Tag Archive: public relations


making fun of human tragedy

I thought everyone had heard of Groupon. I can even remember a friend telling her 70 year old grandfather about the discount website and he replied, “Oh yeah, I have an app for that.” Granted, this grandfather is very trendy haha.

Until now, Groupon had just relied on word-of-mouth marketing with limited traditional advertising. According to Groupon’s blog they had given in and decided to do a television advertisement during the Super Bowl XLV. The company explains the reasons for restraining, “More importantly, television ads are such a huge creative statement, and so hard to do well, that we were worried it’d be near impossible to find an ad agency that could make ads we’d be confident in airing.”

The advertisements aired during the most watched television event in history with 162.9 million viewers. The ads feature two washed up celebrities telling us which cause we should care most about, then morph it into a pitch for Groupon.

There was a firestorm of blog posts and news articles written about Groupon in February about people being outraged that the ad highlighted the difficulty in Tibet. Obviously the company is regretting their decision now that Groupon’s CEO Andrew Mason is blaming the ad agency and saying he put too much trust in them.

A lot of the negativity could have been avoided if the ad explained Groupon’s charitable donation-matching that is listed on their website. It could have made viewers realize the company isn’t poking fun of the issues; they’re trying to raise money to help.

The CEO’s apology and decision to pull the ads was a chance at saving the company’s image, but I really think Groupon’s PR department from here on out needs to step up and be the center of their decision team. If the company doesn’t come out with the right crisis communication actions then it would really damage their business.

But honestly, if you have to post a lengthy explanation of your advertisements on your blog then you might need to ask yourself before releasing it if people are going to get the “joke.” Is there really a right way to make jokes about human tragedy?

job shadowing

When I first thought about job shadowing I racked my brain to find companies that were different and remotely related to the music industry. Then I remembered I knew someone whose company has done business with Clear Channel Radio and asked if she could help me find someone there to shadow for a day (networking is everything! ha!) After a few email exchanges the date was set for me to observe Shane Williams, the National Promotions & Integrated Marketing Coordinator for Clear Channel Radio in Dallas, on Thursday, March 24.

I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at the Clear Channel building. Shane met me in the lobby and gave a quick tour around the different studios: 102.1 The Edge, Mix 102.9, Lone Star 92.5, 97.1 The Eagle, 1190 AM. Most of the morning shows were on-air so I just peaked in through the glass doors. Then we headed down to his office where I learned a little more about his job.

Shane is in charge of the national clients, people wanting to advertise, at the different stations. He handles them all, whether it is through traditional media or non-traditional (website and events.) He also works on the big events like Edgefest and Freakers Ball dealing with the vendors and just about anything else.  Shane started working at Clear Channel as a promotions coordinator, moved on to the integrated marketing coordinator and now deals with the national promotions as well.

An important part of Shane’s job is protecting the Clear Channel brand. He filters the potential clients to determine which ones will or will not be kosher through association. On occasion Shane will come up with a creative promotion to put on a station’s social media networks, but that is mostly left up to the promotion coordinators.

I found it very refreshing that everyone working there was so friendly and laid back. From the promotion coordinators to The Eagle’s on-air personality Cindy Scull, everyone interacted with each other like they were all equals.

The most important skill Shane uses to be successful at his job is communication. Whether it’s with the directors above him or the clients he’s working with. I found it interesting Shane said the station always makes sure to get sound clips or screen shots of advertisements to send back to the client to show their investment being executed. It’s not a requirement to do this, but everyone puts in the effort to make the client feel good about Clear Channel.

Shane also stressed it is important to manage expectations of others. “Under sell and over deliver,” he said. This too applies to the expectations of people within the company and those choosing to advertise with them. He is also constantly prioritizing and following through with things.

Before lunch I asked Shane the generic, but valuable, question I like to ask every professional: What are the most important things about how to get a job? According to Shane…

  • Have Passion
  • Know something about the company or person interviewing you
  • Do anything to get your foot in the door

Shane also threw in do NOT ask unrealistic questions or be late during an interview.

Job shadowing has been one of the most constructive experiences I’ve had. I highly recommend it to any public relations student, whether you have an internship or not. It gives you the opportunity to seek insight on different corporations to helps determine what type or what direction of your career you want to take. I could only be so lucky to have a job at such a chill, yet exciting place like Clear Channel Radio. I really appreciate Shane taking the time out of his day to show me the ropes and answer all my questions!

Guerrilla Promotions

“It has to start somewhere
It has to start sometime
What better place than here
What better time than now”

The quote from Rage Against The Machine’s lyric seemed so fitting to this topic, mainly because I can’t ever hear the word guerrilla and not automatically start singing their song in my head. =)

In the 21st century public relation professionals, marketing managers and advertising directors are working diligently to come up with the idea that is going to get their brand noticed most by consumers. A lot of known brands are resorting to more guerrilla style promotions to achieve a competitive advantage in this tough economy. A 2010 Mashable’s article lists their top 10 Excellent Examples of Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns.

Out of the list, my favorite video example of guerrilla marketing came to a tie: Absolut Vodka and a Dutch insurance agency.

Both videos put consumers in everyday situations that they might encounter and made them fun. Who hasn’t ever thought about taking something on the luggage claim conveyer belt? No one ever does, because it’s just not right, haha. But what stops us?

And every driver can spot a scratch or dent on their car once they immediately set their eyes on it in the parking lot. After drivers got over the instant shock, they looked closer at sticker and then searched online and found out they could order scratch stickers to prank their friends, too. That leads to a lot of word of mouth awareness.

Agencies are resorting to this kind of awareness because it costs and only takes some thinking outside of the box. The campaigns are quite effective at getting consumers to notice your brand in all the clutter of traditional advertising. I personally believe guerrilla campaigns leave a longer impression on a consumer as opposed to flipping through a magazine and seeing an attention grabbing ad.

Unfortunately for us in the States we don’t experience a lot of these campaigns. This is usually because someone (government or nongovernment) always completely over reacts to anything abnormal. In 2007 Adult Swim launched a marketing campaign in Austin, Texas… and it completely backfired. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, check it out on Austinist.com

I personally, thought the Aqua Teen Hunger Force campaign was awesome! But I was part of Adult Swim’s target market (much like the rest of Austin’s 20-somethings) and was aware of the cartoon that the “bomb-like devices” resembled.

Hopefully guerrilla marketing campaigns will start to have more approval in our country. I have hope! Just recently works from the famous British street artist, Banksy, were spotted at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. He was doing a little self promotion for a documentary that features him, Exit Through The Gift Shop. If you haven’t watched the film yet, I encourage you to check it out (it’s on Netflix!) Whether you’re interested in graffiti art, marketing or pop culture it’s a must see.

As a soon-to-be graduate I often find myself asking every professional their view on things like what are the most important things I can be doing to get a job after school, what they prefer to see on a resume and what should I include in my portfolio, among others.

At this week’s PRSSA meeting the President of BizCom Associates, Scott White, gave some advice that really made a difference to me, “Write to be a good writer, not to get the grade.” This helped me get out of my forced creative slump. When you’re forced to be creative by a deadline each week the work produced is hardly your best. Every week staring at my laptop a powerful, thought provoking idea doesn’t automatically come to mind. I know I’m the only person with this problem. I know as a college senior that this definitely won’t be the last time I struggle with this situation. But I now realize that this blog can be something more than just an obligation. It’s another outlet for me to perform on deadline and improve my writing skills.

Another student (Brandon, maybe?) asked Scott what he prefers to read on blogs and if he likes a more conversational tone or a news-story structured blog. Scott said the key to writing is understanding your audience. We’ve all heard that before and apply it to our communication plans and marketing homework but fail to realize it’s the same for a simple blog post.

Scott, having a BA in Journalism from UNT, really emphasized at the meeting how important it is to be a strong writer. To write a basic news release that meets the requirements of standard format isn’t that hard. But to write an effective news release that is going to read and the information published requires being a skilled writer.

Scott White of BizCom Associates Tips to Scoring a Job after Graduation

#1 – Have an internship during school

#2 – Be a strong writer

#3 – Read The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly

need for ethics

What the majority of humankind thinks is right and wrong isn’t always ethically right. Society can impose certain beliefs on you to the point where they’re almost accepted as normal behavior. At some point in our careers we will face a decision against our moral code and everything will seem blurred.

The fundamental character of a person is formed when they are young and influenced by their guardian or religion. Unfortunately, some people don’t grow up in the best situations and have to learn right and wrong on their own through trial and error. However, I think no matter how you were raised your moral compass will not point due north until you’ve faced a challenging decision and you overcome. It will take years to build your character, but only a moment is enough to ruin it.

Teaching ethics in a university setting when our minds are still young and developing is essential. It keeps the topic active in your conscience when you spring into the business world. Right out of college we’re not going to land a job at top agency’s or corporations (well, just being realistic haha.) This is where we rely on our instructions and mentors to be ethical and pass the chain of goodness along.  As a young professional you will have to work our way through companies who might not have such high standards of truthfulness. As long as we are continually influenced by the right companionship our decisions will stay in the right direction.

 

lessons learned

As I’m starting my last semester of college I’ve been thinking about a lot of lessons I’ve learned along the way. I realized if you see an opportunity you must jump on it. For example, this Thursday I wanted to go to an event the Social Media of Club Dallas was hosting. I waited until the day of to purchase a ticket and the event was sold out! This isn’t exactly a critical analysis of something specific to PR, but a general analysis of my procrastination (it’s less than an hour before this blog is due.) In my defense, this first blog caught me off guard and I work 12 hours on Fridays. Anyways, I learned last year when I attended the PRSA Communications Summit that networking is everything. I already knew that… just never practiced it in a corporate/industry setting. At these events you’re going to meet that one person that is going to change your whole career. I hope to get on top of things (school and networking, among other affairs) and kick this semester into gear. I will have a job when I graduate.

Just so you know,
I’m already registered for the SMC Dallas’ next event with Simon Salt. You should be, too,

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