My small, woman-owned public relations/marketing firm, Advice Unlimited, has been serving the Federal government marketplace for nearly 30 years to help companies with innovative technology get their solutions to the government. Every month, I’ll offer unlimited advice on how to work with this unique market. Please email me with questions or comments.

Advice Unlimited

Advice Unlimited

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What Are Your PR Needs for 2014?

This has been a rocky year in the government IT space; many of us are relieved to see this year finally come to a close, and look forward to 2014 – a new year, new opportunities, and a new government budget almost in place! This is a great time to assess your organization’s public relations and marketing strategies for the New Year, and make sure you’re on track for higher visibility and awareness in 2014.
Public relations is hands down the best bang for your buck – it is the single most powerful tool in any organization’s marketing communications arsenal. If it’s not in your arsenal, 2014 is the perfect time to take advantage of this influential tool. Consistent, focused PR educates your audience on the solutions you provide to help solve their problems; a results-driven PR campaign builds name recognition and brand awareness, helping you expand your organization’s sphere of influence. Here are five tips to consider when you think through what you need to accomplish through PR to help you support your strategic business goals in the coming year.
1.    Think through your business goals and objectives for 2014. You should be ambitious about where you want to be in a year and how much you would like to grow, while also making sure your goals are attainable. Then align your PR goals with your business goals. Want to expand your thought leadership presence? Grow a specific vertical market? Defining your goals helps you clearly identify where PR can provide support and ‘air cover.’

2.    Ask your PR agency/team to define the PR/marketing actions needed to achieve your goals and objectives. It’s important to be realistic about how much you can accomplish in twelve months, and you need to ensure that your actions truly support your goals. For example, if you want to grow a specific vertical market, you want your PR effort to focus on the media and events that serve that specific market.

3.    Review the past year’s successes and efforts that were especially effective in communicating your message, and integrate these initiatives into next year’s campaign, as well. You want to continue to nurture and leverage these successes to ensure continuity and consistency.

4.    Establish metrics to be achieved: how many feature articles are you aiming for, and what’s reasonable to expect with resources committed? Remember, consistency is key, so an important element is securing feature articles that truly tell your story throughout the year, not just clustered around an important event. Want spokespeople quoted in the press? Work with your PR team to define the metrics that make sense with your level of effort and commitment, then put them in writing, and track results.

5.    Enjoy the holidays! Make sure to take the time out of your busy end of year work schedule to spend time with friends and family. You have been working hard all year long, so take the holidays as an opportunity to relax and re-energize for next year.
And if you need an engaged, focused PR team to help you achieve your goals, please call me – we’d love to help you plan and implement a focused, results-driven PR campaign for 2014! Our promise to you – we’ll consistently deliver results, exceeding your expectations!
Happy holidays!
For more information on how Advice Unlimited can help you create and implement a successful public relations plan, or provide support for other public outreach and communication initiatives, please contact me at 301-924-0330 or

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dos and Don’ts of Blogging: How to do it right

Blogging has become an essential part of an organization’s online presence. Blogs can be seen on just about every organization’s site. Although it may seem like a good idea to just jump onto the ever popular bandwagon of blogging, understanding what makes a good blog can make all the difference. Having a blog just to say you have one is not effective and could create a negative perception of the organization. Being able to engage a reader and being consistent are the key aspects to being able to maintain a strong blog. Here are some of my dos and don’ts for successful blogging.

Do: Have a clear direction

Many of the negative comments about organizations’ blogs focus on the writers of the blogs. The main issue with poor blogs is that there is no clear objective. This can be a main deterrent that turns readers away. The goal should of course be known to the author of the blog but more importantly, to the reader. If a reader has no idea what to expect from a post, there is a good chance they will not be subscribing to the blog. For example, The Federal Times blog has a clear mission – inform and create brand loyalty. They make it easy to navigate and spark strong interest by using up-to-date posts, topic separation and page interaction.

Do: Create order out of chaos

For a blog with multiple writers, it is good to have each writer have their own page that links to the main blog of the organization. On the Office of Management and Budget blog, they feature a main column of blog posts from each of their different writers. On the right side of the page, the reader can easily find past posts of a specific author they might like. There is no clicking from page to page to find the information; it is all in one place. This is a great example of a blog that could have been much more cluttered or chaotic.

Do: Make your posts social

Writing a blog is pointless unless people read your posts. An extremely easy and effective way to do that is by linking your organization’s social media pages to the blog. Nextgov is a prime example of how to link a blog directly to a story. Every story on this page is linked to Twitter at the beginning of the post. It makes it easy for readers to share the story with as many people as possible and gives the blog a much wider reach.

Do: Create interesting content

For every blog, creating a buzz should be a goal. Having a blog that posts content that matters is great. Having a blog that posts that same content but can make it compelling -- that is huge! VMware does this very well. They have many bloggers covering many different topics. The one thing that they all do very well is post stories that capture the attention of the reader instantly because of the uniqueness of the topic and the relevance of the topic to the targeted audience

Don’t: Post without purpose

Some people might think that because your organization has a blog that they have to post every day. This is not true at all. Posting regularly is a must; however, doing it just for the sake of frequency is not the best idea. This is what I would call “empty posting”. Empty posting gives the perception that the organization does not put thought into what they are saying. It also can take away from the credibility of the organization if the post is rushed and sloppy. Be sure that you have a purpose with every post.

Don’t: Forget about Design

A blog can really lose a reader if they have a hard time navigating the blog. A blog that I really believe captures the audience by design alone is FedScoop. FedScoop has brilliant colors and is easy to navigate. The black and white color scheme with a touch of pink is simple but also catches the reader’s attention. The page is also linked to all of FedScoop’s social media pages in the top right corner. This makes the blog well-rounded as well as well-designed.

Don’t: Talk to yourself

Blogs are a great place to spark a conversation. Having a blog that people can respond to and want to comment on is wonderful. This gives the writer a chance to respond to comments and create buzz on their story. All the comments that a story gets can be used for great feedback for future posts and insight on if and how you are reaching your target audience. An organization that has a good blog comment section is the USDA. On their blog they have a large section for commenting and feedback. They also integrate the rest of their brand throughout each post by linking to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and email. 

Don’t: Forget to use the power of the internet

For any blogger, this should be an essential element of their blog. The internet has so many connections and can relay a story in a more interactive way than a print copy can. So take full advantage of it. NASA does a great job of using the power of the internet. On their page they have videos, pictures, links and news feeds which can be easily navigated on their homepage. They also include links to their social media pages on the top of the page. This not only looks great on the page, but it keeps the reader on the page longer. Clicking and following a picture to a story and a video creates more time for the reader to connect with the brand.

Creating a blog is a great idea for any organization, especially when the blog leverages its platform for optimum communication outreach. Using the power of the internet, social media and strong writing skills, blogs can create good site traffic and brand loyalty – and help you communicate your message directly to your audience in a fun and memorable manner. Maybe it’s time you started blogging?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

10 Steps to a Great Headline

Creating headlines is a difficult skill that can be a struggle for many writers. Headlines are extremely important whether you are writing for online content such as blogs, social media, or webpages or you are writing articles and thought leadership pieces as a journalist or public relations professional. Being able to connect with your target audience in a quick and concise manner is one of the most valuable writing skills in today’s society of social media and online content writing.

Even though the content of an article may be extremely well written, only a small portion of people will read that article. Headlines pull people in. A good headline will catch the eye and help the reader engage. The following tips can help you create a strong headline:
Be Accurate
Although it is basic, many people make the mistake of creating misleading headlines. It is crucial not to mislead the reader about the content of the story. Be fun, be catchy – but ALWAYS be accurate.
Here are some extreme cases of misleading headlines.

Misleading Headlines
Accurate Headlines

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

Nutritious Snacks Created by Kids

Two Soviet Ships Collide, One Dies

Two Soviet Ships Collide, One Person Dies

Hershey Bars Protest

Hershey Staff Protest

Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim

Squad Helps A Dog Bite Victim

Marry Your Headline with Your Subject
Let the reader know what the article is about quickly and in a focused manner. Being direct will help the reader know what to expect instantly. Being straightforward will lead the reader to the body of the article. Obscure headlines can turn away a reader as quickly as a direct one can draw them in. Having good flow in an article goes beyond the body; make the headline flow into the content itself.
Add Spice with Strong Adjectives
Adjectives really make a headline stand out. An expanded use of adjectives will draw readers into the article. Headline writing is about separating from the pack; finding unique strong language helps you differentiate your story from others. Think of strong adjectives as bright colors on a page -- the brighter the colors, the more likely a person is to see that color.
Spark the Imagination
Make the reader want to know more. Sparking interest is a key in headline writing. Ever wonder why “How to” articles are so common? They always seem to spark interest right away – largely because they promise to solve a problem for the reader. The reader feels connected to the story immediately.
On The Boston Globe’s website, sparking the reader’s interest is a regular occurrence. Check out some of the stories on their page for some great examples of interesting headlines.
Cut the Fat
Creating a headline that can be read quickly is extremely important. Your headline should be descriptive enough to give your audience an idea of what the article entails, yet short enough to ensure you don’t lose their attention before they even get to the first graph.
Making the headline short is especially helpful when writing online. If there is a short headline, it can not only be used for the site, but it can be blasted on social media exactly how it appears.
Use Active Voice over Passive Voice
Headlines should always have an active voice. Having an active voice makes the author sound more definitive, while a passive voice can make the author seem unsure of the topic. This is important, as it can affect the credibility of the writer.
CNN really has some great active voice headlines.
Use the Spark Notes Version
Headlines should almost tell the story -- they should almost sum up the article for the reader. Clearly let the reader know what is coming. The goal is to lead the reader into the context of the article; this will result in a larger number of reads.
Use Superlatives
Superlatives will help to draw an audience into the story. This is especially effective when writing for blogs or web articles. For example, at the blog Upworthy, the team is tasked with finding superlative phrases for story headlines. This is credited with helping them draw in millions of readers to their stories. According to the New York Times, the headlines that they produced created so much buzz that the site had 2.5 million new viewers in its third month of running.
Name Dropping Works
Having a name in the headline can be extremely helpful. It is especially effective if the client you are writing about has a strong brand. People want to know about brands they care about. Using a recognizable name connects the story to the reader quickly, increasing readership interest.
News sites like The Washington Post name drop a lot in their headlines. Political subjects are a great place to name drop in a headline.
Most Importantly: Catch the Reader’s Attention
The number one goal of a headline is to catch the attention of the reader. It’s worthwhile to spend a bit more time on the headline for any story you write, to ensure it not only describes the article, but entices the reader. Hopefully these tips will help you make the story pop off the page. It is not an easy task, but this is a skill worth learning, to help you engage your audience and deliver your message.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Strategic Communication: Catching On

Government organizations' communications budgets are getting slashed, but they still have to educate their constituents, share information, and provide guidelines and insights about their area of responsibility to support their mission. In addition, they need to keep their message fresh and engaging to reach the new generation. Many programs and messages are targeted to millennials -- but how do we ensure they're actually paying attention and absorbing the information?

The good news is that approved social media sites are relatively inexpensive tools, as they really only require the cost of labor -- creating the content, vetting it, posting it, monitoring the sites and responding to constituents' postings. This method of communication is fresh and easy to use, and millennials are very comfortable perusing these sites for information and insights.

The key question then becomes: how do we make our message catch -- and keep -- their attention?

According to a study done in 2010 by the Pew Research center, 90% of millennials use the Internet and 75% of millennials have created a social networking profile. It is important to remember though, that social media users are looking for more than just information when they browse. Several studies have shown that people participate in social media for socializing, entertainment, and self-status seeking, on top of strictly searching for information.

Social media is a setting in which two essential processes take place: peer-to-peer influence, and interaction-creating connections. These processes, along with the nearly instantaneous speed of the Internet, make for the perfect vehicle for distributing messages. Government organizations can tap into and creatively utilize this space to generate a "viral" campaign. Package your message in a medium that can be easily distributed from peer-to-peer and dress it up in the latest/dominant trends and fashions of your audience. And enjoy how effectively your constituents will help you share your message.

Here are some tips on getting a message to go viral:

  • Plug in: Take a look at current dominating mediums that your audience is latching on to. In addition, popular themes can serve as a powerful tool for getting those initial contacts.
  • Do something unexpected: Rather than emphasizing what is great about your message or product, do something that draws the attention of your target audience to it. The message promotion should be visible but subtle.
  • Follow up: Give your audiences more of what they like. If you have a great idea, play with it and reinvent it for as long as you can. People say millennials have short attention spans, but they also know what they like and will only share brands they trust to deliver.
  • Allow and promote sharing: Make your content as accessible as your organization's guidelines allow. When appropriate, create opportunities for people to participate in your campaign: ask for insights, suggested themes, etc.
An example of an organization that has taken these tips to heart can be found in a recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention campaign -- they pioneered an out-of-the-box, viral campaign with flying colors.

In 2011, the "Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse" campaign swarmed the U.S., inspiring families all over to "get prepared." Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Dr. Ali Khan, pointed out, "If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack." This campaign creatively provided information on staying safe, outlined how the CDC operates in potentially dangerous situations, and allowed anyone to make their own preparedness videos to share on the site. The campaign was so successful that from it, the CDC developed lesson plans for educators, t-shirts, posters, and even a graphic novella.

The government sphere has the power to distribute important messages creatively and effectively. Government organizations' passions no longer have to suffer the limitations of yesterday. It's about time we caught on. With the power and accessibility of social media, combined with a little creative fortitude, government organizations can really leave a lasting footprint in the web-space of tomorrow.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Power of Pure PR

There has been energetic debate about the definition of PR. What is public relations, and why is it important for accomplishing the goals you have for your organization? The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) recently initiated a crowdsourcing campaign and a public vote to establish this new and concise definition:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

To define more clearly what public relations is, it may help to delve deeper into two aspects of the PRSA definition: strategic communication and beneficial relationships.

Strategic Communication:

Just about anyone can communicate. But effective communication requires thorough planning, connections, and craftsmanship. There is a common misconception that the only way organizations can communicate to the public is by dispersing their message to as many people as possible through as much advertising as possible. This method works for some organizations, when the target audience is broad based, undefined, or difficult to define. “Inbound marketing or content marketing,” an approach used by many PR/Marketing professionals, is the purposeful placement of your organization's message in a way that earns the attention of your customers and entices your customers to come to you.

To break things down practically -- the world each and every one of us navigates is entirely made up of information delivered in different forms and through different venues. Each of our decisions, especially regarding business, is based upon the information that we’ve come across throughout our navigations.  As we go through life, we find ourselves maneuvering through this world of information overload as efficiently and effectively as we can; avoiding information we deem useless and holding onto information we regard as useful (or potentially useful). Sometimes we hold onto information simply because it’s fun, sometimes we ignore information that might be good for us because we don’t trust or like the messenger. We will only hold onto the information that we find valuable enough to keep and we can only hold onto the information we find during our daily maneuver-filled navigations. For an organization to be successful it needs to disperse information in a way that can and will be retained, using communication channels your target audience uses and trusts. Public Relations presents your information so that your target audience can find it and will hold onto it.

Pure PR is when the message and the outcome desired drives the communication channels used. The strategic PR professional will determine which media or communication channels are most used and trusted by your target audience, and most appropriate for the type of message you’re delivering. This ensures your message reaches your target audience in an environment that they respond to, where they’ll read and absorb the message, and in the language and format that resonates with your audience and inspires your desired action.

Beneficial Relationships:

The advantage of this strategic communication is magnified by ongoing proactive PR; which leverages the PR professional’s relationships with respected journalists and helps build beneficial relationships between you and your audience.  When you’re doing it right, PR becomes a key channel for developing a positive relationship with your audiences. A PR professional gets your information to the places it needs to be in order to get the optimal retention from your audiences. Continuous PR gives your target audiences frequent and varied positive encounters with the information they need to better trust, understand, and respect your business.

An essential factor in any organization’s growth is reputation. What people say and who is saying it both play an immense factor in making any monetary decisions. Pure PR communicates your organization’s trustworthiness to deliver on the expectations you establish, through communications channels that your audience views as trustworthy and capable.  

Having your solution or service talked about as news in the right publications is at the heart of what makes public relations so valuable. This third party credibility is validation that your organization does what it says it does. Positive press coverage builds trust in your organization.

When a consumer reads a particular publication, it is out of the trust, respect, and credibility they associate with that publication. They rely on these publications to serve as a trusted distributor of news they care about. When your organization’s successes and visions for the future are articulately expressed in an article, readers transfer the esteem they give the publication they’re reading over to the businesses mentioned – this establishes credibility via association. This pathway to credibility is particularly valuable in the government sector, and in any industry where there is a trusted pool of influential media, and balance, fairness, and third party credibility are crucial in procurement decisions.

With good public relations, organizations are properly presented to relevant audiences and audiences are pleased to be introduced to relevant organizations. Pure PR is the symbiotic element added to the organization/public relationship. Proactive PR -- continuous strategic communication -- is an invaluable tool to engage, educate, and influence your target audience regarding your products, services, and vision.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Discussing the Integration of Social Media Tools at MACo Symposium

I had the pleasure of speaking at the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) 2013 Spring Symposium yesterday, on the topic of: How to Integrate New Media, Tools and Techniques into your Public Outreach Plan.

We had a wonderful group of over 50 government communicators who participated in the symposium. We talked about how to strategically drive public outreach using traditional and new media, reviewing the pros and cons of different communication tools, discussing best practices around leveraging social media to build a community and help drive your mission. The session was dynamic, and I had a great time interacting with the group throughout the presentation, learning as much from my participants as I hope they learned from me!

MACo is a non-profit and non-partisan organization that serves Maryland’s counties by articulating the needs of local government to the Maryland General Assembly. The Association’s membership consists of county elected officials and representatives from Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City. Yesterday’s symposium was one of the many opportunities offered by the organization to provide government officials and representatives the ability to improve their capacity to serve their residents.

The organizers did a great job of keeping the day moving, the discussions lively and the information relevant. This was a great opportunity to talk about specific outreach methods used by various agencies, and to get information firsthand from Maryland PIOs on how they’re using social media now, as well as how they hope to further integrate these tools into their future communication efforts.

I appreciate MACo inviting me to speak at this valuable symposium – it’s clear that most government communicators, as I’ve always believed, truly care about doing the best job they can, and understand the importance of the message they are often tasked with communicating. Technology is changing and evolving at a more rapid pace than ever before, which makes it essential to balance the importance of traditional methods of communication with the value of being open to trying new techniques as well. If you’d be interested in my providing this presentation, or this service, to your organization, please contact me at

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Finding the Opportunity in Sequestration: For Government Communicators

Sequestration has been featured prominently in the headlines, especially since it went into effect on March 1, 2013. Sequestration will consist of $85 billion in government budget cuts in 2013 divided between Defense discretionary (42%), Non-defense discretionary (27%), Interest (16%), Medicare (11%), and other mandatory (4%). Now several agencies have begun to furlough their employees as required, and the public is becoming aware of the real pain of sequestration, and how it will impact their lives. Communicating about sequestration plans is crucially important and in today’s environment, communications are being carefully scrutinized – what programs will be impacted? How is sequestration affecting companies, government organizations, and local economies? It is important that both employees and members of the public know how the plan will affect them. Every word counts. Meanings and nuances matter. This is a perfect opportunity for organizations to sharpen their pencils and clarify, focus, and clearly communicate their message. And leverage this time in the public’s attention to ensure you are also communicating your mission, its value, and how you are ensuring support for your mission even with reduced budgets.
Sequestration is now starting to become more ‘real,’ as government organizations implement the required changes. Employees are being furloughed and already reduced resources are being further squeezed or eliminated. It is more important than ever to get the facts right the first time. Sequestration budget cuts are sporadic, so the lines of communication need to be open among agencies, their employees, and their constituents. Communicating incorrect information confuses agency employees and the public, requires a correction notice to be published and undermines the efficiency of the agency. It is crucial to release the correct information the first time, and communicate it in a concise manner, through appropriate communication channels that will be easily understood and accessed by agency employees and members of the public. Especially in the current environment,  make sure your  public outreach plan  integrates new and traditional media to reach your audience where they go for information, and through a channel that’s most appealing and accessible to them  – this is the single most powerful tool in any agency’s communications tool kit.
There is a great deal of confusion about sequestration, so clear communication is crucially important to both government employees and members of the public that rely on your agency. The FAA’s sequester budget cuts went into effect last week via furloughs of 10% of its workforce, and the number of flight delays quickly piled up due to the lack of air traffic controllers available to monitor busy air corridors. This is a situation where the FAA should be openly communicating their issues to members of the public so people who are flying will be aware of the increased likelihood that their flight could be delayed. According to an article on Yahoo! News, “Airline and airport officials say they didn’t receive specific information from the FAA about how the furloughs might affect air traffic until a meeting called by the agency on April 16, six days before the furlough took affect.” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA officials have provided warning since February that the furloughs were coming and major airports such as Los Angeles International and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport could see delays due to furloughed workers, but they did not give specific notice of the trickle-down effects that would spread to other airports nation wide, even though they had that information on hand before the furloughs were implemented. Due to the lack of communication about specific towers/towns where staff would be reduced, and how the public would be affected, travelers were left stranded for hours. After a Senate meeting on Wednesday, LaHood told reporters, “We offered our apologies to them for the fact that we had not kept them informed about all of the things that we had been discussing.” The employees need to understand how their job will be affected and the public needs to know how the agency’s budget cuts will affect their lives. Getting your message out to your public speedily, concisely, and with as much detail as possible is always the best approach. Provide updates as needed, to ensure the public is well informed and has the information they need when they need it (or before!).
Many people have questions about sequestration. The government is the largest employer in the United States, so communicating with its many employees is no small feat, in addition to keeping the public informed about the changes that will impact constituent services. Agencies are feeling the impact of furloughs and other reductions in their resources, so efficiency is key.
Implementing clear and concise communication tactics will cut down on confusion, misinformation, and time spent apologizing and correcting errors. One suggestion for improving inter-agency communications would be creating an interactive digital communication channel where employees are given a forum to voice their concerns, ask questions, and make suggestions. Internally, agencies could create a private and secure forum for employees only, using the agency Intranet. The forum would create a place for general discussion, information sharing, questions, and suggestions. According to an article on, “by using a collaborative forum, you might be able to strengthen your relationship with employees by being able to gather feedback and create dialogue with your coworkers in an environment that’s more secure than a social network but more open than a typical intranet.” The public could participate in the sequester discussion through a “question and answer” forum connected to the agency’s website or Facebook page. A public relations firm can be a great asset when creating new communication channels and spreading news to your target audience. For additional information about improving communication during sequestration and developing communication strategies, please contact me at, check out our website at, and follow us on twitter

Monday, April 22, 2013

Discussing Social Media Use in a Disaster at NAGC

I had the honor of presenting a session at last week’s 2013 NAGC Communications School, held April 17-19 in Arlington, VA. My topic was: How to Use Social Media in a Disaster.

An organization of government Public Information Officers and Communications professionals, the NAGC (National Association of Government Communicators) Communications School provided three days of practical educational sessions to help government communicators increase their skills.

The standing-room only session I led included a great group of government communicators from a wonderful mix of organizations, across civilian, Defense, and state and local organizations. The focus of the session was on how to effectively use social media in a disaster, and we discussed real-world scenarios where social media played a crucial role, including the Boston Marathon bombings.

The session was interactive and dynamic, and I learned just as much from my participants as I hope they learned from me. We discussed specific outreach methods used by various agencies, and covered the pros and cons of each. We talked about the challenges of effective communication outreach in today’s 24/7 world, and the importance of still ‘getting it right,’ while ensuring continuous updates and information were getting out in a responsible manner to our constituents.

With the rapid pace of technology innovations, it’s essential that we balance the importance of traditional methods of communication with the value of being open to learning and trying new approaches and tools. The driver must always be our mission, our message, and our audience – what will help us communicate better with our constituents – during a disaster, and every day. If you’d be interested in my providing this presentation, or this service, to your organization, please contact me at

Friday, March 15, 2013

USO-Metro’s Annual Awards Dinner a Touching Tribute to Service Members, Military Families and Volunteers

Last night, the USO of Metropolitan Washington (USO-Metro) hosted its 31st Annual Awards Dinner at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Crystal City. We attended the dinner, providing PR support, as we have for the past 17 years, and were reminded why we got involved – and stay involved – with this exceptional organization!

The evening was devoted to honoring outstanding individuals from each branch of service, as well as the phenomenal people who support our nation’s service members through volunteerism and USO-Metro’s countless charitable programs, with a special emphasis on the military families served. Attended by senior government and military leaders, celebrities, business and community leaders, more than 600 guests joined with USO-Metro last night to honor our nation’s heroes and their families.  This year also included a Special Salute to honor military medical professionals.

Mr. Lou Diamond Phillips, host of the Military Channel’s An Officer and a Movie, was honored with the Legacy of Achievement Award for his deep commitment to our men and women in uniform, and General Peter Pace USMC (Ret.) presented the annual Merit Award to Mr. Joe Mantegna. This year’s COL John Gioia Patriot Award was presented to Mrs. Kathleen “Kat” Causey to recognize her tireless dedication to soldiers’ welfare, especially her work advocating for proper mental healthcare for combat veterans.

The entire night was an extremely touching tribute to our service members and their families, and we were honored to be a part of it. The night reminded us all how crucial it is to give back to the community we serve. During this time of transition, supporting our nation’s heroes is more important than ever. Advice Unlimited’s involvement with USO-Metro allows us to give back and pay tribute, and is a constant reminder of the sacrifices these heroes make for us each and every day. If you would like to learn more about how you can get involved in this outstanding organization please contact me at

Monday, February 11, 2013

Advice Unlimited Celebrates 30 Years of Business

I’m amazed to say that I founded Advice Unlimited 30 years ago – my, how time flies when you love what you do! I’ve had the honor of working with incredible clients in an outstanding community, and I’ve had the good fortune of consistently having wonderful staff who teach me as much as I teach them.

Advice Unlimited LLC has changed pretty dramatically from when I first hung out my shingle 30 years ago. When I founded this Public Relations firm, I eagerly accepted anyone who was willing to hire us. We worked for real estate firms, banks – even Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus!

Once we secured our first government contract, in 1986, I knew I was home. We worked with local organizations, such as the Montgomery County Office of Economic Development, and Federal programs, such as Health and Human Services and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. I felt we were really making a difference, and changing how people lived their lives by helping them to learn about different services that were vital to their everyday lives.

Working with government organizations naturally led to opportunities with companies trying to reach these government organizations, and we discovered this was the perfect complement and extension to the unique specialization we had developed.   As we expanded our efforts with government contractors, I quickly learned that working with the companies that serve the government is another wonderful pool of people who care and projects that matter. And when I discovered technology – wow. The innovation possible when you bring together really smart people who are solving new problems with really caring people who are focused on making our world a better place is exciting, inspiring, and rewarding.

Today we are very proud of our unique niche of supporting government organizations and the technology companies that serve them. We are proud of our specialization and depth of knowledge in this important area. Over the years, we have built amazing friendships and relationships with government, media, and industry leaders. To everyone that we’ve worked with – thank you. To all the folks we hope to work with as we move forward – we can’t wait! Here's to the next decade!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Revitalizing Your Company’s Image in 2013

As government organizations continue to slash spending and cut budgets, it gets harder and more imperative to stand out and clearly communicate how you help your customer meet their mission while reducing costs.  Public relations and marketing initiatives can help you make sure your prospects hear you, see you, and understand why they need you. Here are five tips to consider that can help you revitalize your image this year.

1.    Fine tune your message to resonate with 2013 priorities. Think strategically and focus on how you help your customers solve real problems.
2.    Deliver this message consistently through all of your materials: maybe it’s time for a new brochure or marketing materials, a website facelift, a new blog page from your executives, a new tag line or mission statement. Make sure your message is relevant and your communication educates your audience on how you can help them meet their very tough and very real challenges of today.
3.    If you don’t have consistent public relations efforts in place, that should be a priority for 2013. Tell your story through the publications your customers read and trust, educating them on how you can help solve their problems, and providing examples of success stories in the government marketplace. This is an excellent tool to establish your executives as thought leaders in their area of expertise, as well.
4.    Initiate PR and marketing campaigns with the publications and events that are most relevant for your customers, to communicate your message and integrate your brand with a trusted resource. Stay true to your trusted publications that you’ve used in the past, but branch out in search of new publications and new opportunities for your clients that align with their mission and their needs.
5.    Be present! Attend networking events, visit customers; face-to-face interaction is really important in these challenging times. Your customers need to know you and know they can trust you. Virtual interaction is not enough.
When you’re ready to revitalize your company’s image please contact me – I would love to assist you in planning and implementing a PR strategy that will help you grow your presence in the government marketplace in 2013! 
For more information on how Advice Unlimited can help you create and implement a successful public relations plan, or provide support for other public outreach and communication initiatives, please contact me at 301-924-0330 or