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Leslie Lee’s “3 fairy tales and the lessons they hold for PR”

25 Jun


Fairy tales are in vogue. 

TV shows such as “Once Upon a Time” and “Grimm,” and the movie “Snow White and the Huntsman,” have given these age-old stories new life (for better or worse), complete with special effects and eerie soundtracks. 

No matter what lens you view them through, there is always something to be learned. They even have some PR advice to share. Take, for example, these three fairy tales: 

1. “The Tortoise and the Hare”

The Hare darted almost out of sight at once, but soon stopped and, to show his contempt for the Tortoise, lay down to have a nap. The Tortoise trod on and trod on, and when the Hare awoke from his nap, he saw the Tortoise just near the winning-post and could not run up in time to save the race.

Although the message of Aesop’s version of “The Tortoise and the Hare” was far more ambiguous as we know it today, this is the classic tale of “slow and steady wins the race.” The lesson illustrates something that we constantly remind ourselves and our clients: Those big announcements—such as a product launch or a rebrand—might be helpful as benchmarks for a board and fodder for a sales team, but they are not enough to drive a successful communications program. 

Rather, it is the steady stream of ongoing coverage and contributed content that springs from consistent thought-leadership efforts that will drive a successful PR and marketing program. As Beth Monaghan wrote in a post this year, “The launch is simply the first step in a long journey.”

2. “The Emperor’s New Clothes”

But among the crowds a little child suddenly gasped out, “But he hasn’t got anything on.” People began to whisper what the child had said. “He hasn’t got anything on. There’s a little child saying he hasn’t got anything on.” Till everyone was saying, “But he hasn’t got anything on.” The Emperor himself had the uncomfortable feeling that what they were whispering was only too true.

Hans Christian Andersen’s story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” perhaps the earliest recorded version of the suddenly-naked-in-front-of-your-high-school nightmare, is often cited as a cautionary tale about the nefarious power of “spin.” 

Two weavers come to town and manage to convince everyone that they can make the finest clothes in the land. But here’s the catch: The clothes will be invisible to all who are too incompetent and stupid to see them. 

So successful are they in their “spinning” that every courtier, and even the emperor, are forced to feign admiration lest they earn the label of imbecile. Finally, however, as the emperor proudly struts his stuff through the city, a child from the crowd cries out the truth and suddenly the illusion is broken. All that remains is the embarrassed emperor, fully in the nude.

It’s true that those weavers present the epitome of bad “spin”—using the power of persuasion as a con trick. But there’s a related lesson: Make sure your story is grounded in reality. Even if you’re a savvy “spin doctor,” you will be exposed one day if you’re not working from fact. 

For this reason, we often recommend to our clients that they ground their communications programs in data. Start with the raw materials, the actual data and facts you know, and build the story from there. That way you can be sure that you won’t be challenged.

3. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”

Mirror, mirror on the wall —who is the fairest of them all?

The story of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” often focuses on Snow White traipsing around with Dopey and Doc. While there are plenty of lessons to be learned from her—don’t accept food from strangers, for example—there’s an important PR strategy lesson in the queen’s story. 

Chanting into her mirror day after day, the queen became obsessed with comparing herself to others in the land, pursuing this obsession to the detriment of everything else. Maybe if she’d spent less time worrying about her beauty rankings, and more time governing her kingdom, she could have become a successful and popular queen—an achievement which no doubt would have made her much “fairer” in the eyes of her subjects.

It is vital to stay current on what your competitors are doing: The messages they are distributing and their traction in the media—not to mention keeping close tabs on claims they may be making in their own PR communications. 

But focusing too heavily on an “us vs. them” mentality in your communications program can lead you down the rabbit hole (to mix in another story) into petty one-upmanship. Rather than reacting to competitors, focus on your core objectives and thought leadership. Ultimately, it will enable you to outshine your competition through value and creativity.

Leslie Lee is an account executive at InkHouse Media + Marketing, where this story first appeared. Follow Leslie on Twitter @LSL713.




#Beauty in #Media: Rachel McAdams Covers Glamour, February 2012

25 Jan

For the month of February, Glamour Magazine chose to spotlight Rachel McAdams as their cover girl. The 33-year old, self-confident, talented actress opened up to Glamour about her friends, her romances, and how she’s tried to maintain living a normal life. She tells Glamour, when she was 16, she worked under her sister’s management at a local McDonald’s. “It was a great place to work, but I had a little bit of an OCD thing with hand washing and just didn’t have time. They were like, ‘Hey, the drive-through’s backing up. Stop washing your hands!’ I was not a great employee; I broke the orange juice machine one day.”

Rachel lives with her brother in a home in Toronto, “But the house is a lemon, so there are endless things to do there. It keeps me on my toes.” Her living arrangements keep her humble and living in her hometown helps her to appreciate her family and support system. “The strongest community I have is in Toronto. I like being able to go to the same places and see the same people. My family’s close by. I get along with my neighbors. It’s really nice.”

She also tries to stay real by keeping connected with problems other than the latest Hollywood gossip. “wanted to educate myself. People have said it’s unfocused, but I appreciate that there are so many different groups coming together peacefully, saying there are things that are broken in the system, and we need to put our heads together.” She also likes to stay educated for her acting career. She engages in activities that will make her a more well-rounded person, as well as enhance her skill sets. “I use filming as an excuse to take classes. I got my certification in sailing for Wedding Crashers, and now I can handle a 26-foot boat. I played a seamstress once, so I took sewing classes. I love dipping into these other lives.”

To read more about Rachel McAdams and her interview with Glamour, click here!

#PR Tips: 5 Things to Ensure Successful Brand Development

20 Jan

When creating and developing your own brand, there are many ways to ensure your own success. Here are a few tips to put you on the right path:

1. Develop a list of core values. Write them down and leave them somewhere you’ll see them everyday. Look at them every morning and set a goal for yourself to make sure you’re following them in every decision you make. Your values are what you want your brand to represent to the public and they are also the ethical standards by which you operate. Incorporate your values into every aspect of your brand and make sure you’re representing and staying true to what you believe.

2. Collect direct feedback from your clients. These are the people who know you and your brand the best! What do they like about it? What would they change? This is your opportunity to listen to what they think and make room for improvement. Keep in contact with them so they know that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say, and take their ideas into consideration. You don’t have you change your whole brand because of a suggestion, but be open and respect the good ideas that they do have.

3. Be consistent. You took the time to create your perfect brand, one that represents you and your business truthfully. Now, stick to it! Repetition will help clients remember you and what you stand for and being consistent can help you develop a stable appearance and reputation.

4. Stand out! Develop your own identity. You are your brand, so be sure to put as much of yourself into it as possible! Get creative. Market yourself as being different from the rest and make sure you follow through. Use your charm and your originality to help separate your brand from the norm. You’re better than average, and so is your brand, so let it shine!

5. Be true to yourself. Your brand comes from you. It is everything you stand for and represent. You want to be consistent and maintain an honest image, so represent your true self. Don’t be influenced by what you think you should be representing. Just show the world who you and your brand really are and be proud of it. You have every reason to be!

#PR Tips: 5 Ways to Make Press Connections

15 Jan

Building a relationship with the press is a huge step for businesses and brands, when it comes to public relations, promotion, and growth. There are a lot of things you can do to keep the press happy, and here are a few tips for getting what you want from them:

Show them that you can be a reliable source! According to, “After dozens of phone calls and hundreds or thousands of emails each day, it is hard for a reporter to tell a good PR pro from a bad PR pro.” Here are a few ways to show that you’re reliable: always deliver what you say you will, be responsive and recognize deadlines, realize that it is better to admit that you don’t have an answer for a reporter rather than waste his or her time, and understand that your relationships with reporters will last your whole career.

Spend time thinking about what you want to say before you say it! Make sure you know exactly what points you want to get across and speak clearly and concisely when pitching an idea. Remember, they have deadlines to attend to and don’t always have the time to sift through a lot of information. Also remember to be original and creative! They’re always looking for bright, new ideas and you may be just the one to deliver them.

Be patient! It is important to realize that you might not get what you want right away, but don’t give up! The most you can do is offer your services to them, refrain from bombarding them with information, and be on call and ready when they need you. The time will come when they’re looking for a story and you will be the one they choose, so be prepared!

Write your own stories!  If they’re pressed for time, you’re much more likely to get them to help you out if you help them, too. Make their job easier! Answer the important questions, like who, what, where, why, and when? Avoid using jargon or abbreviations they won’t be able to understand and remember to make sure you actually have news to share!

Be nice! This is the most important tip. Make sure that even though you have built a professional relationship with them, that you are also aware that they’re human, too. Ask them how they’re doing and show them that you care. Comment on their previous stories to show you pay attention. Learn their schedules and remember their deadlines. Realize that you’re relationship with them will last a while and you want it to be a stable and friendly one!

#Beauty in #Media: Katherine Heigl Covers Elle, January 2012

14 Dec

To ring in the new year, Elle Magazine decided to focus their attention on Katherine Heigl. The 33-year-old actress opened up to tell readers about her goals, her career, and how she’s been perceived by the public. Knowing that she couldn’t be seen as a true American Sweetheart because of her “caustic, sarcastic, irreverent take on things,” she’s made it a goal for herself to be liked by all people. Heigl tells Elle she just “wants everyone to like [her], and it’s a ridiculous goal and it’s an impossible goal. But [if she] just keep[s] pushing forward and showing [herself] through and through, they will see [her] again for who [she truly is] and not what has been sort of spun about [her].”

Heigl also talks to Elle about balancing her stressful life. One of her tricks: taking a vitamin stress relief formula from Whole Foods. They keep her in a better mood and she refers to them as her happy pills. It’s understandable why she would need them, too. Heigl admitted that stress of Hollywood demands cause her to “overdramatize. And I think everything is at stake—my life, my career, my family, everything is at stake if this movie doesn’t do well.”

To read more from the article and check out more pictures from her photo shoot with photographer Carter Smith, click here.

#PR Tips: 5 Unique PR/Marketing Tips

12 Dec

So by now, most people are aware of how great blogging and social networking sites can be for marketing a brand. However, you don’t want to end up stuck doing “business as usual.” Here are five creative tips to spice up your PR/marketing:

1. Run a contest. People love to win things! Offer up a product or a service as a prize. Make it something people would want, but nothing that will cost you or your business. Make it easy for the public to enter and encourage clients to participate. You could also promote extra entries for those who spread the word and tell their friends. This is a fun way to get attention for your brand and promote company growth!

2. Conduct a survey. Poll the public and your clients to find out exactly what they want from you. Get creative with the questions and make it something fun for them to fill out. Make sure that after you receive feedback, you follow up and take their suggestions into consideration. Customers love to feel like their opinions are being heard.

3. Link up with a local non-profit or charitable organization of your choice. Find one that works for a cause you care about and join forces to promote each other. Create a public service announcement or a viral video to gain attention through viewership. This will also get clients and potential customers to realize that you care about something more than just your business.

4. Host an event. Either plan your own or volunteer your space to host an event for another business/organization. This will bring people into your venue and give them a chance to scope out all you have to offer. It will also familiarize the guests with your name and brand. To be even more successful with this tip, make sure all the guests are enjoying themselves!

5. Send out your press releases or articles in a creative way. For example, if you own a salon, roll up your article and put it inside of an empty shampoo bottle. Put a label on the front that reads something like, “At our salon, we offer more than just cuts and color. Look inside to see what we mean!” It will grab the reader’s interest immediately. Another creative trick, fill fortune cookies with slips of paper with your Twitter username printed on them. Another creative trick, fill fortune cookies with slips of paper with your Twitter username printed on them. According to Marketing Lagniappe, these Twikies (Twitter cookies) “are fun to look at, tasty, and informative, plus they get people excited…” These tricks are sure to leave people talking about you in a good way.

#PR Tips: What to Wear to Get the Job

8 Dec

One of the most stressful parts of job hunting is the interview process. First impressions are a big deal. You want to make sure you’re looking your best in order to make the best impression possible. With these tips, you’ll learn how to look sophisticated, yet stylish, for your next interview.

This first model is wearing a classic button-down shirt, layered with a blazer. The really nice thing about wearing two basic colors is that the print of her button-down allows her to add the right amount of creative flair without going overboard. Notice that her skirt is form-fitting, yet no higher than knee-length; you want to make sure you aren’t showing too much skin. She tops it all off with a simple necklace and belt, and her open-toe shoes are just professional enough to make it work!


This model is wearing a very basic gray dress. The length is still at the knee and the cut is professional, yet flattering. Even though the dress has no sleeves, I’d suggest wearing a blazer or a sweater to cover up, unless the business environment is less formal.. She keeps her own style by adding a funky necklace and a contrasting shoe.


These next four girls are all wearing acceptable attire for an interview. They are wearing dressier pants, and though they aren’t all wearing blazers, their shirts are cute, yet appropriate. Keep in mind, that while you’re shopping you can always buy outfits to mix-and-match for when you do land that job! Remember, neutral colors aren’t your only options.


No matter what you decide to wear for your interview, don’t forget to proudly wear your confidence and a smile. Good luck!