Born and raised in China, author Anna Wang was in Tiananmen Square during those protests in 1989. She joins Tim to talk about what she saw, what she experienced, and what she learned since the events, the government crackdown that followed, the ripple effect those protests continue to have today.
Public Relations industry leader and visionary Ray Kotcher joins Tim to talk about the current state of communications in the world with a particular focus on the role professional communicators play in the process of reshaping the conversation. Ray was the long-time president, CEO and Chairman of Ketchum, one of the largest PR firms in the world. Presently, he’s Professor of the Practice, Public Relations – at Boston University. On a personal note, he’s also Tim’s former boss.
Lee Hartley Carter joins Tim to talk about the climate for persuasion in 2020. Lee is the president of maslansky + partners, a language strategy firm. She’s also the author of a new book from Penguin Random House called: “Persuasion: Convincing Others When Facts Don’t Seem to Matter.”
Steve Garrett, the host of the Within the Realm Podcast, joins Tim to talk about giving thanks in a way you may not expect. Steve shares his story of personal tragedy that he and his family have faced, and how through it all, he has found a way to be grateful.
Author and historian Rachel Yarnell Thompson joins Tim to talk about the man with a plan, George Marshall, whose “Marshall Plan” reshaped Europe and the world after World War Two. After playing important military roles in winning both World War One and World War Two, he was tapped for what would become his most well-recognized legacy, the rebuilding of the free world. Rachel is the author of: Marshall—A Statesman Shaped in the Crucible of War.
Richard Rhodes won a Pulitzer Prize for his definitive book on the development of nuclear weapons called “The Making of the Atomic Bomb.” It’s one of 26 books he’s written, several of them focused on the world in the nuclear age. He joins Tim to talk about the wartime effort that changed everything, The Manhattan Project.
Veteran public relations consultant, author and professor Fraser Seitel joins Tim to talk about a horrendous moment in American business history and how that spurred the need for the public relations profession and PR practitioners to serve as the “conscience of the organization.” This story centers on John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the striking workers of the Ludlow Camp in 1914, and one of the fathers of the PR profession, Ivy Lee.
Historian and author Kasey Pipes joins Tim to talk about the Richard Nixon that may get lost in a world of tweets and social media posts, and that is the 20-year post-presidency of Nixon that had a meaningful impact on the United States’ foreign policy and place in a changing world. Kasey tells of Richard Nixon’s years in exile, and then his unlikely comeback that few if any could have predicted. By the time he died, Nixon had become an elder statesman and an advisor to other presidents, both Democrat and Republican.
Captain Bill Toti, a retired Naval officer, joins Tim to discuss his firsthand experiences from the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Bill remembers the attack on the Pentagon moment for moment, and what he did in the immediate aftermath and throughout the recovery. One thing we talk about is how the Pentagon’s story may be the least known in the conversation on 9/11.
College professor and author Dr. Jim Wetherbe from Texas Tech joins Tim to discuss the story of FedEx and how it changed the game in overnight shipping, in time management and e-commerce, and just how Americans shop online and conduct business. Jim is the author of the book, “The World on Time,” the story of Fred Smith and the company he founded FedEx.
Educator and well-respected author Dr. Tim Coombs joins Tim to talk about one of the more prevalent types of crises businesses and organizations face today – the social issue crisis. Boycotts, social media backlash, protests and other activities centered on social issues, and no organization is exempt, even if it’s not involved in the controversy.
Former presidential speechwriter Noam Neusner joins Tim to talk about what it was like to create news-making and sometimes history-making speeches for the President of the United States. A seasoned communicator, journalist and book author, Noam shares his insights on the craft of speechwriting and the power of an effective speech.
Veteran journalist, author and college professor Alison Bass joins Tim to talk about her time as a reporter with the Boston Globe and her work in the earliest days of breaking and covering the Catholic priest abuse scandal in Boston.
Seamus Hughes joins Tim to talk about the myths and realities of extremism, terrorism and how some Americans have become radicalized. Seamus is the Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. He’s an expert on terrorism, homegrown violent extremism and countering violent extremism.
Fellow crisis communicator Dan Keeney joins Tim to talk about the time when two Domino’s Pizza employees created a viral YouTube video that helped usher in a new era for crisis management – the age of the social media crisis.
Hollywood publicist, crisis manager and author Howard Bragman joins Tim to talk about what it’s like to handle public relations for celebrities, particularly when those celebrities find themselves at the center of controversy. For decades, Howard has been the go-to guy in Los Angeles and nationwide for celebrity crisis management.
Jay Baer, the author of the book, “Talk Triggers: The complete guide to creating customers with word of mouth,” joins Tim to talk about the power of word of mouth to sell products or services, increase awareness, educate the public and create a brand. Jay is a very popular keynote speaker, an inductee into the Word of Mouth Marketing Hall of Fame and the author of several books.
Dr. Jaclyn Schildkraut, an author and an educator of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Oswego, joins Tim to talk about Columbine, 20 years after that tragic day. Dr. Schildkraut is an expert on mass shootings and is the author of “Columbine, 20 Years Later and Beyond: Lessons in Tragedy.”
Historian, author and Heritage Foundation Distinguished Fellow Lee Edwards joins Tim to talk about the Berlin Wall, the world that created it, the Cold War that fostered it, and the free world that brought it down.
The president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition joins Tim to talk about just how game-changing a somewhat recent innovation in the energy industry could be. While hydraulic fracturing isn’t new, how it was used to tap previously unreachable oil and gas reserves was an innovation that changed the energy future of the nation.
Dr. Cyril Wecht, a world-renowned forensic pathologist joins Tim to talk about his long experience with his study of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Dr. Wecht was among the first to raise concerns over the investigation of the assassination. In this episode, we talk with Dr. Wecht about the events of November 22, 1963, the story that was told to the world, and the story that has started to emerge in the 55 years since.
In this episode of the Shaping Opinion Podcast, we’re doing something different. This is our Year in Review episode. 2018: Moments to Remember. We’ll go back and highlight some of the great moments we’ve had so far in our first year.
John Chamberlin joins Tim to talk about something we may take for granted, that is until we need it. It’s the story behind those helicopters that swoop in to take critically injured or sick people to the hospital care needed to save their lives. John is a co-host at the popular Pittsburgh podcast called YaJagoff, and over the years has served as an emergency medical responder. He remains an active advocate for that community. In short, this episode is about hope that didn’t exist before, all thanks to a wingless aircraft.
As the nation nears the 2018 midterm elections, journalist Jared Keller joins Tim to discuss some of his reporting on October surprises in American history. From the 1800s and the dirtiest campaign in American history, to that presidential campaigns of 2012 and 2008. How did those surprises impact election outcomes?
Professor Robert Speel joins Tim to discuss classic contested elections in America’s history. Dr. Speel
teaches at Penn State University Behrend, where his research focuses on aspects of American politics that include elections and voting behavior, Congress and the presidency, and public policy. The two talk about some little-known and some unforgettable stories of election rigging, challenges and “skullduggery.”
World-renowned concussion expert Dr. Michael “Micky” Collins joins Tim to discuss his pioneering work in the diagnosis and treatment of concussions, and the role that public education and awareness has played from the very start. Dr. Collins talks about myths, realities, how perceptions have influenced football and sports participation. Then he gives his vision of where it goes from here.
Branding expert Robin Teets joins Tim to discuss the time Coca-Cola decided to change its highly successful 99-year old formula to a new one and the chain of events that took place after that. Robin and Tim talk about why the company decided to make the move, what it did right, and how it could get it so wrong. Marketing lessons that are still taught in MBA classes today.
Researcher Dr. Eva Lee joins Tim to discuss her work on the front lines in the battle against the opioid epidemic. Dr. Lee is a professor in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech, and Director of the Center for Operations Research in Medicine and HealthCare, and her not-so-secret weapons are math, data and analytics.
Former FBI special agent Bill Crowley joins Tim to discuss his role as the FBI’s lead spokesperson on the scene in Shanksville, Pennsylvania in the days following the Flight 93 hijacking and crash on September 11, 2001. Bill talks about his own role, the crisis communications challenges and takes us back to that time and that place.
New York Times bestselling author David Fisher joins Tim to talk about his collaboration (Lincoln’s Last Trial: the murder case that propelled him to the presidency) with Dan Abrams on the murder case that put Abraham Lincoln on a path to the presidency. David tells the story of how Abraham Lincoln took on a controversial case less than a year before the Republican Convention and the start of one of the most pivotal periods in American history.
Sheila Tate, First Lady Nancy Reagan’s Press Secretary and Press Secretary for candidate and President-elect George H.W. Bush in 1988, joins Tim to discuss her new book “Lady in Red” about Nancy Reagan, her impact on Ronald Reagan’s presidency and her own legacy.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal joins Tim to talk about the boxing match that changed the course of professional boxing in America – when Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini faced Duk-Koo Kim in Las Vegas for the world lightweight championship. It’s the story of triumph and tragedy. No one could foresee that this would be a fight to the death, and it left many wondering about the very sport of boxing. Perceptions changed.
Dan Keeney joins Tim for the second in a two-part series that examines the aftermath of the 1982 Tylenol poisonings that killed seven people in the Chicago area. In this episode Tim and Dan focus on how Johnson & Johnson worked to effectively rebuild trust for both the company and its flagship pain-reliever brand, Tylenol.
Dan Keeney joins Tim for the first in a two-part series that starts with a comprehensive look at the 1982 Tylenol poisonings that killed seven people in the Chicago area and has been described by the New York Times as “The Recall that Started Them All.” But it was much more than just a recall. It’s the story of unsolved set of murders, product tampering, and a change in the way we think about product safety and how companies should respond in a crisis. In the end, it’s about rebuilding trust.
O’Brien Communications’ Shaping Opinion Podcast is an award-winning podcast about people, events and things that have shaped the way we think. It sits at the corner of culture, history and communication.
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Tim O’Brien is a Pittsburgh-based communications veteran with experience in complex matters that have ranged from marketing and C-suite issues, to crisis and issues management. He’s the producer and host of Shaping Opinion, where he talks to guests on a wide range of topics at the intersection of communications, history and culture. He’s available for consulting and speaking, and is always interested in what you think of the podcast. Just get in touch.