Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Posts Tagged ‘Hilary Allard’

BlogWorld observations

Posted by thecastlegroup on November 1, 2010

Castle VP Hilary Allard was a panelist at last month’s BlogWorld. Below are her observations from the event.

I was honored to be asked to present on a PR panel at last month’s BlogWorld event, a blogging and social media conference that attracts more than 3,500 people. There were many inspiring, thought-provoking and surprising insights shared about how the intersection of technology and communication has changed our world.

Here are a few observations from the event:

The impact that technology and social media has made on the lives of military members and their families is profound. In a video introduction, General Petraeus spoke of how the ability to communicate with their families via Facebook, email and Skype has helped military members through the challenges of their separation. A website,, provides troops with a place to share their look at Army life. Here’s a post on the site about the Army experience at BlogWorld.

While thought leaders have high-level discussions about social media and the future of communications, the fact is that many individuals – and organizations – don’t know what to do or where to start. The prospect of adding to already full to-do lists is daunting. (More on that in this space at another time.)

Everyone is willing to share. Just as I experienced during the TechMunch summer event in New York, media, brands and bloggers are all willing to share their experience, insights and challenges, putting the “social” in social media. It’s no longer “us against them,” it’s “we’re all in this together.”

Social media has given everyone a voice – and they’re not afraid to use it. Audience members politely yet aggressively (“Pardon me for saying so…”) challenged well-known speakers during one keynote session on politics. My favorite was an elderly woman who stood up and talked about her blogging and participation on Twitter. She clearly was energized by this aspect of her life and the new doors it had opened for her.

Are you involved in social media? If so, has it changed your life, personally or professionally? If not, what obstacles are in your way that are preventing you from engaging online?

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Techmunch thoughts

Posted by thecastlegroup on July 12, 2010

Castle consumer PR VP Hilary Allard was a panelist on the recent Techmunch conference in New York. Below are her thoughts from the show.

I was excited to speak on the PR panel at the recent Techmunch event during Internet Week in New York.  This one-day seminar is intended to provide food bloggers with advice and information on how to build their personal brands and market their blogs.

Journalists, established bloggers and marketers all participated, covering a broad range of topics such as SEO tips, leveraging traditional media and building community.

Two powerful lessons emerged from the conference:

Take online relationships off-line: Like any relationship, ultimately, the best ones have plenty of face time – think of those clients with whom you meet on a regular basis or the time you spend talking at the family dinner table. 

Techmunch provided me with the opportunity to make new friends, meet people I had only connected with via Twitter, and to see people with whom I communicate off-line on a regular basis. 

Social media allows us to connect to people we might never meet otherwise, but it’s up to us to solidify those relationships and take them to the next level.

Share and share alike:  We all know that people can fall victim to online “oversharing,” but it struck me at Techmunch that journalists, bloggers and marketers were sitting at the same table and telling their stories with candor – the difficulties of marketing budgets in today’s economy, the challenges for journalists managing career transitions, the struggles of finding one’s way from being a hobbyist to full-time blogger.

Five years ago, I would never have imagined that.  But the elements of social media that level the playing field, create connections and open possibilities, combined with our collective economic hopes and fears stirred up by the last two years, have created an attitude of collaboration among previously disparate “tribes.”  Being united by a common love of food and blogging doesn’t hurt, either.

To learn more about the panelists at Techmunch, visit

To learn more about event sponsor Bakespace, a social networking site for food lovers, visit

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TECHmunch food blogger event in NYC featuring Castle’s Hilary Allard

Posted by thecastlegroup on May 12, 2010

Congratulations to Castle VP and consumer PR pro Hilary Allard who has been chosen as a panelist for the upcoming TECHmunch food blogger event. is proud to present the TECHmunch workshop for food bloggers on Thursday, June 10th in NYC.

If you’re a food blogger, this intensive one day event will bring you up-to-speed on all the latest tools and tactics for building buzz, improving SEO, growing your audience and making money from your hard work.

The 6-hour intensive workshop will be followed by a networking mixer with giveaway prizes including KitchenAid appliances, cookbooks and each attendee will receive a nifty gift bag.

Register here:

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Eating a peanut butter and crisis sandwich

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 20, 2009

Today, The Castle Group’s Hilary Allard (VP of our consumer practice), talks about the finger-pointing, lack of crisis preparation and overall miscommunication that have surfaced as a result of the peanut butter salmonella crisis.


The ongoing House committee hearings on food safety resulting from the recent Peanut Corporation of America recall, brought to light an industry dilemma illustrated in an article in today’s New York Times: “F.D.A. officials said they largely relied on the industry to ensure the safety of food. But industry representatives said at the hearing Thursday that they relied on the F.D.A. to ensure that food was produced safely.”

Clearly, there needs to be a defined chain of reporting when it comes to food inspections. Our increasingly complex food sourcing demands it.  


This conflict underscores the need for all food companies to have a comprehensive crisis communications plan in place. The time to create such a plan is before a crisis happens, not when it’s underway. Creating a crisis communications plan is an investment of time, money and effort, which pays off ten-fold if and when it needs to be used. Having the full engagement of senior executives to explore all the possible “what if” scenarios is critical.


Even when companies feel that they are behaving ethically and performing due diligence, flaws in the system may cause manufacturers to become swept up in a crisis. Having a clear action plan in place that allows for a swift response and transparency can save a company’s money, time and reputation.



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