Timing is Everything

February 9, 2017

by Kacie Escobar

Chili’s just lifted its permanent ban on Pam Beesly Halpert … and fans of NBC’s “The Office” are eating it up.

In a memorable episode, Pam (played by Jenna Fischer) is banned from the restaurant for causing a disturbance during a company party.  Asking fans whether she should go inside, the actress recently tweeted a selfie in front of a Chili’s, triggering nearly 500,000 combined retweets, likes and comments.

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Chili’s was quick to reply and “officially” lift the ban on Fischer’s character.

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Complete with a quote from the company president, the announcement extended the life of the social media event across two days.  It even prompted some of Fischer’s co-stars to join the fun, enabling the brand to reach thousands of additional followers:

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Because of its timely response, Chili’s is now on a growing list of brands that have successfully capitalized on popular culture to boost social media engagement.  These brands understand that the timing of your communication is just as important as the message.


Pump the Brakes on Digital

September 15, 2016

by Kacie Escobar

“Not so fast,” implies a recent Pew Research Center report, which pumps the brakes on the communications industry’s rapid migration to digital.

Despite what industry outlooks might lead us to believe about the internet as the most popular pathway to news, nearly 60 percent of Americans turn to TV most often.  Online platforms, including social media, websites and mobile apps, lag behind by nearly 20 percentage points.

As we’ve shared before, “Connecting with the audiences that are important to your success is the essence of good public relations.

There’s no doubt online news is “reshaping Americans’ news habits,” as the study suggests.  Put all your eggs in one basket, however, and you could fail to reach key audiences.


Time for Good News

June 23, 2016

by Kacie Escobar

It’s been almost two weeks since the tragedy in Orlando and the volume of related coverage has been overwhelming.

We initially refocused our media relations strategy, postponing news release distributions and working with reporters to table several stories in the works.  Call it an approach to avoid appearing tone deaf.  But, frankly, any other “news” just didn’t seem newsworthy in light of recent headlines.

No one can escape the sadness of stories about such events – certainly not the journalists who write them.  That’s why an email I received yesterday stood out.  An editor inquired about one of our clients.  He said the paper is desperate for uplifting news.

Although we will never forget, the email made clear that our community is beginning to overcome this difficult time.  As the healing process continues, local headlines will become a more positive reflection of The City Beautiful and PR pros are vital to advancing that transition.

It may be counterintuitive to seek publicity during this dark time, but your good news could be just what the media needs.


What’s Your Brand Worth?

August 20, 2015

by Kacie Boniberger

Would you change your brand for $20 million?  That’s the question facing upstate New York’s Paul Smith’s College.  According to The New York Times, a generous gift from 20-year board of trustees member and benefactor, Joan Weill, would help reverse Paul Smith’s College’s financial troubles – but only if the school changes its name to Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College.

The board of trustees is behind the change, and by the looks of Paul Smith’s home page, already planning how to spend the $20 million:

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Considering the overall impact of changing brand elements like a name or tagline, however, Weill’s gift might not be worth the price.  Paul Smith was founded under a family name synonymous with the best of the Adirondacks – a family known for humble beginnings and a pioneering spirit.  In contrast, Joan Weill and her late husband are known for transforming financial services and being billionaire philanthropists.  Two totally different ideals.  And, combining them would force the college to assume a new identity to accommodate both.

A court decision yesterday was supposed to determine whether the school would officially accept its new name, but the judge deferred ruling until more information could be presented.  At the hearing were about 15 people in opposition; they are joined by more than 3,000 alumni and community members in this Facebook group, and by more than 3,200 who have signed a Change.org petition.

I can’t lie … I would agree to change my name in a second if it meant a few million dollars in my bank account.  Although, in this case, rebranding should be an alternative, not “Option A.”  By acquiescing to Weill’s demand, not only is the board of trustees alienating thousands of alumni who have publicly voiced their opposition online, but it’s ignoring a responsibility to maintain the college’s integrity.

Plus, isn’t the meaning of philanthropy to show altruistic concern?  If Weill’s sincere motive is to help Paul Smith’s College maintain a brand promise to its students, alumni and community, her gift should come with much different stipulations – especially considering two buildings on campus already have her name.

A rebranding initiative shouldn’t be the result of a paycheck.  Special care should be taken to evaluate the effectiveness of your current brand elements, the opinions of your key stakeholders and the potential positive and negative impacts of a change.

What do you think?  Is $20 million worth sacrificing your brand?


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