Tim is the producer and host of Shaping Opinion. He's the founder of O'Brien Communications, a corporate communications consulting firm.


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Recent episodes featuring Tim O'Brien
YouTube Creator: The Kavalier
He’s an up and coming YouTube creator better known to his 100,000 subscribers as The Kavalier. Jon Shanahan joins Tim to talk about what it was like to come up with this YouTube concept, and then come up with a successful strategy to build a large following as a full-time YouTuber. https://traffic.libsyn.com/shapingopinion/A_YouTubers_Life_II_auphonic.mp3   Did you ever think about how you use YouTube or why you use the social media channel? If you’re like most people, you log onto YouTube to learn something quick, like how to fix a leaky faucet, how to grill the perfect Cajun shrimp recipe, or maybe you follow someone on YouTube for fashion or make-up tips. Next to Google, YouTube may be the most popular go-to place for quick answers to basic questions or tips for daily living. If that sounds like you, then know that you’re not alone. Did you know that YouTube now has over 2 billion active users? Given that there are 7.5 billion people in the world, that means one out of every four people on the planet actively use YouTube. Every day, people watch 1 billion hours of video on YouTube. To meet the demand, thousands of creators post to YouTube every day. But if you want to find out who is getting the most traffic, that’s more simple. According to a researcher from Germany named Mathias Bärtl, who we will link to in our show notes, the top three percent of all YouTube channels get 90 percent of the traffic. There are famous YouTubers, like PewDiePie, who has over 102 million subscribers. And then there are many others, all considered influencers by the marketing world. An influencer is as the word sounds. Someone who can influence others. In this context, a YouTube influencer is someone who can make videos that influence marketing consumers in some way. Maybe to buy a product, buy an album or pay for a service. Some influencers focus on being influencers full time. That’s their job. They get paid to endorse and promote products on the platforms where they have the strongest name recognition. They may have made a personal brand on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or in the case of Jon Shanahan, YouTube, and increasingly on Instagram. This is Jon from one of his videos giving his viewers a partial summary of what he does. By the time you see this, Jon’s YouTube channel will have over 100,000 subscribers, a magic number by influencer standards. Links The Kavalier's Home Page The Kavalier's YouTube Channel Alpha M. YouTube Channel Study: YouTube Channels Uploads and Views: A Statistical Analysis of the Past 10 Years, by Mathias Bartl YouTubers with the Most Subscribers in 2019, BusinessInsider Wirecutter About this Episode's Guest Jon Shanahan Jon Shanahan is the founder of The Kavalier and co-founder of Stryx. Jon started The Kavalier to help guys make informed shopping decisions for business professional clothing including suits, footwear, travel gear and grooming products. Kavalier is German for “gentleman,” a gallant man, one of confidence and style, who attracts both respect and admiration. By following the guides and reviews Jon presents, he hopes to instill confidence and the power of appearance in every guy to help them live their best life.
1989 Protests: She was There in Tiananmen Square
Born and raised in China, author Anna Wang was in Tiananmen Square during those protests in 1989. She joins Tim to talk about what she saw, what she experienced, and what she learned since the events, the government crackdown that followed, the ripple effect those protests continue to have today. https://traffic.libsyn.com/shapingopinion/105_-_Tiananmen_Square.mp3   In the Spring of 1989, student-led demonstrations happened in Beijing. The protests centered in the Chinese city’s Tiananmen Square. The protestors wanted democracy. They wanted speech, and they wanted a free press in China. But what they got was a bloody crackdown by the Chinese government on June 4th and 5th of that year. The students had originally marched through Beijing to Tiananmen Square after the death of Hu Yaobang. He was a former Communist Party leader who had worked to introduce democratic reform in China. To mourn Hu, the students demanded a more open, democratic government. Thousands of people joined the students in Tiananmen Square, where the numbers rose to many thousand by the middle of May. The people were getting frustrated with limits placed on political freedom in a one-party government. Communism ruled. By 1989, the Chinese government had instituted some reforms that created a limited form of capitalism, but the poor and working class continued to suffer under communism, including lack of employment and increased poverty. The student protestors wanted a better education system that included teachings on free-market capitalism. In early May, a number of the protestors started a hunger strike, and that inspired other similar protests. The movement grew. The Chinese government responded by declaring martial law on May 20th, and 250,000 government troops entered Beijing. At the end of the month, more than one million protestors convened in Tiananmen Square. They held marches and vigils, and had attracted the attention of the world. On June 4th, in the middle of the night, Chinese soldiers and police raided Tiananmen Square, firing live ammunition into the crowd of protestors. Protestors were gunned down by automatic rifles, snipers, and armored personnel carriers. Some protestors were bayoneted and others were run over by those military vehicles. Many protestors sought to escape, while others fought back, stoning the attacking troops and setting fire to vehicles. In the end, rough estimates were that hundreds, if not thousands of protestors were killed, and as many as 10,000 protestors were arrested and punished. The next day, June 5th, bulldozers were brought in to clear the area of the dead, and janitors used hoses to wash the blood away. The wounded protestors were taken to the hospital on bicycle rickshaws. On June 5th, Associated Press photographer Jeff Widener took a photo that is now iconic and has come to symbolize the Tiananmen Square incident. It’s commonly referred to as “Tank Man.” That morning, Widener took a position on a sixth-floor balcony of the Beijing Hotel. His job was to capture the aftermath of the violence. He took photos of bloody victims, people on bikes, scorched vehicles. That’s when a column of tanks started to leave the plaza. That’s when he took a photo of a man in a white shirt, carrying two shopping bags, one in each hand at his sides. The man had stepped in front of the first tank. He waved his arms and refused to move. When the tanks tried to go around the man, he moved into their path. He actually climbed on top of one of the tanks at one point. Anna Wang (the first on the right) taking a parting photo with her teacher and friends in Peking University, June 1988 Surprisingly, the tanks didn’t fire at the man. The image was captured and would make its way around the work and across generations. To this day, no one knows who the man was or whatever happened to him. Our guest, Anna Wang, was a recent graduated of Peking University,
Are We Ready for What’s Next in Marketing & Communication?
Public Relations industry leader and visionary Ray Kotcher joins Tim to talk about the current state of communications in the world with a particular focus on the role professional communicators play in the process of reshaping the conversation. Ray was the long-time president, CEO and Chairman of Ketchum, one of the largest PR firms in the world. Presently, he’s Professor of the Practice, Public Relations – at Boston University. On a personal note, he’s also Tim’s former boss. https://traffic.libsyn.com/shapingopinion/Ray_Kotcher_-_WhatsNext_auphonic.mp3 As we enter 2020, we can expect continued upheaval in the communications landscape. For one, it’s an election year, and that always shapes the way the media not only covers the world but presents it. Trends in media coverage of politics will spill over into the way the media covers just about everything else. The election is the elephant in the communications room. At the same time, communications landscape continues to evolve rapidly. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube continue to dominate. Google and Amazon are expanding their presence into our daily lives, well beyond our recreational use of the Internet. Lingering issues are starting to become more important. Data privacy. Antitrust. The spread of hate speech. The private regulation or control of speech. These are just some of the issues. Through it all, professional communicators will at once define and respond to the changes happening every day. Ray Kotcher has a unique perspective on all of this. For decades, he has served as a leader and a visionary in the public relations field. He continues to give back in leadership of public relations professional organizations and as an educator at Boston University. The PR Week/Boston University Bellwether State of the Industry Study 1,633 participants responded to 128 questions. PR Week, Boston University, Institute for Public Relations, PR Council, and the Public Relations Society of America Areas Studied Agency disruption Key skills for next generation of communicators Industry shifts Today’s talent recruitment Agency disruption Agency Disruption 65% say communications is valued in their organizations Most agencies now competing with consulting firms (not communications specialists) Nature of the work: change management; research and measurement; other. Industry shifts Integration – 55% clients side said all more integrated as part of marketing. 40% said corporate culture hinders ability to act with speed and agility 79% management and boards’ demands for accountability have never been greater. Applications of new tech is low (Blockchain; AR; VR; gaming) Crisis support – Client side pros feel prepared (77%) You’d think the crises we see would be better handled if this were true, right? But only 65% feel their organizations are prepared. 15% use agencies during crises. Corporate pros see Communications are responsible for setting company ethical standards, particularly with regard to disinformation (72%) Links Ray Kotcher, Boston University Bio Ketchum PR Week-Boston University Bellwether Survey, PR Week Bellwether Survey: C-Suite Dinosaurs Hold Back Communications, PR Week The Museum of Public Relations About this Episode’s Guest Ray Kotcher Ray Kotcher was the long-time President, CEO and Chairman of Ketchum, one of the largest public relations firms in the world, and one of the world’s most awarded firms. Having received his MS in Public Relations from the college in 1983, he is presently the Professor of the Practice – Public Relations at Boston University. Ray believes in service to the industry and has led or been a trustee of most every professional organization. He currently serves ex officio on the national board of directors of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) where his work focuses...
2020: The Art of Persuasion
Lee Hartley Carter joins Tim to talk about the climate for persuasion in 2020. Lee is the president of maslansky + partners, a language strategy firm. She’s also the author of a new book from Penguin Random House called: “Persuasion: Convincing Others When Facts Don’t Seem to Matter.” https://traffic.libsyn.com/shapingopinion/Persuasion_Final_auphonic.mp3 For the past 25 years, maslansky + partners has been involved in the study of how words, messages and stories that brands choose determines their place in the market. While the firm’s work is often very involved and complex, Lee Hartley Carter, the firm’s president, wrote in her book that there is, “nothing more frustrating than seeing a group of brilliant people who have devoted years to creating something to help their consumers be unable to persuade anyone to try whatever it is." "Frequently, they struggle because they have been relying on facts alone to tell their story, or they hope that simply having made the best product will be enough.” In this episode, Lee talks about whether fact matter as much as they once did, how the current media climate contributes to the conversation, the role emotion plays, and “confirmation bias.” She tells stories and provides examples of how it remains possible to actually change minds with the right language and the right approach, even in crisis situations. Links maslansky + partners Persuasion: Convincing Others When Facts Don't Seem to Matter, by Lee Hartley Carter (Amazon) Persuasion Book, Random House About this Episode’s Guest Lee Hartley Carter Photo Credit: Barry Morgenstein Photography (Copyright) Lee Hartley Carter is president of maslansky + partners, a language strategy firm based on the single idea that “it’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.” Carter oversees a diverse range of communication and language strategy work for Fortune 100 and 500 companies, trade associations, and nonprofits in the United States and globally. As a television news personality and researcher, she doesn’t rely on traditional polling for her unique insights into U.S. politics; rather, she analyzes voters’ emotional responses to help understand and empathize with them on a more visceral level. The reaction matters, but the “why” behind it matters more. It was this approach that allowed her to accurately predict the results of the 2016 presidential election and primaries.
Our Top 10 Moments of 2019
In this episode, Tim revisits the Top 10 moments in the Shaping Opinion Podcast for 2019. Which one was your favorite? Find out if your fellow listeners selected it in their Top 10! https://traffic.libsyn.com/shapingopinion/102_-_Year_in_Review_2019.mp3   If 2018 was the year we created a podcast, 2019 was the year we started to build a community, and we thank you for that. Please know how much we appreciate you for listening, sharing and talking about with your friends and with us. Some others we’d like to thank. A big shout out to all of our guests who make the Shaping Opinion podcast. Since we’ve started, we’ve had the chance to talk to people who were experts on history, and others who watched history being made, and still others who had a hand, in some way, in history as it happened. And while history is an important part of every episode, there are some subtle and other not so subtle ingredients in our recipe – one is communication. In every episode, communications plays an important role. And in every episode, the people, events or things we’ve talked about somehow had an influence on our society or culture. 10 – Apollo 11 We’ve decided to follow a countdown format, so, number 10 on our list of Top Ten moments in 2019 came from Episode 57, where we talked to author and historian, Rod Pyle, about the historic Apollo 11 mission. We selected this moment because of the historic significance of Apollos 11’s 50th anniversary this year, and Rod’s excellent description of just how hairy the landing on the moon actually was… 9 – Christmas Vacation Number 9 on our countdown is from Episode 97, where we talked to the director of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie. Jeremiah Chechik had fond memories of the making of the movie, but the moment that stood out for me was when he described the creative process that helped create a Christmas Classic. 8 – Gratitude Number 8 on our countdown is from Episode 96. That’s where we talked to our podcasting friend Steve Garrett about how it’s taken time, but after a tragic loss, he’s been able to celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday with a real, deep-down gratitude. 7 – Cracking the Enigma Code Number 7 on our countdown is from Episode 77, where we talked to 97-years young Julia Parsons who is one of the few people who can say they were a codebreaker in World War Two. Julia used one of the world’s first computers, the Bombe machine developed by Allan Turing, to decipher coded messages from German submarines during the Second World War. 6 – Just Do It. Number 6 on our countdown is from Episode 49. That’s where we talked to Liz Dolan, who was named head of PR for Nike at the time the company launched its “Just Do It” marketing campaign. Liz would later become head of all marketing for Nike and had some thoughts on just why the Nike tagline has become probably the most famous advertising line in history. 5 – Nashville’s Bluebird Café Number 5 on the countdown is from Episode 81. In that episode we interviewed Erika Wollam Nichols of Nashville’s Bluebird Café. While you may not know the Bluebird by name, you are familiar with its impact on American music. Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks are just two of the many singer-songwriters who were discovered there. And in the near future, a new documentary on the Bluebird will hit movie screens across the country. We sat down and talked about what makes the small little storefront so special. 4 – JFK Assassination Number 4 on our countdown is from Episode 52. That’s where we spoke to a forensic pathologist who has been part of history. Dr. Cyril Wecht was the first forensic pathologist to have access in 1964 to much of the files and materials related to the JFK assassination. Ever since, he’s studied the event that changed history and has his own theories on who did it and what happened. 3 – In Search of Kindness Number 3 on our countdown is Episode 75, where we had the chance to sit down with Mary Latham.
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Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
2 days, 18 hours