5 Tips to Improve Your Awards Entry or Nomination

by Josh Weiss

Similar to receiving media coverage, awards provide third-party credibility to your business or organization.  It’s someone else saying that you’re good, worthy of recognition and praise.

Which makes it surprising that a lot of companies fail to apply for awards. Some may be intimidated by the process or fear the time it will take to gather the requested information.  Others simply don’t view themselves worthy of recognition.  No matter the excuse, it’s a missed opportunity.

The good news is that it “thins the herd,” often reducing the competition for the companies willing to put in a little extra work to submit their nominations.

My team has submitted hundreds of award nominations for our clients (and ourselves) over the years.  In this process, we’ve developed our own internal cheat sheet to maximize the chance of our entries.  

Allow me to share a few of those tips here.

  1. Fill out the entire form.  Ask any awards judge, there are always entries where the nominee leaves out requested information.  Even when it says an item is optional, complete it if possible.  Don’t give the judges any excuse to think you don’t want the award or weren’t willing to put in the time. Don’t create an opening for another nominee to look better than you simply because they filled out the entire nomination form.
  2. Go for the points.  Nearly every award application clearly says what answers judges will be grading you on, and within each question it will specifically list what you are to answer. Most judges are instructed to give each answer a point value (such as one to five). If you fail to answer even a single requested fact or detail, you are likely to lose a point. You won’t gain the point back by answering another detail that was requested twice.  This ensures that everyone is judged equally, against the same criteria. With winners chosen by who gets the most judges points, you need to fight for every point, taking every point available to you. 
  3. Highlight your answers.  As you write your nomination, highlight every detail/response which directly answers a specific element of the question.  For example, a question may ask you to share the problem that you had to fix, followed by examples of tactics used to achieve the desired result, followed by your budget for the project. In your answer, highlight the phrase: the problem was; the tactics we used were; our budget was, etc.  Force the judges to see you answered every required detail within the question to ensure you get the full points available for each answer.
  4. Have a “judge” review your entry before submitting.  It’s always good to have someone review your writing to look for typos or to offer feedback.  When it comes to award submissions, we recommend asking a co-worker or peer not directly involved in the project to review your nomination as a judge would.  Ask them to tick off each detail you answered from the application’s questions. If anything isn’t ticked off, then you need to go back and add it into your application to make sure you get all the points available to improve your submission.
  5. It doesn’t matter if you think you actually deserve to win. We often hear from a client that they want to wait until next year when they think they’ll be more worthy or have a better chance to win. We strongly discourage that approach.  Apply now, and let the judges decide if you’re worthy.  If they don’t choose you, how is that worse than never having applied in the first place?  If they do choose you, all the better. Winning now doesn’t mean the company stops continuing to improve. Plus, applying now might improve your chances of winning next year. I cannot tell you how many companies we’ve nominated are named a finalist the first time they apply, only to win the year after when they demonstrate the improvement front one year to the next.

Once judging is complete, most awards announce their list of finalists to then start promoting the awards event.  When recognized as a finalist, I strongly encourage you to quickly and loudly celebrate this achievement. Immediately put out a press release to celebrate and promote this validation of your company and staff right away.  Add a logo of the award to your website stating that you’re a finalist.

A few weeks later if you learn during the awards ceremony that you won the top prize, you get to start the celebration all over again with a second announcement. If someone else is chosen for the top prize, you already got your moment in the sun and everyone already views you as a winner. And the finalist logo you already added to your website can stay there, continuing to promote your recognition for years to come.

Here’s another nugget we tell our clients. Sometimes it’s better for companies to only be a finalist and NOT win the actual top prize. Why? Because if you’re only a finalist, you’re likely allowed to apply again the next year whereas the winner cannot apply again for several years.  I rather put out several press releases over a couple of years for a client saying they were repeatedly recognized as an excellent company, than a one-time announcement.

Finally, I simply encourage you to apply. Worst that happens is you’re not chosen- which is the same result than not having applied at all. Plus, even if not selected, by completing the nomination it reminds you and your team all that your company is achieving, regardless of if the judge sees it or not. It might just be the morale boost you or your team needs at that moment to internally recognize your successes.

To Hibernate or Accelerate. That is the COVID Business Question.

To Hibernate or Accelerate. That is the COVID Business Question.

A lot of business leaders are worried, and unsure what to do.  I get it.  Initially I was too but luckily, I’m past that stage.

Early in the crisis, I read a blog on LinkedIn written by an acquaintance, small business owner Derrick Mains, Founder of Playbook Systems and President of Phat Scooters. The blog had a big effect on me and gave me confidence in choosing my own path forward through the COVID crisis.

The Lookback

Here’s the gist… at least what I took from it. 

The blog talked about the fear that many companies have about going backwards in a bad economy, and how to prepare, protect, react, and recover from business setbacks. Too many business owners are stunned into paralysis if they have a big drop in revenue or business and are unsure what to do—putting the survival of the company itself at risk.

Instead, he suggests that business owners actually DO know what to do- because they’ve already been there. He refers to it as “the Lookback.”

If a million-dollar business loses 20%, it already knows what the company should look like at $800,000 because the company has already been there. He suggested simply going back to the same staffing levels, expenses, and footprint you had at that income level, then rebuilding yourself back up to that million-dollar company the same way you did the first time.

That thought process really resonated with me, removing my own fears of what I would do if my company, which had been steadily growing, started trending backwards in the new economy. With a potential path forward removing my impending paralysis, I didn’t feel the need to hibernate. Instead I choose to try and accelerate my business.

Hibernate vs Accelerate

When I say hibernate, I’m referring to companies taking a more defensive, protection-orient approach. Many of these companies are using the strategy of hording their cash and reducing expenses with plans to ride out this crazy time by retaining enough resources to quickly rebuild.

In contrast, companies that chose to accelerate took more risks and essentially “doubled down” during uncertain times. Working harder and faster in an attempt to pivot or grow their business while their competitors were sitting it out or waiting to see how things turned out before charting a path forward.

Both strategies are sound, and both can backfire. It’s really a decision of risk and comfort as you can’t choose either half-way and succeed.

Our Decision to Accelerate

Early March I made the decision to accelerate. With so many PR and marketing agencies struggling, a big piece of our strategy was to make sure everyone knew that we were strong, and that we were going to thrive in the new economy.  

I started by talking to my staff and making sure they felt personally safe, knowing that we’re full steam ahead. Even if we lost a few clients in the short term, we could weather the hits so not to become afraid or distracted. With the team confident that their jobs were safe, consciously and subconsciously they can pass that confidence along to our clients and others in the community.   

Next, I reached out to clients and asked if they needed help or flexibility in the short term. While our client base is pretty diverse, we still have some travel and real estate related clients who were getting hammered or faced a lot of uncertainty. Our early offer of flexibility not only demonstrated our good will, but potentially stopped clients from leaving, even if some had to initially pause or alter their budgets. To our great delight, several of the effected clients were able to return to their pre-COVID scopes of work within a few months- something that surprised us both. Had we not been flexible up front, we might have lost them altogether.   

The next major thing we did was invest back into the company. I renewed organizational memberships and subscriptions early, while I knew we had the money available in case I needed to stretch dollars later in the year. 

I also invested in advertising while others were pulling back. This gave us better placements at lower rates while other companies were hibernating.  Sure, fewer companies were looking for PR help, but there were also much fewer “window shoppers”. The few who were looking were much hotter leads and were much more likely to sign a contract with us, or someone else.

The strategy paid off quickly. While most agencies were losing clients, we added several new long-term clients. Some were COVID related, others were not. We celebrated these wins, announcing them to demonstrate that we were “open for business” at a time when a lot of companies were avoiding the news. This led to even more prospect interest and new conversations with additional companies.

Finally, we started offering free advice and PR tips to businesses that weren’t in a position to pay us. We created a series of 2-minute videos of COVID-19 Crisis PR Tips and shared them widely via social media. We offered free workshops through the Better Business Bureau and local Chambers giving away ideas and advice. Short term we knew this wouldn’t “pay off.” We just viewed it as the right thing to do, with the hope that it might show long-term benefits while growing our brand recognition in the short-term. 

What’s Next?

Now that we’re moving past the initial months and the initial shock of COVID, I’m predicting two big changes for the second half of 2020 that will again alter the health of economy and reposition companies long-term.

First, with the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) coming to an end, we’re likely to see a lot more layoffs in the coming weeks as the employee protections expire. We’re also likely to see a lot of companies announcing that they’re closing for good or entering bankruptcy. While the first wave of job losses particularly hurt hourly workers in the restaurant and hospitality industry, this next wave is likely to hit salaried workers even harder.

Second, I am predicting that more business leaders are going to start taking more risks as they realize that this new abnormal is going to last through 2020 and into 2021 until a vaccine is fully distributed. Hibernating companies are starting to peek their heads out again, trying to figure out how to pivot themselves in the new economy. This will create partnership opportunities for companies, and threats to others as they see competitors get more active and offer new variations to compete.

And that’s just the business-related changes in the second half of 2020. I’m not even talking about the news coverage related distractions (and likely chaos) with rolling COVID hot zones, the upcoming restart of professional sports (assuming they actually restart), social justice movements happening across the country, the start of the new school year (k-12, and college), and the November election.  

Predicting the future is impossible right now. All companies can do is choose a path. Accelerate or Hibernate. As for my current strategy, we’re keeping our foot on the accelerator. By helping our clients to grow and succeed, we help our own company as well. We believe that pushing for and securing a strong finish in 2020, it will carry us into 2021 and the new abnormal. 

And if we do take a few steps backwards– like a lot of companies will—there’s comfort in knowing that we’ve been there before and already know the path forward.

— written by Josh Weiss, President of 10 to 1 Public Relations

It’s Okay to Have Imposter Syndrome

Do you ever feel like an imposter? That at some point other people will realize you don’t have the answers? Here’s what got me thinking about these questions.

One of our clients hosts an annual convention each year where more than 10,000 people gather at a big resort to celebrate their success and to introduce new products.  We’ve attended the event for the last six years, and it’s a really well-done event. Last year was in Las Vegas, and this year was supposed to be in Nashville, but COVID-19 forced it to become a virtual event.

Anyway, this year’s virtual convention is just days away, but it got me thinking about last year’s event. One of the breakout sessions featured one of the more successful Ambassadors (Independent Sales Representatives) where she admitted to a room full of her peers of equal stature (around 1,000 people) that she was an imposter. She said she felt like a fraud. That people were fools on her team to think she knew all the answers and knew exactly what to do all the time. In truth, she was just making it up as she went along. Trying to copy what her mentors were doing and demonstrating for their teams and demonstrating it to her own team.

I thought she was talking about me. A year later, I still do.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still extremely confident in my team on the work we’re doing for clients. I’m proud that we’ve won a lot of awards for our work. I’m thrilled that we continue to grow and have added clients despite COVID – that we’ve adapted to new realities that will result in us coming out of COVID stronger than when it started. All the same, I keep looking at my team and others in the industry expecting them to finally realize that I’m an imposter. That I don’t have all the answers and that I’m making it up as we go along.

And that’s the point. The point the convention presenter made in her confession. It’s okay to feel like an imposter, and it’s okay not to know all the answers. The key is to share the answers you do have as it helps lift those around you up.  It’s okay, no, completely appropriate as a leader to ask for opinions of your team and of those you consider mentors to help you make decisions when you’re unsure of what to do next.

I’m lucky to have a team where I can ask and trust their opinion. I’m lucky to be part of IPREX, an exclusive network of independent PR firms from around the globe where I can ask dumb questions and learn from leader of other amazing PR agencies that I’d love to emulate.

What I’ve learned is that it’s not a one-way street. They’re asking me questions back and requesting my opinion too.  Just as that convention speaker told the group, just because you feel like an imposter sometimes, it doesn’t mean you don’t have value to add.

Here’s the sad truth. We’re all just a bunch of posers seeking validation and approval. Imposter syndrome can be real, but it doesn’t change the work that needs to be done. It doesn’t change what you already know and can share with others. The final lesson is to follow your gut even when it’s not popular or when you’re unsure of what to do. Because in the end, you’re the one staring yourself in the mirror once time tells you if you were right or wrong.

– Josh Weiss, President of 10 to 1 Public Relations

Video Series: Public Relations Tips To Get Through COVID-19

As the novel coronavirus has spread across the globe, business as we have known it has been upended. While we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, there are things companies can be doing to position themselves to withstand the pandemic, help the community, and ultimately come out of this crisis stronger.

Public relations can play a role in delivering on these goals. 10 to 1 President Josh Weiss has created a video series of brief videos to give you ideas on how you can best position your company utilizing basic public relations and crisis communications tactics.

You can check out our video series below or on our YouTube page.

PR & COVID-19: Share Your Expertise


PR & COVID-19: Find Opportunity for Every Story


PR & COVID-19: Walk Through Your Warehouse


PR & COVID-19: Pivoting The Right Way


PR & COVID-19: Follow The Leader


PR & COVID-19: Be Honest With Your Customers


More videos will be added on a regular basis – stay tuned!

10 to 1 Public Relations Adds Four New Clients in Midst of COVID-19

Scottsdale-based strategic communications firm 10 to 1 Public Relations announced four new clients in April. All four companies are nationally focused and  service a wide range of industries.

“It’s very humbling to add four new clients at a time when so many marketing and PR firms across the U.S. are hard hit by the pandemic,” said Josh Weiss, President of 10 to 1 Public Relations. “All four companies came to us after COVID-related stay-at-home orders had already begun, making their signings even more exciting. It’s encouraging to see company leaders across a mix of industries, geographies, and company maturity (start-ups and well-established) planning through these unprecedented times and looking beyond to a post-COVID-19 reality.”

10 to 1 Public Relations’ four new clients are:


Headquartered in San Diego, California, Phamatech is one of the leading providers of rapid 1-step diagnostic devices for the detection of fertility, drugs of abuse, and infectious diseases. More information is available at www.phamatech.com 


Headquartered in Davie, Florida, Inspected, is a patent-pending mobile application for local governments enabling them to conduct commercial and home inspections virtually. The Inspected system lets government employees work remotely and makes GPS verified record-keeping easy and efficient. For more information, visit www.inspected.com 

Ninja Focus

Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, Ninja Focus is a meditation and mindfulness app designed to help young children understand and control their emotions as they navigate the early stages of life. This new app features short videos and interactive games to help children be more focused, compassionate and get better sleep using calming breathing techniques and healthy eating habits. More details are at www.ninjafocus.com

Runbeck Election Services

Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Runbeck Election Services preserves the integrity of the American democratic process by partnering with cities, counties, and states to provide a trusted election experience with ballot print and mail services, and equipment and software technology solutions that are accurate, transparent and efficient. Runbeck leverages five decades of experience to successfully innovate the process of producing elections with cutting-edge equipment, software, and production methods. More information is available at www.runbeck.net.

10 to 1 Public Relations specializes in proactive media relations, crisis communications, product and market launches, and trade show related media support. It services clients across the U.S. in multiple industries including: Healthcare, Construction, Manufacturing, Transportation, Real Estate, Technology, Finance, Public Safety, and Public/Private partnerships. In the last 18 months, the Arizona company has experienced exceptional growth, doubling its staff count and client roster. In 2019, 10 to 1 Public Relations was named winner of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce Sterling Award for business. Nationally, the firm has been ranked as one of the Top PR Firms in North America by independent, third-party review site Clutch.co.

More Family Meals, More Screen Time, More Discipline: A Portrait of American Parenting During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Four in 10 parents say they are having more meaningful conversations as a family

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (April 15, 2020) — A new normal of family life is emerging in post-coronavirus America, a new survey of parents shows – from more frequent family dinners and movie nights, to jumps in discipline and depression, to one-fifth of American parents reporting buying a gun in the last month.

And, not surprisingly, the new normal includes a lot more screen time for everyone. Half the children in the sample got five or more hours of screen time on the preceding Friday, according to their parents, up from 26% on a typical Friday before the pre-coronavirus.

The IPREX Parent Normal survey, fielded between April 1 and 8 by the research and creative firm Marketing for Change Co. for Scottsdale-based 10 to 1 Public Relations and its partners in the IPREX global communication network, asked 1,519 U.S. parents and other caregivers about their behaviors, their children’s behavior and their perception of what other parents do. The findings produced what is perhaps the first statistical portrait of American parenting in the pandemic.

“The survey highlights the real impacts of the COVID crisis on family habits and priorities.  While highlighting both American resiliency and challenges, the survey forecasts dramatic long-term changes taking root in the American public as we eventually reach a new normal,” said Josh Weiss, President of 10 to 1 Public Relations. “Early access to this real-time portrait of new behaviors within families and consumers is providing our clients and advantage as we have already begun updating communications strategies to better position and generate results for our clients for the future.”

The survey results show evidence of sadness and fear, but also glimmers of hope. It’s been a tough month: A third of the parents reported someone in their household losing a job as a result of the coronavirus. But while most parents are imposing strict new restrictions on their children’s movements and many report feeling depressed, most are also experiencing a new sense of togetherness and many are outdoors more, exercising more and even recycling more. 

It is also a story of two Americas, with job losses less common among the wealthiest families and middle-income parents more likely than lower-income parents to be newly working from home. Wealthy parents (household incomes over $100,000) were the most likely of all to be newly working from home.

Highlights include:

  • Nearly two out of three parents are barring their children from playing with children who don’t live with them. Almost a third of parents (31%) have gone so far as to limit their children to their own home and yard.
  • Nevertheless, a large share of children — about a third — were still playing the same amount or even more with children outside their home. The biggest factor here is the parent’s parenting style, with authoritative parents — those who jointly make rules with their children — having the most success at this form of distancing.
  • In the past three weeks, over three-quarters of parents have told their children over 5 about both washing hands regularly and keeping 6 feet from others to avoid spreading germs.
  • Almost two out of three (64%) parents say they are eating and watching entertainment together more as family than before the coronavirus. More than half are also cooking at home together (57%) and playing board games together (52%) more.
  • About half the parents (48%) say they are going on walks or runs more often with their family. Four in 10 parents say they are having more meaningful conversations as a family (42%), and roughly the same amount are watching the news together more often (39%).
  • But even as two-thirds of parents (65%) spend more time with their children, 57% report spending less time with their friends. Two out of five (38%) say they are feeling down or depressed more often, compared with 17% who say they feel that less often. 
  • Nearly one out of three parents of children under 13 (30%) say they find themselves disciplining their children more, including adding new rules, being stricter, yelling, imposing time-outs and withholding things. One in four (27%) of those parents are spanking more. Parents in places where schools and daycare centers had more recently closed were more likely to be disciplining more – potentially an indication of the challenges parents face as children initially spend more time at home.
  • One out of five parents (22%) reported buying a gun for their home in the past month. The bulk of these same parents (83%) also talked to their children about gun safety in that same period.
  • Average screen time since the coronavirus hit has jumped 38%. Last Friday, parents reported their children spent an average of 5.1 hours on screens compared to 3.7 hours on an average Friday before the coronavirus. Teenagers last Friday had an average of 6.2 hours of screen time, which includes gaming, entertainment, academics, social media and other online activities. The good news: 43% of the increase for all ages was in distance learning and academics. 
  • Parents are also changing their own behavior. While 58% report spending more time on computers and smartphones, 41% of parents are exercising more and 37% are spending more time outdoors.
  • Being home can also mean being more environmentally conscious. Roughly one in three parents say they are recycling more (31%) and conserving energy more (33%), and nearly one in four are composting food waste more (24%). But a third are also using more disposable plastics (34%).
  • Though most lower-income and middle-income families report giving less or the same amount to charity, 31% of parents with incomes above $100,000 said they were giving more to charities since the coronavirus.  

The IPREX Parent Normal Survey was conducted by Marketing for Change Co. April 1 through April 8, 2020, using a sample of 1,519 parents and caregivers nationwide. (Three percent of the sample were grandparents who were the primary caregivers for children in their household; 1% were other caregivers). The online sample aligned with U.S. Census estimates for gender, income, race, ethnicity and region. All online polls are, by definition, non-probability samples that technically cannot have a known margin of error. But online samples, if recruited, managed and selected correctly, can effectively replicate known populations with high levels of accuracy. For this survey, Marketing for Change used the world’s largest first-party data and insights sample source, Dynata’s 60+ million consumer panel. The margin of error for a random probability sample of 1,519 is +/- 3%.

About 10 to 1 Public Relations:
Scottsdale, Arizona-based 10 to 1 Public Relations is a strategic public relations firm focused on developing and implementing strategies that grow and maintain the positive awareness and reputation of its clients. Launched in 2012, 10 to 1 Public Relations’ philosophy is that it takes 10 good things to be said about a company to make up for one bad. Since it’s only a matter of time before a negative comment (true or false) is made, it’s essential to build up a company’s “good will bank” to protect its long-term image and reputation. This philosophy led to the company’s name. It is the only member of the IPREX in the Southwestern U.S. www.10to1pr.com.  


As a global network of nearly 70 communication agencies in 26 countries, IPREX agencies deliver successful responses to communication challenges. IPREX offers our partners’ clients seamless world-class advice and implementation – and provides partners with the infrastructure and support they need to win and manage such assignments. Clients choose IPREX partners for their influence in their own markets and because our management systems make the diversity, innovation and dynamism of owner-managed agencies work to their advantage. www.IPREX.com

About Marketing for Change Co. 

Marketing for Change is a full-service creative and research firm anchored in social psychology and behavioral economics and focused on doing good. The agency uses its own behavioral-determinants model to develop and produce products, experiences and campaigns to influence behavior for foundations, governments, nonprofits and healthcare companies. M4C’s efforts not only win awards, but are featured in textbooks and reviewed in peer-reviewed journals. The agency’s mission is to make what’s good more fun, easy and popular. www.Marketingforchange.com

12 Tips for Successful At-Home Remote Video Interviews with the Media

You’ve landed a remote interview with a television station, congratulations! How do you make sure it goes well and you get your message across? How can you best avoid any technology failures or unwanted interruptions?

There are several things to keep in mind to ensure that you are prepared for the interview, both when it comes to visuals and audio.


1. Ensure you have the proper technology. Things to consider:

  • Make sure that you have the appropriate video software downloaded to your computer and that it is the most updated version.
  • If you have an external camera and/or microphone, ensure they are set up and working.
  • You can use headphones during the interview to enhance your audio, as the microphone will be higher quality than a standard computer microphone and be closer to your mouth to pick up your sound better. However, do not use large over-ear headphones as they will not look appealing on camera. Earbuds are recommended. If they are corded, use the one side with the microphone and hide the cord as best you can.

2. Identify your interview location. This should be a room in your home that has a door that can be closed to shut out unwanted interruptions. It should also be as close as possible to your internet router to ensure you have a strong internet connection.

3. Set up your space. Things to pay attention to:

  • Light source – You want to avoid any light coming from behind you. If you have to position yourself in front of a window, close the blinds. A “fancy” at home set up will include a “ring light” that will cast a favorable light on your face to make you look your best. If you do not have access to a ring light but your face lacks the proper lighting, find a lamp in your home that you can position that shines some light on your face.
  • Background – You don’t want a cluttered space in the background, but you also don’t want it to be barren. Positioning a bookshelf behind you is usually an appealing visual. Doublecheck the bookcase before the interview to ensure that all of the viewable titles are appropriate. If you don’t have a bookshelf, you can use a small table or desk behind you to arrange some memorabilia like photos or other décor for some visual interest. If you have merchandise or props related to your interview/company, they should be placed somewhere in the video frame.
  • Set up a comfortable chair – You will want to be seated during the interview to prevent any random movements that may be distracting. Avoid a swivel chair if possible.
  • Camera/Computer Position – Depending on how you will be seated, you will want to set up your computer or camera so that it is elevated. The camera should be level with your eyes for the optimal image. Elevate your computer by using a laptop stand or a stack of books. For the best framing, you’ll want to position the camera about an arm’s length away from you.

4. Run a Test. Using the appropriate video software with any external equipment set up, run a test call with a friend or colleague to ensure that your video and audio are working well and that you are happy with your setup.


5. Prevent any noise interruptions. Items to check off:

  • Turn your phone to “do not disturb” mode.
  • Put a sign on your door that says, “do not disturb.” If necessary, do the same for your front door and ask people not to ring the doorbell.
  • Alert family members of your interview time and request that they stay quiet or in another part of the house.
  • Hide pets in another room for the duration of the interview.

6. Wear the appropriate clothing. Avoid bright patterns or colors that would blend in with your background. Solid pastels are best. Do not wear bright white or green, as these colors do not work well on screen.

7. Keep your body in check. Things to keep in mind:

  • Check your posture. While seated, make sure you are sitting straight up. Roll your shoulders back to check you have the right posture.
  • Stop bouncing your legs. It’s normal to experience some nerves before or during an interview. Keep your feet planted to avoid bouncing your legs.
  • Watch your hands. Some people are very expressive with their hands when they speak. This can be distracting during a video interview. Try to keep your hands in your lap while you’re speaking for the most part, a little hand motion during some of the interview is okay.
  • Grab a glass of water to keep by your setup in case it is needed during the interview.

8. Speak slowly and clearly. Speak more slowly than you normally would, it may sound weird to you but it will help you reduce the number of “ums” and allow the viewers to better follow your messaging.

9. Keep eye contact with the camera. It may feel awkward not looking at the computer screen when answering the reporter’s questions, but you’ll look your best for the interview when you are looking directly at the camera while you are speaking.


10. Thank the reporter. Ask if there is anything else that you can do to help them with the story. If the interview was recorded and will be used later, ask when they anticipate the interview will air.

11. Send b-roll and photos. If the interview was recorded, send the reporter any additional b-roll or photos that could help enhance their story.

12. Share the interview. Once the interview has aired or been posted, share it far and wide via your social media channels and email newsletter! Be sure to also post it to the media or blog page of your website. 

Following these tips should guarantee a successful remote at-home video interview. It is particularly important to consider these tips at this time while the coronavirus pandemic has forced many television news stations to shift operations and prioritize remote interviews like these. By providing an excellent interview, it’s more likely that you’ll be invited back for another interview in the future.

— written by Erica Fetherston, Sr. Account Exec at 10 to 1 Public Relations

The First 24 Hours of a Crisis: Offer Questions, NOT Answers

Boom.  Out of nowhere, a crisis hits your company or community. As the leader, everyone’s turning to you.  In part to see how you react, but mostly for instruction confirming how they’re supposed to respond. 

Everyone’s turning to you for answers- but that’s the last thing you should be doing during the first 24 hours of a crisis.  Your job the first 24 hours is to ask questions, and to avoid giving answers.

The first questions you ask should be directed to your employees.  What do they need to deal with the immediate problem? How can you help get them the help they need, quickly? These questions not only demonstrate your support to your team but instructs them to take action.

The next set of questions are to gather information.  How many people were initially, directly affected by the crisis issue?  Follow that with questions about how to prevent new victims from being negatively affected by the same crisis in the coming hours.

These questions upfront are necessary to gather the information you need to make strategic decisions and ultimately later, proclamations for the future.

Even when talking to reporters, customers or the public, you should still focus on asking questions during the first 24 hours, not giving answers.

During the first 24 hours avoid making declarative statements or accusations against others that commit you or your company to certain actions. Avoid giving definitive answers or suggesting long-term solutions that could be considered controversial as your statement will come across as opportunistic instead of as a genuine solution.

The only initial statements you should make are holding statements (see our earlier blog entitled Part 1 of what to do in a PR crisis). Otherwise, you essentially should be rephrasing and sharing the questions you asked your staff and the answers you were given.  Basically you’re going to say that your team is still investigating details of the incident to make sure it never happens again, but your immediate priority is to better understand the full impact to those effected and how best, and most quickly to help them.

It’s only on day two, after more facts are known and cooler heads prevail, that you can start delivering answers and rallying support for specific actions. 

If there’s a general uproar over the crisis, you can also ask rhetorical questions.  For example, if the crisis is a criminal act made against your company, ask aloud who would do such a heinous thing effecting so many. Share in the public outcry and frustration, but be careful in pointing blame outwards if you suspect a member of your team might be involved.

As the leader, your job when a crisis hits is to ask questions and support your teams in resolving the immediate threat.  After the immediate pressure of the crisis subsides, your job refocuses into identifying what caused the problem and initiating a long-term fix to avoid a repeat of the crisis and regain the confidence of your customers and the public.

A fantastic example and story of how to deploy the 24 hours of questions before providing answers strategy can be heard in a podcast called Without Fail where in an episode featuring Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley talks about the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting outside a Dayton entertainment area called the Oregon District. Here’s a link to the episode https://gimletmedia.com/shows/without-fail/v4h8ow including a transcript of the discussion.

Does Your Company Have a Media Emergency Playbook?

How your Company Can Win By Preparing for a Media Crisis Like It’s a Game.

Remember from childhood the game “Mad Libs”?  It’s the grammar game where there’s a one-page story with a bunch of missing words in the narrative.  The game leader asks the other kids to yell out what’s called for in the blank space- like a Verb, or a City name, a person’s occupation, an Adjective, etc.  After all the missing words are filled in, the game leader reads the now silly story to the enjoyment of the other kids who help contribute to the narrative. 

Games are fun, but some games are more important to win than others.  If you want to your company to win during a media emergency/PR crisis, you need to prepare in advance.  One way to win is by copying the Mad Libs game structure to creating a media emergency playbook your company can use when needed.

Let’s face it, it’s not IF a media emergency will occur, but WHEN.  A bad response can create a significant, lasting negative perception for a company, while a well-handled crisis can earn you long-term customer, employee and investor loyalty. The good news is that it’s possible to manage a crisis well, aided a little bit of planning.

Here are some tips to create a media emergency response plan.

Start by creating a list of the five most likely negative crisis scenarios that could happen to your company. 

For example, if you have employees driving company branded vehicles, a likely crisis could be a bad crash.  If you have employees performing manual, skilled labor, maybe there’s potential for a significant injury or loss of life. If you handle personal information or credit card information, there’s a significant risk of a hack or stolen data.

Create a one or two paragraph written statement for each scenario of how you would respond. 

The initial statement is simply to acknowledge the issue and demonstrate to the public and media that you’re taking the issue seriously and professionally and are investigating it to gather more facts.  It isn’t supposed to be detailed nor is it to explain how you’re fixing the problem.

This initial statement (often called a holding statement) will give you time to provide a more meaningful update (several hours or even a day) later, when you would share more details and examples of how you’re dealing with the situation.

Get sign-off from Executives, Legal team, etc. on your proposed statement.

Get approvals for your template statements now, before the crisis scenario actually occurs.  Examples would be Executives or the Legal team, who most normally would delay a response in the moment because they’d insist on reviewing and wordsmithing it first.  With your pre-approved response, all you’ll need to do is “fill in the blanks” and update some of the details like names, locations, other vital stats, etc.  With the initial media statement out of the way, you will save the entire team significant time allowing them to focus on the actual crisis and to help get it resolved.  Your fast response will also help protect your reputation and influence the public’s response when they learn about the crisis.

Start over and create another list of five potential scenarios which may be less likely to occur, but which scare you (or your CEO) the most. 

Maybe it’s a #MeToo scenario, or fear of an employee being arrested at work even though their crime has nothing to do with your business.  Go through the same process of preparing a short response and getting Executive and Legal approvals.

Strategically share the Media Emergency Playbook with key Executives and company spokespeople.

Not everyone should get a copy of your template responses.  Only share it with the handful of people most likely and authorized to share them with reporters on short notice.  These aren’t public documents for all to see in advance.  While the circle of people with copies should be small, it needs to be a large enough group where the people who ultimately need them can’t locate or find them. Especially in the event the most obvious people are on vacation and/or unreachable. 

While there’s a lot more to be done to properly prepare for, let alone handle, a crisis, having a “Mad Libs” style media emergency playbook is a great start for any company.

Welcome to the Nerd Zone

Out of nowhere, a silly gif image made me swell with pride as a small business owner.

A couple weeks ago, a new employee joined my team.  At the end of her first week, she sent a note to her coworkers thanking everyone for making her feel so welcomed and for helping her to learn our processes, resources, etc.  

Another employee quickly responded with a gif of Stephen Colbert saying: “Welcome to the Nerd Zone, My Friend!”

I know that shouldn’t be one of the gratifying moments I’ve had as a business owner, but it felt that way.  Building a culture for a company is hard. You can be a good person, but not fit because company culture is a mix of personalities, passions, and experiences.  Culture is more than simply the employees that work for the company, but the clients that employees serve.   It’s why we have a “no jerks” policy (which includes both co-workers and clients).

I say this admiringly… while they might be cooler than I am personally, collectively my team is a super cool collection of nerds, dorks, and dare I say it, geeks. We aren’t for everyone, and we don’t want to be.  I want to work with people who are passionate about earning stories and getting results for their clients.  I assume those same likeminded people enjoy working here because we’re focused, like to work, and abhor office drama.  

Our clients tend to be similarly driven- albeit individually as people most are more “cool” than we are.  It’s when we see the same nerdy passion that we know we’re a good fit.  A “normal” person might think a company is boring.  It’s hard for some outsiders to see that electrical contracting has so many interesting stories attached to it, or that there are so many different neat facets and angles to topics like orthopedics or generic medicines. But get together two people with a similar interest or knowledge base and the excitement and passion you witness during a discussion can become riveting. 

That’s what we look for in a client. People who think their business or industry is fascinating, even if the general public (or a reporter) may not initially see it.  Passion is what’s contagious, and we want to catch your disease. Don’t forget, the word influenza (flu) is very similar to influence.   We want to spread your “cool flu.” 

Yes, we’re proudly in the nerd zone. You’re welcome here, too.  Click here to drop us a line and join us in the zone.