Beware the Black Swan and Other PR Perils, Media Experts Say

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PR and media experts Barry Nolan, Dick Pirozzolo and Michael Salius tell public relations and marketing professionals in Hartford Connecticut how to maximize positive publicity and avoid media disasters at PRSA meet. These experts offer media Training and PR training at the Public Relations Training Board (

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“Brainstorm about the unexpected, the once in a lifetime event that could tear your business apart, in other words –– beware of the black swan,” advised veteran TV journalist Barry Nolan who, together with PR Pros Dick Pirozzolo and Mike Salius addressed the Connecticut Valley PRSA Chapter recently.

Nolan explained, “The Mirage Resort and Casino in Las Vegas pays very careful attention to risk management. They try to account for every possible contingency – from card cheats to economic collapse. But the biggest loss they ever sustained came from a totally unexpected direction. Siegfried and Roy – their hugely profitable headline act came to an abrupt close when a tiger in the act attacked Roy. That’s the black swan event – unforeseen, highly disruptive – and in hindsight – something you should have expected. It cost the Mirage 100 million dollars in lost revenue.”

The panel, titled Mastering the Message and the Art of the TV interview, was lead by Nolan, Salius, who heads the greater Hartford PR agency Salius Communication, and Pirozzolo, founder of the greater Boston PR agency Pirozzolo Company Public Relations.

The three experts are faculty members of the Public Relations Training Board, which provides executive training in interview skills and issues management.

Salius told the group of PR professionals, “You have to develop your message before the crisis, boil it down to three key points that define your brand and practice it until the message becomes second nature – preferably before a TV camera.”

Pirozzolo added, “Embrace current issues even if they are outside your organization’s day-to-day mission. We’ve taken on acid rain, climate change and Presidential Primaries on behalf of our clients. Issues – not, technology, products or topics are what’s what get public attention and drive people to action. Every time a CEO or client suggests a promotional subject, the first question needs to be, ‘What’s the issue?’”

The experts also noted that journalism is converging. “TV journalists have to submit blog stories. Magazine journalists must know how to operate a video camera and edit their stories for their publication’s Website. No either way, TV savvy is essential for both today’s journalist and corporate leader,” said Nolan.

These experts regularly consult with corporations, not-for profits and government agencies on mastering the message and the TV sound bite.

Barry Nolan is a regular on-air contributor with CNBC and columnist for Boston Magazine, was co-anchor on the investigative news program “Hardcopy" and Communications Director of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee. He is also an adjunct professor with Boston University.

Dick Pirozzolo, APR has managed crisis communication and issues management situations including a tainted food scare, terrorist attack on the US Embassy, and carbon offset trading. Working with the Government of Vietnam, Dick figured significantly in fostering reconciliation and trade with the US. He leads professional PR seminars in Jakarta, Indonesia, and is Media Bistro instructor. He is founder of Pirozzolo Company Public Relations (

Mike Salius, APR, serves clients in the nonprofit, philanthropic and government sectors. He previously ran a Hartford-based public relations and strategic communications firm focused energy, banking, insurance, investment, and healthcare. Earlier, he was the director of national advertising and public relations for Connecticut Mutual (now MassMutual). He is past president of the Connecticut Valley Chapter of the Public Relations Society. He is the founder of Salius Communications.

Based in Boston, The Public Relations Training Board offers customized PR training for organizations and individuals wanting to build their own results-driven, in-house communications team. Training typically includes how to get the CEO to buy into PR, tactics to generate more high-quality media coverage and intense TV interview skills for any situation from a press ambush to an on-air guest appearance. For details call toll free 866-399-4000 or email: info(at)publicrelationstraining(dot)org.

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