Thursday, August 28, 2014

PCG Managing Partner Named President of Nuclear Energy Industry Organization

At PCG, we pride ourselves on being the leading experts in industry communications, especially in technical fields like nuclear power. Rightly so, since our staff members are active participants in industry organizations like the American Nuclear Society, Utility Communicators International, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Institute and others.

Now, we can also proudly share that our staff includes the president of one of the most respected nuclear energy industry organizations. Mimi Holland Limbach, our managing partner, was just inducted as president of the Pacific Nuclear Council (PNC). Mimi will serve in this role until 2016.

The PNC is an organization composed primarily of nuclear societies and associations from nations around the Pacific Rim. This organization provides best practices to those nations through its working groups, which address key industry issues and areas for improvement.

Mimi’s formal installation took place yesterday evening at the PNC’s 19th biannual international gathering, the Pacific Basin Nuclear Conference, held in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Please join us in congratulating Mimi on her new position!

Mimi taking the helm of the PNC

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Horror of the Blank Page

Here at PCG, we help clients communicate effectively through almost every form imaginable, except skywriting (so far) – from press releases to infographics, from presentations to online advertising. But no matter how the information is delivered, it all begins the same way: with words on paper, or on a screen.

So even deep into the digital age, we still emphasize the basic skill of effective writing. Get the messages clear, get the storyline clear, and then present it in a persuasive, appealing style.

The hardest part is getting started. That was the subject of an in-house tutorial led by our partner Leonard Greenberger. He was the right tutor since last year he published his own book, What To Say When Things GetTough: Business Communication Strategies for Winning People Over When They’reAngry, Worried, and Suspicious of Everything You Say (McGraw Hill Education). And he admits that the hardest part was filling up the first page.

So he began the session with two telling quotes from major writers:

When asked about the most frightening thing he had ever encountered, Ernest Hemingway – the war correspondent on the ground in both World War I and World War II – answered, “A blank sheet of paper.”

And Stephen King, the master of horror, once said, “The scariest moment is always just before you start writing.”

They reminded me of one of my own favorite quotes about writing, from the journalist and author Gene Fowler: “Writing is easy. All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

Good writing isn’t for the queasy. Maybe that’s why it’s so rare.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A few of our favorite things

If you haven't checked the 'Recommended' section of our website lately, we've added a few more of our favorite things that we love to share.

A Do-Not-Miss Site in Washington: The Newseum ( It may be the world's only museum focused on journalism, and it's a winner. It covers the history of communications media, its evolution into the electronic and digital eras and its impact on U.S. history and politics. For anyone with the least interest in communications, it's easily worth a half-day stop - and you'll probably want to come back for more.

You may think you get too many emails every morning, but we're betting that you'll add one more - the daily offering from Delanceyplace ( Every weekday it sends out a brief excerpt from a nonfiction book. It may be old or new; history, philosophy, biography, politics; from a famous book or an unknown one – but it is always interesting, and usually fascinating. Where did the term ‘white collar’ come from? Why did the American Revolution actually begin in 1763? How was Albert Einstein not just the father of nuclear energy, but also of solar power? You’ll find a tidbit like that every morning.

Restaurant: One of our favorites anywhere is Rasika (, both in Penn Quarter, just off 7th Street NW, and in the West End, on New Hampshire just off M Street NW (and way too close to our office). You may think you've had Indian food, but nothing like this. Modern, amazingly creative dishes in a sleek high-tech setting. The crispy spinach alone is worth a trip to DC. Come see us and we'll introduce you.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

PCG and IAEA Fellow Visit Energy & Environmental Resource Center

From left to right: Frank Clement, Brian Meeley, Marjorie Rochon, Jackie Carpenter, Christina Walrond, Phoebe Nkaabu and Sarah Dirndorfer. Photo by Theresa Widger.
PCG had the immense honor of hosting Phoebe Nkaabu, an IAEA Fellow from Nairobi, Kenya, during her two week visit to the United States. Phoebe works for the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board’s communications team and develops messaging and outreach in preparation for Kenya’s new nuclear energy program, anticipated to go online in 2022.

Phoebe and her team experience many of the same challenges our clients face in teaching the public about the benefits and safety of nuclear energy. We wanted to help Phoebe find some inspiration, so Vice President Brian Meeley arranged a trip to the Energy & Environmental Resource Center (EERC) in Salem, New Jersey.

EERC is an initiative of the Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) to educate community members about energy. It sits about ten miles from the Salem Nuclear Generating Station on the Delaware River and features museum-worthy exhibits explaining energy generation, usage and safety.

Many of the exhibits were furnished by the Nuclear Energy Institute and give children and adults hands-on experience with simulated reactor cores, radioactive waste storage systems and utility distribution controls.

PSEG uses the EERC to function as a deeply involved community member. School children visit regularly, boy scouts frequently come to earn their Nuclear Science merit badge, and PSEG even invites nearby organizations to use the center’s large meeting space free of charge.

Our visitors’ center trip was just one part of the two weeks we had with Phoebe to share experiences about effective communication. We are thrilled to have learned more about the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board and look forward to hearing about the country’s continued exploration of nuclear energy options for their future.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

PCG's Holiday Book Donation

Over the past three years, we’ve had the great privilege to provide pro bono communications support to Bread for the City, a local non-profit that provides D.C. residents food, clothing, medical care, and legal and social services. We’ve developed newspaper, building banner and bus shelter advertisements to support their annual fundraising campaign. 

Another important aspect to our charitable work at PCG involves collecting children’s books from staff members and guests at our annual holiday party in memory of our founding partner Ellen Lepper. For years, PCG has collected and donated hundreds of books to children’s shelters and schools in the District. 

Over the last three years, we’ve donated more than 200 books to the waiting rooms at Bread for the City medical clinics and look forward to providing continued support.  

Monday, February 24, 2014

How to Communicate a Brand

Contractor’s Compass, the magazine of the American Subcontractors Association (ASA), published an article by PCG’s own Nathan Petrillo in its February issue devoted to marketing strategies. Nathan discusses how businesses in the building industry can evaluate, improve and communicate their brands. “One of the most challenging things for many companies is how to communicate about a brand. The first step is to think about the main things – or messages – you want people to know about your company. These messages should be concise, clear and compelling,” said Nathan. You can find a copy of the article on pp.14-15 in an e-copy of the magazine: Nathan is very familiar with marketing and communications for this sector. He is a member of the Construction Writers Association, and beginning in mid-2015, he will serve a one-year term as the organization’s president.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

PCG's milestone year of 2013

It seems that this is the time of the year for compiling Top 10 lists of the year just ended. So here’s my list of PCG’s biggest milestones of 2013. There may not be 10, but they add up to one of the most momentous years in our 33-year history.

#1: New Managing Partner. For the first time since PCG was founded in 1981, we had a change of leadership – Mimi Limbach (pictured) became Managing Partner. I had the honor of heading the company since Ellen Lepper and I formed it, in the same month that Ronald Reagan was first sworn in. Over the past few years we have been transitioning to a new team of Partners: Mimi, Leonard Greenberger, Andy Hallmark, Nora Howe (running the business side) and myself. That transition culminated in Mimi becoming Managing Partner in early 2013. No one could have a better set of experience, skills and understanding of PCG and our clients than Mimi. For over a decade she was a major client herself, in her role as communications executive at Westinghouse and then Navigant Consulting. In the 15 years that she has been with us, she has led much of our energy practice and grown our general corporate practice. We are lucky, and proud, to have her at the wheel.
#2: New Partner. In the past year we also elevated another key staffer to the level of Partner, Laura Hermann. She joined us eight years ago after crafting public service campaigns and volunteer development programs for non-profit organizations. She gained her appreciation for the intersection of the public and private sectors while handling disaster preparedness communications for the American Red Cross.  She personifies one of our most important roles, combining communications expertise with a deep interest in, and understanding of, science and technology. She has managed our communications support for many of our most complex and sensitive technical clients, including the American Geophysical Union, American Physical Society, Intellectual Ventures, National Academy of Engineering and TerraPower.
#3: A New Book. Our Partner Leonard Greenberger pulled together his insights and experience from over 20 years of communications consulting into a new book: What To Say When Things Get Tough: Business Communications Strategies for Winning People Over When They’re Angry, Worried, and Suspicious of Everything You Say (McGraw Hill, New York). It’s an invaluable primer for anyone who has to face a skeptical or even hostile audience. And it has the courage to show how PowerPoint is a risky way to communicate anything very important.

#4: Growth in the Office. We had a breakthrough year last year in terms of the diversity of our clients (including a growing number in other countries), continuation and expansion of our work for clients (a key metric, since it indicates successful performance in the eyes of the client), and our overall client billing. By the end of the year we were experiencing another breakthrough: workmen were literally breaking through our walls to expand our offices into new space, to accommodate our growth. As we speak, we are interviewing for two new staff positions.
#5: Growth at Home. It was a milestone year for the PCG family at home as well. We had two new babies to celebrate: Kelly Cousineau, a Senior Program Director, gave birth to Damien, her second child; and Jackie Priestly, Vice President, gave birth to Hampton, also her second. Then just before the holidays our newest employee, Senior Project Coordinator Frank Clement, added a bride to our extended family, when he married Nhi Khoan. Finally, writer extraordinaire Peter Bernstein celebrated his 30th year with PCG.
So, a year to remember. Congratulations all!