Sully's Blog

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


By Paul Herlihey

There were 9.4 seconds left on the clock and the Los Angeles Clippers led the Dallas Mavericks by nine points. To everyone’s surprise, Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers called timeout. 

In what is believed to be an unprecedented move, Rivers took the microphone from the scorer’s table and offered a brief tribute to Mavericks forward and NBA legend, Dirk Nowitzki, calling him, “One of the greatest of all time.” Rivers motioned to the crowd to join him and the Staples Center erupted in a standing ovation while teammates and opponents congratulated and embraced Nowitzki. He was visibly moved as he... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan and Paul Herlihey

The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted eight new members in the Class of 2018 – seven with traditional speeches in Canton, Ohio and Terrell Owens doing his own thing in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he starred in college.

At their essence, Hall of Fame speeches should be about gratitude.  Stories should be used to connect with the audience, make the speech memorable and to drive an authentic theme.  Closing with a call to action that inspires the viewer to take positive action is the ideal capper.

Length can be an issue. Remarks ranged from longtime general... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan and Abigail Dellapina

Recently, Facebook, Uber and Wells Fargo have each launched apology ad campaigns in order to address scandals the respective companies faced. A massive data breach and the overload of “fake news” hindered trust between Facebook and its users. Uber faced management scandals and sexual harassment claims that drove many customers to switch to its competitors. Last year Wells Fargo was sanctioned by federal regulators for creating millions of fake customer accounts and in April was fined $1 billion over mortgage and auto loan violations that resulted in some customers paying additional fees.

Millions of dollars have been spent on these campaigns, executed with print, digital,... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

The Catalyst // The George W. Bush Institute // Summer 2018

When we moved into our house in Florida in 2011, a neighbor welcomed us to the block by sending over a plate of delicious chocolate chip cookies. We were pleasantly surprised by their old-school act of kindness. Within a day or two, our kids went over to deliver a thank you note. No one answered, so they left the note on the door.

In the five years we lived there, we never had another interaction with them, and in fact never actually saw the people who sent the cookies.

Technology’s impact

This lack of contact with the people right down the block is commonplace according to surveys by the Pew Research Center. They show each year... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

Louis C.K. is wildy successful. He’s won six Emmys,  two Grammys and a Peabody.  His latest triumph comes on the big screen with his strong  reviews for voicing Max, a spoiled terrier, in the animated feature and No. 1 box office hit, “The Secret Life of Pets.”

In addition to his rep as a mega-talented comic/performer/writer/producer/director, C.K. has long been known for his creativity and sophistication in controlling and distributing his own content. After all, he began using his website to sell concert tickets and post-show video downloads as far back as 2001.

Despite his digital media savvy, C.K.... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

The recent Al Jazeera America report claiming human growth hormone had been shipped to Peyton Manning’s wife, Ashley, during his recovery from a neck injury in 2011 provides a new look into how the practice of journalism has changed.

Thanks to Manning’s success on the field and popular appearances in television commercials and on Saturday Night Live, he is one of America’s most well-known and well-liked superstars.  

“The bottom line is that athletes don't get the benefit of the doubt any more,” Michael McCarthy wrote in The Sporting... +Continue Reading