Beware of the Groundhog: Groundhog Day Lessons

Punxatawny PhilAs public relations officials, we are constantly on the lookout for media opportunities for clients; some even call them “PR stunts.”   February 2, aka “Groundhog Day,” is one that is often used by politicians.  Everyone wants an end to winter so why not?  The politician will get the photo op and even if the hog sees his shadow, it’s still a win right?  Well, ask New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio. In 2014, when doing the Groundhog Day event, he dropped Staten Island Chuck. Not a good move. Instead of seeing a shadow, Chuck saw stars. And unfortunately, did not recover. (See links below)

What do we take away from this? First, make sure when you do a special event or media event you are well prepared. Walk through what you have to do. Talk about contingencies and if you are not comfortable with picking up a groundhog, don’t do it. The negative press that will be short term and long term can be problematic.

From a marketing perspective, Groundhog Day is cute and there are certainly campaigns and social media comments that can be used to attract some attention.  Groundhog Day is Feb. 2. This year it falls on the first Tuesday of February. Groundhog Day can be a day to actually get your marketing on track. If you have stumbled and have failed with your marketing New Years resolutions, get started again and set your goals for February. You have six weeks till spring (despite what Punxsutawney Phil, Staten Island Chuck and Malverne Mel say).Groundhog

Need some inspiration and a laugh? Watch Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and directed by the late Harold Ramis.  The marketing and life lesson here? Just ask Einstein and his famous quote on the definition of insanity: continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  Bill Murray’s character in the movie – Phil Conners – is stuck in a day that he is forced to relive over and over and over again.  Unbeknownst to him, he is changing what he is doing every day. He may not know why at first, but eventually figures out that he has to change who he is to get the girl. After potentially living the same day over and over for years, he makes the changes and he wakes up on February 3. In marketing we have to adapt and change our messages until they resonate with target audiences. Look at what works and what does not. Make the changes and keep track.  Learn from Phil Conners and take Einstein’s advice.


Working with Children for Video Production and Media Interviews: Challenges and Considerations

OliviaW.C. Fields once said that you should never work with either animals or children.  I respectfully disagree, having worked with both in my professional career.  While I have covered aspects of working with animals previously, for this blog I want to focus on working with children– especially younger ones – in media relations and video production.

IMG_0348.jpgThis week I had the opportunity to assist a friend of mine – Adam Schwam, founder and President of Sandwire, a leading IT company on Long Island, after his company made a $10,000 donation in the form of computers and software to Commerce Plaza in Levittown, New York. Commerce Plaza is a program for fifth graders from across Long Island, New York who come to learn about business and basic finance in a hands-on environment. More than 40 students were at the school for the day when we visited.

Children are a wonderful subject for the news and videos. While they can offer spontaneity and an innocent perspective on the world, there are challenges that must be addressed. The goal of any video production or news piece is to tell a story. Getting children to express themselves effectively on camera takes special attention and consideration.


Here are some of my tips for helping children feel more comfortable and effectively providing quality content for video productions and news pieces.

Bill Video Scrrenshot.jpg

Click here for a video of my tips for working with children in the media.


If you are the producer or interviewer, remember the following:


  1. As kids, they have probably never done professional video before. Though may already be familiar with smartphone or tablet videos and are savvy, the size and complexity of professional equipment and approaches can be overwhelming and disconcerting for them.
  2. When interacting with children always stay relaxed and show confidence.
  3. Make children feel special and help them to relax. Take your time and look them right in the eye. At the same token, ask them to look you right in the eye at all times.. We know that people will look up, down and all around when they are thinking. Looking directly in one another’s eyes helps to maintain focus and provide much better for video.
  4. Prepare your questions in advance. Write them down or use cue cards or index cards. If you are prepared, the children will respond more effectively.
  5. Know what to do when you get the “one-word answer.” Children frequently give one word or very short answers. Ask open ended questions that require more words for providing a complete answer.  Ask questions such as: Can you describe how you prepared for this program? Be ready for a follow up question if the answer you get is short. Questions that start with “how did this make you feel?” or “what did you think about that?” are two in particular that you should always be ready to use.
  6. Help the kids to help you. Talk with them and get them to give as much as they can. Speak with them in advance and practice. If you like what you hear tell them. However, sometimes talking in advance can hurt the genuineness of the answers so this is an area that you should use your own discretion and  judgment. You may want to speak with the child but not ask the specific questions in advance. Get a feel for how they speak and their energy first.
  7. Do a run through with kids and explain to them exactly what is going to happen.  This removes uncertainty.
  8. Remember to have fun. It is ok to joke with the kids, but keep it light hearted and fun. This helps them to feel comfortable, smile and have the right energy level. The more assistance and support that you can give children the better they will perform. They want to do well and you are in a position to help them achieve this. Help them to be proud of their efforts and you will be rewarded with quality content.No matter if you are a child or adult you must be prepared to be on video.   Practice and take the time to prepare. We suggest hiring a professional media trainer and video production crew to produce your videos. I have trained and prepared hundreds of people for interviews, video productions and commercials. The people we train or who receive professional training are much better on camera and feel more confident.


Training and preparation are critical for the development of video content that properly and effectively presents your message to the media. Video production quality is important, but an unprepared subject cannot be corrected. Never agree to do an on-camera interview with the media without preparation and knowing what you will be asked about. Any subject or guest who is not confident and capable will delay the process, which will increase production costs and take much longer than it should.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 



Fireworks: Marketing and Business Lessons


Over the past few days you probably have enjoyed Independence Day fireworks.  Millions of Americans gather to watch and enjoy fireworks and celebrate.  I have had the pleasure of being in some amazing places to watch fireworks including Washington DC, Boston, New York City and the United States Military Academy (West Point, New York).  One year I was flying home from a trip on the 4th of July and could see dozens of shows take place at the same time.   It was amazing to see so many shows taking place in small towns and cities across America from above.  1-jpg

Here are three quick marketing lessons we take away from these pyrotechnic displays:


Every fireworks show requires planning. Some of the more complex shows such as the ones done in Boston, Washington DC and New York require months of planning and preparation for shows that will last for the most part less than an hour.  This is a significant investment in time, energy and money.  From a marketing perspective, planning is critical for campaigns and ongoing efforts.

When seeking to grow business through marketing, planning is also an important part of the process.   My mission continues to be to get small business people focused on their marketing and to have them create business and personal plans.   A plan can be developed quickly but it should be done in a thoughtful way.   The goal of marketing is to attract attention and the interest of prospects.  An effective marketing campaign just like a well thought-out fireworks display will capture and keep attention.   Prospects who are engaged will transition into clients and customers.


We have to remember that behind the beauty, fireworks are dangerous.  Every year we hear about accidents.   It is important that all safety protocols are followed and plans are in place to manage any potential accident or malfunction.  In marketing we have to be prepared if something goes wrong.  For example a pre-scheduled social media post that hits during a breaking news story about a tragedy can cause problems and certainly projects insensitivity.    Crisis situations can happen for any number of reasons; some could be the fault of the business or employee or others come out of the blue.  When time and effort are being invested in marketing it is important to take some additional time to discuss possible problems and devise strategies for working through them.  On a larger scale, every business needs to have an emergency plan in place to communicate with customers, staff and vendors.   From a public relations perspective procedures and policies need to be in place in order to manage the situation.  Management and staff need to know who is permitted to speak with the media and how to respond to calls from the media.   This is a blog that I wrote on the topic of emergency preparedness and communications for business.  The inspiration behind this blog were the two hurricanes that hit Long two years in a row.

Creativity and Experiences

Why do we love fireworks?  The loud explosions and the spectacular colors are part of the reason.  The best shows are very creative and use all different kinds and sizes of fireworks.  These displays are often masterfully choreographed with patriotic music.   Boston’s fireworks are remarkable and when you watch them with the Boston Pops Orchestra playing along it creates a memorable experience.   The patriotic exuberance can be felt among the crowd in Boston.    I continue to this day to tell people about my experience in Boston over a 4th of July weekend because of the memorable experience.   Below are some images of my Boston 4th of July visit.   Creativity is more important today than ever before.  With so much competition for time and attention, creativity the key to attracting and keeping audiences.  Sales focused, boring content with no purpose or passion will be overlooked or forgotten.

Experiences are an important part of marketing and interacting with customers.   Whether it is in a retail shop, on Facebook or at a trade show, the experiences you create with your audience allows them to get to know you (employees or staff), your product or services.   It is through remarkable experiences and interactions that connections are made and memories created.   Good experiences are remembered, but great experiences are talked about and shared.    The same is true for negative experiences, except people are much more likely to share and comment to friends and online about bad experiences. If you’re disappointed by a fireworks show would you talk about it and would you think twice about going to that show next year?   Everyone has choices and if you do not deliver exceptional customer experiences every time they will look elsewhere.

Planning, safety, creativity and offering memorable experiences are all important in business.   Like a spectacular fireworks display we have the ability to wow our audiences, create memorable experiences and thrive. However, planning is critical for success and we must always be prepared to address challenges.

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Revisited 2015 – July 4th Independence Day – Lessons from the Founding Fathers for Social Media and Personal Branding

I wrote this blog 5 years ago it is still relevant today.  However, the world has changed.  Today Americans have more ways to market and communicate.  With smartphone technology in our hands we have enormous power to broadcast our messages and engage with others. I call smartphones, PMD’s Personal marketing Devices they can also be seen as your own personal broadcast center. (More on this in a future blog)

The technology we have however is not being leveraged effectively by small business people.  Many don’t see the opportunity because they are overwhelmed with time pressures and lack of understanding of the power that they have. Understanding marketing and why and how it must be done is also a challenge.

It’s time for small business people from across America to take charge of their destiny and bring their brands and messages to target audiences.   Failure to utilize the marketing tools that are available (for free) today will see many smart and capable people struggle to succeed in the new economy and within the new marketing paradigm.

As we look back at the lessons of our Founding Fathers below, consider what they would do today.  I believe that they would be regularly leveraging social media, blogs and video to get their message to the masses. They would engage in conversations and share their vision for the future.  They would be making connections, building relationships and beating their competition.

The pursuit of happiness lies in our hands both literally and figuratively.  Use marketing technology today as a vehicle for achieving success and your American dream.

First Published 5 Years Ago 

Today we celebrate Independence Day, July 4.   Beyond the fireworks and BBQs, we all should think about the great nation that we have the pleasure to be part of, and the many people who gave up their lives to give us the freedoms we enjoy.

Exactly 234 years ago, a group of brave, brilliant and industrious individuals met in a steamy Philadelphia room and agreed to do something that had never been done before—start a revolution.  The risks were great; the price that was paid was high in terms of lives lost, lives destroyed and money, but in the end the reward was unmatched in human history.  The American Revolution gave us a country where freedom is sacred.

Today despite a challenging economy we have the freedom to express ourselves and pursue our business as well as our personal dreams.  For many the dream is being an entrepreneur or a small business owner or simply pursuing a career in a chosen profession or industry.  Having this choice is an integral part of our national character and a driver of the entrepreneurial spirit.  While entrepreneurs and small businesses are under attack from many directions, the American entrepreneurial spirit lives on.

The information age has brought with it new media vehicles which are allowing individuals to voice their opinions, develop creative ideas and start new businesses.  Like the minutemen of Lexington and Concord, individuals can stand up, and take control of their own destinies like never before.  Like the “shot heard around world” that started the American Revolution a simple Facebook post or Tweet can literally be seen around the world just in seconds.

Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Adams, Hancock and the other Founding Fathers all understood the importance of individuality and expression.  They were passionate individuals with a mission, and the creativity and drive to achieve their goal – a free and independent nation.

While the Founding Fathers did not have social media vehicles and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Youtube, Flickr and Foursquare I am sure that they would have taken advantage of them as mediums for communicating with contacts, public, friends and others interested in “the cause.”  Social networking and marketing did not exist, but these individuals knew the importance of publicity, having a personal brand, word of mouth marketing, networking, effective writing, publishing and public speaking. Do these skills and approaches sound familiar?  These techniques and others are the same that individuals need to capitalize on today to build their own personal brands, the foundation for a success in life, in business and in any community.

Did Franklin and Madison have a Blog?  Not exactly, however they did have a printing press.  They were able to create a buzz using well written content, printed books, flyers and newspapers. Papers and printed materials were circulated in pubs and homes across the 13 colonies and beyond.  People held discussion sessions and analyzed the information they were provided.  They debated and came up with their own comments and then shared materials with others who they thought would be sympathetic to their dreams of an independent democratic nation.

Today’s social media and personal branding gurus like Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)Dan Dchawbel (@DanSchawbel),  Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki), Peter Shankman (@skydiver), Seth Godin and others are taking similar approaches as the Founding Fathers.  The Founding Fathers published articles and spoke to small and large groups to educate, motivate and inspire individuals to become part of a movement that included the individual but also was much larger than any single person.

Let’s look at some of our Founding Fathers and how they relate to personal branding and communications.  There is much we that can learn from them and ways we can apply these lessons to social media marketing and personal branding efforts today.

George Washington – Founding Father and First President of the United States of America.  Washington is also

known for his leadership abilities, speaking skills, political savvy and ability to stand out in crowd.  Although he did not sign the Declaration of Independence his leadership of the Continental Army made him a front runner to lead the country after the war.

During the Revolutionary War era it took weeks or months to get information or important messages out to thousands of people, or just one letter from one colony to another.  Hand written copies of the Declaration of Independence were circulated by hand around the 13 Colonies and read in front of groups gathered in pubs and in front of churches and other community buildings.

Today we can disseminate messages and blog articles in seconds using social media sites and digital communications.  The speed of distribution may have changed but the goals of communicating ideas messages and attracting attention remain the same.

We can learn from George Washington an important lesson, humility.  When offered the opportunity to become king of the new nation, he turned it down.  He also turned down the opportunity to run for a third term as president; instead he retired.  In today’s world full of online and off line self promoters and overexposed celebrities seeking the lime light, humility is a trait that seems to be in short supply.  We could all benefit from more people following Washington’s example of humility and grace.

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, agonized for weeks to find the right language and consulted with other Founding Fathers to craft this historic document.   We learn from this example that writing passionately and choosing the right words is important.  On Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other writing quality has certainly suffered. Today it remains true that quality writing and compelling content will attract followers, and poor and uninteresting content will drive them away.

In our fast paced mobile technology society we are constantly on the move. A telling example of this is that on average there are more than 3,000 Tweets being placed every second.  Jefferson’s quote: No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing,” is apropos for today.  Many people are always “doing,” (communicating).  However, how much doing is actually wasting time? How much time is being spent on social media marketing with no measured results? Social media marketing programs must be planned and have goals. Without goals or a plan, the “doing” is nothing more than wasting time.

John Hancock – We know the name and we know the signature, he was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence and did so in large and bold script.   John Hancock knew the importance of standing out, making a statement and doing something different.  My favorite quote from Hancock is: “The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.” This statement is especially true today. To be successful in business relationships and trust need to be built.  To influence people to act, purchase products or services, information and proof of abilities need to be conveyed to the target audience.  Be bold, but also have objectives and consider how relationships are being forged.

Benjamin Franklin – Frequently clients ask what should be said or what information should be put out on social media streams?  This quote from Benjamin Franklin answers the question perfectly: Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.”

Benjamin Franklin was truly an original and individual who understood celebrity and personal branding.  His exploits, scientific experiments and inventions as well as his larger than life personality made him a celebrity in France before he arrived to solicit their support for the “cause.”

We have much to learn from Franklin but for now, his grasp on being relevant and authentic can be our take away.  If something interesting or newsworthy is done write about it, don’t just write something for the sake or writing something.

John Quincy Adams – Are you a leader or do you aspire to be one in business, politics or in another field? If your answer is yes then this quote from John Quincy Adams is most appropriate:If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” To be a leader you need to be relevant and interesting.  Self-promotion and self-serving actions will not attract the right attention or inspire others.  Remember that being successful is not what inspires; what motivates and inspires others are the stories and examples of overcoming challenges and hardships to become successful.

There is much we can learn from studying our Founding Fathers.  From humility to creating relevant content their lessons can be applied to many facets of business and life today.

Every day of the year we should celebrate the precious gift of freedom we have been given.  We continue to enjoy this freedom because of the sacrifices of those who came before us and those who fight for us today in foreign lands and on other fronts.  We can honor them by embracing the American entrepreneurial spirit and following the examples set by our Founding Fathers.

All comments welcome, Happy 4th of July.

Hiring a Public Relations Firm for Media Relations: What Businesses Need to Know and Expect

By Bill Corbett, Jr.

Corbett Public Relations, Inc. 

Media coverage is a key element of many businesses’ marketing efforts and mix.  News coverage is invaluable in projecting a message to a large audience for branding and reputation-building purposes.  Securing media coverage requires time and an investment of resources.  The results generated by a PR firm must support branding, assist in building relationships and provide high-value marketing assets which will assist with sales and business development.  There also must be a strategy for using media relations assets to achieve business goals and objectives.

Many business owners and their teams lack the knowledge and the contacts to successfully launch PR and media relations efforts.  They do, however, recognize the importance and tremendous value, including SEO value, of media coverage.  For this reason, many business owners need to hire a PR firm.  Hiring a PR firm does, however, come with a cost.  Therefore decision makers need to be able to make informed choices in this area.  Before hiring a PR firm, it is important to understand what should be expected from a firm in terms of service and results.  It is also essential to recognize what type of commitment the client must make to ensure success.  Below are the important points to consider when hiring a PR firm.

Corbett Public Relations client David Antar, President of A+ Technology and Security Systems being interviewed by FiOS1 and Newsday at a forum on school security.

Corbett Public Relations client David Antar, President of A+ Technology and Security Systems being interviewed by FiOS1 and Newsday at a forum on school security.

Watch Out for Promises.  Media relations is an important marketing and business growth function   Working in media relations is challenging and requires creativity and the commitment of significant time.  There are many exceptional professionals in the media relations field, but as in any business sector, there are those who do not maintain high or ethical standards.  Media relations is a process and securing media coverage takes work.  Beware of any PR “professional” who promises or guarantees coverage.  Seek to work with those who can articulate messages, product information and competitive advantage and who will commit to spending the necessary time to develop and bring ideas to the media.  If they promise or guarantee coverage, start looking at other firms.

Like and Trust the PR Firm Team.  Business owners and marketing team members must feel relaxed speaking and interacting with PR firm staff.  Being comfortable with the team is essential because confidential information, proprietary strategies as well as personal business and financial information are often discussed.  Only individuals that can be trusted should be chosen for this important relationship.

Research the Track Record of the PR Firm and its Professionals.  Find out how long the firm has been in business, as well as what kind of relationships they have with target media outlets.  Ask to see print and video clips of clients in the news.  Also request testimonials from satisfied clients as these are a good source of feedback about the company and its team members.  Look for a firm that is well established and has a solid track record of success.  Search for their clients online and see how media coverage is supporting SEO and their brand.

Accessibility is Very Important.  A firm that is available any day and any time is ideal.  A client needs to know that their chosen PR firm can be reached if they need them, whether it is for positive communication with the media or if there is a crisis situation that requires immediate attention.  Today’s 24-hour news cycle and social media require constant and unwavering vigilance.  If a PR firm takes a 9-to-5 approach, look elsewhere.

Firm Proactivity is Key.  Quality PR firms are always monitoring the media, trends and events that can lead to positive coverage and interviews.  Taking a proactive approach demonstrates the firm’s desire to be an active partner and this will provide the greatest return on investment (ROI).  Make sure to select a firm that is proactive and not one that will only communicate when ideas for media coverage are presented to them.  PR firms should have a process for regularly generating ideas to pitch to the media and clients must agree to be involved.

Keep in Mind PR Firm Expertise and Creativity.  When choosing a PR firm, ask if the firm will come up with media pitches on their own or if it is a team effort.  Media relations professionals understand the media and should be able to quickly develop pitches based on the information provided.  Ask if the firm has any experience in specific industries or subject areas.  Sometimes it is helpful to have a firm that focuses in a niche or specific industry, while other times firms with a broad reach can serve a client better.  Also consider conflicts, if the firm represents more than one business in a sector this could be a problem or possibly a synergy.

Relationships and Approaches Matter.  Ask the firm about their relationships with members of the media.  Do they have contacts with the right media outlets?  If they don’t have contacts, ask how they work to get media coverage with new outlets.

Ask Who Will be Working on the Account.  A number of firms have developed bad reputations for putting inexperienced staff members or even interns in charge of new or small accounts.  Before engaging a PR firm, make sure to find out who will be working on the account and their expertise and industry knowledge.  Do not let the principal of a PR firm disappear after the engagement is signed.  Make sure that the team is experienced and monitor who is doing the work regularly.

Corbett Public Relations client Marty Lyons of the Marty Lyons Foundations was interviewed by FiOS1's Jessica Fragoso for the

Marty Lyons of the Marty Lyons Foundation was interviewed by FiOS1’s Jessica Fragoso for the “Heroes On Our Island,” segment.

Ask About Sales Support and Leveraging Coverage.  The public relations and  media coverage that a business secures becomes a valuable marketing asset that can be used for years.  PR firms should provide strategies, approaches and support for the sales and business development team members of their clients.  The PR firm needs to use its media relations assets to help secure meetings, build relationships with prospects, start conversations and fill social media streams.  When selecting a PR firm, ask how they intend to help amplify the media coverage with social media and how they will help put coverage in front of decision makers, prospects and referral sources.

PR Firm Members Must Be Team Players.  Ask about the firm’s interest and ability to work with other members of the marketing team.  Media coverage is an important part of marketing and the PR firm must be engaged in the process.  Firms should recognize the value of media coverage from a social media perspective and explain how it will help with SEO.  PR team members should be part of the marketing strategy and relevant planning sessions.

Return on Investment and Reporting.  Ask what the fees will be up front as well as how they are to be paid.  Often firms require a monthly fee or retainer, while other firms will work on projects or for hourly rates.  Before hiring a PR firm, set the budget and determine how the firm’s service and PR goals can be achieved within these financial boundaries.  Public relations should be looked at as a long-term investment in a brand, product or business.

Retaining a PR firm is a decision that requires research and consideration.  Speak with people who work with media relations professionals and do research before beginning the search process.  Create a budget and select a PR firm that will secure diverse and quality media coverage.  The efforts of PR firm should support brand building, attract business and support sales team efforts.  Recognize also that PR efforts require time to work and it may take several months before results can be observed.  Consider PR firm engagements of six months or more when setting goals and budgets.


Your personal brand is how people perceive you, good or bad, in your market, industry, community and organization.  The beginning of the year is a good time to assess your brand and determine what’s working and what needs improvement.


Start with the basics and ask yourself these questions.
How do I want people to perceive me?  Is what their impression of me what I want and what I expected?  There are several ways to determine the answers.  Start by looking at your social media.  Have you been picking up friends and followers consistently?  Are followers and friends liking your posts? Are they sharing and commenting?  Are you getting endorsements and recommendations on LinkedIn?  If the answer to each question is yes, your brand is resonating.

If you are not getting the desired response, look at what you are posting and examine if it is consistent with you brand goals and mission.  A direct way to find out if your brand’s message is effective is to personally ask contacts.  Ask people who you know will give you honest and straight answers.  Don’t ask yes men; the truth may hurt, but a little pain today will help you focus and reach your long term desired goals.

Assess you goals and mission.  Clarify them or if you don’t have a mission and passion statement create them.

No tune up would be complete without setting goals.  Goals for your brand can be diverse, but they should all focus on the spreading your message, attracting attention and building your follower base.  The larger and more involved your follower base the greater traction and amplification your brand will receive.   These are some examples of personal branding goals:
1) Post daily on social media content consistent with your brand.
2) Create interesting and engaging brand content (blog posts, video posts, social media posts).
3) Share information from others that is consistent with your brand.
4) Create a personal marketing time budget. (Ask yourself how much time will you spend marketing yourself in the real world and cyber world?)
5) Set weekly, monthly and yearly community growth goals.  (Ask yourself how many LinkedIn connections, twitter followers and Facebook fans do you need?)


Your image matters.  Therefore a personal brand tune up should include new photos on social sites and profiles.  Change your Facebook page image and customize your backgrounds on twitter, YouTube and other sites.

Profiles get old fast. Review your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and website. Update them with new or current activities.  Mention recent successes, accomplishments and affiliations. This keeps your information and personal brand fresh.

Perception is reality.  It’s up to you to take control of how your brand is viewed and how it is projected.  We live in a competitive world and failure to build and tune up your brand regularly will slow its growth allowing competitors and others to grab attention that should have been yours.

A week in the life of a PR Pro with a little twist – test driving a BMW 750i

Checking out the 750i

People often wonder what it’s like to work in public relations, and although it is a lot of work, sometimes it has its perks.  This week I have the distinct pleasure of test driving a fully loaded 2011 BMW 750i on loan to me from BMW of Bayside.  During the test drive week I will be sharing my observations and comments about the 750i as I go through all the activities in my busy schedule.   I will not be compensated for these activities and my comments about the BMW 750i.

As a father of 20-month-old twins and president of Corbett Public Relations, I am constantly on the go and I thought it would be fun to write about my experiences.  I’m interested to see what the impact of driving a luxury vehicle like this is like.  Let me know what you think.  Send your questions and answer the trivia questions I will be posting along the way; you can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. (twitter @liprguy or @wjcorbett  and hashtag #corbettbmw)


Day 1 – Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It was a beautiful day in the New York metropolitan area with clear skies and a bit of humidity.  After a brief stop at my office to collect equipment and materials for a presentation on “How to Boost Your Trade Show Efforts,” I got a quick lift to BMW of Bayside located just a few miles from my office In Floral Park.  I was greeted by Peter Turano, General Sales Manager and Bill Finsilver, VP of Sales.  After a brief conversation they had me sign some paperwork and then it was off for a once over of the sleek black 2011 BMW 750i.

BMW 750i

The car is truly great to look at and is packed with technology and all that is needed to ride in luxury and comfort.  I have driven in BMW’s before and even test driven a few over the years.  I also did some research before picking up the car and was prepared.  However, upon sitting in the vehicle I was very impressed with the modern layout, computer display and automatic gear shifter, a feature that was new to me.

Once on the road I found out quickly that the acceleration was responsive when I had to merge quickly onto a busy late morning Northern Boulevard.  A few moments later I was on the highway heading to Hauppauge.  Traffic on the LIE was light, which was unusual as most of us from the area know.  I made my way quickly across Nassau County and along the way I tested the radio, navigation system and voice commands.  After some trial and error I felt comfortable with this high-tech system.

Bill with Judy and Rob at Skyline New York

I arrived at my first stop, the offices of Skyline New York a leading trade show and exhibit booth design and manufacturing company.  I was greeted by Judy Fairbanks from the company and Rob Fishman of Sander Training.  Together we provided an informative workshop for local business owners and executives seeking to get more out of their trade show appearances.  We discussed trade show planning and social media topics, subjects that are regularly part of my day to day life in public relations.  Judy and Rob were excellent and the venue featured a new showroom with some of the best looking trade show exhibits I have ever seen.  This was the first of a series of events we are offering every Wednesday this summer.  I was happy to have the 750i as my luxury ride to this event.

Following this program I used the navigation system to find my way to an IHOP on Motor Parkwaya few miles away.  I arrived on time for a meeting with artist and graphic designer Jan Guarino, owner of the Guarino Graphics and Studio.  I have known Jan for a number of years.  We share a number of clients and we are involved in a few networking groups together.  We had a late “lunch” and discussed some business synergies.

After our meeting I was off for home to meet my wife and pick up our twins.  On the way I was called by a few clients and did a 15 minute interview on crisis communications for a national trade magazine.  Yes, always working.  On the way home to Long Island’s south shore I tested the handling of the 750i.  Accelerating and maneuvering from lane to lane was a breeze.  The luxury setting made the ride very comfortable.  After the presentation, meetings and managing a few dozen calls and e-mails, it was quite a stressful day.  The comfort of the 750i helped me to relax.

Wrapped up the day with dinner including grilled bratwurst (actually weisswurst – “white wurst” a common food served in Munich the home of what automobile company?)

Stay tuned for day 2.

Bill Corbett – BMW Week Day 2

After a busy day July 7th, I started Thursday, July 8th with a breakfast meeting at the Sea Crest Diner in Old Westbury with Ira Kader of KW Graphics.  Ira is a member of LINX networking group which, I joined a few months ago.  We had a productive conversation and we both learned more about each other’s businesses. Ira is also a father of twins; he shared some of his parenting wisdom with me as well.

After breakfast I jumped into the 750i.  I tested the different ride settings including the two sports settings.  This feature is great you can really feel the steering and breaks tighten.

I spent the next few hours working on client media pitches, press releases and preparing for upcoming meetings.  In the early afternoon, I met with a number of business prospects and with Neil and Steve Levin of Webline Designs.  Neil is also a member of LINX, and I work with his other son Jon of Cardinal Trade Group on business to business trade shows and events.

After the meeting, I had a PR activities recap call with the marketing team at Teachers Federal Credit Union, New York State’s largest credit union and a Corbett Public Relations client for several years.  On the run again, I grabbed the “keys” to the BMW 750i and headed out.  The keyless entry is convenient because I am always carrying a bag, cameras and other materials.

The afternoon looked gloomy with a thunderstorm rapidly approaching. I was actually looking forward to testing the 750i in the rain.  I received my opportunity on the way to my last meeting of the day with Evan Bloom of Sir Speedy of Westbury.  Evan and I had a very productive meeting, discussing his company’s growth and planning a seminar that, we will be doing together later this month at the Brooklyn Library.  The seminar will be on mobile marketing and social media.  Evan and I regular offer workshops focusing on new marketing technology including QR codes, social media and personalized marketing.  I gave Evan a quick overview of the 750i.

The meeting with Evan was the last of the day, but the work day was not over.  Wet roads gave me the opportunity to test the handling of the 750i.  The road conditions did not matter the vehicle performed superbly, even in the 5 mile per hour traffic jam that I was stuck in for about an hour.

Day two ended with me pulling the 750i into the garage.  I was impressed that when the remote was pressed, the handles on the car illuminated brightly with LED lights.  It lookedimpressive and stylish.

Day 3-  BMW Week

Day three started off quickly.  I was hosting a meeting at my office for the Preferred Provider Network’s Advisory Board.  On the way I stopped a New York Bagels in Franklin Square.   I received two complements on the 750i when I was entering store.

Arriving at my office at 7:30 am, I was greeted by two long time friends Adam Schwam of Sandwire and Bruce Libman of Total Networking and Consulting.  The Advisory board meeting covered many topics.  We are always looking to enhance meetings and give members greater value and tools to grow their businesses. Some interesting new ideas were developed that will be implemented at the next meeting.  We had valuable input from CPA Gary Orkin and Attorney Glenn Franklin partner with the firm of Franklin Gringer and Cohen.

On a daily basis I work with clients to help them to improve events, promote events and create new ways to develop business and relationships.  I have worked with this group and the National Network of Accountants founder Joe Tucciarone for over 12 years.

Friday’s in the summer were once quite but now, I find that the firm is very busy managing multiple media relations programs and social media programs for over 25 clients.  After juggling a half dozen client calls and a few dozen e-mails, I quickly drafted a social media marketing program for a new project I am working on.  The remainder of the day included finishing up a proposal and working with a client to make sure information was ready for a Newsday story to be published in the next day or two.

This was a productive week, actually slower than a typical week for me.  I have a few small projects I want to take care of over the weekend but I also want to spend some time with my wife and twins as well as enjoy taking a few random spins in the BMW 750i around Long Islandfor pure pleasure.



Picking up BMW 750i

Video BMW Controls


Overview with Adam Schwam

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