Archive | February, 2012

Social media at it’s best

23 Feb

Great Media Relations blog about good PR and use of social media.

At most businesses, checking in using Foursquare or Facebook can earn you a badge, or the reward of avoiding a call from a worried spouse or mom who wouldn’t otherwise know why you’re late for dinner. Walgreens is taking it a little further.

“Our goal is to provide real-time value to our more than 6 million daily customers, at scale,” says Adam Kmiec, director of social media for Walgreens. “That means figuring out a way to connect with customers at each and every one of our nearly 8,000 community drugstores.”

Here’s how Walgreens is doing it: Using social media monitoring tools from LocalResponse, the company finds tweets announcing check-ins at its stores. Walgreens’ social media team replies to that check-in announcement with a reply directing customers to new products, offering them coupons, or telling them about how their check-ins can do some charitable good.

Going local

Walgreens started working with LocalResponse last summer, Kmiec says. It’s the first retailer that’s working with the company to offer promotions.

Those promotions differ depending on the time of year or what’s on sale. For example, the drugstore chain’s recent Twitter responses to check-ins have directed customers to Halls Warm-Ups cough drops. The company sent more than 5,000 of those tweets in January, and they have continued into February.

“Sometimes that value is in the form of an offer, other times it’s a tip, and in the case of our program with Halls, we’re providing seasonably contextual product information,” he says.

Kmiec says he’s not worried that customers might think of the messages the company sends in reply to check-ins as spam.

“We have strong insights that guide our decision, and safeguards in place to always make sure we are providing value,” he says. “There are definitely check-points in places to make sure the content we’re providing is relevant, appreciated, and business-driving.”

The company continually tweaks its messages based on customer feedback, Kmiec says.

More than tweets

Other times, Walgreens has offered coupons in reply to check-ins. For instance, checking into a Walgreens store got some customers a coupon for a $2.99 pack of Energizer Max batteries. To receive the coupon, customers texted the message “MAX” to a Walgreens number, and the coupon would arrive on their phones.

Customers redeemed those coupons at a higher rate than they did other digital coupons, Kmiec says.

In other cases, checking in to a Walgreens store has afforded customers the knowledge that they’ve helped someone. In September and October, the company donated a free flu shot to charities including AmeriCares, the American Diabetes Association, the National Urban League, and others. The company put the recipient charities up for a vote on its Facebook page.

“The Flu Check-In program was a multiple award-winning initiative that had never been done before,” Kmiec says. “We broke new ground, demonstrated our commitment to innovation, drove our business, delighted our customers, and at the same time helped to provide flu shots to people in need.”

According to a YouTube video, Walgreens pledged more than $6 million in flu shots as a result of the program.

Customer response

Customers have reacted to Walgreens’ check-in responses in an “overwhelmingly positive” way, Kmiec says. “Local Response has been happy with the click-through rates; they’re operating well above industry benchmarks, and our social media sentiment analysis has shown more than 90 percent of customers feeling good about the program.”

He says Walgreens has new types of messages and offers to test in the coming months. It’s all part of Walgreens’ larger mobile strategy. The company’s mobile app also includes coupons, as well as a tool that enables customers to get their prescriptions refilled by scanning a barcode on their medicine vials.

“I can’t share our product or campaign roadmap, but I can say that there will be programs in the coming months that will reinforce our commitment to innovation, mobile, local and real-time communication,” Kmiec says.

Matt Wilson is a staff writer for



23 Feb

#TheDailySpin: Levi’s campaign becomes ‘ludicrous’ PR problem

By Alan Pearcy | Posted: February 23, 2012
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Oh, Levi Strauss, we thought you learned your lesson the first time. When your creative team pitches an idea that deals with a woman’s posterior—particularly the scope of said backside—you should just move on. Otherwise, you wind up in your present predicament. The current campaign, “Hotness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes,” sounds great on paper, but it fails in its execution. Instead of actually showing women of various shapes and sizes, the campaign features nothing but skinny ladies. And it’s “ludicrous,” says the blog Jezebel.

Levi’s isn’t the only brand in hot water. In fact, something from the water got Amazon in trouble. The Environmental Investigation Agency reports that whale meat was being illegally sold via the company’s Japanese subsidiarity site.

Seems this just isn’t Amazon’s day. After failing to flex its own buying power, the online retailer wasforced to remove more than 4,000 e-books from its site, unable to purchase the titles at cheaper costs.

Netflix is having a rough week after accusations emerged that it pulled “The Bodyguard” from its line of streaming titles in hopes of capitalizing on the recent passing of Whitney Houston. The companydenies it the charge.

All of these brands could learn a lesson or two from advertising legend Jimmy Smith, who, in honor of Black History Month, sat down with Advertising Age to discuss how he got into the business, as well as his mentors along the way and his take on the present state of diversity in the field.

Amazon should also pay attention to the ways consumers are using their smartphones as shopping companions. A report says 29 percent of smartphone owners use retail-related applications. Sorry, Siri—you might be a great personal assistant, but that doesn’t mean we want to hangout with you at the mall.

Speaking of mobile apps, Apple is counting down—or up, rather—to its 25 billionth app downloaded worldwide, with the lucky person to hit the milestone mark winning a $10,000 App Store gift card.

As soon as she started at NBC News, Chelsea Clinton took flak from critics, who counted down the days until she was relieved of her news correspondent duties. Now, it appears the tides have shifted, with sources revealing the former First Daughter could be close to an extension of her contract.

Maybe NBC can even work a cameo on “Community” into Chelsea’s contract now that the show has been set for a Mar. 15 return.

That’s even earlier than AMC’s “Mad Men,” but here’s a sultry teaser to tide you over until January Jones Betty Draper Francis makes her way back to our television sets. And if you’re more of a Joan or Peggy fan, here’s something for you.

While we’re not sure the ladies of “Mad Men” will attend this weekend’s Academy Awards, we do know Sacha Baron Cohen will be in attendance—as long as he doesn’t arrive dressed as a Middle East dictator.

If you’re not sure whether you’ll watch the telecast, GQ magazine offers 100 reasons to tune in, and no, host Billy Crystal isn’t one of them.

Still not planning to watch the Oscars? In that case, while everyone else is following red carpet fashions, you can check out the 10 most-followed brands on Pinterest.

Meanwhile, social networking rival Facebook isn’t about to lose its marketing edge to Pinterest.According to leaked documents, Zuckerberg and Co. plan to upgrade the site’s premium ads at the end of the month.

Leaking documents is like the corporate equivalent of cheating on a significant other. Maybe we should consult the people of D.C. on that one. Our nation’s capital was hailed as the best city for cheating by adulterer’s Website

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Career Advice

21 Feb

This blog gives information about advice you would give to your younger PR self. Useful advice to those of us about to enter the ‘real world’.


As professionals, we all have something we wish we could go back and tell our younger selves. Maybe it would be not to take a certain job, or that you shouldn’t feel bad about working into the wee hours of the morning in hopes of a promotion.

Followers of Ragan’s Facebook page recently shared the advice they would give themselves if they could go back in time. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

1. “Feedback is a gift, even when it arrives in an ugly package.” — Monica Czernek Wiant

2. “Take risks that matter. Trust yourself and listen more than you speak.” — Marissa Garcia

3. “You have to be an advocate for yourself in order to advance professionally. No one else is going to pull you or push you up the corporate ladder.” — Lisa Subers Huffman

4. “Believe in yourself, but most important, make sure you can believe in the work that you do and the clients you serve.” — Joy Abella

5. “Seek experience, even unpaid, which searching for your ideal entry level position.” — Rebecca Hunsel

6. “Show up early. Stay even 10 minutes late. Anticipate your manager’s needs. Make friends with the front desk.” — Katherine Dibling

7. “Be a forest ranger.” — Troy Griggsby

What advice do you wish you could go back and give yourself? Join the conversation on our Facebook page or in the comments below.


What career advice would you give your younger self?

What would you tell yourself if you could go back in time? Hear what Facebook fans had to say.
By Kristin Piombino | Posted: February 15, 2012

Importance of a Press Release

21 Feb

A look at the importance of a Press Release, we get told as PR professionals that more often than not our press releases go onto the dreaded pile- this blog shows how sometimes it can be better so send one than not!

No-news press release turns ugly for CEO

By Kevin Allen | Posted: February 21, 2012
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In the public relations profession, knowing when to issue a press release is as important as knowing when not to blast one out.

This is an example of the latter.

Allan Jones, founder of something called Check Into Cash, attended a charity auction benefitingFisher House Foundation and didn’t actually buy a tractor that once owned by Jay Leno. This fact alone should be a cue that no press release is needed.

And yet one was sent out, touting Jones’s chops as a philanthropist. Except here’s the release’s key phrase: “Jones eventually pushed up the bidding on the tractor to $535,000 before declining to move forward.” (Our emphasis.)

Basically, Jones went to a fundraiser and made some large bids on the tractor. He didn’t buy the tractor; someone else did. According to the press release, Jones didn’t buy anything, or make any donation. He just made some bids and then backed out. And it’s something he’s done on more than one occasion, the press release said.

To wit:

“Prior to his charity bid to aid the military in 2012, Jones drew attention at a Barrett-Jackson auction in 2005 that has become legendary among classic car collectors and fans of the auction.

“At the event, Jones bid on a rare Olds F-88 – a Chevrolet Corvette with Oldsmobile-style bodywork. Wearing his trademark Vols hat, Jones engaged in a dramatic bidding war for the concept car with collector Alan Lewenthal, curator for the Gateway Auto Museum who has also been called ‘Ferrari Hat Guy.’

“Jones felt he had the car secured for $550,000 but eventually pushed the bidding to $2.7 million until he decided to no longer pursue the F-88 he estimated was worth about $600,000. The car was eventually sold for $3.24 million.”

None of that is news. A press release is not necessary. It did, however, become news when the Gawker-owned blog Jalopnik picked up the story and ran it under this headline: “Douchebag CEO of Douchebag Company Sends Out Douchebag Press Release Bragging About Being Douchebag.”

The only newsworthy items in this story are that money was raised for a good charity and some poor PR pro somewhere had to write this and distribute it—because we all love a story that makes us happy we’re not that guy.

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5 ways PR can lead to new business

21 Feb

An interesting blog looking at how PR can lead to new buisness.


5 ways PR can lead to new business

How press releases, Facebook posts and even tweets can bring new customers in the door—if you have the right strategy. Here’s how.
By Rachel Sprung | Posted: February 20, 2012
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There is a widespread misconception that public relations does not generate business leads.What many people do not realize is that the public often hears about companies or campaigns for the first time through various public relations efforts.

Whether it’s an article written about the company, or even something as simple as a tweet, PR can work some serious magic behind the scenes.

So how exactly does that help you generate leads? Take a look at these five PR tactics:

1. Generate inbound links


With all the media attention that your PR efforts are bringing to your business, it’s important to keep track of who is writing about you and what they are saying.

Set up a Google Alert for your company and executives to make sure you see everything that is published about them. Make sure that the articles that mention your company link back to your website or a landing page for one of your offers.

When people read an article about you or your company, it will encourage them to visit these pages where they can learn more about your product or service, making it more likely that they’ll convert into leads.


2. Publish your own press releases

It is important to create your own PR content, especially when you have an announcement about a new product or service. Even though people do not depend on press releases to get information to the extent that they used to, it is still a valuable way to publicize your content.

Once again, linking back to different parts on your website throughout your press release is a great way to generate leads by encouraging your readers to visit your site for more information.

3. Share customer success stories

Typically, prospective buyers like to hear about your company from sources other than your company’s website in order to find out about the experiences that others have had with your product or service and whether or not they would recommend your particular business.

Case studies are a great way to show off your company’s success while highlighting the specific benefits of buying your product. If you have recently developed a new feature of your product, you may want to emphasize how it contributed to a customer’s success with a detailed case study. Visitors to your website will be able to see firsthand how companies similar to them have benefited from your products or services.


4. Use social media

Social media is an extremely effective way to generate leads. Providing a glimpse into your business and a way to directly interact with your company encourages your fans and followers to take a look at your website and any pieces of content or landing pages you promote.

People who choose to connect with you through social media are more likely to want more information about your product or service. Even better, when these social media users retweet or share the information that you post, you’ll create even more awareness of your business, and even more leads.

5. Include CTAs

It’s crucial to include a call-to-action in every piece of content you create. How do you expect visitors to convert into leads without giving them a way to do it? Linking to landing pages in your content is great, but you also need to tell the visitor what to do next.

At the end of your press releases, blog posts, tweets or any other promotional materials, include calls-to-action that will take them to a landing page where they can fill out a form to download your ebook, register for your next webinar, or sign up for a free trial or demo of your product. Voila, more leads.


Marketing takeaway

Public relations can be a great lead generation tool for your company. Every time your company is featured in an article, every time you tweet or post content on Facebook, and every time you write a press release, you’ve got another opportunity to generate leads.

Use calls-to-action in all of these to direct your readers to the next steps toward becoming leads by encouraging them to download more of your content or take advantage of an offer that will help them learn more about your product. Start implementing these five strategies to convert more of your visitors into leads, and before you know it, you’ll be ready to start using lead nurturing and lead management to turn all those leads into customers.


Rachel Sprung is an inbound marketer at HubSpot. HubSpot is a marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA, that makes inbound marketing and lead management software.

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Body Shop vs L’Oreal

17 Feb

The Body Shop is known for campaigning for the rights of human and animals, but L’Oreal whom is known for testing with animals has brought them out.  I am not sure how I personally feel about this, however I think the public could feel the same way.

The sale of the Body Shop to the French cosmetics giant L’Oréal last month has dented the reputation of the British high street retailer once vaunted as the champion of ethical beauty products.

An index that tracks public perception of more than 1,000 consumer brands found that “satisfaction” with Body Shop had slumped by almost half since the deal by its founder, Dame Anita Roddick, to sell the company to L’Oréal for £652m.

Dame Anita, who vowed to give away the £130m she made from the sale, was accused of abandoning her principles by accepting the deal with L’Oréal, which is the world’s largest cosmetics producer and has not abandoned animal testing.

Campaigners against animal testing and the Swiss multi-national Nestlé, which has a 26 per cent share in L’Oréal, called for a boycott of Body Shop.

The daily BrandIndex found that since the announcement of the deal three weeks ago, Body Shop’s “satisfaction” rating has dropped by 11 points to 14.

The chain’s “buzz” rating, a measurement of a brand’s trendiness, fell by 10 points to -4while its general impression fell by three to 19.

By comparison, L’Oréal’s rating in the latest published version of BrandIndex were eight, four and 16 for satisfaction, buzz and general impression respectively.

Campaigners against Nestlé, which has been criticised for its alleged role in promoting baby powder in the developing world and was recently voted the world’s least responsible company in an internet poll, said Body Shop was paying the price of allying itself with the Swiss giant.

Mike Brady, co-ordinator of Baby Milk Action, which campaigns against Nestlé, said: “This brand has been damaged, perhaps terminally, by linking itself to the world’s ‘least responsible company’.

“As people abandon Body Shop for companies with higher ‘ethical scores’, rather than put money in Nestlé’s coffers, it is ethical business, their suppliers and employees who are the winners.”

Dame Anita last month justified the sale by saying that L’Oréal wanted to learn from Body Shop’s commitment to the environment and human rights in business.

The French company has insisted its record on vivisection is above criticism since it has not carried out or commissioned tests on animals or products or ingredients since 1989. But it admits that a “very small amount” of ingredients used in the manufacture of some of its products have been tested on animals to meet safety standards.

While Body Shop and its “cruelty free” brands have signed up to a benchmark introduced by mainstream vivisectionists to allow consumers to ensure their products have not been tested, L’Oréal has refused to follow suit.

A pressure group, Ethical Consumer, announced after the deal that it would downgrade its own rating from 11 out of 20, to 2.5.

Body Shop yesterday declined to comment on its sales since the announcement of the L’Oréal deal.

Following on from our Media Relations class- Crisis Communication

17 Feb

Learn From The Experts Articles

Crisis Management: The Public Relations Nightmare

By Holly Robichaud

In this day and age of “gotcha” politics, the 24-hours news cycle, blogs, u-tube, and camera phones, why do some politicians still feel insulated from the scandal of cheating on their spouse, tapping toes in the bathroom, and hiding cash in the freezer?

The political consultants will spin that they are human, just like the rest of us.  The non-consultant answer is ego.  No matter the reason for scoundrels being scoundrels, their actions are keeping crisis consultants fully employed.

With corruption more pervasive in the American consciousness now than at any time since Watergate – and with Congressional and legislative approval ratings at their lowest level in history, betraying the trust of loved ones and the voting public should not be committed lightly. Do the politicians who choose to stray from the path of righteousness really not realize that 95% of all politicians are going to get caught and be exposed to the  public?

For those officials, who believe they are above the law or perhaps made of Teflon, the best advice I can give is “think, before you act.”  You are playing Russian roulette with your political career and your family’s reputation.  Just look at what happened to former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.  No one is above having a ‘former’ political career.

With that being said, some politicians still manage to outlast their scandals.  Survival is dependent on the magnitude of the crisis, the subject matter, the spin, the public’s appetite for a media lynching, whether jail time is involved, and even where the indiscretion has taken place.  In other words, what you can get away with north of the Mason-Dixon Line may be far different than the punishment doled out for the same infraction in the sunny south, and vice versa.

So how do some elected officials escape the wrath of voters, while others are sent packing or ushered down the road dressed in stripes and set down to think about their wrong doings?

In today’s political environment, when a public relations nightmare is about to erupt, savvy politicians call their political consultant for crisis management advice even before they consult with their lawyer.  Elected officials and challengers alike, who attempt to manage a crisis alone, usually turn a bad situation into a nightmare of mammoth proportion.

Consider these general guidelines for crisis management:

Apologize, admit shortcomings, and seek help.
This strategy is employed on a daily basis by Hollywood celebrities.  As long as the delinquent celebrity claims victimhood for some form of addiction to alcohol, drugs or sex, the public generally forgives.  Politicians have been successful with this approach as well. The direction can be even more successful if enhanced by spousal support.  On the other hand, if the spouse abandons the ship, the ship will sink faster than the Titanic.

Ignore the crisis, hope it goes away.

Rarely does this work, especially when every person in the country is now empowered as a reporter with camera and phone.  In fact this strategy, which forces the official to campaign and live in harmony with a ticking time-bomb, is successful only if the scandal is never exposed.  Hence, we don’t know actually how often this is a workable solution. Senator Larry Craig certainly serves as a recent example of why ignoring and hoping for the best clearly does not work.  He attempted to quietly dispose of his toe tapping arrest and the result was a career-ending exposé.

Blame the messenger.
This common tactic is used often to cloud the issue by questioning the motives of the person or group making the allegation.  Who can forget the right-wing conspiracy professed by the Clintons?  Rather than use of “apology,” this strategy was implemented to deal with the intern sex scandal of the century. The Clintons placed the accuracy of the accusations into question by counter punching and attacking Republicans as the self-serving messenger.

Pre-emptive confession.
Honesty is, even in politics, the best policy and the sooner, the better.  Tell the media and the public about your past indiscretions before they can be exposed.  If you share your failures up front, you will be able to spin the story in your best light and take most of the sting out of the scandal. President George W. Bush is probably the best example of a pre-emptive confession.  Reporters worked day and night attempting to uncover stories of drinking and drug episodes, but it did not matter because Bush had already explained that when he was “young and reckless, he was young and reckless.”  The Bush confession made all the stories old news. Voters knew of the problems from the candidate rather than the media and this left little or no sting in the story.

Change the subject.
This tactic works best when a scandal is uncovered by a political opponent.  Instead of responding to the allegations, you tell the voters that this attack is nothing more than an attempt by your rival to distract voters from the real issues. This strategy can be very successful, but should be preserved for opponent attacks. In most cases, if the scandal was truly credible, the media would have broken the story in the first place.

Often times, despite employing brilliant spin and strategy, a politician might never survive the scandal and remain in office. Some scandalous circumstances have no acceptable spin to distract a discerning public.  A graceful exit is quite often the best answer to avoiding a long drawn out media feeding frenzy when the final result was predictable from the beginning.

The result of these political deadly sins is usually predicable from the beginning:

  1. Lying under oath.  It is never a good thing for a politician to be forced to testify under oath, but if caught lying, he or she will probably be forced into a resignation.
  2. Sexual escapades with persons under age or in your employ.
  3. Racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, witness tampering, and mail fraud. Generally speaking, anything that results in a conviction and time in jail.
  4. Hypocrisy, especially when it involves a breach of the very principles that were your campaign’s strength. Who will forget that Eliot Spitzer campaigned on law and order?
  5. Drinking and driving, although at one time was a survivable offense, has in more judicious times become unforgiveable. It is a cardinal sin to put people’s lives in jeopardy by driving drunk.

There is rarely a second opportunity for those who are defeated over a scandal or forced to resign. My best advice remains my first advice – think before you act!

Most importantly, if you do not care to avoid disgracing yourself, think of your family and of those who have supported your rise to public office in the first place.

Holly Robichaud has over 20 years experience in helping
Republicans get elected to office.  She specializes in strategy,
direct mail, voter contact programs, and campaign fundraising.
She can be reached at 
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