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Just 4 Us Foundation is a 501 (C) that provides free recreational wellness resources for children with disabilities and social economic challenges in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. In August, VisComm partnered with J4U in an effort to provide research, grant writing, and marketing support.

VisComm’s efforts resulted in an award of $2500 from the CVS Caremark Community Grant Program. The contribution is from a category that focuses on disabilities-inclusive extracurricular programs with an emphasis on arts and culture.

J4U plans to use the allocated funds to introduce the Wheelchair Dance Program. This community effort will improve the morale of children with special needs in an uplifting environment, encourage improved physical fitness, and increase self-esteem through skill building and peer engagement.

The unique and specifically designed program will include five 6-week dance and fitness sessions for wheelchair bound participants. Dancers will learn therapeutic techniques within styles that include ballroom, cha cha, tango, jazz, and hip hop.

Wheel chair dance sessions will be facilitated by a team of sensitivity trained volunteers that includes family members, friends, participants in the J4U At-Risk Youth Program, and students from local high schools and colleges.

Executive Director, Andree Harris is currently enrolled in a certification program for wheel chair dance instructors. J4U plans to offer the first 6-week program in Spring of 2013.

Ms. Harris is ecstatic about the CVS recognition and says, “This is our first grant after 3 years. Talk about hopeful. I want to thank [VisComm] so much.”

Our pleasure Ms. Harris. Here’s to the future.


Here are some practical professional standards to consider for your next press conference.

How to Plan a Press Conference

by Rick Grant –

A news, or press conference is a way to impart information to journalists in a rapid and efficient manner.

Instead of having to inform news organizations and reporters individually of something you can shotgun a bunch of them in a little less than an hour and move on to something else.

But don’t get me wrong. There is a very good reason for dealing with news outlets individually and the most important reason is that it is just about the most powerful method of ensuring that your view of events, your side of things, your message, gets out in a state that resembles something close to what you meant.

A news conference however, can backfire terribly on you and your organization if it is set up and conducted improperly, or if you allow journalists to decide for themselves what it is that you are trying to say.

Control is of the essence in a press conference and immediately after.

Good journalists know about these issues and will endeavor to slip from your grasp during a press conference and set their own agenda.

While the seasoned, skeptical, suspicious, and mostly brilliant top five percent of journalists are an extreme danger if you are trying to hide anything or spin your way out of a mess during a news conference, they can be just about the most powerful supporters and promoters of your position or product if your news conference doesn’t try to play silly games with their heads and above all if you are honest.

That said, there are some specific techniques you can use, and specific rules to follow, that should allow you to come out the other end of the process with credit.

If you have been told by a superior to set up a press conference and perhaps even for your sins to run it, then these guidelines should allow you to keep your job.

Rule #1
  Have a real and pressing reason to hold a press conference.

Rule #2  
Give journalists at least a few hours notice but no more than two days.

Rule #3
  Hold it in the morning. The best time is 10:30.

Rule #4
  Never hold it on a Friday afternoon.

Rule #5
  Pick a location close to the central mass of journalists in your area, eg. a press briefing room, or some other location, where journalists are used to going for news conferences. Unless you are located close to the central mass of journalists do not use your company headquarters and especially not if it means more than 15 minutes of travel for reporters.

Rule #6  
No more than two main presenters. By all means have your president and CFO at the table but don’t add in all the department heads.

Rule #7  
Do not clutter up the background with lots of company officials, workers, kids, hangers on, etc.

Techniques and Good Practices


Provide a podium. If you must seat your presenters behind a table then raise the table and chairs at least 8″.

Rent a professional sound system and the trained technician that goes with it so reporters, especially radio reporters, can get clean sound.

If you can’t do that then you can only have one presenter. Reporters will prop their microphones and recorders close to the presenter if there is no sound system. If you have a second person at the news conference then every time that person speaks all the reporters will rush up to the front and drag their equipment around to the new speaker. This ungraceful performance will happen each time the speaker changes. Get a sound system.

Assuming that you are the one who will be running the press conference then you must make it clear to the people in your organization that while the press conference is underway you control events in the room.

You must make it clear to the journalists as well that you are in charge. That isn’t so hard because if you have been doing your job you should know most of them and will have talked with them as they arrive and set up their equipment.
The general format of a press conference is an opening statement or announcement of no more than five, possibly ten minutes. Shorter is always, always better.

After the announcement, reporters are free to ask questions. The whole thing should wrap up in no more than 45 minutes, and even that is pretty generous. Reporters are almost always in a desperate hurry to get somewhere else, to file their stories, or move onto some other story.

At the end there are usually requests for “one on ones”. These are more in the nature of private interviews and can be because a specialist reporter needs more specific information or perhaps from a local television station that wants to pull off some sort of “exclusive” interview.

During the Q&A’s and in the subsequent one on ones, you have to be in full control.

You decide which reporters get to ask the first, then second, then third, and so on questions. You do this by standing well to one side of your principal at the front and pointing directly at the reporter who has indicated to you that they want to ask a question. It is a nice touch if you can remember the name of the reporter and the organization. If you can’t then ask them to say who they are when they stand to ask a question.

The rule is, one main question and one follow up question from a reporter before moving onto the next. Once everyone has had a chance to ask their questions you can loosen things up a bit and allow some chained questioning from a reporter. But be alert and ensure that no one feels that they are being squeezed out of the questioning.

Reporters should be asked to stand when they ask their questions but not if by doing so they will block the cameras behind them. Unless you have provided a “riser” or raised platform for the cameras then don’t insist on people standing.

And here is a Big Fat Rule — Only real reporters get to ask questions, no company members, no lobbyists, lawyers, shareholders, etc.

If you break this rule your organization will pay heavily. Journalists resent being manipulate. They get the final word in print, on radio, in television, and on the internet. Screw them around with cheap manipulative techniques at your peril because they have the power to break you.

If during the press conference it becomes clear that the questioning is starting to peter out, that things are getting a bit lame (questions such as: “What’s your dog’s name”, and “How old are you” are indicators) it is your job to step forward and announce that it is time to wrap things up. “Well, thanks for coming out, if you have any further questions please give me a call or email later”, and indicate to your main person to stand up and move away from the microphones.

If there are no “one on ones” to be done then get them out or the room as quickly as possible. If they want to chat with some old buddy in the news business move the two of them as a unit out of the room. To have your main person drifting about the room as the reporters gather their equipment like some fat defenseless cow in a field ringed with timber wolves is begging for nastiness.

And make sure that you remember the cardinal, golden, prime rule about microphones. Never ever say anything around them that you don’t want reported on the front page. More people and companies have been ruined by unguarded comments near a supposedly “turned off” microphone than ever have been shot by a supposedly unloaded gun.

And indeed, in these days of subminiature recording equipment it is best to just say nothing in confidence or otherwise to a reporter or technician.

Inevitably during this whole process there will be questions that couldn’t be answered. If an answer has been promised for later then make it one of your life’s goals to get it to the reporter as soon as possible. Reporters hate broken promises and they hate late information. No matter how innocuous or trivial the question seems take it very seriously.

The Aftermath


Unless you are blessed with senior management who truly understand the media process and have had proper media training you will be taken to task, gently or otherwise, when the precious press conference does not end up on the front page, or lead the national news.

There is not much you can do if your organization doesn’t have a communications strategy and on going media training. Your best response to management if the coverage isn’t as stellar as they wanted is to suggest that a proper strategy and training be instituted and then suggest some professional outside help.

All the more so if your invitation to the journalistic world to attend the press conference resulted in a top-40 radio news reporter, a local television cameraman without reporter sent to “gather tape” and a blogger with 13 readers. There are ways of guaranteeing good attendance at just about any news conference and guaranteeing good coverage. But unless as an amateur you happen to strike it lucky it is always better to hire a professional communications outfit.

To Dos: Setting Up a Press Conference

by The Max Foundation –

•    Confirm with group members there is agreement about media involvement
•    Decide and confirm on venue and date
•    Write Press Invitation
•    Include Media Contact’s details on Press Invitation, and other press materials
•    Decide on Media List – which should be invited?
•    Send out Press Invitation to targeted media, two weeks before or within reasonable timeline
•    Prepare Media Kit for the usage on actual day (Press Conference or Event Coverage)
•    Prepare the Media Contact with information for press/FAQs/possible questions
•    Prepare the spokesperson about what to say, especially if the spokesperson is a patient

On the Day
•    Ensure all materials and spokespersons are ready
•    Set up a Media Registration counter at event
•    Make media kits available at counter
•    Introduce the Media Contact
•    Arrange any special one-on-one interviews
•    Facilitate a photo opportunity
•    Assign someone a camera for event documentation in case there is no press coverage
•    Remind program participants (such as special physician panelists) that media is invited
•    Run the program as planned

•    Assign a person to do media monitoring for articles
•    Make a compilation of news write-ups


VisComm Five Hours Free - Marketing and Graphic Design Giveaway

Ever wish you could consult with a marketing pro on best practice to boost your brand?

Have you found yourself in a marketing pickle? Missing or poor quality graphics, in need of a Pantone match, outdated web content?

Are you an entrepreneur who could use help to establish corporate identity?

Do you have a client who would like to learn how to optimize their website for search engines?

Well, spread the word because is offering five hours of complimentary marketing consultation and/or graphic design production.


  • Concept, Design, Production
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To enter for a chance to win Five Hours Free engage with from July 1 thru July 31, 2012.


  1. Facebook: Visit the Facebook page and Like Us
  2. Twitter: Follow VISCOMMdotUS, Retweet VISCOMMdotUS, or Message us with  “Enter Five Hours Free – Marketing and Graphic Design Giveaway”*

*Each Retweet and Message counts as a separate entry. Enter as often as you like.

Winning hours may be combined with additional billing.

A random drawing will held of all entries. The winner will be notified on Wednesday, August 15, 2012.


Winning hours are non-transferrable. maintains the right to decline services based on ethical standards. Such standards are based on the sole discretion of Services and feedback provided by are provided for reference purposes only. does not claim responsibility for the outcomes of materials or strategies provided to the Winner. will consult with the contest Winner to establish an agreed upon set of services equal to five billable hours. Services will be provided to Winner by within 30 days of Winner approval.

If contact is not made and services are not agreed upon within 30 days of Winner notification, the services intended for the Winner of Five Hours Free Giveaway are null and void. In the event that services are not provided to the original Winner, a new Winner will be chosen.

All materials developed for Winner by become the property of the Winner.

Restrictions subject to change.

Questions? Leave a message below.

Napoleon Minard InfoGraphic War of 1812

Probably the best statistical graphic ever drawn, this map by Charles Joseph Minard portrays the losses suffered by Napoleon’s army in the Russian campaign of 1812. Click here for larger image. Beginning at the Polish-Russian border (at left), the thick band shows the size of the army at each position. The path of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow in the bitterly cold winter depicted by the dark lower band (from right), is tied to temperature and time scales. Find out more. Available for purchase as a poster from famed graphical thinker Edward Tufte.

Our Studio made the most of this beautiful day and the natural sunlight. We updated our portfolio image gallery. The shoot started with a powerful digital zoom. However, we were quickly blown away by the photo quality achieved when we took the same shots with the iPhone 4S. Virtues include rich hues and tonality, auto focus, huge low resolution files, and seamless point and click functionality. The iPhone is a great, in-house option for image capture.

There are tangible benefits to working with off-site marketing professionals. Included are cost savings, convenience, and fresh perspective. Choose a studio with a proven track record of solid work and noteworthy clients to ensure the trust you need in an out-of-house relationship.

Minus the cost of salaries, benefits, parking, etc., off-site team members can provide concise, efficient delivery of goods and services.

Rock-solid estimates and hourly billing afford the client projectable expenditures. Why pay for an 8-hour workday when in actuality only 5 hours are spent on development and production?

Graphic development and the print production process, in particular, can be laborious. There is an up-side for in-house staff to receive a project perfect and complete without having been involved in the hands-on of it all.

Quality outside agencies are poised to rise to the occasion. If you need 1300 pages layed-out in 14 business days a company well-versed in and prepared to utilize qualified talent is ready to take on the challenge.

Speaking of Talent, your company is full of individuals with special gifts and expertise suited to your industry. Viscomm feels the same about our team of visionary, tech-savvy, marketing professionals. Our team provides consultation, strategy development for client approval, and implementation. We offer top of the line concept development and production on all product and service levels.

If you need a database, password-protected pages, a web video, an email blast, and a blog presence to synch with the launch of an in-house initiative – give the word. There are no limitations on what a quality outfit can provide.

What if you need to deploy your message from several different communication platforms including print, social media, public relations, media placement, etc.? Sign-off and the right outside communications partner can deliver – no fuss.

When the smoke clears, you receive an invoice which matches the original estimate. You can now gauge the direct impact of specific marketing dollars.

VisComm offers a broad range of marketing services that take the guesswork and burden out of in-house corporate communications.

QR Codes

QR Codes, short for “Quick Response Code”, could be the next wave of the future. But just what are these digital doo-hickeys? Are they just another Universal Product Codes (UPC)? A strange logo?

These funky codes can be scanned with your iphone, a co-worker’s blackberry, or an android apparatus. Scanning a QR Code allows you to obtain instant answers and links you directly to whatever you may need.

So without further ado, here are our Top 5 Uses for the Modern Day QR Code Marvel:


Picture this–You’re walking along a nature trail and you spot a really cool area with a sign post that has a QR Code on it. You whip out your phone, scan it, and instantly you’re able to gather information about the trail, the park, the flora and fauna of the location, park and trail history and other interesting spots to visit.

Take that one step further and imagine you’ve traveled to a new city. Instead of following a crowded tour, you can self-guide yourself with the use of QR Codes you find along your journey. By doing this, you make your trip an adventure of your own rather than taking the route and pace that most tourists follow.

The availability of acquiring information within seconds is something that QR Codes are incredibly efficient at and will be increasingly productive in the future.


Most print campaigns leave money on the table. Even well intentioned buyers are likely to forget or lose the initial enthusiasm created by your campaign if it requires remembering to do something in the future. Our on-demand society already has a jam-packed schedule that makes even the most emotionally charged buyer difficult to reach unless you can give them a way to take swift action now. QR Codes can direct an otherwise passive viewer to take immediate action–make a purchase, register for an event, or take a survey.

Ta-Da! Instant action.


Instead of posting a long website address that your audience is likely to forget by the time they get to their computer, place a QR Code on your printed piece. Whether it’s an advertisement, direct mail, business card, flyer, or exterior street signage, your potential consumer can immediately gain access to what your company is about, what you’re promoting, and you can nudge them to act now instead of the dreaded “maybe later.” And to top it off, you can track and analyze the results of your printed pieces. After all, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it or repeat it. Marketing shouldn’t be guesswork.


What if your customers could check inventory and purchase 24 hours a day right from your printed catalog? QR Code your catalog and they can!

Coding your catalog doesn’t limit a customer depending on their time zone, company business hours, or their busy schedule. Not only does this help increase usability but also expands the productivity of your potential sales. So whether your shopper is an early bird or a night owl, the opportunity is there!


Now that you know more about QR Codes, imagine all the other ways they can be used. Downtown Menu Signage, Window Shopping, Magazines and Newspapers, Product Packaging, Real Estate Signs, Techy T-Shirts and Merchandise, and Public Transportation Signage are just a few other ideas.

Heck, beer and soda manufacturers are even toying with this concept by bridging the offline/on-line socialness of their beverages. You can use QR Codes on concert tickets for quicker admissions or create a QRCode scavenger hunt contest. The opportunities are boundless!

Ask us about creative ways to use QR codes to help your marketing efforts.

(Originally published on