TFG Learns About the Hottest App in Japan

TFG and Japanese Visit

In September we were fortunate to receive a visit from Aaron’s friend Natsuko Mochizuki, head of a PR/marketing firm in Tokyo called Moonlight Wave. Natsuko brought colleagues from two of her clients, Recruit Lifestyle, which is a subsidiary of Recruit Group, and Reckitt Benckiser JAPAN, the parent company for global brands that include Veet, Clearasil and Dr. Scholl’s. Over lunch at our office, we all got to know each other better. Our main topic of shared interest: social media best practices and trends.

Translating back and forth between English and Japanese, we discussed similarities and differences in social media use in the U.S. and Japan. Unanimously, our Japanese peers agreed that Line, a social messenger phone app, is the most widely used app among millennials in their country. Indeed, Fast Company has described the Line app in Japan as a “culture-changing, revenue-generating phenomenon,” landing it a spot in the magazine’s Most Innovative Companies list. The app offers free messaging, video and phone calls, which address the shortcomings of other communication/social platforms. At one point during our discussion, Kazuyo Sugisaki, who works for Recruit, leaned across the table to show us the “stickers” or fully graphical emojis available to send on the Line app. We loved them! According to TechCrunch, Line’s user-generated “stickers” market made a whopping $75 M in the first year.

Stickers on Line App
© TechCrunch

In the U.S., social messaging apps are also massively popular. The Fearey Group team members had many things to say about the potential of Instagram and Snapchat, both of which harness the power of images to communicate. Over the past few years in the U.S. we have seen brands jump into social platforms such as Snapchat, previously used for 1-to-1 conversations, to visually share their story with a larger audience. Social media companies are finding creative advertising opportunities, and brands are jumping on board.

TFG and Japanese Visit

Before lunch was over we each shared our favorite smartphone app. Check out what was shared below.

Favorite smartphone apps:

  • Glympse (Location-sharing app similar to Waze)
  • Mercari (Buy and sell items from your phone)
  • Line (Free messenger app)
  • Stellar (User-created photo stories)
  • Antenna (Curation magazine app)
  • Overdrive (Free online books)
  • Happify (Self-improvement/personal skills learning)
  • VSCO Camera (Photo editing)
  • Peatix (Event and ticket creation)
  • Line (Free messenger app)
  • Smart News (News curation)
  • Tinder (Online dating)

Café Spotlight: Heather Fernandez & Assembly Hall

  • Location: Assembly Hall by Tom Douglas
  • Usual coffee order: Drip, dark roast, one raw sugar, splash of cream
  • Communications hero: C.J. Cregg from The West Wing (NBC) 

Simage1unlight is pouring through the wall of windows in front of us. Assembly Hall has calmed down after the lunch rush and Heather Fernandez and I have snagged prime seating by a stoic moose head. Over iced coffee and laughter, Heather tells me about her journey with public relations.

How did you come across The Fearey Group?

I had known Aaron for years and he had become a sort of mentor to me, helping to groom and point me in the right direction for my career growth. He told me several years ago that one day we’d be working together, and low and behold, six years later, we did. I started at The Fearey Group as a Senior Account Executive and six months later I was promoted to Account Supervisor. I have worked in-house, at a big agency, as a freelancer and now at a boutique PR firm. The culture of The Fearey Group, the legacy that Pat has built and the future that Aaron is paving, is exactly what I have been looking for in my career. Plus, we have dance parties.

What about the PR industry did you initially find attractive?

I have a passion for telling stories and connecting people. I love playing matchmaker when it comes to helping people find networks, avenues in which to tell their stories, partnerships to advance their missions… anything like that. So when you can make a job out of it, it’s a bonus. I get to hear about fascinating discoveries and learn about news before anyone else does. I get to listen to an inventor or an entrepreneur talk about their passion and be the one who helps them tell the world about it. It’s a dream! PR people can be an extension of their team and help make those dreams reality, and I think that’s really special.

Do you have any tips for people who are trying to effectively utilize social media?

It’s a really noisy world out there. There is a lot of clutter, a lot of voices, and social media often gets pinned with being a conduit to that noise. I hate to say have a strategy but align your social media with who you want to be, what you want your voice to be, who you want to talk to and who you want to engage. There are many tools, apps and dashboards that I think make it easier to organize your thoughts and connect with the right people. If you put social media to work for you it can be effective.

What do you want people to know about PR?

What’s really important about our industry is that it touches so many more avenues and aspects of an organization than people realize. There are opportunities for PR when it comes to social media, communications, corporate communications, executive messaging and training all the way down to business development, branding and corporate voice. Some of our ideas could be considered off the wall or crazy, but we are encouraged to bring that fearless thinking forward. Sometimes those “crazy” ideas end up being some of the most successful initiatives.

Managing Social Media in Health Care

Social media can no longer be dubbed “the next big thing.” Although the players may change, it’s here to stay. Managing social media for an organization can be, and is for many, a full-time job. Add the complexities of privacy laws, and the job gets even more challenging for health care communicators.IMG_3822

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is designed to protect the confidentiality of health care information. It was passed in 1996, not long before some of the first social media sites started to emerge.

With the tendency for people to “overshare” details of their personal lives on social media, it becomes tricky for social media managers to walk the line of not violating HIPPA while still being helpful to patients and other social media followers.

What are some of the golden rules when it comes to social media management in the health care industry? There are many, but remember this advice:

  • Patients can say whatever they want about themselves; however as a health care provider, you cannot. Develop a social media policy response plan that’s centered on HIPAA guidelines.
  • Think twice about retweeting from your followers. Even if someone says they had the greatest experience in your hospital, you can’t acknowledge someone is a patient even if they say they are. This can be tempting, especially for all those positive stories.
  • Respond to issues offline. People often share their experiences, especially negative ones, in public forums with an audience. When someone is upset, send them a direct message for follow up.

With a thoughtful approach, social media is a great way to communicate with your patients and online community.

Social Media Lunch: Organically Grown Relationships and All-Natural Partnerships Make for a Healthy Networking Diet

Social media and the suite of tools, platforms and apps that make up this digital highway have transformed the way people meet and interact. Twitter alone has opened a plethora of doors for professional networking, B2B marketing and interpersonal relationship building. Today millions of people are connecting via social media long before they ever meet in person – that is if they ever meet at all!

Lot's of tweeting going on!
Tweet Tweet!

My professional network is largely made up of people I met via social media. These relationships were further cemented when we met in person. Never underestimate the power of a face-to-face interaction! It truly helps to build trust in one another and add a layer of emotion and compassion that might not exist through a purely digital relationship.

This is why The Fearey Group started SMLunch a few years back. It was started as a way to take relationships offline and into the real-world. SMLunch rotates monthly among local businesses, showcasing a variety of brands and the social media community behind them. Each lunch follows an informal program filled with ample amounts of networking, short presentations by host businesses, plenty of cool giveaways and the opportunity to showcase your brand, service or mission to a group of engaged and connected individuals in the community. Attendees range in industry – from artists to writers and executives to entrepreneurs, from real estate agents to social media community managers and those in the non-profit sector. At the end of the day, the point is to take these relationships we’re building online and meet in person – to further inspire collaboration, inspiration and support.

Great way to meet new people in the social media scene.
Great way to meet new people in the social media scene.

Our next lunch will take place on May 22nd at the offices where attendees will learn more about Seattle’s hottest startup. Tickets are now available at Brown Paper tickets.

Be sure to check out SMLunch on Facebook and follow @TheFearyGroup and #SMLunch for additional details.

We hope you’ll SMLunch with us soon!


What’s the buzz about? Here’s what fans of SMLunch are saying!

“SMLunch is such a wonderful way to bring those in the social media world together once a month to actively engage with one another in person. Not only are you able to spread the word about your company, but it helps solidify relationships with your existing online connections and network with those across such a broad spectrum of brands- all over lunch!” – Annie Hong, Social Media and Public Relations Manager, Anthony’s Restaurants

“#SMLunch connects those from the digital world into the “real world” with food, networking and education. This fast-paced event has become a must-attend event for the Seattle social. #SMLunch has helped me to develop relationships with influencers and companies in the area that I never knew I’d need to know!” – Ann Peavey, Chief Concierge, Visit Seattle

“SMLunch is a great, intimate way to meet and network with other professionals in a casual setting. As an attendee and host of an SMLunch, I can truly say it’s been a really valuable experience and great opportunity to showcase our company and create new business connections.” – Kara Drinkard, marketing manager, glassybaby

“I started attending SMLunch to network and meet local people in the social media and marketing community. While I did do just that, what I really came away with was a number of new friendships that have enriched my life and a group of friends that constantly teach me new things” – Howie Cohen, General Merchandise Buyer, Bartell Drugs


Heather Fernandez


Heather Fernandez is an Account Supervisor with The Fearey Group and chief event organizer for SMLunch. She’s also a Mother, PR dynamo, Reader, Fashionably-challenged, Seattleite via SoCal, lives to laugh, lover of the sea & a fan of great beer #GoHawks

Saying Thank You in the Social Age – Tweet a Coffee

Social media has opened up an endless amount of new ways to connect with people from all over the world. If you look at my Twitter feed you will see world travelers to hockey fans and public relations pros to dog lovers. The connections you can build with these simple tools are astounding and new innovations are growing on a daily basis.

One of my favorite social media innovations is Starbucks’ “Tweet a Coffee” feature. It has been around since October of 2013 and it sends a $5 Starbucks gift card to the recipient of your choice. It’s a great way to send a little love along, but it has so many uses just beyond simply sending a coffee to someone you care about.

The system works by tweeting “@TweetaCoffee to @Username” you can even send a short message along, if you like. I have my latest example below to Meredith, one of the AWESOME members of The Fearey Group team.


After you send the tweet the @TweetaCoffee account will ask you to confirm that you have a Starbucks account and confirm a payment method. Once that is complete the recipient will receive a tweet that their Starbucks gift card is ready for pick up. From there they can go online and download the $5 gift code.

I love using this feature and do it on a regular basis. I send them to friends and family to say thank you, to online friends who might need a pick-me-up or just as a way to say “hey how are things going.” If you are trying to figure out how to start a networking relationship with someone you follow online, why not tweet them a coffee and ask if they want to meet up? If they say yes, you’ve already “bought” their coffee for them. Or it’s an even better way to follow up with someone you might have met at an event to try and keep in touch.

Social innovations that allow us to bridge the gap to directly take advantage of a service and spread the love to our family, friends and acquaintances is one of the next innovations companies should consider. Now get out there and tweet your way to your next coffee meeting.  


About Chris Guizlo 

ChrisG Twitter Photo


Coffee Lover, Travel Addict, Political junkie, Former Washingtonian Turned Seattleite, Twice an #AmericanU Grad and @ChrisGuizlo on Twitter  rad.

Media Monday: Emily Heffter, The Seattle Times

Each Monday, we’re giving readers a chance to get to know the media a little better.

With a little flair.

Our goal is to give readers some insight into the work and work style of area journalists, and get to know a little bit about the person behind the byline. Start your week off with an online networking opportunity through our Media Monday blog post.

This Week: Emily Heffter, The Seattle Times

ImageEmily Heffter is a local government reporter at The Seattle Times. Since joining the paper in 2002, she has bike-raced Mike McGinn down Dexter Avenue North (and won); covered a Seattle School Board meeting that went on so long that the lights turned off automatically; and dropped her cell phone in a toilet at a NASCAR race while reporting on a potential Snohomish County track.

Q: What’s the best thing about being in the Seattle media scene?

A: Seattle has a unique culture that goes deeper than coffee and fleece. It’s a smart, innovative place with a real civic conscience, and I’m privileged to help document its progress and foibles.

Q: How has social media changed what you do?

A: I’m more connected to my readers now. We have a more personal relationship. It also makes breaking news even more competitive, which I think is fun.

Q: If you could have someone else’s job, what would it be?

A: Writing novels at a coffee shop.

Q: Press releases: Love them or hate them?

A: Well, I need them too much to hate them, but I delete too many of them to love them.

Q: What hidden talent or skill do you have that viewers/readers don’t know about you?

A: Every year I make a point to get up on a slalom waterski, just to rebel against advancing middle age.

The PR Pro Takeaway: Great thoughts here on social media’s influence on the media. Breaking news is now more of a competition because it can be broken in so many different mediums. It’s a good reminder to be mindful of what you Tweet. Find Emily on Twitter (or on a waterski).

The Fearey Group: A Legacy Built on Integrity and Creativity

By, Aaron Blank

Pat Fearey and I hit it off right away. I wasn’t really looking for a new job, so I met her on a whim. That was almost eight years ago, and I was at Edelman at the time. The Fearey Group had sent out a blast email touting a job opening.

Meeting Pat for the first time was something of an occasion. Here was a person who had really made a name for herself in the local community. How many people can say they helped create Redmond or Snoqualmie Ridge? How cool is that? She also had a reputation for integrity, of always taking the high road. It was a belief that, over time, good things happen to people who commit to doing good things. It mirrored my own ethics perfectly.

The first thing you notice about Pat is that gentle Southern accent, so different from my own. I am a native New Yorker, a former radio news guy who came out to Seattle to experience the west coast and to be closer to my wife’s family. Pat is obviously not from around here, either. In clubby Seattle, where she was often the only woman in a roomful of men, she became a Seattle luminary. That’s no small feat.  She didn’t stay in business for more than 30 years by playing it safe. It was more than values. It was taking risks and putting a huge value on creativity.

“Fearless Thinking” is more than corporate motto for The Fearey Group. It’s really woven into our collective DNA. When I wanted to expand our video capabilities, Pat handed me the company credit card and told me to get whatever I needed. I built out our video suite, and we began projects that included video graphing brain surgeries and live streaming a sleep disorder treatment. Fearless Thinking led to the pioneering of Social Media Journalism – a graph term we eventually trademarked.

Pat appreciated and demonstrated Fearless Thinking in so many ways. Mike Flynn, former publisher of the Puget Sound Business Journal, recently told me that Pat brainstormed the original idea of a special section in their weekly newspaper. A client had a story to tell and no easy way to tell it. Pat got creative. That’s a huge part of her influence that continues in The Fearey Group today and into the future.

For Pat, progress meant buying an IBM Selectric. For me, it’s becoming one of the early pioneers of Google Glass. Technology can allow us to do amazing things, but only we’re not afraid to try it. Again, “Fearless Thinking.”

I feel truly honored to have worked for Pat these last few years. I feel even more humbled to take over the company that bears her name. We’ll continue to grow, evolve, and embrace opportunities, all the while celebrating our clients’ successes and sharing their challenges. We won’t be doing the same things the same ways in five years, let alone 30. But we’ll still rely on Pat for advice and inspiration, and we’ll still call ourselves The Fearey Group.  Because the name stands for integrity and creativity. As legacies go, that’s pretty cool.

Zero to Social in 90 Minutes …with Fearey’s Aaron Blank

AaronBlankHeadshot-63By Rosalind Brazel

Social Media is an essential tool to marketing your business, creating brand awareness and announcing company news to the public. But many organizations struggle to add this layer to the fold because there are no manuals, no set rules, very few guidelines to venture into social media.

Washington Federal, KIRO radio and are hosting your next social media event in Seattle. On Monday, November 18th you will have an opportunity to jump-start your social media knowledge at the Zero to Social in 90 Minutes lunch and panel presentation. Top social media experts, including The Fearey Group’s president Aaron Blank (and soon-to-be CEO), will participate in a Q&A panel session to cover the basics and beyond on the topic of social media.

To tease you, Aaron provided a sample Q&A of what you may hear at the event:

1. How do you decide which social media applications are best for you/your company?

I try to play around with every possible social media platform. I find the top performing ones by looking at Apple’s application store. In the store, it lists the top performers. This tells me what the hottest apps are and which ones I should be playing around with almost on a daily basis.

2. What is the biggest misconception about social media?

That it is new. It is not new. I’ve been using it since the dial-up Internet days of the 80’s. It was slower, but it was still social. I spent time in chat rooms on America OnLine. Then in the late 90’s, I spent time on Instant Messenger… and so on. The tools are changing but social media has been around for quite some time!

3. What is the future of social media?

The expansion of mobile is influencing the future of social media. In other parts of the world, commercial billboards communicate with you as you walk past them (via your mobile device). That, too, will be here shortly.

4. Which social media application do you use the most and why?

I have too many. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Vimeo. YouTube. Foursquare (I have a love/hate relationship with it). Yelp. Waazi. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Lively. Uber. Evernote. Flipboard. Why do I use so many? Our world revolves around it.

5. You were an early adopter on Twitter, what was that like?

I received a 5-year anniversary reminder from Twitter this year. I’ve been using it since 2009. As a result, I’ve developed five years’ worth of online relationships that have now become offline relationships. Twitter back then was the same, just not as easy to use. If people find themselves not on it yet, they can still jump aboard. It is never too late. It is worth the time!

6. Some people say social media hinders the ability to engage in traditional verbal/written communication. Your response?

Communicating in 140 characters or less is a challenge. Doing it well helps your overall communication skills.

Aaron’s fellow panelists include Shauna Causey,, and Evonne Benedict, KING 5’s social media manager.

The event is brought to you by Washington Federal and and is hosted by Linda Thomas, from KIRO radio’s morning news program. To register for the event, go here.

For more info, click this audio link:

PRGN Best Practice Awards


The Fearey Group is once again the proud recipient of first place recognition at the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) Best Practice Awards. Made up of roughly 50 independent public relations firms, and more than 900 communications professionals, the PRGN is present in dozens of markets around the world. PRGN Best Practice Awards are earned by merit of strategy, creativity, execution and results.

This year, we were honored with Gold in the Social Media category for our work supporting Swedish Medical Center’s Cochlear Implant Web Series. The campaign was launched to raise public awareness about cochlear implants, a device which can restore hearing to deaf individuals. The series followed a patient throughout various stages of her experience with the procedure and was broadcast across various social media channels including Youtube and Instagram. The campaign generated a significant buzz in the national media landscape and across social media channels.

This is the third year in a row that The Fearey Group has had the honor of accepting Gold in the category of Social Media at the PRGN Best Practice awards. This is a reflection of our firm’s unique mission to marry traditional public relations tactics with social media and new methods of communication to create original and compelling campaigns that produce tremendous results for our clients.

The Fearey group would also like to extend a warm welcome to our two newest PRGN affiliates. We are very pleased to have Lewis Public Relations and Grape PR join the team! Lewis Public Relations is a Dallas-based agency with emphasis on strategic communications and Grape PR facilitates strategic relationships between clients and the transforming society of South Korea.

PR Unplugged: The Effects of Technology on PR and Communications

A Blog series by Caleb Kruse

This week is my introduction to a new blog series dedicated to analyzing our modern use of technology, specifically in PR and communication. Throughout this series I will attempt to pull some insight on the good, the bad, and the ugly as well as propose some ways we can think more critically on the topic.

Isn’t it amazing how rapidly technology has changed the modern business world?  Specifically in the last decade with the introduction of smartphones, people are more “connected” than ever before. Twenty years ago, e-mail was nonexistent; people had to pick up a phone and verbally communicate, write letters, and physically be present with each other. The invention of the Internet has completely changed the way humanity is able to gain access to information and communicate with each other. Social media has taken over our professional and personal lives and has given everyone more “friends” than they ever had before. While I am not saying any of these changes are necessarily bad, I do believe there are some potential problems if they are not used responsibly.

Moving forward with this blog series I would like to throw out a little disclaimer. I personally love technology and some would say I’m almost a little bit geeky with it. I will attempt to be as unbiased as possible and propose some thoughts and ideas that can challenge us all.  

Next week I will provide a more in depth look at some of the benefits technology has brought to the world of PR.