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.


MP&F 2013 Midyear Retreat

August 19, 2013

MP&F 2013 Midyear Retreat

By Tom Hayden

President Obama speaks at Amazon's Chattanooga Fulfillment Center earlier this week.

President Obama speaks at Amazon’s Chattanooga Fulfillment Center earlier this week.

As a former professional political communicator, I’ve managed and staffed my fair share of events with elected officials, with big titles such as mayor, representative, senator, governor and even president. One thing that always becomes clear at these types of events is the difference between those staffers who are there to get their personal photo op and those who are there to get the job done. While it is easy to get your head turned among so much excitement, I’ve always held the most respect for those who are more willing to forgo the personal glory in order make sure the event is successful. I was reminded of this again as colleague Sam Kennedy and I helped client Amazon prepare for a presidential event at its Chattanooga Fulfillment Center this week.

Instead of strategizing about ways in which we could be close to the president, Sam and I spent our drive down from Nashville discussing ways to ensure our client’s needs and message didn’t get lost. Once on-site, we set about getting our tasks done, from working with national and local media to helping with staging and working with a wonderful team of Amazon volunteers who played key roles in the event.

With an event of this magnitude, we were interacting with varied interests from the White House, Amazon and the media; but Sam and I kept our focus.

While I wish I had a photo of us smiling with the president, I am more proud of the photo at the top of this post showing a successful event that clearly kept our client front and center. After all, one of MP&F’s mottos is to fulfill our promise to do great work for our clients.

By Audrey Webster

While blogs have been around for more than a decade, the role they play as an effective media channel has increased dramatically over the past few years. They have become a powerful tool in helping businesses and organizations reach targeted audiences, increase brand awareness and grow revenue.

As the newest member of MP&F’s blogger outreach team, it’s only taken me a month to realize how much time and attention the team is devoting to maximizing the many opportunities that exist in the blogosphere for clients.

Mom Creative formatted

Kat and Kate, the leading ladies of MP&F’s blogger outreach team, refer to  bloggers as “informed brand ambassadors,” and continually encourage our team to seek outside opportunities to improve our outreach strategy. Recently, I had the chance to attend an IABC Nashville luncheon, where Jessica Turner, professional blogger and founder of The Mom Creative, spoke about the do’s and don’ts of blogger outreach. In discussing various types of campaigns and what she looks for in a pitch, Jessica did a great job explaining the key points communications professionals need to know about the blogging business. If a blogger is not treated like a businessperson, the quality of the post (given the blogger agrees to write one) will show it. Here are some of the main takeaways from the luncheon:

  • Blogs are much more relational than traditional media. Successful bloggers earn the trust of their readers, giving their content the credibility that traditional media often lacks. Jessica explained that she will not hesitate to say no to a pitch if the brand doesn’t appeal to her or her audience.
  • Blogger outreach must start with building relationships. It’s crucial that the content in a pitch be relevant to the blog’s message, style and followers.
  • What to look for in a blog: a strong following, content that is clear, engaging and consistent (the length and quality of the comment thread are good indicators!), and SEO tags. Displaying these tags or a search bar shows that audience interaction is important to the blogger.
  • Offer the blogger various campaign and partnership options. These include unpaid features, product reviews/giveaways, sponsored posts, affiliate posts (compensation based on effectiveness of a coupon or promo code) and advertising. Social media promotion is also an affordable option, and is particularly appealing if a brand’s Twitter following is 10 times that of the blogger’s.

The real eye-opener was a story Jessica saved for the end of her presentation. She had posted on her blog, Facebook page and Twitter account promoting a four-hour sale of a brand she’s worked with multiple times. Her posts generated more traffic (and sales) to the brand’s website than the 1 million emails the company had sent out that morning. Needless to say, Jessica later received this particular product free.

It’s clear that blogger outreach can lead to measurable results for brands and businesses if executed correctly. Like businesses, bloggers want to be given expectations up-front, they want to be paid on time, and they want their content to be shared on other media channels.

Roger Shirley is a former editor of the Nashville Business Journal and longtime editorial director here at MP&F. He reads just about everything we write. And we write a lot. This is Roger’s column about writing.

RS Redundancy

From the Department of Redundancies Department

My first MP&F blog post extolled the virtues of concise writing (When you write, keep it tight, February 4, 2010). One of the bullet points was about eliminating redundancies. The other day I stumbled upon  an email  I sent to the staff on the topic back in ’07, inspired by a list I’d seen. It still holds up, so here is the email:

Many of you have heard me say that an effective way to develop tight writing skills is to go through your copy and eliminate unnecessary words. If you can edit a 25-word sentence down to 18 words and not lose any meaning or effect, the shorter sentence will be better. Words such as “currently” can be eliminated about 95 percent of the time. In some cases, not only are words unnecessary, they create redundancies. I remember an old city editor almost having a stroke when a reporter turned in a story about an “armed gunman.”

Here are a few examples of common redundancies. Eliminate the word or phrase in parentheses:

(advance) reservations

(advance) warning

(added) bonus

ATM (machine)

(basic) fundamentals

(brief) summary

bouquet (of flowers)

(close) proximity

(completely, entirely) eliminate

depreciate (in value)

(desirable) benefits

during (the course of)

each (and every)

evolve (over time)

(exact) replica

(final) conclusion

fly (through the air)

(free) gift

(frozen) ice

(future) plans

grow (in size)

introduced (a new)

(live) studio audience

look back (in retrospect)

look (ahead) to the future

(new) construction

(now) pending

(originally) created

(overused) cliché

(past) history

previously listed (above)

(still) remains

surrounded (on all sides)

(three-way) love triangle

(total) destruction

(two equal) halves

(underground) subway

(unexpected) surprise

(unintentional) mistake

vacillating (back and forth)

(very) unique

whether (or not)

(white) snow

write (down)

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.

By Annakate Tefft Ross

Have you heard of Wannado yet? It’s a hyperlocal event curation app that helps users find out what they “wanna do” in Nashville. The startup is a client of ours and officially launched the app today. Read the Nashville Business Journal story on the launch here.


We love seeing the Nashville technology and startup communities grow, plus we love finding out about awesome activities in our fair city, so we’re thrilled to help spread the word about Wannado.

According to CEO Steven Buhrman, the app was designed to help Nashvillians spend less time figuring out what they want to do and more time doing what they love. Here’s a video the company put together.

Not only does the app use your tastes and preferences to point you in the direction of events you might be interested in, but it actually learns its users’ preferences and makes personalized event suggestions. The idea was to create the Spotify (a digital music streaming service) of local events. Pretty cool, we’d say.

So, what can you do with Wannado?

  • Keep a pulse on your favorite live music and entertainment options
  • Get tickets and add events to calendars directly from the app
  • See what your friends and other locals are doing
  • Discover service opportunities based on the causes you care about
  • Find out where professionals are meeting up
  • Follow your favorite venues and organizations
  • Find nearby drink specials and invite your friends to join

Once you’ve downloaded the app, you “tune” or specify your interests.


After that I can get “Suggestions” for upcoming events by date, based on my criteria as selected above. I’ll also receive daily suggestions from Wannado.


From there, you can “Explore” anything under the sun, from over 60 categories. So if your mother-in-law is in town, you can browse museums or wine tasting events, regardless of whether or not you like these kinds of events. You can also search for events by keyword.


Lastly, I can use the “Community” function to see what my friends have “Wannado’d” or starred as an event they’re interested in. The app integrates with Facebook so my “friends” are based on existing Facebook friends.


Wannado curates its events in part by allowing anyone to post an event (you can submit one directly through the app) and by leveraging partnerships with prominent local organizations and cultural curators, including:

In a nutshell, we’re pumped. Help us spread the word about Wannado! Get the app, then check them out on FacebookTwitterInstagram and the blog.