Sully's Blog

By Kevin Sullivan

In any communications setting, focusing on what matters most to your audience is always a good idea.  This includes written commentary submissions to print and online media outlets. In a Harvard Business Review piece on the impact of ideas, Arthur Brooks wrote, “Editorial staffers ruthlessly reject everything except what they believe readers most need and want.”  

The former president of the American Enterprise Institute also pointed out that major national publications receive 1,000 unsolicited op-ed submissions per week. Getting published is a key step on the road to becoming recognized as an influencer, and in a crowded marketplace, there are a few keys to getting your column posted.

An editorial page editor for a... +Continue Reading


Sometimes I get asked to tell stories about my days working at the White House, which was a life-changing and humbling experience.  Working at NBC was life-changing, too.

Today for the first time in years, I watched the opening scene-setter of NBC’s coverage of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.  As soon as James Earl Jones’ narration began, I got chills.

It brought me back to the NBC Olympics facility in the International Broadcast Center in Sydney, where I spent the month of September 2000 working alongside some of the most talented and dedicated co-workers of my career. 

Twenty years later, I have so many unforgettable memories from my first Olympics, along with a powerful... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

Sports Business Journal

August 31, 2020

Communication has traditionally been viewed as the art of persuasion. Buy my product. Vote for my candidate. Donate to my nonprofit.

This year as leaders have navigated both the coronavirus pandemic and the national conversation on ending systemic racism, the communications landscape has profoundly shifted. The most effective leaders are using their communications opportunities to earn trust.

There are four foundational principles for earning trust through communication:

It’s about your audience: Your primary message consideration must be focused on what is most important to your target audience. As... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

A number of years ago the head of human resources for a large corporate client told me he was opposed to referring to the employees as “family,” as had been the custom there. In a corporate setting, he explained, difficult decisions are inevitable and at times, people are going to leave for one reason or another.  If everyone has been told they are part of a family, there is a real sense of “betrayal” in those moments. 

Ever since that conversation, I have cringed when I hear an executive talk about family in the context of corporate culture.  Family is personal and the workplace is professional. Blurring these lines can adversely affect productivity and even profitability. ... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

I was recently asked by my longtime friend and colleague Joe Favorito to be a guest on the Columbia University Sports Podcast (CUSP).  As we prepared for the conversation, it occurred to me that amid the podcast boom, there are few podcasts specifically devoted to the practice of strategic communications and public relations. 

As an enthusiastic consumer of podcasts, I scrolled through my subscriptions and went in search of worthwhile new additions to compile the following list of recommended pods for communications pros.  

The list is populated by... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

For too long internal communications has been treated like fine china – you bring it out only for special occasions.  Staff typically heard from leadership when there were mergers and acquisitions, company milestones and the occasional crisis.  

That’s how it was for much of my time at NBC in the early 2000s.  The comms team was overwhelmed by incoming requests and the need to excel at external communications.  Internal communications was nobody’s full-time job. When NBC merged with Universal that all changed. 

The integration of two media and entertainment powerhouses was both exciting and anxiety-producing for the staff, who had many questions. The need to communicate clearly and as transparently as... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

As I followed Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg’s media tour in advance of the April 6 launch of the new short-form video platform, it was clear to me that he went into the interviews with a very specific message game plan.  

This may seem obvious, but there are executives with as much media experience as Katzenberg who simply rely on their knowledge and expertise in interviews.  Over the years during prep sessions, I’ve heard very accomplished leaders say, “remember, I know more about this than they do” and “it’s rude not to answer the questions, I’ll be fine.”

I had the occasion to meet with Katzenberg a couple of times many years ago as a consultant to Weber Shandwick on a DreamWorks Animation message and... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

If you miss sports and are tired of watching replays of great games when you already know who wins, here is an incomplete, alphabetical list of my favorite sports documentaries.  Most are inspirational and uplifting, and all are entertaining - perfect for these unsettling times and worth streaming while you wait for Sunday’s premiere of the highly anticipated ESPN documentary series “The Last Dance,” which chronicles Michael Jordan’s final season with the Bulls: 

Andre the Giant (HBO):  The most-watched doc in HBO Sports history, ATG earned a 94% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.  Tells the story of André René Roussimoff and his life with gigantism.  Even if you are not a fan of sports or wrestling, this is... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

With most of us working from home, video conferences via Zoom, Google Hangout and other platforms are now part of our daily lives.  Here are three easy tips to make sure you are communicating as effectively as possible on video conferences: 

1.  Eye contact is everything.  This is most important. You won’t connect with the others on the call without it.  When speaking, force yourself to look into the tiny pinhole lens on your device.  Use a stack of books and a laptop stand to elevate your device so you are more or less at eye level.  Speaking directly to the camera will also naturally bump up your energy level a bit, another... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

January 13, 2020

The Temptations had us at, “I know you want to leave me, but I refuse to let you go.” 

That lyric by famed Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Eddie Holland was more than the powerful opening line of No. 1 mega-hit, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”

It was the product of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s strategy to produce hit records - and a lasting lesson for today’s communicators and message-crafters. 

Gordy was clearly ahead of his time. 

In the 1990s, Microsoft research executive Linda Stone predicted that one day our digital communication would be predominantly mobile – and the moment that happens, our society will be in a state of what she labeled, “continuous partial... +Continue Reading