January 01, 2019

Each year there are moments that define us--in news, in politics, and in culture.  And then there are moments that change the way we think and speak. Those are the language moments. The words and phrases that change the results of a debate or an election. The messages that shape brands and define movements. And that’s what we focus in on each December when our team of language strategists scours business news, pop culture, social movements, politics, and music to identify the messages that truly defined the year.


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November 28, 2018

Originally published on PR Daily

Under the pressure of a crisis, how a company responds is almost always the same: a knee-jerk response that tells their side of the story.

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October 31, 2018

(Originally published on O'Dwyers PR.)

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening my axe,” said Abraham Lincoln. Similarly, the key to successful crisis management is the kind of solid preparation that can turn a negative event into a positive message about your company.

Here are ten questions to assist you in turning a potential reputational disaster into branding gold.

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October 04, 2018

(Originally published on Industry Week)

Language Strategy is the laser-sharp phrasing of a corporate apology statement, or the product name that resonates. 

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October 16, 2017
Last week, Dove posted an ad showing a black woman taking off her shirt to reveal a white woman underneath, and people rightfully went wild. The backlash prompted the removal of the ad, a subsequent apology for racial insensitivity, and an incalculable amount of reputational damage for a brand built on “real beauty”.
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October 10, 2017

Dara Khosrowshahi’s apology to the people of London was a refreshing change in tone for a company that previously hadn’t ceded an inch of ground in defense of its aggressive growth strategies.  While the statement was a step in the right direction, it shows that the company still has a lot of work to do.


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October 04, 2017

“Biased!” “Out of context!” “Unfair!” “Untrue!”  


These are some of the most common reactions from companies in the heat of an ongoing crisis. Their knee jerk-response is almost always the same. “Tell our side of the story.” “Get the facts out!” Or, “Point to who’s to blame!” 

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If crisis response is so obvious, why do so many people still get it wrong?


In a consumer-controlled, activist-driven, media-frenzied world, more and more industries and organizations are being put under the microscope. Flaws, real or not, are scrutinized and attacked. And you only have to take a look at the lines (or lack of) at your nearest Chipotle to see the impact of a true crisis on your bottom-line.

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February 26, 2016


A few weeks ago, the National Review tried to take down Trump with a parade of reasoned opinions about why he is not a real conservative. The net effect: zero.


Jeb! Bush relentlessly attacked Trump for being a bully: a chaos candidate who was trying to insult his way to the presidency. He’s now watching the election from his couch.

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February 10, 2016

When it comes to building—or rebuilding—corporate and industry reputations, I hear three questions most often:  


1. How do we position ourselves as innovative?
2. How do we get credit for all the good we do?
3. How do we respond when our company faces controversy?


These questions are not easy to answer. In the post-trust era we live in, where the public is skeptical of every message from large companies, it’s easy to come off as irrelevant, insincere, or arrogant.


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