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Cyber Security: Fighting Back Against Threats

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Computer hacker stealing data from a laptop concept for network security, identity theft and computer crime

By Sydney Rodgers*

Theresa Payton is a notable expert on leading cyber security and IT strategy. As former White House CIO from May 2006 until September 2008, she is one of the leading security specialists in the nation. Payton is the CEO of Fortalice Solutions and co-founder of Dark Cubed. Both companies provide security, risk and fraud consulting services to various organizations.

At the recent Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference, Payton compared potential security risk to connecting a talking Barbie to unknown WIFI sources. According to Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council (ITRC), in 2015 over 169 million personal records were exposed due to breaches. With the internet playing such a large role in daily life I wanted Payton’s insight on how to structure your brand. Below Payton gives us tips on how to expand your assets without putting them at risk.


How does someone determine their most valuable assets?
Your most valuable asset(s) is that information that you absolutely cannot afford to lose. It’s the most critical asset that you need to safeguard and protect either for yourself or your organization.  Lots of digital assets are considered valuable but the top 3 digital assets that cyber criminals target before and during a large event are:

  1. The schedules of notable people and their security detail assignments;
  2. Ability to spoof or fake credentials online or in person; and/or
  3. Stealing personally-identifiable information or the right credentials to access payment information and bank accounts


What trends do you see in breaches of security?
Over the course of my career, one item rings true over and over again. Today’s technology, by design, is open so it can be easily updated. That open design also means that a breach is inevitable, but how you plan to respond to one is not. If you create and store data, there will be cyber criminals waiting to pounce to copy it, take it, post it, ransom it, or destroy it. Offensive strategies with defensive mitigating controls work, but a purely defensive strategy is a losing strategy. For every defense you put in the path of a cyber criminal, just like a squirrel after an acorn, they will relentlessly try to circumvent your defenses to grab it.

As we live in today’s world, it would be completely negligent to only think in terms of physical or digital security as two separate entities. We discussed this in great detail at the White House that a security strategy must dovetail the two together, physical and digital, and that a one sided approach was doomed to fail.


What things should someone take into consideration when looking into cyber security?
An area often overlooked or widely misunderstood is the use of open source intelligence, also known as OSINT, as part of the overall strategy. 70% of data breach victims indicate that they were alerted they had a breach from someone outside their own organization. That stunning statistic reinforces why every company should target your own organization, as if you are the adversary. This approach helps you identify the information leaking out of your vendor’s connections to your data, through your own employees, or technology, before cyber criminals use that same intelligence to launch an attack against your organization.

Digitally, you can use OSINT tools to identify everything you can about the technology and people that work at your organization. You can also use OSINT to see if your sensitive data has leaked online. Physically, you can use an OSINT technique to digitally geo fence a specific and physical land area and monitor the digital traffic occurring that mentions the location. In the case of fighting terrorism, private sector companies and law enforcement can geo fence critical infrastructure, significant events, and venues and then monitor to identify terrorist capabilities, sympathizers, motivation, flash points and intentions through various OSINT tools.


What apps would you suggest someone use to monitor their protection?
Some apps that I use everyday are: Privacy Badger and Ghostery to protect my online browsing from 3rd party marketing firms and other snoops. I also use Threema to protect sensitive text messages.


Should there be differences in cyber security for personal and professional?
How you think about protecting your privacy and sensitive digital assets in your personal and work life are the same. Most of the principals that you apply in your personal life should go to the office with you and vice versa. Please make sure you are familiar with the tighter restrictions at work that are typically agreed to within employee agreements that you have signed so you don’t unknowingly break rules or put your company’s most sensitive assets at risk.


Follow Theresa Payton on Twitter @trackerpayton. And check out Fortalice Solutions.

*Sydney Rodgers is a student at Southeast Missouri State University. She has always been interested in the communication process and social interaction and is currently studying public relations. In her spare time Sydney likes to keep up with current events and is AVP of Communication for her Public Relations Student Society chapter.

AMEC North America Kick-off with #PRMeasure Chat

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
Word cloud image created from the chat content

Word cloud image created from the chat content

This week is the third annual AMEC (International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication) measurement week here in North America—as part of AMEC Measurement Month.  There are PR measurement-related virtual events all week. The best part? They’re all FREE! Just go to and register for any you’d like to attend. Even if you aren’t sure you’ll be able to sit-in on the live webinar, if you register you will receive an on-demand playback link afterwards.


Measurement Week 2016 kicked-off Monday morning with a Twitter chat using the hashtag #PRmeasure. The chat was hosted by PR News and featured Measurement Hall of Famers Mark Weiner, Linda Rutherford and BurrellesLuce’s own Johna Burke.

I have personally been active on Twitter since 2008 and have participated in more chats than I can remember. I don’t say this lightly and can honestly say, this was one of the most robust chats that I’ve ever participated in, with more than 20 questions and netting more than 400 tweets in one hour!  It offered so much valuable information that it would be impossible to summarize into short form—simply wouldn’t do it justice.  Instead, we’ve created a Storify for your review. It’s not every single tweet but way more than what I’d call a “recap”.

Watch here for more posts recapping many of this week’s PR measurement activities!

New Resource (Book) for Millennial Job Seekers

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
Photo Credit: Bolla Photography

Photo Credit: Bolla Photography

As a PRSSA professional adviser and PR student mentor, I often get questions about job searching, professional networking etiquette, cover letters, interview preparation and follow-up, and résumé writing (as well as personal branding).  Those questions are typically prefaced with “how do I …” and followed by “will you read what I wrote and give me feedback”.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I get incredible joy and satisfaction from helping and mentoring PR students and gladly do so; however, I can’t count how many times I’ve thought that I should write this stuff down so I could just send a ‘canned’ response to some of those frequently asked questions—just to save time.


Last Fall, I was contacted via Twitter by Danny Rubin who had just completed a book called, Wait, How Do I Write This Email? and subtitled, “Game-Changing Templates for Networking and the Job Search”.  He knew (from my bio and various social media activity) that I do a lot with PR students and thought it might be helpful. A free book? Um, yes, please! Then I completely forgot about it until a couple months later when the book arrived in the mail along with a personal note from Danny. After skimming through, I knew within minutes that this book is as good as GOLD to, not just students but young pros or really anyone—especially those who’ve been out of job search mode for some time.


Around that same time, I was planning the PRSA St. Louis annual Career Development Day and thought this would be the perfect opening keynote topic. Fortunately, we were able to bring Danny in for the event to speak and do a mini-writing workshop and it was so helpful I wanted to share with you a few takeaways.


Use the power of storytelling in your cover letters , bio, etc. (even during the interview) to make you stand out from the crowd.

  • Lead with a compelling personal story—an anecdote that you can relate to the job skills required.
  • Stories, told properly, will capture the reader’s attention and keep them reading.
  • Unique details matter!
  • A personal story will leave a more lasting impression and makes you more memorable.
  • Starting and ending on the same story (a technique that professional journalists use) demonstrate that you “get it,” and that you know how to apply these tactics in a real-world setting.


So how do you do this? I’ll share an excerpt from Danny’s book (Chapter 9: The Power of Stories) where he steps the reader through the six parts of a storytelling cover letter.


Danny’s outline for the storytelling cover letter:

  1. Open with a line that places readers into the story. Grab their attention and make them think.
  2. Include concrete details about the story. The more specific you are, the more colorful the anecdote, the more memorable you will be. Quantify your results—provide hard numbers when appropriate.
  3. Demonstrate how the story applies to the job by referring to the job description—making sure the anecdote reflect the person the company is looking to hire.
  4. Show you did your research and understand how the company fits into the marketplace by explaining how you will help the company grow its business and make it more successful.
  5. Share more of your qualities as they relate to the story. Again, referencing the job description, touch on qualities you know the company admires and show how you would be a good cultural fit.
  6. Mention your story one final time and bring the cover letter full circle.


As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, Danny offers up more than 100 templates demonstrating various scenarios and taking the guesswork out of applying these techniques.


Do you have an example of how you’ve done this effectively that you’d care to share with our readers? Or additional thoughts to offer?

Campaign Mistakes PR Practitioners Should Learn From

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

by Emma Hawes


It’s that time of year when you hesitate posting a political gaffe of a candidate in fear that your Facebook page will become a battle ground by posting the article. The truth is election brings out the worst in both parties. Let’s stop fighting for a moment and think about how awesome, and scary, it is that the future of our country is determined by your vote. So not only do your part and vote this election, but do your research over candidates from non-biased sites. It is inevitable that all candidates make mistakes regardless of the party.


Cue the music-

If there’s one mistake we see each year, it’s a political candidate or campaign manager who does not ask an artist to use their music. It just backfires and makes the candidate look bad for not doing their research. Even though a musician might share the same political views they may not want to endorse the candidate. Songwriters need to be included too because Sam Moore changed the lyrics of the Sam and Dave hit “Soul Man” to “Dole man” for Bob Dole. However, the songwriter Isaac Hayes demanded a cease and desists where eventually the song wasn’t played. Enter Sam Moore in 2008, when he asked Barack Obama to quit using “Hold On I’m Coming.” His statement included how his vote was a private matter between him and the ballot box.  However, he did perform for Obama later at the 2013 Inaugural Ball.


Communication Breakdown

Whatever you say on the Internet is eternal because a screenshot of a deleted post lives forever. That happened to Bernie Sanders when a tweet was sent out that said, “Greed, fraud, dishonesty and arrogance. These are just some of the adjectives we use to describe Wall Street.” The tweet was deleted because the words were nouns not adjectives. It’s okay if you have to sing a Schoolhouse Rock song while writing to reintegrate basic grammar.


Cruz fired his communication director around two weeks after the Iowa Caucus. Lies were spread about Ben Carson suspending his campaign after Cruz won Iowa and Rubio’s religious beliefs. Just creating a lie about the opposing candidate is bad and if issues arise the first time the director should not even have a second chance.


When celebrating, don’t get crazy

Before John Kerry won the Democratic ticket in 2004 enter Howard Dean, the man who won the coveted Iowa Caucus. He stated his excitement how he was going to win states then a scream that doomed his political career. Not only does that moment live on YouTube, but Dave Chappelle made a skit, which parodied the scream.


Everyone is important

Where does one begin on Donald Trump’s comments about different races and women? His comments about reporter Megyn Kelly is just one of the many numerous comments.  That is not a smart way to pick your battles considering that according to NY Magazine single women are currently the strongest political force.


However, during a debate, Ted Cruz stated most Americans could not relate to Trump because he had New York Values. Well Cruz’s mistake was just as bad because it is like calling someone from a rural area in Wyoming a country idiot.


Also, as much as you might want to get a certain demographic don’t try to reach out too hard. Hillary Clinton faced flack for the Hispanic community when she posted an article that said “7 ways Hillary Clinton is just like your Abuela.” Soon after the post was made, #notmyabuela became a trending topic on Twitter. Instead, she should have made the post in different languages to reach out to different demographics instead of speaking Spanglish.

Measurement Week Interviews: Mark Stouse

Friday, September 26th, 2014
Measurement Week Interview Mark Weiner BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring PR Software Public Relations Media Measurement Press clipping

flickr user HeavyWeightGeek under CC BY

Last week was AMEC’s International Measurement Week, and to honor it, we reached out to some of the top measurement experts to get their take on measurement dos and don’ts, common mistakes, and how they found themselves a member of the Measurati. We got such an enthusiastic response that we’re extending our celebration to include all their answers. We’ll be running their answers all this week, and be sure to check out our latest newsletter for measurement insights from 11 other experts in the field.

Let’s hear from today’s featured expert, Mark Stouse, creator of the Influence Scoring System.

What is your “measurement moment,” the time you knew your career was becoming measurement-focused?

My “measurement moment” happened in 1992 when I left the profession and agency life, a departure I assumed at the time was forever. I moved into a series of business roles, including sales, product development, and ultimately leader of a new business that I created in the defense sector.

Looking back, it is clear to me that this decision to join the business was the best investment I ever made in my marketing and communications career. Its impact on me has proven as indelible as any tattoo.

I got a very intense education in what it means to be in business. For example, I gained a new appreciation for what it meant to make quota, not just in the conventional sales sense, but also as a leader who had to make payroll. My vision of things became significantly enlarged. I began to understand how hard it is for a CEO to balance everything that a business is, particularly all of those often zero-sum investment choices that must be made in a rapidly growing enterprise.

I began to see life through the eyes of a business leader, because that’s what I had become. Today, that perspective still is very present in my conversations with CEOs and other leaders, even though I earned it years ago in a much smaller company.

I sold the company in 1999, and I re-entered the profession on the agency side. But I had changed dramatically. From that point forward, I operated as a business leader who happened to specialize in marketing and communications. The result was a completely different approach, one that focused – above all things – on connecting marketing and communications investment to business drivers.

Today, I’m pleased to say that we’ve done it.   We have a proven methodology, manifested in a cloud-based platform that correlates investment in Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned (PESO) channels to both functional outcomes and business impact, including revenue, margin and cash flow. But to be honest, I doubt very much that I would have pursued those connections to business impact if I had not first discovered what it means to be in business instead of just being in a business.

What is your proudest measurement moment?

In 2008, it became clear that the Influence Scoring System (ISS) actually worked, not just at the marketing and communications level but with the CxOs that was designed for in the first place. The system showed for the first time that it could tie investment in both Earned and Shared programs to both functional outcomes and CFO-certified business impact.

It didn’t take long for ISS to start receiving tangible recognition. Based on its data, we received large increases in our budgets during the depths of the recession. Later, it won a BMC Innovation Award – it was the first time that anything outside of the company’s product line had won the award. In 2014, ISS was recognized as the Innovation of the Year in Marketing and Communications, and then it received the Holmes Report Diamond SABRE Award this past May in New York City. We had come a long, long way.

What is your most important piece of measurement advice?

There are several important pieces of advice. First, start with the business KPIs and drill down into your function. Anything else is classic “inside-out” thinking and will not get you where you need to go.

Second, remember that the C-suite only cares about the past if that data strongly suggests what’s going to happen next. If it doesn’t do that, you’re wasting their time and yours too. Third, get clear on what ROI is and is not. By definition, ROI is a cash-on-cash number, so it applies to business metrics like revenue, margin and cash flow. The number of impressions you racked up last quarter is not the ROI on the investment you made to get them.

What’s the most common measurement mistake you encounter?  

Reporting out again and again and again on metrics and KPIs that business leaders don’t care about. When they see that you actually use them to run your function, it dawns on them just how disconnected you are from everything about the business. That’s why you have no “seat at the table” during normal business hours.

Tell us a breakthrough story, in which you took your company from metrics to KPIs.

I joined BMC Software in early 2006 to lead Communications. The team was the “tail on the dog” inside the company. We were order takers and the last people in the company to know anything. The team’s only metric was a quarterly clip book, and even that was not exactly anything to brag about.

Soon after, however, we replaced the incumbent agency with Waggener Edstrom, and we immediately began to publish a standard report of coverage and the common metrics we all know so well: volume, tone, reach, share of voice, etc.

In early 2007, I presented my thinking about a new system to the executive team, one that would begin to connect the dots and demonstrate progressively stronger correlations between their investment in Comms and our business impact. They gave it the thumbs up, though even they didn’t see how it could be actually implemented.

But by the end of 2008, we had moved well past the retrospective view into the ability to accurately forecast of our future performance. We also showed an ability to understand, calibrate and manage our opportunity cost, ensuring that a lot more of the money we were spending “ended up on the screen,” as they say in Hollywood.

As the data rigor in the system began to deepen and strengthen, our conversation with the C-suite and the sales teams began to change rather dramatically. By 2009, we were launching nascent connections between ISS and sales data. Our first success was in demonstrating how, why and to what extent we were helping to drive faster sales velocity. Everyone looked at the logic path and the data connections and said “Wow!” Actually, it was more colorful and emphatic than that, but you get the point.

And from that point forward, we were off to the races.

What do you see as measurement’s biggest challenge ahead?

It sounds like a simplistic answer, but we have too many people in marketing and PR who chose the profession because they were not good at math. We spend time asking “Is the PR profession creative enough?” when we should be asking, “Do you understand how your business makes money?”

I see a lot of people in marketing and communications today who are real scared of measurement and the accountability that goes with it. This aversion to data and the language of the business world is the single most destructive thing in our profession today. It’s time to do what is necessary to get over that fear.

There’s been a lot of work done at the tactical end of things to try to standardize marketing and communications metrics. But the only standards that are determinant here are the standards of the business. Several years ago, a really famous tech CEO said to me: “Your colleagues need to understand that we (business leaders) expect marketing and communications to understand our standard of proof and meet it, not develop their own.”

Bonus question: You just won the lottery. What’s your dream job?

I’m an innovator. I’ve been one all my life. My 8th grade teacher wrote “Innovator = Big Helper” next to my name in the yearbook, and that’s really how I think about it.

One day, I’d like to apply that bent – and all I’ve learned about how to innovate – in the service of humanity. For that reason, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a very special attraction for me. Not only for the work they do, but for the way they have disrupted philanthropy by driving a very strong tie between their investment and real impact on the ground.

When I look at what they’ve accomplished, it pushes all of my buttons.