Peak Communicators
February 27, 2015

Sweating for the Wrong Reasons

Fans devoted to hot yoga typically embrace the heat, but in recent days Bikram’s founder Bikram Choudhury is sweating for a different reason. The famed guru is currently facing six U.S. civil lawsuits for rape or sexual assault. The latest legal case has been filed by a Vancouver woman who claims Choudhury sexually assaulted her while she was yoga training and working with him.

When a negative allegation is made, even if it’s eventually unproven or dismissed like in the case of John Furlong, the damage is done.  It takes years to build up a brand, but only seconds to have it shattered by slander or harmful rumours. There is much at stake for the reputation of Choudhury’s trademarked empire. With 650 yoga studios around the world including 29 in B.C., a breach of trust will have a detrimental impact on Choudhury along with the businesses that spent years building their individual success upon the multimillionaire’s personal brand.

This is where crisis management communications comes into play. Peak Partner Alyn Edwards was recently interviewed on CBC News to discuss what local Bikram franchises can do to confront the current reputation crisis. He also looks at the dangers of why it’s precarious to build a brand around a single person’s name. Unless you have an irreproachable reputation, it’s impossible to escape the burden of risk. Watch Alyn’s interview below for expert PR tips on what brands can do to mitigate the impact of a crisis. *Hint – it starts with having positive key messages and sticking to them.

Tags: , , , ,

February 24, 2015

Peak a Finalist in 2014 Ragan PR Awards

For the second year in a row, we’ve been named as a finalist for the best health/fitness program in Ragan’s 2014 Employee Communications Awards!

The International Ragan Communicationsawards accept entries from across the globe. From an abundance of top-tier entries, Peak’s was chosen by the judges to be one of six finalists. Ragan-PR-Awards

For that reason, we’re proud to even be recognized. The award winners are to be announced in late March – consider our fingers crossed until then (all positive vibes appreciated)!

As proud as we are about being chosen as a finalist, it’s the actual program itself that we want to boast about.

Health and fitness is a huge priority here at Peak. Maybe it’s due to the fact that most of us are natural fitness fanatics and health enthusiasts… or the company breeds them – either way, keeping fit is a huge part of our daily culture.

Why workplace fitness?

Speaking as one of those fitness fanatics, incorporating daily fitness and overall wellness is essential to productivity and contentment in the workplace. It’s one of those ‘oh I know it’s important, but I don’t have time’ components that unfortunately aren’t made to be a priority for many companies. But, for those companies who do, and especially those who incorporate health and wellness as part of their culture, they reap many benefits.

Here are a few:

  • Healthy employees will be more productive and cost employers less in absenteeism and sickness costs (reference: The Globe and Mail).
  • Fitness encourages group participation which helps employees build relationships with one another. A more connected team results in a more productive one.
  • Employees participating in health programs are three times more likely to be engaged in and satisfied with their jobs (reference: a 2013 Keas employee happiness study).
  • Fitness helps reduce stress and mental-health related issues in the workplace.

Worried about the cost-benefit for increasing health and fitness programs for your employees? Check out this article on 11 low-cost ways to keep your team healthyfrom (now you have no excuse).

Whether you have fun fitness challenges at work, provide your employees with gym passes or have an employee health plan, you are making your employees happy and healthy and cutting costs related to your bottom line – sounds like a healthy business model to me.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

February 13, 2015

Don’t Scoop Yourself

When it comes to releasing your news, timing and distribution channels are everything. Not heeding them could lead to disastrous communications consequences.

To understand why, you need to know how journalists think and what they’re looking for.

Get internal buy-in

Before you release your story to media, make sure everyone in your organization is OK with it, that it is factually correct, that all stakeholders have been informed when it will be released, and that spokespeople are willing and ready to comment on it.

It’s a nightmare to “take back” a story once it’s been published. So make sure everyone in your organization is ready.

Share it with all media at once

Every journalist wants to be the first one to share a story with the public. Don’t expect journalists to cover a story that has already been covered one or more days earlier by another media outlet. By then it’s old news.

To guard against being old news, make sure you share your story with everyone at once, rather than sending it to one media outlet one day and another the next.

If you want further coverage days later, you’re going to have to add to the story by pitching a new angle and/or releasing new information.

Consider the “news cycle”

If you can choose a time to release your story, tell media about it on a day and at a time when they’re looking for stories.

  • 9:00 a.m. on a Tuesday = good. Journalists have just sat down at their desks and are looking to see what’s going on that day for them to cover.
  • 4:00 p.m. on a Friday = bad. Journalists have already nailed down what they’re going to cover that day. Most have already done their interviews and created their stories. They’re ready for the weekend.
  • On a date when you know other news will be happening (e.g. election day) = bad.

These are the general trends. That said, media will always pick up a great story, and different media outlets have different news cycles.

Have your resources ready to share

If media decide to cover the story, they are going to be on deadline. And if they’re on deadline, so are you.

With little turnaround time, media could ask for any or all of:

  • Relevant photos and captions, including correct spellings of names, dates and locations for the photos
  • Interviews with spokespeople by phone or in person
  • Further factual information
  • Samples / site visits / concrete examples relevant to your story

Make sure you have your resources internally approved and ready to go so you can provide them easily and quickly.

Timing is everything.

Tags: , , , ,

February 4, 2015

Who is Representing Your Message? The Impact of the Right Spokesperson

Having the right spokesperson can really make or break your story, your cause, and in some cases, your company. It’s crucial to think about who is representing your brand to make sure the messaging is clear, concise and powerful.


Last week, I was reminded of just how important the right spokesperson can be.  I was working with the Alzheimer’s Society of British Columbia (ASBC) on media relations surrounding the city of New Westminster becoming the first in B.C. to train its councilors to be ‘Dementia-Friends’. This training session is part of a larger initiative aimed at helping communities develop the skills necessary to properly support those living with dementia.  To start the training session, Maria Howard, CEO of ASBC introduced the society and its role in creating dementia-friendly communities. She then turned the floor over to Jim Mann – a past member of the ASBC Board of Directors. Jim was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007 at the age of 58, and has since grown to become a tireless advocate for dementia through awareness, education, and stigma reduction. Jim shared some of his experiences with dementia to an extremely engaged, emotional audience:

Alzheimers_Brain“Now, eight years after living with Alzheimer’s I have come to realize I have good days and I have bad days. I suppose the same can be said for all of us, except when I have a good day it means I get to exercise my independence, and when I have a bad day, when my mind is too muddled to do much on my own, it means I need support,” he said. “For those around us, this is an ever changing landscape of eggshells.”

The Mayor, along with every city councilor, spoke to the impact of Jim speaking after the training session was complete. Jim was able to connect with the audience because it was authentic – he was sharing his personal experience, and it was easy for everyone to relate to.

The messaging for the Alzheimer’s Society was clear: dementia is something that affects us all, and it’s also something that  communities can support to lessen the challenges surrounding this disease. With personal stories about his own struggles  with dementia, Jim Mann had a profound impact on the audience – I can guarantee everyone left feeling inspired to pass on  the messages of the Alzheimer’s Society to their own networks, which is exactly what you want a spokesperson to do.


Tags: , , , ,