Using PR Tactics to Navigate Your Holiday Dinners

PR skills come in handy in every aspect of our lives. Planning a surprise party for your roommate? That requires organizational skills, logistics management and discretion. Tailoring your resume to fit the 50+ jobs you’re applying for? You’ll need research, focus and proofreading skills. Writing a memoir about your successful career as a CEO? You’ll want to ensure that you’ve got writing, messaging and top-notch storytelling skills. 

And difficult holiday dinners with that uncle you try your best to only see once a year? Well, we have some PR skills for that too. 

5 Tips and Tricks for Family Dinners

1. Define Your Talking Points – and Stick to Them 

In most interview situations, we tend to think that the interviewer will direct the conversation and there won’t be room for the interviewee to make any additional points. But keep in mind that you don’t always have to take the lead from the person questioning you – you can (within reason) discuss and direct answers to your own areas of focus. 

The question to ask yourself is this: No matter how many questions you get about your political views, what message is it that you want to get across this holiday season? Is it that you are thankful to be spending time with your children? That you’ve progressed dramatically in your career and finally landed that promotion? That you’ve made a new really good friend?  

Write out (or mentally map out) the three main things you want to share and focus on in your conversations with your friends and family during your holiday dinner – and stick to them! 

2. Know Your Audience  

When communicating a particular message, it’s critical to know your audience. Who are you trying to reach with this message? Your customers? Your donors? Your 6-year old niece? And what is your goal with these conversations?  

Depending on your intended audience and what you want to accomplish, you should be tailoring how you communicate your core messages for maximum impact. 

3. Deflect and Redirect 

No matter how much you try to change the conversation, sometimes people want to hammer a point home and you can’t easily escape it. What you can do, however, is to do your best to deflect and redirect the conversation.  

“Uncle Jim, as much as I’d love to talk about my bad breakup this year, what I really want to do is show you the new car I just bought.”  

Never answer a question you don’t want to answer – just ensure you’re using the right language to deflect and move on to other topics.  

4. Talk Less, Listen More 

This may be more a Life Pro Tip than a PR tip, but a key characteristic of successful dialogue is respectful listening. Listen to what your cousin Mary is saying before formulating a response in your head. This will allow for more organic conversation and for all parties to feel heard.  

You will also appear to be (and actually be) thoughtful in your conversations.  

5. Manage the Crisis 

So, what happens when you’re the one who ends up putting their foot in their mouth? Own it. Apologize – and mean it. Communicate to the offended party that you’ve learned your lesson and plan to actively do better. The best defense in any crisis is learning and growing from mistakes, and by openly admitting your wrongdoing you display a level of emotional maturity that your family will respect and be proud of. 

Overall, Public Relations Helps in All Areas 

In all seriousness, public relations is a skilled trade that can benefit everyone, from the individual to an entire nonprofit organization to the CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation.  

The most important thing to remember is that keeping your broader goals in mind will help you keep perspective, keep your cool and let you focus on what is really important during any holiday – friends, family, food and fun.

The Anatomy of a Social Media “Riot”

By the time police arrived, Union Square was severely overcrowded. Within the park’s nine acres, thousands of young onlookers had gathered for what was supposed to be a gift giveaway hosted by Twitch-personality Kai Cenat. Drawn by the promise of free Play Stations and the chance to meet a social media celebrity, thousands of teenagers had traveled to the park. 

When the crowd, predominantly an audience of youthful teenage boys, clashed with police, things escalated quickly. In dozens of videos shared across YouTube and other social media platforms, police collar the young attendees. One video captures a police officer slamming a teenage boy through a taxi cab’s back window. By the end of the day, several people were seriously injured, 60+ people were arrested and Union Square Park sustained over $55,000 in property damage. Cenat, the influencer who had sparked the gathering with posts made on Twitch days before, was charged by police with “unlawful gathering” and “inciting a riot.”

As police investigate this incident further and Cenat faces a court date, it’s worth considering the broader context of social media relationships and the unpredictable power of influencers to catalyze mass action in physical reality. In an age defined by Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and dozens of other social networks, what role do social media personalities have in driving people to action? What can happen when an influencer with a cult following asks their followers to do something? To answer the latter, we must first understand the phenomena known as parasocial relationships. 

Defined as “a one-sided relationship where one person creates an emotional attachment and invests their time and energy, while the other party doesn’t know of the other person’s existence,” parasocial relationships are a hallmark of social media users, especially younger users post-pandemic.

In a recent study by Wellesley College’s Youth Media and Well-Being Research Lab, researchers found that 90 percent of kids have social media by the time they turn 12 (7th grade for context). With the advent of coronavirus, lockdown and the implementation of remote learning in 2020, millions of teenagers leaned harder on social media to maintain physically distanced relationships and monitor ever-evolving news. In the process, many gravitated to familiar faces, screentime soared and the popularity of specialized, social media personalities rose with it. 

These relationships are built on constant content, frequent user interaction and intensely personal exchanges occurring several times a day. Intimacy is key. 

Most influencers cultivate a following over time, then use these followers to secure lucrative brand deals and partnerships. While encouraging your fans to buy a product or use a service is commonplace, the power of influencers to mobilize fans in real life beyond just buying a product, to encourage them to go somewhere and do something, is still unpredictable and relatively immeasurable.

In the case of Cenat, he unwittingly baited followers to do something dangerous. What was meant to be a good time, short giveaway and brief interaction, became something much more serious. Another interesting element here, the gathering was sparked by a relatively small medium.

If you’re unfamiliar with Twitch, it’s a social media platform best known for live-streaming events, including video game tournaments and product reviews. The platform hosts approximately 140M active monthly users. For context, that’s 1/3 of X’s (formerly Twitter) monthly audience, less than 1/4 of Tiktok’s and barely 1/20 of Meta’s. Cenat, the influencer at the heart of this scandal, is one of Twitch’s most followed creators. To date, he has over 6.5M subscribers and he posts content daily. 

This “riot” resulted from a perfect storm of circumstances. Post-pandemic teens, a diligently followed social media personality, the rise of parasocial relationships, the promise of a free, coveted product, a general lack of awareness about and unpredictability of calls to action on social media – these all melded together to create a moment New York City was unprepared for, yet one we can learn from. As communicators who often partner with influencers like Cenat or work with clients including city departments or public policymakers, we must be prepared. 

It is important that we understand how to predict, understand and measure the power these online figures have to mobilize their followers. Frankly, we must acknowledge this power exists in the first place. Most importantly, we must work towards ensuring and encouraging online personalities to use their influence for good. 

The Surge of ‘Woke-Washing’ in the Advertising Landscape 

Last month New Yorkers found themselves immersed in a thought-provoking ad campaign that’s been taking over subway stations throughout Manhattan. Dove, renowned for its commitment to challenging conventional beauty standards, is at the forefront of this advertising endeavor with its “The Pits of New York” and #FreeThePits campaign, strategically launched just in time for the fashion week.  

The campaign’s underlying message intended to resonate with women, shedding light on the impact of underarm insecurities, particularly in relation to clothing choices and social activities. Dove’s 2022 Underarm Confidence Survey further reveals a reality that a significant number of women feel subjected to judgment based on their underarms. Society’s fixation on promoting an ‘ideal’ underarm—one that’s hairless, smooth, odorless and evenly toned—adds to this issue. 

However, despite campaigns like Dove’s seemingly heralding a positive shift in today’s advertising landscape, they have not been exempt from controversy. A notable instance was their 2017 Facebook ad for body wash, which depicted a Black woman removing her shirt to reveal a white woman. This ad drew immediate criticism from thousands of viewers who perceived it as having racist undertones. While Dove promptly responded and issued an apology on social media, the incident raised concerns about their approval procedures and whether a diverse group of individuals had the opportunity to review the ad before it went live. 

PR practitioners, well-acquainted with the challenges of managing public perception, have found themselves at the forefront of these debates when things go awry. A recent case in point is Bud Light, which faced a barrage of criticism due to its association with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. In an attempt to salvage its image, the brand resorted to using a meme on social media, ironically mocking its own handling of the controversy. This approach backfired, drawing criticism from both PR experts and consumers alike. It further solidified the perception that the brand was mishandling the situation and jeopardizing its relationships with its customer base and the LGBTQ+ community. Bud Light’s experience is far from unique in the realm of poorly executed campaigns. The infamous 2017 Pepsi commercial featuring Kendall Jenner is another example of a brand missing the mark on social activism.  

Dove’s recent campaigns, although well-intentioned, underscore the importance of scrutiny and diverse perspectives. In today’s age of “woke-washing,” brands face the challenge of finding the right balance between impactful messaging and avoiding harm. PR practitioners play a pivotal role in guiding these brands toward authentic connections with their audiences. In this era of heightened social awareness, the lessons drawn from both successful and misguided campaigns serve as valuable guidance for advertisers aiming to create a positive impact. 

Rebuilding Public Trust: The Vital Role of PR Professionals in a Skeptical News Landscape

In an era marked by rapid technological advancements and a relentless surge of information, public trust in news organizations has reached an all-time low. The pervasive influence of social media, coupled with a barrage of misinformation, has fueled skepticism among audiences, leading to a growing sense of mistrust in traditional news outlets. As this crisis of credibility deepens, the role of public relations professionals and the communications industry becomes increasingly pivotal in restoring faith in the media landscape. 

Understanding Modern Day Media

1. Democratization of Information

The advent of digital platforms has democratized information dissemination, allowing for a plethora of voices to be heard. However, it has also given rise to the spread of unverified and sensationalized content that blurs the lines between facts and falsehoods. This information overload has left the public grappling with uncertainty and skepticism and rebuilding trust has become imperative. A recent study by the Gallup and Knight Foundation, “American Views 2022: Part 2,” sheds light on the state of public mistrust in news organizations. The study found that over 50 percent of respondents reject the statement that “national news organizations do not intend to mislead.” Only a quarter of respondents supported this statement. In other words, Americans perceive their news organizations as deceptive.  

2. Ethical Storytelling

At the forefront of this battle for credibility stand public relations professionals and the communications industry. As communications experts, we bridge the gap between news organizations and their audiences. By fostering transparent and authentic relationships with reporters, public relations practitioners can pave the way for open communication and credible reporting. 

Ethical storytelling is the “sharing of narratives committed to honesty, accuracy and empathy, with an awareness of their potential impact on people’s lives.” This is one key strategy that public relations practitioners can collectively employ to do our part in ensuring that truthful and honest information remains centered in society. By embracing the principles of ethical storytelling in our work—transparency, accuracy, empathy and responsibility—professionals in public relations and the wider communications sector can play a role in helping journalists and news organizations restore public trust in them and the information they provide through unbiased, comprehensive coverage that contributes to a more informed and engaged society. 

3. PR Professionals’ Crucial Role in The Information Overload Era

Public relations professionals can champion ethical storytelling by urging news organizations to focus on narratives that represent reality, are based on facts and resonate with the public’s values and concerns. We can offer journalists first-person perspectives from a variety of sources to provide holistic stories, call out the significance of transparent and ethical communication within our industry and correct situations where the media provides false information or deliberately confuses the public with messages that are detrimental or lack factual basis. 

In Closing

By promoting ethical storytelling and approaching our work with empathy and open-mindedness, news outlets will connect with their audiences on a deeper level based on trust. The decline in public trust in news organizations is a complex issue that demands immediate attention. As we navigate this era of information overload, the partnership between news organizations and PR practitioners will be the cornerstone of restoring faith in the fourth estate.

Ohio Train Derailment: Public Relations in Holding Institutions Accountable

On February 3, 2023, the freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio resulted in alarming amounts of toxic chemicals released into the atmosphere and subsequent evacuation orders. In a town where residents were already facing socioeconomic obstacles, this disaster exacerbated safety and quality of life concerns.

Nearly a year has passed, and residents continue to face disarray. Many are residing in motels due to legitimate concerns, either fearing to return or facing official prohibitions during the ongoing cleanup. Even those who have returned express significant apprehension about the quality of air, water, and soil. Some have reported worsened health problems, going so far as to describe living there as similar to being in an apocalyptic movie.

Property value reduction, long-term health ailments and mental health issues are just a few causes of distress for residents. This incident sickened and displaced many in the community. It catalyzed previous conversations about safety precautions and the location of such railroads which are disproportionately placed in lower-income, often Indigenous, communities of color.

Part of a Larger Issue

While derailments have decreased by more than three quarters since the 1970’s according to federal data, large freight railroads have seen an increase in derailments in five of the last seven years. Large freight railroad companies began introducing precision-scheduled railroading in 2016 to enhance efficiency by running fewer trains on tighter schedules. Intending to cut expenses, trains tend to be longer and heavier to transport as much cargo as possible. Tighter scheduling to cut costs could arguably be the cause of increased human error, equipment and track failure.

Despite historic activist outcry regarding train route placement in marginalized communities, industry leaders say that most derailments occur within the confines of rail yards and make public statements focusing on train safety in comparison to other modes of transportation such as driving. This deliberate disregard for ostracized community concerns is unfortunately common practice by many corporations and public officials.

The Biden Administration made a statement committing to visit East Palestine but has not followed through and has continued to defend its response to this toxic freight train derailment, even as local leaders demand increased efforts and clarity around the long-term effects of the disaster.

The Value of PR in Crisis

When disasters happen as a result of corporations’ carelessness, public relations is often thought of only in terms of damage control for the company responsible. But PR practitioners are also responsible for utilizing their expertise to aid the communities impacted by such tragedies.

PR professionals play a significant role in crisis communications, especially concerning the initial and long-term response to such events. During the initial phases of a crisis, PR professionals must work with journalists and their clients to galvanize public awareness and financial contributions. Long-term responses involve recognizing the reality that our world today is afflicted by a plethora of problems that deserve attention and require resources and thus doing our part to ensure that those affected are not forgotten.

In the case of the train derailment in East Palestine where the long-term health implications of this event are largely unknown, pushing for thorough monitoring of the water and air quality is critical. Long-term coverage, media attention and connecting media to those on the ground who can tell their stories is paramount to holding Norfolk Southern Corporation accountable. We must put pressure on government officials to enact better safety regulations and to address the socioeconomic implications. A primary responsibility in this response must also be to encourage continued research into health hazards associated with spilled chemicals such as vinyl chloride and phosgene.

The issue of train derailments has been a historic point of contention, often affecting communities already facing additional deprivation and disparity. PR for situations intertwined with oppression such as this involves amplifying community voices, extending our resources, connecting with our audiences to encourage additional assistance and monitoring media and social platforms for the vocalized needs of those impacted.

The Power of Intentional PR 

As we move forward, we must keep those affected a priority by encouraging our clients to contribute when appropriate. All the while, no initiative should merely be intended for press opportunities. As with the PR tactics surrounding any tragedy, the intention must be to benefit those impacted by raising awareness and resources, magnifying the needs of the affected community and educating the public on ways to prevent similar events.To learn more about how TASC can help advise your organization on intentional and purposeful messaging during a conflict, check out our PR and Communications services.

Public Relations in Advancing Environmental Justice

In our current era, the ominous specter of escalating climate change and the relentless onslaught of natural disasters have thrust the imperative of environmental justice into the forefront of the global consciousness. The challenge at hand extends beyond the mere reduction of carbon emissions; it necessitates a collective effort to sequester existing carbon and address the multifaceted impacts on communities around the world. As public relations professionals operating within the nonprofit sector, our role becomes increasingly pivotal in not only understanding but also effectively communicating and mobilizing support for environmental justice initiatives.

Building Momentum Through PR

The power of public relations lies in its ability to shape narratives and catalyze action. By strategically leveraging public relations strategies, we can build momentum around environmental justice issues, capturing the attention and support of clients, donors and stakeholders. In an era where social justice considerations weigh heavily in the decisions of individuals and organizations regarding the causes they support, it is crucial to maintain a focus on the cause itself rather than succumbing to the allure of self-promotion. True dedication to making a meaningful difference, rather than seeking mere notoriety, forms the bedrock of impactful PR campaigns in the realm of environmental justice.

Learning from History

History serves as an instructive guide, and the Love Canal incident in Niagara Falls stands as a testament to the power of public relations advocacy in the realm of environmental justice. The Love Canal Homeowners Association (LCHA) effectively utilized PR to address the detrimental health outcomes resulting from chemical waste dumping. Prioritizing resident concerns in their communication, LCHA succeeded in securing a $20,000,000 settlement for affected residents. This historical precedent underscores the efficacy of strategic public relations efforts in achieving justice for communities impacted by environmental crises.

Addressing Disparities in Impact

A fundamental aspect of advancing environmental justice is the recognition of the disproportionate impact of climate change on lower-income communities, communities of color and Indigenous communities. As PR professionals committed to environmental advocacy, acknowledging and addressing these disparities is not only an ethical imperative but also a strategic necessity. By incorporating PR strategies that amplify the voices of marginalized communities, we strengthen the fabric of environmental justice campaigns and foster a more inclusive approach to advocacy.

Crafting Hopeful Communication

In the face of the often bleak discourse surrounding climate change, effective communication that provides hope becomes essential. The role of public relations extends beyond mere information dissemination; it involves crafting narratives that inspire and uplift. By highlighting clients’ environmental progressions and showcasing tangible positive outcomes, PR professionals contribute to a more optimistic narrative, fostering engagement and instilling a sense of collective responsibility.

Elevating Human Stories

In a media landscape saturated with information, human stories emerge as powerful instruments for connecting with audiences on a profound level. Elevating the voices of individuals positively impacted by environmental initiatives humanizes the climate crisis. By integrating real people and their stories into PR campaigns, professionals can create a more relatable and compelling narrative, resonating authentically with the target audience.

The Role of PR in Achieving Environmental Justice

As we fervently strive for advancements in environmental justice, the role of effective communication through PR becomes a linchpin for maximizing mitigation efforts. By strategically employing public relations to educate, inspire hope and amplify the voices of those affected, PR professionals find themselves at the forefront of catalyzing the transformative changes needed in our approach to environmental challenges. The TASC Group has worked with several major environmental justice campaigns, to learn more about how TASC can work with your organization, please visit our website and review some of our grassroots case studies.

The Importance of Content Creation for Clients

The worlds of public relations and communications are multi-faceted. One of the most important parts of the industry is getting to know the inner workings of your clients so that you can create content that successfully bolsters their reputations and garners positive media attention.

Traditionally, ways of creating, sharing and viewing client content were limited to drafting op-eds, pitch materials and creating fact sheets, among other information providing collateral. As of late, PR and communications professionals have been looking to social media platforms to strengthen their strategies. LinkedIn, Meta (Facebook), Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest are among the most relevant social media networks from a PR perspective.

The benefits of traditional content creation still hold true. Op-eds and blogs are great ways for the public to gain insight through the media into a client’s opinions, thought processes, etc. on different subject matters and can lead to thought-leadership opportunities and partnerships with other like-minded individuals or organizations. The same goes for pitch materials, particularly with quotes or citations, and fact sheets with client information.

Social media has become an integral part of PR and communications plans for many organizations. The content created and social platforms used are dependent on the type of client. Nonprofit, social advocacy, legal and financial clients are more likely to use LinkedIn, Meta and Instagram, while fashion, beauty and consumer/lifestyle brands are likely to add TikTok and Pinterest into the mix.

For example, BlackRock, an American multinational investment company effectively uses LinkedIn to stand out as a thought-leader and advertise their services. Their content consists of infographic clips as well as testimonials. BlackRock knows their audience well, which allows them to curate specific content and decide which social media platforms to utilize. The company understands their audience exists on LinkedIn and is interested in reading niche blogs and learning financial jargon.

ASOS is a British online fashion and cosmetic company with over one million followers and 14 million likes on TikTok. They know a lot of their demographic resides on TikTok. ASOS follows all the trends and is very aware of what their audience wants to see. Their videos are lightly edited which make them more relatable and re-creatable to the audience. They advertise their products through  videos of unboxings and styling people in creative environments.

The consumer’s attention span is decreasing due to the rise of social media. People do not want to read long posts or videos, but instead get their information quickly. Knowing the client’s target audience and understanding the idea of palatable content will lead to successful media campaigns. LinkedIn posts for one audience may not work for another, strategies are subjective. It is crucial to understand where a client’s demographic resides in order to produce the best content.

How to Manage Public Relations in Times of War

The Russia-Ukraine war has gripped the world’s attention, dominated media headlines and captured the concern of people worldwide. As the conflict unfolds, companies are stepping forward to express their solidarity with Ukraine through various measures, ranging from providing free housing for refugees to halting business operations in Russia. Amid these tumultuous times, public relations professionals find themselves at the forefront, advising companies on how to navigate the delicate balance between corporate engagement and genuine support for a humanitarian crisis. 

Here are key guidelines to consider when managing client queries during such challenging times.

Three Things to Consider

1. Advising Against Self-Promotion

One crucial piece of counsel for companies seeking to engage with the ongoing conflict is to fervently advise against any form of self-promotion during times of crisis. Attempting to capitalize on a war, especially for financial gain, can lead to severe backlash and reputational damage. Media scrutiny is intense, with reporters quick to identify and criticize any attempts at leveraging a humanitarian crisis for personal benefit. An insightful Buzzfeed article highlighted instances of responses to the Russia-Ukraine war being labeled as “cringe-worthy” and “insensitive,” such as an author urging people to buy his book. As PR advisors, it is imperative to conduct a thorough risk-assessment exercise, outlining potential concerns and ensuring that the company’s actions are aligned with ethical standards.

2. Staying in Their Lane

Encouraging clients to stay in their lane is a fundamental principle when navigating political discourse. While expressing humanitarian support for Ukraine is commendable, clients should refrain from putting a tangential spin on geopolitical matters, especially when they lack genuine expertise or insight. Proactively pitching clients to speak on issues outside their domain can reflect poorly on the brand and may be perceived as opportunistic. Instead, public relations professionals should recommend that clients avoid inserting themselves into conversations that have not sought their input, maintaining a focus on genuine and relevant contributions.

3. Establishing Standards for Cause Support

With multiple conflicts occurring globally, it’s essential to discuss standards for engaging in political and social discussions with clients. The media’s prioritization of certain conflicts over others is a reality, and clients should be aware of the potential consequences of their public stances. Candid conversations about the company’s guidelines for participating in discussions related to human rights and political matters are crucial. Inconsistencies, such as publicly supporting one conflict while discouraging internal discussions on similar issues, may expose the company to accusations of double standards. Proactively setting guidelines and adhering to them ensures that the client’s engagement is transparent and less susceptible to reputational damage.

Public Relations is Important in Conflict

The role of public relations professionals in times of war goes beyond traditional communication strategies; it involves ethical guidance and responsible engagement. By advising against self-promotion, encouraging clients to stay within their expertise and establishing clear standards for cause support, public relations professionals can help companies navigate the complex landscape of global conflicts while preserving their integrity and reputation. In an era where corporate responsibility is under constant scrutiny, thoughtful and principled engagement is paramount.

Have questions about how to handle your messaging during a conflict? Need a strategy on how to reach your audiences during unrest? Check out our PR and Communications services, and see how TASC can help.

Networking For Young PR Professionals

As we navigate the professional landscape in 2024, networking stands tall as an indispensable cornerstone in the journey of young professionals, especially in fields like public relations where its significance is particularly pronounced. The evolution of networking has mirrored the dynamic changes ushered in by the digital era, adapting to the demands of a technologically driven world. The act of establishing connections within the industry remains a linchpin, offering a myriad of advantages, from securing new client work to unveiling job opportunities, receiving referrals, finding mentors and gaining invaluable insider intelligence. 

Recent statistics reinforce the pivotal role of networking, with a staggering 80% of job placements attributed to the strategic channels forged through professional connections.

Where to Get Started

Traditionally, events and conferences in public relations have been revered as prime arenas for networking, fostering meaningful connections through face-to-face interactions, especially as a young PR professional. However, the advent of the internet has transcended these physical boundaries, leading to a new era of online networking. 

Platforms such as LinkedIn have emerged as powerful tools, reshaping the landscape and empowering young professionals to expand their reach exponentially. Cultivating an online network that spans past internship contacts, professors, employers and colleagues has become a strategic imperative. This paradigm shift is particularly evident in the job application process, where leveraging online networking by connecting with current employees provides nuanced insights into company culture, thereby amplifying the potential for a lasting impression during interviews.

Four Steps for Success

Navigating the intricacies of networking in 2024 is an art that demands strategic finesse. Preparedness remains the key, instilling confidence in interactions and fostering relationships organically. To capitalize on networking opportunities, these timeless tips continue to hold sway:

1. Make Authentic Connections

Creating lasting impressions remains the primary goal, with authenticity taking center stage. The emphasis lies in genuinely understanding and connecting with individuals beyond superficial exchanges. Identifying shared goals and interests remains crucial, laying the foundation for meaningful conversations that contribute to the development of a robust professional relationship.

2. Show What You Can Offer

While the immediate inclination may be to assert personal needs, the current strategy continues to emphasize showcasing what one can offer to others. This approach, rather than being overt about personal goals, establishes goodwill. Networking is viewed as a reciprocal and mutually beneficial exchange, where both parties contribute to each other’s success, creating a symbiotic professional ecosystem.

3. Let the Other Party Speak

Being armed with thoughtful questions demonstrates genuine interest in the other person’s work and experiences. Allowing the other party to share insights, advice and feedback contributes to a balanced and meaningful conversation. The significance of questions regarding their duration with the company, required training for the position, and the overall company culture remains, fostering engagement and enriching the networking experience.

4. Follow-Up

In the dynamic and crowded networking environment of 2024, differentiation is crucial. Following up after an initial meeting, whether through email or LinkedIn, retains its status as an effective strategy. This not only reinforces the connection but also provides an opportunity to express gratitude for the interaction and convey continued interest in maintaining the relationship. A thoughtful follow-up holds the power to leave a lasting impression, setting the stage for future collaboration or engagement in a fast-paced professional world.

The Value of a Good Network

In the contemporary professional landscape, building a robust network transcends the mere showcasing of skills; it involves creating a memorable and enduring presence within the industry. Confidence in one’s work, coupled with effective self-presentation, enhances the likelihood of establishing meaningful connections that stand the test of time. The development of a strong network remains a valuable asset, offering ongoing support, guidance and opportunities throughout one’s professional journey. 

As a young PR professional in 2024, investing time and effort in networking continues to be a steadfast contributor to a fulfilling and successful career trajectory, unlocking doors to a world of possibilities and growth in an ever-evolving professional client work, job opportunities, referrals, mentoring or having insider intel. In fact, a study conducted by The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics found that 85% of jobs are filled by networking!

The opportunity to network can happen at any PR event or conference, so make sure to take advantage of these moments when they present themselves. Aside from attending networking events in person, thanks to the internet you’re now able to network right from home! LinkedIn is one of the most popular sites when it comes to business networking; adding past internship contacts, professors, employers and colleagues can be a great start to building your online connections. If you’re interviewing for a job at a company, don’t be afraid to connect with one of their current employees and strike up a conversation on their experience with the company and what got them to their current position.

When networking it’s important to make yourself memorable. Being prepared can help you feel confident in your interactions and help relationships form naturally. Follow these tips:

  • Make authentic connections: Creating lasting impressions is the main goal. This will come easier if you take time to talk and get to know the person versus a brief chat. Try to see how you could both benefit from the connection and find shared goals and interests to strike up a conversation.
  • Show people what you can do for them: While you may be tempted to be forward about your intentions whether it is to land a job or an interview, offering your help instead will make them want to help you in return. Remember, networking should be mutually beneficial for both parties.
  • Let the other party speak: Make sure to come prepared with a few questions to ask the other party about their work/company. If you take over most of the conversation, you leave no room for them to share any advice, feedback or questions they may have for you. Asking questions like these can help the other person feel like you’re interested in what they have to say:
    • How long have you been with the company?
    • What type of training did you need for this position?
    • How is the culture of the company?
  • Follow-up: The chances that the person you are trying to connect with is also being pursued by several other people are high. Especially at a networking event, it can be hard to keep track of who is who. Getting their email or connecting with them on LinkedIn and sending them a message shortly after you’ve met can help secure a lasting impression.

While your skillset is important, building a strong network of those in your field and making a name for yourself can be a huge advantage for your professional career down the road. Remember to be confident in your work and practice presenting yourself, and you’ll have no trouble gaining connections.

PR Nightmares and How to Avoid Them

With Halloween just around the corner, there is no better time for us to revisit every communications professional’s worst fear: PR nightmares. Whether it be cringe-worthy performative activism (think Kendall Jenner’s 2017 Pepsi ad) or failure to be transparent with consumers, PR nightmares can take many forms and require communications professionals to quickly shift gears into crisis mode to protect their client’s image. Despite increasing corporate social responsibility among companies and brands, this year had no shortage of PR nightmares.

Notable PR Nightmares


Back in December 2020, Tropicana launched its #TakeAMimoment social media campaign which encouraged parents to share how they take breaks amid the struggles of pandemic parenting. The company insinuated that one way parents can relax during their downtime is by enjoying a Tropicana mimosa. While intended to be a light-hearted nod to how having children at home 24/7 drove many parents up the wall during school closures, the campaign offended many consumers who found it extremely insensitive given the dramatic increase in alcoholism during the pandemic. For example, Klen&Sobr, a recovery pod organization, tweeted: “FWIW, the campaign didn’t “imply” alcohol was the answer… it was *explicit* in demonstrating that hiding from one’s family —including leaving young children unsupervised— to drink alone was the answer. I’m gonna need to #TakeAMimoment to process your weak apology.” The company apologized shortly after the backlash stating that it had not meant to “imply that alcohol is the answer.

McKinsey & Company

Renowned global consultancy McKinsey faced widespread backlash after it was revealed that the group had aided Purdue Pharma in driving sales of OxyContin, a highly addictive prescription pain killer and a key driver of the opioid epidemic, which has contributed to the deaths of more than 450,000 people over the last two decades. When it later came out that top consultants at the firm had discussed destroying documents related to their work with Purdue, the outrage only intensified. McKinsey received public criticism from top politicians such as New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy as well as from former employees. The company issued a brief apology statement on its website, something it has rarely done in the past. Despite McKinsey’s half-hearted attempt to escape accountability for its actions, the company ultimately settled out of court for nearly $600 million for its involvement in the marketing of OxyContin. Given that McKinsey’s annual revenue is estimated at a whopping $10 billion by Fortune, one might argue that the settlement is not true accountability.

Governor Cuomo’s Resignation

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation in August 2021 after 10 years in office amid numerous allegations of sexual misconduct and a sexual harassment report from the attorney general’s office which found most, if not all, of these allegations to be true. In his last press conference, the former governor failed to take responsibility for his actions by insisting that he never intended to do any harm and suggesting that the allegations were “politically motivated.” Similar to the case of McKinsey, Cuomo’s attempt to evade accountability for his actions was received very negatively by the public, costing him his career and reputation. Cuomo’s fall from grace was especially jarring to the public due to his leadership during the pandemic – he won the country over by portraying himself as a man of integrity and transparency only for it to be revealed that the image he had carefully cultivated for himself was an illusion designed to conceal an abusive work culture and predatory behavior. A large part of the backlash Cuomo received from the public stemmed in part from a feeling of betrayal that he was not the upstanding leader he had convinced the country he was.

How to Avoid a PR Nightmare

These three crises are all very different in nature. McKinsey and Andrew Cuomo’s crises resulted in very real harm to those involved. Tropicana’s poorly worded advertisement was distasteful at best and offensive at worst. Interestingly enough, Tropicana’s crisis held the least consequences for the public, yet it was the only actor in all three cases to issue a genuine apology. This is largely because admitting wrongdoing in both McKinsey and Cuomo’s cases would result in legal and financial consequences in addition to reputational consequences. It is also in part due to the fact that the bigger the mistake is the more difficult the apology. So how can companies and individuals avoid making these dire mistakes that harm so many?

Clear Communication

Leaders and organizations should always be sure to communicate openly and honestly with the public. This means using intentional language in advertisements and on social media and being thoughtful about the repercussions of the messaging being communicated to the public.


Companies and public figures should never hide pertinent information about their product or platform from the company. However, if something is hidden comes to light, the involved individuals and brands must come clean as soon as possible rather than attempting to further cover up past mistakes. Lying to the public will only cause more damage to the brand or individual’s reputation and its victims.


When caught in a crisis, it’s imperative that organizations and individuals respond swiftly, taking accountability for their actions and apologizing accordingly.

Think of Your Audience 

At the end of the day, the best way to avoid PR nightmares is for brands and individuals to prioritize the wellbeing of the consumers and audiences they serve. This means listening attentively to your audience’s needs, concerns and feedback, and responding with genuine care and consideration. It means being transparent about business practices, product quality and any potential risks. It means taking responsibility for mistakes, swiftly addressing issues, and implementing measures to prevent recurrence. Explore our comprehensive range of PR and Communications services to discover how TASC can assist in avoiding and navigating a PR nightmare.

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