The Brand Ambassadors - Where The Jobs Are

The Brand Ambassadors talk self-branding and how to break into the PR and marketing business.

This week's show focuses on the Millennial job seeker who's interested in developing a promising career in public relations, journalism or communication. Hosts Merritt and Gary will talk with Kim Marks Malone, public relations and journalism professor at the University of Memphis and the adviser for the university's student-run strategic communication firm, Meeman 901 Strategies.

All university students home for winter break, parents of same, and job seekers need to tune in to this show to learn who is hiring whom and for what.

You can listen to the full episode by clicking here.


Kim Marks Malone

Kim Marks Malone is an accredited PR professional, a retired Navy public affairs officer, a part-time PR consultant, and a full-time public relations and journalism professor at the University of Memphis. A promoter of PR professional development in the academic environment, Kim serves as the adviser for the university's student-run strategic communication firm, Meeman 901 Strategies.

Kim enlisted in the Navy in 1986 and was commissioned as a public affairs officer via Officer Candidate School in 1996. In her last Navy assignment, she commanded the Navy Office of Community Outreach, the only grassroots-level public affairs command in the Navy. She also managed issues on the Navy's National News Desk, led the public affairs team aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68), oversaw communication for Navy operations and programs, worked overseas, and with submarines.

Kim retired from the Navy after 28+ years of service and settled in East Memphis. When she's not teaching public relations, she's busy helping Memphis small businesses and non-profits. Kim can be reached on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

The Brand Ambassadors - Multimedia and Its Branding Power

The Brand Ambassadors welcome Production Consulting Group CEO, Jeff Waller, to talk about the power of video and multimedia.

Podcasting, video blogs, livestreaming. These are just a few of the multimedia tools available to promote your brand in today's connected world. Join hosts Merritt Allen and Gary Potterfield as they explore the world of multimedia, and the pros and cons of various tools and techniques used to get the word out.

They'll be joined by guest Jeff Waller, president of the Production Consulting Group, a Pittsburgh-based emerging technologies, consulting, video streaming, and media production company. Jeff has worked in all aspects of the multimedia industry, so we'll be asking to outline which technologies are best suited for various communications scenarios and campaign tactics. During our conversation, Jeff will identify the truly effective tech and the kind that just doesn't live up to the hype.

If you've wanted to jump into the world of multimedia for your company or your clients, but were unsure where to start, this is the show for you!

You can listen to the full episode by clicking here.

Jeff Waller

This Week's Guest: Jeff Waller is the owner and President of Production Consulting Group and Integrated Production Solutions, with offices in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Washington, DC. His companies provide consulting, systems integration and video production solutions. Waller is a television industry professional with 36 years in broadcast television, combined with 25 years teaching at the university level. As a consultant and systems integrator in the live video streaming industries, he's overseen the integration of live video streaming solutions in broadcast television, education, government and the corporate sector.

He has served as an executive producer for High School Sports Production for Comcast/Xfinity for the past 13 years. He's earned two Emmy Award nominations for his work in live sports production. He has served on panels for numerous organizations, such as the National Association of Broadcasters, Broadcast Education Association and the Digital Media Arts Association.

The Brand Ambassadors - The Beer Show

The Brand Ambassadors -- The Beer Show

In this episode, Merritt and Gary take a deep dive into branding campaigns that everyone can get behind - beer! Joining them is beer advertising legend, Bob Lenz, who created the famous sunset “Miller Time” campaign for Miller High Life Beer and the even more popular “Tastes Great, Less Filling” campaign for Miller Lite, which ran for 20 years and established the light beer category in the U.S. It has been voted to be the 8th best campaign in advertising history. 

Also weighing in on the beer episode is Vox Optima executive consultant, Jeff Bender, who joined Vox Optima after a decades-long Navy public affairs career, and more importantly, a foray into craft beer marketing. On the beer episode, Jeff will help listeners learn about building global brands and microtargeting marketing for local craft products.

Oh, and we'll be learning a lot about beer!

You can listen to the full episode by clicking here.

This Week's Guests:

Bob Lenz

Bob Lenz: Growing up in the Chicago area, Bob began drawing & painting while in high school at Arlington Heights Illinois. He occupied his free time on weekends & summers by entering local & storefront art shows. This lead to studying Fine Art at the University of Illinois.  

He left Illinois after graduation in 1961 to start a job as an assistant art director at one of the largest ad agencies in New York City, McCann Erickson. At McCann he climbed the typical ladder of success & by 1977 he was Creative Director of the New York Office. There he created the hugely successful campaigns for Miller High Life and Miller Lite. In 1979, Bob and four others left McCann Erickson to set up a new agency, Backer & Spielvogel. Starting in a hotel suite, Backer & Spielvogel eventually took up six floors in the Chrysler Building. Eventually, Bob picked up the paintbrush again. Showing, painting, printing and teaching, Bob has established himself as a widely respected representational artist in both CT and NY. He displays his work at

Jeff Bender

Jeff Bender: Jeff Bender is a retired Navy Captain and public affairs officer. He has had a wide range of assignments to include deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, an aircraft carrier PAO and the public affairs officer for the Navy SEALS, just to name a few.

While stationed in Nebraska, Jeff started exploring the craft beer world. So much so that when he retired from the military in 2013, he went on to work at the largest craft brewery in Nebraska, the Nebraska Brewing. Every chance he gets, he visits a new craft brewery to sample the latest. His favorite beers include Hefeweizen, IPAs and various wheat beers, but don’t count him out on a good pumpkin ale. Jeff can be reached on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

The Brand Ambassadors - Crisis Communication Part Two

We're continuing the discussion from last week's crisis communication show and raising the stakes.

Join Merritt and guest host Jared Hamilton as they interview Tim O'Leary, who ran media operations for BP following the Deepwater Horizon explosion, and Bill McDaniel, who led global medical relief operations following the Indonesian Tsunami. Along with crisis communication planning and proactive media relations responses, Tim and Bill will talk about their personal and professional experiences during history-making crisis situations, as well as their insights to disaster response from both a communicator's and a first responder's point of view.

You can listen to the full episode by clicking here.

Jared Hamilton

Guest Host: Jared Hamilton has been heavily involved with business development, communication and journalism throughout her career.  Jared has a bachelor’s in communications and a MBA from Western New Mexico University, and she has held a number business and marketing positions, including the director of marketing and foundation at Gila Regional Medical Center, in Silver City, N.M. She also has considerable experience developing business and marketing solutions for the organizations in the Chicago and El Paso business markets. Prior to taking her current position as general manager for the Silver City Sun-News and Digital First Media affiliate, The Deming Headlight, Jared ran her own consulting business, researching and recruiting health care providers for the Department of Defense. She can be reached at Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

This Week's Guests:

Timothy O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is the director of crisis communication for Witt-O'Brien. He regularly provides counsel to clients regarding sensitive and emergent business issues and serves as a client spokesperson. Tim also conducts media and public engagement training and serves as the PublicInformation Officer (PIO) on Incident Management Teams. Providing media relations services to the energy and vessel management industries, he has served as a PIO at the Mobile, Alabama, Incident Command Post during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill response and was the PIO during recovery efforts of the Egypt Air flight 990 crash off the coast of Rhode Island in 1999. He has engaged with local, national and international news media throughout his career, developing communications strategies to align with client goals. Tim can be reached at LinkedIn and Facebook.

Rear Adm. Bill McDaniel

Bill McDaniel is a physician and retired Navy rear admiral. In 2001, Bill served as Johns Hopkins University's liaison to the federal government after the September 11th attacks. He was a contestant on Season 2 of the U.S. reality TV series, The Mole, which aired in the U.S. from 2001-02. In 2005, Bill led the Naval Hospital Ship USNS Mercy in its tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia, where he worked in Banda Aceh and Nias Island. He also was part of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. He currently serves on the Patriot Support Advisory Board of the Behavioral Health Division of Universal Health Services. Bill can be reached at LinkedIn and Facebook.

The Brand Ambassadors - Crisis Communication Part One

Crises will strike. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Is your company ready?

Gary Potterfield welcomes Paul Rhynard to Vox Optima's National Harbor production studios for episode 3 of The Brand Ambassadors.

Gary Potterfield welcomes Paul Rhynard to Vox Optima's National Harbor production studios for episode 3 of The Brand Ambassadors.

Gary Potterfield and Merritt Hamilton Allen start their two-part series on crisis communication and the impact it has on business -- whether a startup or a large commercial enterprise. 

In the next two episodes, they will discuss why every business needs a communication emergency preparedness kit before a media storm strikes.  They first explore the business organization's goals and objectives and how they serve as the foundation of an effective and responsive crisis communication plan. As the discussion progresses, your hosts then look at who will be the face and voice of the organization and how they must interact with the media, your stakeholders and the general public.

No strangers to crisis communication, Merritt and Gary have helped many commercial and government clients overcome crisis and reputation management situations, whether they were local issues, emergency management events, or international incidents.

You can listen to the full episode by clicking here.

Paul D. Rhynard, managing partner at Shawn Douglas Communication

This Week's Guest: Paul D. Rhynard has spent the last 22 years performing real-world planning, issues management, crisis media relations, disaster response and risk communication. He has led communication efforts during dozens of natural and human-caused disasters, communicating health and safety information to affected stakeholders via community outreach and traditional and digital media.

He has served as a principal federal spokesperson at the national level and in markets such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Miami, and Washington, D.C. – conducting hundreds of TV, radio and print interviews. He is a certified instructor who has logged several thousand hours delivering crisis management, media and joint information center training to members of the U.S. national response community; oil, gas and cruise ship industries; and public information officers from all branches of the U.S. armed services and allied military members from 16 nations.

The managing partner at Shawn Douglas Communication, he helps lead the Norfolk, Virginia-based crisis and emergency risk communication (CERC) consultancy in providing crisis communication contingencies to the energy, maritime and government sectors that can be implemented immediately for response to any critical incident, that are compliant with any government-led response, and that are compatible with any industry-led operation.

Paul can be reached at Twitter and LinkedIn.