Bite sized, stackable articles

Ran across a post about a Business Insider article that was revealing, critical and insightful about the agency process to create a single tweet for a new client. It may surprise or enlighten you about the careful and often bureaucratic method an organization follows to produce the perfectly crafted tweet. More on the article here.

Hopefully your organized isn’t mired down in such bureaucracy and process that you overlook the most useful part of social media: SPEED!

 

 

Richard Branson: Investing in PR Saves Millions in Advertising

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson is known around the world almost as much for his publicity stunts as his corporate (Virgin Airlines) pursuits, philanthropy and epic adventures. In a recent hour-long conversation in Australia, he described the need for all good companies to have a PR person: “The head of PR is perhaps one of the most important people in a company and a good chairman will have them by their side. They are critical for managing the brand and save millions in advertising; people talking about your company is much more important than anything.” Naturally, I agree.

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Follow the Frog

What can you do as a business person when you have a limited budget, want to change the world and affect daily human behavior? Create an educational video. Make it humorous. Poke a little fun at yourself. Two examples: The brilliant “Follow the Frog” campaign is an educational effort by the non-profit Rainforest Alliance to reduce the destruction of rain forests. In this brilliantly creative video, it hits the mark by first showing you what you won’t do as a consumer and then showing you what you can do to make a difference. It’s funny because it addresses right up front some of the stereotypes about environmental activists in a funny way and then proceeds to teach us in an unpretentious way how small, daily actions that fit into our regular lives can make a real difference for the planet. Watch it here and let me know what you think.

Follow the Frog

The second innovative video is from the “Will it blend?” campaign. It is a series of funny company videos by BlendTec, to promote its industrial strength blenders. After initiating the marketing campaign a few years ago, sales skyrocketed. See sample videos here.

Will it Blend

Crowdstorming

An essential element of PR planning involves research. Primary and secondary sources of information are helpful in setting benchmarks for PR plans in order to effectively evaluate the success of your PR efforts. When evaluating products or services or even new ideas, a new business trend dubbed “crowdsourcing” has appeared. A cross between brainstorming and croudsourcing, it is a new method of quickly testing ideas with a large number of people. Consider this article about crowdsourcing. The authors claim that this new method is the future of innovation, ideas and problem solving. In their recent book, Crowdstorm, they lay out a compelling case for getting advice from the smartest people in the crowd. It’s worth a look.

Crowdstorm

Funny or Die

The latest in a series of celebrity spoofs use football quarterback Tom Brady as the spokesman for the Under Armour brand of undergarments. The video boasts some entertaining moments and tongue-in-cheek humor, but the brand message perhaps is lost of the viewer. After watching the video, I remembered the characters and even the quarterback, but I couldn’t really remember the products being promoted. Watch it here and then post your comment.

Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Brittanica

Wikipedia turned 10 in January 2011. It has come a long way from its roots as a hackneyed collaboration of articles to up-to-date content moderated by editors around the globe. A recent survey from the Pew Research Center revealed just how popular the service has become. Read it here: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Wikipedia/Report.aspx

However, Wikipedia is still not accepted as a definitive source of news because the content and descriptions can be added by anyone and some people have figured out how to fake out the system. At the heart of the controversy is its banishment from academia. According to professional researchers, the information is not vetted using a more rigorous, scholarly method as used by its nearest competitor, Encylopedia Brittanica. Does it matter? Is the venerable Encyclopedia Brittanica nearing extinction? Will Wikipedia ultimately turn to advertising to fund its existence? Will this influence the content?

Here’s a test, search for the following words–Oliver North–using both services and then compare the results. (Naturally, membership is required to get detailed information from one of the services–which is a very important distinction.)

What are your thoughts?

Offensive Super Bowl Ads

Another year and another round of Super Bowl advertising. Some people actually watch it for the football game, but you wouldn’t know it if you read anything in the blogosphere about the (failed) half-time show or the consumer backlash over some commercials. Take Groupon for instance. Their ad touted human rights issues in Tibet, but for the purpose of advertising fish curry. The challenge, it seems, is to succeed at championing social issues, while not appearing insensitive or demeaning. Here’s a link to the advertisement:

What’s really interesting from a PR perspective is how the company is handling the situation. Here’s a link to a recent news article about the company’s efforts to apologize–sort of.

http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2011/02/07/groupon-ceos-non-apology-apology-letter-for-super-bowl-ad/

What is your opinion?

Publicity, P.T. Barnum and KFC

In P.R., the father of publicity stunts, P.T. Barnum made a name for himself while promoting the circus. Whenever the American Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Baily circus came to town, it was usually preceded or accompanied by a publicity stunt. These stunts included parading an elephant through the town square, acrobats or trapeze artists performing feats of strength or skill to encourage public attention and get the media to promote the event. It’s no different from the stunts created by companies today to promote new products. Some of these stunts are intentional, others are not. For example CEO Steve Jobs of Apple periodically responds with rather blunt, condescending e-mails to customers who complain or question him. (see here: http://gawker.com/5641211/steve-jobs-in-email-pissing-match-with-college-journalism-student?skyline=true&s=i

Enter Kentucky Fried Chicken. More recently known as KFC, home of Colonel Sanders if you remember the iconic founder, the company has embarked on a new strategy to attract customers using the behinds of college co-eds. It’s crass and irrelevant. See the story here: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2010-09-22-kfc22_ST_N.htm

College students market KFC product on their rears

The bottom line (pun intended) is exactly what one brand expert suggested: Clean up the stores and make a better product. Bunless chicken sandwiches?

For Laughs and Money

The venerable Old Spice brand has been creatively advertised in a new spot created by Portland ad agency Weiden and Kennedy. However, what has given the commercial added life was its placement on YouTube, with accompanying Facebook link. Then, to add more to its popularity (and generate some attention for its creators), another spoof was created by some students from my alma mater-BYU. I love them both! See for yourself and then imagine what could be done for your own brand with a little creativity.