By Susan Tomai, Founder

Have you ever noticed the sound of clicking cameras at a press event?  You’re hearing it because photographers love action shots. 

The moment the spokesperson or the VIP starts gesticulating, click-click-click go the cameras. That’s because no photographer wants a static image of a talking head.  

This should tell you something: the next time you want your picture to be used in a story, use strong, purposeful, descriptive gestures.  

Staying On Message Doesn’t Mean Spin

By Susan Tomai, Founder

Are you just answering the reporter’s questions or delivering your message?  You can do both and maintain your integrity.

A good spokesperson should be able to field questions while credibly advancing the organization’s agenda. Of course if you represent a person or organization undeserving of your full confidence and respect, then you probably shouldn’t be in a position to defend it in the first place. Only your integrity should determine what you say, not your paycheck or your name recognition.

Anticipate questions as best you can. Deliver appropriate and honest answers. If the questions aren't taking you where you need to go, move on to your messages.  

Shake My Hand - I Won't Break

By Susan Tomai, Founder

I shake hands with colleagues and clients in business every day - and I’m always surprised by how many people don’t do it properly.

I was raised by a father who was a Wall Street banker and a gentleman of the old school. He taught me from an early age to shake with a firm dry hand, with eye contact and confident body language.

Today I'm the founder and majority owner of a successful business, and many men still shake my hand as though I'm so brittle I might break. They avoid eye contact with me and sometimes ignore me altogether, directing their attention to my male business partner. Once they realize who I am,  they begin to give me the respect they would have given me had I been a tall man with a deep voice. Frequently this only happens when my supportive male partner points out that I started the business.

Sexism is alive well, folks. I challenge everyone to re-think their assumptions.

The Speed of Social


By Christopher Breene, Founder, GFTB Digital

With social and digital playing such a big role in the media landscape, we asked our digital strategist Christopher Breene of GFTB Digital for his hot take on the latest social media scandals and how to handle a crisis.

Few things move as fast as social media. With stories popping up on Snapchat, Instagram Stories, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others - it's important to have a strategy in place to handle the speed of social media. We’re talking Crisis Management 101.

In many cases, when your company gets smeared online - or, even worse, when you make a huge misstep - everyone knows about in 140 characters. How embarrassing and even more importantly, how can you put out that media crisis fire that can tank your firm?

It’s essential for a savvy business to keep up with the times - so we created a handy 5-point checklist on the Oratorio blog for social media crisis management.

Step 1: Radio Silence
As soon as you see your notifications blowing up on Instagram, or mentions rising on Twitter, order your social media team to pause all content for the foreseeable future. If you don't, a smoking gun can become a dumpster fire. Radio silence is always the best first step.

Step 2: All hands on deck
In times like these, it's great to have an advisor or agency with experience in crisis communications to bring into the brain trust.  Call an immediate meeting and begin hammering out your statement in 3 formats – 30-second, press release, and social-friendly. 

Step 3: Write the Response
In writing a response, it’s crucial to think not only on your current crisis and whether your brand was in the wrong or right - but how the public will perceive you with only your statement in hand. Look forward, be compassionate, be better. This was the fatal flaw in United's recent fiasco.

Make sure that you respond to EVERY person who mentioned your brand, showed outrage, or demanded answers - at least once. This is the most labor-intensive part, but it does a lot more good for repairing your damaged reputation than ignoring customers.

Step 4: Never double down
If feelings were hurt, it is not helpful to double down. It will only make your brand look petty (see United again). In these instances, look inwardly and reflect. Take it as a moment for your brand to stand for inclusivity. Stand for what is right.

Step 5: Media
Take this negative coverage as a chance for positive damage control. Get your press team on the phone and get on camera to apologize and turn it into a learning experience.

With that, let's see if United and Pepsi follow this advice through their latest scandals - stay tuned.

Doubling Down

By Susan Tomai, Founder

Does doubling down work as a communications strategy? Only if the cards you’re holding are the right ones.

Merriam-Webster defines doubling down as “to become more tenacious, zealous, or resolute in a position or undertaking.” In blackjack, it means doubling your original bid in exchange for only one more card -  a risky strategy. We’ve seen this gambit a lot recently – Sean Spicer doubling down on President Trump’s insistence that his Inauguration crowds were bigger than President Obama’s is a spectacular example.

We tell our clients that repetition is a good thing when spreading a media message – audiences need to hear most messages repeatedly before they sink in. It also works with kids, significant others, and in the workplace.

The issue here is that the original message must be credible. When political messages go out to the public without substantiating facts or evidence, and they end up being baloney, at the very least it erodes credibility, and more often than not it destroys credibility altogether.

So don’t be afraid to play a hot hand – just don’t do it with marked cards.