Influencer Relations: Dala Scores a ‘Touchdown,’ Securing Dallas Cowboys’ Jason Witten as an Influencer for Capital One’s STEM event

Influencers are a growing part of integrated, multi-tiered communications strategies, but even though this is a rising trend, the key to successful influencer relations is finding the right influencer with the right audience. In today’s media climate, it seems like there is a new “influencer” popping up every day. “How do you know which influencer is right for you?” “How do you know when to use an influencer?” These two questions are at the heart of what our clients ask us when they are considering a multi-tiered communications strategy. At Dala, the core of every client campaign begins with one simple question – who is your audience? Once you can answer this question, then you can build an effective campaign around that core audience that breaks down into multiple objectives and strategies that deliver clear and actionable KPIs. We wanted to share a fun, successful example of one of our more recent influencer campaigns we brought to life with a player from America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys!

This spring, our client Capital One Financial Services hosted an inaugural STEM/coding event as a part of a national initiative to teach 10,000 students the fundamentals of artificial intelligence (AI). Called the Basic TrAIning: Bot Camp, Capital One hosted nearly 1,000 Dallas ISD high schoolers from 9th and 10 grades. While the students knew they were attending a coding workshop and attempting to set a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the largest AI programming lesson, they didn’t know a well-known guest would make a surprise appearance and speak on the importance of STEM education. Dala was tasked with an end-to-end influencer marketing program for this event. Want the sideline interview on how we tackled this challenge head on? Take a look!

Huddle Up! Finding the perfect influencer

Our team was tasked with finding an influencer for this special event. The client requested to source a local (North Texas), highly recognized individual who could serve as a brand ambassador, appeal to high schoolers and generate high levels of engagement (both in person and online) – all within Capital One’s event budget.

After identifying our key audience coupled with thoughtful research, we landed on recommending Jason Witten, tight end player from the Dallas Cowboys as a lifestyle influencer for this campaign. Why Jason?

  • He just announced his return to the Cowboys. Jason’s name was buzzing in the news right before Capital One’s event. It gave us an opportunity to latch onto a current news trend where we knew we could garner media interest (in which PR folks always have an eye out for trends in media!), and the Dallas football community was already so excited.

  • He was the perfect fit for our audience of high schoolers – we knew his appearance would “wow” the kids because if you’re from Dallas, it’s highly likely that the Cowboys are your favorite team!

  • He’s a father of four. Jason supports STEM education and understands the viable and ample jobs that will be possible for his children when they grow up.   

  • He’s a people person and a trusted name. Jason is a friendly and warm guy who enjoys interacting with adults and children from all walks of life. His positive reputation was important to our client.

  • High social media following. Jason’s social media pages have a dedicated following with incredible numbers. Not only did we focus on finding an influencer with a large following, his engagement rates (likes, shares and comments) were also impressive.

  • And, to top it off, the “Basic trAIning Bot Camp”” name lent itself well to the sports theme.


Ready, Set, Hike! Influencer marketing in motion

After reaching out to Jason’s agent and solidifying the contract, we were ready to roll. We drafted an influencer PR plan on how to maximize Jason’s appearance at the event and online, alongside showcasing Capital One’s messaging to the public. With Jason, we knew had an engaged online following and we worked alongside his agent to ensure we spread Capital One’s brand messaging and create awareness for its new, first-of-its-kind interactive training to teach high school students’ digital skills for the future. The program is designed to expand high school students’ awareness of AI and machine learning, and spark interest and curiosity in STEAM fields.

Some of the big tactics included:

  • Developing messaging that showed the importance of STEM education and what companies like Capital One are doing to spark interest of STEM in our future workforce

  • Drafted social media content for Jason’s and Capital One’s pages to be published during the event

  • Pitched top-tier media to interview Jason and the Capital One spokesperson during the event

  • Partnered with schools in attendance to amplify awareness via their social media channels

  • Utilized the power of word-of-mouth from the students and teachers in attendance, and watched the viral nature as students, teachers and Capital One associates shared their photos with Jason on their social channels



The campaign yielded impressive results both within the media, as well as on social media. Several top-tier media outlets, covered the event including Dallas Innovates, Dallas Observer and FOX 4. Overall, we garnered more than 1.5 million impressions from all media stories following the event.  


On social media, Jason’s Facebook post garnered 355,813 combined impressions (likes, shares and comments).


Until the next big game…

As you can see, influencer marketing has many powerful tangible benefits (follower engagement, authentic content and driving traffic for a brand), and it’s no wonder this is a widely used plan in today’s marketing communications era. A strong influencer relationship drives real impact for a brand, and you can have fun doing it! What are some examples of influencer marketing you’ve seen lately? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Leah EkmarkComment
Dala Communications 2019 Fall Internship

At Dala Communications, we’re not just in the business of communicating – we’re good business communicators. Dala’s team is built upon a foundation of strategic thinkers, enabling us to deliver solutions that are sound, smart, creative and, most importantly, successful. We put public relations strategies in motion and have been successful in doing so for several decades.  

We’re looking for a sharp and savvy intern for the fall 2019 semester who is energetic and eager to learn the inner workings of a PR agency. The Dala Communications paid internship program offers communications/PR/journalism students the opportunity to work closely with our team on projects for clients in a range of industries including education, commercial real estate, finance and engineering. From research and pitching story ideas to media to event coordination and social media content creation, interns will get an array of hands-on PR experience that will be useful in their future careers. For a snapshot of what our internship program is like, click here to hear from one of our past interns about his experience at Dala. Follow us on Instagram to get a glimpse of some of our latest projects and workplace culture!

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If you’re ready to jump in and set your career in motion, we want to hear from you!

What are we looking for in an intern?

  • You have strong written and verbal communication skills.

  • You are a self-starter with an eye for details.

  • Organization and time management skills.

  • You prefer to work in a team environment and are eager to learn.

  • You are an undergraduate college student majoring in communications, public relations or journalism.

  • Your first public relations and journalism classes have been completed.

  • You’re available to spend a minimum of 12-15 hours per week with us in our Dallas office.

Still interested?

Your day-to-day tasks will include:

  • Drafting, editing and distributing media materials including pitches, media alerts, news releases, executive bios, fact sheets, media briefing materials and more

  • Researching the everchanging media landscape in a variety of areas/industries, by creating and maintaining media lists

  • Tracking media coverage and creating/updating coverage reports for clients

  • Finding proactive pitching opportunities for our clients by pulling editorial calendars and creating a pitch plan

  • Helping our clients stand out by researching award opportunities, industry conferences and placement opportunities in key media outlets

  • Assisting with the development and execution of PR plans that support clients’ goals and objectives

  • Assist with on-site events and support in-person media interviews

  • Assist with social media planning and content development for clients

  • Draft creative social media posts and blog articles for the agency

  • Attend occasional PR industry events with agency team members

  • Work within a client-focused team setting, interact with all disciplines to get real-world experience and understand the collaborative nature of the agency environment

This is a paid internship and you may receive class credit, if needed. We’re flexible with candidates’ schedules during the semester and we will work with you to make sure you have a well-rounded internship experience. Most interns leave Dala Communications with numerous work and writing samples for their portfolio. 

If this sounds like an opportunity for you, please apply by sending your cover letter, resume and two writing samples to Nelli Tokleh, and Elizabeth LaMonte, Interviews will be conducted throughout July. Please email us with any questions. No phone calls, please.

Leah EkmarkComment
North Texas Organizations Recognize Dala Employees’ Leadership

Several Dala team members were recently recognized for their leadership and executive expertise by multiple organizations in North Texas. Read about their achievements below!

Young Professional of the Year Award –For more than 14 years, Dala Communications President Leah Williams has served as a mentor and PR counselor for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Lone Star Greater Dallas. BBBS matches at-risk children with mentors who help children navigate life successfully. The organization named Leah as its Young Professional of the Year in May 2019, recognizing her dedication and leadership to the cause.


Revered PR Pioneer Shares Expertise with Businesswomen – This season, agency chairman Cynthia Pharr-Lee was selected to speak at the Freeman+Leonard series about gender diversity in the boardroom. An eager crowd of more than 50 senior-level marketing and public relations women attended this event to seek Cynthia’s counsel and tips for joining a corporate board. Having served on five corporate boards herself, Cynthia has been shattering the glass ceiling, inspiring businesswomen for more than 20 years.



Exclusive Leadership Program Kicks Off in Dallas – The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) – Dallas chapter – this year launched its inaugural leadership development program designed to expand leadership confidence and competence within the chapter and the workplace. Aimed at young professionals who are active members in the chapter, Dala’s senior account executive Nelli Tokleh was one of the first 15 people selected to participate in the year-long program. Her dedication to volunteering with PRSA Dallas for the past decade afforded her this exciting opportunity to learn new skills and strategies that can be applied in her future chapter service and professional endeavors.

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Way to go, ladies! Check out our Instagram page and LinkedIn page for more of our team’s stories and of course, client news. #DalaDoesLeadership

Leah EkmarkComment
5 Tips to Help You Become a Rockstar Intern

As a college student, beginning a new internship is an exciting opportunity. I wrapped up my internship at Dala Communications right before graduating from SMU in May 2019. Working at Dala gave me valuable, hands-on experience, and I can truly say I’ve learned more PR basics here than with any other internship I’ve had in the last four years. If you’re ready to learn the ins and outs of this industry, I highly recommend Dala’s internship program!


If you’re starting a new internship, check out my five tips on how to be a rockstar intern.


1.      Take initiative.

Speak up. Let your team know what types of projects you’re interested in. Personally, I was interested in honing my writing skills, so the Dala team gave me some great assignments like drafting pitches to media, social media posts and media advisories for a variety of clients. The more you practice writing for different audiences, the better you’ll become!


2.      Pay attention to detail.

Details can make all the difference between a good internship and a great internship! A few ways to make you and your work standout include: proofreading your work to look for typos and other mistakes; slowing down and carefully following directions for every project; and making a to-do list every day to help you meet your deadlines. Remember, it’s better to take your time to complete a task correctly than to rush through it and make mistakes. (You’ve got this!)


3.      Ask questions.

Curiosity is one of the best traits a PR professional can embrace. Don’t be shy to ask a lot of questions; it shows that you’re interested in doing the best job possible. One of Dala’s long-time clients, McCarthy Building Companies, is in construction – an industry I wasn’t familiar prior to my internship. I asked my team lots of questions about the client and their industry throughout my internship and it helped me feel more confident when tackling their assignments. Now, you can call me a surface-level expert! Here’s an example of a successful Facebook post I wrote for McCarthy: 



4.      Have a positive attitude.

With a can-do attitude, doors will be opened for you. It is very important to show your team and clients that you’re interested in learning from your internship and taking on new challenges. By keeping an open mind and positive attitude at your internship, you’ll be able to accomplish so much more than you ever imagined.


5.      Find shadowing opportunities.

Take advantage of shadowing opportunities, both inside and outside of the office.

One of the most memorable parts of my internship, was shadowing Dala’s account executive, Elizabeth LaMonte, for a  live TV shoot with KDFW/FOX 4 at Trinity Christian Academy (TCA). Not only did I shadow Elizabeth as the PR liaison that day, I was a part of the entire process from start to finish. I was tasked with writing a pitch and finding a reporter for an event happening at TCA. I soon secured FOX 4 reporter Brandon Todd for the live segment, which was booked for FOX 4’s morning show, “Good Day Dallas.” Seeing how a story/event goes from pitch idea to a live news segment was an exciting experience.     



With these tips, you’ll shine as a PR intern!

Natasha was the spring 2019 Dala intern. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Leah EkmarkComment
April is APR Month

April is APR Month at PRSA (Public Relations Society of America). As many of us in the PR field come to know, the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential has many benefits. The credential builds on the foundation of your education and helps certify your career, distinguishes you from industry peers and positions you as a leader in the field. Further, the APR is a great way to stay updated on industry best practices as the communications/PR field continues to evolve.

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Dala Communications President Leah Williams shares why she pursed the APR:

“I wanted to be taken seriously by the C-suite and other industry colleagues – having my APR has afforded me this opportunity. Becoming accredited sets PR practitioners on the road to success, helping them stand out from their peers. When it comes to business development, I have found that it can be a challenge for those unfamiliar with our industry to identify best-in-class PR practitioners to serve as a valued partner to ‘help move the needle’ in their business; however, having my APR certification has provided me additional credibility when I'm talking to business prospects. And, earning my APR is also a value-add for current clients and my agency because it has helped me be more thoughtful and strategic in my approach.”

For more backround on the APR and information on how to get started with the certication process, click here.

Leah EkmarkComment
We're hiring a summer PR intern!

Are you a self-proclaimed “grammar nerd” and a stickler for AP Style? Do you enjoy getting the latest scoop from local and national news? Are you a self-starter and a team player? If you said “yes” to all of these questions, then consider applying for the Dala Communications summer 2019 internship program!

At Dala, we consider our interns to be a valuable part of the team. We encourage our interns to provide input and share ideas throughout the length of their internship.

Our interns get hands-on experience in a wide range of public relations and marketing activities that include, but are not limited to:

  • Attending client meetings to learn how we execute and manage strategic PR plans

  • Writing, editing and distributing press materials

  • Developing and pitching stories to the media

  • Attending print, radio, web and TV news interviews

  • Tracking and reporting media coverage

  • Learning how to plan, manage and track the success of an event

  • Creating content for Dala’s social media channels

  • Writing for The Dala Daily (our blog)

  • Attending occasional PR industry events and participating in seminars, webinars and other professional training

  • Working within a client-focused team setting, interacting with all disciplines to get real-world experience and understanding of the collaborative nature of the agency environment

Our PR firm handles a variety of accounts in industries ranging from commercial real estate and construction services to education and corporate social responsibility. We consider our team tiny but mighty, and therefor need an intern willing to work hard and contribute along the way. A successful Dala intern is detail-oriented and a resourceful self-starter with a positive attitude. An understanding of media relations, social media and AP Style, along with strong written and verbal communication skills, are required.

The summer internship typically runs late May through August. Hours are flexible with a minimum of 12 hours a week at our office. If you’re looking to get hands-on experience in the PR field, send your resume, cover letter, two writing samples and three professional references to by April 12. Please no phone calls. Applicants will be contacted directly.

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Leah EkmarkComment
WFAA Barks Up Social Media Tree

I love dogs. I have two mutts I’m crazy about and for as long as I can remember I’ve been an advocate for rescue animals. A couple of years ago, I decided to use my expertise in public relations to help raise awareness for animal adoption and found a volunteer PR position with Dallas Pets Alive, a volunteer-driven, nonprofit animal rescue group with the goal of making Dallas a “no-kill” city.

Dala gives each full-time employee the opportunity to use one work day as a volunteer day. I feel very grateful to work at a company that allows its employees to not only volunteer as a group once each quarter but gives each employee a day to give back to the community on their own.

Jenny Lyons, producer at WFAA, David Schechter and Tiffany Liou, reporter with Bonesy. Photo via  Instagram .

Jenny Lyons, producer at WFAA, David Schechter and Tiffany Liou, reporter with Bonesy. Photo via Instagram.

Through my volunteer position as director of PR at Dallas Pets Alive, I recently got the chance work with WFAA to help raise awareness of the need for fosters. WFAA’s David Schechter reached out to me to find out what Dallas Pets Alive is doing to make Dallas “no-kill” and if the organization would consider being on a panel for a Facebook Live video on the need for fosters in Dallas.

As more and more Americans get news online and via social media, WFAA has adapted by running Facebook Live interviews either separately or in conjunction with a broadcast segment. A recent survey from Kagan U.S. Consumer Insights states that approximately half (49%) of internet adults watch local TV news programs and 40% acquire news online.

What started out as a request to be part of a Facebook Live panel on WFAA’s Facebook page, quickly snowballed into an incredible opportunity for Dallas Pets Alive. The organization was featured in three separate broadcast stories about Dallas Pets Alive’s mission, a before/after of a rescue cat named Bob Marley and a feature on a foster family. This broadcast coverage reached a total potential audience of 350,154 people and had a calculated publicity value of $123,150. The Facebook Live video also had more than 18,000 views.

Dallas Pets Alive received $11,000 in donations and 21 applications to adopt or foster an animal as a result of the broadcast coverage and Facebook Live video.

Here’s how this opportunity went from a Facebook Live video request to multiple broadcast segments, planned social shares and an in-studio phone bank.

David Schechter has a segment on WFAA called, “Verify” where he takes questions from viewers and brings them along on his quest for the answer. One viewer, Anissa Perez, asked if euthanizing animals for space at Dallas Animal Services was still necessary.

David took Anissa to Dallas Animal Services to take a tour and talk with them to find out why Dallas is still euthanizing animals for space in the city’s shelter. After they toured the Dallas shelter, David and Anissa went to Austin, the largest U.S. city to ban euthanasia as a means of reducing overcrowding. They met with leaders at Austin Animal Center, who explained that they were able to get Austin to “no-kill” status with the help of their community partners like Austin Pets Alive.

Leslie Sans, executive director for Dallas Pets Alive, Ed Jamison, director of Dallas Animal Services and David Schechter before the Facebook Live video started.

Leslie Sans, executive director for Dallas Pets Alive, Ed Jamison, director of Dallas Animal Services and David Schechter before the Facebook Live video started.

When David got back from Austin, he contacted Dallas Pets Alive to find out what the organization is doing to get Dallas to “no-kill” status. After learning that Dallas Pets Alive’s fosters and supporters played a key role in helping Dallas Animal Services increase their live-release rate from less than 50 percent in 2012 to 81.5 percent in September of 2017, David wanted to know what his viewers could do to help.

Over the course of a few phone calls with WFAA, we planned three separate stories about Dallas Pets Alive that would air on Nov. 14 on the 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. broadcasts leading up to the Verify segment during the 10 p.m. broadcast; an in-studio phone bank where viewers could call in with questions, foster applications and donations for Dallas Pets Alive; brought adoptable dogs to the studio to promote the need for fosters, volunteers and donations; had volunteers make videos that WFAA could edit and share on social throughout the day; and planned a Facebook Live video that would run directly after the Verify segment with Leslie Sans, executive director of Dallas Pets Alive, Ed Jamison, director of Dallas Animal Services and David Schechter.

Leading up to the air-date, I helped WFAA get interviews/b-roll for the three separate stories on Dallas Pets Alive; managed the volunteer videos for WFAA to use on social; created a document with key messages and prepared answers to questions that phone bank volunteers might get asked; and prepped the executive director with a briefing book for the Facebook Live interview.

On Nov. 14, I went to WFAA to help staff the phone bank, manage logistics and help manage questions from the Facebook Live video. After each segment aired and they cut to the phone bank, our phones rang non-stop for 30 minutes or so. It was a great to see the immediate positive response from viewers who called in to help Dallas Pets Alive.

This post was written by Krystal Morris

Here I am, front and center, ready to staff the phone bank.

Here I am, front and center, ready to staff the phone bank.