the Story
Adam Shapiro
Public Relations, LLC
Shaping a Powerful Narrative.


Uncovering Hope After Tragedy

Mental Health Awareness Month: Genomind® Recognizes Psychiatrist Who Made a Difference During Pulse Nightclub Tragedy  

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa.— With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, Genomind is recognizing a psychiatrist whose dedication to helping patients went above and beyond. 

Dr. Robert Pollack, based in Fort Myers, Fla., is a nationally known leader in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In June 2016, he was shocked by the tragedy of the mass murders that occurred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. 

Pollack, understanding that survivors and first-responders would need aid, reached out to Genomind for additional support; the personalized medicine company brings advancements to mental healthcare through genetic testing. It donated to Pollack more than four dozen of its Genecept Assay® test kits for Pulse survivors and first-responders; the test looks at key genes in a patient’s DNA that affect how they respond to medication. This may help clinicians understand if a drug may work or cause side effects before it’s even taken. 

“While there are still some aspects of identifying and treating PTSD that we don’t know, there is a lot we do understand and implementing best practices as soon as possible is extremely beneficial,” says Pollack. “People dealing with PTSD often don’t have the patience to go through a round-robin of trying to figure out which medicines are the best match. That’s why this simple genetic testing is so important. It’s collected by swabbing the inside of the cheek with a cotton swab. I thank Genomind for this recognition during Mental Health Awareness Month.” 

“May is a time for all of us to focus on the need for mental health screening and treatment. We know than one in five adults will experience mental illness in our country. That’s why we are grateful to partner with clinicians such as Dr. Pollack to provide genetic testing that may help patients get better, faster,” says Michael Koffler, Genomind President and CEO.

Genomind recently unveiled an enhanced Genecept Assay; it now covers more than 20 drug classes, 122 medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 18 clinically validated genes and 97 percent of medications used to treat depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder and autism. It also offers comprehensive coverage of pain medications.  



About Genomind


Genomind is a personalized medicine company bringing innovation to mental health care through genetic testing. Genomind is comprised of pioneering researchers and thought leaders in psychiatry and neurology and specializes in pharmacogenetic laboratory testing for psychiatry. Genomind is committed to partnering with clinicians to improve their patients’ lives. Learn more at www.genomind.com.


About the Genecept Assay


The Genecept Assay is a genetic test designed to help clinicians optimize treatment decisions for their patients with mental illness. It identifies patient-specific genetic markers that indicate which treatments are likely to work as intended, have no effect or cause adverse effects. It is an easily administered cheek swab test that analyzes key genes that have been selected based on hundreds of studies showing that variations in these genes can inform treatment decisions. The Assay is used to guide treatment for a range of psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, schizophrenia, chronic pain and substance abuse, and has been shown in peer-reviewed published studies to improve patient outcomes and reduce overall medical costs. Each Assay provides clinicians with an easy-to-read patient report and a complimentary psychopharmacogenomic consultation. Learn more at www.genomind.com




Kristina Habermann

Vice President, Marketing and Corporate Communications





Adam Shapiro







POLITICO Covers ASPR Clients

POLITICO, the widely read D.C. outlet, recently wrote about ASPR’ s efforts to help reauthorize the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program. http://politi.co/2ofmlK9

HOME VISITING SUPPORTERS PUSH FOR DOLLARS: Funding for the nation’s federal home visiting program aimed at helping at-risk families expires Sept. 30. The Trump administration’s current budget-cutting climate has program backers nervous, but they say they are hopeful the program that brings education and health support directly into parents’ homes will continue — and maybe even expand. That’s because it has long enjoyed bipartisan support. President George W. Bush’s administration helped jumpstart the program, which dramatically expanded under President Barack Obama. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady held up the program earlier this year as an example of reforms that “actually work” and said his committee will seek to advance programs like it.

 — One reason the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program is popular with both parties is because of its “evidence-based” component. States choose from 20 different models, which have been proven to help at-risk families. One of the better-known models is called Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters — or HIPPY — that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton frequently lauded on the campaign trail because of her involvement with it in Arkansas. The program helps train parents in their homes how to prepare their children for kindergarten. Some of the other models focus more on areas such as maternal or infant health.

— The program gets $400 million annually, and in 2015 was able to help 145,000 families. The Home Visiting Coalition, a group of organizations supporting the work, this week called on it to be reauthorized for five years with funding building to $800 million annually. President Donald Trump’s budget blueprint did not specify whether the administration supports the program, but program backers such as Diedra Henry-Spires, CEO of the Dalton Daley Group, who helped convene the briefing, said they feel positive about their chances. “We think this program can use a ramp up if anything,” Henry-Spires said.

How to Share a Story

Securing a news story for a client doesn’t mean the work is done. Clients must find creative, effective and, sometimes, aggressive ways to share the fact a journalist outside of their orbit thinks what they do is important. Here is a great example from ASPR client Catalogue for Philanthropy. Washingtonian magazine named its founder and CEO Barbara Harman one of its “Washingtonians of the Year.” The Catalogue told all of its stakeholders the news with an e-news blast as well as highlighting the honor on its website home page. Supporters want to celebrate your success; it’s not bragging, it’s bringing them into the process.   


Uncovering the Inauguration

ASPR was proud to support client 360 Live Media in sharing its views about how to update the Inauguration. The following op-ed by 360 Live Media CEO Don Neal recently appeared in The Washington Post.


In an election cycle that saw all the old rules broken, why should the staid, traditional inauguration ceremony be left out of the fun?

That’s the question my colleagues and I at 360 Live Media asked ourselves. We took on an exercise of building a different kind of experience for the presidential inauguration. We started by wondering if standing outside in January staring up at a podium or distantly watching the ceremony on TV was really the way we would design an inauguration for the 21st century. 

While the ceremony may seem steeped in tradition, it has evolved a bit through the years. For instance, the location was changed in 1980 from the eastern front to the western front of the Capitol for Ronald Reagan’s 1981 ceremony. That change stuck.

First, organizers should engage the public early. Get people excited, connected and ready to participate. The inaugural committee should unite the country on what we must do as a nation. Certainly, we understand any change has to fit into the constitutional requirements for the handover of power. But even within those parameters, there is room for creativity.

In that spirit, let’s have people look over a list of issues. They then could vote on their smartphones with the result being a shared national priorities list.

We need to give the American people a role in the experience, a job. This job could include reading the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the president-elect’s platform or agenda for the first 100 days or participating in a community-service project.

There should be more attention paid as one president and family leave the White House and the new residents move in; this should be televised and include the handing over of keys, moving in of household items, etc. This would include a brief ceremony, lighthearted and amusing, that would highlight the ease of the transition.

We should make a game of understanding of what our founders set forth for us. That would mean creating an online game that would test participants about, say, the amendments to the Constitution. Players with the most points would be competing for a tour of the Oval Office, a behind-the-scenes look at the Gettysburg Address narrated by a renowned historian or for a chance to play a role in the actual inauguration ceremony.

Instead of having only exclusive galas attended by the rich and famous in the District, how about every VFW, civic arena, convention center, hotel ballroom and high school gym hosts a national party celebrating democracy, the new administration and our national unity?

We should launch a tribute to our military personnel who aren’t in the United States and celebrate a new inaugural day of national unity.

At the main inaugural ball, Cabinet nominees should be seated with relevant congressional committee chairs and ranking minority-party members. We strongly believe that the best way to encourage effective actions is to have face-to-face meetings and social interactions.

Jan. 20 is one part Fourth of July, one part New Year’s Eve, one part Super Bowl Sunday and one part something new, something that doesn’t exist, something that celebrates what is good, honorable and noble about our democracy. It’s the hope of a new president and the healing of a divided nation.

America is home to disruption and reinvention. And 2021 is just around the corner.

What Does ‘Uncover the Story’ Mean?

The following originally appeared on Huffington Post

Friends and clients know my company, ASPR, has a tagline: Uncover the Story. In its simplest reading, this tagline is easy to follow. It means we are a public relations firm that stresses the importance of storytelling in all it does. But a trusted adviser recently asked me, “What does uncover the story really mean?”

Good question. Recently I attended a lecture where the importance of storytelling was shared. Research has shown that “stories that are personal and emotionally compelling engage more of the brain, and thus are better remembered, than simply stating a set of facts.” So now we have data to back up what we intuitively knew.

However, this is where the real trouble sets in. Most people are too scared and uncomfortable to really tell a good story. You know, one with a protagonist, foreshadowing, drama, a real challenge and then resolution. Hillary Clinton was afraid of telling stories about her dreams, ambitions and goals for the country; Donald Trump has more stories to tell than anyone wants to listen to.

As a reporter, I often had the unenviable task of knocking on the doors of family members who had tragically lost a loved one. It took me a few years to find a successful way to approach this assignment. I finally hit upon the right words: “I don’t like having to do this, but I have to report on your loved one tonight on the news. I’d like him to be known and remembered the right way, with your words. Otherwise, my audience won’t get the real understanding of who he was.” Almost always, the door would open, I’d be invited in and a story would be told.

Today, as a public relations consultant, I’m still asking those tough questions. One time I asked a client how much money he lost in the financial crash; I told him that detail was vitally important in order to build credibility for the story he wanted to tell. After questioning my sanity, he agreed to publicly share the number: $2.5 million. MILLION. Wow.

Indeed, my pushing made his op-ed one that POLITICO published and then I got CNBC interested in. Without this key fact, the author was just adding to the hot air. By inserting the fact, the readers got the point: This man meant what he wrote and he had the proof in his own balance sheet.

Uncover the story is really an investigative approach to PR, but it’s the only way I have found to get to the heart of stories that can make us cry, angry and motivated to create change.