Do Men or Women Use Social Media More?


This is a fascinating look at the differences in the sexes’ use of social media. While this plays to stereotypes, it’s probably not surprising to see women leading men in the use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media that aims to build relationships of all types. The men, not surprisingly, are more likely to use LinkedIn and the more “manly” social media.

Considering the audience you’re trying to reach and the differences in the genders’ interest in different social media channels and messages will help ensure a social media program is reaching the intended audiences where they’re most likely to be engaged and with messages that are most likely to engage them.

Who uses social media more?

Giving Back


JDRF One Walk

We believe in giving back to the community, and we are especially proud to be raising money and serving as spokespersons for JDRF, the world’s largest charitable funder of type 1 diabetes research. Our president, Laura Mecoy, and her son, Ryan Walker, were interviewed on Los Angeles classic rock radio station, The Sound, to promote the Nov. 15 One Walk at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Listen to their interview here and support their walk team by clicking here. With your help, we can turn Type One into Type None.

What Taylor Swift Can Teach Us about Marketing


Taylor Swift masters marketing to her fans.With numerous awards, sold-out concerts and one of the country’s biggest fan bases, Taylor Swift is a proven marketing phenom at the age of 24. The launch of her latest record, “1989,” offers even more examples of how she’s mastered the PR and marketing game, all of which can be instructive for marketing other products. Here are four key lessons to learn from this brilliant young woman and talented songwriter.

Know your audience: Taylor Swift knows her audience. Her songs speak to the hearts of young women with their tales of heartbreak and the challenges of fitting in with their peers. She’s been open about her gawkiness and nerdiness – all very relatable traits for any teen or young adult. As one 21-year-old fan told the LA Times, “She’s describing my life right now.”

Create a buzz: Taylor debuted her newest record with small “secret” listening parties for select groups of her biggest fans. She determined which fans would be included based on how much they post about her on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and other social media sites. This guaranteed the frequent posters would create a buzz among their peers with photos, tweets and more about this rare chance to meet in person with their favorite star.

Taylor’s also appearing on numerous TV and radio shows, including a coaching stint on the popular singing competition show, “The Voice.” All of these appearances are being widely promoted on social media by the programs hosting her and in broadcast ads, creating even more buzz about “1989.”

Capitalize on the mainstream media: While Taylor’s younger fans may never read the stories that appeared in numerous newspapers or watch ABC’s “Good Morning America” or the other news-related programs on which Taylor appeared, all of these stories and appearances create share-able content for the social media sites where Taylor’s fan base spends it time. Also, these are the places where she’s likely to catch the attention of her adult fans, many of whom admire her for reaching out to young people and avoiding the “bad girl” image that some of her peers have adopted.

Have a great product: While all of these are winning tactics for any product, perhaps most important of all is Taylor’s winning persona and the great product she is selling. She topped the country music charts in her teens and is winning over the pop music fans in her 20s with her great songwriting and performances. Having a great product maximizes the potential for all of these tactics to succeed beyond anyone’s expectations.

He Said What? Five Basic Rules for Crisis Communications


Loma Prieta earthquakeTwenty-five years ago, as viewers tuned in to watch Game Three of the 1989 World Series in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, the Loma Prieta earthquake shook the stadium’s foundations and caused widespread damage in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. The 6.9 magnitude temblor knocked down a section of the Bay Bridge, collapsed a mile of the elevated Interstate 880 in Oakland, toppled buildings and triggered a spectacular fire in San Francisco’s Marina District.

California’s governor at the time, George Deukmejian, was out of the country, leaving the lieutenant governor, the late Leo McCarthy, in charge. Shortly after the 5:04 p.m. earthquake on Oct. 17, 1989, McCarthy went on national television to announce 271 were dead. As it turned out, the death toll was much lower: 63 died as a direct result of the quake.

News outlets around the world repeated McCarthy’s death toll, magnifying the mistake and exacerbating the sense that state officials – who came under fire for insufficiently strengthening the freeway – couldn’t be trusted.

Recalling this mistake on the 25th anniversary of one of the most destructive quakes in modern U.S. history provides an opportunity to remember the following Five Basic Rules for Crisis Communications:

1. Respond quickly and accurately

Responding as soon as possible is essential in an emergency. But initial reports are often wrong and providing accurate information is essential. Kevin Brett, the governor’s press secretary 25 years ago, recalled the incorrect information he received that day, including an erroneous report that the Bay Bridge was “in the water.”

McCarthy’s incorrect death toll was reportedly based on an estimate of the normal number of commuters on the collapsed freeway at rush hour. But the World Series had prompted many people to leave work early to attend the game or watch it on TV, potentially saving the lives of hundreds of commuters who might have otherwise been on the freeway’s lower deck when it collapsed.

Sticking to what is known guards against mistakes – even if all that can be reported is the nature of the emergency and the fact that emergency workers are on the scene.

  1. Have clear messages

Having a designated spokesperson or persons who are all on the same page will avoid additional confusion. While each person may address a different aspect of the emergency, coordinating with one another to avoid contradictions will help assure the public, customers, employees and other stakeholders that the crisis is being effectively managed.

Take a tip from public agencies: The State of California and other public agencies often set up a command center where different agencies coordinate responses and communications to ensure the public gets accurate and coherent information.

  1. Correct misinformation ASAP

News and social media tend to feed on one another, spreading misinformation like a virus. Tracking media coverage and social media will detect misinformation quickly and provide an opportunity to correct it ASAP.

  1. Demonstrate compassion appropriately

Spokespersons can display too much emotion, as was demonstrated by an exhausted and overwrought spokeswoman who sobbed in front of the TV cameras after a Los Angeles train crash. Or they can show too little, as was the case when former President George W. Bush’s initial response to Hurricane Katrina was to survey the damage from a comfortable seat aboard Air Force One. Remaining calm and expressing an appropriate level of sympathy and compassion, if warranted by the situation, will help reassure the public.

  1. Have a written plan

Most importantly, having a plan for handling crises and identifying what constitutes a crisis will avoid mistakes, protect reputations and reassure the public, customers, employees, stockholders and other stakeholders. Including an organizational and duty chart, a list of appropriate responses for each level of crisis, all relevant contact information, standby statements and releases, a centralized place, plans for meeting there and clear-cut guidelines on who will serve as spokesperson(s) will create a coordinated response in times of crises.

When the ground shakes, products fail and controversies erupt, the very future of an organization can depend on its response. Planning ahead for such times, proactively engaging the target audiences, effectively communicating and tactfully delivering accurate information on a timely basis will be essential to successfully navigating the crisis.

Six Commonsense Tips for Avoiding Email Contretemps


California Public Utilities Commission President (PUC) Michael Peevey’s  announcement yesterday that he would not seek another six-year term in the job was not a surprise after emails revealed a cozy relationship with at least one of the companies, PG&E, he’s charged with regulating.

Peevey had withstood his critics’ charges in the past, but the emails detailing a 2010 conversation with PG&E executives during dinner in Peevey’s home left him with no option but to announce his retirement now—rather than on Oct. 16, as he said he had planned to do. PG&E released the emails along with an announcement that it is under federal investigation for its relationship with the PUC. This email contretemps can be instructive for all who do business in the public or in publicly traded companies.

Emails, text messages and other forms of electronic communications are too often treated cavalierly, with little regard for the ramifications they may have either inside or outside the company. From failed attempts at humor to potentially criminal comments, emails and text messages can cause fallout far beyond the intended recipients.

Following are sixEmail in haste, repent in leisure? commonsense tips for avoiding crimes, misdemeanors and – the more common – misunderstandings caused by electronic communications.

  1. The Front Page Rule

It’s a little old-fashioned to talk about newspapers’ front pages, but it’s a simple way to remember a rule that still works:  Don’t do something you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of your hometown newspaper.

In Peevey’s case, he failed the front-page test by having an intimate dinner at his seaside home with executives from PG&E, which is regulated by the PUC. But what put the dinner on the front page were the email descriptions of his comments: They said Peevey suggested PG&E donate $1 million to defeat an initiative the PUC opposed and that he expected PG&E and other utilities to give $100,000 each to finance a 100th anniversary celebration for the PUC.

Increasingly, emails are an essential part of any criminal or civil investigation or litigation. Envisioning how a prosecutor or a competitor might use those emails in a court of law will help avoid writing something that could become an embarrassment or a criminal or civil liability.

  1. Be Courteous and Thoughtful

Rarely does an email or text rise to the level of criminal or civil investigation. But they can certainly lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings in the workplace.

Thoughtlessly dashing off an email or text can trigger fallout far beyond the intended recipient. Among the more common failures is using the wrong tone. Such simple, old-fashioned words as “please” and “thank you” will help. Using proper salutations also indicates a more thoughtful approach. Re-reading the email before distributing it, out loud if possible to envision how the recipients will view it, will help ensure the communication hits the right tone. Considering that it might be forwarded to someone else also will help avoid critical remarks that might sting if it is forwarded.

  1. CC Appropriately

On major and often minor undertakings, there is a list of people who should – or feel they should – be included in any decision or communications regarding that decision.

Recognizing who should and should not be included on the cc line of an email is essential to effectively communicating within an organization and can be one of the biggest challenges.  Likewise, stopping to think before hitting “reply all” will help avoid annoying co-workers who don’t need to know each response to the email’s originator.

  1. Be Timely

At the same time thoughtfulness is required, so is timeliness. Failure to respond in a timely fashion to an email can send a signal that the sender is not important. Unfortunately, today’s mobile devices often mean responses can be expected on weekends, nights and holidays. Understanding the expectations in the workplace for response times is essential to successful communications. Setting “out of office” outgoing messages, even when the period of time away is relatively short, can also help avoid misunderstandings.

  1. Know which Communications to Use

Texting is increasingly the choice for short and quick messages. But different people and generations view texting differently. Moreover, some data plans don’t accommodate a large amount of texting, so a text may cost the recipient additional fees.

Asking if it’s okay to text someone is a good first step. Moreover, knowing with whom and when to use text or email will help make communications successful.

  1. Meet in Person

Face-to-face meetings remain the best, but probably least used, form of communication in today’s fast-paced workplace. Facial expressions and body language give clear signals about how a message is received. At the least, hearing the tone of a person’s actual voice over a phone will help gauge the response. Such personal communications can quickly clear up misunderstandings and, in most cases, avoid your words coming back to haunt you on the front page of the newspaper.

What other recommendations would you have for better digital communications?


News from our Clients


Art Paper in THCB

Art Papier, the founder and CEO of Logical Images, the company that created VisualDx, writes in The Health Care Blog about how clinical decision support tools could help prevent the misdiagnosis we saw with the first case of Ebola in the U.S. On the patient’s first trip to the hospital, the Emergency Department physicians misdiagnosed his ailment, gave him antibiotics and sent him home, where he could potentially infect his family and friends with the deadly virus. The Institute of Medicine in 2010  recommended clinical decision support tools to prevent such misdiagnoses, but they’re still not available in many hospital ERs or clinics.

The Catalina Island Conservancy is getting attention for the new program it is launching for Avalon Schools’ students, called NatureWorks. It received a $200,000 grant from the Keck Foundation to give students hands-on environmental and ecological educational opportunities.

Dr. McKinnell's Medical Resarch Interview terview

LA BioMed researcher James A. McKinnell describes the two abstract presentations on Friday about the high cost of preventing the hospital-acquired Superbug, MRSA. The preventive costs may exceed the potential savings, leading hospitals to avoid spending the money on preventive measures.

LA BioMed researcher David S. Plurad has generated widespread interest with his latest study, which found marijuana usage could mean lower death rates for people with traumatic brain injuries. Social media is buzzing with the news, which has been reported many places, including here and here.

Telling Your Stories in Pictures


Capturing special moments — both public and private — is an important part of telling your story. Halloween is one of those special times with the kids that will be part of your family’s story. Don’t miss a chance to capture the fun and excitement in photos. Our colleague, Jon Crowe, is offering a photo workshop to help you master the moment. Join him Oct. 23 in Torrance at Silvio’s for this class in mastering the monsters!

Join our colleague, Jon Crowe, on Oct. 23 for photo workshop.

Join our colleague, Jon Crowe, on Oct. 23 for photo workshop.

PR more welcoming to Women than Journalism


get-attachment.aspxEditor Jill Abramson’s termination from The New York Times earlier this year triggered a renewed discussion about gender equity in journalism. Unnamed sources reportedly used words like “pushy” to describe her management style. Most women regard this as a pejorative way to describe practices that would be called “assertive” if a man did the same.

Reporters, by their very nature, must be pushy to get the information needed to successfully report a story. While many male executives encourage strong women, there is still a fine line between being perceived as aggressive versus assertive in the rough-and-tumble environment of a newsroom.

This is one of the many reasons we see women continue to be a minority in America’s newsrooms, while they have become a majority in the PR workplace. A recent American Society of News Editors census conducted by the Pew Research Center found women represented just 36.3% of the newsroom workforce in 2013. They have, however, moved up in management: Nearly two-thirds of U.S. newspapers report they had at least one woman in their top three editing positions in 2013.

But overall, the percentage of women in America’s newsrooms has remained largely stagnant in the past 15 years, while it has grown in the field of public relations. Women represent about two-thirds of the PR workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Both industries require similar skill sets: the ability to write, research, synthesize data, deal with people, etc. But having worked in both newsrooms and public relations, I can see firsthand that the PR workplace is generally more welcoming to women as well as more lucrative.

Journalism is characterized by long hours and low pay. Its future is uncertain, and it often values a “macho” approach that may be unappealing to many women. Moreover, past sexism has deterred some women from continuing their journalism careers.

As women moved into management and sexual harassment training came into vogue, the sexist comments and activities waned. But the reduced number of women rising through the ranks has also reduced the number of role models for younger women and the number of women in management to hire and encourage their younger counterparts.

Perhaps more important to today’s women is the nature of the work. Young people entering the workplace today are often seeking a life-work balance that is hard to achieve in journalism.

News operations expect reporters to be available 24/7. The PR workplace is demanding too, but it can be more manageable. While reporters have to be “on the scene” of news stories, PR is more likely to be performed by phone, in an office or on mobile devices.

Even more troubling is the lack of a future in the news business. The recent layoffs at USA Today are just the latest in a long string of workforce reductions that have imperiled the future of newspapers and news reporters. Until the news business can find its footing in today’s marketplace and become more welcoming to women, the PR business will continue to be a much more attractive career choice for women.

Connect the Dots Between Your Biomedical Nonprofit’s Work and Its Impact


This article is a nice shout out to our client, LA BioMed, for storytelling from an expert in the field of biomedical research institute marketing. The story of finding a treatment for this rare inherited condition continues today with the announcement of a study that may hold hope for a therapy for a form of the condition, MPS IIIB, for which there is no treatment. To learn more about the latest study, please see


L.A. Biomed reveals 3 ways to show scientific leadership with a “Mission Moment.”

Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) is a non-profit scientific research organization that prides itself on innovation and scientific leadership. The institution asserts that over the past six decades LA BioMed’s physician-researchers have been responsible for some of the most important breakthroughs in medicine today. The key to bringing that claim to life lies in communications like their Mission Moment, a roughly 6-minute long video on the institution’s website that gets to the heart of what they do and makes it difficult not to support their work.

Here are 3 things we can learn from their approach:

Focus on Those You Help
LA BioMed’s Mission Moment tells the story of Mark and Jeanne Dant, whose son Ryan suffers from a rare genetic disease, mucopolysaccharidosis or MPS-I. The video begins by focusing on the impact this…

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News from our Clients


Interested in plein air paintings, like this beautiful one by John Cosby? Then join the Catalina Island Conservancy on Oct. 26 in Balboa for its annual art show and sale. Here’s more information.Little Harbor - John Cosby

Researchers at LA BioMed have resolved a dispute about the timing of one of the most common abdominal surgeries, gallbladder removals. Here’s their answers.