Get to know Liz Rubino, Media Relations Coordinator

Public relations is all about relationships—the people behind the stories. That’s why we’re offering this blog series all about our team members. This isn’t about our professional accomplishments but who we are as people. We hope you have as much fun reading along as we do interviewing each other.

1. What got you interested in public relations?

I started out my career after graduating from college as a radiologic technologist. After my first child was born, I was a stay-at-home mom to my four children for many years. Our good friends across the street had six kids and they were friends with our kids. In 2007, Gary (the founder of Kimball Hughes PR and our good friend across the street), asked me if I would like to come and work for him. So here I am, 15 years later working in public relations.

2. Tell us about your favorite movie and what appeals most to you about it?

I have always liked movies that Robin Williams has been in and the variety of characters he has played. One of my favorite movies is Mrs. Doubtfire. He is a father who loves his kids and does just about anything to make sure he is a part of their lives each day. Although everything changes within the structure of the family, they were able to come together, compromise and still be a family, just in a different way.

3. What was the last, best book you read and what about it spoke to you?

I like to read mysteries and one author I enjoy is Agatha Christie. Murder on the Orient Express is one of my favorites that takes place on a train that has had to stop due to heavy snow. One of the main characters is detective Hercule Poirot, who appeared in many of Christie’s novels. He  is precise with his methods he uses to solve crimes and not shy in letting everyone know.

4. Tell us about a meaningful hobby or “outside of work” commitment that is important to you?

Becoming a mom has been one of the best parts of my life and now I am a grandmother for the first time. My 2-year-old grandson always puts a smile on my face. He has a great personality and is quite the character. I look forward to spending time with him each week.

5. Share a fun fact about you.

I moved to Florida after I got married and my husband signed me up for scuba diving classes without my knowledge. I was very nervous about taking the classes, but I ended up enjoying the lessons and being best in class on my test. I only got to go diving four times, but each time I enjoyed the experience and the beauty under the water.  

Thought Leadership: Why It Matters 

Thought leadership is vital to amplifying a business leader’s voice and staking their claim as an expert in their field. And if you think it can’t be a priority, consider: 

  • SEO benefits:  What drives the internet – and search engine algorithms – is new, original content. The SEO impact thought leadership offers professionals and their organizations is huge. Thought leaders should link relevant, high traffic articles within their pieces to support their research and help drive viewership. Additionally, thought leaders can link their pieces via social media to drive traffic from their network.
  • Position yourself as a leader: Many executives and organization leaders underestimate the value their experience and thinking can be to others. By sharing insights, opinions and advice, you can position yourself as someone customers, clients and other industry insiders turn to for guidance, all while enhancing your brand or market presence. 
  • Promote events: Thought leadership offers a unique tactic to promote your event, showcase the expertise of leaders at your event and position yourself in front of people who are or should be attending. For example, some of the following thought leadership pieces from the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) ahead of their Inclusion in Insurance Regional Forums this month in Insurance Journal and Risk & Insurance helped support those events while also advancing the reputations and insights of the authors, their companies and IICF while contributing to the furthering of key issues within the insurance industry. 

Our clients often benefit from thought leadership because furthering their reputation and recognition in their industries or marketplaces is mission critical. Also, when done well, thought leadership really works. Leaders across all industries have extensive experiences and insights to offer. Packaging that expertise into well-thought out, easy to absorb content, allows business leaders to maximize their exposure and drive organizational goals.  

Making The Most Out of Your Media List

An accurate, well-considered media list is the backbone of any effective media relations strategy. It may seem like a list of countless emails equates to countless opportunities, but quantity does not equal quality. After a communications team has developed their pitch and a plan, consideration of these tips is critical when building or refining that most prized piece of public relations life, the media list:

  • Know your audience: As a team becomes more connected to a project or client, they may have big aspirations when it comes to target publications. It is good to have a few “reach” publications, but only if it fits with the direction of the story and the goals of the initiative. Consider the power of local newspapers and broadcast stations in relevant locations or online blogs with direct reach to your target audience. In the world of B2B media, often a well-earned trade media placement can be worth several splashy, front-page headlines in reaching your target audience. It may take a little more research, but careful refinement of your media list will allow for exposure in areas where it matters most.
  • Know who speaks to your audience: The PR professional who pitches journalists they haven’t researched is the PR professional who often falls short. Research your topic and those who cover it. Reporters have beats or priority topics they look for. For example, a publication may have a finance reporter, a business reporter and a real estate reporter. All three might have some crossover, but there is a clear topic of interest each focuses on. Engaging with the correct reporters will increase your chance of success, helps cultivate a well-informed relationship for future efforts and cuts down on wasted time and effort.
  • Stay on track: With so many resources available to access contact information, many of us have fallen victim to the research rabbit hole. Establishing a plan with an identified audience will guide the research. Share your list with colleagues and ask them to help you stress test it to ensure it will be the foundation of a meaningful outreach effort.   
  • Keep it updated: After the initial outreach, there is a good chance some messages will bounce back. Newsrooms change with increasing frequency and often commercial databases do not have the most up to date information. Make sure the bounced back emails are replaced with viable options at that outlet. It’s important to also find out where the original journalist you tried to reach moved on to. He or she may still be a good fit for your story. Finally, you can, and should, update your list based on the feedback and responses you receive.

Building a quality media list allows communications professionals to focus on the real reason the list is being made in the first place: Engaging with the media. Cultivating a well-researched, targeted list will help drive your story and reach your audience, positioning your client or company where it will make an important difference.

Get to know Rod Hughes, President and Principal

Public relations is all about relationships—the people behind the stories. That’s why we’re offering this blog series all about our team members. This isn’t about our professional accomplishments but who we are as people. We hope you have as much fun reading along as we do interviewing each other.

1. What got you interested in public relations?

I spent just shy of a decade as a reporter and editor before switching to what my journalism colleagues and I had jokingly referred to as “the dark side,” meaning public relations. I ended up doing some initial freelance PR work and loved it. Later, I handled PR for several practice groups at a large global law firm before moving to a full-service agency. It turned out the dark side wasn’t so dark and my journalism training and experiences seemed to help a lot in what became my second act. I’ve never looked back.

2. Tell us about your favorite movie and what appeals most to you about it?

I have several favorites, but one stand-out is a Robin Williams movie called “What Dreams May Come.” The theme is a bit dark – death and the afterlife – but much of the cinematography is beautiful. Despite what appears to be a gloomy story, the movie focuses on the connections to, and importance of, relationships among family and friends, and how those relationships make all the difference when we look back on the totality of our lives. This, and the fact that Williams is reunited in heaven with his beloved dog from years ago places it among several favorites for me.

3. What was the last, best book you read and what about it spoke to you?

I love Russell Baker’s book, “Growing Up.” He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist for The New York Times, and the book details … well, growing up in Depression-era America. It’s a rich, non-fiction character drama told with humor and insight by Baker about his childhood. I loved the writing, the humor found in the absurdity and stresses of life, and the pleasure taken in small, everyday things. What spoke to me was Baker’s style of telling a great story that didn’t involve great things — no heads of state, no decisions that impact millions. Rather, the stories of aunts and uncles, childhood friends, and the adults who helped shape and mold a poor kid living in New Jersey into a successful, well-respected writer.

4. Tell us about a meaningful hobby or “outside of work” commitment that is important to you?

About 10 years ago I bought a home on 2.5+ acres of heavily wooded land. To my continued astonishment, what started out as necessary maintenance has turned into a hobby of novice forestry. If you told me 15 years ago I would enjoy the peace and solitude of cleaning up thousands of leaves or taking a chain saw to a dead tree I would never have believed it. However, it’s a great opportunity to clear your head while focusing on a basic task.

5. Share a fun fact about you.

As a 40th birthday gift, a few friends purchased a small souvenir plot of land in Glencoe, Scotland for me. According to the documentation, I can legally use the title Lord. My friends and I find this funny because in addition to this new title my legal name consists of a first and two middle names as well as my family name. I’m also the third, named after my father and grandfather of the same name. Going by Rod saves a lot of time.

Resolve to Rebuild in 2022

If 2020 was the year of the pivot, 2022 will be the year we rebuild. One of the primary ways businesses and nonprofits will do so is, in part, through raising the profiles and awareness of their brands, services and products.

Kimball Hughes Public Relations reached out to hundreds of for- and non-profit entities across the U.S. to get their take on 2022. We asked about opportunities and obstacles as well as about some of the fundamental tools and resources these entities use to connect with their audiences.

Opportunities & Challenges

One third of respondents reported that being seen as experts would be their top priority to achieving business or organizational goals in 2022. Maintaining or expanding awareness of their reputation among their key audiences came in second at 28.6 percent. Sales, product or service awareness and adding new products or services as tactics to improve performance in 2022 as paled in comparison.

The biggest challenge to growth in 2022 was seen as lack of brand or organizational awareness (72.7 percent). Limited marketing budgets ranked second as a challenge at 54.5 percent, while economic uncertainty and competition tied for third as other major obstacles in the new year.

The Road Ahead

To maximize the potential for raising brand awareness in the new year, securing media recognition and generating content will be essential.

Only 20 percent of the organizations we surveyed reported that being quoted or included in the media as a high priority. Fifty percent said it was one among many priorities, and 15 percent reported they were indifferent to seeing their brand represented in a reputable or industry-specific third-party content provider.

For those creating and publishing their own, non-social media content, nearly 23 percent say they do so daily.  Forty one percent produce their own website, blog or video content weekly, while another 23 percent do so monthly. Just over 13 percent report leaving content development, as a strategy to expand their reach and reputations, to “when time permits.”

Make a New Year’s Resolution

If you’re resolved to grow or expand your reputation or reach in 2022 — or you know of someone thinking about doing so — Kimball Hughes PR can help. Reach out to us today at info@kimballpr.com or call (610) 559-7585 and ask for a free consultation.

Get to know Kate Glaviano, Public Relations Associate

Public relations is all about relationships—the people behind the stories. That’s why we’re offering this blog series all about our team members. This isn’t about our professional accomplishments but who we are as people. We hope you have as much fun reading along as we do interviewing each other.

1. What got you interested in public relations?

As a student at DePaul University, the communications classes I took, along with community involvement, fostered a passion within me for all kinds of media and their ever-changing landscapes. It wasn’t long before I realized how much is involved behind the scenes regarding media relations and creating truly effective communication. I think I knew pretty quickly this was something I wanted to be a part of, and a career in public relations became my path.

2. Tell us about your favorite movie and what appeals most to you about it?

I enjoy tragic films, your typical “almost was” story. One such movie I’ve watched several times is One Day with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. I enjoy movies that are realistic to the point where you could put yourself in a character’s shoes. If the story is told right, you find yourself feeling what the characters are supposed to be feeling.

3. What was the last, best book you read and what about it spoke to you?

The last, best book I read was Body Counts by Sean Strub. When I read it for the first time, I couldn’t put it down and when I finished, I immediately started over. It was just too good for one reading. Strub’s ability to authentically tell his story spoke volumes to me and gave a huge amount of perspective of the time. 

4. Tell us about a meaningful hobby or “outside of work” commitment that is important to you?

Music is a necessary hobby for me. I play a few instruments and like to mess around and free my brain whenever possible. I have found music is a great way to get the creative juices flowing when writers block sets in or when I need a moment to think.

5. Share a fun fact about you.

I became a retired chef at 22. I worked in restaurants throughout college and became competitive, wanting to learn as much as possible about food and the restaurant industry. Before diving into my career in public relations, I was the chef de cuisine in a Chicago Michelin recognized restaurant.

Giving Thanks: Acknowledging the Small but Mighty Work of The MOG Project

By Eileen Coyne, Director of Public Relations, Kimball Hughes Public Relations

During this season of Thanksgiving, we want to take time to recognize a special organization for the tremendous good they are doing and for the hope they are inspiring in at least one small part of the rare disease community.

The MOG Project is a young nonprofit working to promote awareness of a rare neuroinflammatory autoimmune disease found in people of all ages and children in particular. Myelin Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein Antibody Disease (MOG-AD) is a newer disease only recently identified via an antibody test in 2017. The disease causes dangerous inflammation in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. Due to its similarities with Multiple Sclerosis, it is often misdiagnosed as MS, which The MOG Project is fighting to change. Such a misdiagnosis can lead to incorrect treatments and prove harmful to the patient.

For us at Kimball Hughes Public Relations, we are passionate about donating our time to non-profit organizations, and for me, the MOG Project is personal.

In the Spring of 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns, my elementary school-aged son was diagnosed with MOG-AD. Unfortunately, it took weeks of frightening symptoms including tear-inducing headaches, fevers, relentless vomiting, chronic fatigue, severe leg weakness, long hospital stays and the loss of nearly 20 percent of his body weight before the doctors came to a diagnosis. Lesions on his brain and spine found in an MRI led his team of physicians to ultimately test for MOG-AD. He was positive. And, as I understand it, we were lucky. My son was a patient at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), a leading pediatric institution recognized around the world for its research, treatment and care.

Again, we are fortunate to be a patient at CHOP where my son’s MOG-AD has been well managed. I am convinced that many hospitals around the country would not have known to test for this rare disease and may have even misdiagnosed him. He had two MOG-AD flares early on that manifested themselves by blurring and darkening his vision, but since receiving regular therapy, he has been healthy and well with 20/20 vision – attending school, playing sports and having fun with his friends.

A diagnosis of a rare disease, like MOG-AD, is more than just frightening. It can feel isolating at times. While I had the support of my family, friends and incredible colleagues at Kimball Hughes PR, I needed more. When I was ready to seek additional guidance and support, I came across The MOG Project. Little information was available online about MOG-AD, but The MOG Project was there to show me and my family we weren’t alone. Other patients, doctors and researchers are working diligently to encourage research, enhance treatments, and in due course, finding a cure. I immediately connected with the founder of The MOG Project Julia Lefelar and soon after Kimball Hughes PR began providing public relations services on a pro bono basis.

As public relations professionals, we inherently recognize the value in raising the public profiles of our clients. We understand the meaningful impact a smart media placement can have on an any organization – let alone an advocacy group so passionately dedicated to advancing awareness, educating the medical community, supporting patients and caregivers, and promoting research around a rare disease.

We hope to help this amazing group of remarkable individuals and industry-leading researchers bring MOG-AD to the forefront. Working with The MOG Project, the patients it supports and the influential doctors on its board, we’ve learned that in fighting for better outcomes for patients with one rare disease, we can help promote better outcomes for all. Please check out The MOG Project at https://mogproject.org/.

The State of Online Retail with Ben Virdee-Chapman

As online retail continues to evolve in the wake of the pandemic, Kimball Hughes Public Relations sat down with a leader in the ecommerce space, Obviyo VP of Marketing Ben Virdee-Chapman, to discuss where the industry may be headed in the coming months. Obviyo, formerly Hi-Conversion, offers ecommerce merchants a hyper-personalized ecommerce experience, using customer data and machine learning to better address shoppers needs.

Here, Chapman shares how the industry will evolve in the next 5 to 10 years, including how the purchasing marketplace will change, whether we can expect greater accuracy in online shopping in the years to come and if brick-and-mortar is dead to today’s online retail shoppers.

HiConversion: Surviving the Retail Recovery

How has the reopening of businesses and the return to travel impacted merchants who relied heavily on ecommerce throughout the pandemic? Zee Aganovic, CEO and co-founder of HiConversion, shares with Multichannel Merchant how retail businesses can continue their growth while transitioning to a workable business model, including taking advantage of data-driven marketing, investing in new technology and working thoughtfully with customer needs. Learn more in this article: https://multichannelmerchant.com/blog/surviving-the-retail-recovery-tips-as-the-world-reopens/

Get to know Cassidy Taylor, Public Relations Manager

Public relations is all about relationships—the people behind the stories. That’s why we’re offering this blog series all about our team members. This isn’t about our professional accomplishments but who we are as people. We hope you have as much fun reading along as we do interviewing each other.

1. What got you interested in public relations?

Growing up I always had an avid interest in reading and writing. As I got older and began to think about what I wanted to do when I grew up, I knew I wanted to help people. The idea of helping people while utilizing my strengths and passion for reading and writing was extremely enticing. In college, I had the opportunity to intern for a few local newspapers and PR firms and once I started to do PR work, I never looked back. Building the interpersonal connections and relationships with both clients and journalists is something I enjoy almost as much as sinking my teeth into a new writing project. Since graduating college, I have worked with non-profits and associations to help build their brands and share their stories with the world to better reach and help those in need. My work with these non-profits and associations is what fulfills me and drives me to continue my work each day.

2. Tell us about your favorite movie and what appeals most to you about it?

My all time, hands-down favorite movie is Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. While I have always enjoyed the often dark, twisty, and always quirky nature of Tarantino’s work, Pulp Fiction will always be my favorite. As a former film and English student, I have a great appreciation for the story Tarantino put together in this film. The various plots and many hidden Easter eggs make it more enjoyable the more times you watch it. Plus, I will never get tired of watching Uma Thurman do The Twist. 

3. What was the last, best book you read and what about it spoke to you?

The last, best book I read was Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” I read this book for the first time when I was 13. Much like Pulp Fiction, one of the things I love most about “On the Road,” is that the more you read it, the more interesting it becomes because you find more subtleties and hidden meanings. I also quite enjoy the sense of freedom the book brings. In Kerouac’s stream of consciousness story, you are transported to a world of freedom, travel and cross-country adventure. Whenever I get the sense of wanderlust but am unable to travel, I pick up the book and transport myself to Kerouac’s world. 

4. Tell us about a meaningful hobby or “outside of work” commitment that is important to you?

For the past four years, every moment I was not working I have been focused on completing my Master of Arts in Communications with a certificate in Public Relations and Advertising from Villanova University. When I finished my undergraduate degree, I realized there was more I could learn in terms of Communications and decided to continue my education at Villanova. I think it is extremely important to always push yourself to be a better, more informed person and I strive to never stop learning, growing and connecting. Now that I am at the end of this academic journey, I would like to spend more time volunteering to help end hunger and homelessness, two causes I feel strongly about. I will also join my local PRSA organization to continue to have access to resources that will help me grow, learn and connect.

5. Share a fun fact about you.

I am a very avid runner and have been running competitively for my entire life. In my previous job working for a non-profit global association that represented the entire fresh produce and floral supply chain, I ran several 5K road races for our 501c charitable organization dressed as a potato. In one of the races, I came in second place overall and was the first female, and potato, across the finish line.