Behind the Headlines 2016: A Year in Review

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This year, I got to join the staff writing the Behind the Headlines segment and began brushing shoulders (or exchanging emails) with some of the biggest influencers, movers and shakers of the journalism and PR industries.

Looking back on the 2016 segment gives us a snapshot of thought processes, lessons, and insights from a variety of journalists, VP of Communications, PR professionals, communications directors and more. Each person provided a unique story, advice and important lessons — if you haven’t checked them out yet, I encourage you to do so here!

It was hard to pick a top ten, as we spoke with a vast number of insightful and successful individuals. But, I did my best. What would your top ten be?

Below are some of the biggest themes and my favorite quotations from this year!


  1. “Personalize Pitches”  – Adriana Stan

    This might have been the biggest theme from 2016 interviews — if you want a journalist to respond to your PR pitches, you need to explain why the news is important and relevant. Understand the person, their interests, their past coverage and be strategic and selective when you choose what to pitch and when.

  2. “Never assume you have all the answers” – Nick Gourevitch

    As soon as you start presuming you have every answer, you start failing your clients, consumers and audiences. Bring your unique perspective so that you can ask the right questions and best interpret those answers. Always be curious.

  3. “Engage with external communicators” – Jeff Monford

    With so much content and noise, a brand is well served by engaging with others – – credible experts, consumers, and more. Utilize paid, earned and owned media strategically to project your voice in the marketplace.

  4. “The most important element to handling a communication crisis successfully is the preparation phase”  – Travis Bullard

    Crisis situations are inevitable and always seem to pop up when you least expect it. This year, we were reminded that investing time and resources into preparation for that moment allows you to be in the most effective position to quickly and properly respond .

  5. “Words Matter” – Caroline Michaud

    When working in a global marketplace, every word you use must be intentionally crafted for the specific audience, platform and culture. As communicators, we all take language seriously, but sometimes we need the simple reminder that every single word makes a difference.


  6. “Alignment and consistency are necessary for successful communication strategies” – Shannon Bell

    We’ve asked around for the key features of a successful communication strategy and time and time again we’ve heard the same two words: alignment and consistency. The messages need to be consistent across the company’s channels and they need to align with the business strategy and mission.

  7. “Constantly up your game” – Lynda Fernandez

    Technology and communication tools are constantly changing, with consumers finding themselves bombarded by information on every side. To stay relevant, you have to always be thinking a few steps ahead and be ready to catch every new trend.

  8. “Take risks and be bold” – Dayna Calkins

    As someone new to the industry, I was always asking and looking for advice from those who have been successful. The biggest takeaways: be a sponge, constantly learn, take risks, be present, be a problem solver, take initiative, and find ways to make yourself indispensable.

  9. “Social media has both made PR easier and significantly more difficult” – Cheryl Byrne

    Social media has transformed (and will continue to transform) PR and the ways we communicate, likely in unpredictable and unprecedented ways. Create a presence that is informed, authentic, and engaged.

  10. “Any campaign should support a universal human truth” – Rachel Madden Johnson

    It’s one of the cornerstones of storytelling, and it’s true whether you’re a journalist looking for a story or a PR professional looking for a new angle: it should always go back to some universal human truth. This makes a story relevant, evokes emotions, and helps an audience connect, care and eventually be motivated to action.

Cheers to lessons learned and another full year of lessons, insights, and growth ahead!


Images via Pixabay: 1 , 2, 3

About Julia Rabin

Julia Rabin is a former Media Researcher for Cision. With a background in organizational communications, public speaking and international relations, she has a passion for social justice advocacy and loves keeping up to date with the latest global news. In her free time, you will find Julia traveling, playing with puppies, baking dairy free treats or reading.

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