Stephanie Johnson

Stephanie Johnson

These are my thoughts about online marketing and industry practices, both good and bad, to help you understand the importance of controlling your image in today’s media-rich online environment.

You can also find me on

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 10:27

Media relations a la Lorde

Online gossip forums could have been all over New Zealand singing sensation Lorde today.

Instead, they're cavorting all over the reputation of an Australian radio shock jock who hinted to Lorde her relationship with country superstar Taylor Swift might be sapphic.

Lorde wanted nothing to do with The Kyle and Jackie Show DJ's inane questioning (although it was hardly surprising, considering the source). She neither deflected nor changed the topic, as most lame media-relations consultants would advise. She shot back in an intelligent, non-snarky fashion that indirectly impugned the guy's credibility.

Read the whole exchange here, courtesy of a brilliantly worded Jezebel piece.

Or enjoy a sampling here:

"I see your guys' pictures everywhere. As you guys, like together now? Not together as in lesbians...I'm not talking about 'Ellen together.' I'm talking about, like, you guys are friendly, right?"

"What do you mean you're not talking about 'Ellen together?' Is there something wrong with lesbians? Is that what you're trying to say?"

In media relations, it's all about protecting the brand. Carefully choosing your words to answer a reporter's questions the right way, the brand way. Refusing to rise to the bait while making your own salient point. 

Lorde certainly protected her brand, which is herself. But she refused to pander or get caught up in the eclectic studio moment. Instead, she stood her ground and answered the question sagely. Calmly. Directly.

PR experts talk about the chatter and clutter in today's "24/7 media environment." A lot of that chatter comes from corporate executives and first-responder minions taught - at a lot of expense - how to choose their words carefully and answer the 'company way.'  Small wonder most employees thrown to media wolves are terrified by the possibility their responses will reverberate in company headquarters.

Too bad there's no room for intelligence in media-training programs. Lorde's celebrated but widely respected in today's news for standing her ground in a most-credible fashion. 

Sometimes it's difficult to predict who will actually perform with grace under the withering fire of a media barrage. Chances are good, though, if you rely on employees who aren't yes-people, people with a little gravitas, those with steady intelligence like Lorde's you will pull through just fine. Especially if you don't terrorize them with the 'right' way to answer questions. Let common sense prevail.

Don't scatter media-relations types to the wind in a crisis. Find the field personnel and frontline managers who won't wither because innately, they command respect from reporters.

No wonder the so-called Swifty likes her new friend. Lorde's a reliable and credible source who can't be flustered. At age 17.

Monday, 10 March 2014 16:11

Top social-media quotes #SXSW

Pithy quotes about social media flow from the mouths of marketing experts #SXSW 2014 in Austin. You can read the entire article or just share my great delight at some of the more-colorful jibes to corporate America: 

"We are in an era of content pollution. We need to go beyond the world of filling the world with shit content and step back and listen to people and see what we're really doing to them out there."

"Curating and sharing something meaningful, driving participation - that's where we need to go. Once we stopped shouting and started creating targeted, meaningful communication, we saw a 400 percent increase in engagement."

- Andrew Bowins, senior vice president External Communications, MasterCard

"Company culture is the hardest part of the puzzle. After that it is just policy and procedures and that is pretty easy to solve."

"Getting buy-in for social from the C-suite is usually not so difficult. It is the next level of management who present the biggest challenge to enterprise social media. They are actually responsible for the human resources to get the job done."

- Natanya Anderson, social media coordinator, Whole Foods

"If you have the leadership team be social, it will set an example for others. It can't flow from the ground up. To get the middle managers involved, it has to be demonstrated from the top."

- Mike Stenberg, vice president Web & Infrastructure, Siemens



Monday, 10 March 2014 09:03

Tweeting "the truth"

Clients wait with baited breath to see "what the reporter's going to write." Too bad, because the tweet's the story now. Fail to follow Twitter at your own risk. Take this example, from today's UK Guardian (New York Times for Brits): "Oscar Pistorius Trial: Day Six in Tweets"

Yes, the accompanying article about how the great former athlete vomited in trial seems more sensational. It's not. Compare the tweets to the article cloaked in so-called third-party objectivity. They're much-more interpretative and spontaneous than the impeccably drafted, proofed, and copy-edited story.

At the moment, our clients are safely removed from Oscar drama. Yet we all can take a lesson from what Twitter bodes for the next crisis or ill-advised press release. Reporters have much greater editorial latitude in Tweets. How will your next event play out in Tweets? Stage-manage carefully!

Monday, 17 February 2014 12:04

I still prefer Muckrack

We'll see, I've loved you greatly over the years, but every time I issue a release-to-wire I only hear from my colleagues. You're not exactly of great service to smaller practicioners trying to reach regional reporters.'s still my favorite. Guess this one's up to the reporters! Good luck with Beyond Bylines!

Saturday, 15 February 2014 10:39

Really, Getty Images?

My sentiments, exactly. Dreamstime has better - and, much cheaper - "feminist" images. 

Monday, 10 February 2014 14:11

Flappy bird guy's not-so-flappy strategy

You have to admire his branding strategy.

Monday, 10 February 2014 14:02

Relax, Starbucks

What's the big deal? Dumb Starbucks is only art. Like your brand - it's all about the art of getting dumb consumers like me to drive for coffee.

We'll watch carefully to see if parody is protected speech that circumvents branding laws.

Monday, 10 February 2014 13:42

Yelp gets searchable

Name two online media giants whose names begin with 'Y' and whose combined clout could sink your small business.

Online portal Yahoo on Friday announced it will partner with Yelp to make online listing and reviews searchable.

We rep PapaMo's Deli, a small Heights eatery already on the frontline of social-media wars. Like many restaurants, they find business lives and dies on single customer reviews. They're vigilant about following up on negative reviews and ply the Facebook wars daily. Also, they talk to their customers regularly via newsletter on Constant Contact, an excellent free- to low-cost service.

(Note: PapaMo's is the ONLY exception LieberJohnson makes to the tradeouts rule! Such is the singular delight of their Reuben and meat-free potato salad.)

LieberJohnson did not build their website - a WordPress site that's difficult to update with slides and menu changes. We only recommend Joomla sites. Still, it's a nice site that conveys a homey, 'we're here for you' vibe that synchs with the public faces of New Yorker Joan Kofteci and her Turkish co-owner, Ramo Kofteci.

Websites already are searchable. As our landing page proclaims - you're awesome, and your online presence should be, too. You may not always be able to control your customer reviews, but you can mitigate them with a solid, well-designed site that's larded with content that makes your customers hungry for more.

All due diligence happens on the web, these days. Make your site the comforting, inviting yet intriguing presence you need to keep stakeholders whose pithy reviews soon will compete with your online je ne sais quoi.



Monday, 10 February 2014 13:20

Welcome Intercept

Okay, so it's ugly. We can't recommend it, design-wise. But Intercept staunchly defends freedom of speech, a principle we strongly believe in despite our agency focus on credible transparency.

Disclaimer: The Intercept is published by Glenn Greenwald, among others whose "central mission is to hold the most powerful governmental and corporate factions accountable, and to do so, we will report on a wide and varied range of issues." 

As traditional media continues to splinter into blogs and online watchdog groups, it's nice to know some very hardcore and aggressive journalists are stepping into the vacuum. With the New York Times' editorial page headed toward mind-numbing oblivion a la Thomas Friedman, it's with great relief we note other media lights are sharpening their keyboards.

Thursday, 06 February 2014 13:37

Why we write safety articles

Which is worse?

The fact that every employee with a cell phone can capture and publicly post these types of images - thereby negating your company's safety policy?

Or, the fact your safety policy is so little unpublicized or understood that employees makes mistakes like these?

Either way, it's an embarrassing situation we can help you rectify. LieberJohnson strategizes and develops hard-hitting, safety content-management programs for internal communications venues like the intranet and employee newsletters. Our stories and images guarantee safety compliance.