Why Aren’t They Calling It Public Relations Redefined?

November 30, 2011

by Roger Pynn

I guess you know you’ve been around too long when for the second time in your career you see people organizing to try to define what you do.  The Public Relations Society of America and ten other professional societies around the world have joined what is called the “Public Relations Defined” initiative.  I’m not sure why they put it in quotes, but I am sure of one thing:   if they ever agree, it will be around some definition sure to make me yawn.

I wonder if the professional organizations that support hardware stores have gotten a grip on what they do.  Most of us, I think, would say “they sell hardware and hopefully tell people how to use what they sell.”

For Pete’s sake, we help people communicate and build relationships and in the process we take advantage of a constantly changing set of tools.  Best wishes to the initiative.


AMR Bankruptcy Messaging Off Base

November 30, 2011

by Roger Pynn

Admitting you’re broke is never easy … unless, like American Airlines’ parent AMR Corp. you’re planning to buy 460 new airplanes, which might just leave a few of your paying customers wondering if the planes they are flying on today are safe.

From a messaging perspective, the only thing dumber than reassuring frequent flyers that their bonus miles are still worth the paper they aren’t printed on was AMR CEO Tom Horton saying the company’s contracts for those planes with Boeing and Airbus are “rock solid,” the same day the airline filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors.

That’s like saying “look, we’ve made a mess out of this operation, so we’d like permission to stick it to all the people we owe money to … then we’ll start all over again and see if we can get it right this time.”

Someone is going to hurt … and it doesn’t appear to be AMR.


Cyber Monday Cabernet

November 30, 2011

by Roger Pynn

I’m a wine lover and so the only thing that motivated me to make an online purchase on Cyber Monday was a promotion from my favorite California vineyard … Clos Pegase from whom I’ve purchased wine for many years.  Admittedly, it had been a long time since I’d ordered from them (I used to belong to their wine club, but when the wine cabinet always seemed overstocked I gave that up).

So when I arrived at their online store and was greeted with a request to renew my relationship with a new user ID and password, I groaned but started the process.  Three tries later I looked for a phone number … but frankly I didn’t have high hopes of help.

Clearly this company puts as much attention on relationship management as they do on making fine wine.  In a matter of a few minutes I had been greeted, transferred to a person who promised to help and had my new profile in place and my order confirmed.

What a deal … a great buy on great wine and great customer service!


What’s in a Handshake?

November 29, 2011

by Kim Taylor

With each new encounter, I’m certain the phrase “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,”  extends far beyond the polish on your shoes or the crease in your pants.  When meeting someone for that all-important first time knowing a handshake is in the cards, how much thought do you put into the strength and confidence of that seemingly unimportant gesture?”

I’ve personally met dozens of people who – at first glance – were ready to knock me off my feet with their poise, intelligence and confidence only to be disappointed by the equivalent of a dead fish handshake.  Perhaps I’m alone in this, but it’s just one of those things that stick with me far beyond the first interaction.

Be advised, though, stronger is not always better.  This old article from CNN offers 10 Nightmarish Handshakes to Avoid, and gives a few more tips on executing an effective handshake.

So, next time you extend your hand for a shake, won’t you consider turning your wimpy grip into a firm, but not bone-crushing squeeze?


A Balanced Thank You

November 18, 2011

by Heather Keroes

Does this look appetizing to you?

While on my way to work this morning, one of the guards from my apartment community approached my vehicle, signaling for me to stop. Curious, but not too thrilled about any impediments on my already hurried journey to the office, I rolled down my window. The guard handed me a torn paper bag and kindly said that my community is happy to have me as a resident and wanted to show their appreciation by treating me to breakfast.

Looking down at the bag made me oddly reminiscent of grade school, but this early morning variant of the “bag lunch” was disappointing. A green banana, juice box, and crumbly, slightly melted granola bar do not make for a balanced breakfast. Also stuffed in the bag was a card asking me to rate my community’s maintenance service and support. Even if the maintenance guys did a fabulous job, this “thank you” breakfast was not encouraging me to take the time to go online and say so.

And so, our lesson of the day … thanking your loyal customers is always a good idea, but the delivery of your appreciation is just as important. This summer we worked with our client South Walton to develop a beach appreciation team, who combed the area beaches, thanking visitors. They didn’t hand out not-yet-ripened bananas. Rather, we focused on handing out fun prizes and promotional items like branded beach balls and Frisbees – items kids actually want to play with when at the beach.

My apartment community’s concept was good, but the execution was lacking. Good thing I already ate before leaving for work today.


Well done, JC Penney!

November 15, 2011

by Kim Taylor

The last time I remember reading anything about JC Penney’s digital strategy, they were under fire for questionable SEO practices—to put it mildly, they were ousted by The New York Times.

Today, however, they’re generating buzz online for a holiday campaign featuring Quick Response (QR) Codes.

QR codes, while perhaps not quite “mainstream” yet, have been used in retail advertising and weekly sales ads, but JC Penney is hoping to replace traditional gift tags with Santa Tags they’ll supply with each store purchase through the holidays.

Each tag lets its gift-giver record a personal message—abolishing the need for that pesky “From:”  field on your gifts.

The clever application doesn’t stop there.  They’ve also incorporated the ability to thank the gift-giver with text response.

Well done, JC Penney.  This is almost as good as not having the Kardashian Kollection in your stores.


CNN’s iReport takes a Step in the Right Direction

November 14, 2011

by Kim Taylor

We haven’t exactly been shy about our feelings for CNN’s iReport, but I think CNN’s latest move to re-launch iReport as a ‘social network for news’ is the smartest thing to happen in media since catvertising (OK, I’m kidding about that last part … hopefully they are, too.).

When my partner, Dan Ward, wrote about CNN iReport, he was clearly disturbed by the news organization’s burning desire to create would-be journalists out of any schmuck with a video camera.  And, who could blame him?  While I can see the cursory value, I also acknowledge that the lines between hard-hitting journalist and blogger are already blurry enough.

iReport’s re-launch includes the addition of profiles, the ability to follow users, and badges—all of which make the site much more “social network” and hopefully much less likely to be confused with CNN’s vetted news products.

I think this is a step in the right direction, what do you think?


Breaking News: We’re Going to Report Breaking News

November 14, 2011

by Dan Ward

Oh, I wish I could have been in the room when Orlando Sentinel Reporter Anthony Colarossi got this assignment.

Colarossi reported this morning, on the Orlando Sentinel Breaking News Center, that the Orlando Sentinel plans to publish a story at midnight regarding a book written by Casey Anthony Prosecutor Jeff Ashton.

That’s right.  A talented reporter wrote a “breaking news” story, announcing that his newspaper plans to publish a news story.

I must have missed the breaking news story about the addition of editorial staff to the Sentinel’s marketing department.  It’s just more evidence to support my colleague Heather Keroes’ assertion that Web clicks are more important than content.


Adding Insult to Injury

November 14, 2011

by Julie Primrose

Two months ago, Roger Pynn wrote about the Central Basin Municipal Water District of California that, under contract with its PR firm, Coghlan Consulting Group, paid to place fake stories on an online news site.  At the time, the website was indexed by Google News and included several positive stories that would appear whenever someone searched for the organization.

As if the first breach of ethics wasn’t enough, Coghlan and the Central Basin are coming under fire again for fabricating information about the “journalists” who wrote for the News Hawks Review website.  The Los Angeles Times reported that photos, educational backgrounds, work experience and even the identities of the bylined reporters had all been falsified.

Rather than paying for fake news on a fake news website, the Central Basin should have spent its time, money and efforts communicating with its publics in a transparent manner.  Instead, it’s now a dark spot on the reputation of our often misjudged profession.


Positioning and need.

November 8, 2011

by Roger Pynn

Haven’t referenced Seth Godin in a long time, but I still find his short and simple posts far more appealing than many of today’s online marketing minds.  He writes here about positioning and in the end what he’s talking about is differentiation.  Many of us have become so caught up in what we call “branding” that it is often easy to forget about establishing unique selling proposition.

More importantly, as Seth points out, once you’ve established what makes you unique … you still have to motivate someone to want it.  As marketers, we have to create demand and that usually means convincing your audience that they really need what you have.

And that takes us back to research … taking the time to find out and know what people feel they need (rather than assuming you know) shortens the selling path and creates lasting customer relationships because they know they can count on you to meet their needs.


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