The Pertinent Negative: Find Out What’s Missing

pertinent negative

There’s a term used in medicine called “the pertinent negative” that helps doctors and other medical professionals diagnose illnesses and identify problems. Essentially, it’s to look for what’s missing.

For example, a pertinent negative is when it appears someone has heart failure but they haven’t gained weight, a common symptom of heart failure. To a doctor that’s weird, and it’s a pertinent negative, because weight gain is missing from the symptom list.… Read the rest

I Couldn’t Believe How Easy it is to Repurpose Content

For the longest time, I cut my own grass, and I hated it. Then one day I decided to pay a neighborhood kid to cut the grass, and the sense of freedom was unbelievable. I had more time and less work. But maybe the best thing was that no matter how busy I was as work, I didn’t have that grass-cutting chore hanging over my head every week.… Read the rest

Crisis Communications: The Plan is Not to Plan

Don’t think ‘plan.’ Think ‘process.’

I have some friends who avoid the stress of planning for their annual summer vacation by not planning for it. Yes, they take a vacation every year, and they always have a good time in a nice place. But they don’t plan for it, at least not in the way you may think.… Read the rest

Sound Bite Case Study: Meet the News Media Where It Lives

In the communications business, to say we need to meet the media where they live is essentially to say, make it as easy as possible on reporters, editors, journalists and producers. Give them the content they need when they need it, where they need it and in the most user-friendly format possible.

The problem most newsrooms face these days is lack of resources.… Read the rest

There’s a Difference Between a Problem and a Crisis

One of the more common myths when it comes to crisis management is that problems are often conflated with crises. In other words, when a company or brand is faced with negative social media backlash, it’s broadly assumed that’s a crisis when in fact it’s not. It’s just a problem, a serious problem, perhaps, but still not a crisis.… Read the rest

License to Censor? Communications Licensing and the Regulation of Speech

Even without licensing, there are some in the public relations field who would like to set the stage to regulate communication.

I was accredited by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in 1990. At the time, accreditation or that “APR” designation was relatively new and unproven. But since I was working for a big agency that covered the costs for things like this, I decided to go for it, and it worked out.… Read the rest

Buckle Up: How to Respond to Cancel Culture Bullies

While the term, “cancel culture” is relatively new, the concept is not. Anyone who has spent any significant number of years in crisis communications or crisis management has had to deal with forces working to destroy, ruin and cancel their targets.

As a result, we’ve developed effective strategies, tactics and approaches to situations where you or your organization is under unfair attack.… Read the rest

The Crisis Management Novices Have Moved On

About a year ago, in the months after COVID-19 first arrived in America, the nation was in crisis. No organization or family or person was unaffected.

As a result, nearly every professional communicator faced challenges of their own.

To be sure, there’s a difference between being in crisis and being a crisis manager. It’s the same difference that exists between being the patient and being the doctor.… Read the rest

Former CNN Anchor Aaron Brown Sits Down for Rare Interview on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

Shaping Opinion Podcast Will Release 9 Episodes Starting September 3rd

Featuring Stories from People Who Were There

On Tuesday, September 7, 2021, former CNN lead news anchor Aaron Brown sits down with our Shaping Opinion podcast to talk about September 11, 2001, 20 years later. He gets into tremendous detail about that day, what he was thinking, feeling, and now, reflecting.… Read the rest