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Posts tagged ‘public relations’

Case study: Coca-Cola’s Belgian Crisis

The case discusses the crisis faced by Coca-Cola in Europe, particularly Belgium, in which people mostly school children fell ill after consuming its products in mid-1999. Coca-Cola had to recall about 30 million cans and bottles, the largest ever product recall in its 113-year history. For the first time, the entire inventory of Coca-Cola’s products in Belgium was banned from sale. The case describes the crisis in detail and discusses how Coca-Cola managed it. The way Coca-Cola handled the Belgian crisis was a classic example of one of the worst public relations fiascos in the corporate history. The case also highlights the need and importance of a crisis management plan to prevent such fiascos in future.


Do you know the evolution of PR ?

Definitions of PR

I have already written here about the attempt PRSA to define public relations. It’s taken two months, but the Public Relations Society of America has revealed the final three definitions of “public relations.” One of them will become the definition. (more…)

Redefining Public Relations

 New York Times writes:

THE public relations industry has decided that it may be a good time for, well, a public relations initiative.

The industry’s largest organization, the Public Relations Society of America, is embarking on an effort to develop a better definition of “public relations,” one more appropriate for the 21st century. The effort, to begin on Monday, will solicit suggestions from the public along with public relations professionals, academics and students.

The effort, of course, has a catchy name, Public Relations Defined, and a logo, too, that proclaims its goal: “A modern definition for the new era of public relations.” The effort is being spurred by the profound changes in public relations since the last time the organization updated its definition, in 1982.

Attempts to write new definitions in 2003 and 2007 did not move forward, leaving in place this vague definition: “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”

Perhaps the most significant changes have occurred most recently, as the Internet and social media like blogs, Facebook and Twitter have transformed the relationship between the members of the public and those communicating with them. A process that for decades went one way — from the top down, usually as a monologue — now goes two ways, and is typically a conversation.

That has generated a spate of new terms that are used with, or even in place of, public relations, among them earned media, word of mouth marketing and buzz marketing.

The specialists final list:

After more than 900 submissions, 70 comments and 16,000-plus page views, it comes down to this: the final snapshot word cloud of the “Public Relations Defined” initiative. While submissions are still being accepted through 11:50 p.m. EST today (Friday, Dec. 2), we wanted to provide a glimpse of what your hard work in submitting modern definitions of public relations has produced — at least in terms of the raw data.

Keep in mind that what you see below doesn’t necessarily reflect the words that will comprise the three draft definitions that the PRSA Definition of Public Relations Task Force will develop the week of Dec. 5. They merely represent the 20 most popular words submitted across all four boxes of the definition submission field.

PRSA’s Definition of Public Relations Task Force will objectively analyze all of the submissions, along with blog posts, comments and all other submitted content. Task Force member will then use a subjective consultation process to develop three definitions from the data. Those draft definitions will go up for a public vote, for a period of 10 days, on the PRSA website.

After 12 days of submissions, the following are the 20 most submitted words to the “Public Relations Defined” initiative:

  • “organization” (present in 388 submissions)
  • “public” (373)
  • “communication” (280)
  • “relationship(s)” (260)
  • “stakeholders” (172)
  • “create” (170)
  • “mutual” (158)
  • “understand” (153)
  • “build” (152)
  • “audiences” (147)
  • “inform” (144)
  • “management” (124)
  • “brand” (119)
  • “company” (116)
  • “business” (112)
  • “people” (100)
  • “engages” (94)
  • “client” (92)
  • “awareness” (88)
  • “maintain” (81)

What’s to be, what’s to be … we will see in 2012.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Benetton Unhate Campaign – Politics shock

Benetton is going for shock value in its latest ad push, which shows major world leaders, including Barack Obama, Hu Jintao and Benjamin Netanyahu, kissing. And not just any old peck. It’s a full head-tilted, eyes-closed sort of deep smooching. Agency is the Italian Fabrica, in partnership with MDC Partners’ 72andSunny.

What is more, the outdoor prints:

venez usa.preview

north south korea.preview

palestine israel.preview

vatican al azhar.preview


china usa.preview

The campaign also leans heavily on social media, including a website that Benetton is calling a “Kiss Wall” where consumers can upload pictures of themselves kissing. It has also created a short film about spreading love, or as Benetton calls it “unhate.” All of the work was created by Benetton’s internal agency, Fabrica, which is based in Treviso, Italy, in partnership with MDC Partners-owned 72andSunny, out of its Amsterdam office.

Alessandro Benetton, VP at the company and son of Benetton’s founder Luciano, unveiled the campaign on 16th November in Paris. He said in a statement: “It fits perfectly with the values and history of Benetton, which chooses social issues and actively promotes humanitarian causes that could not otherwise have been communicated on a global scale, and in doing so has given a sense and a value to its brand, building a lasting dialogue with the people of the world.”

It’s also a smart move considering the company — which had been building year-over-year sales up through last year — in its latest earnings period saw net income fall 33% to $42.3 million. The dip was largely blamed on economic conditions. Currently Benetton has about 6,000 stores and its 2010 sales figures show that nearly 50% of its business is in Italy, about 30% is the rest of Europe, 16% is Asia, and the remaining 5% is from U.S.A and other parts of the world.

Full credits for the work can be found here.


Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Kim Kardashian’s marriage: PR ?

If PR Daily is writing about her, then is big. Not only news for fashionable magazines, but an example for PR itself.

The Kardashian family provokes strong feelings. You either love’em or you hate’em.

Whether the reality stars inspire devotion or dry heaving will likely dictate your reaction to the widely reported divorce between Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.

The pair was married two months ago in a much-hyped ceremony that was a big television event. While the couple shot a season of reality television in New York, rumors swirled that the relationship was on the rocks.

And now, 72 days after they said “I do,” Kim has filed for divorce.

Thus far, it has inspired the Twitter hashtag “Thingslongerthankimsmarriage,” which has been trending since word of the divorce leaked on Monday.

Days or weeks or months from now, Kim will do the People interview. She might talk to Barbara Walters before the Super Bowl. Humphries will talk to Matt Lauer. And we’ll all cast judgments on a relationship about which we have no idea—but that’s exactly why Kim made a reported $10,358.80 an hour while she was married to Humphries.

So, let’s judge. What do you think: Will the (soon to be) twice-divorced Kim come out of this looking more like Elizabeth Taylor—or a desperate fame junky?

My personal opinion is that it’s all about advertising. Glam life is better online, offline and at TV!

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Alternatives to press releases

What’s to do when press releases aren’t fashionable anymore ? Some tips here from Claire Celsi via PR Daily.

1. Pitch email. More than 90 percent of reporters claim they want to receive pitches via email. Given that you’re already emailing, just put your pitch in the form of a story, with bullet points emphasizing the most important details you want the reporter to know. Here is the key to a successful pitch email:

 Google the reporter’s name. After ensuring that she still writes for the news outlet, click on one of her recent articles. Make sure it is within the same genre as your pitch. In other words, if you are pitching a health-care story, make sure she covers health care.
• Write a one-paragraph personalized intro for every email you send. “I read your series on health-care abuses in the nursing home industry…” Show some interest in the reporter’s work.
• The remaining portion of the email can be the same for every reporter. This is your brief opportunity to capture the reporter’s interest with your pitch. Make it short, and make it interesting.
• Write a subject line that gets attention and describes your pitch. “For your information” is not a good subject line.

2. Make a website posting (preferably a blog post). 
If your client has a newsroom or a blog, post your pitch material in the form of a Web article or blog post. Use story-telling language, not a standard press release format. Tag the post with keywords, and link to the company’s website or to other information, if possible. You can start a new blog on Posterous in less than 15 minutes.

3. Send a Tweet. Turn your key idea into a tweet. With a little practice, you’ll be a pro at getting your message across in one or two tweets. Ideally, it would be great to send these messages to a reporter as a direct message, but if all else fails, go ahead and say: @JeffZeleny, did you know that the most outstanding pork tenderloin sandwich in Des Moines is at Smitty’s?” (Of course, you’ll want to come up with your own tweet material.) If the reporter does not respond, follow up with an email pitch.

4. Send a Facebook message. I’m friendly with a lot of local reporters on Facebook, but not so many national reporters. Even if you’re not friends with a reporter on Facebook, you can still send them a message. Attach a link or photo if you have one.

5. Pick up the phone. Sometimes a quick conversation to gauge a reporter’s interest can save you a lot of time, especially when it seems as though a reporter is no longer covering that beat. If you keep your call brief and courteous, the reporter will be happy to point you in the right direction. If they don’t answer or are on deadline, follow up with a pitch email.

6. Offer to meet a reporter for coffee if you’re both in the same city. Sometimes reporters are looking for any excuse they can to get out of the newsroom for a while.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

PR campaigns history by photo

American’s breakfast with eggs and bacon has an interesting PR story, written by the pioneer of the domain, Edward Bernays.

It took a survey of more than 5,000 doctors in the early 1920s by public relations pioneer Edward Bernays to convince Americans that a hearty protein-rich meal was recommended first thing in the morning.

Great campaign, indeed. What’s more, not only the American breakfast had a major campaign, but also other products. Again, a picture values more than a 1000 words.

Source: PR Daily

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.








Crisis situation: Takeaway Rembrandt

Do you know Jacob de Gheyn III ? I don’t, but art thefts kinda like his portrait, made by Rembrandt. Why this paining is so special ? Just because it has the title of most often stolen painting in the Guiness Book of Records, with its nickname The Takeaway Rembrandt.

A few works have been stolen twice, but hardly any paintings have been stolen more often than that. Except for one work: Rembrandt’s Portrait of Jacob de Gheyn (1632), which has been stolen four times from the same museum.

The picture, which hangs in the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, was stolen for the first time in 1966 by a gang of criminals hoping to resell it on the black market. Thanks to smart police work, it was recovered within two weeks, and hung back on its former spot. The second time it was stolen, in 1973, the thief did not enter the gallery at night like his predecessors, but simply walked into the gallery and put the painting in a plastic bag. He then walked out of the museum and mounted his bike, but was soon halted by policemen. The 24-year old thief boldly declared that he liked the look of the painting and wanted to sketch it.

In 1981, Portrait of Jacob de Gheyn was stolen for the third time. This time the two thieves entered the gallery during the day, one of them distracted the guard and the other took the painting from the wall. Indeed, it could not be simpler to steal a work of art from a museum, because the gallery simply could not afford expensive security measures. However, after the painting was retrieved after a couple of weeks, the museum decided to invest $ 20,000 in its security. Although the system worked this time – the police was alarmed when the thieves took the painting from the wall at night and arrived at the gallery three minutes later – it was too late: the thieves were already gone, and had taken the painting with them. This time it would take three years for the painting the resurface. It was found in Munster in 1986, but no one ever found out who had stolen it. Perhaps the art world criminals figured out that the painting is by now too famous to be resold, since for the past 25 years it remained safe in the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

I believe that this paining has nowadays the best crisis management plan. You ?

Source: Eclecticism.nl

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Social media: limit or limitless ?

As company, do you need one Facebook account connected with one Twitter account or you need more? Maybe two, three, four ? How much is too much asks David Rogers in Bnet.

What’s his answer?

By now, most businesses know they should have a presence on Facebook or Twitter. But the more digitally-savvy businesses often ask, How many? Should you have only one Facebook page? Or multiple ones?

While some brands, like JetBlue, are represented by a single corporate Facebook page and a single Twitter account, other brands, like Dell, seem to sprout new Twitter accounts and Facebook pages every day, one for every department or division. Does this make them more efficient? When is it too much–or too little?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple one-size-fits-all answer. The best approach depends on your business, customers, brands and overall media strategy.

When One Voice Is Best

The benefits of a single, unified presence on a given social media platform are clear. A single account makes it easier to build a sizable audience. It may help focus your social media efforts (especially if you are a small or medium-sized business). It will provide a clear presence for your brand, and will avoid confusion among your customers about where to go to find you online.

When You May Want to Manage Multiple Accounts

However, there are many cases why multiple voices may be more effective for achieving a business’ social media goals.

Following are 7 reasons why a business may do better with multiple accounts:

1. Different Business Units. Many larger companies are structured around distinct business units that serve customers with different needs. In these cases, it can be much more valuable to the customer to follow or connect with a social media presence that is specific to their own needs. Dell, for example, has separate Twitter or Facebook accounts for its enterprise (@dellenterprise), education (@dellEDU), and small business (@dellSMBnews) operating units. That way each account can provide content and interaction that is more relevant to the right customers. SimilarlyGE has separate accounts for GE capital, water, aviation, appliances, and lighting. And at Columbia University, where I teach, there are separate accounts for the Schools of Journalism, Law, and Business.

2. Different Geography & Languages. Businesses operating in different countries may find a need for distinct social media accounts, especially to suit different languages of customers there. Dell has separate Facebook pages for India, Thailand, and Malaysia, among others. The Johnnie Walker spirits brand has a single master Facebook page that links to 32 international Facebook pages, allowing for content that is customized and in the local language: Mexico (Spanish), Brasil (Portuguese), Israel (Hebrew), and others.

3. Different Content Topics. Media companies and other idea-focused businesses that are producing a great deal of content for their customers may want to set up different social media accounts around different topics, so that customers can select those which are most relevant to them. The New York Timesruns numerous Twitter and Facebook accounts that spotlight the content of its various sections: Politics, Science, Travel, Food, Music, or even the Crossword Puzzle. Similarly, a university may set up separate accounts focused on atheletics, arts events, career placement, or even specific events or conferences.

4. Different Local Branches. Some businesses that have a brick-and-mortar retail presence may benefit from separate social media accounts for local branches. Whole Foods combines an overall corporate presence in social media with numerous accounts for individual branches (from Detroit and Chicago, to my hometown market in Montclair, NJ). This allows customers to get localized information about events, store news, and special deals happening at their own branch.

5. Different Social Media Strategies. Separate accounts can also be valuable when a business is trying to use the same social media platform for different strategic aims. Comcast uses one Twitter account as a customer service channel, and another one to share information on its community investment program. GE’s @GEreports provides news on technical innovations to its investor community, whereas accounts like @GEresearchjobs focus on hiring. Dell has run a very successful standalone Twitter account focused on sales of discounted inventory, @delloutlet.

6. Unique Voices within the Company. For companies with social media-savvy employees, and a great many customers seeking to interact online, it is sometimes beneficial to add personal corporate accounts in social media. These are accounts that are named by the company, but identified by a particular employee (from Zappos’s CEO Tony Hsieh, to customer service specialist @ComcastBill).

7. Unique Sub-Brands with Strong Personalities. If a company’s product brands, or sub-brands, have a strong enough personality of their own, customers may be more interested in connecting with them in social media, than with the corporate master brand. (Would you sooner “like” the Dove brand, or its parent Unilever corp?) Chevrolet has its own accounts on Twitter and Facebook, but also maintains accounts for Chevy Trucks, Chevy Camaro, Corvette, and the new all-electric Chevy Volt. The typical customer for Chevy Trucks and the Volt are likely quite different.

Making Sense to Your Customer

In essence, the decision of one or many voices within social media comes down to an understanding of your brand architecture (are you seen as one company? Or a collection of exciting brands?), and of your customer base (is it relatively homogeneous? Or do you have distinct networks of customers, which don’t overlap very much?).

If you do have good reason to establish separate social media accounts, and the resources to support them, make sure you keep them clear for your customer. The goal should be to avoid confusion, while allowing for more relevant and meaningful interactions with customers that build long term relationships and add value to your business.


Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Some PR politics

War or not, everybody needs PR. Today, according to PR Week, we found out that Muammar Gaddafi’s regime had plans to embark on an anti-Nato PR campaign in Britain.

The Daily Telegraph reported over the weekend that documents found in the Libya’s Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi’s abandoned office detailed the creation of a £8.8m fund to pay British and foreign campaigners to change the public perception of Nato’s intervention in the country.

The discover of the plans comes weeks after an email was sent to a host of London PR agencies by Libya’s Ministry of Information asking for PR support to improve the image of Gaddafi.

The paper wrote that the documents included plans to pay selected foreigners, the regime thought would be ‘sympathetic to Gaddafi’, up to £2m to lobby on his behalf.

Among the British officials named in the documents was a lobbyist who the Gaddafi government was planning to pay £200,000 a week, up to a total of £2m, to create an anti-war think tank called the Centre of Non-Intervention.
The paper reported that the lobbyist’s remit included releasing reports and studies, hosting lectures and conferences with ‘well-known British political thinkers’ and achieving the end goal – to ‘reject foreign intervention in Libya and around the world’.

Porter Novelli EMEA head of corporate Alex Woolfall said any agency attracted by this offer would ‘have taken leave of its senses’ and that now, more than ever, PR agencies are under ‘as much scrutiny as the clients they represent – they have their own reputations to think about’.

‘Assuming such a plan existed – I think it shows a pretty naïve view of what PR and lobbying actually is and can do,’ he said. ‘We complain about the media in this country, but they are a long way off from swallowing hook, line and sinker what they’re told by lobbyists. So, I can hardly see why they thought a few individuals would sway public opinion.’

Insignia Communications founder Jonathan Hemus agred: ‘When deciding with whom they would work, agencies draw the line at different places – and in some cases the lure of a large budget can move the line. But PR for the Gadaffi regime is way over the line for any agency I can think of.

‘In a strange way, the fact that the Gadaffi regime would consider spending such a large amount of money on PR just goes to underline the power and effectiveness of communication. It’s incumbent upon the mainstream PR industry to use that power responsibly.’

The Gaddafi regime also reportedly planned to ask Labour peer Lord Ahmed, who has campaigned for peace in Libya, to join the campaign. Lord Ahmed told the paper he had not been approached.

The Telegraph said the regime set aside an overall budget of £8.8m for the political and public relations campaign.

What’s next ?

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

How to sell social media

An image that makes more than 1000 words. Excellent via Johnatan Rick.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Crisis management: Toyota case

Today I found an interesting case study about crisis management: Toyota. Mashable is presenting the facts and the story of Toyota via social media:

In January 2010, Toyota faced a nightmare situation for any brand, but particularly for one that staked its reputation on safety and quality: The company had to recall 2.3 million vehicles because of faulty accelerator pedals.

Suddenly, Toyota was trending on Google and Twitter on a daily basis, but for all the wrong reasons. Auto brands had faced similar crises before — Audi in particular grappled with a gas accelerator recall in the 1980s — but none had done so under the 24/7 scrutiny of social media.

But Kimberley Gardiner, Toyota’s national digital marketing and social media manager, saw an opportunity as well.

“Right away, we were seeing a lot of conversation and getting a lot of people who were using social media to reach out to us,” she says. “We didn’t have a lot of answers at the beginning.”

Toyota’s social media team, which was only a few months old at the time, decided to address the situation head on, but in a novel way: via Digg.

Before Digg’s disastrous Version 4 hit in August 2010, the site had a lot more social media influence. Recall that in 2009, Digg’s traffic ranged from 37 million to 44 million unique visitors each month. Plus, the site had outsize influence on Google News searches. At the time, it seemed like the best place for Toyota to get its message across.

On February 8, Toyota served up Jim Lentz, president of Toyota’s North American sales operation, to the masses in the form of a Digg Dialogg. In many ways, the appearance was a stroke of genius. For one thing, Lentz didn’t actually appear on Digg, but on a dedicated video site. The questions, which were voted on by fans (the ones with the most votes rose to the top) also wound up being pretty softball. “They were mostly general questions, like ‘What kind of car does Mr. Lentz drive?’” says Florence Drakton, social media manager. (“That’s a great question,” a clearly relieved Lentz answers.) Lentz’s interview, which ran 28 minutes, is still available on YouTube:

It was hard to beat the reach Toyota got from the appearance. Within a week, the Dialogg had received 1.2 million views. “Probably the biggest indicator of interest was there were 3,200 questions,” says Drakton. “Only celebrities have gotten that much.” In addition to reaching a fairly big audience, the Dialogg gave Toyota theappearance of achieving social media branding nirvana: Transparency. Though there were other factors at play, like news fatigue, researcher YouGov’s BrandIndex, which polls 5,000 Internet users daily, saw a bottoming out around the time of the Dialogg. Note: YouGov’s scores are based on consumers’ perception of the brand. A positive is +100 and negative is -100.

The best news for Toyota, though, is the company’s brand perception among those in the market for a car within the next six months is high. In YouGov’s most recent survey, Toyota was second only to Honda among that audience; the brand had leapfrogged Ford sometime in August.

Looking back, Gardiner says although the Digg Dialoggs (there were two more in July and August of 2010) were successful, if the same thing happened today, she’d probably use a TweetChat on Twitter instead. In fact, the medium is a favorite of Toyota’s, which has held several such chats in the last few months. Facebook, Gardiner says, is a great way to reach out to Toyota owners, but Twitter addresses those consumers who might be skeptical about the brand.

The choice of the exact form of social media may be beside the point, though. Like Dell, which became a social media poster child after its Dell Hell debacle, Toyota’s recall situation forced the company to embrace social media. “Toyota is an organization that is not used to being on camera and in the spotlight,” Gardiner says. “It was new to many people in the organization. It’s not something you plan for. We’re learning as we go.”

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.


What can a T-shirt do ?

oana vasiliuI never thought that a T-shirt can make such a buzz. But it can and it almost transformed it in a crisis situation. JCPenney received a lesson about what social media means in terms of public opinion.

According PR Daily, on 1st of September JCP is apologizing for the message which is printed to a T-shirt that is sold on their website: “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.”

The promo copy for the shirt reads: “Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out? She’ll love this tee that’s just as cute and sassy as she is.”

Being smart is so last season.

Backlash on the company’s Facebook page has been swift, with people condemning the company for selling the shirt. One commenter writes:

It will be quite some time before I spend my dollars at [JCPenney]. I also question the person(s) responsible for making the decision to manufacture and sell this particular t-shirt. Are they still employed with JCP….and what will they ‘create’ next? Insulting at the very least. [JCPenney], as a corporation, should be so very ashamed of themselves.”

oana vasiliuA number of commenters also expressed confusion as to why people are getting so worked up about a T-shirt. Another commenter says: “Just don’t buy the T-shirt simple as that.”

JCPenney has agreed to pull the T-shirt from its website and has apologized for producing it. A rep from the company’s corporate communications department told the Village Voice:

“We are not happy about the shirt! We’re looking into it right now, to find out how it happened. It was only online, not available in stores, and we have removed it from the site.”

Companies, be very careful what you do. The public has more and more power in their hands so be prepared for what’s worse.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

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