Tag Archives: pr

Twitter PR Win For Sainsbury’s

This is a particularly good Twitter PR moment from a while back for UK grocer Sainsbury’s I happened upon lately. It works because of the follow-up, and also for the brief interjection of personality and humor:

And then…

But what really counts is that Sainsbury’s followed up the comedy moment with direction for the customer to call them directly.

SainsburysThis has all the makings of Twitter being done right for customer service and PR:

  1. The brand shared an actual human-like response
  2. It was funny
  3. But they take it seriously; hence the phone redirect
  4. We’re talking about it

I noticed this via a LinkedIn discussion from Twitter for PR Communicators about PR Daily, who noticed it through AdWeek.

Also, rest in peace, Ultimate Warrior.

What do you think? Is this use of humor appropriate? Have you ever experienced a humorous interaction from a brand via Twitter or some other channel? Let us hear from you in the comments.

In The News? LinkedIn Knows!

Perhaps you have a role as a spokesperson for your business or your public relations clients that sees your name, or their names in print, broadcast or on the web. If this is the case, then you’ll want to be paying attention to LinkedIn more closely.

LinkedIn is rolling out a new feature where you or your contacts are mentioned in your email if they (or you) are “in the news.”

LinkedIn Mentioned In The News

I reached out to LinkedIn for details on this, including how to disallow it, should a site member wish to be excluded from the program. I also asked how they differentiate between users with similar names (how do they know to highlight the right Richard Smith, for example?) Here is their response:

We do have back end algorithms that differentiate members with similar names. We also offer functionality to disable this from your settings. You can turn your activity broadcasts on or off and select who can see your activity on their homepage from the Privacy & Settings page.

-Ciara
LinkedIn Trust & Safety

So if you’re already famous, get ready for more exposure. And if you aren’t famous already, LinkedIn can now help you get there – unless you’d rather it not, in which case you might want to review your settings.

What do you think? Are you active on LinkedIn? What are your observations of the site? Do you find this new feature beneficial or intrusive? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Inside McDonald’s: PR 101

As one who pays attention to the public relations world, I often notice especially good or especially bad examples. One especially good example I noticed recently was McDonald’s CEO, Don Thompson, in a brief CNBC piece, Inside McDonald’s.

insidemcdonaldsCNBC fires several tough-ish questions at Thompson, all of which he answers in plain English, followed by one very important thing: he steers the discussion back to his points. Even the classic, “(controversial topic) followed by, “how do you feel about this?’” comes back around to “we’re about opportunity” in a conversational manner.

Talking Points & Must-Airs

It’s pretty clear that in preparing for this interview – and you know there was some serious preparation – keywords definitely included, “opportunity,” “innovation,” “real food,” and a few others that stand out to anyone who’s ever done any sort of media analysis. Still, Thompson comes off as sincere, keeping his cool (very important), and gives a textbook example of handling questions on one’s feet.

Reporter: You said last year the menu to you seemed to lack a bit of energy. You didn’t want to repeat what you did last year. What went wrong?

Thompson: Well, I’ll say it’s less than what went wrong, it’s what didn’t we do? It’s always about the opportunity. Some of the opportunities we had were… (and: back to talking points).

Inside McDonald’s is much less of a hard-hitting exposé than a top-level look at how things operate. Regardless of what you think of McDonald’s (they are not paying me for this, and I do eat there occasionally) or the merits of this production vs. others – see Netflix for some less-than-friendly reviews – the interaction between reporter and executive here is what makes this worth watching.

Here’s Inside McDonald’s in its entirety via Bloomberg.com:

mcvideo

What do you think? Have you seen any examples of good or bad PR lately? Have you ever developed talking points or been in a similar media situation yourself? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Corporatespeak Is Not Good Public Relations: A Revist to Best Buy

Best Buy at Forbes

A story at Forbes inspired my analysis of Best Buy from a general PR view.

I wrote this article a while back when Best Buy was at the precipice of failure (at least in a PR sense). But now their “Renew Blue” turnaround strategy looks to be gaining traction (again, at least in a PR sense). One thing is for certain: theirs will be an interesting case study.

Best Buy: A Look Back on a Christmas PR Blunder

From January 2012In PR and communications, negative news can sometimes have a positive side just by way of the delivery. And what an opportunity that can be: either to recast in a positive light, to minimize damage… or to make it worse.

We have more respect for clear, direct communication, especially when something goes wrong. Owning up, making things right, and letting people know about it is not only the right thing to do, but can also be a PR win, a point completely lost last month on Best Buy as it addressed customers about orders that they weren’t going to be getting… keep reading >>

Russell Brand On MSNBC: Unintentional PR Victor

Russell Brand Messiah Complex World Tour 2013My favorite public relations episode of the past few weeks is the awkwardly hilarious yet unexpectedly salient interview with Russell Brand on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. It’s resulted in some choice PR for Brand, probably wholly unintentionally. One of the hosts, Mika Brzezinski, even apologized later for the lack of professionalism that day — fully admitting not knowing whom she was interviewing.

I realize “Morning Joe” is not known for trenchant journalism, but I believe Brand was justified in calling these folks out in return for their snarkiness (among other derisive behavior). My favorite description of the whole affair is from Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post who sums it up nicely:

russell brand takedown

Reactions

I would liken the hosts to a kitten pouncing on what it assumes is a dazed snake and discovering it has latched onto the tail end of a dragon. It’s cringe-inducing. ‘You’re talking about me as if I’m not here and as if I’m an extraterrestrial,’ he observes. Never mock someone with a British accent.

Although there are some dissenting opinions, the reaction I’ve seen since has overwhelmingly sided with Brand, giving some unforseen PR juice to his Messiah Complex tour — and making for some pretty entertaining television.

Update: Read about the encounter from Brand, himself, in this article he wrote for The GuardianRussell Brand: what I made of Morning Joe and Question Time

What do you think? Was Brand out of line, or does that even matter? What would you have done in his shoes, or in those of the hosts? Let us hear from you in the comments.

American Apparel’s “Bored During the Storm?” Campaign: PR Stunt or Well-Intentioned Goof?

Really, American Apparel?

American Apparel Advertisement

It would seem obvious these days that capitalizing on catastrophe via social media is in poor taste. So why would an otherwise savvy brand like American Apparel appear to be doing exactly that?

Given the very poorly received efforts of Kenneth Cole during protests in Egypt, you would think other retailers would have a clue by now, right?

[tweet https://twitter.com/KennethColePrd/status/33206062215598080]

It’s one thing for a business somehow connected with a major upheaval to approach the line between altruism and marketing. And it’s certainly a fine line. Consider American Express’ Sandy-related communication efforts for its travel customers:

[tweet https://twitter.com/AmericanExpress/status/263052663711735808]

But it’s another thing entirely to risk the appearance of piggybacking on disaster for advertising’s sake. Sure, it gets some buzz, but is it worth all the backlash?

[tweet https://twitter.com/MikeFerri/status/263122953355542528]

As reported by Huffington Post:

CEO Dov Charney did not express disappointment over American Apparel’s marketing team capitalizing on Hurricane Sandy. “I don’t think our marketing guys made a mistake. Part of what you want to do in these events is keep the wheels of commerce going,” he told Business Week. “People shopped on it. We generated tens of thousands of dollars from the sale, but we’ll probably lose a million dollars from this (storm) event at a minimum. We’re here to sell clothing. I’m sleeping well at night knowing this was not a serious matter.”

And here’s another take from American Apparel’s representatives, via Fashionista:

When reached for comment over email, an American Apparel spokesperson told us, “Of course we’d never mean to offend anyone and when we put the email out yesterday it came from a good place.”

So, is this really a big deal?

However in poor taste it may now seem in the wake of Sandy’s devastation, American Apparel’s approach was not in mean spirits, even though it’s easy to characterize it as such. The company has a history of corporate responsibility – along with a history of pushing the envelope through its marketing for PR purposes. And it serves them no purpose whatsoever to appear flippant or dismissive. Upon investigation, it’s clear they don’t wish anyone further misery from Hurricane Sandy, what with their acknowledging as much in the subsequent damage control. As reported by ABC News:

Ryan Holiday, spokesperson for American Apparel, responded to ABC News in an email:

“For us, this is about us working like crazy to get and keep our stores open. We’ve got employees who can’t work when stores are closed due to weather and the biggest Made in USA factory in the country that sits idle–we would never try to offend anyone or capitalize on a natural disaster, this was simply an effort to mitigate some of the effects of the storm on our business.”

Fair enough. So what next?

My advice for American Apparel right now:

  • Turn your affected stores into recharge-stations with power strips and free wi-fi for all so someone can tweet some good about you. Buy generators if necessary. It won’t cost much and ROI would be huge.
  • Give 20% off to ANYONE, nationwide, referencing the ad for the next week to capitalize on the viral nature of the campaign, requiring a tweet or Facebook post with hashtag #aacares or similar. Cost to you: minimal.
  • Donate 20% of profits for the next week to northeast U.S. chapters of the Red Cross. Yes, this will cost some cash, but there’s no arguing with a monetary statement.
  • Just  be proactive somehow to make this right. Or risk being one of the “don’ts” of social media. Better to be one of the “OK, we get it” stories instead.
What do you think? Is this a PR blunder or a marketing gimmick? Are you more or less inclined to shop American Apparel now? Do these suggestions make sense, or is there something you would recommend? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Virgin America Gets PR Right

Click for full-size

Unauthorized Bedtime Nonsense – Click for full size at Pinterest

Safety can be fun, even for big businesses like airlines.

I’ve written in the past about how refreshing it is to see a big company get public relations and customer communications right. In that case it was  Delta Airlines endorsing their mile runner superfans. I’m pleased to report another discovery of a similar company offering up some positivity and humor with their own messaging: Virgin America.

During a recent #PinChat on Twitter, the featured guest was Jill Okawa Fletcher, Virgin America’s Director of Social Media. Ms. Fletcher was sharing insights about Virgin’s use of Pinterest and I immediately referred her to my pin of Virgin Atlantic’s wacky insert card campaign (at right). We then had the following exchange:

[tweet https://twitter.com/JillOinSF/status/223221792725151744 align='center']

And Ms. Fletcher then referred me to Virgin America’s easygoing in-flight safety video:

 

Corporate Wackiness Can be Entertaining

As you may know, I’m a big geeky fan of this type of thing, and true to its brand spirit, Virgin makes the most of an opportunity here with its captive audience. Yes, safety is important, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with it.

Coincidentally, back to Delta…. I first noticed this in Delta’s in-flight safety video, where an attendant’s shiny tooth actually goes “ding!” after demonstrating proper use of a seat as a floatation device. That’s so funny to me just because it’s very subtle and wacky in an otherwise fairly standard video. I’m such a fan that once on a Delta flight, I was ready with my phone to get a picture of the exact moment… voila:

Delta Airlines Safety Video - Ding!

My favorite part of Delta’s in-flight safety video. The guy’s smile literally sparkles. And makes a “ding” sound. Brilliant.

What do you think? Can you name any examples of companies having fun with their otherwise serious messaging? Does this influence your perception of the company or a brand? Let us hear from you in the comments!