When “Earned” Holds a Different Meaning

By Jessica Ross, Senior Media Specialist

As PR pros, we are aware the print news industry is struggling. Large layoffs, consolidation of smaller community papers, and dissolving of “softer” news beats increased in frequency throughout 2015. The Financial Times and The Las Vegas Review-Journal were sold to larger companies in an effort to salvage their papers, and recently instead of a corporate buy-out, we witnessed our very own Philadelphia Media Network donating The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com to a new nonprofit journalism institute owned by the Philadelphia Foundation. To the general public, a nonprofit holding ownership of a news entity may help ease the unrest regarding editorial ethics and bias that can come from a corporate buy-out, but we in the PR field can more clearly see how this may not be the case.

In a recent statement, former owner H. F. Lenfest detailed the new institute’s structure was to “provide philanthropic avenues to fund the company’s journalism,” meaning other foundations, corporations, and benefactors can give money to the institute to be used for specific reporting efforts and journalism projects, such as endowing an investigative-reporting team, supporting coverage of the city’s school system, etc.  Even though Lenfest claims that the institute has no power to influence editorial decisions, the question immediately arises of how true in practice this may be. Even in the most indirect way, cash flow can dictate the amount of staff available to each beat and therefore give an industry with more benefactor support an editorial advantage over other newspaper sections that don’t have the manpower to generate organic content.

With paid integration already on the rise in the PR industry, where a company pays to control editorial content it’s clear that the lines between earned and paid media channels are becoming increasingly blurred – a trend PR people should follow closely. By funding endowments to specific newspaper sections or projects, companies’ communications teams may be able to secure more media coverage than they would through a paid integration. It will be interesting to see how this influences Philadelphia news coverage, if other papers across the country take this approach as a financing solution, and if companies begin to use this in a strategic approach to media relations in the future.

What do you think? Should we as PR professionals capitalize on the ability to fund specific newspaper projects, or is this crossing an ethical line when it comes to earned editorial coverage?

Your Wish, Our Resolution

By: Liz Kane, Senior Account Executive

Whatever you prefer to call it – a fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning – the new year provides another 365 days to achieve goals. As 2015 came to a close, we asked our clients and industry contacts what their one PR wish would be for Tonic Life Communications to achieve in 2016. As a thank you for their efforts, Tonic made a charitable donation on their behalf to their choice of Philabundance or Heifer, doing our part to ensure families in Philadelphia and around the world had a happy holiday season.


While we certainly expected to gather a variety of results and interesting ideas, what we heard from our clients and partners was much more valuable: an array of actionable “to-dos” that will strengthen our proven expertise, expand upon our capabilities, help grow new business, and challenge Tonic in a way that can only excite a team of PR professionals. Responses received from @JanssenUS, @TevaUSA, @Sanofi, and @Pfizer included:

  • Create social media and digital communities
  • Grow brand support
  • Expand best practices across networks
  • Drive disease awareness
  • Develop award-winning programs to support client business goals

You may be asking yourself, how can one agency achieve all of this in one year? Well, with a network of highly accredited clients, a team of hardworking PR professionals, and creative strategy, Tonic’s successes in 2015 set the bar pretty high to accomplish all of the above and more in 2016.

Let’s take a look back at a few highlights from 2015!

Won Several Awards for a Public Service Campaign

Know Your Count:

  • Clio Healthcare Bronze Award – Public Relations, Disease Awareness Campaign
  • Hermes Award
  • Marcom Platinum Award – Public Relations
  • Marcom Honorable Mention – Public Service Announcement
  • Philadelphia Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Pepperpot Award – Public Service Announcement
  • PR News Agency Elite Award

Expanded Educational Campaigns with Celebrity Spokespeople

Get Your Full Course: In partnership with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), Get Your Full Course is an educational campaign developed by Janssen (client) to help people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) manage their disease through diet, nutrition, and appropriate therapy. Throughout 2015, Get Your Full Course and spokesperson Sunny Anderson embarked on a campaign tour hosting events in seven cities across the country.

Joint Decisions: An educational initiative developed by Janssen (client) in partnership with CreakyJoints to support and empower people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Joint Decisions offers resources for people with RA to learn to take a more active role in the management of their disease, and to seek more open, honest conversations with their healthcare team to improve physical and emotional well-being. In 2015, Joint Decisions teamed up with spokespeople Megan Park and Matt Iseman to raise awareness of RA, connect with patients across the country, and provide them with valuable tools. The team launched a Joint Decisions Facebook page and, with the help of several RA patient advocates participating in Joint Decisions events, got the #JointDecisions hashtag trending on Twitter.

Formed a Community of Online Influencers

IBD Social Circle: IBD Social Circle is a community of advocates – healthcare professionals, patients, and caregivers – who are dedicated to supporting and educating the IBD online community through sharing resources, personal stories, and thoughtful insights through a website and hashtags, #IBDSocialCircle and #IBDSC. In 2015, the IBD Social Circle hosted one web chat and three Twitter chats for the online IBD community, discussing topics such as dating and intimacy, choosing the right healthcare team, and preparing for surgery.

Armed with the capabilities and a can-do attitude, Tonic resolves to make 2016 even better than the last! How will you take on the New Year?

Contact us to kick things off! We’ll create a PR plan customized to fit your objectives @TonicLC Email or Phone: 215-928-2368


5 Ways to Maximize Workplace Productivity

By Katie Alberico, Account Executive

New year, new you – right? Everyone is back in the office and off to the races. Clients are eager to start activation, and if you’re like me, you are trying to make yourself as productive as possible while also staying awake (insert coffee emoji here).  Here are five ways to maximize your workplace productivity:

  1. Minimize Distractions. Living the simple life is always better when it comes to your desk and work environment. Clearing your desk of cluttered papers, notes and cups can help you have a fresh start before diving in, allowing you to focus only on the task at hand. Forget about those distracting notifications on your phone – turn on the Do Not Disturb feature and flip over your screen. Out of sight, out of mind.
  2. Make a To-Do List. As old-school as they are, to-do lists are a PR professional’s best friend. Everyone has their own style – most important items first or by date of delivery. I find using the notepad style post-it’s are perfect for me. I can keep it as a notepad, or peel it off and stick to my notebook as I’m bouncing from meeting to meeting, keeping each of my to-dos ever present in my mind.
  3. Delegation. Knowing when to seek help is an incredibly strong trait. Leaning on your team members during times of high volume is important (and it’s the reason you have a team)! If you are taking on too much with multiple pending deadlines, you may actually be hurting your team and yourself. Divide and conquer to keep things moving on-time and efficiently.
  4. Take a Break. If you’re go, go, go all the time, you will burn out! Treat yourself to a snack or read that article you saw earlier. Doing something other than work for a few minutes will actually help you focus on your tasks later on. Studies have shown that by sitting at a desk for 8-10 hours with minimal movement will actually make you more tired. Get up and move or take a moment to work from a standing desk if available.
  5. Prep for Tomorrow. At the end of the day, the last thing you want to do is more work, but taking a few minutes to plan for tomorrow will make a world of difference (see to-do list above). Recapping the day and evaluating what needs to be accomplished tomorrow is a great way to start off on the right foot the next day. It will also help you navigate the water if for some reason an unforeseen issue pops up first thing in the morning – we all know it happens.

We’d love to hear your tips on how to stay productive at work! Tweet us at @TonicLC or leave a comment below.

What’s to Come in 2016? PR Predictions for the New Year

By Brianna Rooney, Assistant Account Executive

As we all make resolutions for 2016 (mine includes writing more), we should also address what is on the horizon in the public relations industry and trends to look forward to in the new year.

While the recent CES conference kicked off the year with new technologies, it’s important that the PR industry acknowledges and embraces the digital shift for continued success. Here are three of our predicated PR trends for 2016:

  1. PeriscopePeriscope took off in 2015; we saw it all over Twitter – people filming everything from daily activities to major international events. We believe this year, it will be even more widely used and thus a more useful tool for the communications industry. While we unfortunately cannot attend every industry conference, live tweeting will continue to be popular and will be supplemented with Periscope. This way, we can hear the excitement of major announcements, take our own notes on new programs and enjoy the event as though we are there. Remember, this tool is free and continually adds new capabilities.
  2. Campaigns that Give Back – As a PR professional in the healthcare industry, it is easy to feel you are making a difference and knowing the work you are doing is meaningful, but this is not always true for all of PR. With more and more companies implementing a giving model or working with a partner non-profit, your everyday news will have much more competition for media. If you are doing the bare minimum, you need to step it up! In addition to your campaigns, how is your company giving back to the community and going above and beyond? Implement a mission to drive your agency, and let that be the force for your year.
  3. Offline Interactions – In today’s digital age, we PR pros often fall into the trap of thinking everything happens on the computer screen, but it is important to remember the value of offline interactions and relationships. If you go the extra step to connect with a colleague potential new client in a way other than email, this will be remembered.

We will certainly take these considerations into account in 2016 and hope you do, too! What PR resolutions do you have for 2016 that weren’t mentioned? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us at @TonicLC.