Three Keys to Hillary Clinton’s Big Debate Win

By Suzanne Morse


By all objective measures, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scored a decisive victory last night in the first presidential debate, the biggest moment yet of the 2016 presidential campaign.  Both an instant poll by CNN and a Public Policy Polling survey rated her the overwhelming winner (62 percent vs. 27 percent and 51 percent vs. 40 percent, respectively); a focus group by pollster Frank Luntz gave the win to Hillary Clinton; and even the investor markets indicated a clear victory for the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State.

So, what were three keys to her winning strategy?

  • Managing Sky High Expectations – Last night, Hillary Clinton pulled off something that is nearly impossible: she not only met high expectations, she exceeded them. Most observers believed that the debate was Clinton’s to lose, which is a risky position to be in.  But in the days before the debate, the Clinton campaign directly took on those expectations, convincingly making the case that Trump should not be graded on a curve.  The campaign was helped in this effort by Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who said the day before the debate that Trump is the “Babe Ruth of debating.”

    Once she took the debate stage, Clinton performed well – she seemed presidential, and in command of both facts and temperament. She answered difficult questions swiftly and decisively, and took the countless opportunities that Trump gave her to put him on the defensive.  All in all, it was an excellent performance from Hillary Clinton across the board.

  • Winning the Social Media Game – Debates are no longer just won or lost by how reporters discuss them. Social media has taken on an increasing importance in shaping the debate narrative.  According to Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies’ Illuminating 2016 project, Hillary Clinton won the “share of voice” contest on social media last night.  This influenced the narrative of the evening, and will likely continue to impact the fallout from the debate.
  • Walking the Gender Tightrope – Somewhat lost in all of the hoopla last evening was the fact that Hillary Clinton is the first woman to ever be in a general presidential debate. Fairly or not, Clinton had to manage the many stereotypes that are applied to women in public positions, from her onstage demeanor and her clothing choices to the tone of her voice.  From the moment she walked on stage, Clinton looked and sounded presidential and assertive while avoiding most gender traps.

Make sure to tune in to the next debate, which will feature Vice Presidential candidates, Senator Tim Kaine and Governor Mike Pence and moderated by Elaine Quijano of CBSN.  It will be held on Tuesday, October 4th at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

Suzanne Morse is a vice president in O’Neill and Associates’ communications division, specializing in media relations, messaging and branding, and strategic advocacy campaigns. Connect with Suzanne Morse on Twitter @sznnmorse or by email at

A Look at Creative Marketing Campaigns in the Legal Industry


Creative marketing campaigns are not just for national consumer brands and presidential candidates.  Law firms are also stepping up their game and embracing the digital age with sleek integrated marketing programs that showcase their talent and demonstrate their competitive edge.

While most large law firms have sophisticated websites, social media platforms and videos, very few small- to- medium sized firms are at the same level, except Boston-based Murphy & King, P.C.  The firm is a top tier boutique law firm practicing bankruptcy and financial restructuring, business litigation and corporate and real estate transaction law which just launched a new integrated marketing campaign featuring a professionally produced video series and website (  The firm has also created a new tag line to use on all of their multi-media marketing materials – “unraveling complexity” – that reflects how the Boston-based firm has assisted its clients in seemingly impossible and complicated cases.

The new integrated marketing campaign is the result of more than a year’s investment in time, resources and production of content that was overseen by the firm’s Marketing and Business Development Committee.  It was imperative that the firm improve its web presence and digital accessibility, hence, a new website was designed. The new responsive site uses images of puzzle pieces and graphics to depict the firm’s commitment of “unraveling complexity” for its clients to ensure that their goals are achieved. The website also has an easy-to-navigate design allowing users to explore firm information, practice areas, attorney information, news, and contact information.

The firm also decided that videos are a great way to tell a story about what they do at Murphy & King, as the attorneys are articulate, well-versed in their practice areas and passionate about their work.  The video series and website put Murphy & King at the technological forefront for mid-sized law firms in the Boston area.

We invite you to see the Murphy & King videos that offer a combination of attorney perspectives and case studies highlighting how each attorney has unraveled the complexity of a case for specific clients:

  • Tangled Cases Demand Elegant Solutions” – Attorneys Andy Lizotte and Harry Murphy explain that successful  business reorganization and restructuring requires a collaborative effort among competing constituencies describing how they helped save a biopharmaceutical company with a promising hemophilia drug;
  • Every Piece Counts” – Attorney Dan Dwyer states that in disputes one side is rarely 100% right so the goal is to identify those pieces of the puzzle where his client is right and push that to the center as he did for several wealth management professionals sued by a major investment firm, demonstrating that he takes his clients’ livelihoods seriously;
  • See the Evidence” – Attorney Dan Lyne examines the importance of visuals and storytelling to make complex issues understandable to judge and juries;
  • One Team. One Direction” – Attorney Bob Richards observes that transactions often involve multiple parties, law firms and other professionals and how, as dealmakers, he found solutions to the many complex problems involved in the successful sale of a family-owned brickyard company’s property;
  • One Thing We Do” – Attorneys Harry Murphy and Ethan Jeffery discuss the firm’s use of Chapter 11 as a bridge to a business goal, not a legal one, holding together a multi-use hotel/condominium complex in development during an economic downturn and enabling the project to finish in an improving market.

Harold B. Murphy, co-founder, shareholder and attorney said it best. “We are practical, no nonsense attorneys who get the job done. Our new website and video series allow us to showcase our deep knowledge and expertise we utilize every day for our clients, and demonstrate our ability to unravel the most complex situations in navigating our clients to success.”

Business marketing has truly taken a new turn as we are fully engulfed in the digital age. All businesses, large and small, need to pay attention and spend some time to regroup, reinvest and revamp their marketing materials to continue to have a competitive edge.

O’Neill and Associates is proud to provide communications and marketing services to Murphy & King, PC. For more information on our services, click here

Farewell to Summer and Welcome Back to the Students!

RCN Ice Cream Truck

By Ann Murphy

WebRes_120403_ONeill_AnnMurphy-0085.jpgEvery year, Bostonians breathe a sigh of relief when summer begins: not only does vacation season ramp up, but also the 300,000+ college students temporarily vacate the city.  The MBTA is less crowded (especially the Green line!), restaurants and bars in college neighborhoods have ample room, and the bleachers at Fenway Park are taken up by an older crowd.

But we also know that this reprieve is temporary and even as we say goodbye to a great summer of sun-filled vacation days, we warmly welcome the return of one of the biggest economic engines of the region – college students. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, we brace for the onslaught of college students returning at the end of every August.

With more than 360,000 college students enrolled in higher education institutions in the Boston Metropolitan area, employing 70,000, they are responsible for an economic impact of an estimated $31 billion. Higher education is a vital part of our local economy and will continue to be a key factor in the future growth of the region.

Over the next few weeks, as we try to maneuver around the double-parked moving vans on Commonwealth Avenue, we also celebrate the fact that every year, Boston gets a big dose of vitality returning to the city.  Many businesses are also rolling out the red carpet for the return of these college students. Our client, RCN Boston, an industry-leading provider of high speed internet, digital TV and phone service, will be out in full force in the predominantly student-occupied neighborhoods of Kenmore Square, Allston-Brighton, Mission Hill, Somerville, downtown Boston and more, offering great deals for college students moving into their new apartments.

Students want and need what RCN provides: lightning fast Internet speeds of 155 Mbps plus digital television for $49.99 per month so that they can surf, game, stream and connect wirelessly to multiple devices through RCN’s powerful fiber-optic network. With same-day free installation, and no contract required, students have the opportunity to be connected to the #1-ranked ISP in PC Magazine for speed and reliability. The RCN Ice Cream truck will also be joining the fun giving out free ice cream to returning students and their parents who are helping them move their belongings and get settled into their new apartments.

Remember, enjoy the last days of summer and be thankful for the return of college students who make Boston such a great city.

Ann Murphy is a senior vice president at O’Neill and Associates, providing public relations and media strategy to clients such as RCN Boston

CEO’s Corner: July/August 2016

220px-Thomas_P_O'Neill_IIIIn 2015, the number of mass shootings in the United States outnumbered the days in the year – not to mention the hundreds of people injured each day from gun violence. From Baton Rouge and Orlando to Newtown and Virginia Tech, the carnage and innocent lives lost in mass shootings have become an all too frequent part of the national news cycle.

As a result, the question of how to stop the spread of preventable gun violence has once again emerged as a top policy issue. Despite a 25-hour sit-in by House Democrats, a 15-hour filibuster by Senate Democrats, and a bipartisan compromise proposal in the Senate, Congress has been unable to enact any legislation to increase gun safety. In the midst of this void, some states are taking steps to try and stem the wave of gun violence that claims the lives of more than 33,000 Americans every year.

Here in Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey announced a new effort to enforce the Commonwealth’s ban on assault weapons. This July, she sent a directive to gun makers in Massachusetts ceasing the sales of “copycat” or “duplicate” assault rifles. The Commonwealth is one of just seven states and the District of Columbia that bans the sale of high-powered assault rifles like those used in recent mass shootings. And enforcement of these bans works too – the rate of gun fatalities in Massachusetts is one of the lowest in the country.

Unfortunately, gun manufacturers have been circumventing Massachusetts law by making and marketing copycat assault weapons to Commonwealth buyers under the label “state compliant.” The Attorney General’s office estimates that about 10,000 copycat assault rifles were sold in the Commonwealth in 2015 alone. While this commonsense directive is not a new law, it closes a critical loophole that gun manufacturers have exploited for over a decade.

Attorney General Healey’s courageous and reasonable approach on gun control has had a ripple effect nationally. She has earned support from Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the entire Massachusetts delegation, 5 former Massachusetts Attorneys Generals, many Commonwealth mayors, law enforcement, and a whole host of public health and community leaders, among countless others. She has also won praise from assault weapon opponents, who are desperately seeking ways to stop the spread of these weapons.

However, Attorney General Healey has also – predictably – been the subject of hysterical attacks from the gun lobby and second amendment activists, many of which don’t even live in Massachusetts. A quick Google search shows how the National Rifle Association and others are leveraging Attorney General Healey’s enforcement effort to raise money, while also personally attacking her with language so offensive and reprehensible that it is unfit to print or repeat.

Rather than contributing solutions to help prevent gun violence, this vocal minority has been hurling personal attacks in an attempt to mislead the public about what the directive does and does not do. Attorney General Healey deserves credit for her courage and willingness to truly enforce the laws that protect our citizens and ultimately save lives. That spirit and commitment is especially important in this current climate and election cycle.

Boston Comic Con 2016 Attracts Over 40,000 Fans of All Ages

Boston Comic Con 2016 offered something for every comic book fan from in-person meet and greets with A-list celebrities, to panel discussions with comic artists including Frank Miller, to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Star Trek with a VIP appearance from the original Captain Kirk, actor William Shatner. During the three-day comic extravaganza at the Seaport World Trade Center, from August 12 – 14, more than 40,000 fans enjoyed the show that was put together by Nick Kanieff, a small business owner from Framingham.  When Nick and his friend Jim Talbot started Boston Comic Con nine years ago, it was a one-day show with only 900 attendees.

Nick attributes the explosion in attendance and in the popularity of comic con shows to Hollywood. In an interview with the Boston Business Journal, Nick told reporter Sean McFadden that Boston is a great city for Boston Comic Con because of the passionate fans:

“Take a look at Boston sports fans, just as an example. They eat, sleep and drink their sports. Bostonians have the reputation of being the most hard-core fans in the country. I’ve got news for you: The comic book fans in Boston are no different. I don’t know what it is. It must be something in the water here. When Bostonians decide they want to be a fan of something, they want to do it better than everybody else.”

Boston Comic Con was showcased throughout the city prior to the main event.  On August 4, Faneuil Hall Marketplace hosted the 4th Annual Boston Comic Con Costume Parade and Contest where the public was invited to join the fun and dress up in their favorite superhero and enter to win tickets to the show.

First place went to Cindy Tran of Lowell, Mass. As “Postman Link” from the Legend of Zelda series; Second place went to Kelsey Entder of Boston as “Supergirl”; Third place went to Jennifer Williams of Salem, Mass. As “Judy Hopps” from Zootopia; and the kids winner was four year old Niah Roy from Winthrop, Mass. as “Hit Girl” a Marvel Character.

On Thursday, August 11, Boston Comic Con cosplayers made a special visit to the Pediatric Unit at Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Charlestown, Mass.  Iron Man, Spider Man, Black Widow and two Dr. Whos (No. 6 and No. 10) visited with the kids and brightened their day.

On Friday, August 12, Boston Comic Con opened its doors to throngs of fans, many of them moms and dads with kids in tow for the first Family Day at the show.  It was a huge success and offered kid-friendly programming and special events throughout the day.

It was “Batter Up” for Boston Comic Con Cosplayers who joined actor William Shatner on the field at Fenway Park for the ceremonial first pitch as the Red Sox hosted Boston Comic Con night for the second straight year.  Shatner also did an interview on NESN and stayed for the game as the Sox played the Arizona Diamondbacks.

O’Neill and Associates is proud to provide communications services to Boston Comic Con. 

St. Francis House and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs Announce State Funding for 46 Units of Affordable Housing

Development will convert the historic
Boston Young Men’s Christian Union into housing

sfh-logoSt. Francis House (SFH) and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs of the Archdiocese of Boston (POUA) are excited to announce the award of funding from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to create 46 units of affordable housing at the former Boston Young Men’s Christian Union (BYMCU) building at 48 Boylston Street in Boston.

On behalf of the Baker Administration, DHCD will support the project with a combination of Federal and State Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will leverage approximately $11.8 million in equity, and $4,000,000 in various subsidies from DHCD. The City of Boston is also providing significant funding for the development.

“These affordable housing awards reflect our administration’s commitment to a stronger, more prosperous, and more inclusive Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “By increasing affordable housing production, and stabilizing working families, low-income senior citizens and homeless families or those at risk, these housing awards will strengthen communities across Massachusetts.”

In April 2016, SFH and POUA purchased the historic building located near the Boston Common and on the edge of Chinatown on Boylston Street. Together, SFH and the POUA will undertake the rehabilitation of the now-vacant building.

“This funding will help create affordable housing in the heart of downtown Boston in a neighborhood that has seen rental costs skyrocket,” said Karen LaFrazia, Executive Director of St. Francis House. “Without an affordable home, finding a job and being an active member of the community can be impossible. This development will strengthen our mission to provide pathways to stability for individuals experiencing homelessness.”

The property will be redeveloped by SFH and POUA to provide much needed affordable housing in the community.  The completed development will include units to serve people who have experienced homelessness, and others with very modest incomes. Twenty-six of the units will be reserved for individuals earning less than 30% of the area median income.

“Providing permanent housing for the homeless and workers priced out of the market is a critical need. We’re redeveloping this building to provide permanent housing for individuals who can’t afford Boston’s very high housing costs,” said Lisa B. Alberghini, President of POUA. “Our goal is to carry on the mission of the BYMCU by providing for people in need, and by offering housing for those who would otherwise be forced out of the neighborhood.”

A designated Boston Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was constructed in 1875 and was operated by the BYMCU for more than 150 years to provide a variety of social, recreational and service programs.

In keeping with the building’s history, the development will also provide benefits beyond housing. A street-level business venture will established by St. Francis House to add to the vitality of the neighborhood and create important employment opportunities for the people they serve. Additionally, SFH will relocate its corporate offices from 39 Boylston Street to free up space to provide more robust support services. Taken together, the award of DHCD funding for this project creates badly needed affordable housing, employment training and new jobs for homeless individuals, and expanded social services for vulnerable populations.

O’Neill and Associates is proud to provide St. Francis House with communications and government relations services. 


About St. Francis House

Located in the heart of Boston, St. Francis House rebuilds lives by providing refuge and pathways to stability for adults experiencing homelessness and poverty.

St. Francis House is a welcoming and inclusive community. For over thirty years, every day of the year, we meet guests’ basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. We transform lives by using a holistic approach to understanding and addressing the behavioral health, housing and employment needs of people.  We commit ourselves to helping those we serve achieve renewed lives of dignity and self-determination.

About the Planning Office for Urban Affairs

The mission of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs, a non-profit housing developer affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, is to serve as a catalyst for social justice through its work in housing development, commercial development and neighborhood revitalization, and affordable housing advocacy. POUA has completed over 2,700 units of affordable and mixed-income housing. The emphasis of the Office is not on numbers, though, but on having a qualitative impact on the harsh reality of housing deprivation for all those we serve.

Flight Attendants Critical to Safety and Security of Today’s Travelers

By Peter Goelz

Peter GoelzThe accident that occurred on August 3, 2016 at Dubai International Airport highlighted a number of important aspects of commercial aviation that need to be underscored.  First and foremost, today’s commercial airplanes are extraordinarily rugged and are designed to withstand accidents like the one we saw in Dubai with the high likelihood that passengers will be able to exit without serious injury. Reduced insulation burn rates, non-toxic and nonflammable interior components, and most importantly 16G seats are just some of the technical improvements that make today’s airliners safer than ever.

Video taken on board the Emirates plane after the crash does show one disturbing trait in aviation crises: passengers trying to remove their overhead bags rather than following the flight attendants’ commands to immediately exit the aircraft. Frankly, there is nothing more irresponsible than trying to save your suitcase instead of yourself. Today’s flight attendants are trained rigorously to respond to this exact kind of emergency. By simply following their commands, you and your fellow passengers will more than likely walk away from an aviation accident unharmed. Saving your bags puts you and your fellow passengers in danger by delaying the evacuation and by clogging the aisles. In any evacuation, there is no way to know the extent of the danger, so time is critical. Fully loaded planes are designed to be able to be evacuated in 90 seconds after coming to halt. The insulation and skin of the aircraft will keep flames outside and if you have used your seatbelt correctly, as instructed, you will be able to escape safely.

During the accident in Dubai, the rear of the aircraft exploded in flames only minutes after the plane came to a halt, but the flight crew was still able to evacuate everyone without serious injury. However, it emphasized the importance of following flight attendants’ instructions, exiting quickly and leaving belongings behind.

After September 11, 2001, when flight attendants were the first of many to lose their lives, their roles as essential safety and security team members were finally fully acknowledged and understood.  Brave flight attendants like American Airlines’ Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney, both of whom perished on American Airlines Flight 11, helped us all gain a better understanding of how atrocious the hijackings were as they were unfolding. Their brave calls back to headquarters gave us the first glimpse of exactly what we were facing as a nation. Flight attendants are now rightly seen as the last line of security in the aircraft cabin. Tragic events like 9/11 are unlikely to ever happen again because flight attendants, aided by passengers, are stepping up for the safety of others.

Today’s flight attendants are trained extensively in safety and evacuation procedures, security and even in techniques to combat human trafficking. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants and its members are actively fighting to stop human trafficking and have advocated passionately for the training of all flight attendants to be able to identify the trafficker and their young victims, so that law enforcement can intervene.

So when you board your next flight, I hope you can view your cabin crew in a slightly different light and perhaps thank them for the work that they do. And remember: try and pay attention to the safety briefing, particularly when they identify where the closest exits are to your seat- it really could end up saving your life.

Peter Goelz is a Senior Vice President in O’Neill and Associates’ federal relations practice and a leading expert in transportation safety. He is the former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and a sought-after commentator on aviation issues appearing regularly on national television and print media. 

O’Neill and Associates is proud to represent the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the world’s largest main line flight attendant union in the world, for over six years. We work with them on wide variety of issues including safety, security, communications and government relations.