Friday, October 22, 2010

We've Moved...

Thanks for following us on blogger...But we've moved to Wordpress.  Visit us at


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Quirky Characters of Car Insurance

The condescendingly adorable Geico Gecko, the Geico Cavemen and Flo, the highly rouged Progressive gal have competition for the title of quirkiest Insurance pitchman.

The arrival of All State's "Mayhem" brings another colorful character to the car insurance wars.

I thought Flo was GREAT...but Dean Winter's dead pan cynicism as he portrays everything from a teenaged girl to a tree branch is simple perfection. I love actor Dennis Haysbert as the spokesman, but alone his commercials missed the mark. The combination with Winters as Jerry and Haysbert's voice as the straight man Dean makes an entertaining combination...The question of course is will it give All State a win in the car insurance wars?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The King James Marketing Calculation

First I must confess that I probably watch 1.5 basketball games every two years. Usually it's because I'm in a sports bar and that's all the TV offers. Or I'm cheering on a friend's kid at a community game. So I offer these comments not as a basketball expert, rather as a student and practitioner of public relations and branding.

The phenomena surrounding the Lebron James decision is marketing genius or a marketing miscalculation that will leave King James dethroned and one of the most over hyped athletic figures in recent history.

Marketing Genius: Building hype in the world of professional athletics isn't new. From trash talk to bold and bravado claims, it makes us want to tune in. The fact that I am even aware that a big decision was to be made is testament to the genius and reach of the King James decision campaign. More buzz, more viewers, more ticket sales, mo money, mo money, mo money - for James, the Heat and the Cavaliers. People are going to be tuned in. Glued in to watch and see if King James is able to keep his crown. Even I plan on watching the first time he suits up against his old hometown team.

Marketing Miscalculation: There is going to be money made whether King James gets the coveted ring or not. So the marketing miscalculation only comes in the form of James' reputation. If he doesn't deliver, he will forever rest on the throne of those once crowned King of their field who fell miserably short.

I still remember the amazing Reebok campaign in 1992 Dan vs. Dave. The two super athletes were hyped for weeks before the Barcelona Olympics. But Dan O'Brien shocked us all when he bombed out in the Olympic trials. He is a world champion but his reputation still hasn't recovered from the hype that he didn't live up to.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Almost 10 years ago, I was living in Wilmington, NC and working on my very first film. It was called Freedom Song and starred Danny Glover, Loretta Devine, Vonde Curtis Hall and a bunch of other really cool actors. The best part of working on that film was meeting Denise Woods and her son Terry Leigh. Denise and Terry have become like family to me. When I got the itch to "go west young woman," Denise gave me free shelter in her home in Southern California.

Denise's role on that film and many others was dialect coach. She has a God given talent for voice and speech. Don't take my word for it. I've already in full disclosure admitted that Denise is a very good friend. Proof of her skills is in her list of high profile clients (among them - Mike Myers, Soledad O'Brien, Will Smith, Maggie Gyllenhaal).. You can read more about her clients in the bio below.

All these years later, Dee Dee and I are just beyond excited to partner with Denise as she tours the country offering THE ULTIMATE PUBLIC SPEAKING SEMINAR. On June 5, 2010, she'll be in Washington, DC and on August 5, 2010, she'll be at her alma mater The Juilliard School where she later taught.

OK...So here's the thing. Most people don't realize what a wonderful tool their voice is in creating a positive personal and professional image. I have seen Denise completely transform a person's confidence, by teaching them to use their voice. If you are interested in having her do the same for you, visit and learn more about THE ULTIMATE PUBLIC SPEAKING SEMINAR.




Denise Woods, a faculty member at the Juilliard School for nearly a decade, currently teaches voice and speech at California Institute of the Arts. Denise has worked as a vocal coach with NBC Nightly News, CNBC, Bloomberg News, Today Show, CNN, Inside Edition, KTLA News, KNBC Today in LA and the TV Guide Channel. Some of her clients include Soledad O’Brien, Chris Hansen, Maria Bartiromo, Norah O’Donnell, Kim Rouggie, Rachel Boesing and Zorrianna Kit. As a dialect coach for actors in the film industry, her work includes Academy-Award nominated actors Ken Watanabe in The Last Samurai directed by Ed Zwick and Will Smith in Ali directed by Michael Mann. Other films include Shaft starring Jeffrey Wright, Only in America: the Don King Story starring Ving Rhames, Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah, How Stella Got Her Groove Back starring Taye Diggs and Once in the Life written, starring and directed by Laurence Fishburne. She is currently the dialect coach for Tony Sinclair, the Tanqueray Gin spokesperson. Denise has had the honor of working with numerous actors in various venues, however, some of the most rewarding experiences have been those with Phylicia Rashad, Ellen Burstyn, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morris Chestnut, Gloria Reuben, Paul Rodriguez, Victoria Rowell, Eve, Ray Liotta, Porscia DeRossi, Rachel Weisz, Mekhi Phifer, Jeanne Trupplehorn and Mike Myers. In addition to her work with some of theater and film’s most respected actors, Denise is using her expertise to help professional athletes improve their communication and media skills. She has worked with some of sports most popular athletes including players from the New York Knicks and the New York Giants as well as several retired athletes looking to further their careers in broadcasting and business. As a graduate of The Juilliard School, in 1992, she became the first African-American female to join the Drama Division faculty. To date, Denise’s most rewarding achievement has been the creation of “Express Yourself,” a program she founded in 1996 teaching voice, speech and acting to teenagers from the Harlem community.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Outsourcing to Public Relations Firms

A growing trend within American companies and organizations is to outsource a variety of services from accounting to public relations. According to a study done by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications and the Council of Public Relations Firms, Fortune 500 companies now spend 25 percent of their public relations budgets on outside firms. PRWeek did a similar study and found that companies of all sizes spend an average of 40 percent of their public relations budget on the services of outside firms.

Companies turn to outsourcing for different reasons. The most common reasons are to bring resources and expertise into the company that cannot be found internally and to supplement internal staffs during peak periods of activity. Not only do companies hire outside public relations firms, but they hire more than one so that they can pick and choose the best agency for a particular situation.

If this trend continues, there may not be a need for internal public relations staff. Why would companies spend insufficient budget money on a staff when they can just hire pr when they need it? If internal pr becomes obsolete, more public relations entrepreneurs will have a chance to create and grow a business. What’s wrong with a little competition? We claim to be a capitalist country anyway.

Candace N. Johnson

Communications Assistant

CS Corporate

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Social Media: Are We Ego-Tripping or Connecting?

It’s no secret that we are living in the age of social media. Some critics may argue that social media is merely a developing trend that will soon grow exhausted, loose popularity, and die down. To these critics, I argue that the naysayers questioned the enduring importance of the personal computer when it was introduced, and skeptics believed the Internet was only a fad that would be short lived. They were clearly mistaken. They underestimated the intricacy and addictiveness of such innovations.

Computers and the Internet have lasted because, in general, people are lazy and are addicted to speed, ease, and access; and, social media has become as popular as it is because at the root of human nature is arrogance. This arrogance that makes us believe our opinions and lives matter to the world. The computer and Internet provide the preferred ease of access, and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube give us the arena to display our “oh-so-important” opinions on everything. (Yes, as I am doing now.)

Let’s take a step back and really analyze why we enjoy social media. “Tweeting” and having people “follow” us makes us feel important. We feel like little celebrities when our tweets are acknowledged or “Retweeted” by a public. Americans have been conditioned to believe that what we have to say is important (thanks to the First Amendment), so why wouldn’t our peers want to know how we feel about issues such as unemployment, the latest fashion trend gone wrong, an upcoming party, or a friend’s stupid comment or action? And let’s admit, we feel accomplished when we have thousands of “followers” on Twitter and hundreds of friends on Facebook.

If we really used these outlets to reach out and build tangible relationships, I would be inclined to think that we were not ego-tripping. But we mostly use them for clever barbs about how fabulous our world is in 140 characters or less. Honestly, when was the last time you had face-to-face coffee with at least one of your friends on Facebook?

My business is public relations. So I will forever have a love hate relationship with this ego-centric yet, admittedly, often effective way of reaching the masses.

The challenge is to use social media as a PR tool to build real relationships and side step all of the ego-tripping.

Candace N. Johnson

Communications Assistant

CS Corporate

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Trust, but Verify

Small Business owners can take a lesson from "The Gipper".  When doing business with new clients our best advice in getting paid on time (or at all) is to trust the promises made by the client in the contract.  But verify that the new client has the ability to pay by verifying EVERYTHING that he says with reference checks.
Of course the better business bureau is a wonderful source, but an even better source would be people who have actually done business with new client.  

And most important of all - don't be afraid to get partial payments up front.  This guarantees that if you get stiffed, at least it won't be for the full contract.

In the two years, that we've been in business, we've only run into one client who dinned on our services and dashed without fulfilling the obligation of his contract.  We signed the contract based on the fancy talk of a big talker who pretended to be a well heeled financier. 

What a lesson!  After the contract went unpaid for almost six months, we did some investigating.  Friends who knew him personally and professionally said that he made a practice of skipping out on bills.  If we had done the due diligence before hand, we wouldn't have been left holding the bag.

TRUSTing is good VERIFYing is GREAT!