About Rod Hughes

I'm a writer, bibliophile, witty wordsmith and generally a commentator on the world around me. Professionally, I am vice president of a Pennsylvania-based public relations agency that helps businesses get their messages out into the world in a positive, effective way. All commentary within this blog is my own and unrelated to my employment endeavors. If this blog prompts deep thought, debate, laughter or a viral rash of some kind then I will consider my life just a tad more fulfilled.

Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

#YOUTOO_

There is no shortage of powerful men being felled by scandal lately. From Hollywood to Wall Street, from Capitol Hill to the Fourth Estate—no industry is immune. And it appears the cycle of revelations, accusations, ham-fisted apologies, pseudo-apologies and angry denials is just getting started.

Considering the scale of this wave of accusations, business leaders need to ask themselves: What do we do when it happens to us?

Most of us hope this won’t happen to our organization. However, hope is not a strategy. Most companies have anti-harassment policies and this seems like the ideal time to dust off those employee handbooks for a review. But to be effective you should be proactively communicating your policies to ensure compliance. Deploying some simple, professional and preventative internal communication can make a world of difference. It’s easier to avert a fixable problem than to ignore it and try to do damage control later. Because, frankly, there is no good way to respond to accusations of sexual misconduct.

However, there is a right way. With the hurt victims, misuse of power and highly-charged feelings, these situations first require an empathetic, human response. That’s where communications come in. I can’t comment on the legal procedures. And the human resource issues are another matter as well. However, I can provide insight into how skillful crisis communications can protect a business and the people that are part of it.

Beyond their fiduciary responsibility to the company, business leaders are responsible to the people with whom they work to be prepared for any scenario—yes, even sexual harassment—with a disaster recovery plan. And that includes a robust crisis communications strategy. A lack of clear communications can make employees feel unmoored and demoralized.

However, having a plan ensures everyone in your organization is on the same page. It lets employees know you’re dialed-in on the issue and taking positive steps to address it. In part, you will also help protect the jobs of those who have done nothing wrong but are nonetheless impacted. Having a communications strategy for this type of scenario reassures your clients and customers you are looking out for their interests as well. But most importantly, planning for the worst will help to produce the best possible result under the circumstances. It may very well save your business.

So, ask yourself: What will you do if your CEO or board member or a high-ranking manager is accused of inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace? What will you do when the local news station calls for comment? Do you have a plan?

The answers come from conducting a realistic threat assessment. From that assessment, you must create a communications plan that ensures your company can effectively weather such a scandal, including the rebuilding of trust with your employees, customers, vendors and the public. You need buy-in from stakeholders, clearly defined roles, back-up personnel and—most importantly—a rock solid commitment to the truth and sharing the facts as you know them. Developing a plan like this takes time, so first focus on prevention. But also have a plan.

After all, the worst time to prepare for a crisis is when you are already in one. As we’ve witnessed through countless media statements from the accused, saying “sorry” isn’t easy. In fact, when done poorly—yes, I’m looking at you Kevin Spacey—these statements make matters substantially worse, adding to the number of negative news cycles, the confusion of employees and the pain of survivors.

 

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Model Citizens

Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 10.03.14 AMYou can’t manage what you can’t measure. Catastrophe exposure is no exception. Insurers’ ability to price cat risk depends on knowing who and what is exposed—people, property, businesses and infrastructure—and to what perils.

That’s the position Chris Winans, consultant for Kimball Hughes Public Relations, took in his recently published Leader’s Edge article on the approach of for- and non-profit cat modelers to global underinsurance. Read more about it here.

Chris Winans Joins Kimball Hughes PR as Consultant

 

Christopher Winans

Chris Winans joined Kimball Hughes Public Relations as a consultant in October.

Kimball Hughes Public Relations, specializing in insurance, real estate, law, trade associations and other niche industry communications, today announces Chris Winans has joined the organization as a consultant. Winans most recently led Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ U.S. financial services communications practice.

Winans has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist, a Wall Street financial analyst, a corporate and crisis communications advisor, and a C-suite thought-leadership strategist. He has advised financial services companies – including global life and non-life insurers, banks, asset managers and management consultants, among others – in both in-house and agency roles.

“We’ve built a strong insurance practice over the past two decades, and Chris’s reputation as a leader in corporate and crisis communications in the insurance and financial sectors will help us expand the scope of our services,” said Gary Kimball, agency president and founder. “Chris has helped firms manage reputation risk through the turmoil of deregulation, the dot.com and real-estate busts, the Great Recession and sweeping re-regulation. We look forward to adding this experience and expertise to our financial services team.”

Winans spent more than two decades as a journalist, including 10 years at The Wall Street Journal, and 12 years in corporate and crisis communications, including senior roles at AIG and AXA. He also spent five years as an insurance industry equity analyst, including Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers, and nine years in financial regulation, including A.M. Best Company and Promontory Financial Group.

“I’m thrilled to be partnering with Kimball Hughes PR,” Winans said. “The firm’s expertise and decades of specialization is a rare find in the PR arena. Together, I’m sure we’ll be able to deliver exceptional value that just doesn’t exist elsewhere.”

Philadelphia Agency Adds Partner, Rebrands As Kimball Hughes Public Relations

PrintKimball Communications, a boutique Philadelphia public relations agency specializing in insurance, real estate, law, trade associations and other niche industry communications, today announces it has officially rebranded as Kimball Hughes Public Relations. The rebrand follows the naming of agency Vice President Rod Hughes as a partner in 2016.

“Since Rod joined our agency five years ago, we have doubled in size, expanded the industry expertise we offer clients and, most importantly, enhanced our reputation as a results-driven public relations agency,” said Gary Kimball, agency president and founder. “This name change reflects not only our new partnership, but also the leading role Rod will play in our futurenews I know will be welcomed by everyone who works with us.”

Hughes joined the agency in 2012 after five years leading the communications division of a full-service marketing agency. Kimball founded the agency in 1995 in Easton, Pa., after serving in a series of senior corporate public relations roles. In addition to Kimball and Hughes, the agency’s account managers are all former journalists.

In the first half of 2017, Kimball Hughes Public Relations added eight new clients, including two non-profit charity organizations, a museum, two national legal trade associations, a mutual insurance company, a venture capital firm and a partner and practice group leader at one of Philadelphia’s leading law firms.

The agency will maintain its existing web, email, and postal addresses as well as its social media presences and phone number.

Roxana Pita-Romero Joins Kimball Communications

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Roxana Pita-Romero joins Kimball Communications.

Featured in the Sept. 25, 2017 O’Dwyer’s and the Sept. 27, 2017 edition of Bulldog Reporter, details of Roxana Pita-Romero joining the agency is making news.

Joining the agency with two and one half years of financial public relations service experience, Roxana will support the agency’s account managers who handle our legal, insurance and trade association clients.

Roxana is our newest Public Relations Associate. She can be reached at rpitaromero@kimballpr.com and by phone at (610) 559-7585 x 105.

Welcome Roxana!

We’re Hiring

Kimball-Hughes-Recruitment-Banner-croppedWe’re not looking for someone who just wants a job. Instead we want someone interested in growing his or her public relations career with us over the long term … someone willing to commit to us as much as we are hoping to commit to them.

We also happen to think Kimball Communications is a pretty great place to work. Why? First, we have amazing people contributing to our team-centric, respectful and often humorous office culture. Our PR pros also do amazing work for our clients, who themselves are pretty outstanding to work with as well. Those clients are leaders in the areas of insurance, law, real estate, trade associations, non-profits, manufacturing and healthcare, among others.

Our office is convenient to Philadelphia – just one-half hour from the heart of Center City. Every day we each look forward to doing great work with good people who appreciate that egos are checked at the door. We think we’ve got that whole work-life balance thing down to a science with flexible schedules, work from home opportunities, generous paid time off as well as holidays, performance bonuses based on profitability and much more. (Oh, did I mention snacks?)

What we are looking for in return is commitment. Commitment to doing the best job possible. Commitment to being a team player who knows this is a relationship business and acts accordingly. Commitment to succeeding rather than worrying about taking credit. Commitment to being as flexible with us in meeting agency and client goals as we are in making that whole work-life thing balance out. And, of course, commitment to developing, managing and successfully executing communications strategies and tactics for our clients with skill and integrity.

To paraphrase Liam Neeson, what we’re looking for is a very particular set of skills – skills acquired over time spent working as a journalist or a public relations professional. We are not looking for specialists in marketing, advertising, or digital media services.

So we’re looking for a PR pro whose career is defined by the following:

  • Professional experience:
    • At least three years of experience working as a reporter or editor for a non-college affiliated news organization; or
    • At least three years at a public relations agency where your primary responsibility was providing public relations services; or
    • Not less than three years in an in-house role managing communications (internal and external) for a large business or non-profit
  • Education:
    • A bachelor’s degree in journalism, public relations or communications.
  • Skills:
    • A proven track record of securing placements in both consumer and trade media.
    • Outstanding communication and interpersonal skills
    • Above average talent as a writer of multiple genres.
    • Extensive, first-hand knowledge of building media lists and pitching reporters.
    • Detailed knowledge of social media channels and related dashboards to manage content on behalf of clients.

Core responsibilities for the PR Manager role include:

  • Serve as a daily contact for clients
  • Assist in developing client PR strategies and thought leadership plans
  • Write, edit and distribute press releases, media alerts, bylined articles and blog posts
  • Conduct outreach to trade, mainstream, broadcast and online media outlets
  • Develop and pitch story ideas to secure placements for our clients
  • Draft monthly reports for clients and work with our media relations coordinator to collect and share client clips
  • Manage select social media platforms on behalf of the agency and clients
  • Work with our team to develop social media strategy and provide guidance to clients on all social media services
  • Meet all deadlines!

If you are as committed as we are to being part of a fun, talented and successful public relations team then we can’t wait to meet you.

Be sure to send an original cover letter that makes a persuasive case for your selection for this role, along with your resume to the attention of Rod Hughes at rhughes@kimballpr.com. The subject line must read: PR Manager Application. Also please be sure to include up to three professional writing samples and not less than three professional references.

 

The art of the pitch or how to land a great job

We’re hiring at Kimball Communications.

There was a time when a sentence like that, posted anywhere online about any agency would send a flood of résumés rushing in. To some degree it’s still true.

The fact of the matter is while I’ve seen a lot of résumés lately, what’s been missing is the persuasive argument to hire one candidate over others. I understand that for many professions, the cover letter is a dying art. But not in public relations. Not when one of the key facets of the job is to daily build a fact-based, persuasive argument on behalf of clients to present to key audiences. I call it the art of the pitch.

So we’ll take our time searching for our next, great co-worker and colleague. We’ll look for that persuasive pitch, that mix of talent and personality clients recognize and quickly say “I want to work with him/her.”

Meanwhile, if you are an experienced public relations professional, if you’ve managed clients in an agency setting, and if you are an outstanding writer, think about pitching me on why you would be the next great contributor to our team. Some things to consider about us before applying:Snacks

  • We have lots of great snacks.
  • We’re a smart, friendly bunch who check our egos at the door.
  • We put a premium on outstanding soft skills, a welcoming demeanor and a healthy sense of humor.
  • Rarely a day passes where one team member or another hasn’t cracked the rest of us up with laughter – a great release when you are working against tight deadlines and appropriately high client expectations.
  • We pride ourselves on doing genuinely outstanding work.
  • We’re looking for someone to grow with, not someone looking for just “the next job.”
  • Our client and employee turnover is ridiculously low by agency standards.
  • We’re a team of leaders rather than a team needing to be led.

So check out our ad for the specific skills and requirements of this Public Relations Manager role in our Blue Bell, Pa. office. And then pitch me on why you should be the next PR Manager at Kimball Communications.

-Rod Hughes