Posts Tagged 'marketing'

The Perennial PR Problem: Tone-Deaf Companies, Tone-Deaf Messages, Tone-Deaf Workplaces

The long-standing, and often contentious issue of diversity in the media industries (news, PR, advertising, social media, etc.), was raised anew in a recent spate of events. Of course, diversity in these industries, as well as in tech, has long been an issue close to our hearts. We’ve blogged about it, advocated for it, and been adherents to the practices and principles of diversity for a very long time. Yet, as we are frequently reminded, many of our major companies still apparently don’t subscribe to the importance diversity in key parts of the workplace. A few recent examples come to mind … (Mind you, while we do not know for certain that any of these examples are not the creation of “diverse” work teams, you’ll see why we have our suspicions when you examine the evidence.)

First, probably most spectacularly is the video commercial released by Pepsi, quickly tagged the #PepsiKendall ad, featuring top model Kendall Jenner. As you’ve probably already seen or heard, the commercial, although pulled from circulation almost immediately after its release, featured Jenner, abandoning her high-fashion photo shoot and blonde wig to join a passing multiracial, multicultural street protest conveniently passing by. After some lingering glances at an attractive male within the protest group, she quickly circulates through the crowd joining the front lines, where she ostensibly leads the group until they meet up with a line of waiting police officers who, as Stephen Colbert has described them, look every bit “the world’s least intimidating police force.” Bottom line, Kendall hands the cop a Pepsi, they both smile, he looks at the other cops down the line, then drinks the Pepsi while Kendall leads the other protesters in a rousing round of cheers. We’ll stop the action here, but we hope you see the problem. The Internet certainly did.

Within hours, a storm of protests, mocking and mimicry of the ad broke out on social media, causing such a furor that Pepsi pulled the ad and issued an apology—to Kendall Jenner, that is, for “placing her in that position.” For the rest of humanity who were offended and weren’t a paid part of the ad, Pepsi issued this rationalization:

This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey,” they said in a statement.”

And regarding the creative development of the ad, they added this:

The creative showcases a moment of unity, and a point where multiple storylines converge in the final advert. It depicts various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment, and showcasing Pepsi’s brand rallying cry to ‘Live For Now,’ in an exploration of what that truly means to live life unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited.”

Where do we begin to unpack what went wrong here? Let’s start by raising the question we first posted in a tweet immediately after we head of the furor:

For us, this ad immediately raised the question of diversity on the team who created it—not to mention the marketing and other pros who approved it. What is it they missed that the rest of the world found immediate outrage in? This, we think, is the saddest part of this debacle: that highly paid professionals in major corporations and professional services agencies couldn’t see the offensive nature of this ad.

Any team member schooled in media stereotypes and commercial (cultural) appropriation–which should be everyone involved in creative development as well as the marketing of brand images–could have advised Pepsi to steer clear of its approach, for the clear reason it appears to trivialize people’s struggles for social justice and human rights. Certainly, we think, most persons of color involved in the creative development and marketing of corporate and brand messages (but perhaps not all), should have foreseen the trouble with this ad; so, our guess is that none played any major role in the creation of the spot. So instead what we got was among the worst demonstrations of what insular, self-perpetuating kinds of privileged and homogeneous teams produce for the rest of us. The ad looks good and paints a “pretty” multiethnic picture, but is completely devoid of any real sensitivity to the often life and death circumstances, struggles and ideologies that drive people to protest in the streets.

The lack of authenticity in any part of the #PepsiKendall ad is antithetical to the very democratization of media and media messages that social media has been so effective in producing in the US and globally.”

Yet, sadly, this misguided advertisement doesn’t stand alone. Not long before, but to much less, but surely well-deserved furor, the Switzerland-based company Nivea quickly dropped its ad touting “White is Purity” for its skin creams. We’ll just let the Internet make our case from here …

And, ironically, the backdrop for all this uproar over media messages and images was the very real-life ongoing saga at Fox News regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination against its female employees.

Finally, as if to show that no contemporary industry is immune to calculated colorblindness and insensitivity, the fashion industry produced this outrage a short time ago. It’s what we called some of the worst kind of commercial/cultural appropriation, as this remnant from international slavery–a face mask forced upon workers in the fields to prevent them from eating corn and other crops they were being forced to harvest—was re-created as “fashion” for adornment on the runway.

One of the PR lessons that all these corporate affronts, miscalculations and misjudgments tells us is that despite the current “zeitgeist” toward diversity, human rights and social justice that many companies are clamoring to tap into, too many of these companies remain bastions of privilege, homogeneity (in regard to race), and social and cultural isolation. One thing many public relations professionals have understood for decades is that sometimes the greatest challenge or threat to good PR isn’t external, it can be internal, exemplified by tone-deaf companies, tone-deaf work environments, and tone-deaf messages—often with toxic results.

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Blurred Lines: When Marketing, PR, and Content Overlap

Worth repeating … we ran across this article a short time ago and thought it caught the essence of what it’s like for PR pros and marketers in this new world order of content development and social media. So we’re re-blogging it here to share ideas on how you can competitively maximize the potential of a truly integrated marketing effort. We’re sure you’ll enjoy reading, and perhaps learn some new ideas too! Be sure to let us know below.

Blurred Lines: When Marketing, PR, and Content Overlap

by Aly Saxe  |

March 17, 2016   |  4,165 views

From social selling to new opportunities with mobile advertising, every marketing organization now has a cornucopia of channels through which to work its magic.

Yet, different channels and opportunities demand different skills, and the effort needed to coordinate all the necessary components and team members is immense. It can be confusing at best, unproductive at worst.

Let’s take a simple example: an infographic.

You’ve compiled the information and applied beautiful design. Now what? You probably have 10 different channels to send it through. Should one person own every channel and strategy for promotion? I mean, it’s just a simple infographic, right?

The answer is “no,” and here’s why.

Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2016/29554/blurred-lines-when-marketing-pr-and-content-strategy-overlap#



 

bigstock-public-relations-concept-in-th-17050577

More noteworthy news: If you’re a regular, or even occasional reader of the PRDoctorChicago blog, you know that a subject near and dear to us is the difference between public relations and lobbying. We frequently write about and advocate for a better understanding of the differences between the two communications disciplines. To that end, we express kudos to major PR organizations and firms who stepped up in March to challenge the New York State Ethics Commission ruling equating public relations communications with lobbying. This is a significant step, and one that bears watching, as the industry moves forward to challenge the efforts of those outside of PR to define what the industry is. In case you missed, simply click this link for an overview of event.

Reclaiming A Brand: The PR Story of Velcro

Xerox did it. Kleenex did it. Post-its did it. Now Twinkies, among others, are working to do it. The “it” here is reclaiming a brand from potential generic usage and, in the process, losing a valuable business trademark. Now VELCRO is working to do it. We all know what “velcro” is—that incredibly handy fastening device used to seal and unseal everything from shoes, bags, backpacks, briefcases, coats, swimsuits, scuba wear, household devices, and even disposable diapers.

hook and loop

Velcro-style hook and hoop fastener

Well, what many may not be aware is that VELCRO is a company and a brand, not just a fastening material—categorically known as ‘hook and loop’ fasteners. So now, in case you missed the previous rebranding campaigns cited above, here’s another opportunity to watch a global company as it embarks on a rebranding effort  to “snatch back” its singular identity in the public mind. It’s a fascinating public relations and marketing case study, not to be missed.

For starters, here’s a few things to know:

VELCRO kicked off its rebranding initiative in March, 2012 with a public announcement and the unveiling of its Brand website:

http://www.velcro.com/About-Us/Press-and-News/Velcro-Website-Launch.aspx

As the larger campaign unfolds, it is perhaps just now just coming into public awareness, with online advertising and stronger social media presence.

Velcro ad

As we said, this will be a very interesting campaign to watch. See if it changes your own understanding and behavior.

Also, for the fun of it, here’s a list of other companies who’ve had to travel down this same rebranding path, albeit, perhaps not so successfully. Keep in mind, for us it might seem like the game of “Trivial Pursuit”; for these companies, it’s big and serious business!

Note: We’re riding a trend! Shortly after we published this post, we found these  write-ups on similar campaigns underway with Xerox (http://bit.ly/1b4OSsR) and Twinkies (http://bit.ly/18cvGt1), also mentioned in our story. All are worth checking out for the hows & whys and lessons learned.

 

More Organizational Storytelling and PR from Ford Motor Company

PRDoctorChicago is all about Communications experiences, insights
and lessons learned from pros.

A few months ago, we wrote about organizational storytelling and kicked off the post with an incredibly forward-thinking quote by Henry Ford on communications and business. Ford Motor Company’s approach to communications and its outreach to customers has been making news again.

The article below by Ashley Zeckman on TopRank Online Marketing Blog serves as a timely update, offering myriad lessons to communicators on such tough topics as marketing, branding, consumer engagement, marketing mix, social media content, etc. Check it out for some “deep” lessons learned …

  Scott Monty on How Ford Empowers Customer Storytelling                        & Lessons Learned

“As marketers we all know that storytelling is an essential part of connecting with prospects and customers. Scott Monty (@scottmonty) and his team at Ford have taken the art of storytelling a step further.

In his moving (yes I said moving) keynote, Scott walked the audience through some of Ford’s most recent and innovative campaigns. In many of these campaigns the story is told not from the perspective of Ford, but from that of the consumer. Below you’ll find more about the stories of these campaigns, the people who told them, and the lessons learned.”

Continue reading … http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/01/scott-monty-customer-storytelling/

Business Wire Markets Integrated Marketing/PR Platform Analogous to PRDoctorChicago App Concept

On May 1, we were pleased to announce our visionary new mobile app concept for  companies/organizations that integrates PR, social media and marketing platforms. On May 8, Business Wire, one of the leading business news wire services, announced a “powerful new integrated marketing and public relations platform for press release and marketing content.” As with our proposed 360̊  public relations, or Immersion Public Relations app, the Business Wire platform allows companies to “truly show off their news, photos, videos and provide an interactive experience to a larger online audience,” as well as to engage in other forms of popular social interaction (blog, post, comment, etc.).

While our small boutique PR firm doesn’t have the resources to compete with a global business brand such as Business Week [one of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway companies], we’re proud that our proprietary ideas and marketing savvy rival those of industry leaders. We’re happy to bring that expertise to work for your organization.

In the meantime, we invite you to read the entire Business Wire product announcement here, as well as once again share in our May 1 post on PR 2.0 & Beyond. As always, we also welcome your thoughts, comments and ideas as we press forward.

PR 2.0 & Beyond

What’s Next in Interactive PR?

Lately the online media buzz has begun to shift from social media to mobility. Even talk of the emerging juggernaut Pinterest has begun to wane. Yet, in some ways social media and mobility go hand-in-hand:  Both enable users to interact and engage creatively and directly in unprecedented ways. Whether mobility will overshadow social networking in coming months remains to be seen, but it’s clear mobility is offering new challenges and opportunities for PR practice.

New Technology Creates New PR Opportunity

In recent weeks, we’ve been engaged in a number of conversations with colleagues examining media and digital technology trends. Consequently, we’ve spent a lot of time lately talking about our vision of where, and how, PR 2.0 & mobility converge. Our take on the point of intersection is a concept we alternately call “immersion public relations,” and 360̊ public relations.*

 Immersion PR

 In our view, mobility, and its ever-growing stable of related user applications (apps), provides companies with an unparalleled opportunity to showcase the best of who they are as a brand, seamlessly integrating all platforms. This means customers/users can immerse themselves in key aspects of all company-related marketing content–including proprietary Web sites, product showcases, social networking, corporate video, electronic newsrooms (e.g., press releases, advisories & annual reports), traditional media coverage, blogs, etc.— in one-stop-shop fashion, creating the most complete marketing experience the company can provide. Moreover, companies are able to control this changing mix of content , updating it periodically, as dynamics change within the organization or brand.

We also think of this new PR “app” concept as 360̊  public relations,* referring not only to the broad showcase of content, but to the experience of the user being enveloped in the digital space by every conceivable conception of a company the user can imagine. We envision this as a singular experience, more dynamic, and therefore more compelling for customers/users than experiencing the same content on separately accessed platforms.

At MediaWorks, we are embracing and moving into mobile technology to better serve PR clients, so we’ll be actively engaged on “R&D” for “immersion public relations” over the upcoming months. We invite you to join us in creating, sampling and developing this promising new technology. If you’re interested in immersion public relations* or 360̊ PR,* please feel free to let us know how you like the concept, what you find useful or appealing about it, and what steps you may be taking to develop this new technology.

As always, you can reach us with a comment below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

*Trade names adopted by MediaWorks, Inc. directly related digital applications incorporating multiple aspects of traditional marketing & PR.

Communications Professionals: Are you on the Sidelines of the Social Revolution?

Make no mistake about it , the Internet and social media have changed the way that we do business. If you’re still limiting your expertise to the traditional models (print, broadcast, and even outdoor), and sitting on the sidelines of the 21stCentury communications revolution, you may soon find that you’re about as relevant to modern life as Stonehenge.
Adam Bain of Twitter discusses the company’s impact and users’ best practices.

When it comes to technology, I’m usually what’s called a “late adopter.” I will spurn new developments until the old technology expires or I am blessed to win something new. So I’m amazed to actually be on the front lines when it comes to understanding the marketing technique and implications of social media. However, true to my nature, taking this deep dive into social media and marketing, I pursued it in the manner I usually do—first through formal study (various seminars and workshops leading to SEMPO, Google Adwords courses for certifications)—then through intense application.

Fortunate for me, according to social & experiential media maven Shannon Downey, and others, I’m making the right moves at the right time. “Like any good revolution,” Downey says, “social media has fundamentally changed how we communicate in a very short period of time.” Even more, she says we are still at the beginning of massive changes. “With emerging technologies focusing on geo-targeting, augmented reality and near field communication, there are countless evolutionary developments in communication headed our way.” It’s thrilling, she adds.

Shannon ought to know. She’s the owner of Pivotal Production, a digital marketing agency serving such clients as Chiquita, Northwest Community Hospital and  Woman Made Gallery. She’s also a digital trainer, adjunct faculty at DePaul University, and a blogger for Crain’s Enterprise. She says there’s been an unequivocal shift in society and today’s media landscape. She spends a good deal of her time, she says, training professionals on how to get on board: “My favorite expression is “Evolve or Die”. Marketers that see the potential and opportunity for innovation and embrace it are, and will continue, to thrive. Those that don’t will die off. Those decisions are being made right now, consciously and unconsciously.”

For other late adopters who don’t quite “get” social media, here’s something to keep in mind: Social media isn’t just a social network. It’s a huge marketplace–and marketplace of ideas–where you can market yourself to both a targeted market and global market, at the same time.

Given all that, what can you do? Here’s a few quick tips on how you might get started:

1)      Be creative. Beyond the everyday uses (updates, personal messages, news and professional networking), think of how you can participate in the seemingly boundless communications arena of digital and social media.

2)      Find a niche.  Think about what you love, and how it impacts others. That’s usually a good place to start. Then think of a platform to best express your passion. (Think Pinterest!)

3)      Get started.  Take the leap! Now that the seed of the idea has been planted, nurture it and watch it grow.

4)      Be active. Commit time everyday to participate and communicate with your audience (remember, participating means reviewing and responding). Like working any job, branding on social media is a dynamic, everyday activity. This is not the time to rest on your laurels. Discover your brand, then work it, every single day.


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