Perspective from Double Forte Public Relations and Marketing


April 2014

Fridays With: John Boland, President, KQED

What is your elevator pitch when someone asks, “What do you do for a living?”

Never a pitch – always a dialogue. If I am in an elevator in the San Francisco Bay Area, I usually just say, “I work for KQED public media.” At that point the other person usually says, “Oh, I LOVE KQED!” and jumps immediately into a conversation about their favorite radio, television or online content. Then they tell me that they “give” and I say “thank you,” and the conversation just goes from there. On occasion, when I say I work for KQED, I get a blank stare. In that case, I say “You know, PBS on television, NPR on radio, channel 9, 88.5 FM, Sesame Street, Downton Abbey, Morning Edition, Check Please, Forum with Michael Krasny, etc., etc.” until I get a glimmer of recognition. Then I try to determine their interests and point them to some KQED content or service they might try.

Describe the path that led you to this career.

About three weeks before my 19th birthday, while still a freshman in college, I landed a job as a “cub” reporter at a daily newspaper in New Jersey, working nights writing obituaries and traffic accidents. That was it, I was hooked. Things moved very quickly to full reporter, sportswriter, sports editor, news editor and eventually to general management. Other than a mid-career stint in public relations at Hill and Knowlton and Burson-Marsteller, I have spent my entire working life in media, including owning a newspaper and working as a magazine publisher. I came to KQED and public media 18 years ago and I find non-profit, public service media to be the most rewarding of all my experiences.

What are the elements of a successful workplace?

I have always led teams of creative people and I have learned that while creative people might lead you to believe they want complete freedom, they really crave structure. They want freedom but they also want support. I find the best workplace is one that provides the structure, services, professional development – and creative space – to allow each individual to achieve at her/his highest potential. The boss’s job is to provide the support and guidance so each team member can be more and achieve more.

What is the one piece of technology you cannot live without?


What are you reading?

Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley and The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

If you could, what advice would you give your 20-something self?

Don’t be so impatient to get on with “real life.” Finish college (I didn’t).

If you could do anything and know you couldn’t fail, what would you do?

Produce Broadway shows.

At Double Forte’s San Francisco office, the conference rooms are named Rock and Roll, Motown, Hip Hop, Mambo, Jazz and Disco. Which name best describes you and why?

I’m a Jersey boy, born the same year as Bruce Springsteen and we both lived in Asbury Park the year “Thunder Road” was released – so I have to say “Rock and Roll.” But really, what happened to classical, opera and the great American songbook? Don’t you have any gay people working there?

What’s in your Netflix queue?

The Wolf of Wall Street, Moonrise Kingdom


Cheers to Earth Day

Winemakers are becoming more conscious about giving-back to the earth, which makes it possible for wine lovers to pick and sip more green wine than ever. However, staying up-to-date on sustainable farming techniques and understanding the various eco-friendly methods can be an overwhelming task. In the spirit of Earth Day, we have demystified these techniques to help you find the right eco-friendly wine.

Certified Sustainable:
Photo credit: _Lodi Wine_

Wines with a seal of sustainability follow strict standards designed to lead to measurable improvements in the environmental health of the ecosystem, society and wine quality.

Photo credit: _Certified California Organic Farmer_

Made with organic grapes, the grapes are grown in accordance with organic standards. However, a wine made with organic grapes is different from an organic wine. 100% Organic wine is made with only organic juice from organic grapes and is sulfite free.

Photo credit: _Demeter USA

Part of what differentiates Biodynamics from organic winegrowing is its focus on holistic farming and maintaining balance on an entire property, fence to fence. The vineyard is viewed like a living organism and is treated accordingly. For example, biodynamic growers may incorporate the use of predators and ladybugs to control the pest population.

Gravity Flow:
Photo credit: _Wine Collective_

By harnessing gravity to move wine throughout the winemaking process from the crush pad, to the tanks, and finally the barrels, wineries reduce their carbon footprint and improve the wine quality.

Solar Energy:
Photo credit: _Blue Planet Green Living_

A winery can use solar panels as an eco-friendly method for running operations throughout the winemaking process and daily operations.

Cheers to Earth Day from The Barn Group!

Fridays With: Sophia Tong Global Editor in Chief, GamesRadar Network

What is your elevator pitch when someone asks, “What do you do for a living?”

I’m the Global Editor in Chief for and the US lead for I manage a global team of writers to produce video game news, features, reviews, etc. This doesn’t involve playing video games all day long, despite what you may think, but I do get to talk about them!

Describe the path that led you to this career.

I had been writing about games and game music since 2002 for multiple websites just for fun, and it didn’t occur to me until about 2006, that I could actually pursue that for a living. I was working in inside sales at the time, and decided to quit, go back to school full time and finish my bachelors in communication with an emphasis in journalism. I was lucky enough to get a contract position at, which then led to me being hired full time at GameSpot, and then GamesRadar.

What are the elements of a successful workplace?

A successful workplace needs good leadership and a vision. The culture, the work ethic, and the vision, all need to come down from management for employees to be motivated and satisfied with their work. I’ve been extremely lucky since I’ve worked at places that value work/life balance, and have had supportive managers who have laid out a clear plan and followed through. The no asshole rule is also important. Surrounding yourself with coworkers who have integrity and a positive attitude are also key.

What is the one piece of technology you cannot live without?

Sadly, it’s my phone. Not just for emails but I have so much freedom when I can use Google maps at any time to get anywhere.

What are you reading?

Currently reading Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations. It’s several years old but some of the basic concepts still apply. I’m a little late to the party on that one. I’m also reading The Presence Process: A Journey into Present Moment Awareness. It was given to me by my sister who claims that it has changed her life, so we’ll see how this goes!

If you could, what advice would you give your 20-something self?

Don’t eat junk food and exercise regularly, it’s going to catch up to you whether you want it to or not. Also, don’t be afraid to trust your gut instincts and make mistakes.

If you could do anything and know you couldn’t fail, what would you do?

Start my own doggy daycare. That or learn how to code and build things.

At Double Forte’s San Francisco office, the conference rooms are named Rock and Roll, Motown, Hip Hop, Mambo, Jazz and Disco. Which name best describes you and why?

Disco. That sounds like the most fun.

What’s in your Netflix queue?

A mix of Disney animated movies and House of Cards.

Best Practices for Using Social Media as a Customer Service Tool

A few weeks ago, in our post Use Your Power for Good Not Evil, we wrote about using Twitter as a customer complaint platform. It can be tempting and risky as a consumer to call out bad service on a public platform. Do it effectively, and you can get results. Strike the wrong tone, and your tweet can back fire.

But one thing that almost always generates good results is when brands use social media to augment their customer service efforts. There was a great article in the Washington Post earlier this month about how airlines are interacting with fliers via Twitter.

It just makes sense to connect with your customers on their platform of choice. If your customers are on Twitter, tweet. If they’re on Facebook, post. And if they use that old-fashioned device called the telephone, by all means answer when they call, and list a phone number on your website. Don’t force your customers to adapt to your communication systems; build systems that accommodate the customer.

And while you’re at it, follow these best practices for customer communications:

  1. Be responsive. Social media users expect immediate gratification. Act fast. Even if you can’t solve a problem right away you can at least respond and let your customer know you’re on the case.
  2. Listen. Nothing turns off a customer more than a brand that only communicates one-way. Social media is not a hose through which you pump your marketing messages. It’s a place to have conversations – with people.
  3. Be human. Speaking of people, be human in your social interactions. Remember people do business with people, not with bots.
  4. Shut it down. Sometimes, the point of communication is to stop it. Make sure you quickly and clearly convey the information needed in each update. And if a situation is dragging out, take it off line or to private messages and resolve it behind the scenes.

Photo credit: Thrift Store Addict via photopin cc

Women buy cars. And lots of other goods and services. In fact, women account for $3.3 trillion in consumer spending and 80 percent of household purchasing decisions. That’s why this “Upside” ad featuring Ford is so clever. It parodies the Cadillac “Poolside” ad about hard work and the American Dream – an ad that didn’t resonate very well with Cadillac’s female customers.

A good marketing campaign connects a brand with the people that matter to it. The key is knowing who matters: men, women, parents, millennials, managers, etc. The better you know your customer, the more likely you are to make a real connection. And that’s where the magic happens.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑