MAY 5, 2016 | LEWISTON, ME – The analysts and researchers at Gartner Group, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company have announced their list of “Cool Vendors in Managing Operational Technology in a Digital Business” for 2016. Leading the list is aizoOn, parent company of aizoOn-USA, based in Lewiston, Maine.

aizoOn Technology Consulting, Industrial automation, System engineering, embedded systems design, Connected products, Process re-engineering, digital business strategy, Gartner Group, Information Technology Research, aizoOn, Big Data storage and analysis

Gartner’s “Cool Vendor” status is highly regarded in the tech industry and each year, Gartner’s list is widely anticipated. Gartner conducts extensive research on emerging companies in the Information Communication Technology sector.

“We are thrilled to see aizoOn recognized on the world stage like this,” said Rob Dolci, President of aizoOn USA. “Garnering the Cool Vendor designation gives C-level executives and IT decision makers like CIOs and CISOs added confidence in our ability to help them manage operational technology (OT) securely as industries become more and more integrated into digital enterprises and the Internet of Things (IOT), with the ensuing need to stay on top of the cyber security game.”

In its report, Gartner explains why aizoOn is cool:

“AizoOn is cool in the context of managing OT in a digital business because of its ability to deliver holistic digital technology solutions, drawing from many diverse practices in IT; engineering; business innovation and process design; information management; and strategy and organization in an interdisciplinary way.”

“Every competency and proficiency extolled in Gartner’s report regarding aizoOn can be found here with us at aizoOn USA,” said Dolci. “This is an exciting moment for us.”

The Gartner report acknowledges aizoOn’s core competencies:

  • Cyber-security
  • Big Data storage and analysis
  • Industrial automation
  • System engineering and embedded systems design
  • Connected products
  • Process re-engineering linked to digital business strategy and innovation
  • Organization and change management

About aizoOn USA: aizoOn USA is an advanced technology company that solves challenges with innovation. aizoOn USA comprises researchers, engineers, mathematicians, and software developers who design, develop, and support the software and the systems that create safer, secure networks; smarter factories; well-managed warehouses; and seamless supply chains. aizoOn USA is backed by parent company and global technology consulting firm aizoOn Group with locations in Italy, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States.

Follow us on Twitter: @aizoongroup and LinkedIn. Read more about aizoOn at

Crisis Management Always Requires Telling a Better Story

The Knight Canney Group, Crisis Communications, Crisis Management, public relations,Panama Papers

Managing a public relations crisis isn’t easy. That’s why we advocate avoiding a crisis in the first place. It can be made a little easier, however, by understanding what’s happening, what’s at stake, and what needs to be done. Most important is how you respond and the best way to respond is with a story—a true story, a better story—that moves beyond the crisis.

You need to change the conversation from people’s fears, their disappointment, their anger, your failure (if there is one), or an outside destructive force to one that identifies the problem and lights the way forward.

A crisis can involve anything from loss of life to loss of privacy, from internal malfeasance to external market forces. From the revelations of the Panama Papers to the Alabama governor’s political sex scandal, a communications crisis nearly always has the potential to cause long-term harm.

Managing a crisis must include:

  • Information
    • You need it for internal and external communications.
    • What happened?
    • Who’s responsible?
    • What are the damages?
    • What are the potential damages?
    • How can we fix it?
  • Responsibility
    • If this crisis came from within, take responsibility and if the situation calls for an apology, deliver one. If the crisis came from without, explain how it affected your company or organization, and how the situation will be fixed.
  • Rapid response
    • Disclose as much as possible, and take decisive action to move forward.
  • Ongoing communication
    • Keep people informed, internally and externally.
  • Regaining your reputation
    • The crisis may have passed and the news cycles may have moved on, but if you’ve taken a hit to your reputation, you need a plan to regain public trust.

Central to your plan to regain public trust is your story. Tell a story that details lessons learned, explains the way forward, and how your company, organization, or self will be stronger and the public better served.

Anticipation: The Ultimate Tool in Crisis Management

Best form of #crisisPR? Avoid the #crisis in the first place. Anticipate all possibilities.

There’s a scene near the end of the movie Gosford Park, (Julian Fellowes’s precursor to Downton Abby), where the character of Mrs. Wilson, the housekeeper, explains what it is that “a good servant has that separates them” from the others:

“It’s the gift of anticipation…I know when they’ll be hungry, and the food is ready. I know when they’ll be tired, and the bed is turned down. I know it before they know it themselves.”

When serving your client, anticipation can be your best tool in avoiding a crisis. Always be thinking a couple of moves ahead to the consequences of your actions.

One would think that in this age of instant information everyone would understand the dangers of a public rant, an ill-tempered tweet, putting proprietary information in an email posting damaging photos on Facebook, and hitting “send” when the better option is “delete.” (Unless, of course, you’re running for President.)

Yet, one would be wrong.

Now, we’ve all failed to anticipate by sending snarky emails, posing for numbskull photos, losing patience with a rude clerk, or with a driver who hogs the passing lane at 45 mph.

It all seems harmless – until that email gets forwarded, that photo gets posted, or that outburst of temper is captured on a cellphone. Then, the world wants to know, “WHAT were you thinking?” The answer, of course, is an inexcusable, “I wasn’t.” And then you’re knee deep in crisis management.

For average citizens, the damage from such lapses can mean anything from the severing of friendships to the breakup of a marriage. Careers, too, can be in jeopardy, as well as any future employment.

For public officials and corporate CEOs, the damage can be irreparable politically and economically. (Remember the email hemorrhage at Sony?) Erosion of confidence in a leader’s judgment or ability to manage his or her impulses can affect everything from voter support to stock prices. In a minute-to-minute information cycle, continuous stories about an ill-considered outburst, an inappropriate photo, or an unfortunately worded email will always obliterate any other agenda, no matter how noble. Once that public conversation starts, it’s very difficult to change it.

For the public figure whether political or corporate – some rules to live by:

  1. Think before you pose, post, text, tweet or hit “send.”
  2. Think before you speak.
  3. Whether you see a camera or not, assume there is one.
  4. Assume someone on the conference call is recording it.
  5. Don’t leave a voicemail with anything other than your name & number.
  6. If you question what you’re about to say, do, or write – don’t do it. Take the time to get a second opinion from someone you trust to be honest with you.
  7. Don’t let anger get the best of you – especially in public. Be polite. Be calm. Make your points with intelligence and leadership, not a show of temper.
  8. Pick your battles.
  9. If you don’t want to see it in a headline, don’t say, do, write, post, or send it.
  10. Follow Mrs. Wilson’s example: anticipate what could go wrong.


Top 5 Crisis Management & PR Lessons the Super Bowl Has Taught Us

Top 5 crisis management & PR lessons the Super Bowl has taught us

As Super Bowl 50 approaches, we thought, “Who doesn’t love a good sports analogy?” (Hey, at least we didn’t go with Groundhog Day.)

In truth, Super Bowl season is a time of hype and hyperbole. Everyone has great expectations for their team, their favorite players, the commercials, even the food. People who don’t know Cam Newton from Cam Tucker at least are looking forward to some great seven-layer dip and Doritos.

As with all big events, however, there can be major blunders, dropped balls, and crisis-inducing screw-ups—some of them, painfully avoidable.

So, here’s our top five crisis management and PR lessons the Super Bowl has taught us:

5.  Manage Expectations. Trash talk and hype emanating from the teams themselves are to be expected. But just as expectations for economic benefits to Super Bowl host cities should be properly managed, so should those of any public relations campaign. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: In public relations or in politics, it’s one thing to believe in the cause and exude confidence, but it’s quite another to lead a client down the garden path to expectations you know cannot be met.

4.  Know When to Take a Knee.  Actually, this is just an excuse to relive the thrilling final moments of Super Bowl XLIX.

3.  Know What’s Out of Bounds. Half the hype surrounding the Super Bowl is for the commercials. Companies are spending upwards of $5 million for 30-second ads during the game. And that’s just for the airtime. It’s a sure bet these companies are not spending that kind of money so they can end up in a story titled When Super Bowl Ads Go Bad.

It’s hard for a marketing or PR campaign, on any level, to break from the pack. Many try to do it with humor and most fail. (Remember, dying is easy. Comedy is hard.) What’s funny to some is offensive to others. There’s a fine line between clever and snarky.

While you’re busy thinking outside the box, remember to step outside the box and ask some fresh sets of eyes and ears for an opinion. (A focus group or two might have saved Nationwide Insurance from one of the biggest Super Bowl ad blunders ever.)

2.  Do Your Job. Okay, so our Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots are sitting this one out. That doesn’t mean that Bill Belichick’s signature admonition isn’t relevant.

When clients place their trust in you, when they pay you to look after their best interests, when they look to you for wise counsel and results, the only possible course is to do your job. Don’t assume, check and double check, anticipate and investigate, and “be there” for your clients. This is something we take quite seriously at The Knight Canney Group.

And the number one crisis management and PR lessons the Super Bowl has taught us:

1.Expect the Best. Prepare for the Worst. Both the Broncos and the Panthers will have champagne chilling, and Super Bowl 50 Champion ball caps waiting in the wings, but only one of those teams will get to wheel it all into the locker room.

Preparation is the key to avoiding or mitigating a crisis. The best laid plans of a well-thought out and well-planned PR campaign or special event can be blown to bits by an oversight, or a failure to anticipate where things can go wrong.

  • Do the legwork.
  • Gather the stakeholders.
  • Do the research.
  • Look for land mines.
  • Have answers ready.

You may not need any of it. But if you prepare for the worst, you have a better chance of delivering the best.

Go Pats! (Oh, wait…)

Why Should I Hire a Public Relations Firm?

Why should you hire a PR firm? (Hint: You're not Sly Stalone.)

A couple of years ago, American Greetings issued a web video that went viral. A fake advertisement was placed for a position that required 24/7 commitment to “the associate,” able to do a lot of heavy lifting and bending, a degree in medicine and finance, as well as an ability to cook, clean, and drive a car. Of course, the position, already held by billions of people, was “a Mom.”

We wouldn’t presume to compare ourselves with your saintly mother—so instead think of us as your Uncle Jack-of-all-trades. The services offered by many public relations firms, including The Knight Canney Group, encompass everything from crisis management to corporate image building to executive thought leadership. Not to mention the staples of media and public relations.

Smart leaders are smart enough to know what they don’t know and that there should be someone around who does know.  For instance, do you know—

  • How to navigate or how to mitigate a public relations crisis?
  • How to get media coverage for your corporate excellence?
  • How to reach a government official with your problem?
  • How to be viewed as a leader in your area of expertise?
  • How to persuade people to vote for your issue, to pay attention to your product, or believe in your cause?

If you don’t, it’s okay—as long as you understand their importance and the value of bringing in someone who does.

If you badly cut yourself, you wouldn’t sew your own stiches, would you? (Unless you’re Sly Stalone). Sometimes, you need to bring in a consultant to stop the figurative bleeding as well.

An unexpected crisis can do irreparable damage to your image. Thoughtful, careful, and expedient management of a crisis can keep you from losing years of hard work to a momentary change in circumstances.  Would you know what to do in the realm of crisis management?

Establishing a network of media contacts takes time and effort. Do you know how a public relations campaign could amplify your story beyond paid advertising?

Businesses, non-profits, organizations, and individuals can all benefit from professional public relations consultants.  Let us let you focus on doing what you do best.