How to Prepare a Strong Phone Pitch

working essentials laid out on table

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By: Valeria Sanchez

You may feel intimidated when you pitch to a journalist for the first time. We tend to think of the worst possible outcomes like, what if they don’t like my pitch? or what if they think I’m unprepared? Everyone feels nervous doing something for the first time. Last month I got the opportunity to pitch one of my client’s programs to several news stations in California. I wouldn’t say it was fantastic. I was nervous and I got sent to voicemail plenty of times. After some trial and error, here is what I learned about crafting a successful phone pitch.  

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How to Be An Inclusive Writer

As an aspiring public relations professional, words are a big part of my job. From press releases to Instagram posts, my words matter and they affect a lot of people. That being said, here is a resource guide for being an inclusive writer:

Race: When we, as professionals, are writing for a diverse audience, we are first representing our clients, first and ourselves, second. We must take into account that our audiences are diverse and may not have experienced the world from our vantage point. We do not want to offend our readers, plus, we have our clients’ reputation on the line with every keyboard click. Research always needs to be done when writing about race. Here are four different resources in regards to writing about race. These resources provide you the opportunity to break out of your bubble and be a more conscientious and inclusive writer.

Gender and Sexuality: Gendered language haunts the English language. We use gendered language everyday. It is ingrained in us to say, “policeman or mailman.” Sometimes, it is hard to identify gender-neutral terms for words that we say everyday without a second thought. One way to work in gender neutral terms into your everyday language is by using the singular they/them pronouns. If you are addressing someone and don’t want to assume their pronouns, a good rule of thumb is to use they/them. I have provided a resource along with other links below:

Ability/Disability: Often, means of ability are glossed over by media or negatively portrayed to emit a sense of shame. Instead you could use, “people with different abilities.” Avoiding stigmas around abilities will not only make your writing more inclusive, it can help empower people. Here are some resources to consider when writing about people with different abilities:

As professionals in a fast-paced environment, research before writing is KEY.

Being able to write in an inclusive manner can make your audience feel welcome and safe. It will create a sense of trust and transparency around your company and that can greatly improve its relationship with the public. When a marginalized community can see you took the time to include them, you raise the standards for  companies around you.

As professionals dedicated to the ties between company and community, you CAN do better to be more inclusive. My hope is that this resource guide can be used as a stepping stone to successful inclusive writing.

Other related writing style guides:

5 Ways to Stay Out of Trouble on Social Media

You know this scenario all too well.

You are scrolling through your camera roll on Sunday morning and find photos from last night of you with your roommates at the bars. You think you have found a photo that is totally insta-worthy. That is when you should stop, drop and ask yourself, “Is this acceptable to post on social media?” Here are some guidelines to consider.

  • Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your future employer to see.

You are sadly mistaken if you think employers read your application and resume and leave it at that. Social media is not a full representation of who a person is. However, when employers are sifting through hundreds of applications, it is something that puts a face and personality to your application. Make sure you take advantage of your online persona and craft it into someone that people will be pining to hire. Or, risk employers moving on to the next applicant because your online image is unprofessional and sloppy.

  • Privacy online is a myth.

You might think you are safe if you have your accounts on private, but there is always a mutual friend who can show someone of importance your posts on social media. Screenshots exist. You should assume the worst when posting something risky on social media, whether it is a photo on Instagram or a tweet.

  • Keep it neutral.

It should go without saying, but you should not post vulgar language or insensitive viewpoints on social media. You are entitled to your opinions. Just be ready to own up to the consequences for posting politically heated views or language that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to hear you say.

  • If you hate your job, complain to your friends in person. Don’t blast it on social media.

First of all, your current employer could see it and fire you. You might not care about it at the time, but think about how it could affect you when you are looking for a new, better job. If other employers see you complaining freely and publicly, they might not think you are the right person for their company. Who is to say you won’t start bad mouthing them once you get the job?

  • Showcase your personality.

Professional social media profiles shouldn’t lack personality. Just because you are refraining from posting unprofessional content doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share photos from your life or let your humor seep into your captions. Your social channels should leave a good first impression. Keep them clean, but make sure to make them interesting. Most importantly, make them reflect who you are and what you stand for.

Written by: Victoria Agius

Avoid Typographic Disaster – A Guide to Use Typography And Organize Presentations

 

As we all probably know now, the 2017 Academy Awards had the biggest screw-up in its 88-year history. When Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced the nominee for the wrong category of award, they were just as confused as we were. They were given the Best Actress envelope when they were supposed to announce for the Best Picture. What is the cause of this disaster? ­

Typography.

On the nominating card, very small fonts are used on the award name and large bolded fonts are used on the nominee’s name. Warren could not read the it and a typographic disaster is created.

Typography is a study in process of making typefaces. Typeface is often called “font,” but this is a common misconception. A typeface is a series of fonts that make a font family. Font is just one character style that belongs to a typeface. Within the typeface, there are fonts with various weights and styles. Understanding what typeface, you are using and how to use them can enhance the attractiveness of your presentation.

I will guide you through what I have found about using typefaces in a presentation.

 

  1. Legibility

Legibility means being clear enough to read. It is an important aspect in using typography. This is most likely the first thing that you learned when you just start to write in elementary school. All alphabets have its specific written style. If we use a typeface that has too much decorative parts in a presentation (like a script typeface), it might create reading problems for your audience. Avoiding script and decorative typefaces can make your presentation look clean and easy to read for your audience.

 

  1. Using matching typefaces

Typefaces are designed to be used in various places, like paper documents, websites and presentations, but different typefaces can also work together to make your message clear in a presentation. A serif typeface like Times New Roman is normally good for smaller text but it would not work well for a title or heading because its long serif can be distractive. San serif typefaces like Helvetica are great for large texts but would look boring for smaller text. Sometimes you can mix and match serif and san serif typeface in one slide of a presentation.

 

  1. Focusing on function rather than form

When it comes to what typeface to choose, we often try to choose more complicated typefaces with unique forms. It might be interesting for a slide but most of time it only makes your audience more confused. A better way to find what typeface to use is to understand your content. For example, if you are doing a slide related to history, serif typeface can fit to the theme very well.  Try not to use typefaces that have complicated visual effects. If you really want visual effect, take a consideration of the legibility of that typeface.

 

  1. Over emphasizing

Sometimes we tend to emphasize too much on one point of a slideshow. Instead of a short phrase, people tend to write a crowded paragraph, which reduces readability of a slide. It causes people to squint their eyes and lose focus on the speaker. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t emphasize anything. Sometimes certain content requires different level of emphasis.

 

  1. Creating hierarchy

Spending time on prioritize what is important content can help you categorize your points. Then lay out what is most important from secondary important. This also helps us to figure out how many words you will have on your slide. The goal is to eliminate unnecessary words and make the presentation cleaner.

At the end of the day, your presentation has to be simple and clear. The purpose of having a demonstrative piece is to help others to understand and organize knowledge. If a slideshow confuses people, it will defeat the purpose of having a slide show altogether. 2017 Academy Awards could be a lot more successful if the card designer of the event care about typography and organization in any form of visual communication.

Clients that seem challenging are the most fruitful experiences

In a perfect world, every client you have would be, well–perfect. Whether you’re working a summer job, a rigorous internship for school or have been with the same company for years, there are certain clients that seem to take more out of you than your time and effort.

According to the article Coping with difficult clients – three common types written by Rachel Antman from LMV Group, the main types of difficult PR clients include the “busy bee,” “authoritarian” and “scapegoat.”

The busy bee is usually a great client, but so overwhelmed with other tasks that public relations falls to the side, creating slow turnaround and challenges getting critical information to the practitioners on time.

The authoritarian likes control, so much so that the PR professional is no longer seen as a strategic asset but an assistant, making the work less successful than it could be.

Last is the scapegoat. This client tends to take all the credit for good work, then doesn’t bat an eye when blaming the PR agency for every failure.

When working with these types of clients, it’s important to remember that all of your experiences can be fruitful when you actively look for the value in them.

I. Personal Growth

Personal growth is different for everyone—it takes going through certain situations to learn how you can become a better person. Working with a difficult client is a sure way to figure out personal areas needing improvement.

The science of neuroplasticity explains how your thinking can change your brain chemistry. Staying positive can not only help you get through the work, but also rewire your brain to help you deal with it in the future. Even though during client related conflicts it can be easy to wallow in negativity, a positive attitude will be better for the situation, the client and yourself.

Learning to take your failures as opportunities for growth is beneficial in the workplace and day-to-day life.

II. Positive Change in Work Ethic

With a poor work ethic, it can be difficult to get anything done and keep the morale of your team high. Even professionals with a typically strong work ethic can struggle under pressure when dealing with tough situations. By constantly instilling a positive work ethic in yourself, those around you will most likely notice and benefit.

When dealing with a difficult client, it can be easy to get caught up in your emotions rather than logically thinking the issues through. Separating your personal feelings from the situation can strengthen your work ethic and all the components that come with it.

Work ethic is a virtue that’s believed to enhance character and contains many different traits. Professionalism, humility, dedication, accountability and respect are a few key elements necessary for a strong work ethic. These qualities include:

Professionalism: Broad because it encompasses all other aspects of work ethic—not only how you dress but how you act.
Humility: By acknowledging everyone’s contributions, maintaining a sense of humor, always being open to learning and teaching with integrity and appreciation those around your will trust and listen to you.
Dedication: Being passionate about your profession and company, and not submitting work until it reaches perfection, those around you will notice.
Accountability: Set an example for other employees by taking responsibility for your mistakes, not making up excuses and not making the same mistakes twice.
Respect: By always treating your clients with respect—even the most difficult—it will show grace and the value of your personal and professional worth.

III. Reaching Common Ground

One of the most beneficial skills to have when working with clients is communication. Establishing control of the account in the beginning will help you understand not only what the client wants, but will give you the creative freedom you need to do the work.

“I learned you have to say what you want and what the client wants up front,” said Kasey Perez, community manager at TGC, “it won’t happen later if it doesn’t happen in the beginning.”

Taking control from the start will garner respect from the client and allow you to steer negotiations in the right direction. Sometimes, conflicting ideas between PR practitioners and their clients can get ugly and defensive. Manipulating the situation to your advantage won’t solve the issue and the real reason for some conflicts may lie below the surface.

Reaching common ground takes mutual effort between you and your client. Being able to quickly realize the conflict, take control of the situation and find a resolution that works for both parties is a skill that will be beneficial throughout your entire career.

By: Josey Lonzo

Tattoos in the workplace

Tattoos or “taboos,” depending how you view them, have always been a hot topic of conversation when it comes to the workplace. Questions of their professionalism and whether they belong in the workplace are constantly circling.

I think tattoos are beneficial to the workplace for these reasons:

  •     Tackle social norms and challenge the changing industry of public relations.
  •      Address a social change that is congruent with the shift in generations.
  •      Teach people to not judge a person by their appearance.
  •      Teases people to ask questions and engage with their coworkers.
  •     Offer another perspective.
  •     Open a door to imagination and interpretation from others
  •      Shows creativity and expression.

Shaming the presence of tattoos in the workplace stifles the creativity and expression of employees in an industry that needs those qualities.

Now more than ever, public relations firms need inventive individuals in order to make an impact in the growing industry. I think ownership of tattoos demonstrates  risk taking ability, and that can translate to a positive work environment.

I have two tattoos, one of which rests on my left forearm just below my elbow bone. It consists of three evenly spaced, black lines that represent my two siblings and me. All three of us got the tattoo together but in different regions of our bodies, and mine got the most flack from our parents because my location is the most prominent of the three.

Prior to getting this tattoo, my parents felt the need to reinforce the idea of damaging my future chances at getting a job. I was conscious of the severity of my decision and that I could potentially be limiting myself of future jobs but I decided that I would never want to work for a company that stumps creativity in the workplace by not allowing tattoos. I also figured that most professional attire would cover my tattoos, but there was still risk involved.

Just like most anything else, there is a time and a place for tattoos as well. At the end of the day, companies have to protect the workplace, so not all tattoos may be acceptable depending on whether they contain vulgar or offensive content. But more importantly than vulgar tattoos, I think tattoos should be covered when meeting with a new client for the first time. With varying opinions on tattoos it is always best to err on the side of caution when you are trying to make a great first impression. No one wants to damage a relationship or lose a client because of something that could have easily been avoided.

As a send off tip, I think a good rule of thumb to follow is the saying, “In the streets dress your best but at work be comfy at your desk.” Simply, just cover up your tattoos if you could be client facing.

Alumni Update- From TGC to Copernio

The Tehama Group Communications staff this semester consists of about 90 percent seniors. So at this time in the semester all of us are scrambling, sweating and seriously panicking about the fact that we will be graduating in less than five weeks.

Where will we live? Who is going to hire us? Was this is right choice?! All of these questions will keep us awake at night, but when we start to have these thoughts, we need to remember the success stories that come out of TGC year after year.

We have seen these successes from guest speakers who come talk us every semester and on our LinkedIn alumni groups.If you still don’t believe me, an alumna who was in our shoes exactly a year ago has a great story of how she has been able to find great success in the professional world of PR post-graduation.

Allison Hahn was in TGC the entire school year of 2015-16 and held the position of Account Executive, being responsible for multiple clients. After graduation Allie was quickly hired by a Copernio, an agency that specializes in Consumer Tech PR, and has been there for almost a year. Below is a Q and A conducted with Allie regarding her life after graduation and some good tips and knowledge for us graduating seniors.

Allie Hahn at the airport on her way to the trade show, “ Get Geeked,” in San Francisco.

  • Question: What did you find most rewarding and most challenging about being in TGC?  Is there anything you learned that helped you with the job search process?  

Answer: I think the most rewarding and challenging thing was one in the same – working with clients and trying to communicate their PR needs with them. When it worked, it was so satisfying, even though it can be difficult to get to that point. It’s something that I experience now in my job everyday.  TGC showed me what my strengths and weaknesses are and what kind of work environment I should seek.

  • Question: When you were hired at Copernio, what was your starting title and what is your current title?

Answer: I started as an intern and am now an Account Coordinator, but since my agency is so small, I have a lot of opportunities to do tasks related to Account Management.

  • Question: Can you give a brief summary of Copernio?

Answer: Copernio is an agency in Orange County that specializes in Consumer Tech PR. It’s a boutique firm with only seven employees. Before I started working there, I always assumed a boutique agency was a young agency that was growing. That’s not the case here. We’re just a small but tight-knit team, but our business model is developed. Copernio is actually the oldest PR agency in Orange County. Within the umbrella of tech PR, we have a rather diverse client base. The clients range in needs and how integrated we are in their company.

  • Question: After being employed for almost a year now, how would you describe your work/life balance as an entry level employee?

Answer: I’m really lucky to be where I’m at because they really promote a good balance. I feel like I’ve been able to establish a life for myself post-grad outside of work. There’s some nights where I’ll have to work late or when I travel, I’ll lose a weekend, but overall my employer is flexible and I am able to take time for myself. I’ve also learned to avoid checking my work email on the weekends and after 7 p.m. so I have some time to actually unwind.

  • Question: What have you found to be the most rewarding and most challenging?

Answer:  The most rewarding is that I feel like my ideas are valued. They aren’t all good, but everyone in the office will listen to me will always listen and help me improve them so I can present them to the client and see them through to completion.

As for most challenging, my agency has a big policy of self-management. No one is going to be breathing down your neck reminding you what needs to get done or checking in on your progress for a project. Overall it’s been a good thing, but it’s an adjustment from college and TGC where there’s a lot of check-ins while you’re working towards a deadline. At my agency, you have to take the initiative yourself to make sure something gets done.

  • Question: Did TGC prepare you well for your entry level job?

Answer: TGC prepared me very well for my job! Some skills you can’t be prepared for and you will have to learn depending on the job you’re doing regardless, but TGC did a great job giving me an understanding of what a PR agency does and how to be adaptable to the needs of clients.

  • Question: What do you wish TGC or the J&PR department would have prepared you for more?

Answer: In college, we talk a lot about planning and preparation, which are very important in PR. However, clients will often throw you curveballs and it can be hard to stay on task with your original plan, so sometimes knowing how to adapt is more important than knowing how to prepare.

  • Can you give some brief descriptions of your biggest accomplishments thus far in your career?

Answer: I’ve had my clients get some really good National Media coverage which is always exciting, including pieces in Good Housekeeping, Refinery 29, USA Today and The Huffington Post. One of the coolest things that’s happened was I got interviewed on camera on behalf of a client at CES and it ended up on Wired. Wired is one of the biggest tech publications out there and sparked my interest in working in technology a few years ago. It was a very cool, full circle moment.   

  • Question: I know you have attended two huge trade shows for your company, in San Francisco and Chicago, can you explain how those experiences were and the major things that you got out of it?

Answer: I’ve been to three press/trade shows so far – Get Geeked in San Francisco, CES in Vegas, and The International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago. All three have been different and have been really good learning experiences.

The best thing about these shows is that you get to work with your client face-to-face, an opportunity that doesn’t happen often, and you get to meet members of the press that you’re constantly pitching. The shows are very crazy though and you lose a lot of sleep. CES was the most intense. It’s right after the holidays and the biggest tech trade show in North America. One of my days started at a TV station at 6 a.m. and ended at a press event around midnight. I was on my feet and talking the entire time. It was very fun, but one of the most exhausting days my life.

  • Question: Do you have any advice to give to J&PR seniors that are graduating this May? 

Answer: My biggest advice for seniors would be to relax and enjoy your last weeks of college! You will find a job and you will make the transition from the college life to adult life successfully. I loved Chico with my whole heart and moving back to So Cal was scary. I was dreading graduation and the unknowns that followed it. I wish I would’ve spent that time being happy and enjoying myself. You’ll never get that time back, so don’t spend it worrying about the future.

As scared as we are and will continue to be until walk down that field, I hope we can take a step back and breath. This internship and program has instilled in us the necessary skills and abilities to get out there and find a way to be successful and #Employeed! Good luck seniors.

 Written By: Kasey Perez

An Agency that Stands Out Among the Rest

Image courtesy of Finn Partners

There are countless impressive public relations agencies out there, but one stands out among the rest—Finn Partners. Headquartered in New York, NY, Finn Partners is a global marketing communications firm that was founded in 2011. They have 13 offices all across the globe—two of them located right here in California.

Named “Midsize Agency of the Year” in 2015 and “Best PR Agency to Work For in North America” in 2013 by the Holmes Report, it is no secret that this agency is killing the game.

Finn Partners has a mission to amaze clients with “the best of everything” through their commitment to collaboration and to “work hard and play nice”. The agency values creating a best-place-to-work environment, which builds a strong company culture—an important aspect of agency setting that is too often overlooked.

Nashville Public Relations Parent Firm Lobby, image courtesy of dvlseigenthaer

Finn Partners covers a large scope of industry sectors including: arts, consumer, creative, crisis communications, CSR and social impact, digital, education, health, mobile, public affairs, research, technology, travel and lifestyle and numerous intersections between.

Finn Partner clients have access to a full spectrum of expertise combined with collaborative and diverse solutions. Their website includes descriptions of each industry they provide service for along with detailed case studies and compelling metrics attached.

I have had the chance to develop a vast appreciation for PR work in an agency setting while spending the past two semesters interning with Tehama Group Communications. As I am graduating later this year, I have been constantly scanning through the websites of different PR agencies for inspiration and industry news. Reading through case studies and blogs—among other research—has been a typical activity throughout my job search, and I can always count on being engaged and informed about the PR industry when viewing this agency’s many platforms.

Written by: Cassie Porter

TGC in NYC

Megan McCourtAccount Supervisor, PPR Worldwide

Former Tehama Group Communications Editorial Director and General Manager, 2010-2011

It’s nearing that time of the year where graduating students frantically polish their resumes, spend hours online searching for that dream first job and, if others are like me, practice interviewing for hours in front of the bathroom mirror.

Wanting to move to New York, I reached out to two Tehama Group Communications alumnae to learn about their current experiences in public relations and the Big Apple.

 

After TGC

As an Account Supervisor at PPR Worldwide, Dell’s agency of record, McCourt supports a number of executives by managing their speaking opportunities, writing their contributed content and drafting most of their remarks, from social media to speeches. She also heads the global brand team, which embodies Dell’s efforts around entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility and diversity/inclusion.

One of the main components of her job is advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs.

I’m helping to change government policy, raise awareness, get more capital into the hands of female entrepreneurs, and provide women with the networks and resources they need to be successful,” McCourt said.

One of her achievements is helping launch an open letter to the presidential candidates a week before the 2016 election. Since the letter launch, she is now working with the new administration and the Small Business Administration to see their ideas put into action.

New York: Rodents, rejection and beauty

McCourt is approaching her four-year anniversary of living in New York and her insight on the city is one that TV does not portray.

“I’m not going to sugar coat it: life in New York is not always easy, but it’s worth it,” McCourt said. “Unless you’re backed by the bank of mom and dad, you’re probably going to live in a tiny, shared apartment; have to deal with bugs and rodents; face numerous rejections (for jobs, dates, apartments); and deal with the weather (sweltering in the summer, freezing in the winter).”

Although that seems far from ideal, New York has much more to offer– a variety of entertainment, a diverse global culture and architecture one would only think about in their dreams. Not only that, but even those on a budget can enjoy big city luxuries on a small town budget.

“There’s always cheap eats and free activities, which is why so many people can skirt by on internships and low-paying gigs,” McCourt said.

Graduating? Start networking

McCourt’s advice to students looking to get their start in PR was simple– leverage your network.

“Almost every job I’ve had came through my extended network,” McCourt said.

McCourt recommends informational interviews for companies you want to work for, buying coffee for those you know who work in communications and not being afraid to ask someone you know to set you up with someone who can be beneficial for you.

Your network is the best tool you’ll have for the rest of your life– start growing it now!”

Stephanie BurkeSenior Account Executive, Highwire PR

Former Tehama Group Communications Account Executive and Social Media Assistant, 2012

Intern to full-time

Burke began her public relations career by accepting an internship at Highwire PR in San Francisco after graduation in 2013. After completion of her six-month internship she was hired on as an account associate.

“The transition from an intern to an account associate is one of the most exciting transitions you can make,” Burke recalls.

Burke explained that interns at Highwire are fully integrated into teams and have client-facing roles. Moving forward as an account associate offered more media, content and planning opportunities. One of the new roles and challenges Burke faced was mentoring interns.

It’s a great time to think about the mentorship you valued as an intern and pass it on to the next generation,” Burke said.

Promotions

Since her first promotion at Highwire in 2013, she has been promoted two other times. She moved to New York in 2014 and was promoted to account executive and in 2015 was promoted to senior account executive. Today her job roles include media relations, client management, different PR writing and general agency operations such as writing for the company blog.

“You can think of an SAE as the account management’s right hand, always there to help guide the team and execute on key initiatives for the client,” Burke said.

City by the Bay vs. City of Dreams

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates New York employs 21,740 people in the public relations field, whereas San Francisco employs 3,640 public relations specialists. However, Burke believes more media is flocking to San Francisco due to tech. Regardless of the new media scene in San Francisco, New Yorkers still have an advantage to those in San Francisco.

“The news breaks in EST. New York PR professionals have the advantage of seeing the news first versus our San Francisco friends who have to wake up a bit earlier to catch the first headline,” Burke said.


Get reading graduates!

A major aspect of public relations is media relations. Reading and watching the news can differentiate you from the crowd. Burkes advice to graduating students is to do such.

Clients want to know how to be on the cover of Forbes and what it takes to join the Good Morning America crew for a segment,” Burke said. “It’s important to understand what makes a good story for these outlets and who their audience is.”

Photos courtesy of Megan McCourt and Stephanie Burke

Written  by Benjamin Liwanag 

Should your brand get political?

 

Companies have always taken political stances, but in today’s modern technological environment it has become much easier for consumers to both praise and criticize their actions.   

This begs the question of whether or not it is in a company’s best intent to get political, and whether or not it is advantageous or detrimental to their image and business as a whole. One would assume that taking a stance on any political issue would risk alienating some consumers and in turn reduce profits.

However, as it turns out, some companies are taking a stand and ignoring any possible negative publicity to show their customers what their values are. Many major brands used the Super Bowl – an event that is no stranger to controversial commercials – to speak out, and the internet loved it.

Brands such as Budweiser and 84 Lumber endured backlash on Twitter in the form of hashtags urging people to boycott their products, with some calling them out as anti-american. Despite all the backlash, analytics of the ads show that the campaigns actually received mostly positive reactions from consumers.

Regardless of whatever stance an organization decides to take on a political issue, it’s clear that they’ll be walking on thin ice. This risky trend is tending to get more popular and advertisers should think twice before they take that next step – as it could prove to be quite polarizing.