AM:PM PR Public Relations Professionals Off The Clock: Mike Phillips


At AM:PM PR we take our work seriously – but ourselves – not so much. When we’re not working, we’re people with personalities, or so we believe. We thought it might be fun to take a step back from our public relations work to share a little more about ourselves: what we’re reading, what we’re listening to, the news we’re following, how we’re preparing to enjoy the summer, and we wouldn’t be using social media properly if we didn’t talk about what we’ve been eating!

This is the first blog in our five part profile series.

Name: Mike Phillips

Currently Reading: Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges & Joe Sacco. I became a big fan of both of these individuals after seeing their appearances on Moyers & Co. and Democracy Now! but I haven’t found time to read their actual work. This book allows me to kill two birds with one stone!


mike in the columbia gorge

During a recent trip to the gorge

Currently Listening To: Thanks to Pandora, I rediscovered David Bazan from 90’s Seattle-based group “Pedro the Lion.” He’s continuing to produce music, and I’m finding some of it to be quite interesting. This is a particularly great track.

News You Are Following: I’ve been following the so-called Baby Revolution in Bosnia. No, babies aren’t taking to the streets. In a nutshell, babies born after February 2013 have been denied I.D. numbers due to partisan political gridlock, so their parents cannot travel with them outside of Bosnia. This came to a head earlier this month when a Bosnian couple was unable to travel to Germany to seek medical treatment for their infant. The root of the cause is that vapid Bosnian Serb lawmakers from the predominantly Bosnian Serb part of the country (Republika Srpska) are demanding that Bosnian Serbs have separate I.D.’s from their fellow Bosnian and Croatian countrymen. This gridlock, despite being driven from disappointing political partisanship, has inspired a positive and optimistic display of post-war unity in a country that has been politically deadlocked along ethnic divisions for far too many years. Hopefully this is now changing!

Plans for the Summer: Enjoying the bounty of the Pacific Northwest, and planning a trip to Macinac Island later this summer.

Favorite Restaurant Experience In Recent Weeks: The other day I went to Olé Olé off 21st and East Burnside. It was a refreshingly un-pretentious restaurant experience with friendly staff and the most affordable prices in town. Shockingly affordable.

* * *

We invite you to share your stories too! What we need from you:

Currently Reading
Currently Listening To
News You Are Following
Plans for the Summer
Favorite Restaurant Experience In Recent Weeks

Medium: A blogging platform for writers

Last week I learned about a new social media platform called Medium and was given an exciting directive to explore their new website and report back to the rest of the team. I didn’t know much about Medium going in, other than it proclaims to be based on the belief that the sharing of ideas and experiences is what moves humanity forward. Sounds great!

Truth be told, after several days of exploration I’ve come to the conclusion that Medium is my kind of platform. It’s for the 1% of us that like to write opinionated quasi-intellectual notes on Facebook that unintentionally alienate half of your friends. The best part is that your parents, employers and colleagues haven’t discovered Medium yet, so it’s like Facebook circa 2006 when you could still get away pouring your heart out over the course of an evening (and a bottle of Chianti) with no repercussions.

Medium is currently in über beta start-up mode, but I thought it might be fun to poke and prod around their website with the proverbial stick. The following is what I’ve discovered.

Blogging Platform Reimagined

When I went to explore Medium, I did it from the perspective of their motto, ie, someone trying to move humanity forward, and I was immediately drawn to this post: Stop working (so hard).

medium logoYou don’t have to worry about that, Medium.

But in all seriousness, from what I understand, Medium is trying to reimagine the concept of a blog by making it more socially interactive than current designs allow and by facilitating longer conversations and extraneous dialogue in the process.

It became immediately apparent that this platform is geared towards a certain type of person. You know the Facebook friend who posts cute kitty photos and gets all twisted whenever someone talks about politics, science or demonstrates critical thinking? Yeah, this site is not for them. Medium is more accurately for people who like to write, or those who like to critique what other people write.

Comment Makeover

In a typical blog format (Tumblr, Facebook, Blogger, WordPress) all of the comments on a given post are archived at the bottom of each post. With Medium, the comments are displayed to the right side of the post, which results in a more fluid interaction. When you comment on a given post you can highlight the exact word or phrase you want to comment on, and subsequent users can comment further. This feature makes for more functional interactions with a post, and I like it.

Check this out:

medium image

Formatting blogs

Do you remember how crazy Myspace got when people could add pink backgrounds and floating sparkles and snowflakes to their landing pages causing your Pentium III computer to freeze up? Do you hate it when you arrive at a blog with an orange background with white typeface? Medium has simplified the way people format their blogs by eliminating choice, essentially subtracting a lot of the functional ability and formatting options that you may be used to with other platforms. They also allow only a single headline image for each post. I think this works because it makes their blog system cleaner and easier to read.

Here is an example of what I mean:

medium image 2This is what the blogging tool looks lik

medium image 3You’ll notice the following:

  1. You can only add one image
  2. Your title is large and bold
  3. The body of your writing is in smaller font

That’s it. You cannot change the font, add italics, underline things, create orange backgrounds or add snowflakes to accentuate a wintry theme. This is blogging simplified.

Categorizing Blogs

In the following image you can see that Medium allows you to review posts, and collections of posts (demonstrated below).

medium image 4

You can customize your own collection of posts under the heading “Collections” or if you don’t want to go with the ones that they select for you, you can create your own, which could be a fun way to stimulate conversations about topics that are relevant to you personally. My favorite category is “Armchair Economics” because the topics flatter my unquenchable thirst for knowledge and/or ego.

Who should use Medium?

I’m answering this question wearing my PR professional hat as clients are often asking for the return on investment (ROI) on social media platforms. I haven’t done enough digging around to fully understand Medium’s policies, but if you have a business or a brand that relies on the dissemination of ideas and information to relevant communities, Medium may be a good platform to keep your eyes on.

I’m a little conservative when investing too much time in new platforms – I like to watch others jump in to see how they may be benefiting before I invest my most precious commodity, time. It is unclear to me if writing a blog-like post in Medium will create any less or any more SEO for your brand.

Medium challenges the notion that attention spans are getting shorter or that people require all information to come in 140 characters or less. Medium is embracing the idea that everyone can write long, drawn-out prose, and that there are people out there that want to read your meanderings.

Go ahead, check it out and explore for yourself.

Immigration reform is good for the economy.

The economic case for immigration reform

– by Bill MacKenzie

“It’s the economy, stupid,” a strategist famously stated in Bill Clinton’s successful campaign for the presidency in 1996. That’s still true today when making the case for comprehensive federal immigration reform that would cover both legal and undocumented immigrants in Hillsboro.

A more practical guest-worker program would ensure a dependable supply of labor for Hillsboro’s agricultural industry, which now struggles with a costly and unwieldy federal program allowing foreign nationals in for temporary or seasonal agricultural work.

It’s not just farmers and nursery operators who would benefit from an overhaul of the immigration system. Revision of federal laws that unnecessarily restrain the hiring of foreign nationals would also aid Hillsboro’s cluster of technology companies.

Local tech companies use what’s called the H-1B visa program to employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations — such as scientists, engineers or computer programmers — that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields.

Lisa Malloy, an Intel spokeswoman in Washington, D.C., says H-1B workers have consistently represented about 6 percent of the U.S. work force at Intel, which has regularly been one of the top U.S.-based companies using the visas.

Typically, Malloy says, Intel’s H1-B visa holders have graduated from a U.S. university with an advanced degree in science, engineering or math, and many work as component designers, process engineers and software engineers. Comprehensive federal legislation that would remove the arbitrary cap on the number of H-1B visas each year and allow visas to reflect the U.S. economy and what businesses need would be welcomed by Intel and Hillsboro’s other tech companies.

Allowing talented foreign nationals who get advanced degrees at U.S. universities to stay in the United States, rather than sending them (and their talents) packing after graduation, would also make sense.

The same holds true for foreign-born founders of U.S. start-up companies in the U.S. It would be far better for these economy-boosters to have the option of becoming U.S. citizens, and potentially building a business here, rather than pulling up stakes and nurturing their dreams elsewhere. President Obama had it right when he said in January, “Right now, in (an American classroom) there’s a student wrestling with how to turn their big idea — their Intel or Instagram — into a big business. We’re giving them all the skills they need to figure that out, but then we’re going to turn around and tell them to start that business and create those jobs in China or India or Mexico or someplace else. That’s not how you grow new industries in America. That’s how you give new industries to our competitors.”

These immigrants are already boosting Hillsboro’s healthy economy and stand to strengthen it even more if they are brought out of the shadows. They’re working in farmers’ fields, nurseries, restaurants, hotels and other businesses, large and small.

They’re starting new companies. They’re buying and renting homes. In addition to supplying labor, they’re adding to the local demand for products and services.

Making it so the undocumented immigrants already here can live and work here legally would bring an even bigger economic payoff.

Comprehensive immigration reform that allowed all of Hillsboro’s immigrants to come out into the open would pull them out of the underground economy, make it much less likely they will be paid off the books, generate more taxes and allow them to play a more vigorous role in Hillsboro’s economy.

It is also in our best interest to educate the children of undocumented immigrants so they can contribute more to the city’s economy. As Edward Glaeser of Harvard has amply illustrated, cities with educated and skilled populations will achieve more. On the flip side, cities burdened with ill-educated, low-skill populations will struggle.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reported in 2011 that the United States is the only country where education attainment levels of people entering the labor market (25-34 year-olds) don’t exceed the levels of those about to leave the labor market (55-64 year-olds).

The same holds true for Oregon, where the older generation is more educated than the young. In a globally competitive economic environment, Hillsboro’s economy, and Oregon’s, will pay a heavy price if we fail to educate the children of all immigrants to their maximum potential.

Bill MacKenzie is a former congressional staff member, reporter and communications manager for a Hillsboro company.

*First appeared in the Hillsboro Tribune.
Jake Ten Pas Signing Off

Good night, and good luck from Jake Ten Pas

 This is Jake Ten Pas, signing off…

We all knew this day would come. Nobody can be a Minister of Propaganda forever. All things considered, I’ve survived longer than most. Come Monday, I take the bittersweet step of leaving my faithful comrades at AM:PM PR for an amazing new position with the Children’s Cancer Association. I’ll take the reins of the nonprofit’s MyMusicRX program, which uses music as therapy for the kids and their families dealing with life-threatening illness.

My Music RX logoAnybody who’s had a close relationship with AM:PM PR knows that we’re as tight as a family, and so you can imagine that it was tough for me to tell Pat and Allison about my decision. Despite the great job offer, it was a hard decision to make. Without AM and PM’s assistance and encouragement over the years, I might never have made the jump from journalism to public relations, and hence never been in a position to apply for this next step in my professional life.

It felt like a breakup, and I’ve never been good at breakups. In fact, as one person observed, I’d rather be broken up with than do the breaking. My own pain I can handle, but somebody else’s? I turn to jelly.

In this regard, I’m doubly fortunate. First, because you couldn’t ask for two more gracious people when it comes to having this kind of conversation. Both Pat and Allison were not only happy for me, but I think proud, as well, that our work together had prepared me for this bold new direction. Second, because, well, this isn’t a breakup. We’re family, and familial feeling doesn’t dissipate, even when stretched by distance. I suspect you’ll continue to see me at the occasional PR 3.0, and you’ll definitely see me at AM:PM PR’s office-warming party for its straight-up space-age new headquarters.

Plus, one of Portland’s best young communicators will be stepping up to fill my shoes. Mike Phillips, who will introduce himself to you tomorrow, is a warm, articulate, passionate PR man, and I expect great things from him as AM:PM PR’s new word slinger. One quick piece of advice, though: Wear shoulder pads, Mike. Alexis has got a mean jab.

children's cancer association logo
To stretch the relationship metaphor just a bit further, my wife made a keen observation in regards to my success in nailing down this new position. You’re always more attractive when you’re in a relationship, she said. It’s because other women can smell the lack of desperation. Similarly, the wonderful job I already had with AM:PM PR couldn’t have hurt my chances with CCA.

I’m ultra jazzed about the opportunity to make a very real difference in the lives of people suffering under the weight of debilitating sickness. That I get to use music, which has gotten me through nearly every rough patch in my own life, and which continues to be my number one inspiration on a daily basis, to do so is pretty much blowing my mind. At the same time, I’m going to miss the incredible clients I’ve worked with here, and the family with whom I’ve shared my work. Here’s to the future, both of AM:PM PR and to all the high-flying trajectories it launches.

The Cyrk

Movin’ on up, to (a new part of) the East Side & Joining The Cyrk

As much as we’ve loved our time in the Buckman Neighborhood – rubbing shoulders with the mad scientists of Distillery Row, descending like locusts upon local eateries such as Robo Taco and Vivo, and working with neighbors Bremik, Tapalaya, Po’Boy Art and more – it’s the dawn of a new year and a new era for AM:PM PR.

We survived an overinflated panic surrounding a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar, and we figured why not treat ourselves to a new space. Not to toot our own horns (TOOT!), but it’s a doozie.

At the beginning of February, we’ll take up residence in the Cyrk Building on southeast 20th and Clinton. For those of you who’ve yet to cast your eyes on this miracle of modern building techniques, feel free to drive by and check it out. It’s a gorgeous space that we’ll share both with our brothers in arms at 7/Apps and our clients EE Northwest. The latter owns the building and was kind enough to approve our tenant application. We’ll try to keep the noise level down.

AM:PM PR joins the Cyrk-us

For those of you who understand how calendars work and are wondering about the omission of a little thing called January, well done. That was a test, and it’s nice to see that you were paying attention. As construction is finished up on our new space, we’ll be going back to our roots.

Just as in the early days of AM:PM, we’ll be a bit like the French Resistance, except with public relations instead of freedom fighting, and minus the Gauloises. We’ll meet at a variety of our favorite coffee shops, restaurants and watering holes, keeping the client work that’s our bread and butter firmly intact. You likely won’t notice much difference unless you meet us face-to-face, in which case the password is “Le Coq Sportif.” Also, feel free to give us suggestions for great coffee shops that can accommodate large groups of mostly serious professionals.

During the next month, we’ll keep you updated on our activities and the construction’s progress via the usual channels: our blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. We’ll also be getting to know our new neighbors. We’ve already visited St. Jacks, Compote, The Night Light Lounge and more, and look forward to getting to know them and their tasty offerings even better.

When we get moved into the new space, we don’t expect you’ll miss it. We’ll have a hard time not crowing from pride about our new digs, and of course there will be office-warming festivities to attend to. Keep an eye out for something occurring around St. Patrick’s Day.

We’ll also be working on new job titles and a high-flying new concept for the website that will highlight the subtle circus theme of our new digs. Prepare yourself for the greatest communications show on Earth, or at least in Portland. In the meantime, Happy New Year. We hope you’ve got as much to look forward as we do.


Don't bury your head in the sand. Be prepared for any scenario.

How To Deal With Bad PR

– AM:PM PR Guest Post

Sometimes things don’t always go to plan though and you get media attention for all the wrong reasons. Here’s how To deal with bad PR.

I have worked for a number of companies that have been very high profile for all the wrong reasons. The worst thing you can do when things go wrong is bury your head in the sand. Also, responding to a question with: “no comment!” makes you sound guilty straight away.

You need to be prepared. Develop a crisis/issues management plan. Think through every possible scenario and develop specific plans, messages and protocols for each. Doing this will make you feel a little more confident when a crisis does happen at 4pm on a Friday and media start calling asking for statements ASAP.

Include protocols for responding to media requests in your plan. Whoever takes calls from reporters should be writing down all the questions so the communications team can craft solid responses.

Often reporters will accept responses/statements via email. If they do, this is the way to go. It eliminates risks of saying too much. If you are asked to call the journalist back then, unless you know the journalist well, don’t go off on a tangent in your discussion. Keep it to the agreed points and don’t add any personal comment or feelings. The old adage about, “nothing being off the record” is very true.

A few more tips when preparing for the worst:

am:pm pr tips

        1. Be truthful and hold your hands up if it is an obvious mistake.
        2. Don’t try and cover things up un-necessarily
        3. Remain calm and definitely don’t get angry
        4. Make statements clear and short
        5. When all has settled down, ask for feedback from the media


Be cautious with outbursts on your Facebook Business Page

Promoted personal posts just might kill Facebook


I have long defended Facebook to friends and colleagues as a free service that allows us to connect with far-away family and long lost friends. I’ve also thought that nothing yet created had the potential to truly compete.

Now it seems Facebook can only think of ways to make itself more attractive to analysts rather than its loyal users.

I can accept promoted posts and ads from businesses because the service needs to pay for itself and the ads are really not that intrusive. What I cannot accept is the idea that my Facebook friends can now advertise their posts to me. How strange and useless. I see their posts anyway.

I have no interest in using Facebook anymore (except when I have to for my profession) if personal connections pay to have their posts highlighted. Maybe that’s a bit drastic, but that’s not the service I signed up for. I’m guessing I’m not alone.

For $7 any user can now promote her most recent post. How obnoxious. What will it even look like? Will friends know if a post is paid for? I don’t know, but I’m going to test it by promoting this article. Yes, I’m aware of the irony, but I’ll consider it research. I really hope this option goes the way of many tested features Facebook has gotten rid of.

I did actually read an article by Tech Crunch that shared one compelling use case for this feature. Judge for yourself.

Be cautious with outbursts on your Facebook Business Page

What not to do on your Facebook business page


Damaging your own reputation through social media – a cautionary tale

A restaurant owner in small town in Washington surely regrets sharing publicly that he pay his utility bill and blaming the local PUD on his woes. The reactions below demonstrate risks of outbursts for managers of a Facebook business page.

What can we we learn from this Facebook business page fail?

  • Don’t post when you’re angry. You’ll regret it later and it just might turn viral.
  • Don’t share your financial issues with customers. You’ll lose respect.
  • Don’t act maliciously. You’ll lose fans quickly.

Your Facebook business page publicly represents your company in a platform that allows all of your customers to engage or witness your engagements. Every comment you make can be shared with thousands in seconds. The impression you make can have a lasting effect. Be cautious and interact in a way that supports the reputation you want to have. If you think what you’re about to post has the potential to be misconstrued or hurt your reputation, run it by a second pair of eyes first.

For more cautionary tales (and some laughs at others’ expense) check out Failbook.


bundling PR services

Rethinking how we sell our PR services

marketing agency blueprint

As AM:PM PR approaches its second birthday, we’re changing how we sell our services. We’ve packaged services for clients – creating a prix fixe menu of options rather than the usual ala carte list.

PR services
We think bundling PR services and pricing them clearly will make it easier for clients to understand what they’re buying. It also recognizes how different the practice of public relations has become in the 24/7, constantly connected world we live in today.

Historically agencies based their pricing on billable hourly rates, much like lawyers and other professionals. Clients that have little experience using public relations agencies struggle to understand why services are billed hourly. Those with more experience may understand billable hours, but many don’t connect hours billed with results achieved.

The truth is that not every hour we work produces the same benefit for clients.

Over the Holidays, I read a book (The Marketing Agency Blueprint) and shared it with my colleagues. It triggered our effort to rethink how we price what we do so it makes more sense to our clients – and to us.


service bundling

Much like Progressive, we think bundling our services together might help us better serve our clients’ needs.

“The traditional billable-hour system is tied exclusively to outputs, not outcomes, and assumes that all agency activities … are of equal value,” declared Paul Roetzer, the book’s author and founder/CEO of PR 20/20 in Cleveland.

Today’s communications landscape has radically changed the contents of our PR toolkit. It requires us to be full-time listeners, even for our smallest clients. In the digital world, opportunities and risks don’t wait patiently for open times in our schedules.

Our ability to help a client requires a high level of trust in us, as communicators and strategists. Trust takes time to build. Our service packages anticipate that we will work with the client for a minimum of six months. It’s a step away from casual dating. It signals our priority is on building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.

We’re eager to talk about these packages with prospective clients, and learn from them whether this new format helps them better understand what they will get in working with us. Like everything in our business, the packages are subject to change. Our hope is that they will form the foundation for some great relationships.

Spreading the news

New website causes media sensation, freshens breath while you read

The word is out. Thanks to Gawker blogging about it, Perez Hilton tweeting a catty remark in regards to it, and Lady Gaga wearing an outfit made entirely from computer screens displaying it, you’ve by now heard that AM:PM PR has a new website.

First of all, we want to make it clear that this isn’t how we wanted to roll out the new site. We wanted you to find out by us telling you about it right here. But, as the recent media circus has made undeniable, the cat’s out of the bag. We might as well address a number of questions/misconceptions that have already popped up in our conversations with the media.

Claim: The website is based on complex numerology decoded from a previously unpublished section of “The Wu-Tang Manual.”

Reality: This is true.

Claim: Using AM:PM PR’s website can help cure depression, freshen breath while you read.

Reality: Again, this is true. Perhaps we’ll move on to some misconceptions.

Claim: Staring directly into Alexis’ eyes in the group shot on the homepage can make you go cross-eyed.

Reality: OK, also true, but only in extreme cases. This isn’t going well. Let’s give it one more shot.

Claim: This website revamping is a shameless promotional ploy for Pat’s upcoming, last-minute presidential run.

Reality: While Pat does have designs on world domination, and his common-sense perspective would certainly make for a refreshing alternative to some other candidates we might name, he won’t be running for president. At least not in 2012.

Speaking of Pat, stay tuned to this site for his upcoming blog post, which will offer an in-depth look at our new package-pricing system, and how we think that it will help us help you to reach what science has coined “maximum awesometude.”

In the meantime, know this:

– Yes, our new site will better emphasize the strategic relationship we have with ace app developers 7/Apps.

– No, you won’t be able to control our new website with your mind, a la Clint Eastwood’s jet in the film “Firefox.”

– Yes, site design and navigation have both been improved, creating an experience that one critic has called, “THE feel-good action-packed romantic rollercoaster thrillride of this year or any other.”

– No, no McCormicks were harmed during the making of the new site. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

– Yes, you will still have access to all the same great videos, hyperlocal storytelling, and dangerously sharp snark as before, but now it will have 30% less MSG.

Stay tuned, friends, family and cabal mates. The future is now, but we’re only leaking it one day at a time.