What We’re Reading - Celebrating Earth Day and Sustainability


Over the weekend, we celebrated Earth Day, a day where Americans join together to celebrate what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement. 

If you follow our blog on a regular basis, you’re aware that sustainability is a frequent conversation topic with our team. Last week, Julie Layton shared how we’re working on becoming a more sustainable company in her blog post, and a past post from Christi Dixon shared how we define sustainability.  Our team really enjoyed Earth Day and the sustainability buzz, especially since we are preparing for the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) U.S. conference Making Sustainability Count-Tracking Progress, Driving Opportunity .

With all the excitement around sustainability, we wanted to share a couple articles that have caught our eyes.

Have you heard of any unique sustainable initiatives? Please tell us ways sustainability efforts have changed your work or learning place. We’d love to hear how these efforts affect your life.


Opposing Sides in Agriculture Unite Behind a Common Cause


This week, agriculture-related discussion has been abundant on our blog (see Nick’s post and Julie’s post). And, to continue the conversation, we’d like to share an interesting NPR article we read this week.

In “How Two Bitter Adversaries Hatched a Plan to Change the Egg Business,” reporter, Dan Charles, tells the story of how Gene Gregory, head of the United Egg Producers lobby, and Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society, have joined forces to transform the poultry industry. Within agriculture, it’s difficult to imagine two individuals who would seemingly disagree more.

The story and some of the reactions to it are included below.

HSUS and United Egg Producers Join Forces


What do you think? Is this a good example of how opposing sides of the ag industry could unite to make positive changes? Or is it too idealistic?




What We’re Reading - Komen Foundation Crisis Communication Case Study


This week our team has watched the Komen Foundation’s Planned Parenthood decision, backlash and subsequent reversal closely.  And while we all have a stake, and our own personal opinions, regarding the women’s health implications that are part of the larger conversation, we were equally fascinated with the crisis communications work in play.

Here’s a few interesting stories worth reading if you need to get up-to-speed on this week’s latest crisis communications case study:

  1. The Public Relations Society of America labeled Komen’s actions and messaging a “faulty public relations strategy” in a blog post this week.
  2. Time magazine tracked the conversation as Planned Parenthood and Komen issued statements and responses to each other’s statements, and so on.
  3. Spin Sucks has a great round-up of the public relations implications surrounding Komen’s decision to delete negative Facebook posts after they made their Planned Parenthood announcement.  It’s a stark reminder that one has to consider the social media response to a potentially controversial decision before you announce it.
What crisis communications lessons do you think we can learn from a situation in which the company’s own announcement causes the crisis?



What We’re Reading – Social Media and SOPA/PIPA


I don’t know about you, but my Facebook newsfeed had been blowing up with comments about and criticisms of SOPA/PIPA, the proposed legislation to hold Internet companies like Google responsible for curbing the distribution of pirated movies, television shows and music. If you haven’t read up on SOPA, here is a summary of what it is and how Google, Wikipedia, Craigslist and others are protesting what they consider online censorship.

In light of the heated SOPA discussions, and in recognition of the powerful communication tools available on the Internet, we decided to share some of our favorite stories about online communication.

Many people use social networks to ask for advice from people they know (like, “what color should I dye my hair this week?”, or “where’s the best place in the area to get Chicago-style pizza?”), but others have found ways to get help from total strangers. For example, after being diagnosed with leukemia, this man started a blog about his need for a bone marrow transplant.  Within days, people rallied around him and retweeted his post, helping to increase hits to his blog-and find a perfect donor match. He traveled to Boston this week to start the transplant process, thanks to the power of social media.

Meanwhile, consumer brands like Hershey have figured out the secret to interacting with their customers via social media. What has Hershey done to attract more than 8 million Facebook fans for products like Reeses’ (besides make delicious candy)? They base their Facebook strategy on three pillars: awareness of what their fans want to know and talk about, frequent content that is varied and interesting, and speed in responding to customer concerns. Excellent recommendations for any brand wanting to do more with their social media channels than simply collect followers.

Speaking of social media recommendations, here are some common mistakes businesses make when venturing into social media (complete with cartoons, in case you’re more of a visual person). Not surprisingly, one of the biggest problems companies face when using social media is that they don’t use it enough. As this author explains, social media channels give companies a unique opportunity to talk directly with their stakeholders, but too often they use Facebook or Twitter to just push out more advertisements for their products. Instead, businesses should utilize their social media outlets more fully by incorporating fun aspects like games, polls and contests, and conducting informal market research by asking focused questions about what they’d like to learn from their followers.

What tactics and strategies for engaging audiences in social media do you feel are effective?