The Power of Converting Data into a Visual Asset

June 14th, 2017   •   no comments   

If there’s one thing journalists love, it is solid numbers that tell a story.

For example:

“Our new office building was made with 95% recycled material”

…is tangible proof of this statement:

“Our commitment to the environment starts at the very literal foundation of our building and is a part of our core values as we do business”

Figures such as these provide vital endorsements to your overall message, and become succinct, powerful tools to help tell your story. By creating a visual asset with those numbers (an infographic, video or a poignant picture) the message becomes more powerful and shareable across multiple channels, grabbing the attention of your key audience on platforms such as social media.

Here’s one powerful example. We were working with a client at a university to promote the incredible research she was doing in the field of heart disease.

The data was complex, but the imperative to act was clear: she and her team had surfaced new information on why people were being re-hospitalized, and raising awareness on the topic could save lives.

We took key facts and figures from her research and presented them in an infographic. It broke apart the information using graphics, and gave key takeaways on how to improve out-patients’ quality of life. It made some incredibly intricate details much more accessible to a wide audience.

A white paper or research study is a great asset to distribute to your shareholders and other people who will want to spend a lot of time with that material. However, simplifying the data allows you to share it with other audiences—particularly those who may be interested in the underlying message but lack the personal knowledge of the topic to understand the white paper or read it at all.

If you tease out the most meaningful data and turn them into something like an infographic, you can then distribute snippets of that data to the public via social media, or perhaps accompanying a press release, so it explains complex concepts in an easily-understandable way. In this case, Simpler really is better. The visual component will grab a reader’s attention, and the snippet of data will get them thinking about your brand, and likely even make them want to learn more.

A picture literally can be worth a thousand words when used correctly. Visual assets should serve a functional use and be clear. As an example, the design platform Canva created a great checklist that we have internalized:

  • Does this asset enhance my message in some way?
  • Is this asset clear and easily read/understood?
  • Is this the best possible type of asset for this context?
  • How will my audience react to this asset?

Quickly run over these in your head before you include your asset to make sure you’re getting the absolute most out of this device. If your answers to these questions are respectively ‘yes’, ‘yes’ ‘yes’, and ‘with great positivity’, you’re ready to go.


Think you may have something that could use a visual asset? Contact us for more information.

Thank you, Captain

May 16th, 2017   •   no comments   

For showing us all how to act in the public eye.

We talk about it all the time in the world of public relations – your public image is a direct extension of yourself, so you really need to treat it right. You only have one public face, one opportunity to define yourself to your audience(s). And you better do it right, lest you wind up being defined by them.

Sunday night was Derek Jeter Night at Yankee Stadium, a night where his iconic Number 2 was retired and he was honored by adoring Yankee fans for a great career. And on that night we saw once more what made him so special.

Derek Jeter played shortstop for the New York Yankees from 1995 through 2014. He was 20 years old when he started, someone barely out of his teens playing in the withering spotlight of New York City professional sports. There really is no tougher audience in this country for a young athlete looking to make himself a success.

When Jeter first came onto the scene he was a skinny kid with world given talent, an effervescent smile that made it seem like every second he was on the baseball field was fun, and a future that held enormous promise if he was able to handle it and live up to the considerable hype.

When he retired in 2014, the skinny kid was long gone. He was a 40-year-old man who, while his world-class skills had slipped, could now do something that his 20-year-old self could have only dreamed of – he was able to look back on a legendary career that had made him one of the greatest, most likable and most popular players in the esteemed New York Yankee history.

And that smile that lit up the city? It was still there. Bright and fresh as ever.

How did Jeter do it? His baseball talents took care of themselves, as did his penchant for coming through in the clutch, right up through his final Yankee Stadium at bat. His personal records and the team records speak overwhelmingly to that – five World Series titles, seven trips to the Fall Classic, 17 trips to the postseason, 14 All-Star Games and more hits, stolen bases and games played than any Yankee in history. His entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame when eligible for the first time in 2020 is a certainty.

But beyond his greatness on the field, there was an ease and grace with which Derek Jeter carried himself that made him more than just a great player, but someone to be admired. He became team captain, with leadership skills most players only dream about. He was there to talk to the media about every success and, yes, every failing, as stand-up a player as has ever worn the Yankee pinstripes. He hustled and played all-out every single time he took the field, whether he was hurting or not. He never gave up or begged out of a game. His on-field attitude evoked a famous line the Great DiMaggio once uttered when asked why he never eased up in the field: “There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time. I owe him my best.”

Off the field, again in that intense glare of the New York City media, Jeter was guarded and almost religiously cautious about what he said and what he did. He was single, superstar athlete in the greatest city in the world, but it’s very difficult to recall one scandal or questionable issue that ever surrounded him. He knew the value of his public image and he protected it, in a way so many people in the public eye likely wished they could have done.

When Derek Jeter was in public, what you got was always the same. He was friendly and engaging. He was charitable (his Turn 2 Foundation he and his family run has become a major success). He asked for respect and received respect in turn, mostly because he carried himself as someone who respected others as much as he did himself.

Jeter became a giant in the sports world for reasons that exceeded his Hall of Fame abilities and performance. To put it simply, he knew how valued he was by the public, and made it a priority to value the world around him just as much. He played his career as a living, breathing lesson in good public  relations, and from what we saw Sunday night, he plans to continue to live his life that way.

Thank you, Captain. See you in Cooperstown.

Embrace the Mascot!

May 2nd, 2017   •   no comments   

By Dan Tapper

Last night I was pleased to take in my first Hartford Yard Goats game with my son and my parents; it was clear upon touring Dunkin’ Donuts Park prior to the first pitch that despite the myriad issues that plagued the stadium during the construction phase, now that it’s open our capital city has a beautiful, vibrant place to watch baseball during the spring and summer months.

Not only that, but Hartford also finally has a place where mascots can roam free and happy, safe from the perils of the outside world. Because one thing I was reminded of last night is you can never have enough mascots!

One thing I love about minor league baseball is a commitment to entertaining the fans that goes far beyond the game being played on the field. Minor league allegiances, for obvious reasons, tend to run nowhere near as deep as those for the Red Sox or Yankees or Mets or any other major league team, so team management knows more needs to be done to keep people engaged.

This means special package deals for youth organizations, schools, sports leagues, professional associations and any other group you can think of. This means affordable amenities. This means a strong focus on the nearby population, where local heroes are honored and school choirs sing the National Anthem. It means offering dozens of “theme” nights to bring people of all ages to the ballpark where they don’t just get a game but perhaps plenty more to remember.

And yes, it means mascots. Lots and lots of mascots.

I think I counted at least a half-dozen iterations of the Yard Goats mascots “Chompers” and “Chew Chew” gallivanting around the stands and the concourses last night, high-fiving fans, posing for pictures and basically serving as goodwill ambassadors for the team. And those weren’t including the four team-oriented mascots on the field itself, having a grueling race in the middle innings. Or the three Dunkin’ Donuts-themed mascots (Hot Coffee, Iced Coffee and Donuts) who had their own race earlier in the game. (For the record, I had picked the Donut to win and am deeply suspicious that he didn’t. Inquiries will follow).

In a customer-oriented world such as minor league baseball, where a positive, happy public face puts people in the seats perhaps as much as the game itself does, the fun-loving and oversized visage of a dutiful mascot can go a long way towards keeping the people coming. It’s a simple and fun little public relations lesson—a friendly face is often the best way to spark people’s interests. Even if that face happens to be attached to a large and multi-colored goat-like figure.

And lastly, it reminded me of a lesson offered by our fearless leader here at SLPR, the “PR King” himself Gene Sheehan. Gene recalled back during his days as Program Director for WHCN-FM in Hartford in the 1970s, it was decided that the radio station would adopt a giant walrus as its own mascot. (This would prove to be a very popular decision, as rock fans of my generation clearly remember “The WHCN Walrus” as the veritable symbol of Hartford’s rock-n-roll scene during those years).

Gene was personally involved in finding just the right walrus costume to be worn and used as the station’s mascot, and still today he offers sage advice as to why he did that:

“I had one priority in picking out that walrus costume,” he recalls. “And that was to make sure it didn’t fit me!”


TUESDAY TIP – “Empty corporate banality is not the way to manage a very public crisis.”

April 11th, 2017   •   no comments   

“Re-accommodate?” Really???

When exactly will United Airlines stop digging this hole for itself? Who knows. But the company seems determined to keep going until they hit the Earth’s core.

As millions around the world have now seen, United began its descent into this social and legacy media nightmare when it was announced earlier this week to a full flight from Chicago to Louisville that four people would have to go to make room for four United employees who had to get to Chicago instead.

The seemingly cold, anti-customer essence of that request aside, what happened next was disgraceful—a 69-year old man was dragged, bloodied and beaten, off of the plane after he refused to relinquish the seat he had paid for. Most who have seen the video have likely recoiled at the sheer brutality of it all.

But then United’s CEO, given the opportunity to make things at least a little better in the public eye, went the other way.

“I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.” That’s how United’s CEO Oscar Munoz chose to communicate in his public statement.

Webster’s Dictionary has several different definitions for the word “accommodate,” all of which center around providing something desired, something for which agreeable consideration is made. The final entry is the most succinct: “To make fit, suitable or congruous.”

And while we’re at it, the Webster’s definition of “re-accommodate” is simple: “To accommodate again.”

It’s fair to say that no one who has ever been treated the way this gentleman was—roughed up, battered, possibly knocked unconscious—has ever felt “accommodated.” And surely they would not want to be “accommodated” like this all over again.

Munoz’s tone deaf response was the height of empty corporate speak, as well as remarkably disingenuous and bafflingly unapologetic. The result has been international mockery and condemnation; pretty much universal outrage blew up on social media all day yesterday and it continues today, and published reports have indicated that in just one day United has lost roughly $800 million in value. So far.

No one should have needed hindsight to know that a real apology, followed by a decisive plan to correct the action, was the only option to protect United’s brand and move forward.

Instead the CEO opted to go in the exact opposite direction, doubling down and refusing to do the right thing for this injured senior citizen or for the company. This crisis is not likely to go away anytime soon, not as long as United thinks it can simply pass it off with thoughtless, empty banality.

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