Retailers opening on Thanksgiving, bad PR?

This year, you might have noticed several big-name retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving to start Black Friday deals, many as early as 8pm. Why are they doing this? Some believe the jump start on shopping will benefit the economy, others say it’s becoming more of a holiday norm. While these might be reasons to consider, what the retailers don’t seem to notice is that breaching into early holiday shopping has caused some-what of a PR mess.

Lets look at this issue from a consumers perspective. I think we can all agree that Thanksgiving is not about buying a laptop for 100 cheaper, but about spending time with family and friends. And this is exactly what many Americans are agreeing with. They are complaining that the new opening hours are ruining the Thanksgiving spirit. This kind of attitude surely cannot help a business’s image if people think they are ruining Thanksgiving. Although you could look at it this way: Is it the people who feel that they need to shop at 8pm on Thanksgiving the ones who are ruining Thanksgiving? Surely another way to think of things.

Not only do i think this is bad external PR, but its also hurting the companies internally. With the exception of a few that want the extra cash, many of the employees are complaining about having to work on this holiday. The companies are saying they are family-friendly, yet making their employees work on a holiday that is suppose to be spent with their family. This is not going over well with those who want to celebrate Thanksgiving the traditional ways. Some employees of the big box retailers have even launched an online protest via urging retailers to remain closed on Thanksgiving. From a PR standout, it’s crucial that these companies show their employees that they are more important than a small increase in holiday sales. If they don’t, it makes them seem like a scrooge.

I personally think its ridiculous to shop on thanksgiving, and i do believe that retailers are pressuring consumers to shop on this holiday by opening up early. I feel like consumers wouldn’t feel like they had to shop on thanksgiving if retailers just waited till the early morning of actual Black Friday. As a consumer, i see retailers not being compassionate, especially when i see people working at a time when they should be with their loved ones. Maybe if the executives of these companies skipped the pumpkin pie and went to work as well, i’d feel a little better.


Is video becoming the PR star?

So lately I’ve really gotten into researching how video fits into PR. This class blog mostly has pushed me to do so, yet I’m finding that on my own I’ve really enjoyed exploring the internet to find some answers. I’ve opened up some pretty interesting doors and come across some things that i definitely think could help me in my career goals.

I came across a couple articles today that i thought would speak more generally to you all about the idea of video becoming an increasingly important tool in engaging business audiences.

One of the main things I’ve noticed that these articles touch on is the opportunities that sites such as Youtube, Vimeo, and Metacafe bring to public relations. With the growing presence of iPads, iPhones, and other smart technology, people are becoming more and more visually engaged. This means that they are more likely to respond to videos and images, rather than reading an article. Videos allow us to put a face on a story and summarize ideas in a quick and engaging manner. And with most of these hosting sites being free, not to mention falling costs of production, it just makes sense to use video now a days. Lets see some stats that one of the articles points out:

-YouTube receives two billion hits a day, twice as much as 2009 levels, and 24 hours-worth of video is uploaded every single minute – again, twice as much as in 2009.

-Only seven per cent of communication is actually what’s said and the rest is tone and body language (experts say), then surely video is the perfect medium to express yourself.

-Video is 52 per cent more likely to appear on the front page of Google search for keywords than word.

These stats right here should be enough to get you even wondering how you can tap into the world of video. Besides, the mass communications world is always changing. One of the articles said that the “digital first” strategy has taken off, and it won’t be long until it becomes the norm to use in public relations.

Making videos for PR does not mean you have to make a viral, Emmy nominated video. There are simple ways to take advantage of using digital media. For one, you could make a video tutorials, virals, press announcements, customer testimonials, video blogs or company presentations. But if you do these things, you need to get creative. It shouldn’t repeat what you’ve already said on your other content. The only way that you will be successful with this is if you develop powerful, creative content that will enhance your chances of interesting what may be a small, but high-value audience.

We all know that measuring your success is a huge, if not the most important part of any public relations effort. The second article says that this is quite easy to do when using video content. They say that measuring metrics could include numbers of views, channel subscribers, number of tweets/shares/embeds/blogs, in-bound traffic or link backs. Use analytics tools such as Google Analytics or YouTube Insights, if you’re hosting on YouTube, or other tools that tell you where your content is being mentioned, such as Addictomatic, SocialMention or BoardTracker.

I would defiantly advise to check out these articles, as well as others, to see for yourself the impact that video can have in public relations.

Atomic PR agency overview

I just recently discovered a PR agency that seems to combine video and PR quite nicely. I’ve actually been doing a lot of research lately and found that there are in fact many PR agencies that are mixing video techniques into campaign approaches. Atomic PR is just one of those agencies who have had huge success and recognition with this approach. Lets take a closer look at what they’re all about.

Atomic PR is a local, national, and global agency a part of Grayling, a global agency with over 40 offices located around the world. They’re based off using analytics to guide creative and strategy, and to evaluate results in PR and social campaigns. They know what things apply to all brands and the relationship between digital and print communications. Their management includes senior executives that were drawn from the ranks of top PR platforms.

Lets next look at the services they provide. According to their website, they provide “strategic, creative programs guided by analytics. We bring new energy to plateaued programs, reposition established brands, and launch new companies and products. Our programs mix PR with digital/social media, video, events and other activities as needed. It’s a fresh approach that often works 100%+ better across various key measures of campaign performance. Often on lower budgets.” The first thing I’m gravitated towards is that they mix PR with digital/social media and video. And the fact that they recognize that this is a fresher approach the works better. I believe that utilizing video in public relations is becoming something that we see more of and whoever is utilizing it now, in creative ways, are the people who are on top of the game. Atomic PR is on top of their game with a full in house production studio run internally by their digital media team. These people are in charge of video creative, production, and distribution services.

So how do they go about doing things? Atomic PR uses sophisticated analytics to help their teams and clients notice subtleties, develop sharper insights, generate smarter strategy, and come up with more informed creative ideas constructed to connect with specific individuals and communities. The platform is called ComContext and it is designed to help monitor, store, and analyze all components of their services. It is known to be one of the best performance discovery and reporting platforms from a PR agency. After all we as PR professionals need to make sure our ideas are working the way we want them to work.

What’s their track record you ask? Atomic PR has worked with a variety of clients of all sizes and stages in consumer, technology, Web, entertainment, sustainability and non-profit. Some of their big name clients have included the Susan G. Koman foundation, Verizon Wireless, Living Social, and IMAX. One of their most successful campaigns was working with Sony. The campaign was called “Catch the Tablet”, a social media campaign, combining Facebook, Twitter and gaming elements to give fans in top, high markets across the US the opportunity to win a Tablet and increase social buzz for Sony.We built a Facebook tab as a central hub where Sony fans could learn about and RSVP for events and use interactive maps to discover exactly where to go to “Catch the Tablet.” Sony and Atomic social media staffers turned up with the Tablet in hand in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Chicago. To enter, fans had to locate the team, take a photo with the Tablet and tweet it out with the #catchthetablet hashtag. Or go to a Sony Store and photograph the Tablet there. Or simply submit their email address on the tab. Fans could also vote to add their city to the tour. Sony’s Seattle fans rallied and secured nearly 40 percent of the vote, earning a party in their city with free food and drinks, Sony gift bags, and hands-on time with the Tablet. According to The Next Web, #CatchTheTablet is the most successful social media campaign ever implemented by Sony in the US.

Overall, this company sounds like it has a leading edge in the PR world with their analytical approach and combination of digital/social media and tradition PR techniques.

Going Viral

One of my biggest career goals is to combine public relations and my love of producing videos. So naturally, i didn’t just want to write an article review over the newest PR ‘tips and tricks’. I hoped to find a way to relate videos to public relations, at least in a knowledgeable way that is beneficial to you all.

So i think i found something today. Maybe a couple somethings that all relate to each other.

Everyday i usually try to watch a couple of short films on, ya know.. for inspiration. There’s really some great stories on there, so if your interested, or just want to waste a whole afternoon with your laptop giving your stomach first degree burns from overheating, i’d definitely suggest visiting this site. Well anyways, i decided to check out the articles section and found this little gem:

The article is called “The Viral Experience” and while it’s target audience might be filmmakers, i think we can all pull out a couple things from this article that can relate to PR and especially our class reading ‘The Tipping Point’. It’s about how videos can go viral overnight, but more importantly its about how to take those 5 million clicks and make it into something tangible. A video that does something more than just say “Hey, 5 million people have seen me.” The article says that it relies on five elements: luck, creativity, talent, timing, and content.

So why is this important to us? How does an article talking about films going viral relate to what we’re learning? Easy. Lets look back to the online video sensation that took us and the social media world by storm: Kony 2012.

The Kony 2012 video took all five elements and created one of the most memorable and compelling social media campaigns to have hit the internet. You all know you’ve watched the video. How did we sit through this 30-minute long video, while most of us we wouldn’t bother to wait more than 10 seconds for a video to load? Why did a lot of us take the time to share this video over Facebook and Twitter, or change our cover photos to the Kony 2012 banner? While it was probably more strategic than lucky, i don’t think think you can deny that the answers to these questions can be because it used the elements mentioned in the Viral Experience article. But I’m not going to apply these elements in terms of filmmaking. I’m going to apply them in terms of public relations.

First off, it was creative. It used social media in an authentic and relevant way; simply asking asked others at the end of the video to spread the word. Not much to it, yet powerful. Second, it obviously involved some talent. Yes the video was well produced, shot, and edited, but the campaign in general included some big time talent in itself: Rihanna, Ryan Seacrest, and President Obama, just to name a few. Third, the timing was on spot. Invisible children waited to release the video until they built up there core audience that included 54 thousand followers. Lastly, and most importantly, was the content of the video. The producer developed a compelling storyline to clearly connect Invisible Children’s message. He even made it personal and had his young son intertwined into the story.

To some things up, I think that videos can and do have an impact on the PR world. To me, public relations isn’t just about press releases and public speaking, it’s also about telling stories. If i can tell my client’s story through videos like Kony 2012, then i think thats a pretty powerful PR “Tip and Trick.”

Be sure to check out this article as well, it inspired some of this post.

Bailey Lauerman PRSSA Presentation

Tonight i went to a professional engagement presentation of Bailey Lauerman. Bailey Lauerman is a small advertising agency based out of Omaha, Nebraska. Although they are small with about 100 employees, they have worked with some of America’s biggest brands including Disney, ConAgra, and the Special Olympics. My personal favorite is their Disney campaign which was based on getting parents to take their kids to Disney “before it’s too late”. They had some awesome commercials and banners along with some pretty clever tag lines. Bailey Lauerman also has a PR branch that has worked with the 2008 and 2012 olympic swim trials that came to Omaha.

The presenter for tonight was Rich Claussen, who is in charge of their talent development. He first began his presentation talking about their summer 2013 internship opportunity called the Bailey Lauerman Experience. It’s a 6-week intern program compromised of 6 students that work in different departments. The departments range from the creative development branch, to the digital branch. During the 6 weeks, interns work with a mentor to help them on projects that the intern team is working on. Last summer, the intern team works with the Smithsonian Museum. This internship program sounds like it would be very beneficial and interesting. I have definitely taken interest in it and am planning on applying. If you all are interested the link is and the deadline is Dec 31st.

Rich didn’t only talk about the company and the internship, but he also gave us ten great pieces of advice to apply when working in the mass communications industry, especially pr and advertising.

1.) Avoid becoming a slave to technology: technology can never replace original thinking. In this industry you need to be able to think on your feet and come up with something that is original.
2.) Be willing to work all hours: sometimes if deadlines are coming up fast or your really into your work a don’t want to stop, you might work a full 24 hour day. At Bailey Lauerman, they require at least 40 hours a week, but many work more. It’s not your typical 9-5 job
3.) Redevelop the curiosity of a child: always be asking “Why?” to everything. It’ll get you closer to the root.
4.) Pay attention to details: Always pause, and double check things before you hit send or post. They give students one second chance to make an impression, but they won’t give professionals a look.
5.) Golden Retrievers are happier than bulldogs: you don’t have to be an ass to get ahead. Be humble, classy, and leave your ego at the door.
6.) Be optimistic: Nobody wants to be around someone who complains or has a negative attitude. Also an idea you think is not good enough, might turn out to be the best work ever. You never know unless you try.
7.) The world is full of pukey ads: be mindful of what is great work and what is not
8.) Seek fame, not fortune: Combine what you love to do and what your naturally good at, and you will get paid for it. Don’t do something for the money, do it because you love it.
9.) Trim the unnecessary: By senior year, you should have a strong focus on what you want to do when you graduate.
10.) Put all of your eggs in one basket: Get really good in a specific area of PR and focus on that. Be the best in one thing, rather than just good in many things.

Overall the presentation was very inspiring and insightful. It defiantly gave me a taste of what to expect if I intern or work for a company like that. I look forward to applying and hopefully getting a chance to intern with their creative department.

Take away quote of the night: “Passion is what you feel in your gut, it’s what kicks you when you fail”

Jeff Morris Presentation

A couple weeks ago I attended a lecture from Jeff Morris, Vice President of Communications and Marketing at K-State. Two of his colleagues, a PR Writer and PR Director, were there to accompany Morris. The whole lecture was about a typical day in the life of their different PR positions here at K-State. Now this has been something I was always interested in, to know what a typical day would be like in the PR world. I have never shadowed anyone in a professional world, and none of my other PR classes had ever touched on it, so I was excited to here from real life professionals about some of the stuff they did.

The speakers had a planned PowerPoint presentation that started from 8 a.m., when they arrived to work, to 4 p.m. and even sometimes later. Throughout the whole day, the PR writer creates new releases, tweets, and gathers university information, and sets up interviews. To me that sounds like a lot of dirty work, and maybe that’s just because I’m not into writing news releases and articles. Although I it would be interesting to interview all sorts of people, I don’t think it would be the job for me. The next position was the PR Director. His day consists of more responsibility such as managing the PR writers, communicating with Jeff, and dealing with crises. I think this would be a much more manageable position for me, because I like being a leader, but I also like being apart of the team. The last position talked about was the Jeff’s job, Vice President. From what I picked up, his day consists of drinking coffee, meetings, and fabulous dinners. Of course that’s not all he does, but still, a pretty sweet gig if you ask me.

So when I left the presentation, I had a little more clarity on what I wanted my future to be in PR. I realized I definitely do not want to be a writer, but I also realized I definitely want to work in a team.