My PR Blocking and Tackling Lessons

When I was in college, I had no idea what “public relations” meant. “PR” was a fuzzy term floating inside the massive building where most of my broadcast journalism classes took place. I vaguely knew it was part of the Advertising and PR curriculum. I also knew there were some extremely attractive coeds who majored in those two fields. But that was it.

PR was never on my career radar. My life’s goal was to be a reporter on a major TV network. If you can recall the NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, that’s who I wanted to be. If you had told me one day I’d be at o2ideas working with some of the world’s greatest brands in PR, I couldn’t have believed it.

To not throw total shade on those days, there were early successes. A paid summer internship led to a full-time job at a major TV station after college.

But years went by and life brought changes. Soon it was about marriage, a house and a baby. TV reporters’ wages didn’t really cover the costs of a marriage, a house and a baby.

Desperately, I looked for another career. Just something. But what? I had no idea.

Brokaw was broken.

Then the term “public relations” floated back into my life, straight from the domed ceiling of Reese Phifer Hall at my alma mater. My former boss in TV news had found a job in PR with BellSouth (now AT&T). After a couple of years of preparing, praying and pleading, that triggered the jump from TV news to BellSouth Public Relations.

First, there was an intro job where they mercifully let me anchor an internal video magazine. But that got cut from the budget. Even more mercifully, they transferred me to Montgomery, Alabama, to learn PR from a true master.

My Montgomery boss had played football for University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, and he sported a 1965 National Championship ring as a silent badge of honor. But my boss took the time and effort to teach me PR much like he had learned blocking and tackling from the Bear himself.

He taught me incredible things about engaging a community, persuading public opinion, organizing events, and setting stories straight. I learned how to write news releases, backgrounders and speeches through his countless red slashes on my copy. I learned patience, discipline, follow-through and accountability. I learned how to make crowds laugh, and yet how to inform them with convincing tone and messaging.

All of those early years of teaching came before social media and the internet of things.

But the Montgomery years taught me some basic PR fundamentals. Like working with real people on real issues, through thoughtful communications and honest relationships.

The platforms and tools of PR will always keep changing. But these fundamentals won’t.

Spontaneous Marketing Takes Planning

Monday night was a good night for Kevin Durant. Not only did his team, the Golden State Warriors, win the 2017 NBA Championship, but Kevin also took home the NBA Finals MVP. Last night was also a good night for o2ideas’ client, BBVA Compass, since Kevin is a BBVA Compass brand ambassador.

As Golden State started marching toward the Finals, we started discussing with BBVA Compass the opportunity to leverage the bank’s partnership should Kevin and his team win it all.

Three weeks before the Finals, we began developing video concepts congratulating KD on his (potential) achievements. At first, our discussions focused on social media promotions only. However, as Golden State sailed through the playoffs, with Kevin leading the way, we realized the stage for promoting BBVA Compass’ partnership with Kevin and the NBA could be much larger.

To realize this potential, we worked hand in hand with BBVA Compass’ media and sports marketing companies, as well as ESPN, to develop assets for TV and online. Knowing that the Warriors could win the series in four games, we had to finalize all of the assets in a condensed timeline. Complicating the situation was the fact that the Warriors could win without Kevin being named MVP. To make sure we had this contingency covered, we developed and sent two sets of creative to ESPN with slightly different messaging.

On Monday night, everything came together as planned: Golden State took the title; KD won NBA Finals MVP and our BBVA Compass commercial congratulating Kevin on his achievements aired after the game on ESPN.

While the congratulatory messaging communicated in our broadcast, social and online media felt spontaneous, it was the result of detailed pre-planning and unselfish teamwork – a recipe that worked well for Golden State and us.

Check out the tweet from one fan who seemed impressed with our (and Nike’s) “real-time” advertising.


In today’s crowded, always-on media landscape, riding the coattails of cultural events – as they happen – is one tactic to make your brand relevant and distinct. To discuss ways o2ideas can help make your brand relevant and distinct, contact Bill Todd,

Long-Form Video – The New Way to Boost Your Brand

The video world is, in short, about to get long.

For years, the challenge has been to make videos as short as possible. Think Vine, Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and so on.

But there’s a change underway that could help your company’s brand, as long-form video emerges as a new tool in marketers’ playbooks.

It’s reported that Facebook is about to launch a long-form video platform that will go head to head with both Netflix and YouTube. This follows several months of growing investment by other online publishers in episode-length video formats that tie back to brands.

Mind you, short-form video formats aren’t going away; they will continue to be pillars of online content.

But it’s clear that larger audiences are preferring creative stories in longer formats. Major players are now banking on it.

What are the takeaways for marketers?

  • Stop automatically chasing ever-shorter videos, thinking that’s the only way. Consumers’ embrace of long-form video means they are looking for more meaningful and thoughtful stories than the sound-bite streams they see in their social feeds. Don’t forsake short-form video, but know long-form is getting huge momentum.
  • Consider creating ideas for long-form videos that can carry an audience over time and support your brand’s mission. If you build it right, the audience will come.
  • Get a good creative agency that sees the big picture and can help guide you into this new blue ocean. Here at o2, we can help you decide the best video formats for your brand, whether they include short-form, long-form, or a mixture of both.

Adding long-form to your video toolbox could be key to boosting your brand — and sales — in an ever-changing consumer landscape.

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