Special Report: Communicating in the Current Climate

In a few short months, those of us in marketing and public relations have been tasked with stewarding brand stories in the midst of—dare we say it—unprecedented times. 

Until recently, avoiding controversy was the name of the game in marketing. Stay above the fray. Maintain a positive focus. Keep going. 

But the rules have changed.

Brands and organizations are addressing the layered complexities of racial injustice. For some brands, avoiding the subject is perhaps the riskiest thing to do; for others, internal responses and intentionality is proving to be the bonded trust with your teams and stakeholders.

While every response has its nuances and every brand must approach these topics in a way that best suits its unique context, our See.Spark.Go team has determined overarching best practices, common pitfalls and key terms to keep in mind when communicating in this season and beyond, as well as best-in-class brand responses across multiple sectors.


This is uncharted territory for many of us, but you don’t have to chart the course alone. We are committed to continued research, vigilant monitoring and measured action as we help tell our clients’ stories. At minimum, our work over the past few months has helped us chart courses for the short-term. We believe it also has given us experience and tools that we will use far into the future. 

Click here to discuss your brand’s communications strategy.

Media Monitoring: Thor Industries

As public relations professionals, we’re strong believers that monitoring the news is just as important as pitching story ideas to reporters. Staying up to date on the latest in the media is essential to understanding a client’s industry and audience. This deeper understanding not only leads to creating more authentic content that resonates with a client’s audience, but it also allows for genuine connections with real people on behalf of the brand. 

This is particularly true for our client THOR Industries, one of the largest RV manufacturers in the world and parent company to 17 subsidiary RV brands. Each day, our team combs through hundreds of print, online and broadcast news clips and social media posts that mention THOR Industries, any of its subsidiaries or any of the subsidiaries’ specific brands. We then compile a roundup of news and social media highlights and email it to the THOR Industries team.

This daily news and social media report (yes, the daily part is important) serves two critical purposes:

  1. It allows the THOR Industries team to quickly and easily see the most important news and social media posts from the day.
  2. It keeps our team up to speed on the ins and outs of the RV industry. As mentioned, with this fuller understanding of the RV world, we’re able to create content and engage with THOR Industries’ audience from an insider’s perspective, rather than outsiders looking in.

Did you know that by 2020, there will be 40 times more bytes of data than there are stars in the observable universe?! That’s a lot of data. In the age of information overload, how do we cut through the noise and find the media that matters most to our clients?

Luckily, there are several tools available to help. One of our favorites is your basic Google Alerts, which sends notifications via email whenever your preset keywords are mentioned online. For more robust news and social media monitoring and alerts, we use Meltwater and Cision. These platforms allow for more specific searches and insights on audience reach and other meaningful data points. We recommend using all three in tandem for news and social media monitoring so nothing slips through the cracks. 

These platforms pull in an astonishing amount of search results, so we narrow down these results using several filters, including Boolean search terms. This type of search allows users to combine keyword searches with “operators” like AND, NOT and OR to generate more specific search results. We use Boolean search terms with all the tools listed above, and they’re a major timesaver and relatively easy to learn. 

For example, in our searches for THOR Industries, we only want articles related to the RV industry and not the Marvel superhero. Our search using Boolean search terms might look like this: “THOR Industries” AND “RV” NOT (“Thor” AND (“Marvel” OR “Superhero”))

Make sense? If not, check out this Boolean beginners guide to get started. 

Now that you have all your search results in one place, how do you determine what news and social media posts to call out to your client? In our monitoring, we’re always on the hunt for relevant articles and social media posts from credible sources and that have a significant reach and quality content

You should also ask your client what types of articles they want to see! Do they care about investor news? Then keep an eye out for stock-related news about your client. What about community involvement? Look for news and social media posts about your client’s role in the community. 

Learning what is most important to your client takes time, and the more you monitor, the more you’ll understand the search results that are most relevant.

Happy monitoring!

Let Your Brand Lead Your Business

The COVID-19 world is bananas. There, I said it. 

Whether these strange times end up lasting a season or become our long-term norm, businesses that adapt effectively and efficiently to the new digital landscape have the best chance for sustained success and longevity. If you’re slow to adjust, you risk becoming irrelevant and may have a hard time catching up altogether. No matter your product or service, there are a few key things to remember in order to stay relevant and viable.

Position yourself as the answer
Business and individuals alike are looking for solutions to everyday problems, new and old. If you are a business, you likely exist because you answer a specific need. Now ask yourself: is your solution still relevant and is the problem still a problem? Re-evaluate your offerings, and get creative about what you call them. Rename them based on what your customers are looking for right now. There is new vocabulary popping up everyday related to Coronavirus and its effects. Additionally, expand your solutions. Launch that new offering you have been wondering about. Review your team’s talents and strengths to see if there are any unique services you can add to your catalog. People are asking questions, and you need to continue to be the answer.

Meet people where they are
Even as restrictions lift in some parts of the country, many people aren’t out and about right now. That means they aren’t seeing your billboards, or even hearing word-of-mouth referrals as much as they were 10 weeks ago. The vast majority of folks are spending more time online, more time streaming entertainment and more time with their families. That’s where you should be, too. Spend time on message boards, join social media conversations, serve ads on streaming services, reach out to your personal network. Get creative and meet your potential customers where they—just don’t forget to strike the right tone.

Stay ahead of trends (and start them if you can)
The digital world has always changed at a rapid pace. Not only keeping up with trends, but staying ahead of them will position you as the expert and ensure you are always doing the best work and providing the best results for your company and your customers. The ultimate goal here is to start a trend. Try something you’ve never seen before. Use your diverse knowledge to merge your expertise with something creative to make something new. See what others are doing and take it to a never-before-seen level. Have some fun and set a standard.

Commit to quality and consistency
At the end of the day, people are looking for quality and consistency. Know who you are, stay true to yourself and your mission and do everything with that in mind. If you make sure to do things consistently with the highest quality, you will create value for someone, somewhere. This will always be the case—now, and on the other side of this pandemic.

Ready to take control of your marketing strategy?

Listen Up: The Power of Media Monitoring

A holistic, strategic approach to public relations goes far beyond crafting a brand’s message and securing media placements. While establishing what to say and how, when and where to say it creates the framework for a PR strategy, effective PR also requires a deep understanding of how your brand is being perceived by your target media and target audience. This understanding elevates your ability to develop impactful campaigns, foster valuable media relationships and respond well to crises. 

At See.Spark.Go, we use a variety of platforms and processes to ensure we’re capturing every media mention for our clients, while also monitoring their competitors’ news and trends within their industries. We share media coverage updates in real-time, as well as in our weekly Media Feedback Reports, and we dive deeper into trends and analyses on a quarterly and annual basis. By keeping a pulse not just on our clients, but on the environments in which they exist, we’re able to create informed, yet agile strategies.

Here are just a few of the ways that ongoing, comprehensive media monitoring can take your PR strategy to the next level:

Relevant Pitches Get Read
Media monitoring allows PR pros to stay informed about their clients’ audiences, competitors and target media on an ongoing basis, making market research for a new product or campaign quick, easy and accurate. Identifying and understanding consumers’ general sentiment toward the industry, as well as similar products or services, is vital when considering how to best engage with journalists. 

Journalists want to write about topics that interest them and that will create value for their readers, viewers or listeners. It takes more time, but if you can articulate your client’s differentiators and/or how they relate to a current trend within the context of what each specific journalist covers, you’re far more likely to receive an interview request than if you blanket pitch a list without doing your research. Sending relevant pitches is the best way to build a relationship with a journalist, and you can only do that by keeping up with the whole industry’s happenings—not just those of your client.

Robust Reports Create Informed Strategies
Beyond staying attuned to industry trends and media, ongoing media monitoring also allows you to communicate the value of earned media and use that information to inform future strategies. You can track certain “vanity metrics” like ad equivalency and impressions; but the true value of earned media comes from factors like tone, positioning, message pull-through and audience demographics. It’s not enough to ask, “How many people did we reach?” Instead, you have to ask, “Were they the right people? What did we say to them? How were we positioned?” By taking a closer look at your coverage, you can better understand what’s working and what has the best chance of “moving the needle.” With more data points available to measure success, you can more easily identify high-performing strategies and replicate them moving forward.

More Context Means Fewer Crises
Last but certainly not least, being aware of your brand’s surroundings in all relevant spheres allows for preparedness. No one enjoys navigating a crisis, but it is important to be prepared if ever that moment comes so that your brand can respond rather than react to the situation. If you’ve routinely monitored the media content in your sphere, you’ll be equipped to efficiently and effectively craft a crisis response strategy because you understand your audience sentiment, your competitors’ positions and the greater context surrounding the industry. Plus, those great media relationships you’ve built as a result of your relevant pitches might allow you to mitigate having your crisis amplified in the media. Never underestimate the power of having journalists on your side! 

In today’s media landscape, there are more media channels to influence your brand’s image than ever before. Media monitoring lets you make the most of every opportunity by being proactive and prepared. The more touch points you have in place to track your media coverage, and the more data you have available to quantify it, the better your PR strategies will be. Knowing how your brand’s value proposition aligns with your media’s interests will allow you to conduct smart outreach and seed relatable messages, therefore elevating your brand as a whole.

Embracing the 90 Percent

The longer I live, the more we realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do…We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is attitude — I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

Chuck Swindoll

We are living in a world that looks drastically different than it did 30 days ago. Restaurants, gyms, bars and gathering places have closed their doors. Schools have gone virtual. Sporting and entertainment events have been cancelled. Parks, sidewalks, interstates and biking paths are vacant. Employees have been laid off. Families have filed for unemployment. Loved ones are suffering and healthcare workers are answering the call to serve in ways we’ve never seen before. We are staring into a long tunnel without an inkling of when we’ll see light at the end. 

These are facts. This is what has happened to all of us.

How have you reacted? How has your family, your community, your company reacted? We all have the power to choose how we respond to this current circumstance. 

At See.Spark.Go, we believe in the power of enthusiasm. Merriam-Webster defines enthusiasm as, “strong excitement of feeling; something inspiring zeal or fervor.” Not an idealistic, “Pollyanna” attitude, but seeing reality through a lens of grounded excitement for the day-to-day opportunity to do our work. 

SSGers choose to be hopeful in the face of adversity, believing that we either win or we learn — there is no losing. Now more than ever, an enthusiastic approach to client service means we take positive, intentional steps to provide high support in the moment, while also looking strategically toward the future. It means we see this time as an opportunity to grow, think outside the box and stretch our understanding of communications to support our clients’ needs. What does that look like in action?

  • Enthusiasm looks like pivoting a brick-and-mortar restaurant client’s social strategy to promote their local carry-out order service.
  • Enthusiasm means sharing how a national faith-based organization donated critical personal protective equipment to medical workers across the country.
  • Enthusiasm challenges us to explore how elementary school fun run activities could be reimagined virtually as the school year comes to an end.

Enthusiasm means looking past the current reality and continuing to plan expectantly for a bright future. 

What action have you taken to maintain an attitude of hope? Are you continuing to plan for the future? We know inertia can be hard to come by these days, so we’ve removed the guesswork for you. Let us help you navigate these uncertain times and maintain an attitude of enthusiasm in the months ahead.

The Impact of COVID on Brick and Mortar

It’s no surprise that brick-and-mortar businesses are among those hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Google Ads data suggests that in-store conversions tied to advertising were down 90% across the board for the last half of March compared to just a month prior. Restaurants and retail shops are feeling the negative impact and looking for ways to maintain business during this time — and ensure that they are ready to serve their customers once we are all on the other side of social distancing and shelter-in-place orders. Here are some of the best strategies we’ve seen.

Maintain communication with fans and customers
Let your loyal followers know you are still here. Through social media, email and other marketing channels, let them know what you are doing for them during this time and what you are doing for yourselves and your employees. This is a rare situation that is affecting everyone in some capacity, which also means that everybody has different levels of impact to their lives. So be authentic, sensitive and honest as you find a way to connect your brand to your customers and your customers to one another. Columbia Sportswear has done a great job of being open with their community and coming up with creative campaigns to maintain and connect their fans during this time.

Find new ways to do business
When your business loses its ability to serve people in person, an obvious solution is to send your customers what they want and need or to meet them where they are. For retail stores, this could mean increasing your e-commerce focus capabilities (or finally launching that e-commerce store that you have been meaning to set up). Many e-commerce platforms are offering special deals during the coronavirus pandemic—like Shopify, which is offering 90-day extended free trials—so make sure to take advantage of these deals. Additionally, restaurants are increasing their online functionality, expanding delivery options, highlighting pickup options and proactively sharing safety precautions being taken with their food. Local and nationwide delivery services are taking extra steps to support restaurants during this time as well, with reduced commission rates, increased marketing options and more.

Launch gift card campaigns
E-commerce and delivery options may not be as feasible for some as others, so another way to maintain cash flow right now is to offer gift cards (or bonds) to customers to be used at a later date. Loyal fans are looking for ways to support their favorite local businesses, and this is a great, mutually beneficial option. Companies across the country are promoting offers like “Buy a $100 gift card now and redeem for $120 when we open again!” From New York, to Atlanta, to Los Angeles, restaurants in particular are seeing success with this strategy, and you can too.

Case Study: Your Pie

2019 PR Results


Significant Mentions Based on Relevance + Impact


Impressions from Significant Placements


Media Value on Significant Placements


Media Coverage Featured Key Messaging




Since summer 2017, See.Spark.Go has supported national and local PR for Your Pie, a 70-location pizza franchise, founded in 2008 in Athens, Georgia.


See.Spark.Go’s experience includes managing all of Your Pie’s national and local press outreach—including brand milestones, store openings, menu innovation, executive profiles, thought leadership and franchise development—plus its FranDev email marketing and paid social strategies, and LinkedIn profiles for three of its top executives.


Since aligning with See.Spark.Go, Your Pie has opened more than 30 franchise locations and received coverage in national outlets including Forbes, USA Today, Thrillist, Franchise Times, Franchising Today, Franchising USA and more.

Case Study: uBreakiFix

2018 PR Results








For nearly four years, the See.Spark.Go account team has integrated itself into uBreakiFix, an electronics repair franchise with 500+ locations across North America and partnerships with industry giants like Google and Samsung.


See.Spark.Go manages all of uBreakiFix’s national and local press outreach, including brand milestones, partnership announcements, executive profiles, thought-leadership and franchise development, plus its FranDev email marketing strategy.


Since hiring See.Spark.Go in the fall of 2015, uBreakiFix has opened more than 400 stores and received coverage in national outlets including Forbes, Inc., CNBC, Digital Trends, TechCrunch, The Verge, Mashable, Consumer Reports and more.