David Oates 3:05
Yeah, no, sorry, I it’s it’s the quintessential way that business always gets done. It’s through networking, mutual contacts, we get referrals to each other. And Bill and I have known each other for for some time, because you’re right. Different flavors of PR, allow us to be able to refer to business, I only do the crisis stuff. And Bill is a wizard and his team is a whiz at the promotional stuff. And so there’s perfect synergies into being able to refer each other to opportunities with our own clients, or with other people that you know, we get introduced through through other means, and I think the soy business shouldn’t be done.
Jeremy Weisz 3:42
I want to give a big shout out to Katie Wagner. She’s the CEO of KWSM, who introduced us, and that’s the reason we’re having this conversation. So Thanks, Katie. Appreciate it. And Bill, are you gonna say, oh, it
Bill Byrne 3:54
just said, you know, David’s hovered around my radar forever. And one of my personal shortcomings is I’m not the best at networking. And eventually, he just popped into my feed one more time and I said, Alright, I’m dropping the skyline. Listen, we know some of the same people. Some of them even like me, like, let’s just Unfortunately, during the mass times, I’m like, let’s jump on a zoom call and like get to know each other better. And we don’t while we both do PR we don’t play in the same sector. So it’s been truly mutually beneficial. And especially with you know, I preach about what Dave does, because Dave is the kind of guy you know, better to know me and not need me than need me and not know me when it comes to crisis PR like and he’ll get into that later, but
Jeremy Weisz 4:44
I love to hear about staying disciplined. Okay, so like I hear people who are on the surface look alike, but they’ve kind of niched down to a specific either service or type of company and because it’s probably easy, I’m sure David you get people saying Hey, can you just do PR for me? And you have to? It takes him dissonant like, No, we don’t do that we only do this and same thing with you, Bill. So I loved your both your views on how do you stay disciplined? Because it’s probably enticing. Go ahead do
David Oates 5:12
it it is it is. It is such a art form to be able to believe in yourself to such a degree, that when somebody is willing to pay you money to do something that isn’t necessarily in your wheelhouse, or at least what your service model, you know, pretends to give that away. Right. And I’ll tell you I, so I’ve done promotions in the past, you mentioned I’ve got, you know, 25 years in various capacities. But I had recognized that I have a unique, I think a unique skill set prices PR and decided to focus on that exclusively a handful of years ago. And at the time, right, when you pivot, you don’t necessarily generate the same amount of revenue, you’ve got to retool your network and get referrals and it takes a little bit of effort. And for a few months, I was turning away business without having any hopper and and that that was painful and sweated and sweated a lot of that cried a few tears when I did that. But I’ll tell you if you’re good at what you do, and you focus on a particular differentiator, and and you hone that as as fine as you can. Eventually it’s it’s very lucrative strategy.
Jeremy Weisz 6:26
I mean, you knew something you knew in your heart of hearts, that was the best way. Why did you I mean, it would have been easy to take those, especially in the times when you needed the client.
David Oates 6:37
So you mentioned my background as a Navy officer. And that’s where I became attuned to crisis PR, because when you’re active duty and in Florida operations, price is just part of what you deal with. And I had I say the privilege but I obviously don’t mean this in that they were fun times, having the experience to be the public affairs officer for aircraft accident mishaps on boards that involve loss of limbs, in some cases, loss of lives, hot war environments, sailors and marines not doing what they’re supposed to do important to call and things like that. And then when I went to the private sector, about 20 years ago, I was the one who was in charge of mass layoffs and product recalls and CEO, misgivings and things like that. And so, so when, when about five, four or five years ago, as these little mobile devices that we all have, carrying around our pockets became the way in which people talk and talk to not so nice terms about any organization that just, you know, irked them one morning because they had a bad dream, I decided there was an opportunity to be of service to farm organizations because any company of any size can go from hero to zero in an Instagram post and so like I said, I think this will help me differentiate myself and not compete with stellar people like Bill and other PR professionals who are doing an amazing job. And and and so I say yeah, I wasn’t going to compete with those great people. Let me go do something that I think I do really well. And that is something different and and yeah, the leap of faith turned out really well. Not they’re not without its share heartaches in the process, though.
Jeremy Weisz 8:09
Yeah. And then you know, so there’s a differentiation piece Bilbo What about you? How do you stay discipline cuz I’m sure you get a lot of requests for various services and you could just as easily say yes, as well.
Bill Byrne 8:20
You’re definitely right. And David has bumped into this knee alluded to this before being you know, the managers of the companies it’s very hard to turn down that money especially when you made like such a massive pivot like David did earlier. But part of it is it is a small industry and your business will grow by doing the best work possible and having the best case study so something is too outside of our lane, we won’t touch it because it’ll it’ll take us more effort than the typical client and we just won’t deliver like there’s certain zones and never say never but for a great example, we do fashion we do apparel, but we don’t do high fashion you’re a brand that goes to New York Fashion Week, we’re not for you. So there’s it’s knowing where you can play and and where you can’t because also you want at the end of the day, you want to be able to do a good job and want to like your job and if it’s a struggle for the team if this is something that’s is so outside their wheelhouse that you know people are going to show up every day and hate coming to work that’s going to affect everything else we do so you know you’ve got to look at it from what what can we do well what will we enjoy doing? And you know, at the end what’s gonna benefit our client because you know, if you’re a client of ours and we don’t deliver well that referrals not going to come to the next guy. There’s no case study there’s nothing to show so it is it’s very difficult but if you want longevity in this industry, like any other good industry, you know, you’ve got to gotta have that discipline. They’ve got it, you know,
David Oates 9:57
becomes this death spiral to right the more you chase start The short term dollars are what you know, you hear the shiny ball, the less focus you are in having a repetitive sustainable operational and revenue model. And so you wind up only achieving a certain level of success and usually with a great deal of blood, sweat and tears and heartaches and the process that over time is just hard to maintain. And so, you know, and And mind you, right? I, I’ve been on my own and a consultant has capacity, you know, hung my own shingle for 16 years. It took me really until the last five years to figure that out, and I’ve got the battle scars to prove it. So I’m not sitting here, you know, on this podcast telling folks, well, this is how, you know, I’m smart. And it No, it’s because I screwed it up for so frickin long that I finally decided I got to work smarter, not harder.
Jeremy Weisz 10:51
I love it. I want to hear you know, I said in the in the bio, some examples, you guys have some probably really cool stories from your journey. And Dave, there’s one that is more current that’s COVID related. So I love for you to talk about that.
David Oates 11:07
I appreciate the opportunity out of the what 25 plus years and
Jeremy Weisz 11:12
I do want to hear like, you know, when you talk about the Navy, you, you probably have some crazy stories of people, like you said, losing limbs and I don’t even know how you go back and tell people that that’s happening. But we’ll start with COVID First,
David Oates 11:26
I can go into that for there. There’s a couple of stories of my navy days that come immediately to mind. But this one occurred at the beginning of January. So there’s a doctor in Houston. His name is Hassan Gopal, as the public can see when you Google the guy’s name, a lot emergency room physician for 20 years who got hired by the county public health department to help with COVID mitigations. And to roll out the vaccine initiatives when the vaccines became available. First one that he was in charge of, which is the first one ever for the county the end of December. For health care workers and first responders. They without a lot of processing protocols got sent the vaccine he goes out inoculates as many health care workers and first responders that came out after working 12 hours on this with his team about seven o’clock at night, but 15 minutes prior to that one health care worker rose rose up and they were injected him with the Maderna vaccine. They had to open a new vial for that. And each vial contains about 11 doses. So after doing so, now he’s got an open vial with 10 doses left. And folks may not know when you puncture a vial of vaccine, the time clock starts and you got six hours before those vaccines expire. You got to get those in the arms of people. Now what the county basically told him to do is stick it back in a box, send it back to the office, and we’ll deal with in the morning. Well, the morning was too late. Those were going to be useless. And this is the end of December, ICU beds are full. ambulances were parked outside the hospitals running with people in the back waiting for an ICU bed to open. He called his operation counterpart says I’m going to find qualified people 65 And older comorbidities to inject these 10 dosage and use them up there. And long story short, he spent the next six hours of his own time in some cases driving to people’s homes to do that filled out all the proper paperwork the next morning felt pretty good going above and beyond as a public servant. And he was rewarded for that eight days later by the county public health by being fired for what they call theft. And two weeks later was charged by the district attorney for theft. I got called in through a mutual contact and me and the criminal defense attorney by the name of Paul Doyle righted that wrong, be able to set the reset the narrative that went global he was they publicly disparage this good man’s name on a global scale literally had articles in the UK and in Europe, and in Asia on this poor guy. And we were showing how he went above and beyond. It took six months we got in front page top old New York Times interview live on ABC the view and social media to the rescue. There were people setting up GoFundMe pages and change.org petitions. Bottom line is he didn’t get charged. He got his license back. He was exonerated. And I hope he is successful in the wrongful termination suit he currently has on Harris County Public Health But of all the things I’ve done, and all of the experiences that I’ve been privileged to have that one is a pinnacle of my career. I will not forget the privilege of working to restore that man’s good name in that time period and I will take that to anybody who tells me that they that they’ve had the best career now. That’s my I had the best career. That was a right
Jeremy Weisz 14:30
I love that. How does it even cascade into theft? According to you know, some it’s got us that trickle has to start somewhere to you know when you tell that story. Theft doesn’t even enter my mind, right because it’s someone just going out and trying to help people. How does that cast cascade even start into the conversation of theft? Maybe you don’t tell us Yeah.
David Oates 14:58
I I wish I could tell Other than I think there was an overreaction by the government in thinking how the federal government was going to look at their controlling of the vaccines, because remember, they sent out vaccines without a lot of process and protocol. This, this doctor said, instead of wasting this vaccine, I’m going to take this file, I’m going to find qualified people that felt the proper paperwork, but I’m going to take it off site, and I’m going to drive to people’s homes and couldn’t get to me and I’m going to do what I what my Hippocratic Oath tells me to do. And I think what happened was, is ran afoul with a public policy that was incomplete and erroneous and people went into cya mode and reacted and and decided that it was better to throw this good man and good doctor under the bus to preserve what they thought was their own skin. And obviously, that was wrong on so many levels, morally, procedurally, ethically and, and, and we were glad to be able to fix that, but it wasn’t without a great deal of unnecessary and undue pain to him and his family. And, like I said, if there’s one guy you want to you want to back for, it’s a doctor who goes above and beyond like that middle of a pandemic. Um,
Jeremy Weisz 16:09
thanks for sharing that. I’m going to go back to that in a second and dig into some of the nuts and bolts but first, I love to hear one of your favorite stories.
Bill Byrne 16:18
Oh, gosh, um, you know, for a little while, in my career, I said that I peaked early when I graduated college, really? Not aimless, but I, you know, I was living in New York and I didn’t have a true like goal, like, Oh, I’ll work in PR. It’ll be great. Well, I come home one day, and my mom plays a message on her answering machine. This is way back, you know, with the tape. And it’s a recruiter that asks, Hey, have you ever heard of Burton Snowboards? This is the 90s before snowboarding was what it was. We have this opportunity with this PR firm. And my mom just looks at me. And she said My family’s from the Bronx. They weren’t scared. And they’re just like, Oh my gosh. So I went in and I secured a job, you know, the glamorous role of administrative assistant with a company called Conan Wolf. And, you know, I did used to joke that I peaked early because the first accounts I was on were Intel gayness the biggest snowboard company in the world, Sony now I’ll be at the bottom rung. But a short time later, we’re doing what’s called a fam trip, which is familiar, I already trip. And we’re taking 20 editors from Manhattan, to Vermont, to learn to snowboard and see the US Open up snowboarding which was the biggest snowboard event in the world. So Holy cow, I’m a year out of college, maybe. And I’m getting paid to sit on a bus with all these cool editors and then go teach them how to snowboard and watch something that I love. Go down. And, you know, I’m very fortunate that those early clients they’ve since informed what we do here at remedy we work in tech, we work in craft beer even though Guinnesses and craft work and active outdoor but you know those sorts of stories. And David has a ton I’m sure to like it’s you get to do a lot of cool things in PR depending on the brand. And that’s something that really makes the job often exciting and worthwhile.
Jeremy Weisz 18:12
And we were talking before we hit record. It’s there was difference between winning between being number one versus number two in competition. That’s true. Talk about that for a second.
Bill Byrne 18:27
Yeah, you know, when it comes to PR a lot of a lot of the battle is won by being first out of the gate. And being first to to make to make the news. Now that’s not always the case. Because you know, we look at Friendster, MySpace, then Facebook, and a lot of people on the podcast might not remember Friendster. So being the first out, just doesn’t necessarily matter. But in the in the battle for recognition PR. It often does. And if you don’t mind, I can tell that story. I was mentioned about the Consumer Electronics Show. We can get into that later if you’d like. No, go ahead. Yeah. Oh, great. So I’m sorry, not the Consumer Electronics Show. This is a another anecdote. We had a client that was debuting a technology product for the outdoors about the same time as a much larger global leader. And we kind of knew their product was coming. And we know what their budgets were. And the product really was groundbreaking. And then at the end of it, they dropped Hey, by the way, these other guys are coming out with the two I’m like, Ah, fudge, this is not good. I just I put my hands on the table and I say, hey, we can be the guys that also have what they have at the show. Or we can jump out ahead of this. You know, the best defense is a good offense. Let’s get on the road nominal budget and just show this product early so that by the time the show comes around, we’re the guy we’ve got the awards, you know under our belt At least when not the guys that also have this. And, you know, Dr. Weisz, it paid off, they wound up getting six of the awards that were like the majors the event, their competitor shared an award with them. And their competitor slept on it, their competitor was the number one brand in the industry. And they kind of rested on that they thought they could show up. And then hey, we’ve got this. And by that time, it was too late. We had thankfully our brand like, was on board with, Hey, let’s start running early. Let’s start training early, let’s get in front, meet the right people. And it wasn’t a glamorous campaign. You know, we met with editors and coffee shops, and you know, hotel lobbies, nothing fancy to meetings, were in a brewery, which was fun, but it was like, we’re not there to get drunk like, oh, let’s sip a beer and show you this. And that’s one of the highlights of my career that we you know, David taking on Goliath, just by by being smart and finding that chink in the armor and thinking that, hey, maybe they’re going to rest on being stronger than us. And they are, but we can we can think of
Jeremy Weisz 21:05
I’m David a suck, I won’t follow up question on that Bill. And, Dave, just something to chew on, because I’m gonna ask you this next. But, um, where do you start with the crisis? Like when that happened? You mentioned all these media outlets, like everywhere, where do you even start? Before you answer that, um, Bill, I want you to talk about the underdog mentality, because it’s, it’s, I could see, it’s discouraging. But, you know, like this behemoth, you know, people, let’s say someone has a product coming out, and, and then you hear Google’s coming out or to be crushed, right. And so it’s a little bit disheartening, but you were able to take that in and make a positive out of it, what, and you probably have to coach these people up on on that. So talk about the underdog mentality for a second,
Bill Byrne 21:57
definitely, it’s a lot of it’s about finding angles, and finding your niche and figuring out what’s going to literally what’s going to work. So I joke around. But I’m definitely serious when I say I don’t want to hire people here that worked with Apple, you’ll have relationships, but you’ve also got Apple budget, and our clients, you know, not to nothing against any of them. They’re not the they’re not Apple, you know, they’re not Samsung, where they’re having these massive events around the Consumer Electronics Show, we don’t, we don’t have that to play with. So in PR, nothing, nothing’s a given. And that’s similar to other marketing, you can buy an ad, there’s no given that, like people are going to buy your product by looking at the ad or click on that banner. With us, you know, David and I do as good as we are at our job, there’s still no guarantee that journalist is going to write the story. And when that happens, when you get that best case scenario story in David’s world are ours, like we get a feature on a product, you get that dopamine hit, it’s you know, I make sports analogies a lot, which, you know, I shouldn’t because I’m not a big ballplayer, but we scored that basket, when that placement comes out. The Slack message goes to the team and we’re throwing high fives virtually because they’re just our Givens no matter how good we are at the job, but you the endorphin rush is real when we land that for our clients. So it doesn’t matter whether if they’re a snowboard company, or a new mobile phone or anything like that. It’s the rush of the job well done. Is is fantastic. And sometimes like David alluded to before, sometimes it’s more than others with his last or like, holy cow, like, mind blown. But, you know, the rush is always there.
Jeremy Weisz 23:48
Yeah. Dave, back to you for a second. Where do you even start, right? I mean, like, you have to be very good at triaging, I guess, for in that case, there’s probably a million places to start. So walk me through your mindset when you get that call. And what do you do?
David Oates 24:08
Yeah, and I use the example of an individual, but most of my most of my client work is for organizations, nonprofit, and for profit. And the first thing you figure out is what happens so you get the yet like a journalist, and it’s the figuring out what the who, what, where, when are, and if you can, the why and the how and then from there, you want to talk about what is the organization going to do in response and what I mean by that is, there are some times where a particular circumstance was perceived as unintended as it might have been, but you know, by an audience as being nefarious or not meeting expectations or things like that. So you need to message how you are going to remedy that. But before you before you even message, the action, you have to emphasize empathy. And when I say empathy, I just want to make sure that I’m clear. I’m not telling organizations that they have to To admit culpability, when no culpability is there to be made, it may be the fact that they were a victim of something else that was outside of their control. Or maybe yeah, they had a misstep, because they didn’t take something into account. But it certainly wasn’t malicious. Nevertheless, the audience in this day and age, whichever one that is, right, customers, partners, employees, the general public, they are now chattering and chirping on Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram and tick data, you name the social media, LinkedIn, you name the social media platform. And you’ve got to acknowledge that they are feeling a certain way. So saying, hey, look, I understand how you’re feeling, I empathize with how you are reacting to this, I get that, here’s how we’re going to make changes, here’s how we’re going to rectify this, you defuse that anger. So that’s the first thing you got to do is figure out what to say. And then the second is to who to say it. And what I tell clients every time I don’t care what the size the organization is, I don’t care what the crisis is, I don’t care what the industry is, your first primary audience every time is your employees. First and foremost, that’s who you talk to first, it doesn’t mean you wait a long time to talk to customers, partners, media and other and other audiences. But if you don’t address your employees, first, who are the frontline of communications to all of your other audiences, you are not going to be as successful as you need to be more importantly, the employees who will feel disenfranchised, because you haven’t talked to them, will undermine anything you say, in the public, and most organizations will respond to media first. But half of the stuff that I work on nowadays, never sees the light of a news article, the the PR strategy, and the tactics that you employ to counter crisis are often without putting out a press release, because the news organizations are in many circumstances, not the dominant way audiences, employees or otherwise get information. But you’ve got to address what to say and who just say it and employees always come first.
Jeremy Weisz 26:56
I love that, you know, a lot of that is kind of counterintuitive, because, you know, the reaction would be just to try and fix it or to explain and and just like start with empathy, start with, you know, hearing with other sides, and then second is with internal team. And then there’s in the staff.
David Oates 27:14
The debate that I have, oftentimes with executives is taking them out of their comfort zone to show that empathy because they equated as I mentioned before, and as many culpability is not in the least. But it also takes him out of the comfort zone because executives, entrepreneurs, successful business people, nonprofit executives, have achieved their level in large part maybe overgeneralizing, but in large part due to two factors, and that’s how they have countered adversity. They’ve either ignored the naysayer, right? They tuned it out. Or they fought through obstacles barreled through different things that people said you can’t do it. And they’ll default to those when there’s an adverse crisis communication manner, but in that what I call the fight or flight mode, they’re the two people out, they don’t respond, there’s no comment. It only emphasizes the other narrative and throws credence to the perception that the organization is incompetent, insecure, or unfeeling. Or if they counter with rebuttal, an angry retort and you know, sort of these caustic messaging, it only exists out exacerbates the anxiety and the animosity that the audience feels you haven’t defuse the situation. You’ve only put gasoline on the fire. And so I take on it, I take those executives out of the comfort zone, when we put up messaging that expresses empathy and action. Yeah,
Jeremy Weisz 28:32
I love I remember I had one of my favorite books is Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. And when he talks, he says, like, in a negotiation, it’s about empathy. I mean, it’s about hearing what the other side’s at. And even when, you know, he was with the FBI, and they were dealing with terrorists, you know, same thing. So, Bill for you, I want to hear you know, we talked a little bit in the beginning about PR in general. And I know, there’s been a lot of changes over the years. So could you talk a little bit how PR has has changed?
Bill Byrne 29:04
Yeah, for sure. There’s an education aspects that often goes overlooked. And deployment back to advertise which I mentioned before, we know that work worked in advertising previously, is going to deliver different results. Now your Superbowl ad is going to have a different viewership than I did five years ago, or 10 years ago, and it’s going to cost different the billboard that you drive by on the highway, which still matters, that’s going to have a different level of impact than it did before and some of that is the creative in public relations. We’ve done a bad job personally I feel like of educating the client on how things have changed. And by that I mean they’re like is David seen before there’s everything from the Instagram influencer, which I don’t consider them influence They’re just little local media outlets, some of them have bigger following than others, some of the following of that newspaper that gets thrown in your driveway every week and others, you know, have the following of USA Today to print magazines and, you know, mainstream websites. And there used to be technology has democratized PR to such an extent that anyone can do it if you’ve got the phone, and you’ve got an internet connection, but that also makes it harder. There’s now more brands than ever more independent shops more one or two person organizations that are going after it and also flooding the inboxes of the gatekeepers that control USA Today, or your favorite Instagram person or that blogger, we don’t even call them bloggers anymore. But whatever, the YouTuber, so whenever we, you know, one of our big flags whenever we get a new potential client, is they tell us 10 years ago, they did XY and Z. Great. Like, okay, that’s, that’s cool. You know, but that’s, you know, that may not work today. And if you look at sports, you know, the players that worked on the field and football, they’ve had to change. And that’s the other part with education is, you know, we look at the highlight reels on Sports Center, the left handed Hail Mary, with four seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Super Bowl, that’s the highlight reel. But, you know, usually you’re getting those like that yardage just by running the ball, or the short passes that aren’t sexy. They’re not cool. But it matters, the left hand and Hail Marys, not a strategy. That’s just something that’s it’s nice to show. So in our end, it’s trying to explain to clients, it’s going to take more effort, and it’s also going to be split up like way back when I started my career, they were 12 men’s magazines, there was no internet. Okay, cool. We’re just going after those 12 magazines for men. Now. Everything you’ve got your podcast, you’ve got everything else in the world,
Jeremy Weisz 32:03
what are some non sexy things Bill that work now, so you mentioned like, would an example be contacting some micro influencers on Instagram, like will be an example of some,
Bill Byrne 32:15
you just know that that’s one of them. And you know, clients, sometimes they want to put together fancy look books and things like that. But it’s moving the needle by having multiple touch points. So if you go to this, whatever website, your favorite one is, let’s say you go to Men’s Journal, and you see a product there cool. And then you forget about it. And Men’s Journal is only going to feature your new your new coffee mug so many times. So how else do we get out in front of you? Well, then we hit those five micro influencers that you follow, and maybe it’s on if it’s a local product on your local morning show, or in your local newspaper. Again, that’s not as sexy as that like, you know, cover story in that big magazine that you want to hit. But you know, we’ve had clients that have gotten the most results that have been placed in a trade magazine with 20,000 followers. That’s the right people, not the most, but the right and like, I joke still, like, well, we’ll land a client, we’ll have a snowboard company and the Wall Street Journal. Awesome. And my dad calls me awesome. He’s not buying a sniper, right? You know, millions of people are seeing this. You know, how many of them actually snowboard and I’m not discounting landing that product there because that’s a lot of good impressions. But then we need to be everywhere else as impressive as it is to be in the Wall Street Journal. Because believe me, that’s what I’m posting on LinkedIn. Because everyone’s heard of it. Hey, look what we did. But the reality is, that block and tackle just grinding away getting the yards on the field moving the ball is what’s going to benefit the client most.
Jeremy Weisz 33:53
Yeah, yeah, I can see that it’s big social proof. But there’s other things that will, it will kind of boost up the other channels, because it was in that that large publication. And, Dave, I wanna ask for you, you mentioned obviously in Bill, you said this, to which everything’s on your phone now. And I love for you to talk about the reality of cancel culture.
David Oates 34:15
If, yeah, the cancel culture is a legitimate phenomenon. And whether you like it or not, it’s here to stay. And here’s what I mean by that. You can’t be in a position now where you say something that is maybe your opinion, and maybe it’s a legitimate opinion, even if it’s not widely shared. You have to expect that you are going to get detractors who are going to respond accordingly in social media. I wish I could tell you that we were in a in a day and age where we could have civil discourse, where you could share ideas, and you know what doesn’t happen nowadays. So what you have to do like it or not, especially if you are an executive or an organization that has a wide range of audiences that you cater to customers and so forth, you have got to be able to either do one or two things. One is be consistent and take a stand and respectful, even when others are distracting, you know, detracting to you or you need to rethink your messaging. I’ll tell you an organization that does it, I think really, really well. Right, Patagonia. Patagonia is sort of my go to example of an organization that is unapologetic in its commitment to environmental sustainability and offering products and a business and operational model that says so and is also trying to be the example by which others emulate, they are going to have detractors who say, what does it matter? Why is it clear? Why do I’m gonna I’m not gonna do that there because your price point is x amount more than what I can get at Walmart or Target. Fair enough. But they know that that’s their specialty. And they’re going to they’re going to stay that way. Where I saw a lot of organizations fail, right is when the George Floyd murder case with the derrick Shogun, when that went down, and Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd, you know, the, the African American who was murdered in Minneapolis, because Derek Shogun, had his knee on his neck for a little for approximately minutes. There were organizations that tried to express their support for diversity and inclusion. And there were a handful that got flame spray for that. And it was like, why? Well, because you happen to be an organization that gave lip service, you have an all white executive team with an all white board, no women, no people of color, you’re, you’re a product. And so you’re just giving lip service. And people we’re going to take exceptions to that. Well, guess what, that’s probably an acceptable response for people who are going to call you out for that. Some people call it cancel culture, maybe people just call it you know, the the focus group of 2021, that doesn’t have to be done in a closed room, conference room setting with a whole bunch of people, right, you’re going to get instant feedback from that. How you respond to the canceled culture with empathy and action will make or break whether an organization has a chance to continue normal operations, or run a real risk of not being in existence anymore, depending on your size and scale. I’ve got plenty of examples from that. Excuse me, but that’s where crisis PR has been more in demand nowadays, because any organization of any size I said can be go from here to zero in an Instagram post. And many people, many organizations will find themselves in a misstep because they didn’t take that into account. I wish I could tell you that. You know, we live in a day and age where you didn’t necessarily have that instant feedback, and maybe some will take it out of context. It is what it is. I don’t see it going away anytime soon.
Jeremy Weisz 37:49
If I want to hear what’s another example, like Patagonia, of a company that unapologetic and by the way, I don’t, I don’t know if you have a book, but I have the title for your new book, which is unapologetic. I don’t maybe there is a book out there. That’s, that’s, that’s called there. But with the subtitle is you have to obviously express empathy. So it kind of goes against the apologetic but anyways, because I love that as a as a concept. What’s another example like Patagonia that’s just unapologetic about its values and
David Oates 38:20
expresses them, you know, you know what I would, I would say the first one that comes to mind for me is Harley Davidson. Now you can you know, Harley Davidson has a brand and an unreserved promise about being a symbol of freedom, right, America, you know, middle, Midwestern, you know, sort of, you know, kind of, you know, run in the road, Jack Kerouac on the road again, and it’s for a certain demographic as much as they’re tried to expand on diversity that is a demographic that subscribes to Harley, and they are and they’re milking that for all its work. And you know, what, it works for them? Do they do it in a way that disparages other, you know, other groups and other audiences that don’t cater? But they’re unapologetic as to what they are? And maybe that’s the maybe that’s the point for austratus is, in cases where I get called in. I think some people will, in some organizations, executives will say, look, I want you to make this all the way. Like I’m tired of seeing anybody who’s talking ill about my company, like I got news for you. You’re not pleasing anybody. That’s not necessarily a good measure of success in crisis, PR, the measure of effect is, do you have your audience group, right? The people that you cater to and the people you should cater to? Either in support of you or giving you the benefit of the doubt, because oftentimes, we you see the naysayers and the detractors, or people that Bill talked about right, they are people who don’t, aren’t necessarily buying from you in the first place. So why you’re worried about why are you concerned about whether or not they are going to voice an objection to you? Because if they don’t, if they don’t like you, chances are the people that they are communicating with and tell him that we’re buying from you anyway, so, you know, don’t worry about that. And it is some respects growing up thicker skin. Now, if you’ve got an overwhelming majority or your core audience is starting to question whether they should continue to buy from you and have a relationship, different story, right? But you got to start looking at it for those lens. And it’s difficult, right? Because anybody who’s talking ill of you, most good organizations and tried and true executives take that person, right, it’s a reflection of their identity. And I get that got to grow thicker skin.
Jeremy Weisz 40:25
Love it. Um, I want to hear from each of you a challenge or, you know, lesson learned like a maybe own, we can call it a failure, whatever you want to call it, but the Challenger, where you consider maybe a failure that you learned a big lesson in your career that you obviously took throughout and did things differently. So Bill, I’d like to start with you. And just what’s a either challenge failure point that you learned a big lesson?
Bill Byrne 40:53
Yeah, I want to our biggest shortcomings, and me personally, is a lack of networking. Like, I wish that you could just get partners and earn money just by being good at your job. And that’s just not truly the case. And this has come up a couple times, I finally learned my lesson, I’m branching out more. But what happens often when we lose clients is they’re acquired by someone larger. So we’re working with say, the smaller the city store is smaller mobile phone company, and they’re acquired by T Mobile. Now T Mobile has their giant New York City PR firm back from my childhood, and the smaller mobile phone company in our budget. That’s a blink, right? So what’s gonna happen, they get acquired, we see it coming, hey, you’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. Yes, six months later, we’re not fine. Right? It’s, of course, we’re not going to get the T Mobile Business, my team of nine, you know, it’s going to go to the, you know, all the business is going to go to the New York City fair. And that’s happened again, with like device companies we’ve worked with and things like that. And, and it’s not that the brand that we’re speaking with, doesn’t think we’ll be fine. Well, they might be a little bit naive to it. In reality is nobody knows. And one of the things that you know, not in crisis, PR, but we do need to prepare more for that, on my side, where we’ve got to be a little bit more aggressive with our networking and aggressive with the new business and just preparing for those sorts of things. But then it also gets difficult to our earlier conversation is, we don’t want to grab partners that we’re not going to come through at, you know, if I tell you, I’m a great athlete, you invite me to play golf, and I’m really only a good volleyball player. You know, there’s better people you might want to bring. So we just got to, on our end, that’s been my biggest lesson is just, you know, networking more, because sometimes the it’s gonna pay off in the end, if you do, and you’ve definitely got to prepare for those times when things change, because things will change.
Jeremy Weisz 42:58
Thanks for that, Bill. Dave, what about you? Lesson? Yeah, challenges, failures.
David Oates 43:03
Same thing, same things to, to Bill’s point is you better be prepared to fail and, and seeing the failure early is paramount. So I had mentioned, you know, sort of in passing that, you know, I decided to pivot to crisis, PR, which I had a skill set on there. And I mentioned stop competing with great guys, you know, like Bill and company directly. For that promotional side, I glossed over a real painful period when there was a whole lot of competing, promotional PR firms. And it was just an absolute grind, just to try to make payroll, to the point that I said, Look, I can continue to bang my head against the wall and try to compete in an oversaturated market, or I’m going to go someplace else, right? The bills of the world, we’re making a lot of good money. And then there’s a bunch of us that were making, you know, we’re maybe keeping the lights on or most of the lights on. And it just became a real tough slog. And I realized it’s because I had a service model that was probably good about seven years ago, and then was basically passe. By the time I, I woke up to it. So it’s like any other business, you got to wake up to the fact that you’re, the chances are to fail. And if you can find those failure points early, you can see those, you can make adjustments quick enough. And that’s just the secret, I think business an entrepreneurial ship. And to that end, I’ll add one more thing, you better enjoy the grind. If you don’t get up and enjoy doing this and enjoy the elements, even the ones that suck. You probably want to do something else because I can’t imagine doing anything else. Right now. I absolutely love what I do. And I spend an enormous amount of hours doing it. But it’s not work. It’s just a ton of fun. I get to meet really cool people. I get to hear their problems. I get to be a resource at a time when they really need it and I get to fix stuff and move on to something else. I if I can’t do this people like what else would you do? I don’t really You know, I just don’t know. And maybe I’ll you know, if I do this right, maybe I’ll hopefully I’ll never know.
Jeremy Weisz 45:06
Last question for each of you. And before I ask it, I just want to point people towards where they should go to learn more about you and your company. Dave. Where should people go to check out more
David Oates 45:19
PublicRelationsSecurity.com publicrelationssecurity.com is the website I’m also devotes on LinkedIn, and Facebook, but LinkedIn is the one that I’ve got a whole bunch of other stuff and content that I do weekly blogs and, and the like, and I hope people just, you know, even if they just link in and they asked me a basic question, I like I said, I love what I do, even if it’s just to bounce an idea off of, I’m always happy to do so. Awesome. Bill, what
Jeremy Weisz 45:45
about you? Where should people go to check out more?
Bill Byrne 45:48
It’s Remedypr.com PR, just tacked to the Y in remedy. And I do a lot of what I’ll call educational posting on LinkedIn, I do treat LinkedIn more as a service where I try to give so I encourage anyone that’s at all got a question about product and consumer PR to to drop me a line, I always say, you know, if we can’t help you, we’ll try to send you to someone in our network that can. Because also there is you know, David mentioned earlier, like the churn and burn PR, there’s some apps and things that are trying to sell people on this just constant. PR is easy. And you can do it, you can pay this, but their model is to go through clients every three months, which is not how you know, any good PR person wants to activate. So I encourage anyone that’s got an interest or a concern or thinking about jumping in like, I’ll never sell you on us. Maybe I should, but I’ll definitely tell you what not to buy.
Jeremy Weisz 46:45
Awesome. Last question for each of you know, I always like hearing this audience likes hearing it different resources, it could be a book, it could be a tool, it could be an app that you use, it could be a couple. So Dave, start with you what are some resources people should check out? It could be a book, App Tool, whatever, whatever strikes your fancy,
David Oates 47:06
I’m still a big fan of Jim Collins Good to Great. And and, and the successor on that one, which is the failure book, the big enough to fail, where he talks about the ones who who were great, sustainable, and then the ones who failed. And if I remember correctly, there’s a couple of company that’s in one of the other Circuit City because the one that I think come to mind, that was in both books, though, because of the time they were allotted. And then they failed. And why did they fail? I think those are really good hard lessons learn, not only for our little world of PR, but I just think for for organizations, individuals, entrepreneurs, in general. Awesome.
Jeremy Weisz 47:42
And Bill, what about you? What are some favorite tools, resources books.
Bill Byrne 47:47
You know what one that I’ve used recently, and this is standing, though mundane, but it’s the Do Not Disturb button on Apple products. Sometimes we just get so especially I’m sure you do Dr. Weisz, as well. But like David and I with colleagues and friends and just an overwhelming amount of things. And Dang, recently, I celebrated a birthday, which, you know, this is what I’ll call a true middle class problem. I knew the texts and calls and all the messages were going to be coming through. So I hit the Do Not Disturb button. And then I did the allow for my wife, and my parents. And that was that really helped me not we stress out that we need to respond when in reality we don’t. But something else though, for for any business owner, especially a starting entrepreneur, a book that I like to give them is by a journalist called Mark Manson. And it’s called the Subtle Art of Not Giving a budge. And what I love about that it’s less about marketing, and more about being able to just take time and take a step back. Because it’s David seeds for sure. And crisis PR but we see with our partners and me personally, it’s really easy to lose that self control and kind of get lost like, oh my gosh, someone said something to me or someone sent this email to me. Like Hold on, like, take a breath, you know, which sounds so like, common to say now but it’s something we all I think need to do more often. Like, sit back, alright, take 30 seconds the world’s not actually ending. What can we do? So that’s a book I give to actually a lot of friends. I’ll buy like five off Amazon at a time and mail them out. I love it.
Jeremy Weisz 49:38
First of all, I love that because some of the people I just highly respect and it’s about boundaries. And they use it annoys me because I’ll call them at a certain hour and it’ll go right to voicemail but I totally get it because they have created these boundaries around their life that listen, this is certain periods of time you cannot contact me and so I really respect that So yeah, thanks for sharing that and just want to thank both of you. Thanks, everyone for listening and we’ll see you on the other side.