleagues at HBI offered me May’s blog post in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I jumped at the chance to share my thoughts.

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to mental health. The good news is that awareness of its importance has increased exponentially, and a willingness to talk about it and seek treatment has subsequently increased. The bad news is that its severity and prevalence has likewise skyrocketed, resulting in some pretty horrific statistics in the areas of suicide and gun violence, for example.

Like most large-scale issues, there’s no quick fix and the solution is a complex, multi-faceted one. For instance, we need to increase (significantly) the number of bilingual mental health providers in this country to correspond with the rapid growth of the Hispanic population. A shoutout to HBI client Ser Familia, who’s dedicated to this very issue. We also need to expand awareness and access to resources among low-income populations. And, I think our country needs to launch a campaign specifically targeting boys and men – a campaign that negates the age-old notion that men are supposed to be “tough” and that sensitivity or displays of emotion are considered weak. As a result, many men avoid opening up about their feelings and are resistant to seeking help. I recently lost a male friend to depression so this one in particular has been resonating with me.

However, I believe the best solution is a long term one that will play out for future generations. It’s fairly simple, really. START EARLY. Like most things, such as a new language or a sport, the earlier in life you begin to learn, the better. The brain is like a muscle in that it needs conditioning and practice. Healthy habits that are developed during childhood are much more likely to transition into adulthood and continue throughout life, and it’s no different with mental health. Children should be taught to nurture their mental health, even beginning as young as three or four. They can learn to identify difficult feelings, normalize them, and learn coping skills and techniques to carry them through the rough patches. Luckily, this effort is already underway as many educators are placing emphasis on social emotional learning programs in the schools, and parents and caregivers now have access to numerous children’s books and influencers on social media who offer advice on the topic.

The goal here is not to eradicate anxiety, depression or other forms of mental illness – that would be ideal, but unrealistic (if not impossible). The goal, instead, is to recognize mental health as a vital component of wellbeing, remove the stigma and shame surrounding mental health struggles, and encourage a willingness to embrace coping options, whether it be deep breathing, meditation, opening up to a trusted friend, therapy, and when necessary, medication. If we can teach kids to care about and how to care for their mental health, they’ll grow into teens and adults already equipped with the tools that can safely and effectively take them through emotionally turbulent times. Then those adults will in turn carry on the tradition with the next generation of children and so forth. Hopefully, the ultimate result is a mentally healthier, more stable, and overall HAPPIER society.

Note from HBI: In addition to serving as our Senior Account Director, Holly is the author of A Feel Better Book for Little Kids children’s series that helps little kids manage their big feelings. The books are published by the American Psychological Association’s Magination Press, are available in multiple languages, and can be found anywhere books are sold.

April Showers Bring May Flowers… and EVENTS!

By: Hilary Bumm

“April showers bring May flowers” is a popular saying used often during the month of April. This is typically the time when the last bit of snowfall turns to only rainfall as temperatures climb. The increased rain shower activity sparks flowers and plants to really start growing and blooming.

The saying can be traced back to England from the 1500s poet Thomas Tusser. Back then, he wrote “Sweet April showers do spring May Flowers”. As well, a longer phrase, “March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers,” has been traced back to 1886.

Regardless, the month of April brings huge weather swings with the jet stream lifting northward at the start of spring. As winter comes to an end, precipitation falls more as rain instead of snow, especially here in Georgia.

The reference to April showers likely originated in the United Kingdom or Ireland, where the month of April tends to be especially rainy because of the position of the jet stream. The cooler climate in these areas also tends to push back the appearance of many flower species to late April and early May.

That old adage doesn’t necessarily ring true, though, especially in warmer climates. Rather than being rooted in botany, the phrase may be a simple way to avoid the blahs of rainy weather by focusing instead on the beauty of better weather ahead.

Thus, with event season in full bloom, the parallel of behind-the-scenes work is not lost. We at Hope-Beckham are grateful for those plentiful April showers of activity, the preparation that happens beneath the soil, and the opportunity to serve our clients.

This time of year, we bustle around preparing for client events. Providing great attention to detail, we ensure adequate staffing, finalize venue logistics, arrange for all the amenities and much more that go into creating a successful event. Then, just like the May flowers, we can experience the jubilant blossoming of successful client events!

Want to Be a Better People Person? Put Yourself First. Why self-awareness is so important and how you can improve yours

By: Holly Brochmann

You’re probably familiar with the term “people skills.” It’s a handy attribute both in life and in the workplace, in our industry especially. Generally, it means getting along with, relating to, and talking to people with ease – an outgoing personality vs. one that is more reserved or introverted.

A fancier term for people skills is emotional intelligence, often referred to as EQ. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around you. The Harvard Business Review writes that emotional intelligence has evolved into a must-have skill, is a strong predictor of performance, and that the majority of managers value EQ over IQ.

If you want to boost your EQ or sharpen your people skills, it is my belief that you must first focus on one person in particular – yourself. This may come across as a self-centered suggestion, but it is anything but. Self-awareness is a primary element of emotional intelligence and is the gateway to nurturing other relationship management skills such as empathy. It also happens to be one of my personal favorite characteristics. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat scarce. Researchers have found that although 95% of people think they’re self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are.

Like any skill or talent, self-awareness comes easiest to those with a natural ability. But it can be developed and cultivated, and it is possible for an individual to raise their self-awareness along with their EQ overall if they recognize its value in the workplace and are committed to daily improvement practices.

Google is full of articles with tips on how to enhance self-awareness, with meditation and journaling as common suggestions. But if you are like me, it’s unrealistic to adapt these practices into your daily routine. At least at first. So try the following three mindfulness strategies instead:

1. Pay more attention. Notice your response to others, and their response to you. What bothers you the most about people? What behaviors or actions are most likely to trigger your emotions, both positive and negative? What qualities do you find yourself drawn to in associates, coworkers and friends?

2. Be curious. Ask questions of yourself and explore how and why you respond the way that you do in certain situations. Be curious about others as well – instead of jumping to conclusions, try asking yourself – how would I have responded if I were in their shoes? What is going on in their lives that might have influenced their response?

3. Identify your emotional strengths and weaknesses. Take a personality test, or better yet, ask trusted individuals who know you well to give you a list. If some of their responses surprise you, then that’s a good indicator your self-awareness could use a boost.

Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal said, “A workplace that encourages self-awareness is an environment where the most productive, curious, and innovative people thrive.” I wholeheartedly agree. What do YOU think?

Connecting with your Audience – Breaking the meta barrier

By: David Tetley

Public Relations and brand psychology have come a long way since their start. Small businesses and corporations have always strived to come up with new ways to relate to the public and stand out from their competitors. With the internet and social media being massively widespread, any company has a potential to advertise itself in front of another’s brand. Every business is fighting for its clients’ attention, making it harder to turn customers into loyal ones. The market has evolved and so have the consumers. So how do companies follow along?

Younger audiences are a favorite of advertisers. But today’s young people are less naïve towards advertisements and typically know when they are being sold more quickly than kids from different generations. With so many options and brands to choose, young consumers usually are more attracted to brands that they feel represent them in one way or another. That could be values like authenticity, a movement or even what is trending at the moment. What is popular will always be attractive, but there is a reason that something goes viral in the first place. There is research that suggests brand loyalty can be acquired if a company supports their potential customers’ views. Nike’s stock increased 5% back in 2018 by taking a stance with Colin Kaepernick against racism and donating $40 million to social justice organizations. It is a double-edged sword because of the risks that come with picking a side, but being catchy alone does not cut it anymore.

Views that brands support do not have to be political. Thanks to vast range of topics with large passionate audiences on the internet, ads can focus on very specific niches that are not controversial. Although young people might be harder to influence through traditional advertisements, many companies found a way to connect to the core of new audiences through social media. There are two reasons for that. The first, the newest generations, generation Z and Alpha, were born into a time where the internet was a pillar of their social life. Naturally, the amount of time they spend there is higher than any other age group. The second reason is because of companies are making ads inside the content they watch, instead of ads that will instantly drive many of them away. Instead of having an ad interrupt a video, story or TikTok, influencers add a new layer of marketing where they can advertise to their viewers a product that is most likely appropriate to the influencer’s niche audience in an entertaining way.

Influencer marketing, if done right, can break through the barrier to build brand resonance between young consumers and a brand or product. A small influencer can have a deeper connection with their followers than a large company’s expensive marketing efforts. Many big brands have opted to target their potential consumer via Snapchat and TikTok influencers paid ads because they know how inexpensive and effective it can be. Small to medium influencers can charge around $250 per ad and have it reach thousands of people that fit the product’s niche.

Social media doesn’t only facilitate connection with youth through targeted niches, it also pressures large corporations to act on important social issues. Being aware of what other brands and sponsors stand for is more important than ever. Soon, having a logo with a movement’s flag is not going to be enough. Fundraisers and charity events are becoming more prevalent by the day. Take Giving Tuesday, which is Nov. 29. It’s only been around for a decade, but its importance has grown significantly.

What Does Your Candy Craving Say About You?

By: Allison Ritter

I have always loved Halloween with the costumes and spooky decorations, but what I loved the most was the candy! The best part of the night was getting together with my sister and our friends after spending hours of trick or treating and trading candy to make sure we got plenty of our favorite treats. Whether you are a chocolate lover, peanut butter fanatic, chewy candies fan or lollipop kid, we all have our preferred candy and that got me thinking…what does our favorite candy say about our personalities. According to Halloween experts, the type of candy you crave can say a lot about you. Who knew candy could be so powerful.  

Peanut Butter Treats  

Do you prefer the irresistible peanut butter flavored treats? If so, you are probably someone people consider bold. You are confident and have a positive attitude towards life. Your motto is “everything happens for a reason.” You seek out the sunny side in people and “go with the flow” with it comes to the journeys in life.

Fruity Chewy Candies  

You are full of energy and ready to “take on the day.” You are never one to shy away from strangers and are friendly to everyone you meet. Proud of your life’s accomplishments, you never miss the opportunity to tell others about your amazing experiences. Being in social circles is how you thrive and above all, you just want to make everyone happy.

Peanuts and Caramel

If you enjoy this classic candy bar, then you’re a total people pleaser. You love to entertain and always accept new friends with open arms. Your empathy towards others makes you a great friend and you’re always reliable. Your loyalty is unmatched, sometimes maybe to a fault, but you always do the right thing in the end and would do anything for others.

Candy Corn

You either love them or hate them. If you love them, then you likely have a love-hate personality. You are very competitive and have strong feelings towards things you like and things you hate. There is no in-between with you. Honesty and loyalty are two of the top qualities you look for in friends and colleagues. Being #1 is top of mind for you.

Sour Candy

You are an outgoing risk taker and love living on the wild side. You dislike boredom and always have fun in mind. Your friends and colleagues love being around you, even though you are somewhat of a troublemaker. No matter what the challenge is, you are willing to give it a try. Some would even call you artistic, crafty and creative. Above all, you live life to the fullest.

Only Chocolate Please!!

If you prefer milk chocolate, you are a low-maintenance person with an optimistic look on life. You tend to be the wiser of your peers and err on the side of caution. It does not take much to make you happy, but change is not something you like or handle well.

If you prefer dark chocolate, chances are you are classy and sophisticated. You do not “sit on the fence” when making decisions and you tend to “stand your ground” when it comes to your opinions. In the end, you make strong decisions and are full of energy.

Bottom line, there are so many types of Halloween candy and so many types of temperaments. Does your favorite candy match your personality? HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

Great Storytelling Never Changes

By: Bob Hope

The world changes, but great storytelling never does.

I have more experience in public relations and communications than anyone else on earth. That’s not bragging. It is just the way it is.

After all, I started working in public relations when I was in college and became public relations director of the Atlanta Braves at age 24, immediately dealing with hundreds of media who were traveling with Hank Aaron during his chase of the all-time home run record. That counts for dog years of experience. Then, I worked directly for Ted Turner during the “make me famous” phase of his life. That counts for hyper dog years. I also worked for years in New York City at the top level of the largest public relations agency in the world, and my specialty was dealing with big-name CEOs, so that adds up to even more dog years of experience. So, conservatively, in a normal world, I have abnormal experiences. It is fair to say I have well over a century of experiences jammed into a half-century of working in communication. So, I must have learned something or at least developed some seasoned observations.

So, here are 10:

  1. There are good leaders and bad ones. The good ones typically know how to communicate well. Management and leadership are nothing more than being able to communicate well. Think about the kids’ game of telephone, where a group sits in a circle and whispers a message from one to the next until it circles the room. In the end, the message that started is typically distorted and nowhere close to the one that started. Now, think of the CEO at the top of a company with hundreds or even thousands of employees. If the message at the top isn’t clear, there is no way it will make it to the workers. It is all about communication.

  2. If you are a leader, there is no such thing as a casual or inconsequential comment. Because of your leadership position, people tend to listen and react to what you say. Don’t take that for granted. There is power in your words.

  3. If you are speaking to a crowd, realize that the attention span of the average person is seven minutes, and everyone isn’t on the same time clock. You need to get the attention of the group and keep their attention. So, every seven minutes, it is necessary to reset their clocks, even by saying something like, “Listen closely to what I am about to say; it is very important.”

  4. Some words are much more impactful than others. The average movie contains about 30,000 words. Yet, one sentence from a movie can live on in memories while others are forgotten. “Make my day…… Frankly my dear…. There’s no crying in baseball.” Try to master the art of creating a memorable phrase. We go on a “wild goose chase” or “break the ice” at the start of a meeting or think “love is blind” because Shakespeare told us those things 400 years ago.

  5. A big idea is in the eye of the beholder. Something similar is said about beauty. Sometimes ordinary ideas can be great simply because of the passion and power that are put behind them.  

  6. Fame has power. If you aren’t famous, you chase down opportunities one at a time. If you are famous, the world comes to you. It is much easier to have people line up and present opportunities to you than to chase them down one at a time.

  7. Great stories take on lives of their own. We too often worry about how to communicate rather than what to communicate. The power is in the message.

  8. Organizations are like people. They have distinct personalities based on more than what product they sell. In a competitive environment, the most beloved company most often wins.

  9. Newspapers are still alive and well. It is popular to say that the newspaper industry is dying, and in fact, the industry is changing. However, because of the internet, newspapers have more readers today than in the past. Also, business leaders sometimes say they don’t care about the local newspaper because of their perception that people don’t read it. One thing they can count on is that every one of their employees will read it if the news is about their company. Newspapers still have power, and mainstream media still leads and prioritizes the news.

  10. Creativity makes a huge difference when communicating and motivating. In a cluttered media world, the clever phrase or approach is needed more today than ever before. P.T. Barnham wrote a paper called, “The Art of Publicity,” which is an education in creativity. He wrote about his opening the P.T. Barnham Museum in New York and how he did everything smart marketers told him to do – ran ads, gave out free tickets, passed out flyers. They didn’t work, and then his money ran out. What he did to make the museum successful teaches more about marketing than any four-year degree. Brilliant.

Good communication is at the heart of informing, motivating, inspiring, creating devotion, love, and reaction. Bill Gates is famous in the PR industry for saying that he would spend his last dollar on PR and that telling the story of any product is at the core of success. That makes perfect sense. It is amazing how some corporate leaders understand that and others don’t.  

The Super-Power of Thank You

By: Hilary Bumm

Not only is it good manners to say thank you, but it’s also a proven mood-booster.

It’s considered common courtesy to send a thank-you note to someone who gives you a gift, attends your event or does something kind. A thoughtfully composed thank-you note, whether it’s designed to impress a hiring manager or simply express gratitude to someone who helped you, should not be underestimated.

Meanwhile, a pretty dope phenomenon occurs when we say thank you. As a prolific writer (well, scribbler) of thank you notes, I found this study fascinating. Research indicates that being thanked can make the recipient feel happier and more engaged while increasing the emotional intelligence of the person saying (or writing) it.

When we give and receive thank-you notes, our brain is automatically redirected to pay attention to what we have, producing intrinsic motivation and a strong awareness of the present. Also, at the neurochemical level, gratitude acts as a catalyst for neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine – the ones that manage our emotions, anxiety and immediate stress responses.


Writer’s block? Often, the simpler, the better is the key to a well-written thank you. In his 1876 book, How To Write Letters, English professor J. Willis Westlake was among the first to create templates for proper thank-you letters. Fast forward two centuries later, his advice holds true.

Take pains; write as plainly and neatly as possible—rapidly if you can, slowly if you must. Good writing affects us sympathetically, giving us a higher appreciation both of what is written and of the person who wrote it. Do not say, I have not time to be so particular. Take time; or else write fewer letters and shorter ones.


According to stationer Caspari, the first versions of thank you notes originated in the 1400s when Europeans exchanged greeting cards with friends and family members. This was a new form of social expression that involved delivering the notes by hand. Even earlier, the Chinese and Egyptian people wrote messages on papyrus paper to communicate with their friends and wish one another good luck.


Dr. Alex Korb, neuroscientist and author of Upward Spiral, concludes that “gratitude forces us to focus on the positive sides of life. In short, gratitude can boost neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine.”

Dopamine is our brain’s pleasure chemical. That dope occurrence is magnified by the physical act of engaging in an activity that expresses gratitude, such as writing that thank you.

How’s that for win-win? The next time you grab your pen and paper or head to your keyboard to say thanks, see for yourself!

The Power of Words

By: Ann Nelson

OK, I admit it. I listen to NPR. That fact may say more about my age than anything else – but that is an entirely different blog!

But back to NPR…NPR once broadcast of series of essays entitled “This I Believe.” The essays were sometimes written by famous or renowned people. Often, they were ordinary people with an extraordinary ability to communicate a thought, concept or belief. They all very clearly illustrate my belief … I believe in the power of words.

If you doubt that words are powerful, just witness the anguish caused by teens and even tweens bullying with words sent via text messages or posted on social media. A young person can become distraught over a misspoken word or biting remark by a BFF. I cannot even imagine the pain that would be inflicted by the sort of dirty campaigns that some kids have had to endure at the hands of their peers. The relative anonymity of the internet allows the bullying to continue far too long and the message to be distributed far too quickly and widely.

Recently, we have seen how words have spurred action. A news report on the climate-induced famine in Madagascar prompted more than 22,000 listeners to donate more than $2.7 million to famine relief. Hearing the words that our neighbors and fellow human beings are suffering has encouraged more and more of us who are able to become involved, to donate our time and our money to help relieve the pain we read those words about.

However, all too often lately, we have seen how words have been used to cause pain, disruption and anguish. I’m not referring to the misspoken word that is hurtful or the thoughtless comment that crushes. More and more it seems, words are being used to wreak havoc, cause disruptions and encourage forceful behavior.

There is no doubt that words spoken at a rally, and before, encouraged those with sincere belief in the speaker, to march on the U. S. Capitol with violence, causing destruction and deaths. Words did that!

There are more examples than I wish to cite of words used to bolster, inspire and support damaging actions. The past couple of years have been tough. We are all dealing with a new sort of reality, and we all cope with these things differently.

Let’s all try to use our words carefully and in the kindest way possible. Say “please” and “thank you” whenever you can – even if you have to force it a bit. Smile under that mask and the words will sound even kinder.

When you read someone else’s words, be careful that you are reading a trusted, informed source and not just someone who posted it online. I call the internet the “World’s Bathroom Wall.” Read things you find there accordingly!

But most of all, remember that your words — spoken, written or posted – can and will have an impact on others. Make sure that impact is positive

Setting a New Year’s Resolution…BAH HUMBUG

By: Allison Ritter

As 2021 comes to an end, many of us are thinking of the daunting task of setting a New Year’s resolution. Whether it is a goal for your personal life or an area you want to improve in your work life, resolutions are hard to set and even harder to keep, but they can be achieved. Here are five tips to help make your 2022 resolution a success.

1. BE REALISTIC Do not set resolutions that are impossible to achieve. It takes a lot of hard work to reach a resolution goal so pick one that you know you can accomplish and complete.

2. TRACK EVERY SUCCESS Keep track of every success, even the small ones. Short-term goals are easier to reach, and each accomplishment will help keep you motivated.

3. REWARD YOURSELF It takes discipline to stay on track with a resolution, celebrate milestones along the way by rewarding yourself with something you enjoy.

4. DO NOT BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF Do not get discouraged if you slip up and make a mistake while working on your resolution goal. Recommit yourself by starting over the next day.

5. KEEP IT GOING Experts say it takes approximately 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and six months for it to become part of your personality. Be patient, it will happen; just not overnight.

Bottom line is to stay positive and do not lose hope. You can do it. Make 2022 the year you finally accomplish a successful resolution. You will be glad you did.

Avoiding the Holiday Slump

By: Riley Carney

The holiday season is easily the busiest part of the year – from traveling to shopping to holiday parties; it is easy to feel overwhelmed. However, from a public relations standpoint, the holiday season is the perfect time to maximize opportunities for your company and clients. Below are some tips on how to avoid the holiday slump in the communications industry.

Keep Pitching

Even though November and December are some of the most hectic months of the year, it is a slow time for journalists as they look for stories to cover while many people are away on vacation. Tap into your connections with the media and pitch articles and stories to capitalize on the low news period of the holiday season. The media and audiences love feel-good stories during the holiday season, so now is the time to pitch the amazing things your client or company has done throughout the year.

Build Relationships

Building relationships is one of the key pillars in the communications industry, especially with the media. The best way to create a lasting relationship in this industry is to engage with others content and offer your resources. Be a friendly face and continue reaching out; if your story is not a good fit for one journalist, chances are they will connect you with the right person. Since many people drop off during the holidays, this is the perfect chance to foster new relationships and show your network that you care.

Don’t Focus Solely on the Holidays

One of the biggest fails a PR professional can have during the holiday season is stretching clients’ content to identify with the holidays when there is not a clear connection. Not everything can have a holiday spin, and that is okay. Editorial calendars are already full of gift guides and seasonal activities; it is a refreshing change of pace to hear about other events and news during this time.

Focus on Your Community

This busy season gives public relations professionals the chance to tap into their social media and commit to fostering their community. Stay engaging and focus on personal items to connect with your audience on social media. Share lots of pictures and videos and highlight the best things that happened this past year as a round-up, and don’t forget to thank your followers!

The holiday season is the most wonderful time of year and following these tips will help you have your professional life more on track for the holidays than your personal life!

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