Reeling from Tragedy

July 29, 2011 by

Of all places, Norway was the recent recipient of a devastating terrorist attack that took the lives of countless individuals. The final count of dead and injured is still being tallied, leaving the Norwegian government stuck with a PR nightmare.

How do you prepare for the inevitable?

As a former news reporter on the Texas/Mexico border, I witnessed my share of devastation and tragedies while covering events as they transpired daily. Showing up at the scene of a shooting before the police arrived, reporting on two convicts who successfully escaped from prison along with the collapse of the causeway bridge connecting Brownsville to South Padre Island are just a few of the stories I covered during my tenure. The outcome of my coverage was often contingent upon the transparency of the information I received and how the Public Information Officer reacted. Too often there is a lull in responses from those responsible for releasing information and this can often cause more damage than harm.

Prior to my stint as a border journalist, I was actively chasing news for the Leeza Show, a national talk show on NBC. My hunger to be on the frontlines took me to Columbine just hours after the shootings occurred and there I witnessed a landmark tragedy unfold. When I arrived on the scene, there was one satellite truck, thankfully it was NBC but by the next morning the high school was filled with a frenzy of news media trying to capture the story. The most memorable snapshot of this horrific event was the interview between Katie Couric, Craig Scott and Isaiah Schoel’s father. The image of Craig holding hands with Mr. Schoel’s, an African American spoke volumes about the connection and comfort these two brought each other after tragically losing a sister and a son. This picture helped transform a devastating occurrence into an emblem of hope and healing.
The old saying, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond,” holds a lot of truth when it comes to the PR realm as well. You may not be prepared for the inevitable but you can respond in a way that can help paint public perception.


InsightsOut has moved!

August 9, 2010 by

After many years of residing on the WordPress server, InsightsOut has become an established part of the HKA website. We’ve updated the look and feel of the blog and think it is much more “reader friendly.”

Be sure to change your bookmarks and subscribe to our new blog:

We hope that you will check us out and let us know what you think!

This current blog will expire soon, so be sure and make the switch!

Patience is a PR virtue

August 5, 2010 by

Team HKA and Xan having a blast with the Unwrapped crew

Our client Xan Confections was featured on Food Network’s Unwrapped last month. I know we all were excited when it aired, but I can’t describe exactly how I felt to see one of my clients be featured on a show and television network I had been a major fan of for years.

Awesome is a pretty good word for it. Yes, it felt awesome.

Looking back, I realized that it has actually been about a year since I first planted the seed at Unwrapped. A concise phone pitch and a strong intent to make the opportunity blossom was how it all got started 11 months ago.

I’d had a great conversation with the producer, but not too much happened right away. It took patience and diligent (but careful) monitoring of the opportunity to keep it alive and growing. Finally, nearly three months after that first conversation, Xan was confirmed to be on the show. The taping day happened not too long after, and a mere five and a half months later..

TA-DA! Xan’s ancho chili caramel fired up tastebuds on the “Hot & Spicy” episode in July. Kudos to the Unwrapped crew and the Xan team for putting together such a fantastic segment.

Looking back on it all, I’m reminded that great PR hits can often take time, (LOTS of) patience and persistence. But it’s always well worth the wait and effort.

What’s a PR success you’re proud of and what did it teach you?

“I’m on a mountain, on my phone!”

August 3, 2010 by

This weekend I stayed in and rented a silly movie that unexpectedly reminded me of the PR world.

The movie? Hot Tub Time Machine, a DVD I would have rented,watched and returned without comment if I hadn’t read Robyn’s “Caught in the Middle Continues” blog post just a few days earlier.

"You're never gonna believe where I'm callin' you from, man. I'm on a mountain, on my phone!"

While the premise is outlandish – four men on a ski weekend find themselves back in 1986 after taking a dip in what must be “some kind of hot tub time machine” – the idea of going back to a time before the Internet and cell phones  reminded me of how difficult and different media relations must have been in the past.

Jacob: I’m kinda right in the middle of a thing right now, but can I text you later?
Girl: Can you what?
Jacob: Are you online at all?
Girl: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Jacob: How do I get a hold of you?
Girl: You come find me.
Jacob: That sounds… exhausting.

It does sound exhausting. In fact, as a 22-year-old who grew up with the Internet, I can’t imagine what it would be like to try tracking down reporters without email or cell phones. For people who don’t like to be tethered to their office lines all day and night, these new(-ish) technological tools allow us to communicate wirelessly, effortlessly and immediately. Being in the HKA office, and especially reading Robyn’s “Caught in the Middle” entries, has given me a great deal of perspective on how reliant we are now on the digital world as a means of communication and how lucky I feel to be able to use Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging and text messages to reach someone instantaneously. From now on, when I want to pull my hair out after not being able to find someone’s contact info online, I’ll count my blessings and be happy that the Internet and Google (or “Lougle” as it’s known after the Hot Tub guys change history) even exist.

Caught in the Middle Continues

July 29, 2010 by

One of the biggest differences I’ve observed in the HKA office is  how the millenials embrace the digital world. Whether it’s a text or a tweet, these twenty-something’s utilize the rapidly changing technology as if they were breathing in air. They are entrenched with new media channels and utilize these methods as primary tools to communicate. It’s easy to understand why it appears to be a part of their DNA since they have grown up in an era where the computer is more of an entertainment device than TV. This generation was the first to be raised on the Internet, an amazing advance in technology that I have only become familiar with in recent years. On the other hand, the baby boomer generation was raised with a typewriter and was not bombarded with the wave of technology of today. The baby boomers in our office saw the value of utilizing social media vehicles as a means of communicating but were constantly trying to wrap their arms around it to figure out its purpose and benefits.