Chattanooga, you’ve had quite a year. You’ve been stretched to the limit to understand senseless death, (literally) surrounded by fires, and, trying to get your arms around how the ‘Best City Ever’ could possibly have a gang problem that is so hard to stop.

Chattanoogans are a unique breed of people. When fire fighters from Florida announced they’d be staying through the holiday, volunteers stepped forward to wash their clothes and provide food and water to keep them powered up to continue their fight.

Chattanoogans waited for hours to donate blood to those impacted by the Woodmore tragedy. They also opened their wallets to meet both present and future needs. Woodmore families are Chattanooga’s families and not one of them will be alone on the path on which they walk.

While Chattanoogans can’t understand how the gang situation has escalated to the point it has, one thing we know for certain: we support our law enforcement. In fact, random acts of kindness seem to be occurring regularly to thank them for what they do. A simple word of thanks or quietly picking up the tab for officers taking a break for a meal has now become commonplace…and it should.

While we’re talking about the kindness of our fellow citizens, Chattanoogans are also some of the smartest business people around. They meet challenges, size up the competition and yes, in some cases, they take a wrong turn; however, in these instances, there’s usually another Chattanoogan to provide guidance to get business back on track. It’s just what we do. We know that what benefits one of us, benefits all of us.

And no matter what side of the political aisle you were on in November, one thing is certain: Chattanooga is well positioned politically for future efforts that will make our economy one of the strongest in the U.S. Who would’ve ever thought that ORNL would have an office here and invest so much in our business innovation? And, thanks to having not one, but two members of the most powerful committee in Congress from Tennessee, the Chickamauga Lock is back on track and there’s lots of hope for what the future holds.

So Chattanooga, here’s to the word of the year to describe you: resilient. We wish you all the happiest of holiday seasons and are grateful for the opportunities and challenges we’ve been given this year. You see, we’re Chattanoogans too, which means we’re also pretty resilient.

Tagged , , , ,

November 9 Can’t Get Here Soon Enough!

Vote Badges

We’re all tired. From the summer that wouldn’t end to a political season that has been equally hot, it just seems like we’re all worn out. Friendships have ended over this political cycle and respect for differing opinions has seemingly gone out the window.

So how about a little PR strategy to get you thru the rough patch of the next few days?

1.) Can’t stand the heat? Stay off of social media.

We’re seeing opinions ramped up to unprecedented levels with those expressing disagreement getting personally attacked. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just stay away from the crossfire.

2.) Vote early.

Hamilton County is seeing large numbers of early voters. While the line to vote may be long, it won’t be nearly as long as it will be on Election Day. Vote early and be done with it.

3.) Don’t believe any polls.

The only poll that matters is the one on Election Day. This is where you can make a personal statement and a difference.

4.) Can’t vote for him? Can’t vote for her?

Make your vote impactful. As one voter recently said, “I couldn’t vote for either one of the candidates and thought about not voting at all. Then I thought about the military that serves us. I’m voting for the candidate who will best support our military.” In short, put a face with your vote.

5.) Remember, the world isn’t going to end on November 8.

Take some time to let the outcomes of all of the races sink in. The next President and Members of Congress will be sworn in on Friday, January 20. There will be plenty of jockeying around holiday tables and gatherings between now and then. Just roll with it.

6.) And speaking of the holidays, enjoy them.

Tagged , , , , ,

Labor Yay!

labor day

The history behind Labor Day suggests that someone, (debate still rages on as to whether it was Peter McGuire, a carpenter, or Matthew Maguire, a machinist), proposed a holiday to celebrate the hardworking individuals who worked long hours day after day.

The first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City, and the holiday was countrywide by 1885. In the beginning, the celebration of Labor Day surrounded street parades, followed by recreation festivals for workers and their families.

Today, we celebrate the holiday in all sorts of ways. Many think of Labor Day as a day for grilling out or boating, others, as a time to take a vacation. However you choose to celebrate the holiday though, the idea remains the same: it is important that we celebrate those who work hard day in and day out to change our cities for the better.

Over the last several years, the people of Chattanooga have been working hard to revitalize the city. A downtown area, now known as the “Innovation District”, has become a major destination for techy entrepreneurs to bring their startups. The Southside is a place for local artisans to show off their creations. Larger corporations like Plastic Omnium and Volkswagen have set up shop here, creating thousands of jobs.

The people of Chattanooga have put their blood, sweat and tears into their community, and the hard work has paid off. We can’t think of a better place to live and work.

Chattanooga wasn’t named “Best Town Ever” for no reason, after all.


Need help getting the word out about how your laborers are bettering Chattanooga? Give us a call today!

BRAND MANAGEMENT: The Tale of Three Guys with a Lot on the Line

DPR blog_BrandManagement

By now we’ve all heard the story of Ryan Lochte and the huge international incident he and three other swimmers caused in Rio. Lochte who is 32, wasn’t expected to make the next Olympics in four years. He needed to go out on top and rack up endorsements as he publicly toyed with the idea of being the oldest swimmer in the pool in Tokyo.

His actions and how his PR team handle this matter will tell the tale of how he will be remembered. Unfortunately, the approach taken so far has positioned Lochte as sorry for being caught, not so much for his actions. He confessed to ‘over-exaggerating’ the story (as opposed to under-exaggerating?).

Here’s what we’d counsel:

Get back in the pool and give back to others- – -fast, with kids, lots of kids (and photo ops). Show how sorry you are by becoming the poster child for giving to others. Encouraging future would-be Olympians is a nice start.

Offer up a heartfelt apology in an on-air interview that will be carried around the world and reflect a true spirit of remorse. Say the words, “I’m sorry. I screwed up.”

Whatever sanction or discipline the IOC hands down, take it and be thankful for it.

As far as endorsements go, you’re toast. Focus on what you can do to make a difference, not what you can’t. If you are lucky, you might be asked to come to Tokyo as a commentator, but that’s only if you establish a track record of lessons well-learned.

BOTTOM LINE: His future in his own hands, and that’s scary.

Just last week the Trump campaign made significant changes to their management team. Within a matter of hours, the candidate was making a speech that resonated with the public as he expressed remorse for his words and provided some absolutely quotable comments.

Trump said, “We are one nation. When one state hurts, we all hurt- and we must all work together to lift each other up. Working. Building. Restoring together.” Sounds downright presidential, right?

The other significant step he took was in going to Louisiana. He worked with volunteers and provided food, clothing, toys and other items to those in need. Photo op? You bet. But it was proactive and showed Trump’s concern before Hillary or even President Obama did. He got there first, connected with those in need and challenged his opposition to do the same.

Like him or hate him, Donald Trump resonates with many and says the things they think…until he goes off the rails.

Here’s what we’d counsel:

Stay on message and listen to the really smart people who surround you and craft those messages for you.

Keep showing up in places like Louisiana, because wherever you go, the press follows and that means the people in Louisiana will stay on the collective radar screen. When you go, do good work. It may be seen by some as a photo op; however, to those on the ground, it will be authentic. They’ll remember this in November.

Keep sending your children out to speak on your behalf. A lot can be said about a father who raises amazing kids, and yours are smart, well-educated, and well-spoken. (But so is Chelsea.)

Doing all of the above can make the race a little more interesting come November; however, both sides have to prepare for the inevitable October surprise.

BOTTOM LINE: Up to the voters.

And then there’s Michael Phelps, the world’s most decorated Olympian of all time.  Several years ago, Phelps came to Chattanooga about 30 days after the infamous ‘bong photo’. We were honored to spend some time with him while he was here. He was simply a very nice guy, who at the time, was struggling to manage his fame.

It got worse before it got better. He was arrested for DUI. He lost endorsements. Many said he was done. However, something pretty amazing happened as he checked into rehab. His long time friend former linebacker Ray Lewis gave Phelps a copy of the book “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. It changed his life as he emerged with a new commitment to healthy living and those he loved.

Phelps announced that his purpose was to come out of retirement and prove to the world (and himself) that he was still a great Olympian. His stellar performance both in and out of the pool changed his life. Endorsements? Check. Beautiful family? Check. Showing an amazingly humble attitude? Check.

Phelps announced his retirement; however, he also noted that he may not be done in the pool. His new purpose is to help stop the second leading cause of death in children under 14: drowning.

Here’s what we’d counsel:

Continue to be the poster child for the greatest turnaround ever. Reach out to others who could learn from your experience. Share the lessons you’ve learned and get ready for a very busy life. (Give Lochte a call, he could use a friend about now.)

Determine exactly what you want your future to become and surround yourself with the people who will support you in achieving it.

You are positioned to be the go-to guy for Tokyo in four years. Enjoy the status of ‘Senior Statesman’ for Olympians and kids around the world.

BOTTOM LINE: Life (and PR) lessons well learned.

How’s your brand fairing these days? Got some challenges? Give us a call. #ItsHandled

Tagged , , , , , ,

5 Questions with Bruce Hartmann

DPR’s ‘5 Questions’ series highlights a client or friend of the firm each month on our blog. We are excited to share some pretty amazing people with you!

Bruce bio photo 2

For this edition of ‘5 Questions,’ we sat down with Bruce Hartmann, President of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

1.  You’re not only in the media, but you’re also a daily consumer of media. With this in mind, what’s the first section you turn to each day in the TFP? 

I read front page and main news first, followed by business, then sports. I also scan the digital editions of the Wall Street Journal and the Knoxville News Sentinel each day. And since I am a Vikings fan, I read the Minneapolis Star Tribune sports section.

2.  With an industry that is constantly changing, how does the Times Free Press reach new audiences while maintaining a traditional audience?

We are constantly seeking to expand our audience. We know our niche is local news, and we work very hard to bring that to our readers in whatever format appeals to them. We provide up to the minute information on digital and mobile platforms, and we provide the in-depth coverage our readers count on each morning in our print edition.

3.  If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?

If I was just working for the fun of it, I would probably be doing something outdoors like a ski instructor or some sort of lake job. But my natural abilities lie in relationship building. I truly enjoy meeting and working with people, so I would probably be in something that requires those skills.

4.  As someone who moved to Chattanooga from another city, what are the top three things you most enjoy about your new hometown?

I enjoy the vibrancy of downtown Chattanooga. Living downtown, we take advantage of all the events, restaurants, outdoor activities and of course the many offerings at the Tivoli.

We have met some really great people in Chattanooga, and appreciate the warm welcome everyone has given us.

And we love the location, with easy access to mountains and lakes as well as other cities like Nashville, Atlanta, and Knoxville. And I was pleasantly surprised by the airport, how many great flights there are at great prices, which helps when one of your children lives as far away as Chicago.

5.  In your position, you are asked to serve on a variety of boards as well as volunteer your time for various efforts.  At this time, is there an effort or organization that really excites you; and if so, what are they doing that is so meaningful?

I definitely have a heart for the Tivoli, just because I became so involved in the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville and saw the pride the city took in that. I feel the Tivoli can be the same or more for Chattanooga. But the organization that I appreciate the most is the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce because of the great work they are doing with business and economic development.

Bruce came to Chattanooga and the Times Free Press in 2014. Prior to being name CTFP’s president, Bruce was in Knoxville, where he was chief revenue officer and vice president of sales and marketing for the E.W. Scripps Co.’s publishing division, working with newspapers from California to Florida. Before that he spent more than 20 years at the Knoxville News Sentinel, beginning as advertising director and rising to the position of president and publisher.
Tagged , , , ,

We’re Live in 5…4…3…2…1

Whether you agree or disagree with the opinions expressed in the interview between CNN’s Don Lemon and Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke, there are several great lessons that can be helpful for on camera interviews.  We’d like to share a few of these with you.

1.  Command the space.  Interviewer Don Lemon’s over use of his hands shows him trying to reach out to Sheriff Clarke; trying to underscore a point; or, show the importance of his question.  In response, Sheriff Clarke commanded his space by sitting very straight and making direct eye contact to make his point.  In some instances, the sheriff used his eyes to glare at the reporter.  Throughout the interview, whenever Sheriff Clarke made his point, Lemon could be seen looking elsewhere, a sure sign that he was looking for something else to say.

2.  Stick with the message.  No matter how many different ways Lemon tried to ask his questions or sway him to another message, Sheriff Clarke stayed on message throughout the interview.  He remained calm, yet very assertive in his answers. He also used his message to turn the table and make Don Lemon the interviewee instead of the interviewer.

3.  Patronizing an interviewee never works.  After seeing that he couldn’t change his interviewee’s message, Lemon tried to patronize his subject which only made him look bad.

4.  Prepare for the interview.   CNN knew the opinions of Sheriff Clarke before he was brought on camera.  Don Lemon would have had a far better interview had he prepared for it.  By knowing how the subject of an interview reacts and interacts, the interviewer would have had a far better interaction.

There are several other lessons to be learned from this interview.  Want to know more?

Give us a call.  Derryberry Media Training will have you prepared for your close-up!

July 16: One Year Later


Mural credit: Kevin Bate

Every Chattanoogan can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news about the active shooter on July 16. It wasn’t until later we would tragically learn about the deaths of the five soldiers.

The shock rippled citywide. Within mere hours, many came to honor the memory of Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells, and Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Randall Smith. The beloved sons of Chattanooga. The Fallen Five. Their lives and their sacrifice will never be forgotten.

In the midst of a senseless tragedy, the way our community pulled together to support one another and most importantly, the five families was a thing of beauty. Citizens lined the streets for the funeral processions, memorials were built, flowers were lain, donations were made, foundations were started; the response was immense. You can’t drive around town without seeing Nooga Strong on everything from billboards to bumper stickers, business walls to t-shirts.

During this time of reflection, we can’t help but look at how it relates to today. Tensions are rising and there is senseless, needless violence not just in our hometown, not just across our country, but all over our world. It’s becoming so routine, we’re growing desensitized.

It is hope-inducing, promising even, to look back on a time when we were so hurt, so outraged, that we refused to succumb. We rose up together, Nooga Strong. We united to make our city more of a community. One year ago, we learned we are capable of unification. Let’s remember to keep at it.

Let’s continue to honor our Fallen Five by trying a little harder every day to set aside our differences and come together. Let’s speak messages of love rather than hate, cooperation rather than dissension. Let’s make our home, our community, and our country better. Let’s do it to honor the lives lost.

Tagged , ,

When Good Plans Go Bad

Developing a Plan

Think of all the work that goes into opening a new business. There’s market research, sustainability studies, traffic studies, community meetings, designing the space to fit the business’ needs, budget planning, hiring staff, and deciding on and buying inventory, just to name a few tasks.

After all that time and planning, not to mention the actual dollars invested into a project, it is of the utmost importance to start off well. We hate to see someone waste time, effort, and resources because they’ve missed some key pieces. Even the best plans can go bad, that’s why we’ve put together a few suggestions for how to start off right.

Hire experts

Find the people who are the best at what they do and add them to the team, building your own crew of industry experts.

Be competitive

Be competitive in experience, service, variety, and price compared to others in the industry. You don’t want to be the highest price in town for an exact or similar product that four other businesses down the road are offering.


Having an element that sets you apart from industry peers is crucial. Whether it be incredible customer service, or fun, cheeky social media, get something that hooks your customers and keeps them coming back.

Keep Branding Consistent

Create a branding guide and stick to it so you don’t confuse your audience. Make sure all of your price tags, sale signs, advertisements, signage and displays have a common, cohesive theme.

First Impression is Everything

Above all else, make a great first impression with your customers. Without this, you are cooked. It doesn’t matter if you correct everything to perfection, it will be infinitely harder to get someone back into your store to prove it to them.

Got you thinking? Give us a call today!

Tagged , , ,

PR Advice: Time to Break These Down


Silos are very useful for farming; however, in the midst of the public discourse our country is currently having about the tragedy in Orlando, it’s probably time to break down a few of these.

Over the past days, readers have noticed some pretty heated rhetoric on various social media channels. No matter the political, demographic, sexual, religious or other leanings, the one thing noticed is the passion behind the postings.

So here’s what we propose. Take the passion and turn it into patriotism and civic engagement. Thank those who protect, from our military to our local law enforcement and especially first responders. Paying for an officer’s coffee or a simple ‘Thanks for your service’ means a lot.

Know a family whose loved one is in the military? Support is easy to show when it comes in the form of a batch of homemade cookies or a night out with friends.

Register to vote then vote. No matter the race, good government requires active citizenship. Learn as much as possible about a candidate. Ask hard questions and base voting decisions on personal knowledge, not what others say.

Pause before hitting ‘send’. Seeing a particularly pointed post or tweet can trigger an emotional response. We recommend taking a deep breath before responding or even taking a break away from social media until the rhetoric settles.

The reason so many want to harm our country is because of the freedoms we enjoy that allow us to be different, to voice our opinions, and, to live the lifestyles and practice of the politics of our choosing.

With all of the challenges we face, this is still one amazing country. It’s time to pull together to make it the best for all of us.

Tagged , , , ,

Riverbend at 35


Let the celebration begin! Chattanooga’s annual Riverbend Festival kicks off tonight, with thousands of locals gearing up to head down to the waterfront to enjoy some live music and perhaps even a Pronto Pup or two.

This year marks the 35th year for the hugely popular music festival held downtown at Ross’s Landing against the backdrop of the Tennessee River. What started as a somewhat modest five-day festival back in 1982, has exploded into today’s manifestation, an eight-day extravaganza boasting over 100 performances from all genres.

This year’s lineup brings some major talent, with acts including Heart, Salt N Pepa, Umphrey’s McGee, REO Speedwagon, Brett Eldredge and more. More than 650,000 people are expected to attend over the course of the festival this year.

In honor of Riverbend’s 35th anniversary, let’s take a look back at some of the festival’s most memorable moments:

1983 – The classic Riverbend pin is released, allowing patrons access to the festival.

1130_WEB_e_Riverbend_6_t755_h29ff2587b74cde345462c3b5b3201eeaef8e8ffb1988 – A huge storm with massive winds hits the Coca-Cola main stage, but headliner Gloria Estefan refuses to end her set early.

1989 – Legendary guitarist, BB King, returns to Chattanooga for an encore performance after hitting the stage in 1981 at 5 Nights, the precursor to Riverbend.

1994 – Faith Hill performs on the Delta Airlines stage, a performance that has since become known as the performance that launched her career.

1999 – Queen of Disco, Donna Summer rocks the house, causing all disco-lovers to reminisce about the days of sequins and bellbottoms.

2006 – The Budweiser Clydesdales open the gates to kick off the beginning of the festival and parade down the streets of Chattanooga!14922443_BG1

2011 – Wheel of Fortune’s “Wheelmobile” visits the Festival! Attendees are able to play a simulated version of the game and audition to be on the live show later that year.

2013 – Cee Lo Green is banned from the festival following his expletive-ridden performance on the Coca-Cola main stage.

2014 – The well-known Riverbend pins are replaced in favor of the easier to track wristbands, but attendees are still able to purchase collectible pins at the festival if desired.

2014 – Widespread Panic’s performance generates highest sales for single day ticket purchases since Riverbend’s inception.

Riverbend has been a major component in the revitalization of Chattanooga, and we’re happy to see it’s still thriving. We’ll be in attendance this year, will you?


Happy 35th anniversary, Riverbend!

Tagged , ,