Our company’s long-lasting relationship with Bud Adams and the Tennessee Oilers/Titans started quietly with a couple of phone calls and then a hastily called meeting in a Memphis hotel room before an Oilers game in Memphis against the Washington Redskins in 1997.

My partners Mark McNeely and Dave Cooley were at the meeting at the Memphis Hilton, and Mr. Adams, who died on Monday at age 90, made the decision that day to hire a public relations firm for the first time in his nearly 50 years as a professional football team owner.

His predicament at the time was simple: The decision had been made for his team to leave Houston after the 1996 season and play in Memphis for two seasons while Nashville built the team a new permanent stadium. McNeely Pigott & Fox had overseen the successful referendum campaign for approval of the Nashville stadium’s bonds, so we were familiar both with the project and with many of the members of the Oilers executive team.

The problem with having Memphis serve as the team’s temporary home was that the people there had wanted an NFL team of their own rather than to serve as babysitter for Nashville’s team. The result was that Mr. Adams was reviled by many in Houston for taking the team away, unwanted in Memphis because he wasn’t moving there permanently, and distrusted by some in Nashville after a hotly contested stadium debate.

I became involved in many of the steps after our hiring, and we have proudly worked with the team ever since. The immediate steps after that Memphis meeting were our helping with announcing that the team would arrive in Nashville a year earlier than originally planned, assisting with drawing a good crowd to their first game at their new temporary home at Vanderbilt stadium, and helping to get Mr. Adams in front of as many people as possible in Nashville to let them get to know him.

We oversaw the polling and analysis that led to Mr. Adams’ reluctant decision to change the name from Oilers to Titans, and we worked on many other projects with his quality senior staff.

Though a demanding boss sometimes, Mr. Adams could also be a real charmer and was great at telling stories from his many decades in professional football. His team has played to a sellout crowd at every game since LP Field opened.

He was controversial at times, but his record speaks for itself: Nashville is a far greater city overall because former Mayor Phil Bredesen and Bud Adams worked out a way to bring an NFL team here. I would contend he never put making money ahead of trying to make his team better. And his team has been generous in helping our city’s charitable organizations.

MP&F is proud to have “played for” Bud Adams.

The Nashville Scene spoofs Bud Adams' hiring of MP&F in 1997.

The Nashville Scene spoofs Bud Adams’ hiring of MP&F in 1997.


Recommended Weekend Reading

October 18, 2013

Moving a little slowly this weekend? Slower than molasses in October? Head on over to the Music and Molasses Arts and Crafts Festival at the Tennessee Agriculture Museum to enjoy old-fashioned activities like sheep shearing and country clogging while you savor homemade molasses and maybe a fried pie or four. Afterward, take some time to relax and enjoy our favorite online reads from this week.

Did you know that …

Well, now you do! Stay tuned for next week’s list of the Internet’s latest and greatest.

MP&F Partner Alice ChapmanBy Alice Pearson Chapman

When I was a kid, my mom had a rule about thank-you notes. Any gift my brother and I received had to be acknowledged with a hand-written note to the giver within a week. If that task went undone, we lost the privilege of
using the gift until the note was written.

This rule has stuck with me, and I now keep a stash of notes handy, both for myself and for my children.

Thank-you notes should always be sent for life-event gifts – graduation, a wedding, a baby, to acknowledge condolences, etc. But they are equally important in the business world. I was reminded of the importance of hand-written correspondence by two excellent blog posts on the subject, one by fellow PRSA Counselors Academy member Eric Morgenstern and the other by MP&F friend Cindy Wall.

Here are some business occasions that I think require a hand-written note:

Thank you note image

  • After a job interview – This is a must. Don’t get lazy and send an email instead.
  • Following a meeting with a prospective client – “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me last week. I look forward to discussing the needs of your company in more detail in the weeks to come.”
  • A networking meeting – “Thanks for meeting me for coffee. I enjoyed hearing about your plans for the cupcake/wine bar. Hope to see you again soon.”
  • After attending a conference where a meaningful connection was made – “It was a pleasure talking with you at the Counselors Academy meeting. Please call me if I can be of assistance as you transition to your new billing system.”
  • To your mentor – “Thanks for meeting with me last week. I value your guidance and advice, and I look forward to our next meeting. Coffee is on me next month.”

Your note doesn’t have to be a novel. Keep it short. Use clean, simple stationery (Target has a great selection that won’t break the bank) or your company’s notecards. Think of this as a good chance to practice your handwriting. While technology and digital communications are a boon for our industry and make it easier than ever to tweet, pin and more, going back to the basics may make more of an impression.

MP&F has received many awards and honors over the past 26 years, and we are proud of all of them. We’re especially proud of our most recent honor – being named one of The Tennessean’s “Top Workplaces” as voted on by our employees – because it means we are succeeding in maintaining one of our core values.

MP&F awardEarly on, the firm’s partners committed to creating the kind of workplace for their employees that each of them would want to work in – a place that rewarded creativity and perseverance, that balanced hard work with fun, that treated everyone as family.

We believe strongly that maintaining that kind of work environment translates directly into producing the best work possible for our clients, and that’s what our business is all about. That’s what determines our success.

Here’s a sampling of what MP&F staff members say about working here:

MP&F's Jessica DardenJessica Darden

Senior Account Executive

MP&F is a great place to work for hundreds of reasons – the great partners that lead the firm, the incredibly talented staff we have, our long list of diverse and wonderful clients; but my favorite thing about working at MP&F (and what has kept me here for nine years) is the team-oriented culture we have. Our “all-for-one and one-for-all” dedication to the firm, each other and our clients is irreplaceable. We work damn hard, we work together, and we have a lot of fun doing it.

MP&F's Mary Ruth RaphaelMary Ruth Raphael

Account Supervisor

A lot of companies pay lip service to being family-friendly; but here at MP&F, it is ingrained in the company culture. It’s not just that the partners have family-friendly policies – it’s that they truly care about people and understand that giving employees the flexibility to take care of their families is an asset, not a liability, for the company. For me personally, their willingness to allow me to work around family commitments makes me want to work that much harder for them. It makes me extremely dedicated and loyal to this firm, and it makes me feel appreciated as a person, not just as an employee.

MP&F's Pam SchmidtPam Schmidt

Administrative Assistant

I first walked into this office 20 years ago as a summer college intern. Since then I have been involved in amazingly important and meaningful work in Nashville and around the world, while surrounded by the smartest and most creative people in town. Over the years, my bosses became my friends and my friends have become my bosses. I feel very fortunate to have bosses and co-workers who truly care about my family and me, not to mention they are just fun to be around every day.

In short, we work hard and play hard around here. We take our work very seriously, but try not to take ourselves too seriously. We get the job done and have a good time while doing it. Did someone say “beer cart”?

MP&F's Roger ShirleyRoger Shirley

Editorial Director

There are so many things that make MP&F a great place to work, but a big one is the formal and informal benefits – they are tremendous. MP&F pays 100 percent of individual employee insurance, 100 percent of parking and offers a generous vacation package. Beyond that, the partners often give additional paid days off around Christmas. And this year, with July 4 on Thursday, they announced we would all get Friday off as well. Some of our younger staff may take those added benefits for granted; but as someone who knows this is not the norm, I sure don’t.

MP&F's Erin McDonoughErin McDonough

Staff Associate

When I interviewed with MP&F three months ago, I constantly heard about its “open-door policy.” I didn’t really know what that meant until I was able to experience it firsthand. From day one I have felt welcome to go to any staff member, from a fellow SA all the way to a partner, with any question I could possibly have. I feel challenged, supported and motivated on a daily basis. I am constantly learning something new or being exposed to a different scope of this crazy industry we call public relations. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that your supervisors want you to do well, not only for the company’s success, but because they genuinely want you to succeed individually as well.

MP&F's Leigh LindseyLeigh Lindsey

Account Executive

It’s hard to put into words what makes MP&F so special. To me, MP&F is a really great team that’s a lot like a family. I’ve always believed that when the MP&F team works together we can accomplish anything for our clients. That feeling of family and team comes from working with and for people who always are willing to jump in and help, whether it’s with planning a client event or developing a new idea. It’s a special place, and I feel really fortunate to be a small part of it.

MP&F's Dan SchlacterDan Schlacter

Senior Account Executive

MP&F is not the best place to work for everyone. I don’t get to wear jeans every day, I don’t have a business card with a made-up title on it, and there’s only free beer in the break room, like, once a month. But, from the day I was hired I was encouraged to have ideas, share them and put them into action. My colleagues and I work in an environment where staff members at all levels – from interns to partners – are empowered to have a hand on the agency’s steering wheel. We like coming to work every day because we made this office the way it is.

MP&F's Mara NaylorMara Naylor

Associate Account Executive

MP&F is one of the best places to work because I work with some of the most talented, smartest and hardworking people I’ve ever met. When I step off the elevator each morning, I know that the day ahead will include a lot of work, but I’m comforted in knowing that I’m a part of a great team. MP&F is my first  “real job” since graduating from college, but I wouldn’t want to start my public relations career anywhere else because I’ve grown a lot and I’m learning more and more about the industry each day.

Announcing MP&F/d

June 24, 2013

Drum roll, please… Today MP&F is announcing the creation of a new digital services operation, MP&F/d. Our goal is to provide integrated digital media strategies for both public relations and marketing clients. MP&F is already providing many social media and digital services; MP&F/d seeks to elevate and amplify our offerings with a fresh perspective. I’m Annakate Tefft Ross, and I’ll be leading the new division along with Partner Keith Miles.


I started my career in PR, conducting more traditional communications and marketing campaigns. Over the last several years, I’ve specialized in social media and digital communications in the startup and technology worlds. With this background, I am very excited to join MP&F in this role.

Social media and digital outreach present amazing opportunities for corporations and brands to connect with customers, influencers and stakeholders in a way that wasn’t possible in the analog world. I am passionate about using technology to facilitate these relationships. My philosophy is to stay on top of current trends and tools while remaining grounded with solid strategy, account management and measurement practices.

We think the best social media campaigns are part of a larger integrated communications plan, a holistic approach to digital outreach. However, we also offer social media management solutions, team trainings on the latest tools and trends, competitive audits, blogger outreach, and more.

We can’t wait to start the conversation!

Contact: digital@mpf.com
Twitter: @mpf_d


The following is an email exchange between MP&F staff members Lacey Purcell and Colby Sledge, because we were probably going to email each other about this anyway.

CS: Lacey, I’m having trouble wrapping my head around Vine. I feel like we’re really just giving life to selfies, which, along with zombies and the Boy Meets World College Years, are things we just should not be reanimating. What is the audience for Vine?

LP: I’ll overlook your BMWCY dis, because we both know those seasons were critical development periods for Cory and Topanga’s relationship.

That being said, Vine is a great opportunity to engage social media users on all platforms. I think it gives brands a chance to explore different ways to drive traffic to a website and increase SEO, among other things. What problems are you running into?

CS: My problem is that brands haven’t figured out what to do with it. Urban Outfitters dresses dogs. NBC films a JPEG of Seth Meyers and pipes in weird stock applause. These people know GIFs exist, right?

So far, Vine is populated mostly with teenagers being bored. Is this really what brands want to associate themselves with?

LP: OK, I agree. People are jumping on the Vine bandwagon a little too quickly. But isn’t that what happened with Facebook and Twitter? It took brands some time to figure out how to tailor those platforms to fit their particular messages. I think Wimbledon did a cool job giving a behind-the-scenes look with this Vine.

CS: Sorry for the delay — I just awoke from the coma that video induced.

Look, I agree with you, in part: Vine’s biggest potential for brands is providing consumers with access — something they can’t see anywhere else. Sports presents a great opportunity for this. I think the Dodgers’ “#VineDeckCircle” is a step in the right direction.

NBA and NHL playoff teams should be making bank on Vine. If Zach Randolph appeared on my iPhone and told me to purchase a special-edition “Grit and Grind” playoff headband, I would buy approximately 700.

LP: Don’t act like you weren’t entranced by Wimbledon. But seriously, that video contains something tennis lovers may never have seen before: a guy who looks really un-legit drawing the lines for one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

However, Vine does more than behind-the-scenes. What about some kind of transformation? A home décor store could use the app to showcase a room before, during and after a renovation. Perfect place to showcase new products, feature new designers, etc.

CS: And what about fashion? A few runway shows at New York Fashion Week did a good job with this, but the possibilities here are limitless. Don’t people want to see what clothes look like when they’re actually being worn?

By the way, we’re going to have to wrap this up soon, because Tim Gunn and I have an early lunch.

LP: I’m impressed. Let’s tie a pashmina around you and call it a day.

I agree. The fashion industry could do so many creative things with this app, and it makes sense for it to have a presence because of the incredibly creative nature of the industry.

I like Vine. I like social media. I don’t like it for everyone. The ultimate goal shouldn’t be to have people watch the vines; the goal should be to drive traffic into a store, raise awareness about an issue, or increase sales in some way, shape or form. Vine can help do that, but, just like with Facebook and Twitter, there has to be a strategy behind its use.

CS: Agreed. Vine looks simple, but beneath it lies a tangled web – dare I say, a tangled VINE – of necessary strategy and resources. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to record a Vine on a bicycle, and potentially a how-to on avoiding ambulance rides.

CS: We attached my phone to my helmet using a very complicated lantern-strap-and-paper-clip model, which proved way more interesting than the bike video itself. WARNING: Do not view bike footage while operating heavy machinery.

I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion this morning sponsored by the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce and FirstBank. Our topic was marketing, public relations and social media.

Dan Ryan of Ryan Search & Consulting moderated the panel, which included Kate O’Neill of [meta]marketer and Mark Cleveland of Swiftwick.

The discussion was spirited and the audience questions were thoughtful. Mark promised to post some of the marketing and leadership books he’s been reading lately, and I thought I’d look at my own reading list. So, here we go: