Reputation Roundup


Welcome to Reputation Roundup, a new e-newsletter from Reputation Partners. The public relations industry is constantly changing. New technologies and evolving traditional and social media channels allow individuals and organizations to communicate with stakeholders like never before. We created this e-newsletter to share some of these new developments and trends, our experiences and insights, and updates about Reputation Partners and our clients as our firm continues to grow.

We hope you’ll find the content interesting, enlightening and useful, and we look forward to applying the best practices we share here to the work we do with our clients. Check back every other month for new articles, or sign up to receive Reputation Roundup directly to your inbox here. Are there trends you’re following or topics you want to see covered in future issues of Reputation Roundup? Feel free to shoot us an email and let us know your thoughts. It’s an exciting time in the communications industry, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if we can assist you with any reputation or communications needs.

All our best,
The Reputation Partners Team

April 2017 Reputation Roundup

Whether it’s Pepsi or United Airlines, there’s been no shortage of reputational crises brewing since our last issue. What are brand, communications and marketing professionals supposed to take away from these incidents? Here’s what’s been top of mind for us at Reputation Partners:

Apologize. And Do It Right.
When in the wrong, apologize and do it genuinely. In the case of United, the CEO’s first, poorly-phrased non-apology did more harm than good, extended the life cycle of the story and introduced us to a new word: “re-accommodate.”

Cultivate a “Bank of Goodwill.”
Organizations must cultivate a “Bank of Goodwill” before a crisis hits. This can be done by establishing a credible track record rooted in transparency, earning favorable media coverage and developing strong relationships with stakeholders (community, consumers, elected officials, among others).

Remember: Reporters Are Everywhere.
Reporters are always on duty, and they aren’t just in the newsroom. Armed with our smart phones and Twitter handles, we’re all reporters. Within moments of a bloodied United passenger being dragged off the plane, fellow passengers were sharing video and tweeting at local and national news outlets and the story had spread within minutes.

Be Relevant. But Be Prepared to Take the Heat.
Staying relevant while also not getting too controversial is a fine line brands walk every day. When they pull it off, engagement soars. In the case of Pepsi, an attempt at being relevant opened the brand up to considerable scrutiny and backlash. But it got people talking. And perhaps taking the heat was part of their plan?

What’s your take? Reply to this newsletter or drop us a line on one of our social media channels – Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn – and share your thoughts with us. Until next time, enjoy some quick updates on the latest with Reputation Partners, our clients and our ever-changing industry.

Industry News

State of the Media 2017
In its latest State of the Media Report, Cision reported that 91% of journalists feel like they’ve lost the public’s trust. In its analysis of the report, Business 2 Community shares how PR professionals can help journalists tell better stories and regain that trust.

Investor Relations and Social Media
As social media continues to evolve into a communications mainstay, investor relations must adapt to become more engaged on those platforms. O’Dwyer’s offers some guidelines on integrating investor relations into a social media strategy.

CEO Bad Behavior and the Board’s Response
Harvard Business Review study on board responses to CEO misconduct highlights the chief executive’s impact and the inconsistencies of consequences.

Client News

Von Maur Opens First Location in Wisconsin
Longtime client Von Maur opened its first location in Wisconsin at The Corners of Brookfield. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, among dozens of other local media and VIPs, attended the opening to capture all the excitement and shoes Milwaukee could handle.

Equity LifeStyle Properties Shares Insights On Tiny Vacationing
Equity Lifestyle Properties, Tiny HomesEquity LifeStyle Properties is leading the tiny house vacation trend at its Mount Hood Tiny House Village. The New York Times featured the village in its look at why vacationers are going tiny.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation Awards Lincoln Leadership Prize
World-renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson received the Lincoln Leadership Prize from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. Tyson stopped by Windy City Live to discuss the honor and why Lincoln’s legacy is so important to science.

Financial Reporting Season in Full SwingBadger Meter Annual Report 2017
As part of our continued financial communications and investor relations work, the RP team has been busy helping clients craft and distribute earnings reports to executives, shareholders and financial media. Some of the recent releases include:

RP News

Nick Kalm Crisis Counsel United AirlinesFirm President Nick Kalm Discusses United Crisis
Reputation Partners Founder and President Nick Kalm was featured on CBS Chicago sharing his perspective on how United Airlines weathered its crisis communications storm.

RP Team Continues to Grow
Our team continues to grow as we recruit talented new members to our team and reward the accomplishments and hard work of our loyal employees:

Courtney Cherry (nee Harper) has been named the firm’s Director of Digital Strategies. Courtney has been with Reputation Partners for over ten years and works out of our Chicago office.

– Brendan Griffith has been promoted to vice president. Brendan has been with Reputation Partners for nearly 6 years and works out of our Chicago office.

– Sarah Lind recently joined the Chicago office as an account director. Before coming to Reputation Partners, Sarah worked at Edelman for 4 years.


February 2017 Reputation Roundup

To say we live in an unprecedented political environment is putting it mildly. Nearly every day, President Trump is resetting the communications landscape. As a result, many companies that have traditionally been politically neutral are finding themselves in the crosshairs.

Since the beginning of time, organizations have found themselves under scrutiny. So, let this be a modern day warning: If you’re not gearing up for the possibility your organization will become a political football, then you may be 140 characters too late when the time comes.

In just the past few weeks, we have counseled numerous global, regional and local organizations on how to navigate internal, media and shareholder communications regarding the “travel ban,” potential regulatory rollbacks, brand boycotts and more.

We’re advising smart companies to be as prepared as possible by:

- Expanding your internal risk analysis to assess whether certain business decisions have potential political overtones. If yes, then you should get prepared ahead of time for what might come. How? By relying on facts and data – it keeps the emotion out of the response and helps quickly shut down any debate;

– Carefully reminding employees that what they post on social media could have consequences. This is always true, but especially today;

– Beefing up social and traditional media monitoring to know instantly if trouble is brewing;

– And staying true to your brand and values. While it’s never advisable to stick your neck out, sometimes it’s unavoidable. When you do, know your audience, and be sure you’re speaking directly to them. We saw this vividly with the companies who communicated directly with their global employees about immigration, travel policies and more. Without wading directly into the fight, they focused on the audience who truly mattered – their workforces.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with us at

The Changing Media Landscape

Will the power of social media cause politicians, businesses and other newsmakers to skip over traditional “mainstream” media all together? We doubt it, but its influence is growing by the day, if not the minute. Consider a few recent developments out of our nation’s capit0l:

Skype Logo- The White House now has four “Skype Seats” at official briefings for reporters who either could not travel to Washington, D.C. or who typically aren’t among the traditional favorites. Hints are already being made that they may start taking questions from those not physically in the briefing room, as well.

– During the Senate debate over Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination for Attorney General, Senator Elizabeth Warren received a late-night rebuke for violating Senate rules. The infraction was reading a letter critical of Sen. Sessions by Coretta Scott King. Not to be silenced, Sen. Warren took to Facebook Live and finished reading the letter there instead. Politics and parliamentary procedure aside, had she been allowed to continue in the Senate, her audience would have been those who were awake and watching C-Span at that very moment. Yet by taking it to Facebook Live, she reached 12 million people in a near flash.

– Some White House reporters are fearing that President Trump’s use of Twitter will result in less access and influence, as he chooses to bypass the media regularly, instead taking his message directly to his followers.

At the same time that businesses need smart social strategies to build and protect their reputations, they should not neglect traditional media. With all the talk of “fake news” some consumers are actually returning to more traditional news outlets.


Industry News

Is Virtual Reality Technology the Future of PR?
With the growing popularity of virtual reality technology, PR Week took a look at the challenges and opportunities for using virtual reality technology as a product branding tool.

Snapchat LogoSnapchat Joins Battle to Quash “Fake News”
With its initial public offering approaching, Snapchat recently updated its publishing guidelines to cut down on users sharing fake or risque content. Learn more about this update and how it affects brands using Snapchat to connect with Millennials.


Client News

VF Corporation Featured on the Cover of Supply and Demand Chain ExecutiveVF Corporation Logo
VF Corporation, the parent company of iconic consumer brands such as The North Face and Wrangler, was the focus of a Supply and Demand Chain Executive cover story about changes the company is making to responsibly source raw materials, ensure supplier safety and improve quality of life for workers.

Heidrick and Struggles’ Annual Board Monitor Report Featured in Forbes
Heidrick & Struggles’ latest Board Monitor report found that “progress for Hispanic, African-Americans and Asian representation on boards has stalled in recent years. Board diversity is still unusual in a Fortune 500 boardroom.”

Von Maur LogoNew Von Maur Location Showcased in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Von Maur, a Reputation Partners client since 2003, is opening its first store in Wisconsin this spring.


RP News

Firm President Nick Kalm Presents to Chicago Bar Association
Reputation Partners Founder and President Nick Kalm gave a presentation to the Chicago Bar Association about issues and crisis management. He focused on crises within the food industry, specifically how companies have handled regulators, the press and the public during a foodborne illness crisis.

EVP and Milwaukee Office Leader Megan Hakes Weighs in on PR Pros and Cons of Hosting a President
Reputation Partners co-founder, executive vice president and head of the firm’s Milwaukee office, Megan Hakes, was quoted in a recent Milwaukee Business Journal article on what’s at stake for companies who host or decline a presidential visit. “Showing a public-private allegiance to fighting a universal cause (such as fighting opioid addiction) is worth considering, but you have to do so with caution and appreciation for the broader current dialogue,” she said. “If you really want to talk about manufacturing, yet the world is fighting over immigration policies, you’ll become nothing more than a backdrop for an issue you never signed up for.”

Chelsea Katz Promoted to Account Coordinator
Chelsea Katz Reputation PartnersChelsea Katz has been promoted from intern to account coordinator in the Reputation Partners’ Chicago office. Chelsea earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from Indiana University and previously held internships at the Bloomington Independent Restaurant Association, PKPR and The Wriglesworth Consultancy in London.



November 2016 Reputation Roundup

Industry News

Could Reddit be a Future PR Tool
Reddit has become a go-to source for journalists looking to discover news topics, gauge public sentiment and identify sources. Click here to read a recent piece from PR Week discussing why Reddit is a tool PR professionals should not ignore.

Measurement is KeyMeasurement is Key
The public relations industry has long struggled with how to objectively measure and report on progress. The Barcelona Principles, voluntary guidelines on measuring and evaluating PR campaigns, could be one solution, but adoption will take time. The bottom line – just like any business function, communication initiatives need to be clearly defined, measured and reported.


Sustainability and CSR Communications Corner

CSR_SustainabilityIn this issue, we’re featuring our Sustainability & CSR Communications practice, which advises clients on communicating their environmental and social goals and performance. Today, companies of all sizes across varied industries are expected to report on sustainability in some form. According to the Governance & Accountability Institute, a corporate governance, risk management and corporate sustainability and responsibility research and consulting firm, sustainability reporting at S&P 500 Index companies rose from just 20% in 2011 to 81% of companies in 2015.

Most importantly, smart companies no longer view sustainability or corporate social responsibility (CSR) as simply a peripheral “feel good” exercise. Instead, it drives business results:

- Sustainability adds shareholder value: According to a 2015 MIT Sloan Management Review/Boston Consulting Group survey, 75% of investors believe that sustainability creates tangible value, including improved revenue performance and operational efficiency.

- Sustainability drives sales: 66% of global respondents to a 2016 Nielsen survey indicate they are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, up from 55% in 2014 (and 50% in 2013). The 2015 Conscious Consumer Spending Index found that 64% of Americans confirmed the importance of buying from socially responsible companies, up from 60% in 2013.

- Sustainability attracts talent: Companies with strong sustainability programs had 55% better morale, 43% more efficient business processes, 43% stronger public image, and 38% better employee loyalty than companies with poor programs, according to a Society for Human Resources Management study. Also, 40+% of job seekers read a company’s sustainability report when considering employment, according to a Global Reporting Initiative study.


Client News

EY Connect Day Features Gold Medalist Alum
Every year, Ernst & Young holds a company-wide service day known as EY Connect Day. EY’s Minneapolis office held a special kickoff event that featured EY alumna and Olympic triathlon gold medalist, Gwen Jorgensen. Reputation Partners secured media coverage of the event, including a feature in Mpls. St. Paul Magazine.

SafeHouseSafeHouse Turns 50
In October, Milwaukee’s iconic SafeHouse Restaurant and Bar celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Click here to see undercover footage of the event obtained by “agents” from FOX 6 WITI-TV.

Heidrick & Struggles Featured in The Wall Street Journal
Heidrick & Struggles, an executive search and leadership firm, shared some insights into the dual, and sometimes dueling, roles of Chief Information Officers and Chief Digital Officers with The Wall Street Journal.

MSOMilwaukee Symphony Orchestra Plays for the Packers
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra took a trip to Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, to play the National Anthem, the halftime show and a surprise flash mob rendition of “Sweet Caroline.” Check out the full coverage from the Milwaukee Business Journal here.


RP News

RP BirthdayReputation Partners Turns 14
October 9, 2016 marked the 14th anniversary of the founding of Reputation Partners. Co-founders Nick Kalm, Jane Devron and Megan Hakes are grateful to every employee, client, referral source, partner and friend of the firm for their years of support.

Firm President Nick Kalm Featured in Fast Company
Reputation Partners’ Founder and President Nick Kalm was featured in a Fast Company article on how to answer difficult questions. His key piece of advice: bridge from a difficult question to your key messages.

RP Discusses Crisis Communication with Healthcare Leaders
Reputation Partners Executive Vice President Jane Devron and Account Director Lisa Soard presented on managing crisis communications for hospitals and health networks at the Illinois Society for Healthcare Marketing & PR Annual Conference. Key points included: having an actionable plan, taking responsibility, showing compassion, balancing legal and reputational risk, and investing in reputation-building initiatives.



September 2016 Reputation Roundup

Industry News

Social Media Overtakes Television as Main Source of News
According to research from The Oxford University Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, social media is now the main source of news for adults 18-24. The study shows Facebook is the platform most used to read and share news, followed by YouTube, WhatsApp and Twitter. Click here to read an article from AdWeek about the study.

Industry News - PR - Reputation RoundUp13 Truths about PR
According to Ragan’s  PR Daily, while PR professionals must constantly evolve to successfully navigate new challenges, some truths about PR will always remain constant, including: programs must be business-based, effective stories engage a reader and a focus on client reputation. Click here to read the entire list.


Labor Relations Corner

Our Labor Communications practice offers experience-based counsel surrounding complex labor scenarios, ranging from organizing drives and union elections to contract negotiations and strikes.

- Reputation Partners President Nick Kalm and Senior Vice President Courtney Harper co-authored a piece for University Business Magazine on how strategic communication efforts can help defuse campus unionizing campaigns. Click here for the full article.

– A recent ruling from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) gives graduate students who teach or conduct research at private institutions the right to unionize and bargain collectively. The ruling and potential effect it will have on the labor movement is discussed in a Crain’s Chicago Business article. Click here to read the full piece.

– An article from HR Professionals discusses the impact the 2016 election could have on employers, including potential changes to the NLRB, minimum wage requirements and best practices in paid family leave. Read the full piece here.


Client News

EY Logo - Reputation RoundUpEY Celebrates Midwest Entrepreneurs
In late June, RP colleagues Katie Doan, Lisa Soard and Courtney Harper attended Ernst and Young‘s (EY) Midwest Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards. RP helped EY publicize the inspiring stories of the finalists and managed EY’s digital presence during the event. Winners included:


Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Opens New Milwaukee Clinic
RP planned a community open house for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s new Midtown Clinic in Milwaukee, which provides primary, dental and mental health care to an area with few pediatricians. Local politicians and community leaders joined Children’s Hospital to celebrate this valuable community resource.

ELS - USA Today - Reputation RoundUpEquity Lifestyle Properties Featured in USA Today
Our Equity LifeStyle Properties team secured Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort a spot on USA Today’s list of top places for a summer family adventure! Click here to see the article.


RP NewsWrigley RP - Reputation RoundUp

The Cubs Welcome RP to Wrigley Field
The Reputation Partners team took an afternoon off in July for a summer outing. The day began with a visit to Wrigley Field to watch the Chicago Cubs win, followed by a visit to some of the restaurants in the area to celebrate the continued success of the firm.


RP President Nick Kalm Part of Political Roundtable  Discussion
RP Founder and President Nick Kalm was a featured guest on the nationally-syndicated weekly radio show, “Beyond the Beltway” with Bruce DuMont discussing the current political landscape. Watch the full program here.


RP Team Continues to Grow
Our team continues to grow as we recruit talented new members to our team and reward the accomplishments and hard work of our loyal employees:

  • Lynn Sheka has been promoted to vice president in our Milwaukee office
  • Katie Doan has been promoted to senior associate in our Chicago office
  • RJ Bruce has been promoted to account coordinator in our Chicago office
  • Weston Banker has been promoted to account coordinator in our Milwaukee office
  • Chelsea Katz joined the Chicago office as an intern

June 2016 Reputation Roundup

Industry News

Industry News - Media - Reputation RoundUpLocal News is Still Important to Consumers
Consumers are growing tired of the oversaturation of ads about the newest or coolest tech product. Because of this, brands are turning to earned media to establish credibility and leadership in the technology industry. But, knowing which types of earned media consumers listen to most is key. In a recent Harris poll, consumers indicated they trust local TV news and websites more than outlets like The New York Times when it comes to which brands are leading in the tech industry. Read the full Forbes article here.

Corporate Reporting Too Short-term Focused
A KPMG report found that companies primarily use short-term financial objectives in their performance reporting and risk assessments. According to the report, 44 percent of businesses don’t look beyond short-term initiatives when talking about strategy, only nine percent provide a five-year track record of operational performance and a mere 11 percent report how a company’s risk profile has been managed over time. Read the full article here.

Pew Research Center Reveals “State of the News Media”
As consumers increasingly read news on their mobile devices, newspapers continue to see a decrease in subscriptions and ad revenue. These decreases have resulted in lower employment rates at news outlets and the shuttering of multiple newsrooms, making the earned media landscape more competitive than ever. Click here to read the full article.


Industry News - Social - Reputation RoundUpSocial Media Corner

Welcome to our social media corner, where you can learn about the latest trends and best practices in social media.

- Short videos are becoming an increasingly popular source of content. Here are five tips to optimize your video content and increase consumer engagement.

– Photos, GIFs and videos will no longer count in Twitter’s 140-character limit. Read a New York Times article detailing why the social media titan made the switch.

– Snapchat’s new “Snapchat Partners” feature allows marketers to connect with third-party developers to create ads for their products on the app. Click here to learn more about how brands are using Snapchat.


Client News

Ernst & Young Paves The Way In Parental Leave
EY’s new parental leave policy gives both parents 16 weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. The Reputation Partners team helped EY share this exciting news with the Chicago Tribune. Read the full story here.

Heidel House - Today - Reputation RoundUpTop Summer Getaway: Heidel House Resort & Spa
Summer travel is here! The Reputation Partners team helped our client, Marcus Hotels & Resorts, position its premier properties to local and national media outlets across the United States. “The Today Show” featured The Heidel House, a popular resort in Green Lake, Wisconsin. Click here to watch the full segment.


RP News

Vollrath Associates Receives Award of DistinctionVollrath PRSA Award - Reputation Roundup
Our new colleagues from Vollrath Associates (acquired by Reputation Partners in May 2016) won a Public Relations Society of America – Southeastern Wisconsin chapter Paragon Award for their work on the USS Milwaukee Commissioning.  The Vollrath Associates team led the public relations and marketing efforts of the USS Milwaukee Commissioning leading up to the November 21, 2015 ceremony. The team assisted in video production as well as media relations, and generating media interest and buzz leading up to the Commissioning.

For more information on the USS Milwaukee Commissioning, visit: