Reputations In Crisis with Mike Paul, The Rep Doc: Top 10 Reputations & Brands In Crisis In 2021 (VIDEO)

Top 10 Reputations & Brands In Crisis In 2021. Each year, The Reputation Doctor® develops a yearly Top 10 list of reputations and brands in crisis seen globally by top news media, decision makers and influencers. After 29 years of developing the list in print, this is the first year, the popular top 10 list is in video form. If you, your organization or an issue make the list, you know its brand and reputation had a very challenging year. Please watch this video and share. This top 10 list is developed and owned by Reputation Doctor® Productions, a division of Reputation Doctor® LLC.

 




Miami’s Marc Roberts on Ways To Create Newsworthy Content for Brands

How Housewares Brands Stand Out in a Crowded Market

 

When it comes to creating newsworthy content for brands, there are five different elements. Incorporating each one into a story results in any brand being able to create newsworthy content that’s going to get media coverage, whether from local or national outlets. 

Story Impact

The first element of newsworthy pieces of content is the impact the piece is going to have on the lives of the readers, and the reasons they should care about reading it. This element should be incorporated into the piece as early as possible because in today’s fast news cycle, companies need to grab the attention of the audience in the first couple of sentences. 

Timing

Another important element in newsworthy content is how the piece matters to readers currently. Plenty of readers are already familiar with older information, which means there’s no point in including anything that’s old news in a piece. That’s why each piece of content should be timely and relevant to current events or trending topics. 

Topical

Similar to the last point, all newsworthy content is either trendy or topical – it centers around a current trend or topic. For example, once the holiday season rolls around, companies should be creating stories that center around different holidays throughout the season. 

Conflict

Most people enjoy reading stories that have some sort of conflict in them, and watching how those  stories unravel. That means companies that are able to present two different or opposing arguments in a piece are able to create newsworthy content that’s well-rounded and ready for publishing. 

Human Interest

Finally, everyone loves reading stories about other people, which is why social media platforms are so popular:  they feature content and stories from other people – such as when we have been among the first to accept cryptocurrency deposits on real estate.

This is another important element that companies should keep in mind when looking to create newsworthy content that will  receive media coverage and interest from the public. There are plenty of stories from people everywhere, and it’s relatively easy for companies to find a unique human interest story that’s relevant to their target audiences, that they haven’t heard before, and that they will be happy to learn about.


About the Author: Marc Roberts is a Miami based entrepreneur.




Evins Communications Rebrands And Launches Innovative Evins PR+ Paradigm

Evins PR+

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Evins Communications (“Evins”), a distinguished, award-winning marketing communications and public relations firm unveiled Evins PR+, a new business-focused public relations model which is the centerpiece of the Agency’s rebranding and repositioning. Evins PR+ provides a competitive advantage for clients by using insight-driven marketing communications strategies focused on achieving tangible and measurable business goals. Making a consequential impact for clients by transforming market data and intelligence into actionable insights and strategic programming represents  Evins’ vision of the future of public relations.  Evins PR+ encompasses  a full range of integrated services within the Agency’s specialized practice areas: Brand Essence & Content Strategy, Food, Wine & Spirits, Health & Wellness, Luxe Living, and Travel & Hospitality. The announcement was made jointly by Mathew L. Evins, Chairman, and Louise Evins, CEO.

Building on the Agency’s legacy of work with prominent iconic brands as well as industry innovators and disruptive start-ups, Evins PR+ encompasses the Agency’s renowned business acumen with its brand essence and content strategies, to develop relevancy-building, engaging and resonant communications programs that transcend and go far beyond traditional public relations. Highlighted by a dynamic new website and compelling visual assets, Evins PR+ epitomizes the purposeful shift towards bringing the experience and expertise of the Agency together with the personalities and passion of its teams. Redesigned from the ground up, Evins’ new branding features bright, bold imagery reflective of the culture and ideals that the Agency is known for, and the diversity and commitment to positive evolution to which it is committed. Since its founding, Evins has developed and implemented innovative strategies and tactics based upon the philosophy of subliminal seeded organic self-discovery, which is the antitheses of traditional public relations and reflects the many channels of business, communication and influence the Agency leverages for its clients.

“The Evins PR+ rebranding and repositioning champions and more compellingly illustrates our philosophy and the work that we do for our clients, as well as the Agency’s decades of experience, core values and our vision of the future of public relations,” said Mr. Evins.  “Our commitment to evolution, innovation and consequential results has been a mainstay for the last 35 years, but by embracing advances in analytics, culture, psychographics and technology we’ve been able to consistently provide clients with creative and impactful, results driven marketing communications strategies and tactics.”

Accompanying the rebrand and website is the launch of a library of new content, including podcasts, video interviews and thought leadership insights from Evins’ senior management. The Agency’s social media platforms and newsletter have also been redesigned, both in terms of aesthetics and content, to reflect the Evins PR+ branding and positioning. Evins PR+ also encompasses a new approach to measuring and merchandising what the Agency does for its clients in order to better quantify and qualify business consequence and impact. Developed using streamlined metrics, in-depth data and comprehensive analytics, the redefined reporting methodology enumerates and illustrates the correlation between initiative and impact. As a result, the Agency can better demonstrate consequence, efficacy and ROI for its clients, as well as provide in-depth, actionable insights.

Mrs. Evins added, “Over the last 35 years, our clients have come to know and appreciate what we stand for, what we do and what they can expect, which is why we have been able to build long-term client relationships, with an average of more than eight years and with several in excess of 25 years. But as we embark upon the next chapter in our storied legacy, we decided the time had come to put the Agency through the same process we utilize for our clients. We empowered our leadership team and account professionals, as well as brought in the best external specialist partners, to re-envision and redefine our brand and our positioning, our relevance and differentiation. We couldn’t be more excited with the outcome.”

Evins tapped renowned New York City-based creative agency BrandFire to lead the brand redesign and creative process. With a strategic branding pedigree, immense advertising expertise and acclaim for original creative content, BrandFire’s work has contributed to the growth and success of recognizable brands such as David Goggins, Jägermeister, JOAH, ScreenShop and TB12.

For more information, please visit www.evins.com.




A Few Proven But Simple Marketing Tips for Not-Safe-for-Dinner-Table Brands Who Need Help Creating Exposure

Frances Tang, CEO of Awkward Essentials

Marketing a brand that’s “not safe for work” can be a little tricky. When you have to be mindful of the audiences your products are exposed to, you may not get the attention or respect that other brands command. 

Fortunately, you can market your products effectively if you get a little creative. 

Get an In-Depth Understanding of Your Target Audience

The first step of marketing is knowing who you’re marketing to – no matter what your product is. Customer personas are an important part of this and offer a profile of the people that define the segments within your target audience. 

Think of customer personas as semi-fictional archetypes that represent the key components of a big segment of your audience, based on the data you’ve collected from research and analytics. Once you know who you’re talking to, you can create content that resonates with them.

Create a BIG Personality – and Stick with It

Every brand has a unique personality – just like people – that offers something for customers to relate to. Think of these traits as adjectives like innovative, family-oriented, edgy, humorous, or controversial. 

When you have a firm handle on your brand personality, you can make sure your messaging is tailored to that personality and reflects your brand accurately. 

Here are some pointers to creating a brand personality:

  • Know your brand, inside and out. Create a clear set of brand traits and values. 
  • Determine what you want your target audience to feel when they learn about your company and use your messaging to engage those emotions.
  • Think big and bold. Your brand is controversial, so you have an opportunity to use some boldness, playfulness, humor, and edge to get the point across.

Consumers also appreciate openness and authenticity, which comes naturally to NSFW brands. If audience is looking for wit and sass, let it shine.

Embrace Humor

Humor is a great way to break the ice and release the tension with awkward topics. It also makes a brand more relatable, especially if your brand or products are related to topics that most people are uncomfortable talking about.

You’ve already seen this in action with commercials for adult toys or hemorrhoid creams. Most likely, those brands did something to make you laugh and relax a bit.

Humor matters, but here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Comedy is suggestive. What’s hilarious to some can be offensive or hurtful to someone else. This is why it’s vital to understand your target audience. 
  • If you have a brick-and-mortar location, you can use humor to make customer visits more fun. Humor can break down awkward barriers and bring people into your store, even if they find it embarrassing. For example, someone may visit the adult bookstore as a “joke,” but if they feel comfortable, they’ll stick around and maybe make return visits.

Get creative with humor in your marketing. Here’s some inspiration:

  • Use self-deprecating humor about yourself or your brand
  • Create shareable content, like memes or infographics, that have humorous content. People like to share funny things, so you’ll get plenty of exposure for your brand. 
  • Create a marketing video that showcases your brand’s comedy.
  • Surprise your customers with unexpected products, like small branded items, when they subscribe or attend events.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ruffle Feathers (You Will!)

NSFW brands are controversial because they don’t, and can’t, appeal to everyone. If you attempt to please everyone, you’re bound to fail. It’s inevitable that you’ll have to embrace the lovers and the haters. This is true of every brand, but controversial brands are more likely to encounter some friction.

With the right marketing, you can attract your ideal customers, even if you make everyone else mad. But no matter what, remember that you can’t make everyone happy and plan for criticism. 

Keep these points in mind:

  • Show sensitivity to the feelings of others, but don’t be a doormat.
  • Use discretion when deciding what content is good for your brand.
  • Include a warning before showing content that may be offensive to some, such as “Parental Advisory” or “NSFW.” Even someone who loves your brand in private may not want it on blast while they’re at work.

You can gauge your audience’s reaction by testing out different content and messaging. 

Test Everything, Again and Again

With any brand, it’s vital to test marketing efforts and use data to refine messaging. Traditional marketing channels may not work for NSFW brands, but you may find plenty of new channels with an audience. For example, OnlyFans is a great place for a controversial brand, but Facebook and Twitter can be restrictive with content.

When testing, think about:

  • How are customers reacting to content? Focus on the successes instead of the failures.
  • How are your competitors reacting? Have they changed their messaging?
  • Are you gaining new customers? Losing customers?
  • Does the marketing cover each stage of the buyer’s journey, from early awareness to customers ready to make a decision?

Testing is a lot of work, but it pays off with your marketing efforts.

Market Your NSFW Brand

Marketing a controversial brand can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. You just have to be a little more creative than the average brand and find new and innovative ways to promote your products. Show your bold, daring, and humorous brand personality and you’re sure to increase your exposure.


About the Author: Frances Tang is the founder/Captain Awkward/CEO of Awkward Essentials, a company that makes products that address the unspoken parts of hygiene. She is also the inventor of the dripstick — an after sex cleanup sponge. Frances Tang never intended to build a company around a post-sex cleanup tool, but the Awkward Essentials founder saw a need — and an opportunity — for an entrepreneur willing to go there. Now, Frances is leading a revolution for female founders, showing that fearlessness is a founder’s most important value.

 




Who Says Totalitarian States Are Evil? (Certainly Not The IOC, U.S. Olympic Officials, NBA,and Sports Marketing Brands)

Arthur Solomon 

As SportsBusinessJournal (SBJ) wrote in its October 14-20, 2019, issue, the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) China crisis was not the first time an American sports entity had to apologize for comments backing a totalitarian regime’s laws, instead of standing up for American values.

The lede of the article recalled that “Scott Blackmum, then CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said U.S. athletes should ‘comply’ with Russia’s anti-LGBT propaganda law as Team USA prepared for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.” Of course a clarifying statement was issued a few days later. 

The “I didn’t express my self correctly” script was followed by NBA’s Commissioner Adam Silver, after his initial comment expressing remorse for a tweet by Daryl Morey, then the general manager of the Houston Rockets, backing freedom for Hong Kong. Silver  had to “clarify” his statement because of condemnation in the U.S. (Because of negative media and political reaction Silver eventually spoke out strongly about the league’s commitment to freedom of expression, but like a shot that would  win a game after  the buzzer sounds, it was a little too late. As followers of the political situation know, many people are cynical about “walking back” statements, as they should be).

The SBJ article questioned where the line should be drawn between sports figures offering political statements about situations in the U.S. and commenting on foreign matters.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s the wrong question. The question, as I see it, should be: Should international sporting events be given to totalitarian governments providing them with a word-wide propaganda spectacle? 

The next world mega sporting event to be held in a totalitarian country, the Winter Olympics, will be held in Beijing in February 2022, a city controlled by China’s totalitarian national government. The International Olympic Committee, (IOC) the organization that decides where their games will be played, see nothing wrong about that.  But political and human rights protests about the game have been on-going for more than a year, with the crescendo still to come.

For years the IOC’s story line has been that sports can bring people together. The NBA has said the same thing. But the history of international sporting events shows the opposite, despite what the moguls of sports say. 

A few examples:

  • “The 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City were the most politically charged Olympics since the 1936 Games in Berlin. Ten days before the Games were to open, students protesting the Mexican government’s use of funds for the Olympics rather than for social programs were surrounded in the Plaza of Three Cultures by the army and fired upon. More than 200 protesters were killed and over a thousand injured.” (Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica.) 
  • The IOC’s brand of apoliticism is, in fact, deeply political — the IOC needs a walk-in closet for all of its political skeletons. It staged the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin with full awareness about Adolph  Hitler and the Nazis policies and ignored its “Aryans-only” policy within German sports organizations. It allowed an all-white apartheid South African team to compete until it grudgingly banned the country in the 1960s in the face of worldwide pressure. For two decades, the IOC’s president was Juan Antonio Samaranch, an unrepentant functionary for the Franco regime in Spain. The list goes on. (Source: Jules Boykoff, author of “Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics.”)
  • Athletes from Arab countries have refused to compete against Israelis several times without the IOC taking disciplinary action.

    Despite the IOC’s insistence that politics has no place in the Olympics, political boycotts have been a frequent event of the games. Political disputes led to various countries boycotting the games in 1936, 1956, 1965, 1976, 1980, 1984 and1988. And many U.S. politicians and social rights groups asked for the U.S. to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

    As the world knows, the Olympics has always been the source of political controversies because of the IOC’s awarding its games to totalitarian governments, most recently to China and Russia, which uses them as propaganda vehicles.

    It’s not that I’m against having an event like the Olympics that invites athletes from every nation that wants to compete. In fact, I think the Olympics is the most important sports event ever. But having it used as a propaganda tool by undemocratic countries that enslave people and prohibit the freedom of expression troubles me.

    As was evident during the recently concluded Tokyo Olympic Games, even though the IOC says their games are free of politics, countries who are awarded the games or who have athletes participating in them think otherwise.

    Despite Russia being  caught in a state-run doping scandal dating back to the Sochi Winter Olympic games in 2014, the IOC permitted Russian athletes to compete in Tokyo as the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) but said it’s athletes could not use identifying markers like a flag or stand on the podium after a victory while the Russian national anthem was being played, saying in fact that Russia isn’t officially competing in Tokyo as a country, but fooling no one as was evident when journalists referred to winning ROC athletes as representing Russia and Russian athletes wore Russia’s national colors, even though they weren’t permitted to have “Russia” on their uniforms. 

    But as William Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” because, as reported in the Wall Street Journal on July 25, Russia’s sports minister Oleg Matytsin agreed with the Bard, saying that the uniform “beyond doubt is associated with our country.” 

    “I am sure that all spectators of the (Tokyo) Games will understand that these are representatives of Russia,” Mr. Matytsin said. 

    And now, surprisingly, the Taliban take-over of Afghanistan has become a sports story. The Afghan men’s cricket team’s tour Australia this fall might be cancelled by Australian cricket officials as a protest against the Taliban’s treatment of women. 

    Not everyone feels that way. In the September 14 Wall Street Journal, an essay by Tunku Varadarajan, a Journal contributor, who  is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and at New York University Law School’s Classical Liberal Institute, writes that “Afghan cricketers play for Afghanistan, not for the Taliban. If they are barred from world cricket, the people of Afghanistan will lose their last source of pleasure, their last shred of joy. Let us keep them on the field of play.”

    But if the Afghan cricket teams tours Australia, the distinction between the players and the Taliban government will be minimal, just as teams from Russia, China, and Nazi Germany were and are perceived as representatives of totalitarian regimes.

    It would be great if international sporting events could be separated from politics. Maybe some day a way to do that will be invented. But for the present, international sporting events and politics are entwined.

    As for me, I agree with what Shaquille O’Neal, the former NBA star, who is now an NBA basketball analyst, who unlike other NBAers who kept quiet during the NBA-Hong Kong controversy said,” Whenever you see something wrong going on anywhere in the world, you should have the right to say, ‘That’s not right.’” 

    And I disagree with Mr. Varadarajan’s opinion regarding the Afghan cricket team’s tour of Australia and with NBA star LeBron James, who had a different take than O’Neil regarding the Hong Kong situation, saying “We all talk about this freedom of speech. Yes, we all do have freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others, and you’re only thinking about yourself. I don’t want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke. And so many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically. Emotionally.  Spiritually.” (According to Forbes, James makes $60-million a year from sports marketing sponsors, some Olympic sponsors that “just follow the sport,” even though they are played in anti-American and totalitarian countries.)

    If more athletes would have as much courage as O’Neil and Morey, future Olympic games and other international sporting events would be played in cities where people have the right to protest their government’s actions without fear of reprisals.


    The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and nonsports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.




    3 Challenges Specific To Promoting Your Brands + How To Combat Them

     

    Donna Maurer

    Promoting your brand involves undergoing complex marketing strategies and tactics. Generating new prospects through practical methods and retaining clients to ensure customers’ loyalty are challenging aspects to tackle. Here are some of the specific challenges of promoting your business and how you can combat them.

    CHALLENGE 1: THE COMPETITION

    Chances are, no matter what your brand entails, there is another business out there that is already doing it, selling it, or making it. With many brands embracing the digital trends of today’s marketing, there has also never been more competition for attention. 

    While quality content is key to attracting your audience’s attention, there are no guarantees that you will land and retain loyal customers. It is too difficult to keep up with quality content and postings every single time, so there are some other tactics that you can instill to help overcome this obstacle.

    Analyzing your competition is one such method to helping you gain the upper hand. If you can locate and identify what the competition is doing well and enlist those methods, that will be one solution. Another solution is to find what your competition isn’t doing well and see how your brand can benefit from tackling the problem that isn’t being addressed. 

    To do this well, you must also analyze their customer base. Ask yourself some questions: 

    • What are these customers asking for? 
    • What do they need more help with? 
    • What can my brand bring to the table that this one cannot? 

    Work to find a new twist or angle that you can address. If you want to be more innovative and creative and build a brand that lasts, you must look at what everyone else is already doing.

    CHALLENGE 2: LANDING AND RETAINING NEW CLIENTS

    Generating leads through marketing requires excellent, high-quality content, but once you can land those customers, what happens next? Many businesses have failed in acknowledging that the goal is not just about obtaining new customers but also retaining them.

    There are some helpful tools for prospecting and landing new customers that your brand should be using, such as CRM or Marketing automation. You should also organize your business utilizing a URL management platform to gain better insight into your customers and their experience, to develop more effective technical solutions.

    Customer feedback is a crucial step to overcoming this obstacle. Customer referrals and reviews make up about 88% of consumers minds’ when looking into a product or service for purchase. Create a feedback survey, or create a Customer Service Team geared towards addressing your long-term customers. Understand that your customers will respond well to resources made available to them, and change your approach over time, addressing their needs more efficiently.

    CHALLENGE 3: CONSISTENCY AND TIME MANAGEMENT

    Visibility and SEO tactics are essential within your brand’s digital marketing. There is a lot that needs to be covered in this area, and time becomes a challenge. Training new employees can take up a lot of time and effectively analyze and create strategies before launch. Promoting your brand requires consistency, too, so that your audience knows what to expect of you. 

    How do you keep up with all of that? Most brands have enlisted help from a project management tool, like Toggl, to help organize your to-dos and stay on track for things like email newsletters, respond to customer queries, and launch new social media posts.

    Some other helpful tips for managing your time:

    • Set limits to how long you will work on a specific project or task. You need to hit the pause button at some point and revisit it later on if you didn’t quite finish so that you can keep things moving throughout your workday.
    • Divvy up your projects into days or weeks and then categorize them by priority.
    • Add more members to your team. Sometimes you just need more hands doing the work so that things don’t become overwhelming.

    Brand management involves overseeing the competition and tackling what you can better provide your customer. You need to create and develop compelling content through effective storytelling and organization to obtain and retain customers. Consistency also needs managing so that consumers come to know and recognize your brand. Managing your time spent on various projects will help ensure that you have tackled some of the biggest challenges to promoting your business.


    About the Author: As an experienced content creator, Donna has covered numerous topics in the realms of health, beauty, lifestyle, and the arts. She has written for various publications and can often be found conducting research for her latest article. Donna spends her free time exploring New York City, where her days are filled with new life experiences and adventures to write about!




    Havas PR Middle East Rebrands as Red Havas Middle East

    Dubai joins Red Havas’ Merged Media micro-network, spanning APAC, North America, Europe and Middle East 

    CommPRO Editorial Staff 

    Havas PR Middle East, the Dubai-based agency distinguished by its leadership across luxury, lifestyle and corporate communications, will now be named Red Havas Middle East. The rebrand signals the agency’s entry into Red Havas’ global micro-network of Merged Media agencies, which integrates earned, social and experiential capabilities with content at the heart. This strategic move brings the Middle East team together with Red Havas offices across the U.S., Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, U.K., Italy, France and Germany.   

    “Welcoming Red Havas Middle East to our network represents a key milestone for the group as we’re increasingly seeing the region become a strategic priority for both current clients and new business,” says James Wright, global chairman of the Havas PR Global Collective and global CEO of Red Havas. “From retail and technology to tourism and hospitality, the breadth of opportunity in the Middle Eastern economies is staggering. We’re delighted to enrich our full-service global PR offering with the expert talent at Red Havas Dubai.”   

    Red Havas brings together agencies from Havas’ global PR group with the goal to provide clients greater access to best-in-class thinking and opportunity for seamless expansion into key markets.  

    Dana Tahir, general manager of Red Havas Middle East, says, “Red Havas has already delivered on its brand promise as a transformational micro-agency network helping to redefine PR and its value to clients. By rebranding under the Red Havas banner and adopting the Merged Media model, we’re better able to bring the future of PR and communications to our clients—and to kick open the doors of the Middle East and North Africa to Red Havas clients everywhere.”  

    Dany Naaman, CEO of Red Havas Middle East, adds, “Established in 2005, our PR team continues to go from strength to strength and has recently announced a range of new business wins with leading global brands. The Merged Media proposition of Red Havas enables us to further strengthen our PR vertical without losing the advantage of integration. Along with the powerful content, social media and data capabilities that exist within our Middle East village, we’ll now bring a more streamlined, efficient and cost-effective solution to making a meaningful difference for our clients.”  

    The Dubai rebrand comes fast on the heels of the introduction of Red Havas Health, a global micro-network focused on health to meet increasing demand from clients globally.  Red Havas is part of the Havas PR Global Collective, the PR and communications arm of the Havas Group that comprises approximately 40 agencies around the world and more than 1,300 employees.  




    The Gap, Chevy Volt & SlimFast: Fading Consumer Brands Who Need Better PR

     

    Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR 

    If there’s anything absolutely true about technology and consumer tastes is that these ‘demand factors’ evolve. Nothing is static, trends come and go, and new products are always working to phase out old household names, motivated by the whims of the market and the ingenuity of the industry power players. Both factors play into the trends negatively affecting these five consumer brands. 

    The Gap

    A casual observer might place the lion’s share of the blame for Gap’s slow slide into mediocrity on the long, slow fade of malls in general. There might be some truth to that, but the plain fact is, some “mall brands” are excelling, even as the shopping centers that once housed them are emptying. These brands have found a niche and a new way to attract consumer interest. Meanwhile, Gap stores are closing as younger consumers, the former core of Gap’s customer base, are describing Gap products as “boring” or “uninspiring” or lackluster.” These are not good terms if you are trying to capture the interest of younger demos. 

    Kenmore

    Once a powerhouse in the consumer appliance market, Kenmore is fading along with its former brand owner, Sears. It’s been a precipitous fall for what was once considered among the top of the line brands in the appliance market. Modern appliance manufacturers are shying away from putting the Kenmore brand on their products because customers just aren’t associating the name with “top quality” anymore. “Outdated, often forgotten,” some market watchers have described Kenmore as the “flip phone” of the smartphone era. While not necessarily outpaced in technology, from a consumer demand standpoint, the description is apt. 

    The Chevy Volt

    Electric cars were supposed to be the wave of the future. And, for some automakers, they have been… but the Volt is fast becoming the exception to that rule. As of March 2019, Chevrolet announced the company would no longer manufacture either the Volt or the subcompact Cruze sedan. The fact is, there were too many electric or hybrid vehicles on the market, and with the SUV and light truck markets making a comeback in an era of falling fuel prices, Chevy’s Volt didn’t do enough to turn enough heads to stay competitive. 

    SlimFast

    There was a time when consumers on a diet almost universally reached for SlimFast, but those days appear to be behind us. The fact is, most weight-conscious consumers these days are eating raw, going vegan, or trying keto, rather than trusting meal replacement shakes. In an effort to grab a more snack-happy consumer market, the brand tried selling cookies and protein bars, but those markets were too crowded for the brand to grab much attention. So, a brand that was purchased for $2.4 billion in 2000 sold a few years back for about $350 million. 

    Kraft Singles

    Ask just about anyone who was a kid in the 70s through the 90s, and they will fondly remember Kraft singles. It was a staple in millions of American households for generations, slapped on burgers hot off the grill or melted into hot grilled cheese sandwiches, and served with soup on cold winter days. Modern consumers want to eat “cleaner,” so they are opting for “real” cheese or “organic” dairy, rather than “processed cheese food.” Sharp cheddar may not melt as nicely on grilled cheese, but modern consumer choices are still trending in that direction. 

    Targeted and effective consumer PR could help at least some of these brands turn their fortunes around. There was something consumers once wanted about these brands, and that could be something they still want if they are reminded in the right way. Alternatively, these brands could look within, find a way to shift with the market to get ahead of the trends. This begins and ends with effective market understanding and compelling consumer PR.


    About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.




    Lessons Learned From The Cancelation Of The Tokyo Olympics. And An Important Question: Will The Coronavirus Change The Way Brands And People Think About The Importance of Sports?

    Arthur Solomon

    Friday, July 24, was supposed to be the date for the Opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Olympic Games, called “Tokyo 2020,” were postponed for the first time in history. The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games ‘Tokyo 2020” will now be held on July 23, 2021, coronavirus permitting.

    When announcing the new date for the Tokyo games, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee said, “These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel,” referring to the coronavirus Pandemic. Bad choice of words. “The light at the end of the tunnel’ is infamous for being used to describe America’s plight during the Vietnam War, and by President Trump on April 6, at a press conference about the coronavirus outbreak.

    But if you think that calling an event held in 2021 “Tokyo 2020” is ludicrous, think again. Even more ridiculous is that throughout Olympic history the IOC has claimed that politics has no place in the Olympics and that the games foster world peace, proving that wearing blinders is not limited to thoroughbred race horses.

    (Full Disclosure: I have been involved with various Olympics and Asian Games as an advisor to the highest-ranking games’ officials as a political and  media trouble shooter; in others strategizing publicity programs for Fortune 500 brands. I also have been a speaker at an IOC media seminar. I think that the Olympic Games are the most important of all sports events because no other event brings together the, supposedly, best athletes from around the world. But to brand the Olympics a “peace maker,” as the IOC does, is as absurd as its much often declaration that politics has no place in sports.)

    Rule 50 of the Olympic charter prohibits demonstrations of “political religious or racial propaganda…in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” Nevertheless, politics has always played a major role in the Olympics and with the IOC’s blessing has been used by some of the most reprehensible totalitarian countries during our lifetime as a show case.

    A few examples;

    • Despite Hitler’s fascist regime, concentration camps and anti-Semitic laws, which dated back to 1933, the IOC let the 1936 Summer Olympics in Nazi Germany be played, ignoring protests from prominent U.S. politicians and a U.S. member of the IOC, who lost his position because of his opposition to the games in totalitarian Germany. In addition, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Czechoslovakia and the Netherlands also voiced criticism of holding the Olympics in Nazi Germany. The 1936 Olympics was the first time in modern Olympic history that U.S. and European countries called for a boycott of the games because of human rights abuses. The boycott movement narrowly failed, permitting Hitler to use the games for propaganda proposes.  However, American diplomats including William E. Dodd, the American ambassador to Berlin, and George Messersmith, head of the U.S. legation in Vienna, were publicly critical about the U.S. Olympic Committee’s decision to participate in the games. 
    • The 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City again demonstrated the IOC’s uncaring attitude to political actions of host governments. After a summer of protests, 10 days before the beginning of the games, the Mexican army opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing hundreds, according to eye witnesses. An additional 1345 were arrested, said the government. 
    • In 1980, the U.S. boycotted the Summer Olympic Games in Moscow to protest the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Sixty-five other nations also boycotted the games, but the IOC refused to move the games despite the use of military force by Russia. 
    • In 2008, as the opening ceremonies at the Beijing summer games was being held, Russia dispatched troops into disputed regions of Georgia in eastern Europe.
    • In addition to the 2008 Summer Olympics being held in Beijing, China was also awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics, making the totalitarian country’s capital the first city to host both a Summer and Winter Olympics.
    • In 2014, Russia was allowed to host the Winter Olympics, even though it passed anti-homosexual laws prior to the games. During the games, Russia invaded Ukraine. 

    The IOC’s reaction to China’s show of military force since they were awarded the 2022 games has been as silent as a drop of rain falling into a stormy ocean. But surely Bach, the president of the IOC, would speak out about Putin’s use of military force during an Olympics. And he did. Here’s what Bach said. He praised Putin’s “great commitment to the games,” and personally thanked Putin for his contribution to the “extraordinary success of these (2014) Winter Games,” despite it being derided around the world for its human rights violations.

    But the IOC and its affiliated sports organizations are not the only entities to remain quiet about the games being used as a showcase for totalitarian countries.

    Shamefully, American brands helped promote those dictatorship-run countries by its sponsorship of the games, proving that money talks in any language and in any form of government.

    Thankfully the Tokyo Olympics was awarded to a democratic country. But the year’s postponement gives game sponsors an opportunity to think whether investing huge chucks of money into mega-sporting events pays off. 

    Normally after every Olympics, brands question whether the enormous sponsorship costs were worth the price. Questions would be asked, “Was the ROI worth it?’ Marketing experts would write columns about how more targeted advertising on non mega events produce better results. And the sponsors will always say in public statements, “It was worth the cost,” even when privately they say it wasn’t.

    The cancellation of “Tokyo 2020” provides time for knee-jerk sports sponsors to question the costs of being “a proud sponsor” of an Olympics and other mega sporting events.

    The coronavirus Pandemic provides sports marketers an opportunity to consider if advertising on none mega- sporting events are more productive than counting eyeballs.

    There were many important new marketing lessons brand managers might have learned had the Tokyo Olympics been played as scheduled. But, maybe, the cancellation of the Olympics provided the following realities for sponsors to ponder:

    • Sponsors can survive without spending millions of dollars on mega sports events. But sports cannot survive without sponsors.
    • Perhaps its time to test spending sports sponsorship money elsewhere and see if doing so affects sales.
    • Client entertainment? There certainly are other ways to entertain a client.
    • We know that the cancelation of sports events are most important to people whose livelihood depends on them, but how do consumers whose livelihood does not depend on sports businesses feel about the cancellations? And, 
    • The world did not stop because of the cancellation of the Olympics and other sporting events.

    (On a personal basis, everyone I know was looking forward to the start of the baseball, basketball and football seasons. Not so much the hockey season or “Tokyo 2020.” But since the coronvirus made playing impossible, I’ve had back and forth’s with some people saying things like, “Can you believe it. It’s July 4 and the Mets are still undefeated,” or “You can’t blame the Knicks for not making the playoffs this year.” That might be a problem for the leagues and its sponsors as people realize that there are many things more important to them than who wins the World Series or Super Bowl.)

    Once the coronavirus epidemic subsides it probably will not change the IOC’s and other sports entitles’ future actions. But it might convince some people that despite the hype, on the “Importance Chart,” to many people sports are not that important. 

    Thus far the National Football League is the only major sports business that has not curtailed its regular 2020 schedule, although some players have spoken out questioning the necessity of pre-season exhibition games and at this writing negotiations between the players and the league are on-going. Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, which said that all its games will be played in Canada because of the virus outbreak in the U.S., have shortened their seasons. Some pro baseball and basketball players have opted to stay at home instead of playing during the epidemic. Some hockey players have voiced concern about playing. College football seasons have drastically been changed because of the virus. 

    What’s undeniable is that Americans were able to survive the coronavirus without sports of any kind. Many couldn’t without medical attention and machines that help them breathe.

    Karl Marx, not a sports fan to my knowledge, said, “… Religion is the opium of the people.” Many sports reporters claim that sports helped New York City recover after 9/11. Bach, president of the IOC, said, talking about the resumption of the games in 2021, even thought it will still be called “Tokyo 2020”, “…These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of the tunnel.”

    In my opinion they’re all wrong. Sports are nothing more than a temporary diversion from the travails of everyday life, the same as going to the movies, theater or a concert. As such it plays an important part of life, but not that important. 

    One of the headlines of this column posed an important question: Will The Coronavirus Change The Way People Think About Sports? 

    Disregard all the hype from the sports moguls and people who depend on the business of sports for their livelihood. There is only one correct answer to the question: Time will tell. But we do know that the coronavirus Pandemic hasn’t resulted in demonstrations demanding “liberate our sports teams.” In fact, there has been very little said about the absence of sports. The subject is on the back burners of news coverage, very rarely mentioned, as truly important subjects like the spread of the coronavirus, and racial protest rallies dominate the news coverage.

    What the coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 shows is that people can survive without sports, because in the final analysis it’s just another entertainment vehicle. It always has been and rational people, who do not depend on sports for a living, should view it as such. Because the history of sports shows that the moguls that run it only care about the bottom line, not about you. 

    Another question: Will the sponsors of mega-sports events, many of whom have publicly supported the racial protest movements, (which skeptics might say was merely a marketing ploy) agree with protesters who believe that the money a city spends on hosting an Olympics can be better used to finance projects that help all of its citizens. My advice to you is that regardless of the odds you are given, don’t spend your last dollar betting that the answer will be “yes.” If you do, you might find yourself without lunch money.

    History, and reality, proves that it is not the great athletic performances that really matters to sponsors, host cities, TV networks and the IOC. It is the bottom line. (And the same is true with owners and sponsors of all professional sports teams.) Whether it’s called “Tokyo 2020” or “Tokyo 2021,” for sponsors, the host city, TV networks and the IOC the winner and losers will not be decided on the athletic fields, but by the money in the bank. 

    A great sportswriter, Grantland Rice, once wrote, “It’s not that you won or lost, it’s how you played the game.” For the sports business, making money is more important than how the games are played.  If you don’t believe me, wait until another franchise packs its propaganda and moves to a more lucrative city. Or continues to raise tickets prices to the point where going to a game is prohibitive for many fanatics, as it already is for many. 

    Chances are you won’t have to wait too long for one of the above scenarios to occur. Because in sports, history always repeats. And money always talks. The most recent example being the NFL’s Washington Redskins decision to change its name after sponsors threatened to call it quits, if they didn’t.

    The cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic provides a valuable lesson for PR people when planning programs. As Winston Churchill said, ” “It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.” When crafting a publicity program it should contain elements that are likely to achieve a fast hit. Everything else in the program is secondary


    The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.




    Strategy for Super Bowl Brands as Bloomberg Duels Trump

     Henry C. Boyd III, Clinical Professor in the Marketing Department at the Robert H. Smith School of Business

    Aspiring presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg’s timing is rather canny. On the eve of the 2020 Iowa Caucuses where he doesn’t appear on the ballet, Bloomberg — front of about 100 million Super Bowl halftime viewers — will unveil a political spot reportedly to attack perhaps the most polarizing president in U.S. history – Donald Trump. This decisive act imposes big implications for next-day discussions at the water cooler and over social media platforms.  It also means the specter of presidential politics will now loom large – further fueled by equal time of Trump messaging.  Hence, this classic battle of conservatism versus progressivism threatens to saturate an iconic pop culture milieu to the detriment of the other Super Bowl advertisers.

    Pro football, along with these other advertisers, has been poised for a revitalized stage. Fox Sports in November reported that the network has sold out Super Bowl ad spots for the Feb. 2 game, marking the first time for such a bonanza in five years. This further bucked a recent trend of networks like CBS waiting as late as hours before kickoff to fill up commercial breaks.

    Fueling the upswing has been this year’s strong economy along with especially-compelling regular season narratives that are helping the NFL make a comeback in a time when traditional and reality TV are struggling to keep up. Consider the nature of the game nowadays, especially the offensive side of it, where rising stars like Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson and Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes have helped to make it thrilling to watch football.

    So how should brands position themselves alongside dueling Bloomberg-Trump campaign ads?  First, avoid transparently political messaging used in 2017 spots by 84 Lumber (The Journey Begins) and AirBnB (We accept).  I suspect that most viewers will have been inundated with political rhetoric.  Instead, savvy firms ought to lean towards entertainment-infused commercials.  Second, think in terms of drama-focused advertisements and aim to spark conversation on social media – broadly and especially among non-political junkies. I base this assertion on my doctoral dissertation research at Duke University, where I isolated key elements of drama-related advertising.

    Super Bowl advertisers should approach their spots as 30-, 45- or minute-long mini plays or dramas. In each instance, the following ad elements need to positively stand out: the actors’ traits, the actors’ interactions, the dialogue, the delivery of the lines and the setting.

    From the viewer’s standpoint, you naturally check all those boxes in your mind’s eye when watching a drama.  If all the elements pass muster, the viewer experiences verisimilitude (i.e., a desired end state where the viewer buys into the performance).  That’s a big win for any marketer.  Audi’s 2017 “Daughter” spot exemplifies this – and significantly through delivering a glimpse of the future. This vision – about equal opportunity irrespective of one’s gender – significantly was portrayed in the ad between a father and daughter, making it relatable and subsequently inspiring to a large segment of viewers.

    Moreover, for 2020, skip the lecture ads, especially, again, those making political statements, and go with something that draws audiences in and isn’t so explicit about the product. This will prompt viewers to draw and share their own conclusions via social media. Reward outweighs backlash risk when brands aim to inspire via social messaging. And, you have to entertain at a minimum.  Effectively crafting inspirational and entertaining spots is never easy, but it’s paramount for a brand’s continued success.


    Henry C. Boyd

    About the Author: Henry C. Boyd is a Clinical Professor in the Marketing Department at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. He is also a managing director and principal at Ombudsman LLC, a diversified consultancy. He is licensed to practice law in Maryland, Wisconsin, and the U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin. 

    Boyd received his Ph.D. in Marketing from Duke University (with an emphasis in Consumer Behavior) and his J.D. in Intellectual Property from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At the age of 24, he received his MBA in Marketing from the University of California at Berkeley. Prior to graduate study, he obtained his A.B. in Chemistry (with an emphasis in Biophysics) from Princeton University.




    How Top Brands Turn Their Leaders into Influencers

    Free On-Demand Video

    Making News with Your In-house Experts

     

     

    Overview

    Learn how executives from Macy’s, Danone, Evian and more get their executives on the news. Watch this free on-demand video as industry leaders share their insights on the best practices for a brand spokesperson to get their story out there and deliver it with authenticity. We’ll discuss message development, opportunities for broadcast coverage, social media video, training and preparation, developing story angles, the importance of representing diverse leaders as spokespeople, and more.  

    The panel will be discussing Brand Visibility 2020 (download here), a survey of 366 journalists by D S Simon Media as well as tactics to get your or your client’s executives featured in the media in a positive story.

     

    Host

    Doug Simon, CEO, D S Simon Media | @DSSimon 

    Doug Simon is the CEO of award-winning firm D S Simon Media. His firm advises and executes broadcast and social media video communications campaigns for leading brands and non-profits. As media preferences have changed, this increasingly includes featuring CEOs and other executives in satellite media tours in the travel, consumer, technology, healthcare and financial services spaces. Doug began his broadcast career at NBC Sports, where he served as Talent Assistant to Bob Costas. His hobbies include performing stand-up comedy at New York’s top clubs and rooting for terrible sports teams including the Jets and Knicks while still remaining optimistic.

     

    Guests

    Michael Neuwirth, Senior Director, External Communications, Danone North America

    Michael Neuwirth leads external communications for the businesses of Danone in North America.  He is based at the company’s White Plains, NY headquarter office and leads the company’s relationships with journalists and on various corporate communications topics, including crisis communications for the company’s yogurt division. Michael has spent the majority of his career advocating and influencing for better food and agricultural choices for the betterment of people and our planet. Michael has extensive experience in crafting communications, including the past 14 years with Danone’s integrated businesses, and seven years in the company’s North American bottled water and specialty foods businesses, where he served as Director of Corporate Communications for Evian and other brands from 1994 to 2001.  Michael left Danone in 2001 and later returned after working for three years building organic food company Acirca and its flagship brand Walnut Acres, before selling it to Hain-Celestial.  Following this he served for two years as SVP of the marketing practice at Ruder Finn, an independent public relations agency based in New York. He started his career at Porter Novelli, an Omnicom public relations agency, on behalf of Gillette and other clients.

     

    Orlando Veras, Director of National Media Relations, Macy’s, Inc.

    The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks are among the most iconic events celebrated in the United States. As director of national media relations, Orlando Veras serves as a spokesperson while also playing a key role in the communications strategy and execution of these events. He also oversees national and regional communications strategy and execution of press initiatives focused on Macy’s Technology and Digital Customer Experience projects such as the mobile app, social commerce, in-store tech enhancements, digital media, mobile payments, virtual and augmented reality projects and related e-commerce programs. His portfolio also extends to experiential retail concepts, brand management and partnership marketing initiatives, diversity and inclusion efforts and tourism marketing projects.

     

    Jeanne M. Salvatore, President, JMS Consulting & Adjunct Professor, Fashion Institute of Technology

    Jeanne M. Salvatore is president of JMS Consulting, a full-service strategic communications firm offering life and executive coaching as well as media and presentation training.  Ms. Salvatore works with individuals and business organizations to help strategically turn change and disruption into opportunity.  She also coaches executives to appear on camera or give important presentations. Ms. Salvatore founded this firm in 2018 after serving in a leadership capacity at the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).  The I.I.I. is a non-profit trade association that represents the property/casualty and reinsurance business. In her tenure at the I.I.I., she played a critical role in building the organization into the highly effective multi-media organization it is today.   She was the I.I.I.’s chief communications officer and it is primary spokesperson appearing frequently on broadcast media to represent the property/casualty insurance industry. As a spokesperson, she communicated complex insurance information into simple consumer-facing language to educate the public on what insurance is and how it works.  An important part of her responsibility was focused on communicating what to do before, during and after a disaster. She worked closely with the CEOs, the chief communications officers and the general counsels of the leading national/international insurance companies as well as state and federal government agencies and non-profits focused on safety and disaster preparedness.

     

     




    LinkedIn Can Be Best for Brands, Provided You Understand What Brands Really Are

    Ray Hennessey, President, JConnelly

    When planning brand campaigns, LinkedIn is a little like the Ernie Hudson of social media, the fourth Ghostbuster people often overlook, in relation to higher-profile rivals like Facebook and Twitter.

    But this is misguided, since it’s clearly the platform that will generate the most ROI from a messaging perspective, particularly for business-to-business campaigns. As higher-profile platforms become more antisocial, amid Twitter’s increasingly toxic discourse and the perfect-life fantasylands of Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn stands out in the social media world for its decorum and the high level of its audience.

    Still, marketers and PR professionals often insist that LinkedIn isn’t a great place for brands. Brands have trouble establishing a voice or engaging directly with audiences in the way that they can on, say, Instagram or Twitter. What they really mean is that brands themselves have trouble presenting a manageable message. LinkedIn is, at its core, a site of curricula vitae and the thoughts around them, a collection of professional people who want to interact with other professionals in a way specifically designed to help their careers and businesses. Brands themselves are represented in a relatively flat way, positioned as well-manicured waypoints in a range of users’ careers. So, marketers concerned primarily with brand promotion often ignore LinkedIn, taking the express train to Facebook.

    Yet, making LinkedIn an afterthought to most social campaigns misses the broader point about what brands are. Brands aren’t a what but rather a who. LinkedIn is perfect for brands, provided you remember that brands are a compilation of the people who evangelize them, rather than a set of corporate ideas. After all, principles are hollow if no one lives up to them. Brands can actually make a stronger connection with audiences on LinkedIn because the site is designed for deep connection between individuals. When people connect, they have transparency into both their professional backgrounds and level of connection with others. You know your audience better, on a playing field where they’re on their best professional behavior and, more importantly, ready to do business. This level of engagement is guaranteed to have better outcomes.

    Of course, that also means that campaigns need to be way more sophisticated on LinkedIn than on other platforms. For one thing, the people on LinkedIn are better informed. In a business media environment riddled with startup-y hustleporn or leadership advice peddled by shut-ins who never even led a conga line, LinkedIn stands out in the quality of the information its users enjoy and demand. Sharing best practices and real-world experiences in real time far exceeds being told for the hundredth time that hustle beats talent. (Try asking your cardiac surgeon whether she lives by hustle or talent.)  This level and tone of conversation is why users rarely have LinkedIn fatigue the way they do on Twitter and Facebook, at least nothing more than a good 18 holes could cure in an afternoon.

    It’s also why, as in all matters of effective messaging, authenticity is so important. Instead of campaigns based on brand messaging, effective use of LinkedIn needs to be built around the people in your organization. That means finding the right people to carry the message in an effective, authentic way. You need to arm them with more than just compliance-approved thought leadership, instead incorporating these executives’ actual thoughts and leadership into your campaigns. if you allow the people to shine, the brand halo will follow.

    That might not be easy to do for a lot of corporate marketing folks, particularly those who have grown up on the flash-and-burn, influencer-sodden tripe that’s common in most social media brand campaigns. But, particularly in the business-to-business space, LinkedIn should be the straw that stirs the drink of any campaign. Ignore it at your peril.


    Ray HennesseyAbout the Author: An accomplished journalist and business leader, Ray oversees all of JConnelly’s service teams, providing strategic guidance and support to the agency and its clients.

    With more than 25 years of media, marketing and management experience, Ray has spent his career at the convergence of traditional and emerging communications channels. He most recently served as JConnelly’s Chief Innovation Officer, developing technology and content platforms for a variety of clients. Before that, he served as Editorial Director for Entrepreneur, where he launched the Entrepreneur360 and Top Company Culture franchises, as well as the Entrepreneur Network video channel.

    Previously, Ray helped launch the FOX Business Network, where he served as founding Business News Director. Earlier in his career, he was editor at SmartMoney.com and Dow Jones, a daily on-air contributor at CNBC and the IPO columnist at The Wall Street Journal.




    Breaking Down Silos: Why Brands Need to Align PR and Content

    Content Marketing and PR: Breaking Down the Silos

    Brandon Andersen, Chief Strategist, Ceralytics


    Today, communicators have ample opportunity to engage their stakeholder audiences, but results have stagnated for many. Communicators excuse middling performances with laments of tight budgets, boring products and increased competition for audience attention. Quite bluntly, those explanations are cop-outs and generally misguided.

    Throughout communications departments, there exists a critical lack of alignment – and nowhere is it more costly than between PR and content marketing. Those who have aligned media relations and content creation drive success repeatedly. Those who haven’t find themselves working harder and harder just to stay in the same place, says David Chapman, founder and CEO of franchise marketing agency 919 Marketing.

    “A failure to align PR and content strategies leads to a failure in effectively engaging your target audiences,” says Chapman, who has enhanced communications alignment for startups, emerging companies, and global brands for two decades. “Once aligned, you will find that PR and content marketing have a synergistic effect – giving you more results from the same investment.”

    In this article, I will dive in to the factors that frequently drive misalignment, how your audiences view earned and owned content, and the benefits of an aligned communications strategy. Of course, I will sprinkle throughout tips for better aligning your PR and content strategies including:

    • How content marketing will get you more media hits
    • How this alignment will help you prove the value of PR
    • How SEO is positively impacted
    • How PR becomes an organic amplifier to owned content

    The source of division

    Many organizations are missing out on fully optimizing their PR and content programs because those departments are effectively siloed. Ideally, your content marketing and media relations teams should go hand-in-hand and be best friends.

    The concept of earned and owned media working together is not new. Gini Dietrich, for one, has evangelized communications alignment for years and years, even coining the widely-adopted term PESO to cleverly illustrate how paid, earned, shared, and owned media should work together.

    While many recognize PESO’s value, communicators still often rely on scattershot strategies driven by individual departments within the same organization working asyncronously. Consider that two-thirds of respondents to the State of Content and PR survey by Version 2.0 Communications said their organization has a short-sighted strategy that is often focused on developing content one piece at a time.

    So why does communications remain so siloed? It generally stems from internal politics and misaligned near-term goals.

    The first step to aligning content and PR is to separate yourself from the politics and create consensus among your colleagues and leadership that these two teams should be unified under a single strategy that maps to organizational goals.

    Then, the directors of both teams can work collaboratively to produce the near- and long-term goals that will set expectations, help both teams stay on path, and create more aligned messaging. Yes, this will require time and, likely, unprecedented collaboration. However, this short-term pain will produce future gains.

    When beginning to align your communications, Dietrich advises to start with your owned content because you have greater control of the messaging. For an in-depth look into how to kick off and sustain an aligned communications strategy, I refer you to her PESO manifesto for which there is little, if not nothing, to add.

    How do content and PR align?

    Both PR and content marketing are in the business of enhancing the reputation of the brand and engendering trust to particular audiences through targeted and engaging content. Of course, conversions and sales are the mother of all metrics, but trust is an essential ingredient in our quest to earn and retain customers. According to the indispensable 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, 63% of consumers agreed that “unless I come to trust the company behind the product I will soon stop buying it.”

    Your content marketing and public relations teams have an outsized role in garnering trust with key audiences, they just do it in different ways. Whereas your public relations team utilizes earned media placements to build trust, your content marketers rely mostly on creating an owned channel that is as trustworthy and reputable as any earned media publication.

    It may seem like PR has a leg up when it comes to trust building and reputation enhancement, and historically that has been true. However, the landscape is shifting.

    The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that 60% of consumers trust the content created by companies with which they already have a relationship and from which they purchase goods and services. Compare that to the 51% and 27% who trust journalists and celebrities, respectively.

    Edelman Trust Barometer Content vs Press 2018

    Source: 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer

    However, this data comes with caveats. Only 31% of people trust content from brands they don’t use. Additionally, people may not trust journalists as a whole, but they typically trust particular journalists or publications. You could say the same about celebrities. After all, many brands have had success on social media with influencer marketing.

    Consider a vilified brand like Enron. Even with the strongest content, the company would likely be unable to generate trust from anyone after its well-known antics. On the other hand, John Deere, a pioneer in the space of content marketing and a revered brand, has earned the trust of farmers and homeowners across the country – producing a well-respected magazine, The Furrow, for well over a century.

    With an aligned PR and content marketing strategy, you will more effectively engage your target audiences.

    As you endeavor to achieve greater alignment, it is essential that insights and data flow freely between the content marketing and PR teams. This process will further the understanding of your audience and the influential content that will endear them to your brand and drive them to conversion.

    Other benefits of aligning PR and content marketing

    As mentioned earlier, overhauling we’ve-always-done-it-that-way strategies will require upfront effort and organizational buy-in. When making your pitch, consider presenting these other benefits.

    Create more media hits

    Pitching media can be thankless. Consider the fact that 57% of top-tier publishers receive between 50 and 500 pitches per week, but two-thirds of writers and editors write at most one story per day. Your owned content, particularly insights unearthed about an industry and packaged as a survey, research report or white paper, will stand out to reporters. Engaging visuals, such as infographics and video, also are attractive to journalists and bloggers.

    As a cohesive unit, you will improve your odds of pitching success. The PR team can offer insights into gaps in media coverage while the content marketing team can use their expertise to discuss how best to package the content.

    Improve search visibility

    The total equation for search rankings are more closely guarded than Area 51, but we know that inbound links from strong domains such as media outlets play a significant role. When brands leverage the relationships of PR and the keyword data from the content marketing team, you can better engage publications to craft relevant and powerful inbound links to your owned content.

    Inbound Links

    Source: Ceralytics

    Clear a path to conversion

    The reach and trust that people place in earned media is terrific for engaging new audiences, but it won’t move them through the sales funnel. Owned content aligned with the messaging of your media placements can address the concerns of this new audience and highlight the differentiators of your products and services.

    Prove the value of PR

    Less than half of PR professionals have a measurement program in place, according to the 2019 JOTW Communications Survey. This statistic illustrates how challenging it is to put a bottom-line value on PR. However, aligning public relations and content marketing efforts enables communicators to track earned media results back to actions taken on the website, including what campaigns convert best. It doesn’t show the entire value of PR efforts, but it pulls back the curtain a bit more.

    Strategy improvements

    While PR has a finger on the pulse of what works in media, content marketing tends to have the hard data that illustrates content effectiveness. Each of these insights can benefit the other department – validating existing strategies, inspiring tweaks, or even creating whole new avenues that hadn’t been considered.

    Amplify content

    Going back to the State of Content and PR survey, half of respondents said that their organizations don’t use the expertise of PR pros to promote or amplify content once it’s created. Not only does this inhibit the chances of a media hit, it hamstrings your organization’s investment in content marketing.

    Get started yesterday

    The time to align your communications was yesterday, but the good news is that a large swath of the industry has yet to leverage this opportunity.

    Once you break from this misaligned strategy, you will wonder what took so long. Greater alignment not only produces strong results, it can make you more efficient and creative. It’s a win-win.




    Poll: Have the Responsibilities Changed Between Agencies and Brands?

    The dynamic between large agencies, brands and the service providers they work with  might be shifting. Are large agencies stepping away from the “project manager” role and starting to favor the end client working directly with third-party organizations? Are brands preferring to manage the projects in-house? In this short video, D S Simon Media CEO Douglas Simon speculates on possible explanations. What’s your take?

    To fill out the polls, visit this page.

     




    How Brands Can Benefit from a PR Agency Boost

    Government Brand Management & PR

    Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR 

    While some brands may not see the benefit of enlisting the assistance of a public relations agency, the help that firms can provide is limitless. It’s a crowded space out there, and assembling the right team can make a big difference in finding ways to stand out. 

    In August, 5W Public Relations will once again represent the Indie Beauty Expo, celebrating a special milestone as the beauty brand reaches its fifth anniversary. Each year in New York City, Indie Beauty Expo is produced by the Indie Media Group. The show attracts top media and industry professionals, and we amplify that voice to reach as many as possible. 

    And there is value to these types of long-standing relationships. 5W has represented the Indie Beauty Expo for the past two years, which allows the firm to have a grasp on the core values and expectations of this client. As the fifth anniversary Expo approaches towards the end of August, having an existing partnership helps the PR agency give the brand even more tailored assistance. Brands can find a lot of benefit from using a public relations firm because hiring a firm means hiring professionals who know public relations inside and out. Often, public relations firms have specialized teams that know certain industries better than others. 

    Hiring a full-fledged team of professionals to handle public relations needs can be invaluable for a brand. Managing public perception and image is challenging and requires a lot of attention and work. Even something that appears simple, such as making sure an event or expo is well attended by media members, can require months of planning and work to ensure success. 

    Brands can essentially eliminate worry about aspects of a public image when relying on a public relations firm to handle the logistics and execution of strategy. And in a time of crisis, a public relations firm can come to the rescue and right the ship before further damage is inflicted. 

    In the example of the Indie Beauty Expo, it falls on 5W Public Relations to boost the upcoming fifth-anniversary event and produce results that will make this the best expo that IBE has put on to date. Hiring the right public relations firm also matters — Indie Beauty Expo would not have done well to hire a firm with no experience in the beauty space. Connecting with professionals and consumers within the indie beauty circuit requires a professional team with exposure and experience in that niche already. 

    A public relations firm can provide a much-needed boost and take a load of work off the shoulders of the in-house team for a brand. When public perception is very reliant on the hard work of experienced professionals, a public relations firm can be a valuable asset to any brand’s success. Finding the right firm to guide a brand to public success can forge the way for a long-lasting relationship that continues to build for the future. 


    Employees as Marketers-Thoughts From 5WPR Founder Ronn TorossianAbout the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR.




    Bucking the Trend – Why the Dunkin’ Brands are Staying Apolitical

    David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision PR Group

    The United States is more polarized politically then anytime since the Civil War.  Social media and the 24/7 news cycle have all contributed to the current political divisions.  We hear constantly of families being divided over politics.  Our political divisions have even poured over into consumer purchasing habits.  Today’s consumers expect that a brand they use will reflect their political and social values.  We all know Starbucks is considered a liberal brand.  Chick-fil-A is considered a conservative brand.  That is why Dunkin’ Brand which owns both Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins made news when company executives announced during a panel at the 2019 International Trademark Association (INTA) meeting in Boston that they were taking a stand against politicizing their brand.  Executives even went so far as to say, Dunkin’ Brand isn’t Starbucks.  This means that they will not make contributions to organizations on the left such as Planned Parenthood, nor discounts to those on the right such as the National Rifle Association.

    Bucking the Trend - Why the Dunkin' Brand is Staying ApoliticalSo a brand bucking the popular tend and not taking a political stand?  Right? No, the complete opposite.  Despite claiming, that Dunkin’ Brand is apolitical and does not take political stands, the brand actually took a political stand by not taking a political stand.

    First Dunkin’ Brand announced that they are not Starbucks.  Company executives will argue that what they meant is that they do not take political stands.  Yet to social media, what Dunkin’ Brand’s announcement meant was that if they are not Starbucks, then they must be conservative leaning.  Twitter is afire with conservatives praising Dunkin’ Brand and urging people to frequent the company.  Likewise on Twitter, liberals are either silent or taking barbed shots at the company.

    Secondly, we have seen a political reaction to the announcement.  Conservative politicians are heaping praise on Dunkin’ Brand for their brave stand.  One the other hand, some progressive politicians are now saying they will never frequent anything owned by Dunkin’ Brand again.

    Finally, by claiming they are not Starbucks, Dunkin’ Brand took a calculated move.  They knew in this polarized political environment what such an announcement would do and made it.  Many view the comment as a hit on Starbucks and a direct appeal to conservatives.  The result is the brand will now be the favored brand of conservatives.

    Brands can claim they are apolitical, but today’s consumers will not accept that.  Even by claiming to be apolitical, a brand is taking a stand in the public’s mind.  As our political divisions deepen, we can expect even more brands and companies regardless of size to take a stand on one side or the other of the political spectrum.


    David E. Johnson: #MuellerReport - Managing the 'Spin' GameAbout the Author: David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision PR Group, a public relations and public affairs agency.  Additional information on him and company may be obtained at www.strategicvisionpr.com.




    Where We Go For Inspiration: Brands That Inspire Us and Why

    1. Brands That Inspire

    The Libris team put together a list of 19 brands that are really catching their attention — from brands with engaging Instagram feeds to beautiful content experiences that really resonate and inspire. Take a look.

    Read on here…

    This content is part of Digital Asset Management Month, a month-long series presented by Libris by PhotoShelter to help you manage your visual assets and connect with your followers.




    How Major Brands Approached International Women’s Day

    How Major Brands Approached International Women’s DayBrian Gefter, Provacateur Holdings  

    Every holiday is a chance for companies to get a marketing boost, while also highlighting issues that are important to them. Many firms have taken advantage of International Women’s Day to display the work their pursuing in gender equality. Here are some examples of advertising campaigns that have been launched in the context of International Women’s Day this year: 

    PepsiCo

    Last week, the food and beverage giant announced its partnership with the non-profit organisation CARE, with a grant of $18.2 million to support women in the agricultural sector as a part of the ‘She Feeds the World’ campaign. PepsiCo’s philanthropic arm, the PepsiCo Foundation, will work with CARE to provide 5 million female farmers and their families with economic support and education to help them improve crop yields, incomes and access to nutrition locally. PepsiCo and CARE will also be launching a campaign called ‘Closing the Crop Gap’, which provides women around the world a platform to share stories about the challenges they face in the agricultural industry. 

    Budweiser

    In an attempt to own up to and rectify mistakes of its past sexist campaigns, Budweiser has published three ads from the 1950s and 1960s in juxtaposition with updated versions that ran in major publications on International Women’s Day. The vintage ad which reads “It’s a fact: Budweiser has delighted more husbands than any other brew ever known” was presented alongside the updated version that reads, “It’s a fact: Budweiser can be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere”. The company has partnered with the Association of Advertisers in their #SeeHer initiative, which aims to improve how women are portrayed in advertising. 

    Vodafone

    Vodafone will be helping Bright Sky, an app that fights against violence against women, launch its app in other European countries.The app, which helps to identify and support victims of domestic abuse and violence, already been downloaded over 10,000 times in the UK. 

    Mattel

    In 2015, Mattel, the makers of Barbie, started a campaign called ‘Shero’. This International Women’s Day, Mattel has released Barbie versions of inspiring high-profile women such as Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar and British activist Adwoa Aboah, as a continuation of the campaign. “The Barbie brand believes girls should never know a world, job, or dream women haven’t conquered”, said Lisa McKnight, Barbie’s Senior Vice President and General Manager. 

    Dove Chocolate

    Dove, owned by Mars, is investing $1 million into the non-profit CARE to develop a marketplace for women in the Ivory Coast, where women can sell different items, including food, fabric and soap. The company’s interest in helping the country comes from the fact that Dove sources its cocoa from the Ivory Coast. 

    PayPal

    PayPal has taken on the ‘Balance for Better’ theme of this year’s International Women’s Day by promoting its ‘Balance for Better’ initiative by making a video that features five businesswomen discussing how to create a more balanced workplace. In the video, Lisa Edwards, the senior vice-president of Benefit Cosmetics says, “I feel like I work double as hard as some of my male counterparts that continue to move up the ranks.”


    About the Author: Brian Gefter is an event planner and marketer.




    Jeremy Goldman’s Firebrand Group Changes Hands, Rebrands as Proponent

    CommPRO Editorial Staff

    Warren Buffett was once quoted as saying, “be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” Author, columnist, and international speaker Jeremy Goldman took that advice and applied it to his own career path of entrepreneurship in a shocking way. He did this by exiting his own company, Firebrand Group, the agency he launched six years ago, and exiting for new challenges. Some may ask why, given that we read all the time about the perks of entrepreneurship and how being an entrepreneur is the new rock star and how it gives a professional major bragging rights.

    “For the private sector to continue to grow, we need successful entrepreneurs to go in-house,” Goldman explains. “The market is hot right now, but change agents need to serve as intrapreneurs within enterprises for this bullish economy to continue.”

    It pays to know when to sell. In fact, selling a business is difficult: according to some estimates, roughly 20 to 30 percent of all businesses put up for sale wind up selling. At the same time, it is a hot market for selling a business, with 2018 being the third consecutive year in which a record number of small businesses exchanged hands. It became apparent that it was the right time for Goldman to sell Firebrand Group, which will be furthermore known as Proponent.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Goldman was inspired to bootstrap a firm, Firebrand Group, focused on creating and re-energizing brands to embrace the power of digital. The agency grew for six consecutive years and included the likes of Movado, Colgate, L’Oreal, Amtrak, and the U.S. Marine Corps among its clientele.

     In addition to autonomy, people launch businesses to challenge themselves on their own terms. In large part, that’s why Goldman started his own business. After six years, he felt it was time for a new one.

    While entrepreneurship is often an understood discipline, the concept of intrapreneurship –  acting in the manner of an entrepreneur within a larger enterprise – is newer and less understood. And yet, it is a growing field. Companies that focus on intrapreneurs such as Goldman are rewarded: nearly one in four dollars Google generates comes from employees’ intrapreneurial pursuits.

    Goldman sold to an outside group, which installed Firebrand’s former creative director, Grant Newton, as the company’s new CEO. The agency is in the process of being rebranded as Proponent.

    It was important to Goldman to keep his team together in some fashion, which he largely accomplished with this transaction.


    About Jeremy Goldman

    Jeremy Goldman came to prominence in the mid-00s. After developing a clone of Facebook aimed at higher ed institutions in 2006, he walked away from potential funding to begin a long career in beauty. Goldman became an early proponent of helping brands such as Jurlique, Kiehl’s, Temptu, and others move their sales from low margin retail channels to ecommerce, producing far higher margins for brands.

    After being hand-selected to launch a luxury startup for Unilever in 2011, Goldman was presented the opportunity to write a book teaching brands how to leverage social media for business success. That book, Going Social, eventually became the #1 best-selling social media book on Amazon.

     In addition to Going Social, Goldman is the co-author of Getting to Like, a frequent contributor to Inc., Harvard Business Review, and The Next Web, and an international keynote.




    Brands Must Embrace Video (Differently) to Succeed with Social in 2019

    Greg Perotto_HootsuiteGreg Perotto, VP of Corporate Marketing,  Hootsuite 

    The latter half of 2018 saw the proverbial social media pendulum swing dramatically back to its roots of authentic human connection, with users focused on relationships with friends, family and people they know. Couple this push with the rise in popularity of video, and 2019 is poised to be the year of video for social media, but in a different way than you may expect. 

    In our annual Social Trends Report, Hootsuite surveyed more than 3,000 businesses, from small agencies to global enterprises, and what became clear was that leading brands must make the shift back to the roots of social media, creating meaningful, 1:1 connections. Video will help brands make the shift. 

    Like the authentic, in-the-moment, often raw videos that users share and consume on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, brands will need to let down their guard and get real. While there still may be a time and a place for polished, high-production videos on social, organizations will need to rely on more low-fi, grassroots videos to truly engage their audiences. 

    One of the best outlets for social authenticity is via Stories, growing fifteen times faster than feed-based sharing. What we’ve termed the ‘Storification of Social’ in our report is the widespread pivot from text and still images to more visually captivating videos – think of it more as ‘storyliving’ than the traditional ‘storytelling’ where you, as a viewer, are living and participating in the moment.

    Additional survey data seems to reveal a roadblock: 52% of businesses cited a lack of video creation, both skills and budget, as a challenge. But the reality is, with consumer preference for lower production value video on the rise, these concerns begin to fall by the wayside.

    With that hurdle removed, here are a few tips: 

    1. Think about your audience first, brand second. Serve up video content that’s important, interesting and timely to your audience that is still authentic and genuine to your brand.
    2. People like to be able to see themselves in the brand. Featuring real customers and their success stories, rather than celebrity influencers, will help followers see themselves.
    3. Mix it up. You’ll want to continue serving up a variety of video types to audiences on social, and despite wanting them to feel more raw and in-the-moment, you’ll want to plan in advance. Build and follow an editorial calendar, deliberately incorporating a Stories-style execution.
    4. Tie video and broader social strategies to business objectives. The most compelling role for video might be in cracking the commerce code. In Asia, social commerce adoption has been swift with 70% of China’s Gen Zers now opting to buy direct from social, but elsewhere social commerce hasn’t kept pace. Video will prove to be a critical bridge to encourage social buying. A study of 5,500 consumers by video marketing company BrightCove determined that 74% of people could draw a connection between watching a video on social and purchasing the product.

     While it may not be quite in the way that marketing, customer experience and social leaders expect, video will be a driving force across social media in 2019. The brands that think about it differently to create meaningful connections with customers, fans and followers will be the brands that win.