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. 

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.

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.