What We Can Learn From Diana Ross About Brand Longevity.

Defining a brand is an important step to charting the course of a brand’s longevity. I make it a point to tell my PR and Management clients that their target audience should have a connection to their brand and reflect their business values and purpose. This is achieved by knowing what encompasses their brand and what makes it stand out from the rest. Customers that connect emotively are far more likely to return often while encouraging others to do the same.

One brand that comes to mind is Diana Ross. She is a shining example of a global brand that has been attuned to longevity, well cultivated and defined with a compelling story and a dynamic presence.

The pioneering pop queen recently celebrated her star-studded seventy-fifth birthday bash in style and glam. Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Diddy, and Leonardo DiCaprio were among a bevy of partygoers said to have danced all night to Ross’ songs, including my fav, I’m Coming Out. With five outfit changes and Ross riding up to the venue in a white convertible Rolls-Royce donned in a beautiful gown, the scene was reminiscent of an old Hollywood movie.

This is nothing new for the trendsetting grandmother of five, who for five decades, influenced pop culture and paved the way for younger artists like Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift.

Before the Detroit native embarked on her solo career, Diana Ross was a member of the Supremes — a widely popular trio discovered by Motown’s founder Berry Gordy. The Supremes’ perfectly-crafted image, coiffed hair and beautiful gowns were a solid hit. Their songs, Stop! In the Name of LoveYou Can’t Hurry Love, Baby Love, and You Keep Me Hanging On gave a new meaning to love and empowerment.

In 1970, Diana Ross left the Supremes and later scaled the R&B charts, churning out showstopping songs like Ain’t No Mountain High EnoughEndless Love, and Reach Out and Touch, proving she is unstoppable. She went on to perform in such classic films like Lady Sings the BluesMahogany and The Wiz.

One thing for sure, Diana Ross’ talent, effervescent personality, undeniable beauty, and timeless fashion struck a chord with fans from all over the world. One fan, in particular, was my mom. She related to Diana Ross much like younger women do with Beyoncé today. My mom never skipped a beat when it came to buying Diana Ross’ music, or tickets to her concerts and movies. This rings true for most people who bear a strong connection with their favorite brand, and in some cases without changes to its original brand promise.

When it comes to brand longevity, Diana Ross has taught us that pushing boundaries, added brand awareness, credibility, staying ahead of the curve, and consistency are all factors that could lead to attaining longevity. A major pop star or a product, continually delivering a quality brand and building lasting connections with a consumer base will generate long-term customer loyalty.

From her earlier days until now, Diana Ross has stayed true to her brand and has never wavered in who she is as an artist. She has built a body of work that is synonymous to great showmanship that remains relevant in today’s pop scene. Her music has been sampled in today’s songs, her signature long curly mane and fashion are channeled at red carpet affairs, music videos and popular movies. While her audience has matured along the way, she has attracted a legion of younger fans, whose elders grew up listening to her music. Rest assure Diana Ross, the brand, will be around for generations to come.

Olivia Almagro is a business adjunct professor and public relations consultant and principal owner of O+Media Group, LLC.

Why you need a crisis communications plan before it’s too late.

The crisis surrounding the massive college admissions scandal has rocked our nation. Following a year-long investigation into a college admissions scam, Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, and other prominent figures were charged with fraud.

Some of the allegations involved helping parents with kids that were likely ineligible for admissions to top-tier schools. Through huge payouts, standardized test scores were rigged, and college coaches and other university insiders received bribes. After the scandal broke, heated discussions ensued on social media with most of the ridiculing directed toward the celebrity parents. However, many have pondered the question: how will these elite universities handle the backlash?

It is tough for companies of any size to anticipate a crisis, but every organization is vulnerable to having them. A crisis situation could strike at any moment, and while it may not require a team going into full panic mode, it takes only one poorly handled public relations crisis to ruin an organization’s reputation.

That said, a company can always communicate a crisis to internal and external stakeholders. Not offering an appropriate and timely response can suggest that the company is inept or in some cases, criminally negligent. The outcome could ultimately affect the company’s bottom line.

In my years of working in public relations, it has always been necessary to rely on a crisis communication plan. Some of you may wonder what exactly is a crisis communication plan? Well, it’s a plan that outlines the process that an organization uses to respond to a critical situation that could negatively affect its reputation and profitability. Most importantly, it allows a company to have the first line of responses and plan of action prepared.

Here are a few of my suggestions, when establishing a crisis communication plan.

Anticipate a Crisis

Look at all possible ways a crisis could take form in your line of business or industry. This critical situation could result from a faulty product, embezzlement, social media snafu, a customer’s grievance handled improperly or even worse an incident that caused a fatality.

Assemble a Team

Assemble a crisis communications team comprised of senior officials from your company.

Identify a Spokesperson

Identify a member of your staff as a spokesperson. This person should feel comfortable talking with members of the press while under pressure.

Prepare Holding Statements

These statements are prepared in advance for your organization’s initial response. It buys crucial time for an organization to assess the situation and issue something later in greater detail.

Monitoring System

You want to monitor your media mention. While Google alert is free, there are other more efficient tracking systems available.

Have a Digital and Social Strategy in Place

Your social strategy for reaching your stakeholders should encompass social media. Updates should be made regularly to the website’s newsroom.

Understand Your Target Audience

Identify and know your audience and the most effective way to communicate with them.

Update your Contact List

Have an accessible internal stakeholders’ contact list that is updated regularly.

Choose a location to Hold a Press Conference

This might not seem important, but the last thing you want to worry about during a crisis is where to hold a press conference in a room that has functioning electrical outlets.

Hire an Outside Public Relations Agency

If your company is incapable of handling a response of a crisis situation, you may want to consider hiring a PR agency. You don’t want the situation to spiral out of control.


It is important for a team to meet and discuss how things could have been done better with the handling of the communication response. Did the company’s message align with its mission or reach its internal and external audience in an effective manner? Did your company’s representative commit to making internal policy changes, and if so, how soon will those changes take effect.

Responding to a critical situation can be stressful for any team, but knowing that the appropriate tools are in place and your team is taking the right steps by reacting accordingly brings much-added value to a company’s reputation.

Olivia Almagro is a business adjunct professor and public relations consultant and principal owner of O+Media Group, LLC. www.oplusmediagroup.com

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Building A Winning Team.

Building a winning team can be a challenging process. Ask three-time NBA champion LeBron James, 32, who in my opinion, is arguably the greatest basketball player that has ever graced this planet. I am not here to talk about his athletic prowess, but his ability to assemble a winning team off the court.

My college students and I had the opportunity to watch in class “More Than A Player” — a documentary starring LeBron James and his longtime friends from Ohio: Randy Mims, Maverick Carter and Rich Paul, and now, business partners of his multi-million-dollar ventures, corporate-branding partnerships, philanthropic projects, and a school. This documentary is a must-see for all learners of the craft. It illustrates how their friendship and business relationship have withstood the pitfalls of a demanding NBA career.

I was awestruck of how at the young age of 17, James began to carve out a mission that strategically involved empowering his friends, who were symbiotic of each other. He instinctively placed them in positions where they could grow and cautiously learned the ropes. While many criticized James for not going with a more seasoned team, he was confident he could pull it off. A risk James was willing to take and, in the end, one that paid off handsomely. The foursome was not afraid to share in the documentary some of the mistakes made along the way in their journey and how they view these mistakes as valuable lessons today.

One of James greatest achievement is the I Promise School, a public elementary in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, aimed at at-risk students and supported by the LeBron James Family Foundation. The I Promise School is a shining example of what a winning team can do. The school recently made headlines with ninety percent of the students exceeding their academic performance goals. They also formed corporate partnerships with such giants as Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, corporations which seek to level the playing field in a city where kids live below the poverty level.

Throughout my career, I’ve worked in various work teams that were exceptional and others that fell flat and were ineffective, which undermined the team’s goals — not everyone shared the same performance standards or could measure up to the stated values presented by leadership. I’ve learned there is no magical formula when it comes to forming a viable team. However, in order to compose an effective squad like James, leadership has to build trust, loyalty, and camaraderie among its members.

This comes with proper communication, cooperation, and respect for each other. Every leader desires a group they can count on, a team that requires minimal direction, and one that will deliver and throw the winning shot. Another factor is colleagues know how to put their egos to the side and collaborate for the common good and a common goal.

In short, LeBron’s leadership role demonstrates how building a solid team doesn’t happen overnight. There’s going to be bumps along the way, but a team that pushes boundaries and sets its sight on winning is bound to succeed.

Olivia Almagro is a business adjunct professor and public relations consultant and principal owner of O+Media Group, LLC. www.oplusmediagroup.com

Kobe Bryant’s Legacy Lives On.

I grew up and lived my entire childhood with three brothers who watched basketball religiously. I was never quite a fan of the game, but rarely did I have a problem watching Michael Jordan soar and leap across the basketball court to score a win for his team. In fact, most nights, he left me on the edge of my seat, wondering how he could stay in the air for so long to make a jump shot.

Fast forward fifteen years later, a seventeen-year-old point guard from Philly named Kobe Bean Bryant burst onto the scene with a similar edge, as much grit, and as intense a work-ethic as Jordan. Witnessing these two battle on the basketball court toward the end of MJ’s career was memorable and worth seeing.

For seventeen years, I watched Kobe, a/k/a “Black Mamba” become the youngest player in the league’s history to reach 30,000 career points, five NBA titles, two Finals MVPs, and all-time leading scorer in Lakers’ franchise history surpassing his mentor and Hall of Famer Jerry West. Kobe never ceased to amaze me with his signature fadeaway shot that now has millions of people petitioning for it to become immortalized as the new symbol of the NBA.

When confirmed news reports flashed that Kobe and his beautiful daughter Gianna and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash, I was as devastated as everyone else. His untimely death had prompted sports peers and fans to reflect on life and how important it is to make each day count — something Kobe lived by. While we had a hint of what was to come of his post-retirement life, it was quite evident, he was already exceeding expectations. Kobe had penned books and scored an Academy Award for an animated short film that he had written. The same ferocity and competitiveness he had in the NBA perpetuated into his work in the business world.

In 2013, Kobe co-founded a venture capital fund with businessman Jeff Stibel called Bryant Stibel & Co and invested in tech, athletics, and media ventures that helped upsurge his assets to nearly two billion dollars. He carved out a post-retirement legacy that could easily serve as a successful blueprint for incoming players, particularly young men and women of color, who may not relate to a Jeff Bezos or Warren Buffet, but can identify more with Kobe. He was masterful at branding. Entering the league at a young age, Kobe set his sights on building his brand and landed a lucrative four-year $40 million dollar deal with Nike and other endorsements at just twenty-four years of age. His relationship with Nike blossomed and through their partnership, birthed the Mamba League Kids Basketball Program in 2016.

Kobe’s undeniable passion for not settling for mediocrity was unmatched and is something everyone can learn from by channeling their inner Mamba. “You’re going, you’re competing, you’re not worried about the end results. That’s what Mamba Mentality truly is,” said Kobe. While he was taken away from us at the mere age of forty-one-years, one thing for sure is that his accomplishments both on and off the court, and his dedication to his businesses and philanthropic work will forever live on.

Olivia Almagro is a business adjunct professor and public relations consultant and principal owner of O+Media Group, LLC. www.oplusmediagroup.com