All posts by Ray Martino

Ray Martino is a partner at Martino Flynn, where he heads the administrative and public relations groups. He has 35 years’ experience as a public relations teacher, administrator, and consultant. He holds a master’s degree in public relations from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.

PRism Awards Recognize Industry Excellence

Martino Flynn earned 10 PRism Awards and eight Awards of Excellence at the 2015 PRism Awards. The firm also won “Best in Show/Corporate” for its work with longtime partner W.F. Young. The 10 Prisms were the most won by an entrant this year.

Hosted by the Rochester chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the PRism awards ceremony took place June 18 at the Rochester Museum & Science Center to honor the continued excellence by local professionals in the field of public relations.

The agency received the “Best in Show” award for its work with W. F. Young’s Absorbine ShowSheen horse grooming products brand. To reposition the ShowSheen Hair Polish & Detangler in the minds of horse owners, Martino Flynn conducted extensive research and crafted the integrated “Detangle Like a Pro” campaign.

The campaign leveraged tried and true tactics of media relations and article writing, combined with a robust new media program in a manner that this market segment had not seen before. This program included print ads, e-blasts, and a sweepstakes in which horse owners had the opportunity to win one of six once-in-a-lifetime trips to an equine event. This creative brand development resulted in raised awareness and increased year-over-year sales for the ShowSheen brand.

In addition to the “Best in Show/Corporate” award, Martino Flynn received recognition in 11 different award categories, including:

  • Blogs/Blogger Campaign – Mentholatum Nighttime Vaporizing Rub
  • Business-to-Business Communications – Windstream: 2014 Integrated Public Relations Support
  • Consumer Product or Service Communications – Softlips Cube Product Launch
  • External Video – Buffalo Bills: ‘This is Our Time’
  • Facebook – Softlips Cube Launch Facebook Support
  • Integrated Campaign – W. F. Young: ShowSheen Celebrates 40 Years of ‘Detangling Like a Pro’
  • Media Relations – Every Minute Matters Campaign Launch Event
  • Media Relations – The Bonadio Group: 2014 State of the Construction Industry
  • New Release – The Bonadio Group Merges in Syracuse
  • Other Print Piece – BCCR ARTrageous Affair Promotional Materials
  • Other Print Piece – Absorbine 2015 Dealer Catalog
  • Other Print Piece – Absorbine ShowSheen “Detangler Dangler”
  • Other Social Media – Softlips Cube Influenster Launch
  • Research – Rohto Eye Drops Creative Concept Research
  • Research – Dick’s Sporting Goods Next Generation Golf Bag Research
  • Twitter – Softlips Cube Twitter Launch Support
  • Twitter – Twitter Takeover at Windstream’s 2015 Sales & Marketing Kickoff
  • Trade Show – Absorbine Launches ‘Woof Pouf’ at Global Pet Expo.

The annual awards ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate Rochester’s robust public relations and marketing communications industry. We congratulate all of our fellow award winners.

In Case You Haven’t Noticed, PR Has a New Look

The emergence and dominance of digital media has unalterably changed the way PR people approach their profession. It’s more than replacing fax machines with mobile devices, and adding jargon such as “hyperlocalized content” to our lexicon.

While the entire marketing communications industry has evolved in recent years, PR has been particularly impacted by the accelerating shift to a digital, mobile, and connected culture.

As someone who has been a PR practitioner for more than four decades, I welcome the fundamental changes. Unlike turntables and tube amps, I find little redeeming value in Rolodexes and pagers.

The most fundamental change in PR that technology has spawned is measurability. In the old days (prior to the Internet), it was virtually impossible to measure the results of a PR campaign. The only quantitative tool the industry could dream up was “ad value equivalency.” Print clips would be measured in column inches, TV news placements would be timed, and the “equivalent” paid media time and space would be calculated. There even would be a “credibility” factor added for good measure. The results would invariably show that the PR effort was “worth it.”

Today, of course, clients are accustomed to having real-time, accurate data to drive decisions. Business leaders want specific success metrics and a provable ROI. Outcome metrics such as Web traffic, leads, social engagement, search rankings, and even revenue can now be tied to specific PR tactics.

At Martino Flynn, our PR team is part of an integrated agency. All strategies and tactics flow together. Our people collaborate across departments and disciplines. Clients who retain us for PR services can expect to receive the following services:

Traditional news engine—A national, regional, or local media relations program targeting the general, business, or trade press, aimed at creating a steady cadence of news throughout the year;

Online digital footprint—A number of strategic programs, including active blogging, engaging social media, and industry influence outreach programs;

Analyst relations—Ongoing communication touch points and briefings with the top analyst firms; and

360-degree event support—Pre-, mid-, and post-trade show support in the form of speaker submissions, media relations, video teasers and comprehensive social media activities.

Marketers and PR professionals alike have grasped onto the power of compelling content to attract prospects, accelerate the buying cycle, create deeper relationships with their audience, and feed the social engine. While PR practitioners still write and distribute news releases, they also produce blogs, eBooks, infographics, videos, slide presentations, case studies, white papers, and more.

This is a golden renaissance for the PR profession. Never before has the industry been more valuable and valued. Even though new technologies have bred new tactics, the fundamental focus has remained the same: PR is a management function that influences public opinion through effective communication techniques and socially responsible actions. Our role hasn’t changed, just the means to the end.

Are you ready to communicate during a crisis?

 Natural disasters, scandals, product recalls, work stoppages; there are a multitude of crises occurring constantly. A crisis is simply defined as a major occurrence with a potentially negative outcome.

In a crisis, emotions run on overdrive, minds race, and events happen so quickly that writing a plan amid this situation is impossible–just following one is hard enough.

Crisis management is a process of strategic planning for a crisis–one that removes some of the risk and uncertainty from the negative occurrence and allows an organization to be in greater control of the outcome.

Crisis communications is defined as the dialogue between an organization and its publics prior to, during, and after the negative occurrence. The dialogue created is intended to minimize damage to the organization’s reputation.

Effective crisis management includes crisis communications, which not only can alleviate or eliminate the crisis, but also can sometimes bring an organization a more positive reputation than it may have had before the crisis.

There are various public relations programs that can be utilized during a crisis. They include media, community, employee (internal), consumer, government, and investor relations.

Research indicates that companies with ongoing two-way communications often avoid crises or endure crises of shorter duration or of lesser magnitude. Research also shows that companies with a crisis management or crisis communications plan generally come out of a crisis with a more positive image than companies without a plan.

Crises typically go through distinct phases. The first is detection. The detection phase—or prodromal phase—may begin with the appearance of warning signs. Some crises have no noticeable prodromes, but many do.

When an organization in the same or similar industry suffers a crisis, that can serve as a warning sign. The Tylenol tampering case was a prodrome to other over-the-counter drug manufacturers. Most heeded the warning and converted to tamper-proof containers.

An organization should watch for prodromes and make attempts to stop a crisis at this initial stage, before it develops into a full-blown crisis. A corporate culture conducive to the positive and open interaction of stakeholders can minimize the effects of crises, as can the inclusion of crisis management in the strategic planning process.

Depending on the type of organization, crisis prevention tactics can involve many actions, such as safety training, a whistleblowing policy, and ongoing community engagement.

Crisis preparation is necessary for dealing with crises that cannot be prevented. For example, Pepsi had no way of anticipating the scare in which hypodermic syringes were being found in some cans of Diet Pepsi. The crisis communications plan is the primary tool of preparedness. The plan tells all key people on the crisis team what their roles are.

Containment, the second phase, refers to the effort to limit the duration of the crisis and keep it from spreading to other areas of the organization.

The third phase is recovery, which involves efforts to return an organization to “business as usual.” In addition to restoring normalcy, recovery can involve restoring public confidence.

The fourth and final stage, learning, is the post-mortem phase; this is where procedures are analyzed in order to make the event a lesson for the future.

One way to look at crisis communications is to dissect it into three stages: prevention—preparing before a crisis occurs; management—communicating during the crisis; and recovery—communicating post-crisis.

Prevention involves planning and preparing communications procedures before a crisis occurs. Research and preparation in this first stage are key. An organization’s main goals are to anticipate and prepare for potential crises, and attempt to prevent them before they occur.

The second stage of crisis management is managing the response and communicating it to all interested parties. Time is of the essence in responding to a crisis effectively. A delayed response can be devastating to an organization’s reputation.

The third and final stage of crisis communications is recovery—communicating post-crisis. This look-back stage begins immediately at the end of a crisis.

Post-crisis communication is what an organization says and does after a crisis. In this stage, an organization will attempt to salvage its reputation, while gathering key learnings and undergoing the healing process.

Today’s instant communications environment places a higher premium on crisis management; unprepared organizations have more to lose than ever before. The factors that increase the need for effective crisis management are an increased value of reputation, stakeholder activism through communication technologies, negligent failure to plan, and broader views of crises.

Martino Flynn can help your organization prepare a crisis communications plan. Contact Ray Martino,, or call 585-641-4540.

Five Traits Of Great Business Leaders

The topic of leadership has been thoroughly dissected by historians, social scientists, authors, and trainers. While very little has been left unsaid, I offer here my accumulated observations over four decades in the business world.

Make no mistake; great business leaders are exceptional people. The best business leaders I have observed over the years get good to excellent marks from me on all of the following traits.

  1. Integrity. Without honesty and high moral principles, you cannot lead a business effectively. Employees’ trust and loyalty must be earned. They can’t be taken for granted.
  2. Vision. People need goals and a roadmap in order to achieve. Your vision has to be articulated and reinforced, or else your employees will feel that they are on a rudderless ship.
  3. Passion. Leaders have to have a contagious enthusiasm for their work. If a leader isn’t passionate about the organization’s mission and vision, how can we expect employees to be committed?
  4. Collaboration. The most successful teams have a motivator for a leader. Great leaders work side by side with their teams. Team players need support and encouragement, not someone breathing down their necks.
  5. Accountability. President Harry S. Truman’s sign on his desk read “The Buck Stops Here.” Leaders who shift blame to others and refuse to admit fault do not foster loyalty.

In the book, Lessons from the Top: The Search for America’s Best Business Leaders, Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, made the observation:

“I think it’s very difficult to lead today when people are not really truly participating in the decisions. You won’t be able to attract and retain great people if they don’t feel like they are part of the authorship of the strategy and the authorship of the really critical issues. If you don’t give people the opportunity to really be engaged, they won’t stay.”

Schultz obviously has credibility on the subject. If we were evaluating great military or church leaders, the criteria would be different. Disloyal soldiers get court martialed. Disloyal church members get excommunicated. Unhappy employees find another job.

Great business leaders are not autocrats. They use their powers of persuasion to achieve consensus and support. Fear and intimidation are not in their vocabularies. Once great leaders have everyone on board, they make their expectations clear and then get out of the way.

Sandy reminds us that crisis communications plans are a necessity

In the days before Hurricane Sandy battered New York City, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the entire Northeast was preparing for the worst.  People flocked to stores for flashlights, batteries, generators, water, and nonperishables, and businesses called emergency meetings to review their crisis communications plans, if they had one.  But so many businesses remain largely unprepared to handle a crisis situation, armed only with informal crisis plans—or worse, with none at all.

Hurricane Sandy wreaked complete devastation on the Jersey Shore, and flooded lower Manhattan in a way that hadn’t been seen in several decades, if ever. In times like these, the last thing an organization wants to do is scramble. As Sandy showed us, no company is safe—from the world’s largest banks to the small sub shop on the corner—and no business is crisis or disaster free. The best way to prepare for the unexpected is to have a crisis communications plan ready to go.

Continue reading Sandy reminds us that crisis communications plans are a necessity