Todd Van Hoosear

About Todd Van Hoosear

Todd’s love of technology started as a child, when his dad would bring home chips and switches from his work in the electronics industry that would feed his imagination for years. Combining a stint as an IT guy with his education in PR and communication, Todd has helped clients in the engineering, mobile, cloud, networking, consumer technology and consulting spaces bring new ideas – and new takes on old ideas – to the market.

Learn more about Todd

4 Thought Leaders on Thought Leadership

“Thought Leadership.” What do you think of when you hear this term? If you’d asked me this a few years ago, I would have envisioned CEOs on stage at a big conference, or maybe a nice profile piece in a trade or business publication. But over the past year or two I’ve been rethinking how we define a “thought leader,” in part thanks to the work that Mitchell Levy is doing over at his Thought Leader Life blog and podcast.

So when I heard Mitchell’s voice (which I recognized because I’m a regular listener of the FIR Podcast Network) at the AMPlify conference before he got up to speak, I knew I had to connect with him. That connection turned into me co-hosting Thought Leader Life for the month of June (which stretched well into July if you’re really going to get technical).

Mitchell has argued for a long time now that everyone inside your organization can and should be a thought leader. I’ve come around to something very close to that same conclusion, and was able to put our arguments to the test through chats with four well-known thought leaders (in anyone’s book).

I was able to get some great insights on the topic from Mitchell and our four guests: Scott Monty, Paul Gillin, Emily Reichert and Ann Handley. The conversations involved mostly — but not entirely — B2B brands, and focused specifically on how to develop individual #ThoughtLeadership brands alongside the corporate brand. The primary question I wanted to answer was how organizations can strike a balance between individual and corporate brands.

In this first video, Mitchell and I set the stage for our interview series.

In this second video, you can hear our interview with Scott Monty, who argues that organizations are missing a huge opportunity by not taking advantage of the employee’s natural proclivity to be social. Companies that fail to appreciate the value of personal brands are more likely to disappear, he argues. All three of us agree that that CMOs face greater technological responsibilities than any other C-Level executive. Scott also made an interesting observation on our claim that all employees should be thought leaders: he differentiates “thought leaders” from “thought doers” and wonders aloud who will be responsible for carrying out the vision communicated by these leaders.

The third video is our interview with Paul Gillin, and we discuss why organizations need to take advantage of their employees and advocates and support their individual brands in order to advance the business. Paul argues that one of the most seemingly obvious but oft overlooked people to spread the message are employees — especially digital natives. Then the topic of money comes up. Paul explains that monetizing in the traditional sense has become very difficult, especially with interactions between the thought leader and the audience becoming more direct — see the disintermediation happening in the music industry for a prime example.

The fourth video — my personal favorite — is our interview with Greentown Labs CEO Emily Reichert, in which we delve into the tradeoffs in balancing your personal and corporate brands in depth. Emily argues that CEOs should always be thinking about how to use their personal brands to help build the corporate brand. They are two separate identities, but they must work together to grow together. Greentown Labs provides opportunities for member companies to become thought leaders in their own space. Emily also explains why she appreciates companies that actually outshine Greentown Labs in terms of marketing, because that means that Greentown has been successful in getting its member companies’ brands out.

The final video captures our conversation with renowned author and marketing content expert Ann Handley of MarketingProfs. Ann, a big fan of employee advocacy, encourages all 40 employees at MarketingProfs to build their own brand, and even provides training and content they can personally share to their own audience. In the interview, she elaborates on her recent article about establishing your “voice,” whether corporate or personal: to find your voice, think about three adjectives that best describe who you are. Her best advice for corporate CEOs is to sit down and discuss your voice and how to amplify it through your employees using social. We also chat about fear — why some corporations are fearful of letting their employees talk on social. Mitchell notes that it’s ironic how you trust employees to do work for you, and then not trust them to talk about what they do.

All in all these are five great conversations that add a lot of insight into how to succeed with both your personal brands and your corporate brands. I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed putting them together for you.

HB is Proud to Support Next Week’s TEDxCambridge

14460185274_38ab8efb4f_zTEDxCambridge 2014 Fall is coming next Friday, September 12th. Tickets will sell out sometime this weekend, so now is your last chance to get your application to attend in!

I’ve had the pleasure of being part of the global TEDx community since 2011, when I signed on to help produce the inaugural TEDxSomerville here in the Boston area. Although I’m still a Somerville resident, I’ve spent a lot of time in Cambridge as well through my PR work.

When Dmitri Gunn reached out to me with his idea for a smaller, faster-paced, sustainable, high-quality revamp of the already exceptional TEDxCambridge event, I couldn’t pass up the challenge. Our first event was in September of 2013. It was an impressive event, spanning three venues (including a unique outdoor space).

The new TEDxCambridge features a unique TEDx evening event format and audience experience with an emphasis on celebrating the world-class innovation in and around Cambridge, and the impact this innovation is having globally. TEDxCambridge speaker talks have been viewed over 20 million times.

The TEDxCambridge 2014 Fall event is being hosted across four venues in Kendall Square on Friday, September 12. It will feature world-class speakers in the areas of science, photography, management, philosophy and more, followed by a gourmet reception from the area’s best local restaurateurs including Row 34, Barismo, Craigie on Main, Coppa, Journeyman, Backbar, The Salty Pig, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Puritan & Co., Mei Mei, La Brasa, The Kirkland Tap & Trotter, and Pretty Things.

TEDxCambridge is unique for its short format, high-quality reception and its Innovation Lab, which features some of the area’s top startups and technologies.

More information on the fall event is available at Apply to attend the event at

Finally, read about how HB Agency made this event possible. Hope to see you next Friday!

Sick of Crappy Infographics? Blame the First Press Release

Ivy-Lee-New-York-Times.jpgIn 2013, “Can you create an infographic?” became the new “Can you make a viral video?”

The craptastic nature of so many of them has inspired pinboards and even entire websites. I could dedicate an entire blog post to all the elements of awful infographics, but that’s well-trodden ground.

Instead I’d like to focus on a small insight I had while putting together a client memo on an infographic concept shortly after finishing up writing the final exam for my PR and social media class at BU.

In class we talk about what is commonly accepted as the first press release, written by Ivy Lee in 1906, which was no doubt the first and last time that a press release appeared in toto in the New York Times. It represents the the unmet dream of every PR person: verbatim editorial pick up of your messaging.

Infographics are the last gasp attempt of PR and marketing professionals everywhere to control the message.

Image via (but not by) New Breed Markeing

Image via (but not by) New Breed Marketing

We’ve completely lost control of the written text, but infographics represent something that’s a little harder to muck with. This theory nicely explains why it’s so tempting to cram as much text as is humanly possible into an infographic.

But it may not be the only reason.

Google may be as much to blame as Ivy Lee. PR pros’ goal of verbatim or near-verbatim adoption of a messaging platform might actually be seen as “content farming” and be penalized by Google for repeat content.

While at first blush the idea of hiding SEO-rich copy behind the “bit screen” of a JPEG, GIF or PNG image format (and thus rendering the text invisible to search engines) might seem detrimental, or even moronic (my first take on the phenomenon of text-heavy, mile-high infographics), the tactic may actually benefit marketers and messengers by preventing it from being penalized in the search engine results pages.

I still think there are much better ways to communicate your key messages than an infographic. Despite their name, infographics should be used to illustrate and create new insights, rather than to inform. Text is still the best medium for that — at least for the time being. But maybe I’m being old-fashioned. If so, call me on it!

Update (February 5, 2014): BONUS VIDEO
I stopped by the offices of Critical Mention during my last visit to New York, and they threw me on camera to talk about this post a little more. Here’s what I said:

Craptastic Infographics (Todd Van Hoosear Video) from Critical Mention on Vimeo.

Who’s to Blame When PR Practitioners Spam?

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 3.14.25 PMDavid Segal usually keeps his magnifying glass trained on big consumer brands, frauds, rip-offs, deceptive practices and other complaints from his readers. But two weeks ago, he turned his attention to a very different beast: PR spam.

The Haggler, it seems, had reason to complain himself: he was getting way too many unsolicited and grossly off-target email pitches. As he put it:

The odds of the Haggler writing about any of these topics could safely be described as nil. Yet some company hired a public relations firm to send the Haggler, and presumably countless other reporters, the same information. This seemed like a waste of energy and money, so the Haggler decided to find out what was behind this antiquated attempt to win media attention — who was paying for it, and why?

The Haggler started by emailing the P.R. reps whose names were attached to these emails, posing a simple question: Where did you get the Haggler’s address? One answer came up time and again: Vocus, a publicly traded company based in Beltsville, Md. Among its products is access to a database of reporters’ email addresses.

So the Haggler set out to get removed from these lists, curated by companies like Vocus, Cision, MyMediaInfo, Meltwater and the popular PR wire services. One less media contact in our databases, but hundreds fewer bits of email spam in his inbox. His gain, but our loss. My loss, to be exact. When other irresponsible PR practitioners make my life more difficult, I take it personally. Or, am I wrong? Perhaps it is his loss, and maybe not as much of a loss for us as I thought?

Does It Work?

The PR world wasted no time in commenting on this. While most trashed the practice of “shotgun PR,” at least one observer noted that [emphasis mine]

as a result of [the agency’s] scattershot, “let’s see what sticks” media outreach tactics, Soireehome [the company called out in The Haggler’s article] and its product received a mention in the New York Times. I’d be curious to see what Google could tell us about upticks in searches for that drinking glass. Something tells me volume is probably up. I admit it: As someone who likes his martinis bone cold, I thought about googling it myself!

While Eric Starkman, the author of those words, quickly goes on to distance himself from the practice, he in turn points to the reason why spray and pray PR might be more effective now than ever before:

Journalism’s “standard operating procedures” have plummeted to such a low level that increasingly what Mr. Segal decries as PR spam finds its way into the blogosphere and ultimately into mainstream newspapers. Gawker in its “PR Dummies” column once decried a PR firm for sending out a staged photo of an actress purchasing some orange juice, but the image – and the Gawker column – actually garnered some pick up…. Granted, not all the mentions were positive, but there is a school of thought (which I don’t subscribe to) that all PR is ultimately good PR. In the client’s eyes, the “buzz” could very well have been a perceived win. (For what it’s worth, I hadn’t heard of that brand of orange juice until I read about it on Gawker, but now I know it has 50 percent less calories than that company’s other orange juice products!)

Opt Out or Blacklist?

So what to do about this quandary?

When I read this story, I hearkened back to the last major flare-up around PR spam: the one that led LifeHacker‘s Gina Trapani to create and curate the PR Spammers Wiki. And my immediate thought was maybe we should reinstate the PR spammer blacklist. After all, surely it has to be better than the alternative — losing valuable contact information from good editorial contacts. But then I remember how relieved I was that my company wasn’t on the list of PR spammers, and how many good companies were on that list, usually because of one or two bad eggs out of dozens or hundreds of PR people and thousands of pitches.

So, torn and indecisive as I was, I tweeted my frustration:

Both Meltwater and Cision got back to me quickly. Perhaps it will be no surprise that I’m a customer of both.

Cision connected me with Heidi Sullivan, who in fact spent a good deal of time speaking with John Cass and Jason Falls back in 2008 when the first flare-up happened. I spent some time getting her perspective on the issue as it reemerges in 2013.

Accidentally on Purpose?

“We do still run into situations where people who are abusing our database,” Heidi said. “If they use our distribution service, we have limits in place to prevent abuse. If they export our data, we have to rely on abuse reports from journalists. Once we get these, we ask people to stop. If they don’t, we shut them off.”

Heidi is convinced that in most cases, it’s a matter of poor training, rather than deliberate abuse. “Spray and pray PR doesn’t work, and we spend a lot of time helping our PR clients better focus their pitches,” she told me. “More often than not, these abuses come from young, poorly-trained, well-intentioned PR practitioners under pressure to get more hits. Correct that and you fix most of the problem areas.”

Training is a big part of Heidi’s job at Cision. She organizes three to four webinars per month focused on topics like pitching the media, content marketing and other areas. The Cision Blog is another resource that offers tips on doing great PR.

Cision has also tweaked the tools and services it offers to help address this. I mentioned earlier the distribution limits it put in place. The product now offers an influencer search to find what journalists are tweeting about, so you can get much more specific with your searches.

Who Needs Who?

Let’s take a moment to explore why Cision and other media databases exist. Like media query services such as HARO and Profnet, they don’t just help the PR professionals; they also help the reporters out. While a reasonable case could be made that David Segal is an exception to this, since his sources are almost exclusively emails from concerned consumers, he is in the minority. Most journalists need PR people as much as PR people need journalists. Today, perhaps more than ever.

As an illustration of this fact, I asked Heidi how many journalists took up The Haggler’s mantle and removed themselves from Cision’s databases. The answer? “We had fewer than five removal requests after the Haggler’s article. We spoke with each of them, and ultimately removed fewer than half of them from our database. In fact, we got way more emails from conscientious clients than reporters.”

Oh, and yes, David Segal was among the one or two media contacts that the PR world lost. But was it much of a loss?

Skeptics or Believers?

David Segal is a skeptic not only of PR, but social media as well — I can’t find a Twitter handle for him or his pseudonym. In both social media and email, he appears to be among a dwindling number of professional journalists able to exist without these channels of communication.

Heidi gave me a preview of some research conducted by Cision on trends in journalists’ use of social media. The number of journalists who classify themselves as social media skeptics dropped from 31% in 2012 to 9% in 2013 according to the company’s soon-to-be-released survey data.


What Next?

Back in 2008, Jason and John put the onus of responsibility on the media database companies, urging them to develop an industry protocol for gathering and managing contact information, tracking the history of contact changes, fact checking and permission seeking with each contact, the creation of a media hotline for each database company, and the creation of a “community taskforce to stop bad pitches.”

Progress has been made toward those goals, but more progress must be made. My final thoughts go to the parties involved:

To David Segal, I say: “While I think removing yourself from the list was an overreaction, it’s one I entirely understand. But every once in a while, a journalist is thankful for a PR person ignoring the ‘not a media contact’ warning that I think would have been a better solution for all.”

To the surprised CEO who had no idea what his agency was doing with the $1500 a month they were being paid, I say: “Sorry, but you get what you pay for. Spend more money on PR, but demand accountability from your (no doubt new) agency as a consequence, as David rightly suggests.”

To the agency involved in this, I say: “Sorry you lost that client. Train your younger associates better. Find better ways to measure your efforts than the number of pitches sent. And avoid phrases like ’email blast’ around the office.”

And to my fellow PR professionals, I say: “The biggest lessons here may be about setting expectations and learning to say no to smaller budgets. The sweet spot for effective and profitable PR will be different for every agency, but make sure you know what that number is and try not to go under it. Smaller budgets lead to lower margins and unhappy (and surprised) clients.”

Every Google Search Operator You’ll Ever Need

shutterstock_132552677I consider myself a bit of a Boolean geek. I fell in love with Boolean search in college, but it wasn’t until I got hold of Lexis-Nexis after college that I realized the power of search. When Google came around many moons later, I was disappointed that I couldn’t use the same Boolean operators that I could elsewhere — Google wants the experience to be as simple as possible, and, let’s face it, Boolean search strings can be pretty overwhelming. But then again, so can long Google search strings.

As it turns out, Google uses many of the same search operators that other Boolean systems do; it just changes the terms around in places. It also has a few search operators that are very poorly documented (and possibly on their way out the Google door, like the + and ~ operators).

So, to help us all out, I’ve compiled as thorough as possible comparison of Google and “traditional” Boolean notation, as represented by the Cision search tool we use here at HB. If you have any questions, comments or additions, please share them below!






A search string is a word or phrase. Phrases are included in quotes. “Stop words” are short words that are either ignored by Google (e.g., and, or, the, etc.) or ones that can be mistaken for operators. You can force the search engine to find them by enclosing them in quotes. Searches are generally not case sensitive, though Cision and Lexis-Nexis support case-sensitive searches (see below).



“HB Agency”



“HB Agency”


(or space)

Search results must include all terms connected by the AND operator. In Google Search, the AND is implied by a space (unless the space is inside quotes).

“Kevin Hart” “HB Agency”

PR “HB Agency”

“Kevin Hart” AND “HB Agency”

PR AND “HB Agency”


(or |)

Search results can include any terms connected by the OR operator. Google recognizes either OR or the | pipe symbol.

“Kevin Hard” OR “Nicolas Boillot”

Hart-Boillot | HB

“Kevin Hard” OR “Nicolas Boillot”

Hart-Boillot OR HB


(or )

(or AND NOT)

Search results must not include any of the terms that follow the NOT operator. In Google Search, precede any term you want to exclude with a minus sign (-). Use “AND NOT” in Cision to be safe.

“alternative energy” -nuclear

publicity -“public relations”

“alternative energy” AND NOT nuclear

publicity AND NOT “public relations”

( )

order of execution and grouping

Parentheses should be used to group or nest search terms together and ensure the proper order of execution (just like in math).

(Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | (day date)) -prnewswire

(Monday OR Tuesday OR Wednesday OR Thursday OR Friday OR Saturday OR Sunday OR (day AND date)) AND NOT prnewswire


(or NEAR)

(or W/#)

(or AROUND(#))

Proximity operators search for words or phrases that occur near one another. They operate very differently depending on the system. NEAR doesn’t typically take a parameter, but W/# is followed by a number (#) indicating how many characters can separate the two terms. Google’s completely unknown and unsupported AROUND(#) takes a number indicating how many words can separate the terms.

“HB Agency” AROUND(5) “public relations”

Cision does not currently support proximity searches in the Advanced search, but I believe Lexis-Nexis takes the w/# notation. It also accepts w/s (within the sentence) and w/p (within the paragraph).


(or *)

(or .)

(or ?)

The asterisk (*) is used in most engines to represent zero or more characters, and can appear by itself or at the end of an initial string. In Google, the * represents one word. The period (.) or the question mark (?) is used in many engines to indicate only 1 character. Both Google Search and Cision support the *, though in Google Search the * represents 1 word.

The quick * fox ran over the *

Four score ** ago

test | text

test | testing | tester

The quick * fox ran over the *

Four score * * ago




(or site:)

In Google, you can focus your search on a single site or domain. “Mark O’Toole” insurance



(or link:)

In Google, you can find pages that link to a certain page.



(or related:)

In Google, you can find which other pages Google thinks are related to a particular URL.



(or title:)

In Cision, by default you are searching both titles and the full text. You can search only in titles using the title: modifier.


title:”HB Agency”


(or fulltext:)

In Cision, by default you are searching both titles and the full text. You can search only in full text using the fulltext: modifier.


fulltext:”HB Agency”


(or title_cs:)

(or fulltext_cs:)

In Cision, you can perform case sensitive searches by adding _cs to either the title: or fulltext: search modifier.


fulltext_cs:”HB Agency”

title_cs:”HB Agency”


(or ..)

In Google, two dots can be used between two numbers to indicate a range.

camera $50..$100


Defining Communication Excellence

awardimageNext week, I get all dressed up and dust off my “announcer voice” to emcee the Awards Gala that caps a great day-long symposium. The Awards Gala honors the 2013 SNCR Excellence in New Communications Awards Winners. I’ve had the opportunity to learn about all the winners and to see what they have in common. My goal is to build a more complete picture of what exactly is involved in “communications excellence.”

I’ve been a SNCR fan since 2006, when the organization hosted the very first Social Media Club Boston event that I organized. I was impressed then by the caliber of awards winners, and I’m impressed today. Then and now, communication excellence is characterized by:

  1. Storytelling. Excellent communicators know that the key to creating memorable messages and campaigns is to tell a story. They recognize that stories require characters, and that characters require flaws. They embrace their own flaws, and aren’t afraid to point out flaws either.
  2. More listening than talking. Sure, excellent communicators create great messages. But they also spend as much, or more time, listening as they do talking.
  3. Alignment of message, medium and market. Excellent communicators make sure they pick the right message for the right channel that reaches the right community.
  4. Process-driven thinking. Excellent communicators are programmatic thinkers — when constructing their stories, they make sure that each piece of content supports the central story line, but also drives engaged community members further down through the sales funnel. To support content creation, they put a lot of writing and research time in up-front, creating policies, processes and calendars to shape the program over time and be able to respond more quickly when issues or opportunities come up.
  5. As much quant as qual. Good quality content is critical, but excellent communicators as also number crunchers. They understand that great marketing campaigns aren’t created in a vacuum — that testing, measuring and reporting are as important as creative design and well-edited copy when it comes to the success of the program.
  6. A business focus. Speaking of numbers, excellent communicators are multilingual — they speak CEO. They know how their marketing successes translate to business successes.

I know next week’s speakers and award winners have more to add to this, and you probably do too! Feel free to share your thoughts below.

If you want to hear what they have to say first-hand, click here to register and use discount code “Friend25” to get 25% off the event. Reading this before the Witching Hour? Through midnight tonight (October 31st), you can actually use discount code “Halloween” for 35% off!


There is No Pitch in PR

5959544809_518c9047b5_nIt’s playoff season, and the Red Sox are headed to the World Series to play the Cardinals. Baseball is a pitcher’s game, and as any batter can tell you, pitching is not a win-win scenario. The pitcher is up on that mound with one goal in mind: to strike the batter out.

PR professionals are all about the pitch. Our goal — to mix metaphors (or at least to mix professions) — is to be pitch perfect.

Maybe this is the wrong way to think about things.

Jim Ayraud, CEO and founder of Next Level, Inc., teaches sales, and I had the pleasure last week of attending one of his two-day intensive sales training programs based on the Sandler System.

While he was focused on training us on business development techniques, I couldn’t help but apply what I was learning to media relations as well.

Jim taught us that pitch is a bad word in sales, because it implies that a win for the salesperson is a loss for the buyer, and that’s neither correct nor healthy for us. “There is no pitch in sales,” he says. Jim suggests that sales is more about catching the ball than pitching it. Only the ball is pain.

Maybe PR is too.

Jim taught us ways to catch our prospects’ pain. I think this applies nicely to media relations. What pain are your reporters and editors facing? Get to know those pain points. And you accomplish that through rapport. You can’t build a relationship with a reporter or editor in 2-3 minutes. But you can build rapport. You do this by setting a clear, upfront contract with the contact right off the bat, and then through active listening.

When we focus on the pitch, we’re forgetting the pain. Maybe our pitch can help solve that pain, but maybe not. How will we know, if we don’t ask?

PR people talk too much, and don’t listen enough. You know it’s true. I like to talk. So do you. It’s probably why we’re both in PR. But the best PR people listen more than they talk. They ask about their reporters’ needs, and then find ways to help even more than the latest press release from their client can.

The Red Sox’ pitching has been inconsistent in the post-season. But throughout the World Series, and into 2014, I’m going to remind myself what the guy on the mound is trying to accomplish, and how it’s different from what I do. I hope you do too.

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Speaking of Marketing

It’s been a little more than a month since I joined the HB team, and boy has it been busy! By the look of it, things won’t quiet down for a while, if ever. The combination of PR, social media and creative design talent that I see here at HB Agency has led to some great conversations — taking place inside our agency, with our clients and with the broader business world.

There are two upcoming public conversations that the HB team will be leading that I want to bring to your attention:


Tomorrow, Mark O’Toole will be leading a discussion about the future of PR at FutureM. PR is not always on the checklist for today’s advanced marketing ecosystems. Why not? He’ll be joined by industry leaders both inside and outside of PR, including:

  • Brian Carr, VP of Marketing, Springpad
  • Christian Megliola, Director of Public Relations and Social Strategy, Connelly Partners
  • Tim Reeves, Principal, allen & gerritsen
  • Aarti Shah, Senior Editor, The Holmes Report
  • Anne Weiskopf, VP of Business Development, Digiday

There’s still time to sign up to attend. Hope to see you there!

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 4.01.52 PM

On November 7th, I have the pleasure of being the emcee for the 8th Annual SNCR Awards Gala. The Gala follows the day-long SNCR Symposium, which will feature discussions on topics and speakers that include:

  • Social Business Trends – Vanessa DiMauro
  • Social Media Measurement Standards – Katie Paine
  • The State of Mobile Banking Adoption – Ingrid Sturgis
  • Social Media for Social Good: Health Justice CT Update & Case Study – Panel
  • and more

I hope you can join me for this great event, hosted by Thomson Reuters. Register for this event at Use discount code SNCR25 to receive 25% off the event.

Be the first to hear the findings of the SNCR Fellows’ research on the latest trends in new communications. Join SNCR to celebrate the winners of the 2013 SNCR Excellence in New Communications Awards program, and hear the winning case studies from around the world.

13 Not-so-frightening Facts About the New HB Team

Fresh Ground

In case you missed it, HB has acquired Fresh Ground, a public relations and social media agency. So what should you know about the newest additions to the HB team?

  1. In less than her first 4 months of PR, Brette Querzoli landed her first client a TV interview with Live From the Couch, CBS New York.
  2. In addition to running Fresh Ground with his partner, Todd Van Hoosear founded the Social Media Club Boston, is a fellow with the Society for New Communications Research and teaches PR and social media at Boston University.
  3. Ruth Bazinet is a self taught guitarist and song writer, and has played local Boston venues.
  4. Chuck Tanowitz was once a body double for Tom Brokaw.
  5. Brette Querzoli is a vegetarian who cooks meat for friends and family (and she’s good at it — ask them).
  6. Todd Van Hoosear has been called a doppelganger to celebrities including Judge Reinhold, Danny Kaye, Ryan Stiles and even Steve McQueen. You be the judge.
  7. Ruth Bazinet’s space art has been published in outlets including Harvard Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic Kids, and
  8. Fresh Ground was named after Chuck Tanowitz’s coffee obsession. During one search for coffee in Seattle, Chuck met a bus driver who told the passengers that if they didn’t pay as they were getting off the bus, he would tie them to the seat and sing all 21 verses of “There are no drivers like bus drivers,” and then began to sing. A few minutes later a woman got on and declared that she had quit smoking, the whole bus cheered.
  9. Ruth Bazinet was inspired to pursue a career in public relations after meeting Helen Thomas at the White House.
  10. Chuck Tanowitz bikes to work regularly, but the new office means his commute dropped from 8 miles each way to 1.
  11. Brette Querzoli celebrates shark week religiously, and with a lot of Photoshop help.
  12. Ruth Bazinet once hired a PR intern through Twitter, having never met her. She was dazzling, even scoring a Wall Street Journal hit during her time working with Ruth.
  13. Despite these quirks, or perhaps because of them, the Fresh Ground team is getting along swimmingly with the HB team.

P.S. Happy Friday the 13th!

7 Tips for Successful Social Videos (and Online Apologies)

Journalist Lucy Morgan with video camera and phone, circa 1985

Journalist Lucy Morgan with video camera and phone, circa 1985

The last week saw some major steps in video’s maturity as a social medium. We all know that YouTube is the second biggest search engine and plays a major role in music discovery.

But over the last week not only did Facebook escalate its social battle with Twitter by coming out with short video on Instagram, but old-school celebrity Paula Deen skipped out on an old-school Today Show interview to take her video message straight to her own audience. Though, she did it rather poorly–I love Slate’s comment that her first video “bears a striking resemblance to a hostage video,” and someone needs to teach her people how to override the default thumbnail picture to avoid the deer-in-the-headlights look. 

The first question that came to mind was whether Paula Deen could’ve used either of these platforms to apologize or rally support. The answer is, probably, no. Even if she had put the time in to build a community on either of these platforms before the crisis hit, 15 seconds isn’t really enough time to cover the first three A’s of Crisis Communications, let alone all nine.

Now that we got that out of the way, y’all, we can turn turn some things you can do with social video.

  1. Promote. Let’s get this out of the way: you definitely can use social video to promote your product or service. Vine’s looping capabilities were very cleverly taken advantage of for this Trident Gum video:


  2. Educate. Have a difficult product or process to explain? Say, the U.S. Elections? Use video to explain it. YouTube lets you go long, but keep the videos short.
  3. Introduce. Have something new to share? Video is a great way to introduce it. Here’s how Burberry introduced their new line using Instagram:

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  4. Entertain. The ABCs don’t always work in social. If you’re always selling, or always asking, your community may be turned off. Here’s how Lululemon used the new Instagram:
  5. Collaborate. You don’t have to go this far, but there are many opportunities to engage with, and even collaborate with, your community using video.
  6. Respond. When in Rome, right? While it wasn’t exactly an apology, when some (soon to be former) employees posted a gross video of their shenanigans, Domino’s President Patrick Doyle took to YouTube to respond. A very appropriate channel:
  7. Mobilize. While Kony 2012 raised a good deal of controversy and brought “slactivism” into common usage again online, it was (for a short time) the fastest-growing viral video in history.

Whether you agree that last week represented a turning point for embracing of online video, it certainly wasn’t a turning point for online apologies, despite a really good apology from Kickstarter. We’ll keep hoping…