The Buzz About B Corps – Why You Should Care

Photo Credit: B Corporation
Photo Credit: B Corporation

By Kat Beaulieu, Communications Strategist

Remember when you were back in business class and it first dawned on you that the system is rigged against people who want to do good AND make money? I do. It was one of those “Wait – what?” moments where I felt another shred of my ignorance/innocence slipping away.

My big “a-ha, well-duh” moment followed this obvious nugget of truth: corporations are legally obligated to make money for their shareholders, so their decision-making is necessarily driven by profit. Non-profits on the other hand, are legally forbidden from making a profit, so they’re actually discouraged from creating wealth for their employees.

In my own selfish way, I remember thinking my choices were to either embrace a life of poverty working for a non-profit, or cobble together some financial comfort by turning a blind eye to some of my ideals and working for the big, bad corporation. I suppose I’d had enough of the starving student scene and a martyr I am not, so off to the corporate world I went.

I’m certain I wasn’t the only person faced with this decision, and fortunately there are some smarter and more committed people than me who have been working to change the system, so that now (since 2010 in Maryland and now in 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia), there IS an alternative to choosing between non-profit or for-profit. It’s called a benefit corporation, or B Corp, and it is both shaping and shaking up how business, employee recruitment and consumer spending are going to look in the near future. Why? Because Y and Z.

Generations Y and Z, that is. Unlike prior generations, Y and Z haven’t had to sever that part of their conscience that chooses between “good” non-profit and “evil” for-profit, because they’ve grown up with companies like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s and Seventh Generation showing us that companies can be both for-profit and good. That’s exactly what B Corps are – they are people using business as a force for good™. They have shareholders, but they’re not exclusively tied to them—they’re also legally obligated to serve their mission, which can be anything from delivering shoes to third-world children to achieving world peace.


The B Corp movement is one of the most important of our lifetime, built on the simple fact that business impacts and serves more than just shareholders—it has an equal responsibility to the community and to the planet.

Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia


Y and Z can choose to give their money and their brains to “good” companies, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. What this means for traditional corporations is that in order to remain competitive for Y and Z’s brains and share of wallet, they’re going to have to start upping the ante in terms of the “good” they’re doing inside and outside of the organization. And these are the stories that need to take priority in press releases. These are the stories that are going to capture media attention, get shared on social media, and ultimately drive Y and Z’s choices.

Why (or Y) is this important? Because Ys, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69) in the US.

Are you panicked yet? You should be! The B Corps are coming and if your PR strategy has been focused exclusively on profits and growth, it’s time to change tactics. Talk up the great initiatives your employees have been collaborating with non-profits on, and the positive impact your organization has had on your community. Turn your eyes to measure the social good you’ve achieved each quarter, rather than earnings alone.

So whose wallet and brains is your organization targeting and what mediums are you using to get those stories out? Is it time to YZ up?

Kat Beaulieu would love to repent for some of her ideal-stomping past and help you craft a YZ targeted communications strategy that profiles the social good you’ve been up to. Get in touch.

Best Practices: Increase Your Chances of Breaking Through the Clutter with Mobile-Friendly Emails


Mobile e-mail

By Shae Geary

As professional communicators, we are always looking for the best strategies to ensure our messages break through the daily clutter, whether it’s getting media to read our press releases, consumers to respond to a promotion or stakeholders to connect with a newsletter.

According to recent studies, upwards of 67% of all emails today get read first on a mobile device, meaning that using mobile-friendly email designs can be the difference between getting someone’s attention or falling into a black hole. The takeaway: the easier our messages are to read on the go, the more likely we are to create wins for client partners.

For all companies, mobile-friendly email design is a smart practice to adopt. Many online email marketing programs make it easy by offering plug-and-play templates for everything from newsletters and press releases to invitations and e-blasts. For those who opt to create their own design, here are six quick tips for making sure your emails fit nicely into the palm of your audience’s hand:

  1. Shortened Subject Line: The optimum character count for a subject line is much smaller for a mobile device than a desktop. Subject lines of 25-30 characters are a best practice for mobile-friendly emails.
  2. Single Column Format: Simple layouts better accommodate differing screen sizes and generally don’t require the reader to work (i.e., scrolling side to side) to read your message
  3. Less is More: Your audience has a limited attention span. Keeping the copy concise and to the point is a good practice for any email, but especially important when it comes to small screens.
  4. Supporting Imagery: Photos should support the message, but not be relied upon to tell the story since some mobile devices use photo-blocking software. Photo file size also should be small.
  5. Enlarged Font Size: The less your audience has to strain to read a message, the more likely you are to get the point across. A minimum text size between 12pt and 14pt is a good guideline.
  6. Space to Click: A little white space near clickable links is a good idea when it comes to mobile design and allows a clumsy thumb or index finger to get the click on the first attempt.

To Do Good, Communicate Well: Public Relations Tips for Non-Profits

non profit

By Molly Borchers, Senior Communications Strategist

One of the things I love most about my job is meeting great people doing great things for the San Diego community. I have the privilege of supporting the community relations department for one of my client partners, which means I help them spotlight the great work of compassionate organizations like Ocean Discovery Institute, Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank, Workshops for Warriors and many others.

Nonprofit-word-cloudAfter moving here from Ohio, I was struck by the beauty of San Diego’s beaches, bays, palm trees, rivers, canyons, mountains and deserts. With a little time, I was equally in awe of the people who are so deeply connected to their tight-knit communities, of all the passionate innovators who live here, of just how much people love this town.

As of 2014, there were 9,364 501(c)(3) non-profits in San Diego County. That’s a lot of people doing a lot of good. But a major problem for these organizations is that they often don’t have the time or the funding to toot their own horns.

It’s critical for non-profits to raise visibility in order to get funding and fulfill their missions. Here are five communications and public relations tips for non-profits who think they don’t have the bandwidth or budget to promote themselves:

  1. Map out a plan: At the beginning of each year, make it a priority to develop your non-profit’s communications road map. There may not be a lot of time or resources available, but try to carve out space for one promotional activity each month and set calendar alerts to stay accountable.

An example of what that could look like? Perhaps in January, you write and distribute a press release about a fundraising event you’re having. In February, send out a targeted media pitch on the topic you’re trying to generate awareness for. In March, apply for a major speaking opportunity. And so on. By making sure you have at least one activity a month, you sustain the communications momentum with the least time investment possible.

  1. Leverage strategic partnerships: I don’t have to wax poetic about the value of building your network. Once your network is in place, though, leverage the help of strategic partners to support your communications efforts.
    1. If your non-profit has received a corporate grant, ask that organization if they’d also be willing to support you with promotion.
    2. Try meeting people in the communications/PR field. You never know what counsel or advice they’d be willing to give.
    3. Collaborate with other non-profits with similar missions to see if you can pool resources.
  1. Don’t ignore free tools like blogs and social media: I’ve spoken with non-profit leaders who view social media as a low-priority, time-sucking task. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Organizations of all types have three communications channels: paid (advertising), earned (media coverage) and owned (websites, blogs, social media, newsletters). Only one of those is truly free.

Why eschew free platforms where you have the opportunity to both control the message and engage directly with potential donors and volunteers? My tip: find 1-2 hours to develop a strategic social media and blog plan. Then, hire an eager college intern to help execute. They can schedule most social media posts in advance via HootSuite or Buffer. Blogging brings excellent SEO benefits and can help elevate your website to the first page in Google. By using an intern to help, you’re helping them build their portfolio (doing yet another service to the community) without taxing your regular staff resources.

  1. PR measurementBe intentional with measurement: Often, communicators confuse output with outcome. For example, an output is “number of media mentions” or “speaking opportunities secured.” However, an outcome would measure the impact of that effort. Did your communications efforts increase volunteer inquiries or donations? That’s where the measurement gets juicy.

I recommend measuring a bit of both. Perhaps set a goal for number of media placements and then measure them on a graph against website visits, number of volunteer inquiries and donations, then see how the promotion efforts correlate with your desired outcomes.

  1. Ask for help: Don’t be afraid to ask the experts for a little help. There are several communications agencies who offer services priced to be very friendly to non-profit budgets. Sometimes there is even an opportunity to receive pro-bono work, depending on your relationship with the agency.

Work for or volunteer for a non-profit? If you think we can be of assistance, let’s connect. Email me at mborchers [at] Engaging in highly targeted, measurable social media, PR, multimedia programs can help you achieve your mission.


Check out our similar posts below:

5 Essential Elements of Every Community Outreach Plan

How Infographics Work and Why Your Brand Needs to Use Them More


Measuring the ROI of Public Relations: Five Experts Weigh In

By Molly Borchers, Sr. Communications Strategist

Public relations and business growth go together like peanut butter and jelly. The last new restaurant I tried? It was because of a good review I read in a local magazine. The last lip-gloss I purchased was the darling of Allure beauty editors. The last business software I evaluated wasn’t because of some advertisement. It was through word of mouth. And as we often say at my company, PR is the ultimate word of mouth.

In fact, the famed Guy Kawasaki recently came out in support of PR as the way to get the most bang for your marketing buck:

“Brands are built on what people are saying about you, not what you’re saying about yourself. People say good things about you when (a) you have a great product and (b) you get people to spread the word about it.”

But despite this advice, I know of many companies who would rather devote their entire marketing budget to advertising. For marketing people, advertising is easier to wrap their hands around. Leads and quantifiable metrics, like click-through-rates and page views, often make marketing people look good in front of their bosses. In advertising, you can often see directly how people are moving through the funnel. With public relations, it’s a bit less tangible.

To further complicate things, actually measuring ROIthe return-on-investment (ROI) in PR is a seemingly herculean task. I hate to say it, but marketing directors and PR folks seem conflicted on measurement. Some are (still) using the antiquated Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) metric. Others come up with statistical correlations that are tailored to each client’s needs. Some are adopting the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles. Others are measuring tactics like reach and number of placements, rather than outcomes (like increase in sales or website conversions).

So, to help you better advocate for a slice of the marketing pie, I have asked five experts to provide their best practices on PR measurement.

In the beginning, ask “Why?”: Shonali Burke (@shonali), ABC, president and CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. knows a thing or two about measurement. She is Adjunct Faculty at Johns Hopkins’ M.A. in Communication program, founder and curator of the #measurePR hashtag and Twitter chat, and owner of the popular blog/community, Waxing UnLyrical. To start, Shonali says that one of the most important questions to ask when trying to figure out how to measure the success (or failure) of your campaign or initiative is, “Why?” Why” are you investing time and resources into a particular campaign? What do you hope to get out of it? Ultimately, your PR efforts should support your business objectives, so don’t stop asking, “Why?” until you get there.

Agree on measurement goals upfront: Shonali says that her biggest challenge in measuring the ROI on PR is that some companies sometimes think of measurement as an afterthought. Her advice is to bring it front and center. In fact, she doesn’t sign contracts until she and her client have agreed on the measurement goals they’re working towards.

Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge) is CEO at Pure Performance Communications, adjunct professor at New York University, and author of five books. She agrees with Shonali on setting measurement goals up-front. But she says you also need to determine in the beginning how to quantify and benchmark progress over time.

Don’t just analyze outputs – also benchmark against competition: Aaron Brown (@abrownFMPR), senior vice president at Fahlgren Mortine, says that his method of measuring share of editorial discussion resonates with his clients. This approach requires analysis against key competitors within target strategic areas in a defined set of media. So, if technology is an area of emphasis for the brand, how is it performing on technology-related topics against competitors in the most influential media outlets?

Broken-Silo-2Break down the silos: Deirdre Breakenridge likes making the connection between spikes in PR coverage, website traffic and then conversions to leads/sales, but says it’s important to work closely with other areas of marketing, web and sales to have access to data that may not be readily available. When you break down the silos you can show a more accurate picture of ROI.

Julie Wright (@juliewright), president of (W)right On Communications agrees with Deirdre. She thinks of PR as fitting with the flywheel concept in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. When you are doing many things right across social media, PR, branding and more, you can achieve a better overall outcome than when you take a siloed approach to your communications.

Aaron Brown says, the best measurement approach crosses silos and accounts for earned, owned, paid and shared media. This helps to account for all of the ways target audiences engage with the brand. Failure to incorporate these areas of marketing and communications leads to a measurement report with holes.

Use social media for a two-way dialogue: Jennifer Dulles (@DStreetTweet), president of D Street PR, advocates for social media listening. Today, we can poll audiences, ask people their preferences and see where they are going. It’s a much richer world for measuring results than back in the days when we had to hire a survey research firm for pre and post-telephone surveys. When brands need to measure sentiment or gauge whether opinions changed, they can simply ask.

Give it time: Julie Wright says that moving the needle and making an impact requires a sustained commitment. However, many companies are looking for a one-time silver bullet to timeachieve their communication goals. If you think of communicating with your stakeholders in the same way you think about it with your spouse, you know it is not a process that you turn on and off at will or just give it your all every once in a while. Predictable, consistent and, of course, interesting communication is the key to building trust and relationships with your audiences.

Ultimately, in our data driven world, it’s a challenge to show dollar-for-dollar the value of public relations. But PR does have its benefits, even if we struggle to explain them. Julie Wright said the best measurement tool she ever had was a line out the door at her client’s store after an article hit on their product. How’s that for value?

Originally posted on Huffington Post.

Revenue, Respect and Results: Savvy Reputation Management for Hotels

From Yelp to TripAdvisor and everywhere in between, today’s traveler loves their review sites. 80% read online reviews before making a booking decision, 79% say they trust online peer commentary as much as word-of-mouth recommendations, and 93% say they consider it influential in where they stay and play. Combine those stats with the fact that 62% say that seeing a hotel respond to reviews, whether good or bad, makes them more likely to book there versus a non-responsive location; and it’s clear that reputation management is not something modern hotels can afford to ignore. However, given the myriad of sites out there, it can be overwhelming to break into the game. Take a look at the below guidelines to ease the process and streamline a communications plan to stay on top of your digital presence… and increase revenue.

Where to begin?

As mentioned, there are tons and tons of travel review sites floating around the web. At least as you’re getting started, stick to Yelp and TripAdvisor, which are some of the most heavily trafficked. These “Big Two” are the first places travelers are likely to look when researching a trip (especially TripAdvisor), and are your best use of time in terms of establishing a solid rapport with past and potential guests.

When should I post?

I recommend checking your reviews at least once or twice a week – Monday and Thursday is a good schedule to stick to. This gives you the opportunity to catch post-weekend rushes, as well as tackle one-offs or those who are catching up mid-week. It’s also helpful to create a Word doc or something similar to track each review and your response. If you ever need to refer back to a specific review or can’t complete a full run of replies in one fell swoop, it’s a great resource to simplify the process and hold yourself accountable. Another fantastic tool is Revinate, which (among other things) can track TripAdvisor sentiment and send you daily or weekly alerts. Daily is ideal – it can signal a need for immediate response on a “day off.”

But there are so many reviews… do I have to respond to all of them?

Actually, no. The main purpose of reputation management is first and foremost to ensure that any negative reviews are acknowledged and handled as appropriate. The second is to take an active role in the direction of your business – which doesn’t mean responding to every single comment posted. Even reviewers don’t expect that.

An easy rule of thumb is responding to all negative reviews and about 30-40 percent of positive reviews. If someone takes the time to write a lengthy note of praise or say specific team members were particularly helpful, return the favor with a thank you (and be sure to pass the good news along to deserving staffers).

What if I get a nasty comment?

It’s not if, it’s when. Even five-star hotels with exquisite service will get bad reviews from time to time – you can’t make everyone happy. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Always acknowledge – Travelers will pay more attention to negative reviews and how they’re handled than positive ones
  • Know your common pain points – Many properties have issues that are a regular gripe for guests. Some things, like wifi speed in a remote location, you can’t do a whole lot about. However, if you can do something, take heed and make the steps to work on it. The repeat reviews will decrease, and guests will note that you take comments seriously.
  • Assess the situation – Some negative reviews are straightforward and not all that serious, surrounding complaints like, “I didn’t like the wine selection” or “the wifi was too slow.” In this case, a simple, “we’re so sorry to hear that you felt X was X, and we appreciate your feedback” will suffice. However, with something heavier, like “my room was filthy” or “I got food poisoning from the restaurant,” you’ll need to invest a little more time. Draft a simple response that shows you’re taking action, but take things offline from there – you don’t want a reputation management conversation going any further than that in front of other patrons. Privately message the guest with the appropriate contact information, and be sure staff promptly responds to their concerns – and makes things right. Often, you’ll see a review update praising a satisfactory response to an issue.
  • Stand up for yourself – It’s an unfortunate fact, but sometimes, people lie about or greatly over-exaggerate situations. If something doesn’t seem quite right, check with members of the hotel team who may be better in the loop for any further insight. If you know a comment isn’t true, it is absolutely acceptable to (politely) correct the guest.
  • Choose your words – You stand behind your hotel, so show it in your verbiage. Most of the time, I recommend saying things like, “we’re sorry you felt X didn’t happen.” This acknowledges the guest’s feelings, but doesn’t necessarily fold to their opinion. However, some things are undeniably frustrating and unacceptable, like being ignored while checking in or waiting an hour for food at dinner. In this case, switch things up to convey apologies and understanding.
  • Lose the canned responses – I am a fan of putting together a document of common issues and sample replies to look back on. However, I do not support using the exact same responses each time – it’s not authentic and an obvious corner-cutter. You’re already taking the time and effort to manage your responses. Do it well.

What about social media?

Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter can act as another mode of reputation management, and most brands already have a solid presence there. Be sure to monitor avenues like messages, comments, direct tweets, hashtags and @ mentions (although this should be built into any social strategy already) for feedback or questions from guests, and develop a procedural plan with your team to outline who responds to what, what timeframes should be followed and any other expectations. Platforms like HootSuite, Simply Measured and many more offer a range of options to simplify your social listening efforts. Departing slightly from the response algorithm for review sites, always respond to messages (like on Facebook) and engage with commentary as much as possible – it is social media, after all! But the same goes for any contentious or lengthy conversations – after the initial connection, take them offline.

It also doesn’t hurt to leverage guests’ travel plans for greater brand reach. is a great way to encourage travelers to discuss their upcoming stay with their networks without icky, back alley trades or an in-your-face sales pitch. The platform, which reports 15% of users will transition to become brand advocates, employs sleek landing pages and simple content to connect with guests without ever leaving a hotel’s website.

Reputation management is a crucial tool for staying on top of public perception and presenting a caring, engaged demeanor to guests in all stages of the sales funnel. With a bit of organization and a strategy behind your approach, you’ll be ruling the digital travel world in no time.


Be bold, develop a brand voice and differentiate yourself: Lessons from my PR internship

When I interviewed at (W)right On Communications, I was asked, “What makes you different from the other candidates applying for this position?” I confidently answered the question because I knew others would see it as a temporary opportunity to get a taste of the PR profession. I, however, had no intention of treating this job as if it was just another internship, but rather, as the start of my career. Maintaining this mentality throughout my internship challenged me with opportunities that seemed intimidating, while I quietly observed and absorbed from this stellar team.

It would be easy for me to list all of the skills WOC has taught me, like drafting a formal press release, researching media contacts, or how the cost of a stamp actually matters when sending snail mail (I’m a millennial, give me a break). However, working here has taught me more than just technical things that I can easily Google on any given day. The best thing about (W)right On is the small team of PR pros that bring genuine passion and commitment to their jobs. The intimate nature of the agency allowed me to learn deeper, more valuable skills that a web search doesn’t have the capacity to. These are a few of the many things that WOC has taught me that I will cherish and carry with me as I grow in the PR industry:

  1. Be bold and dive in feet first: When we welcomed new Communications Coordinator Danielle Cobb to the team a couple months after my internship began, I was instantly drawn to how confidently she jumped into her new role. Her aura just fit in with the atmosphere of the agency as if she had been with WOC far before I had been. Although Danielle had just moved from the Bay Area, she was confident in her ability to talk about client partners in San Diego. As we got to know each other, she would tell me how she was making new friends using (a website that allows people new to a city to find others in the same situation and meet based on age and common interests). I was so inspired to be around someone who was not afraid to take initiative and be bold doing it. She wanted this job, so she made sure she was giving her all to it. She wanted to make new friends, so she used her resources to make that happen. Moving forward, I will always remember that if I want something, I have to be bold, put myself out there, and just go for it. The world isn’t going to hand things over to me, it is up to me to find the opportunities I want and confidently take them.
  1. Public Relations is a profession for people who think of others before themselves: One of the first times where I felt like a PR hotshot was when Communications Strategist Chance Shay asked me to collaborate on poster ideas for a client partners’ Halloween event. Although I shared some great ideas, they didn’t necessarily work because it wouldn’t appeal to the intended audience. The ideas I suggested included references that were a bit outdated for the target audience of elementary school students (the revelation of which prompted my mid-life crisis at age 22). Although my seemingly suave suggestions didn’t work, the lesson here was simple: working in Public Relations requires a person who can think of others before themselves. I had to step outside of Philip and put myself in their shoes to achieve success. Even when Chance asked me to search for media opportunities for potential client partners, I was reminded that constantly thinking about others is how you not only succeed, but also exceed, as a PR pro. After all, it’s when you have others’ backs that they’ll have yours.
  1. Every client has a unique voice; it is your job to make sure that voice is heard: My training as a social media guru commenced at (W)right On. Although some people may think that managing social media is equivalent to chillin’ on Facebook and Twitter all day, it is so much more than that. I was fortunate enough to work very closely with Communication Strategist Erica Schlesinger to manage a variety of different social media accounts. The only thing more fabulous than Erica’s insane shoe collection is her way with words and creative ideas. Training with her has taught me to speak as an ambassador. Social media is a very powerful technology; each client has different objectives and motives for using it. You must also be sensitive to the audience that is reading it. The verbiage used when launching a social media campaign for a medical center’s annual charity gala is going to be much different than one for a cool hotel intended for young bachelors. It is a PR pro’s job to make sure that the client’s voice is heard loud and clear, but in 140 characters or less…
  1. Find your differentiator: On my very first day at (W)right On, I asked my supervisor Molly Borchers the one piece of advice that she could give me as I started in my career. She said “Find your differentiator,” and those words have stuck with me ever since. I have learned so much at (W)right On because each of the people that I have worked with has something so unique and irreplaceable that makes them stand out in what they do. I know I have a bit more work to do before I find my differentiator and I am okay with that. As you move forward, all the little things you learn along the way will somehow come together and help you paint the bigger picture, and painting a masterpiece takes time.

I started day one of my internship intimidated, nervous, and reserved. However, I kept the “start of my career” mentality and took in as much as I could, allowing each lesson to crack my shell a little bit more. As I round out the last couple weeks I have left in San Diego, I am a much more aware and confident young professional (I have waited SO long to call myself that) ready to take the PR world by storm. Thank you (W)right On Communications, I’ve loved every single moment!

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