Washington, DC's official public relations podcast

Flack Pack is the official public relations podcast of Washington, D.C., focused on issues, techniques, news, and topics of interest to flacks everywhere, especially in the Swamp!

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LinkedIn lists more than 12,000 PR companies in its U.S. database. There are estimates that about 93-thousand people work in those firms. Are you one of these people? Do you want to be?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you’ll appreciate this week’s guest, Kristin Johnson, the co-author of a new how-to guide for PR agency prospects, “How to Succeed in a PR Agency.”

In this week’s PR Summer School episode, Robert interviews Kristin about the insights offered in the book, and her advice for anyone interested in the agency lifestyle. Also, the Buzzer Beater guest is cool under pressure, with a set of questions that will make your mouth water.

Links

Top 12 Movies/TV Shows for Every PR Pro’s Collection

Twitter: Flack Pack

AP Stylebook

Guest: Hannah Mooney

Why Public Relations Agencies are Evolving

Guest: Kristin Johnson

Guest: Shalon Roth

Amazon: How to Succeed in a PR Agency

The French Chef February 6, 1972 Opening


Unrealistic deadlines and long hours have been cited by many PR professionals as the cause of stress on the job. A recent survey of pros by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations found more than half of those diagnosed with a mental health condition reported their work as a leading contributing factor.

Only a third of the more than 1,000 people surveyed said they viewed public relations as a career for life. As part of our summer-long PR Summer School series, Robert sits down with Dr. Amanda Holdsworth, APR, to discuss her research on PR burnout.

All this month on the Buzzer Beater we’ve been asking questions about AP Style. Today, we wrap up the series with a player who has hosted her own PR podcast. And Jason tells us what happens when tweets about a storm result in audience blowback.

Links:

Energy Department Refers to Natural Gas as “Freedom Gas” in Press Release

Trump Highly Involved in July 4th Planning

AP Stylebook

Guest: Courtney Fogle

PR Hangover



As PR people, we can spend hours each day reading proposals, news stories, and social media posts. Reading is key to the work we do communicating messages to target audiences. Given that, it might be hard to imagine spending our free time reading, but then again, it’s the reading we choose to do that helps us do a better job at work.

Contributor Gina Luttrell kicks off our PR Summer School series with a short reading list curated just for listeners of the Flack Pack. Also, this week’s Buzzer Beater player tackles AP Style with a list of questions that are definitely of this world.

Links:

Amazon: The Business of Persuasion

Edward Bernays

Walter Lippmann

Flack Pack Host: Kathleen Looney

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile

AP Stylebook

Guest: Courtney Calvin

Guest: Gina Luttrell

Amazon: The Four Tendencies

Amazon: The Formula: The universal laws of success

Amazon: Seven Layers of Social Media Analytics

Amazon: Social Media: How to engage, share, and connect

Amazon: What do you do with an idea?

Amazon: What do you do with a chance?


Free speech is being challenged around the world. A comedian in Brazil gets six months in prison for offending public officials. Global leaders have signed a pact pushing for tighter controls over online content. And the Trump White House has launched a survey asking people whether they’ve been censored on social media.

Some people want more censorship. Others decry the growing trend toward speech limitations. What is the answer? Can we remove bad content without threatening our inherent First Amendment rights? Robert explores this important communication topic with an expert from the Cato Institute.

Also, this week’s Buzzer Beater guest joins the show from his perch on Embassy Row, where the questions take on an international flavor. And Jason reviews a tasty tweet about pancakes that lands it’s sponsor on a hot griddle.

Links:

Right-wing comedian’s prison sentence sparks free-speech debate in Bolsonaro’s Brazil

White House declines to back Christchurch call to stamp out online extremism amid free speech concerns

White House launches tool to report censorship on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter

Guest: Jordan Humphreys

AP Stylebook

Upload filters and one-hour takedowns

Government aims to make UK safest place in world to be online

European Parliament approves controversial copyright law

Guest: Will Duffield

Why the government should not regulate content moderation of social media

The twenty-six words that created the internet

The new governors: The people, rules, and processes governing online speech

IHOP traumatized the internet with its Mother’s Day tweet of a pancake-filled womb


Motherly advice can be annoying, but is that because it’s bothersome or because it’s true? We’ve all received mom’s words of wisdom, whether we wanted them or not, and some of us have kids who now get to benefit from our wise counsel.

The Flack Pack is not giving you any advice today, however we are pausing in honor of moms this weekend to remember advice they’ve given us and its impact on our PR careers. Spin Sucks blogger Laura Petrolino joins Robert to discuss her recent post about motherly advice that she says will improve your career in communications.

Buzzer Beater contestant Kim Bode talks smack about guinea pigs, but who has the last laugh? And Jason has spicy chicken nuggets on his Mother’s Day weekend menu. And one more thing: Happy Mother’s Day to all of our PR moms out there. The Flack Pack loves you bunches!

Links:

Mother’s Day 2019

Guest: Kim Bode

AP Stylebook

Guest: Laura Petrolino

Motherly advice that will improve your career in communications

Wendy’s Twitter Challenge


Editorial cartoons helped fuel an American Revolution and framed the public’s opinion of our Civil War president, but are humorous and satirical illustrations pegged to the day’s news becoming a relic in the internet age?

In the aftermath of a rare New York Times apology for a cartoon published just days ago, it is hard to argue they’ve lost their punch. Yet newsroom editors and bean counters are choosing words over illustrations. Robert examines this trend of disappearing ink with Michael Cavna, a cartoonist who now writes for the Washington Post Style Page.

We celebrate the coming release of the 2019 AP Stylebook with Buzzer Beater questions pulled from its pages; examine the impact of typos in Tweets; and pay homage to Cinco de Mayo with a lame attempt at speaking Spanish.

Links:

Times apologizes for publishing anti-Semitic cartoon

Guest: Anthony LaFauce

AP Stylebook

Richard Outcault

Guest: Michael Cavna

National Cartoonists Day

Cartoonists Day

Washington Post Comics

@Comicriffs

Don Lee

Twitter’s Avengers: Endgame Fans Are Too Excited to Spell Correctly

People are misspelling brand hashtags, and it’s only going to get worse


The Flack Pack turns 1 year old! Robert sneaks into the studio on the Pack’s spring break to sing his special PR edition of the Happy Birthday song; Lachlan Markay, the White House correspondent for the Daily Beast, gives us news release tips in an interview that first published on July 20, 2018; and Sarah Shelson plays guitar in an effort to help Robert’s singing sound a little better!

Links:

Happy Birthday To You

Guest: Lachlan Markay

The Daily Beast

Cision: State of the Media 2019 Report



Bath time is big business around the world. And for LUSH, that has meant a lot of social media followers. It’s UK Instagram channel has more than a half million devotees, while Facebook claims another 400 thousand fans, and Twitter connects with 200 thousand Lushies. So why would the company throw in the towel on social? Is this a sincere decision or a PR stunt? Robert parts the suds on this soapy situation with Flack Pack contributor Adrienne Wallace.

The Pack also wonders why some candy companies would ignore the chance for some good PR; the Buzzer Beater conversation temporarily goes awry; and Sarah signs off as the Pack’s sidewalk correspondent.

Links:

Peeps official website

Mars official website

Samsung Galaxy Fold Review: Broken Dream

Guest: Jim Dornan

Facebook staff followed CNN camera crews to the bathroom

Wonder Boy

New Mexico drops Columbus Day for Indigenous People’s Day

The organic growth of LUSH Cosmetics with Natasha Ritz

Guest: Adrienne Wallace

In a bold marketing move, Lush UK breaks up with social media

“Game of Thrones” glitch

Guest: Michael Cavna


Spring brings sprouts, sunshine, and a new AP Stylebook full of changes every serious PR writer needs to know and understand. Alysha Love, a former journalist and current member of the executive committee of ACES – The Society for Editing, joins Robert to examine the latest updates to the writer’s must-have style reference, confessing her affection for hyphens, percent signs, and composition titles. Our Buzzer Beater player recommends a social media strategy to celebrate the 76th anniversary of the novel, “The Little Prince,” while Robert recalls watching the movie in high school, entertaining us with his 10th grade-inspired impression of the Little Prince himself. We debut a new feature called “Jason’s Tweet Time,” and find out who Sarah talked with this week on the streets surrounding the office.

Links:

White House considered dumping migrants in “sanctuary cities”

Guest: Myles Goldman

South Carolina football ordered $2k worth of pizza. They tipped the driver 5 bucks.

Trump’s “truly bizarre” visit to Mt. Vernon

The beloved classic novel “The Little Prince” turns 75 years old

AP Stylebook adds new umbrella entry for race-related coverage, issues new hyphen guidance and other changes

Guest: Alysha Love

Creating an account on apstylebook.com

AP Style Quizzes

Contributor: Jason Mollica

Burger King is apologizing for its “ignorant” commercial

Contributor: Adrienne Wallace

In a bold marketing move, Lush UK breaks up with social media


The Flack Pack visits a classroom at American University to discuss digital PR and social media with a group of rowdy students, and their professor, Jason Mollica. He gives us his advice for managing digital communications, and discusses the digital skills students bring to the PR party. Buzzer Beater history is made, despite some tough PR questions. And Robert goes undercover to serve up an April Fool’s delight: the elusive McDonald’s McPickle sandwich.

Links:

Guest: Jason Mollica

Arrested, again: Why Carlos Ghosn has been detained, what is different now?

Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes is engaged: Here’s what we know about her fiance.’

Joe Biden’s video non-apology: Weirdest campaign kickoff ever

What a pickle! McDonald’s April Fool’s Day prank backfires

White House spokesperson calls Puerto Rico “that country” twice. It’s not a country.

Justin Bieber’s April Fool’ pregnancy joke draws backlash

Peak bloom protocol: Don’t bother the blossoms

Unhealthy Holly: Baltimore mayor taking time off as children’s book deal comes under scrutiny.

Park Service looking for “genuine conversation” about protest costs.

Alysha Love


Harold Burson’s career spans most of the 20th Century, and he’s not done yet. At 98, this icon of the public relations industry continues to work several days a week in his Manhattan office.

The Flack Pack recently ventured to New York City for the chance to spend a couple of hours with the man PRWeek once called “the century’s most influential PR figure.” 

In this special episode, you’ll hear Burson’s views on several current topics, including the state of the PR business, global threats to journalism, why PR people should support their media colleagues, and more.

Robert is joined by Emma Ingram, the publications editor in chief for the national office of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Together with producer Koji Wieber, they ask the questions, and reflect on them between segments.

The Buzzer Beater and Sarah Shelson’s question of the week return on Friday, April 5th.

Links:

Guest: Harold Burson

Co-host: Emma Ingram

Amazon: The Business of Persuasion


Women in public relations need sponsors to help them soar to new career heights. We wrap up our celebration of Women’s History Month with two interviews, one focused on women helping each other, and one examining the history of women in the PR industry.

Crystal talks with Flack Pack contributor Gina Luttrell about the difference between a mentorship and a sponsorship. Then Jessica discusses the history of women in our business with Shelley Spector, a veteran of boardroom wars, who shares what she’s learned from more than 50 years of professional experiences.

Robert assembles an odd set of questions for this week’s Buzzer Beater contestant, and Sarah gets answers to a basic PR question from complete strangers as they walk past our offices near the White House.

Links:

“Husband from Hell”

Guest: Brandon Johnson

Jair Bolsonaro: Brazil’s firebrand leader dubbed Trump of the Tropics

Immortalize yourself in music: Have your remains pressed as a vinyl record

Guest: Dr. Tina McCorkindale

Mind the gap: Women’s leadership in public relations

Guest: Gina Luttrell

Center for Talent Innovation

Guest: Shelley Spector

Museum of Public Relations


Women rule the PR world everywhere except in boardrooms and front offices. In recognition of Women’s History Month, Summer talks about the latest research on this topic with Dr. Tina McCorkindale, President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations.

Robert celebrates St. Patrick’s Day weekend with a conversation about a tradition in Chicago that leaves other American cities green with PR envy; and we ask why Kermit the Frog is left off a sheet of new U.S. stamps honoring the 50th Anniversary of Sesame Street. Maybe Kermit was right when he sang “it’s not easy being green.”

Links:

In Brexit, could Ireland wear the crown?

Trump bashes airplane tech after Boeing crash: “I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot.”

Guest: Elizabeth Frenaye

Boeing faces questions about its new 737 Max jet after Ethiopia crash

Is Milwaukee really equipped to host the DNC?

U.S. stamps for Sesame Street, Tyrannosaurus rex, Halloween

Did Miss Piggy appear on Sesame Street?

Miss Piggy’s Instagram page

Guest: Dr. Tina McCorkindale

Mind the gap: Women’s leadership in public relations

Amazon: Athena Rising

2019 IPR Bridge PR and Communications Conference

Guest: Sally Daly

Here’s how the Chicago River is dyed green every year 

Amazon: The Business of Persuasion


How do you write your PR plans? Are they long, short, or somewhere in between? Do you use a template each time, or scratch them out on a napkin?

Writing a PR plan can be fun, tedious, and necessary all at the same time. But is there a way to make sure you’ve covered all the bases without losing your mind in the process?

Gini Dietrich, CEO of communications and marketing firm Arment Dietrich in Chicago, created the PESO model in 2014, after developing a process to streamline her own team’s planning process. She explains the PESO model, and the name!

Also, University of Maryland senior Gillian Casey competes against the buzzer this week, and holds her own against some tough PR questions; Sarah asks PR students about celebrities and companies with good and bad PR reps; and Koji and Jessica preview Flack Pack episodes yet to come.

Links:

Trump threatens retaliation after DNC’s move against Fox

House repudiates bigotry after Omar comments split Dems

This is when cherry blossoms are expected to hit peak bloom in Washington, D.C.

Why daylight saving time starts Sunday

International Women’s Day 2019: History, theme and importance

Captain Marvel is about female power – not empowerment

Guest: Gillian Casey

Michael Jackson estate drops concert film on YouTube during “Leaving Neverland” premiere

Taylor Swift is talking about politics, but why did she wait until now?

AOC Obsession

Guest: Gini Dietrich

PR pros must embrace the PESO model

Download a copy of “An introduction to the PESO model.”


Public relations is not only practiced with news releases and press conferences. More than a century ago, Japan delivered a powerful message of friendship with a gift of cherry trees that today continues to speak to millions of spring-time visitors to Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin.

With 40 events and a world fixed on the annual arrival of the cherry blooms, the non-profit National Cherry Blossom Festival communications team has its hands full all year long. Krystle Fleetwood and Nora Strumpf are about to watch their hard work come to life, starting with a kick-off media event on March 6th. But they still made time to talk with Robert about handling the PR for one of America’s most treasured springtime routines.

Also, Summer reports on three African American PR pioneers who are among those being remembered at the Museum of Public Relations in New York City; Harold Burson recalls covering the Nuremberg war trials in Germany in 1945; the contest for an autographed copy of Burson’s book continues; and Momma Dukes plays the Buzzer Beater (Hint: She’s Jessica’s mother and herself an accomplished PR pro).

Links:

Abrupt end to Trump-Kim summit prompts sighs of relief, questions about what’s next

Why are North and South Korea divided?

National Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry Blossom song from the Show Tease on social media

Amazon: The Business of Persuasion

Buzzer Beater Guest: Donna Cahill

While Nike is being mocked for Zion Williamson’s shoe blowout, don’t expect long-term damage to brand

Why did it take a Lifetime TV series and a hashtag to take down R Kelly?

“Hold the date:” Trump announces July Fourth celebration

Guest: Krystle Fleetwood

Guest: Nora Strumpf

Museum of Public Relations

Inez Kaiser

Ofield Dukes

Moss Kendrix

Nuremberg War Trial radio scripts written by Harold Burson

PR pros must embrace the PESO model


Does building an online community sound impossible? Is it worth the effort? What can you do with one after it’s built? Crystal talks with digital communications expert Kami Huyse about how to build an online community and provide the inspiration you might need to get started creating one for your project, campaign, or organization.

Also, Flack Pack contributor Gina Luttrell talks with Robert about the importance of transparency when social influencers are part of your tactical approach; a guest contestant finally slays the Buzzer Beater; Harold Burson waxes about the Cola Wars; the team makes a pitch for a Coke machine in the Flack Pack office; and the rules of an awesome contest with a cool prize are announced!

Links:

White House braces for Mueller report

Guest: Adrienne Wallace

Gucci apologizes after social media users say sweater resembles blackface

Burberry chief says it’s “deeply sorry” about noose accessory

Dems down to three possible 2020 convention host cities

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson sets date of first trip into space

Guest: Kami Huyse

How to build effective online communities

Zoeticamedia.com

Podcast: Communities that Convert

Contributor: Gina Luttrell

IZEA 2018 State of the Creator Economy

FTC Endorsement Guides

Cola wars: A social and political history

Guest: Harold Burson

Amazon: The Business of Persuasion: Harold Burson on Public Relations

Video: I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke

National Cherry Blossom Festival


Throughout history, American presidents have had to communicate – with voters on the campaign trail and constituents once elected to office. Some have been better at it than others.

In a special President’s Day Weekend episode of the Flack Pack, we hear from Laura Petrolino, a communicator with a bent for history, about the PR lessons to be learned from 16, Abraham Lincoln.

George Washington taught us to always tell the truth, although there remains some question about his sincerity given the cherry tree episode. But this week, Petrolino tells us it is Lincoln’s lessons that go to the core of what we call the public relations.

Also, Jessica catches up with a Capitol Hill comms director to discuss his experience messaging three government shutdowns in two years; the Pack delivers a singing telegram; and Honest Abe makes a Buzzer Beater cameo as a Lego mini-figure!

Links:

Apple goes for the jugular with subscription revenue deal

President Trump installed a new golf simulator at the White House, report says

Reddit gets $150 million investment; users posting memes to mock the deal

Journalism isn’t dying. It’s returning to its roots.

Summer Johnson

President Trump signs deal to avoid government shutdown

Guest: Amanda Holdsworth

Elizabeth Warren makes unannounced appearance at Native American luncheon in Washington

Why doesn’t President Trump have a pet?

Those wild star cameos in “Lego Movie 2” explained

Guest: Ben Williamson

Four communications lessons from Abraham Lincoln

Amazon: Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails

Guest: Laura Petrolino

SpinSucks.com

Fyre Festival to fashion week, how do Instagram influencers make so much money?

New York Fashion Week 2019


The Washington Post scrambled recently to create a Super Bowl television commercial in support of its “Democracy Dies in Darkness” campaign defending journalism and the First Amendment. But did it make a difference? Was it a waste of time and money? How many football fans paid attention to the newspaper’s serious message, airing just moments before the New England Patriots prepared to vanquish another helpless opponent?

Dr. Michelle Amazeen, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at Boston University, discusses the commercial, addresses whether it helped journalism’s cause, and tells us why PR people should share the news media’s concerns over continued attacks on their work.

Following up on the topic, Robert examines the challenges facing newsrooms with a former broadcast journalist who now teaches budding reporters attending classes at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. And Sarah Shelson quizzes PR classmates at American University about PR lessons learned from the bogus 2017 Fyre Festival. 

Links:

Fake news has direct impact on real media, new research finds

Content confusion in an era of fake news

Democratic women send political message by wearing white to State of the Union

Why Trump’s zigzagging speech made perfect sense

TV anchors lunch at White House

Schoolhouse Rock “Sufferin’ Till Suffrage”

Fyre Festival YouTube Announcement

Hulu: Fyre Fraud

Netflix: Fyre documentary

Emma Ingram

Super Bowl 2019 Ratings Slip

What was Andy Warhol doing in that Burger King ad?

Dr. Michelle Amazeen 

Washington Post’s “Democracy Dies in Darkness” Campaign

New York Times’ “The Truth Is…” Campaign

CNN “Facts First” Commercial

Journalism Needs a Political Messaging Campaign to Make Patriots Proud

Brian Rackham

NAU Media Innovation Center


With Millennials expected to surpass Baby Boomers as the largest living adult generation this year, according to the Pew Research Center, PR people everywhere would be wise to do all they can to understand this generation’s mindset.

Researchers Gina Luttrell, also a Flack Pack contributor, and Karen McGrath, have written a new book, The Millennial Mindset, to help us understand what Millennials are thinking and why they think the way they do. Presented through the public relations lens, they provide key insights that should help everyone better work with this group of people born between 1981 and 1996.

Buy the book on www.rowman.com using the code FLACKPACK25 and save 25% off the cover price—a savings available only to Flack Pack listeners. 

Also this week, Robert gets excited to unveil the new Flack Pack Season 2 cartoon, and we meet a bunch of people who are either new to the Flack Pack, or who’ve helped it get this far: Jessica Cahill, Brian Rackham, and Don Lee.

Links:

The Millennial Mindset

Dr. Gina Luttrell

Dr. Karen McGrath

Millennials projected to overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation

Kyrsten Snema is not just a funky dresser. She’s a fashion revolutionary.

BuzzFeed paid the teen making its top quizzes in free swag

Another cartoonist loses his job. This does not bode well for the future of newspaper cartooning.

Season 2 Cartoon


There’s no debating the value of research to the success of a PR campaign. But there can be challenges to the process that few of us want or like to admit. Sometimes clients don’t care to spend the money or take the time to understand their audience, or the problem they face. In other cases, the boss wants a solution on the street, or in the media’s hands, today. If we are honest, we all must admit we’ve been down this road. 

So what can we do about it? Dr. Tina McCorkindale is the President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations, a non-profit ready to help PR pros tackle all their research challenges. In this week’s episode, she addresses this issue and offers some DIY solutions to the problem.

Links:

Dr. Tina McCorkindale

Institute for Public Relations

Best practices for the use of statistics in Public Relations

IPR Research Bootcamp info

Primer of Public Relations Research on Amazon


The new year is underway. What is in store for PR pros? Who will drive the communications agenda this year? How does the job picture look? Will the economy continue to support growth in the industry?

Public relations icon Fraser Seitel kicks off the second season of the Flack Pack offering his predictions for our profession with an unvarnished view of what to expect in 2019.

Links:

Fraser Seitel

The Practice of Public Relations


As we wrap up the first year of the Flack Pack podcast, we wanted to thank our listeners with a special treat - a PR version of the 12 Days of Christmas that we wrote a few days ago.  We think it's not too bad, but we'll let you be the judge of that. Whatever you think, we're grateful this holiday season that you've tuned in every Friday to support our work, and, we hope, learn something new about PR along the way.

If nothing else, this short Christmas Eve show reinforces the notion that the Flack Pack is the best PR podcast out there, and that our flacks definitely have attitude. We'll hope to do an even better job for you when we launch our second season of the show on Friday, January 18, 2019!

Happy Holidays from the Flack Pack crew.

Robert, Crystal, Summer, Greg, and Jonathan

12 Days Layout horizontal.png

We've talked about the digital revolution in China on Flack Pack before, but what does PR—generally speaking—look like on the other side of the world? Eisenhower Fellow Dr. Steven Guanpeng Dong shares with us the cultural and institutional differences between PR in America and PR in China. It wasn't that long ago that PR operated on a minimal level in China...and now it's ramping up, thanks to the work of Dr. Dong and his colleagues.

Dr. Steven Guanpeng Dong is the Chair Professor of Media and Public Affairs and the Provost for the Faculty of Professional Studies, Executive Programs, and Continuing Education at the Communication University of China. He is also a political scientist and communications professional, and has trained spokespersons of cabinet ministries, provincial governments, and large state-owned enterprises. As an Eisenhower Fellow, Dr. Dong met with hundreds of communications professionals in the U.S. to continue introducing new curricula and approaches to training Chinese officials and executives in communications.


Everywhere you turn, it’s beginning to look like… the end of another semester of college. Not what you were expecting us to say? Not in school? Haven’t been a college student for how long?

That’s OK. If you’re in PR, you’re surrounded by young talent – college kids vying for a gig in public relations.

It’s a business that thrives with the help of young people, so that’s our topic this week, as we sit down with the immediate past president of the Public Relations Student Society of America, Andrew Cook.

Like you, he’s out of school too, but it wasn’t long ago that he was taking finals and looking forward to graduation.

The Flack Pack wraps up a two-week conversation about the future of the business, as students see it, and the value of PRSSA to aspiring pros still in school.

Even if you’re not a student, you’re hiring them or working with them as interns or freshly minted grads, thus knowing what’s on their minds, and how they see our work, can be helpful when they’re part of your team.

In a way, the Flack Pack is taking everyone to school even as classes are going dark for the holidays.

Links:

Public Relations Student Society of America

Andrew Cook


It’s December and if you’re a college student that means prepping for finals and dreaming about winter break.

If you’re not a college student, then you’re probably longing for those days when you could leave it all behind, hop a plane or a train, and head home for three or four weeks of sinking into a couch at your parent’s house, swaddled in the biggest blanket you can find. Those were the days!

We’ve got students on our mind this week, as we check in with a few PR overachievers to see how they’re feeling about the business, now that the semester, and the year, are set to wrap up.

We’re dishing PR with three D.C.-area PR pacesetters—Gillian Casey, Diana Ochoa, and Brandon Johnson. Each is the president of their school’s PRSSA chapter, and each is sold out on the practice of public relations.

These students are smart, plugged in, and focused. And they’re together in studio for a special end-of-the-semester edition of the Flack Pack.

Links:

Public Relations Student Society of America

American University PRSSA Chapter

Bowie State University PRSSA Chapter

University of Maryland, College Park PRSSA Chapter

Diana Ochoa

Brandon Johnson

Gillian Casey


Flack Pack got a chance to go to Social Media Week in London! This year’s theme was “Closer." We explored the changes and impact that today’s rapid pace of technological innovation brings about, which includes social media. One discussion we had at the conference is a segment of today’s population that has some important and unique characteristics, and that uses social media pretty heavily. These individuals are called CorpSumers and they can have a big impact on brands and organizations. CorpSumers care about your values and are extremely loyal brand activists.   In this episode, Rebecca Blinston-Jones, Gareth Davies, and Pippa Ellis from MWWPR’s London office share with us why this is a part of the population that you’ll want on your side—and NOT positioned against you.   LINKS:


It’s Thanksgiving week, so naturally we’re talking about turkeys, the kind that visit the White House each year looking to avoid an untimely end as someone’s holiday feast.

The National Turkey Presentation is a PR bonanza for the turkey industry, with reporters lining up in the Rose Garden to report on the annual pardoning ceremony.

Abraham Lincoln spared the first bird, but his successors presumably ate the annual presidential gift until Harry Truman picked up the notion of pardoning the animal for all to see.

Today, it’s a PR event unlike any other and it comes with a Presidential seal of approval.

Links:

A White House Turkey Timeline

Angela Greiling Keane

National Turkey Federation

2017 Turkey Pardon News Release

Beth Breeding

West Wing Reports

Paul Brandus

Adam Belmar


The midterm elections are over and you’re probably relieved you’ll no longer have to suffer through a barrage of nasty television and radio ads from candidates blasting their opponents.

It’s true the political fights during prime-time TV have ended, but if you do PR, the fun is just beginning.

That’s because we’re surrounded by politics and as hard as you might try, you, your organizations or your clients may soon find yourselves swept up into a bitter political shoot-out that starts in January when Democrats take over the U.S. House and begin investigating everything under the sun.

It’ll be therapy for them, but could cause nightmares for you.

We’re talking about that happy topic this week on the Flack Pack with Adam Belmar, a veteran political rail bird who has done it all – network TV news, White House politics, and now, agency PR.

 

Links:

Deniers over Definers? Facebook execs make a PR mess even worse

CNN wins Round 1 in court

Adam Belmar


This week, we want to know how any public relations firm could still be working with the Saudi government after reports that people on its payroll murdered and dismembered a journalist critical of its policies at home?

The Flack Pack discusses a Washington Post report listing PR firms that government documents show still work for Saudi Arabia and its agents following the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

And we ask what PR pros should do if faced with this ethical question: Should you put your head down and take the money, or stand up for free speech?

Our guest, Anthony D’Angelo, is the 2018 National Chair for the Public Relations Society of America. We’ll talk about a letter he sent to PRSA members a few weeks ago, and the courage it takes to overcome the ethical challenges facing PR pros today.

 

Washington Post: This is what Saudi Arabia’s influence network in Washington looks like.

Saudi lobbyists in D.C. hunker down after Khashoggi’s killing.

Anthony D’Angelo’s Letter to PRSA Membership

Anthony D’Angelo

PRSA Code of Ethics

PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards


The Flack Pack honors the Dia de los Muertos with a conversation about Hispanic and Latino public relations. If you don’t speak Spanish, this topic can be as scary as a Trump tweet, but much easier to overcome with the right advice.

Our guests this week are experts in multi-cultural public relations. Christina Borrego is the Public Relations Director at Riester in Phoenix. Jessica Davila-Burnett is the Principal at JDB Public Relations in San Antonio.

They say there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to tackling a multi-cultural communications assignment provided you keep your focus on the audience.

Don’t miss this opportunity to brush up on your multi-cultural PR knowledge with two seasoned PR pros who speak to these audiences every day.

And for more on Sugar Skulls, a key part of all Dia de los Muertos celebrations, click here.

Pew Research Center

Christina Borrego

Dia de los Muertos

Jessica Davila-Burnett


It’s about time public relations people had a holiday to call their own. National Publicist Day is today, October 30th. It’s a day to celebrate what we do as publicists, flacks, communicators, and practitioners. Whatever you call yourself, the Day’s founder, Jordanna Stephen says you should take a moment to recognize the hard work you and your colleagues do every day on behalf of clients and organizations.

Today marks the 4thannual celebration of the Day. If you didn’t know about it, that’s ok. You do now. So get out there and celebrate, right after you listen to this special interview with Jordanna, about our day, and what it should mean to each of us.

National Publicist Day

Jordanna Stephen

Ivy Lee

Mr. Lee’s Publicity Book


Even if you practice PR in an industry where technology is slow to arrive, the day will come when you’ll have to face the tech monster. Good or bad, society’s reliance on the Internet of Things is only going to grow.

Every day, something new is connecting to the net, and whether we like it or not, we, as public relations professionals, need to be ready to explain that to our audiences.

Anne Potts is Managing Director and Executive Vice President at Racepoint Global. She spoke with the Flack Pack during the PRSA International Conference in Austin, Texas about the need for brands to consider how they’re going to engage a world slowly being subdued by the Internet of Things.

Caroll Spinney retires from Sesame Street

Anne Potts

Is Alexa Dangerous?

Dia de los Muertos


Digital is a normal and deeply embedded part of societies all over the world now. There's even a generation that doesn't know what the world looked like before digital became a thing. The digital revolution has created the ability to communicate information to people all over the world—and instantly. It's also been a force in decentralizing political power. It's been the catalyst for a lot of changes, including changes in our very own public relations industry.

We all know what the "digital revolution" looks like here in America, but what does it look like overseas? Specifically, what does it look like on the other side of the world in China, where everything is totally different, including the culture, the language, and the system of government?

Anthony Shop, the Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder of Social Driver, is also an Eisenhower Fellow and spent some time living in China to learn more about its digital trends, including the use of WeChat, Weibo, and Baidu. He joins us to talk about what he learned, how the digital revolution is different in China, and why he thinks all of this is important for us to know.


Is life working in a PR agency as glamorous as Hollywood portrays it on television and in movies? The truth is, working in an agency can be exciting, but it also can be exhausting, and not for every PR soul.

This week, we consider the ups and downs of PR agency life with Dr. Gina Luttrell, a PR and Social Media Professor at Syracuse University, and co-author of a new book, The PR Agency Handbook.

We’ll explore the agency-client relationship, discuss the book’s included client personas, and find out whether Gina recommends agency work to her budding PR wards.

Our second guest, Rob Biesenbach, preaches the lessons of improv comedy to agency managers and other PR leaders, sharing an approach based on a four-letter word – love.

The Flack Pack wraps up its coverage from the PRSA International Conference this week with an episode about PR agencies.

Dr. Gina Luttrell

The PR Agency Handbook

Syracuse University S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

Rob Biesenbach


What if you could tell a journalist how your story will play on his or her news website? Imagine being able to predict social media engagement in a news pitch. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could shape your story to make it irresistible for newsroom gatekeepers who are increasingly focused on audience data and their own analytics?

Erik Huddleston is rapidly becoming the PR’s pros best friend. His team at TrendKite in Austin, Texas thinks it has figured out how to do all of this and more, with a new technology he calls Story Kit

It’s brand new, but those who’ve used it already have called it “life changing.” Huddleston discusses the idea behind the AI in this special PRSA Conference episode of the Flack Pack.


“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!”

Forty years ago, holograms were the stuff of science fiction movies, like Star Wars. Princess Leia’s desperate call for an old Jedi Knight’s assistance is legendary, and as it turns out, quite prophetic. That’s because this week, PR pros at PRSA’s International Conference in Austin, Texas got to see the industry’s first holographic news release.

Cathy Hackl is a PR futurist, and a former broadcast journalist. Now she preaches the latest tech to pros looking to harness new and amazing ways to communicate. And the best part? She says any PR pro can deploy this technology today.

Cathy gives listeners the latest on VR, AR, and Holograms in this special PRSA conference edition of the Flack Pack.

We also meet Jane Kovacs, a “geek-speaking” Austin PR pro who started a rowdy group called the PR Fight Club. She tells us how she came up with the idea, and why it helps practitioners in this weird Texas town improve their communications skills. 

LINKS:

Princess Leia’s Prophetic Hologram Message

PR’s 1st Holographic News Release

Cathy Hackl

Jane Kovacs


What does the Commander-in-Tweets (AKA President Trump) have to teach us about using Twitter effectively? It's the first day of the PRSA 2018 International Conference and we're getting right into the weeds of Twitter and our Brand-in-Chief with Shanita B. Akintonde.

Shanita calls the President the Brand-in-Chief because he expertly navigates the Twitter platform. She breaks down Trump's Twitter advantage in this special PRSA conference episode.

Shanita Akintonde is an associate professor at Columbia College Chicago. She is also the vice chair of the PRSA Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

LINKS:

https://www.colum.edu/academics/faculty/detail/shanita-akintonde.html

https://www.linkedin.com/in/shanitaakintonde/


PRSA keeps Austin weird this weekend, as thousands of PR pros convene for a communications convergence in Texas. The Flack Pack previews PRSA’s 2018 International Conference with Amelia Folkes, President-elect of Austin’s PRSA Chapter.

Amelia talks about the work it takes to put on a good conference, the fun attendees can expect, and a few things weirdly Austin – sombreros, a yeti, and breakfast tacos.

If you’re going to the conference, visit the Flack Pack in Booth 701 in the Exhibit Showroom. We’ll do a show from the Showroom all three days of the conference, and have some fun swag for pros who stop by for a visit. 

PRSA 2018 International Conference

Amelia Folkes

Exhibit Showroom Map and Flack Pack Booth 701


Credit creativity and a team committed to good storytelling for the social media content coming out of Mount Vernon, the home of America’s first Commander in Chief, George Washington.

This week, Flack Pack host Summer Johnson interviews Rebecca Aloisi, Vice President for Marketing at Mount Vernon, about her team’s approach to marketing the historic home of POTUS 1.


When was the last time you placed a guest column on the digital opinion page of your local newspaper? You probably pitch pieces every week, but how often do your efforts lead to publication? Unfortunately, the answer is probably rarely.

Joanna Allhands, digital opinion page editor for the Arizona Republic, says audience preferences are the reason it’s getting more difficult to publish guest columns and submitted opinions online. 

Without the newspapers metrics, which editors aren’t willing to share, she admits PR people face an uphill battle when it comes to knowing how to write content worthy of a little digital love.

In our interview, Allhands offers practitioners useful advice for those willing to attempt a solution to the mystery of the digital opinion page.


Gone are the days when a PR shop could write a news release, create a photo opportunity, call a news conference, and get every reporter in town to cover the story. Equally rare is the moment when a journalist says yes to a story pitch. 

The news business has changed. Journalists are interested in fewer and fewer stories. Meanwhile, the news and information people want and maybe even need, about decisions, programs, and policies, is being left behind, unreported and unknown to the masses.

Do you have a good story to tell? Or an angle on something happening in your community? Do you know an expert who could advance the debate? Good luck getting today’s newsrooms, themselves on the decline, to pay attention to your pitch.

For decades, former journalists Mark Ragan and Jim Ylisela have been on a mission to show PR people a better way. Their cause, aided by the internet, makes sense now more than ever. It’s called brand journalism, and we’re exploring it on this week’s episode of the Flack Pack.

Brand Journalism News Sites:

American Express Open Forum

Cape Cod Health News

Cleveland Clinic

Coca Cola

Denver Water

Omaha Public Power District

University of Alberta

7 questions you should be asking about brand journalism


Is PR suffering at the hands of the White House communications operation? We explore the issue this week. 

We explore a poll done by USC’s Center for Public Relations that asked PR pros whether they thought the actions of the White House comms shop were harming their own credibility as public relations advisors. 

The survey presented a popular result, but, based on the people responding, we’ve got our questions about the findings. We interview Fred Cook, Director of USC’s public relations think tank to find out what’s going on, and then we hear from Seth Arenstein, the editor of PR Newsin Washington, D.C., to get his take on the poll results.

Additional Link:


On the Labor Day special edition of Flack Pack, we’re examining the job outlook for flacks. Anthony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA, 2018 Chair of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), talks about the jobs forecast for PR pros, breaks down the state of each industry sector, and reveals the job he would apply for if he were a college graduate today. 

Learn more about Anthony D’Angelo here.

Read the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reportabout America’s PR industry.

Looking for a job? Start in the PRSA JobCenter


Wondering why you're not getting returns on your social media efforts? You may need to try harder...or maybe you need to be more patient.

Hailley Griffis is the PR Manager at Buffer (and host of The Science of Social Mediapodcast!), a social media scheduling tool. That basically means she knows all the ins-and-outs about the ever-changing social media landscape.

If your social media results aren't what you think they should be, now's a good time to tune into the Flack Pack.


[solidcore] is a hot and rapidly growing boutique fitness company and the Flack Pack got a chance to sit down with founder and CEO Anne Mahlum to chat about the company's evolving PR strategy.

[solidcore]'s first studio opened in Washington DC’s Adams Morgan neighborhood in 2013. Since then, it’s expanded into more than 25 cities with plans to expand into at least 12 more—all across the country. How does [solidcore] strategize its communications with all of this growth? Find out in this episode!


Want to hear from the Grammar Girl? This week, we hear from Mignon Fogarty, Wonder Woman of words, to talk about her award-winning podcast, the importance of grammar in PR and the kinds of mistakes she most often sees.

You can subscribe to her podcast, Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better WritingFun Fact: Mignon has released more than 630 episodes since the podcast was born.


This week we're talking truth to PR people who manage media for corporations with a veteran business reporter and columnist for The Washington Post. He thinks business reporting is dead.

LINKS:


How can you get creative with PR and podcasting? Ask Mac Rogers, a playwright who put together fiction podcasts for GE. For this week’s Flack Pack episode, we sat down with him in Philadelphia during Podcast Movement 18 to talk about his history with them, tips for getting started and why they can be so effective. Mac's two GE podcasts: The Messageand LifeAfter.

LINKS:


News releases have been a staple of public relations for ages. How important are they today? On Flack Pack episode 13, we hear from Lachlan Markay, a White House correspondent for The Daily Beast, about his take on news releases and what makes them good or bad.


We're surrounded by influencers on every virtually every social media platform. Most of us follow at least one. We see them all the time, but do we know how they really work? What if you want to communicate your message through an influencer?

Nic Yeeles, founder and CEO of Peg.co, a platform that helps you execute your influencer marketing, tells us everything he knows about the influencer space (which is a lot!) — what to be cautious about, which influencers are best for you, why you can't compare an influencer with a big following to an influencer with a smaller following, and more.

You don't want to miss out on this episode. The influencer space isn't going away — it's just getting started.


How have journalists’ jobs over the past couple of decades? On this week's Flack Pack, Washington Media Group's founder and chairman, Greg Vistica, sat down with old friend and retired journo, Jerry Ceppos, to talk about the evolving nature of journalism and his transition to educating the next generation of comms professionals.


The changing media landscape has led to the need for communications strategists to get more creative in delivering their message to their audience. On this week's episode, we talked to an expert about it. Robert Bluey, VP of Comms. at The Heritage Foundation and editor-in-chief of the think tank's news organization, The Daily Signal, discussed the changing identity of media and why creating your own content is so valuable.


Did you know there's a public relations museum in New York City? We took a trip to the Big Apple to speak with Shelley Spector, the museum's founder, about its backstory, collection and plans for the future. Listen up to hear all about PR history — and how the museum is preserving and sharing it.


It's Father's Day Weekend, so we'll be talking about the Father of Public Relations! Lucas Held and Shelley Spector join us to talk about the life and legacy of Edward L. Bernays.

You should listen up because Lucas Held is the grandson of Edward Bernays and Shelley Spector was Bernays' longtime colleague and friend. Both of them have a lot of memories to share with us.


You hear it all the time—we're in an increasingly globalized economy. But what does that mean for public relations? Whether you're in government, a nonprofit, a global corporation, or trying to enter a new market, you'll want to hear Flack Packer Crystal Zhao interview Priya Doshi.

Priya Doshi has 20 years of international strategic communications experience. She's created and implemented strategies for a number of governments and nonprofits including the Swiss and British Embassies and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She's currently a professor at the American University School of Communication.


The 2018 AP Stylebook is out and we've got the scoop on the changes every writer needs to know. We break it down with Rob Reinalda, executive editor of Ragan Communications, publishers of Ragan.com and PR Daily, and Alysha Love, a former digital journalist and editor for CNN and Politico, now with her own business, Payette Media House, in Boise, Idaho.


This is a special edition of Flack Pack featuring Gregory Vistica, former investigative journalist, author, and CEO of Washington Media Group. He joins Flack Packer Summer Johnson today to talk about Michael Wolff and Wolff's book, "Fire and Fury."

Before creating Washington Media Group, Gregory Vistica was a noted investigative journalist for Newsweek, 60 Minutes II, The New York Times Magazine and The Washington Post. He is also the recipient of the George Polk Award, a Peabody and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, among other awards and recognitions.

Mr. Vistica also wrote the books, “The Education of Lieutenant Kerrey,” a book about Senator Bob Kerrey and Vietnam, and “Fall From Glory: The Men Who Sank the U.S. Navy,” a contemporary history based on his breaking the Tailhook scandal.


This week, Flack Packer Robert Johnson hosts a roundtable with bright public relations students from American University. Four of the best gathered around a table during finals week—talking shop, solving problems, and making a pitch for a job in this crazy business of ours.


Author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott, joins us today to talk to us about just that—the new rules of marketing and PR.


Podcasting guru Rob Walch—also the VP of Podcaster Relations at Libsyn—wants to know if podcasts are on your client’s media pitch list. He says they should be.


American University School of Communication Professor Pallavi Kumar reveals what the industry should expect from this year’s class of young PR pros.


Welcome to Washington's official public relations podcast! We will be dropping an episode every Friday about public relations strategies, crisis management, and more.

 
 

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