Corporate Communications & Strategic Planning
Communications Planning – O’Brien has developed communications programs and plans along the full life cycle of corporate evolution, from business planning for emerging companies, to plans to support change management associated with major transactions.
Communications Audits – Several organizations have tapped O’Brien Communications to conduct communications audits of internal and external communications. Using a comprehensive approach, audits involve review of materials produced and distributed by the organization internally and externally, and interviews with staff and a cross-section of external constituencies to identify issues and concerns, not only with the management of communications, but other issues that can impact relationships. The goal is to provide the client with a final report that addresses concerns and questions with regard to the effectiveness of prior communications efforts, and it point to areas of strength that can serve as foundation for future communications and outreach efforts.
Earnings Expectations – When publicly traded firms have announced earnings results, O’Brien has helped handle the disclosure through support of the news release and related documents, along with preparations for earnings calls. Situations have included times when performance has met analyst expectations and when it has not.
Tim would be glad to share more about our full range of PR experience.
Law Firm Marketing – Since 1987, O’Brien has helped several law firms build their brands through strategic media relations and professional services marketing programs. A multi-pronged approach leverages the client’s key leadership as subject matter experts on topics and issues of interest to clients and prospective clients. The driving professional services marketing philosophy is to build the client’s brand around the strengths of its people.
Wealth Management Firm Marketing – O’Brien has helped wealth managers increase awareness of their brand through strategic marketing with a national business and investor media focus. This has resulted in regular visibility in media outlets that have included the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Kiplinger among others, including local, trade and regional business media.
Web Sites – O’Brien Communications has developed content for existing and new web sites, helping to create a digital brand that is consistent with all other branding efforts across channels. Working with allied professionals in the design and SEO disciplines, O’Brien has been involved in the delivery of complete web site solutions.
Social Media – O’Brien’s social media support has focused on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, incorporating these channels into communications programs that ensure broad and timely reach to important stakeholders. Social media has become a critical component and extension to any external media relations and public relations program.
Public Relations & Media Relations
Publicity Outreach – National, local and vertical trade and business media have been the focus of O’Brien’s publicity outreach efforts for decades. Working with media at every level on a continual basis, situations have ranged from new product and service announcements, to major changes or developments at well-known companies and organizations.
Message Development – A cornerstone public relations service is the development of strategic messaging for clients using a message mapping process that centers on the concerns, questions and issues that matter most to targeted audiences. This can include original and secondary research, but ultimately takes shape in a set of key messages and message themes that form the foundation of the communications program and media relations efforts.
Media Training and Coaching – Media training and coaching is a service provided to those new to media relations or seasoned veterans. This can be provided separate from or as part of the larger media relations program. O’Brien’s media training approach is customized to the likely scenarios and situations faced by each client. When appropriate role-playing and interview practice can be integral to the coaching process. Training sessions include discussion and lecture, participatory role-playing exercises, and analysis.
Content Development & Writing
Speeches – CEOs and others at small and large companies and organizations have relied on O’Brien for development of commencement addresses, speeches to trade and industry groups, and to community and civic organizations. The approach is straightforward, identifying the distinct and unique voice of each speaker, and then delivering a manuscript that helps the leader convey a compelling vision in a conversational tone.
Video Scripts – The development of solid video scripts require the need to condense complex thoughts and concepts into simple language, to get to the point quickly, and to cover the entire subject briefly. Past work has included the development of scripts for television, for use as training videos, and as a marketing tool for meetings, presentations and conferences. Some have been introductory in nature, while others have been used to tell a more comprehensive story.
Sponsored Content – O’Brien has written “advertorials” or sponsored content news features on complex issues featured in local and national media. This approach has enabled clients to control the information dissemination process while providing a good level of timeliness and detail that otherwise couldn’t be achieved.
Op-eds – O’Brien has developed and placed op-eds for clients involved in topical issues of interest at the local, regional and national levels. The key has been has been O’Brien’s ability to quickly research, write and edit drafts with clients while still meeting the demands of an often small window of opportunity to place an op-ed in the media.
Annual Reports – Publicly traded firms have tapped O’Brien Communications to write and edit several annual reports. Support has spanned from initial concept development, to research, writing, editing, proofing and production of the report. This has been done in conjunction with the client team, which has included designers, printers and others.
Crisis & Issues Management
Controversy/Negative Publicity – O’Brien has provided support to clients faced with challenges surrounding controversy or negative publicity. In the “court of public opinion,” organizations are often presumed guilty-until-proven-innocent. Unlike the justice system, the accused in this court are not entitled to a fair hearing. It is with this understanding that O’Brien first vets the assignment prior to accepting it. From there, O’Brien commits to working in concert with the client’s management team, its outside counsel and any others on the project team to develop and implement an effective response. Approaches and strategies vary by situation.
Major Transactions – When companies and organizations have planned mergers or acquisitions, they have hired O’Brien to provide support throughout the planning and implementation process. Support has been provided as part of larger teams of management, and communications and non-communications professionals who have worked together to create and manage the strategies and systems for communications. Deliverables have included materials for use across all media, from news releases, backgrounders, statements and speeches, to video manuscripts. O’Brien has provided day-of-announcement support and follow-up once the announcement had been made. The goal is always to create broad and extensive understanding of the transaction, to minimize speculation and distractions, so that there is minimal impact on the organization’s day-to-day operations.
Litigation Support – The litigious nature of society has led to a growth in demand for crisis communications programs that support organizations involved in litigation. O’Brien has provided communications support to clients involved in litigation that has had the potential to damage their reputation through sometimes frivolous and misleading allegations and claims. The approach has been to work closely with client management and legal counsel from the outset.
Environmental Issues – O’Brien has helped clients address the always strong interest in a healthy environment through communications programs built on a commitment to transparency and environmental responsibility. Because these situations can be volatile, rumor and speculation can cloud the atmosphere for clear communication. With this in mind, O’Brien has worked to keep communications, timely, direct, candid and thorough.
Workplace Communications – O’Brien has been involved in a range of workplace communications situations. Through it all, the approach has been to keep the focus on the well-being of the employee so that in the end, employees know that their employers are operating with their best interest in mind.
Reductions in Force – When clients have been forced to reduce their work forces due to downturns in revenues or economic shifts, O’Brien has helped them deliver the news to every important constituency with as much compassion and care as possible. This not only has involved honing the right messages, but also paying attention to the timing and the channels for communication.
Bankruptcy Filings – O’Brien has developed and helped to implement communications programs to support announcement of several Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings, and in some cases provided communications support throughout the reorganization process. The approach has been to prepare an announcement-day communications package to ensure all constituencies receive the news in a timely fashion with consistency of message. The purpose has been to make sure the initial news is delivered directly from the company and not a third-party, to all important constituents. This is to minimize the effect of baseless rumor and increased anxiety among those affected.