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The company we keep: Mobile solutions tackle early diagnosis, economic growth in developing world

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The company we keep: Mobile solutions tackle early diagnosis, economic growth in developing world

By Caitlin Haskins

The gathering looked like many that you would see in San Francisco or the Silicon Valley – a modern, sleek office space with a mixed group of men and women, ages twenty-something to forties. Some wore business casual, others came in jeans and were busy snapping photos with their mobile phones. What set apart this particular group from dozens of others like it happening that week?

Everett, the inventor and engineer from MIT that I’d just met, showed off a device clipped to his iPhone. This small smartphone accessory (that looked a bit like a belt clip) could, he told me, enable a mobile phone to take photos of a patient’s retina. Eventually, it might allow a doctor in the developing world to gauge a patient’s chances of developing diabetes or neurological disorders, even if they lived far from the nearest medical clinic.

Held by the Vodafone Americas Foundation, this reception celebrated finalists for the 2014 Wireless Innovation Project, a competition that promotes innovation and increase implementation of wireless technologies for a better world. The inventors, coders, and entrepreneurs in the room were a day away from presenting their technologies to a panel of judges with the goal of earning part of a $600,000 pot of prize money and the mentorship of Vodafone xone, Vodafone’s global center for innovation in the Silicon Valley.

Trainer’s clients represent an incredible class of companies across enterprise software, security, network infrastructure, storage, and consumer tech industries. Innovation and deep tech are our mainstays. Standing in a room with the brains behind so many incredible mobile tech creations – including a fog-mapping system that will deliver a potable water source to rural populations, a drone that can deliver cell signal in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, and an imaging device that will help doctors better detect and treat cervical cancer – gives a feeling of excitement and hope that is beyond any other in the PR business.

At the Social Innovation Summit in New York, May 28-29, Vodafone will announce the winners of the Wireless Innovation Project and send three teams on their way to making the world a better place through mobile tech. It is such a privilege to work with clients that know the importance of honoring innovation in the community and supporting the incredible tech minds of the future.

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June Sugiyama, Director of Vodafone Americas Foundation

This entry was written by Kayla Bongay, posted on April 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm, filed under Giving Back, PR, Social Media, Trainer Communications and tagged , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

The Modern Professional’s Hamlet Dilemma: To Read or not to Read?

To Read or Not To Read?

Open. Respond. Filter. Delete. Repeat.

Responding to the landslide of emails is a continuous process in our daily routine. Given the sheer volume of emails, one must learn to recognize which emails are worth opening and which are just spam. Jack Shepherd of BuzzFeed noticed this and further investigated this real life phenomenon in his article Is Email Turning Us All Into Spammers?

From evaluating 75 emails, Shepherd determined that 68 percent of messages were spam, 92 percent of which were coming from coworkers. After seeing these numbers, Shepherd posed three thoughts to his readers:  

  1. Before even drafting a message, determine if the email will be relevant to your coworkers in the “To” line.
  2. Today the common habit is to continuously send/receive emails, rather than really dealing with their content.
  3. Having “email free days” in the workplace are not a bad idea.

As I sit here seeing the numbers in my inbox continuously increase in my peripheral vision, I continue to wonder about this modern day dilemma my co-workers and I face as modern PR professionals – a profession that relies heavily on exchanging emails.  And Shepherd’s three points, bring up three of my own:

  1. Just like the common saying of “think before you speak” in this modern day and age, it is also important to “think before you e-mail.”
  2. Our culture thrives on instant gratification. We check our emails right when our phone buzzes because we want to know right away what is going on. But at the same time, instantly checking swallows up a lot of time, sometimes resulting in procrastination of important work. Although, will we ever be able to break this habit when our smart phones are always at our sides?
  3. It’s a great thought to fully cut the cord from emails, but how practical or even possible is that in 2014?

Emails are an unavoidable part of our daily routine. Check, respond, filter, delete, and repeat. It’s a necessary evil. But where is the line between necessary evil and just plain evil? What are your thoughts on e-mail etiquette, volume and best practices? Leave them in the comments or Tweet us at @TrainerComms… and of course you can always email us.

This entry was written by Kayla Bongay, posted on March 28, 2014 at 10:36 pm, filed under Internship, Marketing, PR and marketing agency best practices, Trainer Communications and tagged , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Courage and Careers Can Go Hand in Hand


On January 10, 2014, The WELL for Women Entrepreneurs held its Symposia::2014 Conference for Women Entrepreneurs. The WELL, which was founded by Julie Gordon White, was established to serve women entrepreneurs aiming to expand their business into a million-dollar business. This year the event’s focus was “7 Stories of 7 Figured Women & Beyond.” The conference highlighted seven women who have successfully established companies. Each woman spoke on one of seven topics: determination, commitment, confidence, social skills, courage, and clarity – and even on rising stars among women in business. Because all seven women are highly accomplished and have inspiring stories of how they attained success, it’s no surprise that The WELL turned to Trainer’s CEO, Susan Thomas when looking for someone to speak about courage.

Susan knows exactly what it is like to establish a successful business. At twenty-nine, she started Trainer Communications. As her company and family continued to grow, she also experienced many personal obstacles – from the loss of loved ones to battling breast cancer. Although these were all high hurdles to jump over, she never let hardships deter her from attaining her lofty goals.

You might ask how a woman of just 29, facing extreme adversity, could face innumerable setbacks to create a million-dollar business in just 3 years.  Susan’s answer is courage. During her speech on courage at the 2014 Conference for Women Entrepreneurs, she laid out her ten steps to building courage:

  1. Identify your core values and what matters most to you.
  2. Have a mentor.
  3. Get to know yourself and develop confidence in your abilities.
  4. Keep a positive attitude.
  5. Practice gratitude.
  6. Identify stretch goals and test yourself.
  7. Take the first step boldly.
  8. Never give up. Even when goals feel out of reach.
  9. Don’t succumb to peer pressure.
  10. Celebrate your success, and then try harder.

Being a few years out of college and at the start of my career, I can see the importance of all of Susan’s ten steps. Each will help you to build courage to better envision your goals and chart an unwavering course to your future.  And, with each courageous move you make, you will see your goals getting closer and closer.


This entry was written by, posted on March 15, 2014 at 1:36 am, filed under Business Strategy, Marketing, PR, Press Relations, Trainer Communications and tagged , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Huge Biz Media Months for Trainer Clients in USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CNBC and All Points in Between

Colleagues I work with at my day job at Trainer Communications are constantly proving their business media story-telling expertise and strategic knowledge of journalists’ target audiences, the past couple months few are notable. Starting in September, Trainer clients have gained visibility in digital, print and broadcast media outlets that include The Wall Street Journal, San Jose Mercury News, CNBC, USA TODAY, Bloomberg, Forbes, Fox News, NBC and more.

Clients receiving write-ups and broadcast coverage have included a mix of high tech B2B and B2C vendors serving all industries and markets. Here is a brief lineup of clients earning top spots in the globe’s leading outlets, the related Trainer teams, summaries of and links to the news Trainer helped them to develop, articulate and land:

From the IT security team:

Norse: Featured in USA TODAY and syndicated repeatedly as a result, this security start up was covered for its ability to provide live threat intelligence needed to protect the Internet of Things —

Venafi: Featured in USA TODAY and the San Jose Mercury News, this provider of security solutions that protect trust for enterprise digital communications was featured in stories discussing the impact on security the federal government shutdown had and how NSA-surveillance is impacting the business of security —;

SpectorSoft: Known for helping companies to detect insider threats that frequently lead to data breaches and fraud, this client was featured in Fox News Small Business Center for research it brought to market along with a new product –

From the Storage Team:

Virident: Acquired for more than $600 million, this leading provider of Flash storage was featured over 150 times across all news mediums, with a stunning news report in Forbes as well as coverage in Reuters – ;

From the Consumer Team:

OMG Life: This UK-based supplier of precision-based motion-tracking systems and cameras took the consumer-tech world by storm when they popped up on a feature story in CNBC —

From the Wireless, Telecom and Networking Team:

Qylur: Focused on preventing physical security breaches that lead to terrorist attacks and life-threatening incidents, the startup burst onto the US homeland security radar with multiple business features including video reports in The Wall Street Journal and on Fox Business, as well as a feature story in Bloomberg —;;!DED7EF31-6D42-4D52-AB54-BE4613609DB5

Ikanos: This public player (NSADAQ: IKAN) providing advanced broadband semiconductor and software products landed front and center in a conversation with NBC Bay Area news anchor Scott McGrew about the intersection of TV and Internet:

This lineup is just a few of Trainer’s accomplishments over the past couple of months but worth mentioning, as rarely will any strategic communications agency offering integrated AR/PR and marketing have this much high-level business press success across all practice groups in such a short period. I asked Trainer’s founder and CEO Susan Thomas to sum up the success in her own words:

“Most high tech vendors’ attempts to capture executive audience attention through the business press are stalled by communication firms that lack key relationships with top journalists and that don’t know how to develop news into a story that appeals to business audiences,” said Thomas .  “We work very hard at every level of the organization to establish relationships with key reporters, stay abreast of trends and stories they care about, and design events that help us to get to know them on a personal level.”

Did I mention, in addition to this brief success history that has taken place over the past few months, since the beginning of the year the Trainer practice groups have landed clients in top-tier business press 95 times … 95 TIMES!

Great work Trainer practice group teams!

Tweet This: Awesome Biz Press #PR Sept. Oct. @TrainerComms @Norse @Venafi @Virident @Ikanos @Solutionary

This entry was written by, posted on November 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm, filed under PR, Press Relations, Security, Storage, Trainer Communications and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Trainer for Tatas – Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

Trainer Communications prides itself on “giving back.”  Many of us are involved in charities as individuals, and we also support Trainer team philanthropy and charitable events. Oh, and did we mention, we are endurance athletes too?  Sit back and watch this 80-second video about Trainer for Tatas – our famous Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Team!

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For more information on Trainer for Tatas and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer visit our team page here:

This entry was written by, posted on September 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm, filed under Giving Back, Trainer Communications and tagged , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

3 Essential Work Requirements for Generation Y?

While surfing the internet, I ran across an interesting article about what Generation Y “really wants from work.”  Obviously curious, I clicked on the blog and proceeded to read about all of the ridiculous requirements that my generation was requesting, and how hard it could potentially be to find a job that encompassed this.  Despite these requirements, within the first minute of reading I realized that I not only agreed with all of these things, but I myself was working at a company that offers me almost all of them.

A Family at Work

According to the post, Generation Y strives to find a work environment that feels like, “a family-like culture at work…a collaborative work environment, work-outings, and hiring like-minded individuals.”  This is, as it suggests, probably the number one thing on my mental checklist.  If I’m spending most of my day at an office, I want to like the people I am spending each day with.  Thankfully, this is exactly what I have come to find at Trainer Communications, one big family where people are capable of laughing with (and at) one another while they complete their day-to-day activities.

A Cause

Millennials want more out of a job than simply a check every at the end of every month.  Yes, we want the money but, more than that, many of us seek out internships as an opportunity to gain knowledge about a career path or industry that we can’t get from a college professor.  We want to know our work is important and that we’re making a difference.  During my first week as an intern, I was already joining client calls, creating briefing sheets and monthly reports, and planning an entire event for our newest client.  I could see the ways that my work was impacting my team and it was so rewarding and motivating to know that I was able to contribute.

The opportunity to speak up

Generation Y has grown up speaking their mind about EVERYTHING.  We speak up when it comes to the rights of others, how late we think our curfew should be, what we want for dinner, and just about any other opinions that may cross our mind throughout the day.  Have no fear; we will let you know exactly what we think about anything and everything whether you want to hear it or not. That said it’s no wonder that we look for work places that value our outspoken opinions.  At Trainer I have found that innovation is always rewarded and encouraged, interns are always asked to speak their mind, and any idea is a good idea (even if it isn’t).  Not one meeting has passed where I haven’t been asked to share my opinion about a topic or suggest any ideas that I may have.

So maybe, just possibly, it’s okay that my generation knows what we want because if I hadn’t I don’t know if I would be interning where I am now and loving every second of it.


Ashley Gustafson

This entry was written by admin, posted on August 28, 2013 at 8:21 pm, filed under Internship, Trainer Communications and tagged , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

On the Go!

When you start an internship at Trainer Communications, you hit the ground running. Most companies provide a grace period for new employees to get comfortable before starting their actual jobs. My girlfriend works at Cisco and her first week was spent playing dodge ball, going to Dave ‘n Busters and devouring all the free food her new bosses were throwing at all the interns.

But from the very beginning of my time at Trainer Communications, I’ve been working on client projects that always keep me on my toes. Unlike the stereotypical intern, my responsibilities don’t include fetching someone coffee with cream and sugar. I’m given meaningful tasks that are vital to team success and add to the company’s bottom line. Interns at Trainer aren’t the slave labor of the work force. We add value to the company, making us members of the team just like everyone else.


The flip side of starting the real work so early is that you’ll have to adapt quickly for the first couple of weeks. Even when your boss tells you to ask questions when you need help, certain situations can be frightening when you’re out of your element. Being open-minded on new tasks has helped significantly when taking on daunting tasks. I have found catching a team member at certain times can make all the difference in the world, and refusing to ask for help would only be wasting their time as well as my own. It’s fast paced, but it’s a great learning experience geared towards the types of employees Trainer wants: the go-getters who aren’t afraid to jump into something they’re not familiar with.


Trainer happens to be my fourth company, but it’s the first one where I have felt a true connection with everyone. The people here make the experience of working much richer, and while we work hard, the atmosphere of Trainer is one of camaraderie. Every day, jokes between co-workers make their way across the office, and all people contribute. Unlike most companies, it seems, I don’t finish my day and reflect on how the boredom makes me want to pull my hair out. Sometimes days can be fairly busy, but you can always crawl out of your shell and chat with someone that knows how you’re feeling and truly cares. The one thing that remains constant at Trainer is the friendly relationships everyone has. I find these kinds of relationships to be truly valuable, since we all work so close together and continue to have nothing but positive remarks about one another.

This entry was written by admin, posted on August 22, 2013 at 6:32 pm, filed under Internship, Trainer Communications. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Giving you a chance to give back to the thing that makes you want to give it all

Believe it or not, I have found things that I enjoy beyond marketing. I know, I know; with my silver tongue and compelling personality marketing seems a perfect fit. Alas, the fires of my heart burn towards other goals, too. Helping children, the great outdoors, singing ridiculous nonsense words and making silly faces: passions that surprisingly don’t fit that well into the business world. Just try getting your manager to sing a repeat-after-me song about 6 little ducks. These loves fit in well at summer camp however, and I recently spent my first summer ever as a camp counselor at a place called Camp Okizu. It’s a place for children affected by cancer, either in themselves or in a sibling, to come and get away from the stress and struggles of dealing with such a terrible illness at such a young age.

Ok, so I was a camp counselor. What does that have to do with an internship here at Trainer? Well what if I were to tell you that without Trainer, I would have never gotten the opportunity to go to camp at all? Take a minute to collect your thoughts from around the room, because I’m sure that blew your mind.

I don’t just mean that Trainer gave me time off to go volunteer (but I got a full week!). Our own Travis Anderson, an employee here who has been volunteering at Camp Okizu for 6 years, introduced me to the program one day over lunch in the kitchen. He had gotten a week off earlier in the summer to be a counselor and inspired me to give it a shot. Because here at Trainer, everyone shares a strong sense of giving back to the community. Trainer for Ta-Ta’s, an initiative started by our own Caitlin Scott, is the flagship of Trainer’s community service and is currently 60% finished in its goal of raising $10,000 towards breast cancer research.

But what if breast cancer isn’t your charity of choice? Does Trainer just say tough ta-tas? (yes, that was the absolute “breast” joke I could think of.)  Not at all!

Trainer sponsors a number of charities and community service organizations such as Bay Keeper, with the proceeds of our Media SharkTank, or long-time team member Ross Perich’s annual ride for Leukemia, and many other worthwhile causes. Whether that’s getting a few days off to go volunteer at a summer camp, a mention of the charity on the website or at an event, or internal promotion of the organization through our employees, Trainer really tries to help you help the world to be a better place.

-Austen Trainer

This entry was written by admin, posted on August 19, 2013 at 10:21 pm, filed under Internship, Trainer Communications. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Ashley’s Summer Intern Blog

Like many of my fellow interns before me, I have never blogged before (for fun that is). Yes, I have thought about it, even created my own blog, but I have never been able to actually go through with the entire process. Despite this, Trainer Communications has asked that we share our intern experiences with all of you! So here we go, these are my thoughts and experiences thus far:

It’s that time of year! Those few months of the year stuffed to the brim with ice cream cones, road trips, fireworks, hiking, the beach and frappuccinos. This summer however, I decided to take a different approach to how I would spend my time off from college. After emailing back and forth with Trainer Communications, I finally scored an interview and headed down to their Pleasanton headquarters. Coming into the office for my first interview with Trainer, I will admit, I was nervous. However, I had done this before. Only one summer prior I had sat in this very position and interviewed for another job, so I knew this was something I could do.

Six resumes, five interviews, three long days of waiting, and one glorious email later, it was mine, and I couldn’t have been more excited to start. Walking into the office that first day I knew that I had made the right decision and spending my entire summer in this place wouldn’t be too bad, and I was right! Most walls here are covered head to foot in whiteboard and doused in notes and creative babble. Personally, I thrive on energy and being around people, and the office has PLENTY of that and surely no lack of creativity either. It is obvious that workers here enjoy their jobs and are kind, engaging and caring — all of which have made this a great experience thus far.

What has made this internship such a unique experience? Before this job I had envisioned an internship as merely an opportunity to help out around an office, but now I realize how much of a help we have the opportunity to be and that we provided invaluable assistance. Trainer Communications’ interns are a real asset to the company; we are not viewed as a burden or someone to complete office chores. Day-to-day, my role is constantly changing and this keeps me on my toes.

Besides learning about public relations and business in general, I have also had the opportunity to learn about the security industry and develop extremely diverse views on it. Before my second week was over, I had already been placed in charge of a major project for one of our newest clients! This unwavering trust and advantageous experience has made me enjoy being here each and every day. The education and irreplaceable knowledge I have gained about this industry will travel with me long after the summer ends and I return to college.

All my best,

Ashley Gustafson


This entry was written by admin, posted on July 24, 2013 at 9:55 pm, filed under Internship, Trainer Communications. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

The Art of Schmoozing

As we get into Spring, it is appropriate to assess how we are doing with our New Year’s resolutions. One of mine was to really get out there, try new groups, meet at least one or two new people at each event and expand my circle of contacts for both personal and professional growth to benefit Trainer Communications. For many, this is easy. However, the biggest question I’ve faced when I go to these events by myself is, how do I start the conversation – how can I master “the art of schmoozing”?

After multiple networking events, here are two important tips of the trade I have adopted:

1) PAY ATTENTION to everyone and everything around you.

  • Pay attention to people. Google them ahead of time. Does somebody have an interesting story? Is there someone at the event who can introduce you to the person you really want to meet?
  • Pay attention to your immediate environment. Do you see something unusual? Is someone wearing an interesting watch or tie?
  • Pay attention to the news. What’s going on in the local news? In your industry? What’s going on in pop culture? (You be surprised how lively “True Blood or Entourage” discussions can get!)

Now, I have to give credit where credit is due. The best example of an amazing schmoozer is Susan RoAne. I was at an event with Susan and she introduced me to quite a few new people during our hour of networking. One tip she gave me was to, “pick the noisiest group of 3 or more people who are having fun, talking and laughing. Stand in the periphery. Give agreeable body language (smile, nod, open stance). When someone glances your way, say something and give your name if that feels appropriate. Then you can step into the conversation.”

2) Offer a genuine compliment to start the dialog.

  • Try to make it a compliment that involves something they did, rather than something they are, because then you can carry the conversation forward by asking them how they did what they did. For example, you could say “Where did you find the shoes?” or “How did you learn to put together such great presentations?” or “Who taught you to play the piano?” If you tell someone they have nice eyes, they can thank you and the conversation ends there.

One thing that is often overlooked, but is just as important as starting the conversation, is knowing how and when to move on! It’s important to understand that the other person is there to meet people too so if the conversation is going well don’t take up too much of their time. Get their card and agree to meet elsewhere to finish the conversation.

Here’s an example of what you can say to quit the conversation for another time and place: “I’ve really enjoyed meeting you! I need to run to another meeting, but would you be interested in meeting for coffee sometime? I would be very interested to find out more about XYZ.”

If the conversation isn’t going well, or you feel you’re not getting what you want from the conversation, you can use the same script above, but omit the invitation for coffee and wish them well at the event instead.

The key to effective business and personal networking is to find people that have a mutual interest and that you want to meet again. Follow the above two schmoozing tips and you will soon be confident in making useful new contacts and will enjoy the process.

Happy Schmoozing!

- Michelle Reingold, Senior Account Manager, Trainer Communications

This entry was written by admin, posted on April 18, 2013 at 12:33 am, filed under Business Strategy, Sales, Trainer Communications and tagged , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

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