Tag Archives: public relations

That’s Not What I’m Here To Discuss

Also known as “No Comment”

nocommentHere’s some PR analysis from Matt Wilson at Ragan.com on a recent interview with former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. As reported at Mediaite, after MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell posed a question about spying, Oren’s earpiece (conveniently?) had “technical issues.” Coincidence?

Another approach could have been to state, “Sorry, but I’m not going to offer you any insight there…” then steer the discussion back to his message: “what I can tell you is…” and then: key talking points.

Other phrases useful in this situation:

  • “I’m not going to speak to that, but…”
  • “I understand your question, but we’re here today to talk about…”
  • “This has been addressed elsewhere (only if so), but right now…”

The lesson here is to acknowledge the inquiry directly and politely, but not offer any additional information — then promptly get the conversation back on message. It can be tricky in the heat of the moment, especially on a controversial issue, but this can also be a more honest approach in the direction of getting PR right. It’s more likely to help ensure an interviewee’s points are heard, and is far friendlier than a blunt “no comment.”

Check out these additional options offered by Ragan’s PR Daily: Alternatives to “No Comment,” and see this video of awkwardness compiled by Huffington Post of politicians dodging reporters.

What do you think? Have you ever been asked something where your only answer was “no comment?” Do any examples of question-dodging come to mind? Let us hear from you in the comments.

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.

PR and Social Media News: Ragan and PR Daily

PR DailyA couple of my favorite sources for news and happenings in both public relations and social media are PR Daily, and Ragan Communications (PR Daily is part of Ragan). I’ve been following both sites for years, have attended a couple of Ragan events, and have even been quoted as a source in their reporting. I’ve found their coverage of the news cycle from a PR perspective to be consistently informative and entertaining. Ragan’s daily headlines is one of the few email newsletters I read daily, and in itself, it’s a study in crafting winning headlines with engaging graphics that make readers want to click through to your content.

Stories I’ve enjoyed there recently:

If you’re into PR, social media, – or grammar, online trends, and any of the communication-related other areas they cover – definitely give these sites a visit and consider signing up for the newsletters.

What do you think? Are you a Ragan.com or PR Daily consumer already? Or have you never heard of these sites? Do you have a personal or business interest in PR or social media? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Is There Really No Such Thing As Bad Press?

You know the saying, “there’s no such thing as bad press?” Only to a certain extent do I believe this. The phrase would be more accurate if tempered with two qualifiers:

Potentially, eventually.

Lady Gaga, Oscar Wilde

Lady Gaga, Oscar Wilde.
Both adept at capturing press attention.

This is because in the event of bad press, it can be manageable to varying degrees – but it always takes deliberate, meaningful effort, and it definitely takes time.

I absolutely don’t believe, “hey, there’s no such thing as bad press, so let’s just go for it all…” is wise PR strategy, unless the goal is simple notoriety along the lines of Paris Hilton or Lady Gaga. In these cases, I’m reminded of what could be the inspiration for this concept: Oscar Wilde’s quote, “There is only one thing in the world that is worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

The problem with the idea of no bad press is that with today’s A.D.D. news cycle and the everlasting searchability of the Internet, missteps can take an extraordinary effort to overcome, although it can be done. National Strategies Public Relations CEO Jennifer Vickery sums up the concept: “While there is such a thing as bad press, the main take away should be that good press can come out of it, provided the situation is handled properly.”

Proper handling would mean execution with transparency, honesty and consistency over an interval long enough to shift focus to the present and future more so than the past. In this way, and if done right, bad press can become a real opportunity and cataylst, not just in terms of spin, but also toward doing the right thing.

What do you think? Is there truly no such thing as bad press? What are some examples of bad press being handled properly? 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 AdvertisementIt 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?

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:

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?

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.