Hype Busters: Real Talk on Strategic Communications with Chris and April

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Real talk? Strategic communications rules the world, and business is just living in it. Let communications experts April White and Christopher Tomkins be your go-to guides to all things public relations and digital marketing, respectively. What do startup founders need to know about online marketing? What if you’re a PR pro looking to maximize your media results? And how the heck do you manage an agency? Every two weeks, they’re here to cut through the B.S. and show you what’s really happening behind the scenes, and behind your screens. Tune in to join this dynamic duo as they bust through the hype to deliver the final word on the hottest developments in the brand arena right now and take a deep dive into the news and trends shaking up the industry.


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April White

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Christopher Tompkins


26 – PR Practices in Digital Marketing and Social Media

September 2, 2022

April and Chris cover Meta’s first-ever reported revenue loss, allegations of security risks from a whistleblower at Twitter, and the suspension of Nottingham University Hospitals’ communications director. They chat through the shifting role Millennial audiences play in today’s digital landscape, and discuss Banana Republic’s controversial origin story of the future of the brand. 

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25 – Hype Busters Takeover | Trust Relations: The Podcast

August 19, 2022

Chris is on the road this week, so April is holding it down with a special episode. In this crossover episode, guest host Hamish Anderson is on the line. He’s April’s co-host on Trust Relations: The Podcast, here to deliver his expertise as a seasoned digital marketer. They assess brand moves from the news, like the merger between HBO Max and Discovery Plus, Amazon’s Acquisition of Roomba, and the debut of clickable stickers on LinkedIn. They spar over the use of Facebook groups for promotions and break down the FTC’s rules for user-generated content and testimonials. They cover the latest creative campaigns to make headlines, in “Cash or Trash?” 

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24 – Brand Authenticity: From External Marketing to Internal Communications

August 5, 2022

April and Chris are discussing brand authenticity as it applies across the marketing spectrum, from external campaigns to internal communications strategies. They assess some recent examples of messaging strategies — good and bad — from the news, including allegations of fraud at Weber Shandwick, Meta’s human rights report, and public backlash over Instagram’s emphasis on video. In this “Point / Counterpoint” segment, they debate the role of internal communicators in overall brand success and spar over Chris’ latest article for Newsweek. They have some hot takes in “Cash or Trash?” and discuss: A&W’s Ryan Reynolds impersonator, Velveeta’s new martini recipe and an emo-inspired logo makeover at Wendy’s. 

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23 – Rules, Trends and Changes in Digital Marketing and Communications

July 22, 2022

This week, your hosts are discussing the rules, trends and changes impacting digital marketing, including the FTC’s updated Endorsement Guide and a brand loyalty report from Meta. They discuss the trend of high-level government security officials transitioning to private sector roles, in light of Snapchat’s hiring of a former Secret Service agent to its executive team. Trends include social purpose initiatives for modern brands, the rise of social media shopping features & brand backlash in the Twitter era. “Cash or Trash?” features 3 campaigns: KFC x Crocs, HelloFresh’s campaign on Twitch, and Old Spice x Arby’s. 

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22 – The Latest on PR in the Social Media Landscape

July 8, 2022

This week, your Hype Busters hosts are taking a look at the interplay between social media and public relations, with some recent research and trends about how journalists and users are finding news online. April and Chris also discuss the competition that’s heating up between YouTube and Tik Tok. Next, they chat through the pros and cons of deleting old social media posts and cover the role of notifications in driving users’ eyes to your marketing campaigns. This week’s “Cash or Trash?” segment features three new campaigns: Raid’s new global portrait push, Alka Seltzer’s collaboration with T Pain and Schmidt’s new ads featuring Megan Rapinoe. 

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21 – Changes in Big Tech: Privacy, Advertising and Social Media Updates

June 24, 2022

On today’s show, Chris and April are covering some recent changes from leaders in Big Tech. They’re chatting about Meta’s privacy updates around the world, the lack-luster release of Apple’s iOS 16 and how Amazon’s new advertising offering is poised to rival Facebook. Our hosts also debate the relevance of dark social media channels for marketers, discuss the impact of the latest lawsuit against Instagram over negative mental health impacts in children, and spar over the fate of Elon Musk’s pending Twitter deal. For “Cash or Trash?” this week, your favorite dynamic duo analyzes new campaigns including: Taco Bell’s new Minnesota restaurant location; Chevrolet’s ill-conceived texting game campaign against distracted driving; Heineken’s high-tech bottle opener that claims to close your work applications; and Velveeta’s cheese-scented nail polish.

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20 – Making Headlines: Brand Promotions, Media Stunts and Product Flops​

June 10, 2022

On the show, April and Chris are covering the latest moves big brands are making to generate media attention and gain momentum online. They discuss industry news stories on Target’s new Roundel Media Fund supporting diverse-owned brands, and chat about Grub Hub’s failed free lunch promotion in New York. They discuss the strategy behind Tik Tok’s new ad product for crowdsourcing content, and consider why Pepsi has decided to drop its Super Bown Halftime Show sponsorship. For “Cash or Trash?”, our hosts share their hot takes on the RITZ x OREO brand collaboration, Mattress Firm’s new podcast, and Hidden Valley Ranch’s charity-focused campaign to create a diamond out of its signature seasoning dust.

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19 – How Big Brands Are Leveraging Google Search, Social Media Videos and Creative Ad Tactics​

May 27, 2022

On the show today, April and Chris weigh in on the latest news in social media, with their reactions to the rise of the Be Real social app, LinkedIn’s recent decision to down-rank engagement-baiting posts, and the overall role of authenticity in effective digital strategy. They also cover Google’s image search update and how the new feature might impact brands online. For this week’s Point & Counterpoint segment, our hosts spar over Tumblr’s comeback in the Gen Z demographic and chat about whether employee-generated content is a viable option for brands today. As always, April and Chris also share their hot takes on whether some of the latest headline-making brand campaigns were “Cash or Trash?” This week, they’re covering KFC’s chicken bouquet campaign, the launch of IHOP’s loyalty program, Coors Light’s new Miami-based billboards, and Pinterest’s latest video feature.

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18 – Seismic Shifts in Advertising and the Latest Data Trends​

May 13, 2022

On today’s episode, April and Chris are discussing some recent trends in digital advertising, including how advertisers are reacting to a cookie-free future and adapting to the major shift toward streaming services. They also analyze Netflix’s recent dip in subscription numbers and discuss their hot takes on the false advertising accusations against Burger King. To close out the show, your favorite hosts make the call on whether these headline-making brand campaigns were cash moves or trash strategies: Skullcandy’s 2022 social push, shoppable recipe campaigns, Miller Lite’s flavored beer drops, and Willa’s influencer-friendly, Coachella-bound plane.

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17 – Social Media Trends and Food Branding Flops​

April 29, 2022

This week on Hype Busters, April and Chris are laser-focused on the latest trends and campaigns to hit social media this month. They’re chatting about Facebook’s faulty ad reporting, Doja Cat’s Taco Bell jingle on Tik Tok and Elon Musk’s idea to create a new social platform. They’re also covering some recent food branding flops, including Pizza Hut’s official “Struggle Bus,” the new Tostitos audio logo, Coke’s new pixel-flavored drink, and a final call on whether Frito Lay’s “Potadomes” at Coachella are a cash move or a trash stunt. And of course, April and Chris also weigh in on Will Smith’s recent scandal at the Oscars.

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16 – The Latest on Media Credibility, False Advertising and Breakout Brand Campaigns

April 15, 2022

Welcome back for another episode of Hype Busters! Join us for the show this week as April and Chris tackle some major developments in the communications industry. They’re discussing USA Today’s misreported ad placements, the UK’s regulation of gender stereotypes in ad campaigns, and the rise of AI-driven branding tools. Our hosts also chat about the pros and cons of Netflix’s crackdown on password sharing, and make the call on whether Dollar Shave Club’s “chin-fluencer” campaign and Duolingo’s new tattoo translator are cash moves or trash ideas for the brands.

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15 – Daniel Alfon: LinkedIn Marketing Tactics for Social-Savvy Entrepreneurs

April 1, 2022

Our hosts welcome Daniel Alfon, the author of “Build a LinkedIn Profile for Business Success,” to discuss best practices for leveraging LinkedIn for business marketing and personal branding. April and Chris also discuss the renaissance in TV advertising as streaming platforms continue to rise in popularity, and cast their industry predictions about the future of creator content. Next, they chat about the ramifications of Ronn Torossian’s decision to step down amid the scandal at 5W PR. For “Point & Counterpoint,” they’re breaking down the pros and cons of TikTok’s new ten-minute feature. Then we get Chris and April’s hot takes on Folgers’ millennial-focused rebrand, the new Fruity Pebbles crossover with Lebron and Nike, and Dollar Shave Club’s new product campaign. 

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14 – Ad Targeting, Marketing Mishaps and Pop Culture Faux Pas

March 18, 2022

This week on Hype Busters, April and Chris are hashing out The New York Times’ handling of their recent Wordle acquisition, and diving into what the future of ad targeting might hold for digital marketing professionals. They’re also chatting about best practices for gaining momentum as a social media influencer. For this week’s “Cash or Trash?” segment, your favorite hosts discuss Kendall Jenner’s latest tequila brand promotions and Miller’s voyage into the world of health-conscious beer. BONUS: April and Chris attempt an “unboxing” of Donald Trump’s new Truth Social app.

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13 – Ad Debrief: What Works (And What Doesn’t) in Today’s Trending Ads

March 4, 2022

This week, Chris and April are delivering the ad report you need, with a recap of this month’s most talked-about TV advertisements and digital marketing moves. They’re setting the scene with a chat about the significance of Amazon and Google’s ad revenue for digital marketers, and ranking Gold Bond’s “sweaty balls” euphemisms against Shake Shack’s dating site stunt and Michelob Ultra’s low-calorie ad play for a jam-packed “Cash of Trash?” segment. They also discuss the pros and cons of including morality clauses in your client contracts, the sticking power of short-form video on social, and of course the impact of the recent Joe Rogan Spotify scandal.

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12 – Social Media Game-Changers: Gen Z and the Subscription Revolution

February 18, 2022

In today’s episode, Chris and April are unpacking the impact of two long-standing media trends: “Cancel Culture” and subscription-based content. They’re also covering changes to Google’s free G-Suite service, a PR perspective on Adele’s emotional concert announcement, and how Gen Z is reviving interest in Tumblr as an escape from the ad-heavy social media landscapes of Instagram and Facebook. This week’s “Cash or Trash?” segment features our hosts’ hot takes on some bizarre branding moves, including: Campbell’s soup candles, Oscar-Mayer’s bologna-themed face masks, the Blockbuster + Oreo Cakesters collab, and one funeral home’s modern take on rebranding death.

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11 – News Stories, New Features and What’s Hot (Or Not) in Media & Marketing

February 4, 2022

In today’s episode, Chris and April dive into the communications industry stories that are making waves in the first month of the year.  They’re covering NBC’s hiring of an ex-FBI official and the implications for trust in mainstream media, Volvo’s handling of an image usage rights violation, and the state of print media this year. For this week’s “Cash or Trash?” segment, our hosts look at Inc.’s ranking of 2021’s most bizarre brand stories, and then close out with a quick tip on leveraging Instagram Live’s new screenshare feature.

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10 – Branding Fails, Media Trends and What to Watch in 2022

January 21, 2022

In today’s episode, Chris and April dive into the communications industry news stories that are making waves in the new year.  They’re covering NBC’s hiring of an ex-FBI official and the implications for trust in the mainstream media, Volvo’s handling of an image usage rights violation, and the state of print media this year. Amazon’s approach to ads and Elon Musk’s proposal to microchip the human brain. For this week’s “Cash or Trash?” segment, our hosts look at Inc.’s ranking of 2021’s most bizarre brand stories, and then close out with a quick tip on leveraging Instagram Live’s new screenshare feature.

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09 – Year-End Trends in Social, Marketing and Agency Management)

January 7, 2022

This week, Chris and April are chatting about the news shaking up the strategic marketing sphere as we kick off the new year. Tune in as your favorite duo breaks down the trends that sent 2021 out with a bang, including AdWeek’s new sustainability initiative, Amazon’s approach to ads and Elon Musk’s proposal to microchip the human brain. They’re also analyzing how Gen Z responds to disingenuous branding, last year’s supply chain challenges, and the metaverse. They make the call on whether the recent Barefoot Wine / Oreo Thins collab. Lastly, they chat through some practices to help agencies improve their recruitment and retention strategies.

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08 – The Personalization Payoff: How to Reach Your Target Market (Feat. Colleen Wortham)

December 10, 2021

This week, hosts Chris and April chat with Colleen Wortham, VP of Digital Product & Operations at Albertsons Companies — one of the largest food and drug retailers in the U.S. Together, they’re unpacking strategies for success relating to personalized marketing and customer loyalty programs, and how best to reach your target market. Our hosts also cover the latest news from the world of Tik Tok, including the viral theories surrounding the Astroworld tragedy and the app’s recent magazine launch, and assess the newest ad for Meta. They also cover the waste-free way influencers are modeling high-end fashions. Of course, Chris and April also make the final call on whether these marketing moves were cash or trash ideas for each brand: Marian Carey’s collaboration with McDonalds, the Arby’s vodka launch, Ikea’s buff bears campaign and Coke’s collaboration with Cameo.

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07 – SEO Myths and Misconceptions (Feat. Alexandra Marshall)

November 26, 2021

This week, hosts Chris and April are busting the hype around SEO for marketing pros, including common misconceptions about what works and what doesn’t, with special guest Alexandra Marshall, president of SEO.com. Chris and April also cover the latest industry news, including the recent public backlash over Edelman’s representation of Exxon, why billionaires are using celebrity spokespeople to promote space tourism, and the significance of Pinterest’s latest revenue report for marketers. Your favorite duo also dives into the techier side of social this week, discussing recent developments in the Metaverse and Walmart’s foray into AR experiences for customers. Our hosts close out the Just The Tip with an assessment of Amazon’s steady rise as an ecommerce icon and how consumer brands can get on board.

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06 – Integrated Marketing 101 (Feat. Hamish Anderson)

November 12, 2021

This week, hosts Chris and April are taking a deep dive into integrated marketing — and why brands should get on board, or be left behind. With special guest Hamish Anderson, Trust Relations’ Executive Vice President/Marketing group director and founder of Three Piece marketing, they’re discussing the advantages of an omni-channel approach to digital, how clients can make the most of their marketing resources and how outsourcing to an agency can yield powerful results. Chris and April also cover the latest industry news this week with a discussion on the PR plays behind this year’s major moments in media censorship, discuss whether Twitter’s new user regulations will have a positive impact and determine whether Sleepy Time Tea’s recent Instagram thirst trap was a cash move or a trash idea for the brand. They also chat about recent trends in business this quarter, as clients seek to diversify their digital spend.

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05 – Brand Agility for the Digital World: Accessing the Right Audience (Feat. Greg Kihlström)

October 29, 2021

Tune in this week for a conversation with special guest Greg Kihlström from The Agile World! Our hosts welcome Greg to discuss common issues with disingenuous marketing, how to know your audience, the future of work and tips for branding in a competitive market climate. Chris and April also analyze the latest news from the communications industry, including why the pandemic is pushing journalists to quit their jobs, and how the ongoing supply chain crisis has damaged brand loyalty for many consumers. Your favorite dynamic duo also debates the pros and cons of Disney’s new Tik Tok influencer program, and makes a call on whether the recently-announced Hidden Valley Ranch X Crocs Collaboration is a cash move or a trash idea for both brands.

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04 – Post-Pandemic Pivots for Branding and Business (Feat. Justin Knapp)

October 14, 2021

This week, your hype-busting hosts welcome Justin Knapp, founder of Space Together. Justin is here to discuss his journey as an entrepreneur, lessons learned in business and how his innovative platform is helping communities rent out their unused commercial space to other local groups. Chris and April also share their best advice for the transforming world of agency work post-pandemic, like managing Zoom fatigue, handling internal communications issues and what brands should consider in their public-facing campaigns. They also share the latest trends impacting marketing and PR as 2022 approaches, spar over the industry push for brands to join Tik Tok, and discuss whether Instagram’s Facebook banner ads were a cash or trash move for reviving interest in the platform. Our hosts close things out with an assessment of the state of agency work in a remote world, and how business owners and teams can strike the right balance in their work lives.

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03 – Best Bets for Branding in the Startup Game (Feat. Tom Briggs)

September 30, 2021

This week, your favorite dynamic duo welcomes guest Tom Briggs. Tom is the founder of epigraph research & branding consultancy, and he’s here to dive into all things branding, including the dos and don’ts of working in the tech startup space. Chris and April also share some recent news from the communications circuit, including actress Ellie Kemper’s recent crisis response, and allegations that Subway’s tuna sandwiches might contain fishy DNA. Our hosts also spar over whether the viral Fox News “singing babysitter” is front page worthy, and dig into the impact of the resignation economy. Finally, Chris and April make the call on whether Sprite’s hip-hop QR code campaign was a cash move or a trash strategy for the brand, and discuss the recent trend of leveraging micro-level Tik Tok influencers for product promotion

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02 – Know Your Brand: Tips to Consider Before Your Campaign Kickoff

September 16, 2021

The Hype Busters are back! This week, hosts Chris and April are tackling some must-know tips for companies to consider before starting a new campaign. They’re chatting about launch timing, PR prep work and solidifying your brand identity. Chris and April also deliver a double dose of “Cash or Trash?” as they make the final call on whether Tiffany & Co. was wise to introduce yellow to its iconic color palette, and assess the strategy behind Australia’s “pet-ernity” policy. Our hosts touch on authentic brand activism during Pride month, and shine the “Startup Spotlight” on Immersion Neuroscience, a personal neuroscience app and rising star in the biotech space. In a brand-new segment, “Just the Tip,” they also offer their advice for managing client expectations in terms of marketing and PR timelines.

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01 – Meet the Hype Busters: Behind the Screens with April & Chris

September 3, 2021

Welcome to Hype Busters! Get to know your hosts Christopher Tompkins and April White in our first-ever episode of the show, as they deliver a much-needed dose of “real talk” on the latest news and trends in strategic communications. This week, they’re welcoming guest Raúl González Acuña, a self-described serial entrepreneur and the CEO & founder of RGA Engineering International, to discuss his experience as a founder and his work in Venezuela to provide clean drinking water for local communities. Chris and April also assess the wisdom of Tesla’s PR-free communications approach, and make the call on whether Kim Kardashian’s latest editing fail was a Cash or Trash.

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