Stand Out in a (Pandemic) Job Hunt

By Linda Chang, Talent Resource Manager at Green Room Communications

Job searching is hard. Add a pandemic on top of it and forget it … the act itself feels like you are climbing up an escalator that is moving in the opposite direction. It is a tough job market. Companies are closing their doors with many more on the brink of closing. But as I write this, there is hope. With vaccine programs rolling out, we are taking steps globally to get back to where we once were.

As a talent resource manager, I spend a lot of time scanning resumes and talking to candidates. I see my role as a matchmaker – connecting experience with opportunity. Even though interviews are now conducted on Zoom, the essence of interviewing has not changed. Hiring managers want to get to know you and give you an opportunity to get to know the company. Below are some tips that have helped job seekers successfully stand out to me:

  • Start by updating your LinkedIn profile and include a photo. If you know who the hiring manager is, you can also reach out via LinkedIn.
  • Perhaps most important right now, is to get comfortable with Zoom! Without the ability to meet face-to-face, there is more emphasis to make sure your personality makes it across the screen.
  • Prepare an elevator speech in anticipation of the ever-popular statement, “Tell me about yourself.”
  • Review the job requirements and look for parallels. Be prepared to tout your skills and experience as it relates to the job. Keep it short and sweet.
  • Research the company. Understand the company’s mission, values, and services.
  • Be curious and ask questions. You are interviewing the company, too! Your questions will provide insight into your thought process and can be a segue into how you can add value.
  • Send a follow-up thank you note or email.
  • If the process moves slowly, periodically check in so that you stay top of mind. Things can change in an instant and showing proactivity and continued interest says a lot about you.

This is all basic advice, but when you are not interviewing on a consistent basis, it is easy to forget these things!

If you are in a lull and are having a hard time finding a job, make the most of the time you have right now and be productive with it. Employers want to see initiative and drive. Spruce up your resume to make sure it is easy to read and highlights your relevant experience. Continue to apply for jobs. Consider freelancing – often times these opportunities can lead to full time jobs. Obtain additional training and certifications. Network and volunteer your talents.

Most importantly, keep showing up. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and continue to climb your way up the downward escalator. With time, patience, and perseverance, you will make it up to the top.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning about current opportunities at Green Room, please reach out to me at!



Reflecting on the Year with Gratitude

By: Deborah Fowler and Karen Carolonza, Managing Partners, Green Room Communications 

As 2020 comes to an end (finally!), we find ourselves reflecting on a year that will forever be synonymous with a pandemic that upended lives in every corner of the world. Staying positive remains a struggle as humanity continues to navigate COVID uncertainties. We have been collectively grieving—our old “taken-for-granted” routines, face-to-face connections, embraces, in-person schools and businesses, and for many, loved ones taken by this complex disease.

If we learned anything from this challenging year, it’s that beauty and growth can be found in the darkness. For the two of us, as women, mothers and leaders of Green Room, this took form in the practice of gratitude for others and ourselves.

As research shows, the practice of expressing gratitude can benefit your well-being, reduce stress, boost happiness and increase positivity in relationships, and is associated with better sleep, mental resilience and physical health. Anyone working in public relations knows these are all critical for success!

When things erupted in the U.S. last March, the Green Room leadership team quickly paused to carefully determine how to keep our employees safe while also allowing our business to thrive. Our nimble, flexible business model gave us a huge head start. Green Room already operated under a “work from anywhere” mantra, so we were able to seamlessly flex into all-remote operations. This avoided workflow disruption and allowed our team to keep activity in motion, which was especially important for our healthcare clients on the frontlines of COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic efforts.

While remaining client-focused, we also prioritized self-care. As they say, you have to put your oxygen mask on first so you can better assist others. Our Green Room team members have always been caring and supportive of one another (and our clients), and this year each of us elevated that compassion in new ways. We launched round-robin virtual coffee chat sessions to create a space during the workday for 1:1 relationship building across the company. We held biweekly meditation sessions on Fridays via Zoom and created a Slack channel for sharing positive news and little slices of gratitude daily. We came together not only for virtual town halls and brainstorms, but for fun team-building events like happy hours, trivia nights and escape room competitions.

With our own masks tightly fastened, literally and figuratively, we also stayed nimble. With each passing month, we leaned into what our team needed – from flexible schedules, tech support and ideation of more effective ways to share strategic thinking. Through it all, we found our way.

We are grateful for our smart, kind and compassionate Green Room team (including colleagues, consultants and clients) who adapted positively to the “new normal” during such an abnormal time in our lives, even when it seemed like everything around us was in utter chaos. We are grateful that our team continues to get bigger. We are grateful for our clients who stayed the course and continued to put patients first and who treated us as true partners, allowing us to help uncover solutions in new territories.

In a year of loss, change and grief, we found silver linings while practicing gratitude. For that, we will be forever thankful. Here’s to a happy and rejuvenating holiday season, and a healthy 2021!

Deb and Karen

Work-Life Integration at Green Room

By: Heather Rose, Senior Vice President, Client Navigation, Green Room Communications

We asked Heather Rose, SVP of Client Navigation, about her approach to work-life integration to flex and thrive in a work-from-home role. Here’s what she had to say!

How long have you worked fully remote? About nine years now—five with Green Room. I’ve worked with NJ- and NYC-based agencies from Connecticut, Toronto and now Maryland in full-time, part-time and consulting roles. I have run the gamut! Green Room’s model empowers me to keep growing my career despite not living in New Jersey where our physical office space is located.

What tools or resources does Green Room offer to promote success in a remote environment? In the normal (pre- and hopefully post-COVID) state, we have team members who are office-based, hybrid (a flex of home and office) and fully remote like me. We’ve always been at the forefront of connectivity—integrating the Slack collaboration platform and Zoom into our daily routines years before the pandemic made them a necessity. For quick things, I’ll Slack someone; it’s analogous to talking over the cubicle. I’m on the phone a lot, too, but have noticed a trend toward more Facetime and Slack video calls. I love that my clients are opting into this, too. It’s been a refreshing shift to have weekly Zoom calls where everyone can see one other; I feel like it’s deepened relationships and allowed for greater strategic spontaneity.

How do you create a break between work and home without a commute or clear end to the workday? Ordinarily my sons’ school routines create the flow for my work hours. Now that COVID-19 has thrown that out the window  —  especially as my third grader is fully virtual until January (insert screaming face emoji here!) — setting consistent routines and clear communication about schedules is essential. I am fully focused during my workday window, which is generally 9am-3:30pm. Then, I shut my laptop. My clients and teams know I’m still reachable for urgent things later in the day, but I am an advocate for selfcare and family time. It’s important to be able to “turn off” and I am appreciative that Green Room has shaped a culture where that’s encouraged.

The intro mentions “work-life integration.” How is that different from “work-life balance?” I consider work-life balance an old school, push-and-pull phrase. Meaning, you put in your 8+ hours in a chair at the office…and try to keep the “+” under control so you have time for a life outside of work. At Green Room, we prefer the term work-life INTEGRATION. It’s based on a foundational trust that we are all committed to doing the best work for our clients, our agency and ourselves, every day. We meet or beat deadlines, we show up powered on for brainstorms and client conversations. We care, we are accountable and we have high standards. We deliver. And within that space, there is permission to flex into the other areas of our lives even if those things fall during the standard workday. For example, I recently worked at the beach and took a few hours mid-day to be with my family, signing back on in the evening to wrap up. If I need to step away for a doctor’s appointment or school meeting, I shift my schedule and don’t need to take PTO. This is an extraordinary benefit as a working mother; I never have to choose between work and family. I can create time for everything. 

What elements of WFH surprised you or would surprise others? That I’m never lonely. I’m talking to clients and teammates all day long during scheduled and spontaneous conversations. Also, that my location hasn’t hindered my ability to lead and nurture strong client and team relationships. It’s all about the effort you put in daily to build connections despite not being face-to-face. None of my colleagues or clients are back in the office yet and some have actually switched to permanently remote, so at this stage, pretty much everyone in my “space” has hit their stride with WFH. But I’m NOT surprised about that because PR pros are nimble! 

What is the best advice you have for someone who is making the switch to fully remote? Be present. Set expectations and form agreements with your teams about what your days and interactions will look like, and follow through. Also, prepare to pivot until you find the right flow. Be responsive, too. It can be hard to know if someone is heads-down on a project or not at their desk if they don’t reply promptly to Slacks and emails. If I need to be laser focused on something or step away for a bit, I post in our “In and Out” Slack channel, which is like a work status blackboard across the agency. Also, before COVID, even though I was fully remote, I always made sure to work in some in-person trips to see clients and teams when possible. Despite technology innovations, sometimes nothing beats face-to-face interaction.

Any closing thoughts? We’re going to see more and more people in PR working remotely past COVID. It’s fantastic to work with an agency that’s always recognized that good work can happen anywhere, and it’s exciting to help shape “where we go from here.” I know that Green Room will stay ahead of the curve for our clients and our team members. But one also has to be very self-motivated to thrive in a remote environment. It’s all about what you create for yourself!

Keeping Up with COVID in Communications


By: Diana Hatton, Senior Strategist, Green Room Communications

As the week of March 17 unfolded, employees abandoned their office buildings, children rushed home from school and store shelves were stripped in reaction to the bleak news from overseas. As seasoned communicators, we have a healthy respect for the news “cycle” – the time that passes from when the media reports on an event to public reaction. In today’s world, the news cycle has shortened, from the 24-hour news cycle created in the cable era to the instantaneous news cycle, that is now defined by social media. While every company has its own news cycle, on March 17, the entire country was forced to communicate around a single event as we adapted to the impact of COVID-19, navigating immediate and drastic changes to protect the health of Americans.

The tone one takes at a time of crisis is critical, and with the now-instantaneous news cycle that tone needs to be agile. For corporate leaders, there is a time to listen and a time to get involved in conversations – and it is a fine art to know when to act.

Many of our health care clients have been turning to Green Room for advice on communicating about COVID-19 with employees, customers, consumers and other stakeholders, especially as we work our way through the phases of restrictions and evolution of our messages. Our recommendation is to first assess the current news environment. Any communications must be both valuable and timely to make it worth entering the conversations on COVID-19 and putting a company’s reputation at risk.

Here are some tips we share with our clients:

  • Make sure your message is agile, and be willing to pivot. Understand the value of the information you plan to relay to your various audiences and reassess your message if the news changes overnight. Consider these questions: Is the time right? Is the topic relevant? Do you have an important contribution to the latest conversation? How could the communication be perceived?
  • Be authentic and clear, even if it is “just an update.” Avoid adding confusion by using clear and concise messages and don’t be afraid to say you are still working toward the answers. Everyone is dealing with information overload, so keep communications tight, transparent and, most important, strategically timed.
  • Use the right channels. Consider who you want to reach and adjust your message accordingly. Short, informal videos from a home office are easy to produce and can make leaders seem more approachable and human. LinkedIn can be a great way to reach internal employees too, but it is also a public platform. In general, it’s safe to assume that your message may become public, even if originally communicated internally. Look at each and every message through the public lens.
  • Show compassion. Don’t forget to listen and show compassion. Even as restrictions start to lift in many areas, and we navigate getting back to the office, this remains a stressful time for everyone as we adjust to the “new norm” and your employees, partners and customers are exhausted.

If you are a part of a nonprofit organization and in need of guidance on how to communicate to your staff and others in your network, Green Room is available for pro bono, one-time calls to help.


Position Summary:

Green Room’s Graphic Designer sets the stylistic and artistic direction as well as delivers execution of materials and campaigns in print, email, video and on the web with a strong emphasis in PowerPoint and digital. Should be able to assess data from multiple sources (analytics, user experience tools) to help drive the design decisions. Often collaborates with a copywriter in developing creative ideas. The Graphic Designer uses their knowledge of current graphic design software to produce graphic art and visual materials for a range of materials, including breakthrough PowerPoint decks, infographics, posters, Web sites, and collateral materials for both internal purposes and for Green Room’s Healthcare and Pharmaceutical clients. Generates and manipulates graphic images, animations, sound, text and video into consolidated and seamless multimedia programs. Evaluate emerging technologies and provides thought leadership and perspective within the organization for adoption where appropriate.

Reporting Relationships:

The Graphic Designer reports to the Executive Vice President, Operations and Strategic Integration (or Senior Graphic Designer / Art Director, as appropriate).

Credentials and Experience:

  • Seven to ten years of professional studio/agency or in-house experience in both print and digital
  • Expert with Mac OSX operating systems
  • Proficient with design software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office suite; expert in PowerPoint
  • Experience with Web-oriented design software (i.e., WordPress, Visual Composer)
  • Knowledge of website analytics (e.g. Google Analytics)
  • Knowledge of website user experience tools (e.g. Hotjar, Optimizely)
  • Illustration skills a plus
  • Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design or related field, or equivalent experience in the design field
  • Design experience for Healthcare and Pharmaceutical clientele preferred

Essential Skills:

  • Possesses solid communication skills; verbal, written and visual
  • Demonstrates independent thinking and an autonomous workstyle, yet collaborates well
  • Exhibits professional demeanor and style
  • Exceptional creativity with a variety of media
  • Anticipates well and manages time effectively
  • Capable of handling a variety of projects from numerous clients
  • Delivers professional, error-free, high-quality work that consistently meets and exceeds expectations
  • Demonstrates organizational skills and ability to multi-task and balance priorities
  • Listens carefully to directions, takes notes when necessary and is proactive about seeking additional information/clarification
  • Moves projects forward to achieve objectives
  • Proficient in Infographic, PowerPoint and digital/print design
  • Strong attention to detail and is dedicated to producing quality work
  • Effectively meets deadlines

Embodiment of Green Room’s Core Values:

  • We are a team of independent self-starters
  • We are authentic
  • We have a client-first mentality
  • We have a can-do spirit
  • We show grit

Physical Demands: The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Work Environment: The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. The noise level in the work environment is usually quiet.

About Green Room Communications: Green Room is a nimble healthcare agency with a unique model that offers a new approach to classic communications needs. Green Room harnesses a global network of award-winning public relations experts to provide customized teams with specific skill sets to address individual projects. From corporate positioning and PR strategy to media and digital relations to integrated creative design, Green Room’s skill-based model ensures scalable support for changing client needs. The company’s unique ability to harness this intellectual capital and infuse it with energy and passion provide a competitive edge. Green Room was named a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise in March 2016 by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

Green Room Communications provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion or belief, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, family or parental status, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, Green Room Communications complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment. We are committed to providing employees with a work environment free of discrimination or harassment.

Please click here to view this listing on LinkedIn

By Deborah Fowler, Managing Partner, Green Room Communications

As a former TV journalist, open space is like going home. Newsrooms have embraced the open space model for decades, and as Green Room officially moves into our new office space, we join newsrooms, as well as trendsetters like Google and Facebook, with an open space floor plan.

In an open office, there are no walls, barriers or fully enclosed spaces separating team members. In the newsroom, I developed a new way of working. I tapped into new skillsets where I could actually listen as I was thinking about another thought, with one ear to the police scanner while simultaneously writing news copy for the 6 pm broadcast.

We work with many colleagues who loathe the open space model. Personally, I cherish it.

As communicators who are rooted in journalism, Karen and I designed an office environment that fosters informal and frequent communication. It’s what we do best, and our workplace should reflect and build on our strengths.

Open space layouts have been shown to improve communication and collaboration among co-workers. Taking down walls both physically and figuratively fosters spontaneous teamwork and problem solving. I’ve noticed, and research supports, often these types of informal interactions can be incredibly productive. People can generate and bounce ideas off one another without the constraint of a more structured and scheduled meeting.

In the newsroom environment, open office space cultivates camaraderie and teamwork among colleagues simply because constant exchange is welcome and encouraged. Everyone shares, contributes and gives input. People get first-hand and frequent exposure to different work styles and how colleagues approach tasks. Problem solving can be more efficient when it’s informal, and people just work better together when physical barriers are removed. There’s a greater sense of community and less hierarchy.

Yes, open offices can be noisy and sometimes disruptive for more focused tasks like writing, data analysis or conference calls. However, like a newsroom with edit bays and sound booths, we have places employees can go for private conversations.

Our new office design includes several “huddle rooms” where teams can meet privately, take calls or work undisturbed when more focused concentration is required. Flexible work spaces – where people have the option to work in various places around the office – provide options for a change of scenery or to get into a new mindset. And a nearby Starbucks on the building premises is an added perk.

It’s important that employees feel a connection to their space. Studies show open space offices are successful when people have a greater sense of what psychologists call place identity. When they feel their space is truly collaborative and a reflection of themselves, they take greater pride in their workplace. They’re also more engaged and positive about their work. We’re encouraging people to personalize their space with pictures, plants and other things that help them feel more connected to it.

The new space does come with some rules of common courtesy. We encourage colleagues to be mindful of those around them. If someone looks like they’re trying to focus, don’t holler across the room. If a team member is on a call, keep the volume down. And if you’re the one who needs to focus, don’t be afraid to let your neighbors know, or try headphones to drown out background noise.

It turns out communication really is the key to a productive and successful open office. No wonder it works for us!

Come visit us at 1719 Route 10 East, Suite 318, in Parsippany!

How I Press for Progress for Women

By: Karen Carolonza, Managing Partner, Co-Founder, Green Room Communications


I’m on a high. I just finished a presentation as a guest panelist at BD (my former employer and rock star healthcare company) to mark International Women’s Day, an important milestone celebrating women and diversity in the workplace. As amazing as the panel was, I realize that as part of the journey in preparing my remarks and reflecting on my life experiences, I was really witnessing historic change. Change for women in the workplace and at home.

To add to this epic experience, my two sisters who are also fellow business owners, mothers and entrepreneurs, Alison and Jill, joined me, to make the event even more special. We were so proud to be included in the inspirational discussions on the advancement of women and diverse populations around the globe.

As siblings, trust me, we had our rivalries, but today the focus was on what we have in common. Despite the different industries in which we work and started our own businesses, we each saw unique opportunities. In short, we found gaps where we knew we could make things better. Our common thread?  Find ways for women to achieve better work-life integration. Discovering these gaps that aligned with our morals and values as women and people united our passion with a purpose, igniting a new energy to pioneer change.

How could all three of us have traveled a similar path? Or, find niches within our respective industries and then apply our drive and energy to pursue them? I believe it comes from our parents. They instilled in us the drive, compassion, sense of humor and bravery required not only to fill these gaps and become entrepreneurs, but to stand up for what we believe in, find opportunities in the jobs we had before starting our own companies, and press for change while staying true to our beliefs. “If not us, who?  If not now, when?”

Knowing how important family support was in my journey led me to focus on my own family in my career. That means, finding ways to integrate my personal life with my work. By this, I don’t mean work-life balance, it’s about integrating the two. In some cases that meant taking business risks to realize an opportunity. This was at times daunting, but with the right intentions in place and by tying the risks to a greater purpose, the benefits always outweighed the risks.

When Deborah Fowler and I founded Green Room Communications 10 years ago, we understood the needs of women and diverse populations who needed to work in different and innovative ways. We have applied our mantra of “work-life integration” to how we run the business today. Our approach allows for creativity and flexibility while tapping into people’s best talents to get stellar results for our clients.

There’s a saying, “The most successful women don’t run from change, they run toward it.” This concept of embracing change has been instrumental for us, as well as for my sisters. Green Room was founded on the premise that to be truly innovative, you must embrace the wave of change.

Whether we are filling the gaps in understanding and communicating to new and evolving audiences or becoming a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise, we are uniting the needs of the business with the passion of doing what is right. With this mindset, Deborah and I have received multiple awards as leading entrepreneurs and women in business throughout the state and country.

Having my own company has opened my mind and heart to press for progress and accelerate change for more inclusive workplaces. When you own your own business, you must see every side of the story and appreciate differences in new ways. With Green Room I am crafting a new chapter of my life while helping my clients tell the stories of their evolving businesses where change isn’t shunned, but embraced and seen as true progress.  The journey continues.


By Deborah Fowler, Managing Partner, Green Room Communications

As marketers and communicators, we frequently advise our pharma and biotech clients to engage directly with the patient community. But how can we most effectively – and compliantly – do this? As today is Rare Disease Day, I thought this would be a great opportunity to call attention to how we in industry can really help the rare disease community.

Rare diseases by definition affect small numbers of people, sometimes just a few dozen or less, in one country. Patients and parents are desperate to connect with one another, and often one or a group of patients will find ways to connect to share their journeys and experiences through social media or online communities. However, these groups often lack a formal, non-profit designation and a cohesive mechanism for more widespread collaboration, education and advocacy.

This is where industry can really help. Companies committed to fighting rare diseases can provide the partnership needed to establish independent patient-run advocacy organizations or provide support for certain activities such as a website or patient meetings. Industry can be a very effective partner to the rare disease community so long as it follows an ethical code of conduct, is transparent about its role and clear about its purpose.

Industry is perfectly poised to empower the rare disease community. Companies in this space have relationships with key stakeholders, researchers and clinicians who are experts in these disease areas who understand the unmet medical needs of patients and their families, their unique struggles and concerns. Helping patients with rare disease is fundamental to industry core values and mission to “put the patient at the center.” Now it’s time to walk the talk.

Through advocacy, industry can involve patients in clinical trial design, marketing materials, education, access challenges, value proposition and so much more. After approved therapies are on the markets, advocacy provides early signs to issues, compliance challenges and so much more. Patients appreciate having their voices heard and value the expertise a partner can provide in allowing them to amplify their presence, educating health care providers, patients and the public, and fostering a sense of community. It’s truly a win-win.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration doesn’t provide formal guidance for industry, though PhRMA has published guiding principles and BIO has similarly released patient engagement principles to keep in mind when interacting with patient organizations.

I encourage companies to talk to patients, caregivers and advocates. Ask what they need and find ways to partner in ways that can benefit everyone involved. Industry can work effectively in partnership with advocates and the communities of patients they serve. Engagement is key.

Today, we honor those companies that have had the courage to commit to orphan diseases and pioneer not only innovative therapies, but ways to partner with patient communities to make a real difference in the lives of these families. Thank you.

Breaking Through and BIO2017

By: Deborah Fowler, Managing Partner, Co-Founder, Green Room Communications and Founder and President, Soft Bones

I saved my brother’s life when he was 10 years old. I was 13. He was playing with a lighter and aerosol spray when fire erupted. He attempted to stamp out the flames and his pants caught on fire. We were home alone and I instinctively put out the fire with my bare hands. Instead of the unthinkable, we both suffered burns. His were more serious, with third degree burns on his legs that required skin grafts and a lengthy hospital stay. I had second and third degree burns on my palms. My dad the doctor was very proud, and thankful.

My career as a healer was short lived. I switched from pre-med to journalism in college and enjoyed a successful career in television news for more than 10 years, where my interest in healthcare sparked a lifelong passion.

In 2006, my son was diagnosed with hypophosphatasia (HPP), a rare bone disease I knew nothing about. I immediately shifted into reporter mode and grabbed hold of all the information I could get my hands on. But it wasn’t enough.

In 2009, I founded Soft Bones, Inc., a foundation that promotes research of HPP through awareness and fundraising. Earlier, in 2008, I co-founded Green Room Communications, a healthcare public relations agency that breaks the traditional PR agency mold. We create nimble, tailored teams that maximize results while saving clients time and money.

As I head to the BIO meeting next week – the largest, most influential biotech convention in the world, I will wear three hats: patient advocate, reporter and PR expert. What they have in common is also BIO’s theme this year – breaking through.

I am all about breaking through — either by making noise on behalf of a previously silent patient/caregiver community, or discovering and sharing stories from my healthcare clients – about the latest research, new treatments and, most importantly, hope for so many diseases.

For me, BIO is the perfect blend of information gathering, sharing and partnering in an industry I love. Here’s to a stimulating and breakthrough BIO2017!


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The Brutal Truths of Fake News

By Lindsay Gordon, Communications Manager, Green Room Communications

Last week, I had the honor of heading to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Health Academy in Orlando, Florida to learn best practices in the ever-changing world of communications, and network with some of the best and brightest in the PR health care industry.

While the agenda was full of relevant and educational information, it seemed PRSA saved the best for last with a jaw-dropping presentation on fake news and how to spot it. While all of us in communications know the dangers of fake news, Al Tompkins, The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcast and online, demonstrated just how bad this crisis is and taught everyone the dangers of how easy it is to create your own news.

As health care PR professionals, it is our job to help journalists understand our client’s story and messages which can be complicated at times. It is also now our job to help protect our clients from the easy bait of misleading studies and fake news stories.

Here are three clues to follow to help determine if the news you are reading is fake:


Al opened up with an ESPN article about Tom Brady in hot water once again with the NFL. He asked us to look at the article and website to see if it was a credible, real story. The site looked JUST like, and almost everyone in the room (all communicators) agreed, it was real. We were all wrong, it was fake news. The first thing you should look at when determining if news is real or fake, is the name of the author, and ask yourself, who are they? Does their profile picture pop up anywhere else? With an easy reverse image search on Reveye (a Google chrome add on. If you don’t have it, you should!) we learned the journalist was an “Oddel”. What’s an “Oddel”, you ask? Well,  a FAKE model, of course. The name of the journalist on this fake ESPN website is, “average white male in suit with pink tie,” You can find him on Shutterstock and you can own his image for 99 cents. You are equipped with the internet, so use it to your advantage. Just like any PR professional or journalist, check the facts. Use your resources like LinkedIn or a basic Google search to find more information about the specific writer.


Just when you think you can trust certain news websites online, think again. With today’s fake news running rampant, there are also those who are borderline hackers and can easily change content on certain websites within any story. In a matter of seconds, Al Tompkins was able to hack a site and generate 8 acceptance letters from all the Ivy League schools. It was as easy as a right click on the specific website, change the title within the HTML code and there you have it! The scariest part? The public, news outlets, journalists and PR professionals have no way to determine if it is real or fake. The best way to figure out this puzzle is to use your common sense and again, look at the site and the author. Ask yourself, “What is misleading here?”


Why are people seemingly wasting time creating this news?  There could be a multitude of reasons:

  1. Money: front groups creating fake news to drive growth to specific industries or companies
  2. Politics: trying to sway the reader or viewer in one specific way, or to raise doubt
  3. Troublemakers
  4. Deflection: to hide the true reality and raise doubt or to divert public attention away from an event or situation
    • For example: While Pope Francis made his first visit to the U.S. the media was a buzz covering his whereabouts. But what trended right behind the Pope coverage? Pizza Rat, a viral video of a rat carrying a pizza down New York City Subway steps. This video is an example of fake news, where Zardulu, a creator and mastermind behind many viral videos, staged the video of the rat and the pizza and released at a moment when she had a captive online audience. The video caught the attention of people who were seeking out the Pope and quickly escalated into the #2 spot online. Yes, there are people, like Zardulu, who have made a career creating fake news, and are proud of it.

Right now, as fake news threatens the trustworthiness of news outlets, some are going the extra mile to just report the facts plain and simple. For example, ABC News just released a timeline of all of President Trump’s tweets since he was inaugurated to help avoid any questions of what is real and what is fake. Ironically, the second most tweeted phrase by President Trump was “fake news”. We all have a responsibility to ensure our client’s messages and values are effectively delivered through credible media outlets.  Al Tompkins summed up this importance at the end of his speech by saying:

“Don’t underestimate your influence. Don’t underestimate your role to get good information out to the public. What you are doing requires you to be very, very good, even in the worst of times.”

**note: Green Room did not include links to the fake news stories discussed as we do not want to give fake news any additional click-throughs.