Category Archives: Public Relations

DiGennaro Shares Secrets for Success at SXSW 2016  

South by Southwest Panel Picker is here again, and it’s another opportunity for great insights, learnings, and dynamic industry leaders to come together. We at DGC have submitted two topics for the PanelPicker and if selected, it would be our first time to appear on the SXSW stage. The sessions highlight our unique approach to business and how these ideas have helped us grow since our founding in 2006.

Over the years we’ve learned a lot about attracting and retaining the very best talent in the PR industry, especially how to keep pace with an evolving workforce and offer more flexible work schedules and environments. As such, our first session is “Conducting Business in a Flex World.”  will share best practices on how to retain talent when employees embark on major life events such as marriage, pregnancy, family-care issues or relocation that can potentially make them leave their jobs. Included in the session will be our CEO Sam DiGennaro and our President Howard Schacter, who will share insights on how to create a flexible work environment that allows for flexibility but still encourages growth and maintains your company culture.

Our second session, “Brand Me Please: Personal Branding 101,” looks at how executives can build their brands to align with personal values. DGCers will conduct a live demonstration of a branding session, taking members of the audience and teaching them the basic skills to sell themselves. The “jury” will be comprised of both DGC executives, those from other agencies as well as wardrobe and body language specialists. The winner will get a trip to NYC for a Personal Branding boot camp at DGC headquarters.

We appreciate your votes for these sessions, and your willingness to share thoughts in the comments section. Hope to see you in Austin!

Ariana Grande’s Privacy Breach

Photo Credit: E! Online

Photo Credit: E! Online

Poor Ariana Grande. She became the “hate” girl du jour earlier this month when she was captured on video in a California donut shop saying she hated America and Americans.

It’s important to remember that the pop singer, who was born in Florida in 1993, and is in fact, American, had no idea her image or voice were being recorded at the time of the incident. Grande was in the shop with a couple of friends, and her actions and words appear to have been recorded by a camera mounted behind the counter and perhaps not visible to customers.

She and a male companion appear to take turns licking, or pretending to lick, some donuts on a tray that was placed on the counter. When a worker comes into frame and tries to place another tray of donuts on the glass counter right in front of Grande she disgustedly remarks, “[WTF] is that? I hate Americans. I hate America.”

Although it happened in a public place, hers was not a public pronouncement but an off-the-cuff, reaction to a friend.  Once released online, the video went viral. No surprise there.

The whole kerfuffle that ensued raises a number of important questions and observations:

First the observations:

  • There is no privacy for anyone no matter where you are.
  • Retail stores are recording your every move.
  • If you’re famous, say nothing beyond please and thank you when out in public.
  • In private, put your smartphone in another room and make any companions do the same if you intend to have a conversation or do anything you’d rather not have appear on the Web.

Now for the questions:

  • Why did the donut shop release this video?
  • What did they hope to gain?
  • Do they hate Ariana Grande?
  • Why were Grande and her male friend pretending to lick the donuts?
  • If she’s so disgusted by the site of a tray of donuts, why was she in a donut shop in the first place?

The whole situation is a publicist’s nightmare. But then the tables turned. The Health Dept. in Riverside County investigated Wolfee Donuts for incorrectly placing trays of donuts on the counter where they could be tampered with.

But then, even the donut shop came out smelling sweet after this promotion.

Maybe there really isn’t any such thing as bad publicity.

To PR a ‘Mockingbird’

Today’s release of Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s second book following the American staple of  literature To Kill a Mockingbird, signifies a landmark in a widely considered “dying” industry of book publishing. In the book world, this “new” novel is comparable to any hit summer blockbuster movie.

Underneath the fans’ passion lies a heap of controversy and ethical question marks. Among them are concerns over Harper Lee’s health and whether she actually agreed to publish this book, years after vowing to never publish again. Lots of Lee’s close friends point the finger at her lawyer, Tonja Carter, citing she’s taking advantage of Lee in her old age. In a savvy PR move, Carter provided her story in an op-ed to the Wall Street Jounal of how Watchman went from being stuck in a safety deposit box to being made available to millions of excited fans today.

The public may never know the true story behind Lee’s change of heart or if Carter is telling the truth, but we recognize a valiant effort by Carter to take control of her message in hopes to set the record straight.

With summer season upon us, it’s always a great time to catch up on a new book. Our colleagues are voraciously consuming new, non-fiction, best sellers and best-beloved books.

If you’re looking for a good book to while away the hours until Labor Day and beyond, you might find some inspiration here:

 Kendra Peavy, General Manager, Director of Development

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf 2013)
Fiction

Kendra says, “Americanah covers race, relationships and identity. It pulls you into the politically complex world of Nigeria at the turn of the 21st century and the love story of Ifemelu and Obinze. It takes an interesting approach to storytelling that is direct, but still descriptive. You feel the energy and emotion of the characters and fall in love with their process of discovery. My sister made the recommendation and gave me her copy of the book. She thought I’d enjoy it.”

Maryliz Ghanem, Vice President

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Jon Krakauer (Doubleday 2015)
Non-Fiction

Maryliz says, “Krakauer reports on a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana. He shares the stories of the victims, the accused and law enforcement in a beautiful narrative that brings to life this serious issue. This isn’t an ‘easy’ summer read but anything Krakauer writes is brilliant. He’s an amazing storyteller, even when he’s reporting on such a tough subject. He draws you in, makes you question everything and leaves you wanting more.  This book was recommended for me on GoodReads.”

Theresa Piti, Office Manager

1Q84, Haruki Murakami (Knopf 2011)
Fiction

From the cover blurb: “A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —‘Q is for ‘question mark.’”

Theresa says, “It’s a dual narrative story and as of yet, I’m not sure where it will converge. I’m a fan of Japanese fiction. A friend recommended it and off I went.”

Scott Berwitz, Vice President

Inferno, Dan Brown (Doubleday 2013)
Fiction

Scott says the book involves “a famed Harvard professor who wakes up in a strange hospital after having survived an attempt on his life.  He has to make sense of his predicament while being hunted down by his would-be killers – a task made ever more difficult by the short-term amnesia he suffers from the attack.  What results is a fascinating journey through Florence and the underworld depicted in Dante’s Inferno. It’s sort of a cerebral thrill ride, a really exciting read. I’ve loved other books by this author such as, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.

Claire Higgins, Account Executive

The World According to Garp, John Irving (1978, republished 1999 by Ballantine)
Fiction

This story chronicles the life of T.S. Garp, the bastard son of a feminist, following him from infancy through all the pivotal moments in his life.  Claire says, “It’s very long, and a little long-winded, but John Irving is a favorite of mine so I had to pick it up and am determined to finish it. Once I hit the most climatic moment in the story, I haven’t been able to put it down. It’s very realistic, heartbreaking at times, and dryly and subtly funny, which I like. I liked John Irving after reading A Prayer for Owen Meany (William Morrow 1989), but both were recommended to me by my aunt and grandma. Irving is a fave of theirs, too.”

Bruce Jenner:  A Person and a Dialogue in Transition  

There’s much the corporate world could learn from Bruce Jenner about public relations and how to take control of a difficult and potentially embarrassing situation.

For months, media speculation on what was really going on with him since his break up with Kris Jenner, the grand doyenne of the Kardashian media/business/gossip dynasty, was on overload – most of it trivial.  “Bruce Jenner Gets French Manicure, Wears Diamond Earrings on Outing,” said one headline.  Another publication photo-shopped lipstick, curled hair and a silk scarf on a picture of him.  Bruce’s story was something deep-rooted and real – not just for him but for many others who identified with his struggles.  Yet, the media portrayed his changing appearance as little more than a simple gossip item…no different than any number of small, unimportant nuggets emanating from the family’s reality empire.

1429970680_bruce-jenner-interview_1

Rather than remain silent, Jenner took control of his narrative and granted a two-hour interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer that aired on national television and was seen by more than 20 million viewers.   He talked of his personal struggles with gender identity in genuine and raw terms and in so doing he shifted the dialogue away from the sophomoric gossip that filled the tabloids for months into an adult conversation.  The national discussion was now about transgender issues that the mainstream media covered with thoughtful pieces on Jenner’s personal journey and its broader implication for others facing similar challenges.  His family came out in support of him.  He quashed speculation of this being a publicity stunt.  Even the rest of the Kardashian clan – typically known for empty, brain-candy nonsense – came out looking sympathetic, progressive and supportive.  That’s no mean feat.

Through honest, direct dialogue, Jenner changed his media narrative in a single interview.  He did it by being honest and transparent and answering tough questions truthfully and sincerely.  The business world would do well to take heed and act accordingly.

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