Knoxville News Sentinel: Knoxvillian comes home to open shop

Since leaving Knoxville nearly a decade ago, Laura Braden has been busy building up a who’s-who resume. Braden served as deputy communications director for former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. She worked on the 2008 Republican presidential campaign of Arizona Sen. John McCain. And she spent three months in the Gulf Coast assisting BP with their oil spill response efforts. Not bad for someone who had a difficult time deciding what career path to pursue. Now, the 30-year-old has returned to her native Knoxville with a wealth of experience and a new PR and consulting business, Braden Strategies, an affiliate of SRW & Associates. “For the last year, every time I came home it was becoming harder and harder to leave,” Braden said. Many of her best girlfriends had started moving home, and she thought, “Let’s give Knoxville another try. It’s completely different.” Braden has picked up clients in California and Washington, D.C. In Knoxville, she serves as communications director for mayoral candidate Mark Padgett. To read the full article, please visit KnoxNews.com....

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Knoxville Business Journal: SRW on Crisis Communications

Crisis communication series: Common mistakes After planning, the biggest mistake is usually the inability to execute efficiently or effectively. I’ve seen companies respond to basic press inquiries in days rather than minutes or hours, mismanage funds, appoint internal staff to lead the response with little to no crisis communications experience, and – my all-time favorite – death by collaboration. Death by collaboration usually goes something like this: It’s day 11 of a crisis, and you’re sitting in the 6 a.m. planning meeting when colleague X identifies a positive media opportunity that is outside the company’s comfort zone. She reminds the group that extraordinary situations demand extraordinary action. She outlines the next steps and the benefits/risks, and everyone agrees it’s a great idea. But colleague Y has to run it up the chain of command because even though Y is “in charge,” he can’t sneeze without asking everyone their opinion. Fast forward to 4 p.m., and the opportunity has gone nowhere because Y is still “running the traps.” Usually this crippling inaction comes from three sources: not giving the person “in charge” the power to make decisions, putting someone in charge who is unable to make decisions, and/or creating a culture where people would rather do nothing than make a mistake. Organizations are doomed to fail when they lack the efficiency, flexibility and nimbleness required to respond to the ever-changing landscape of a communications crisis. -Laura Braden For the full article, please visit here. Crisis communications series: Using social media Sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube provide a powerful tool to disseminate news and information in real-time. Used properly, you can even bypass traditional media to reach voters, customers, clients and stakeholders with your unfiltered message. But social media has to be integrated into your larger communications strategy – you can’t start building followers and a presence after a crisis has occurred. It has to be part of an ongoing conversation, and it has to be viewed as a resource to the audience you’re trying to reach. That starts with an honest assessment of targeted audiences. A lot of people get caught up in the number of followers, but I argue that it’s better to focus on quality over quantity. For example, I had an infrastructure client that focused a lot on grassroots and lobbying, but didn’t issue many press releases. Every morning, we scoured news sources for the most interesting stories that promoted our worldview on infrastructure investment and promoted them on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Our followers grew because we were providing a resource that was bigger than the mission of our organization. When the time came to issue a press release, we already had the infrastructure...

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