The root cause of most scandals is institutional belief in infallibility. For the Catholic Church, papal decree established it in 1870, and as the award-winning movie Spotlight so clearly illustrated, it is still a part of the Church’s culture. For politicians, winning elections seems to convince them that they can get away with anything (think John Edwards and Mark “hiking the Appalachian trail” Sanford). In corporations it generally comes from a narcissistic CEO. We’ve noted this corollary in numerous columns: the more ego-driven the leader, the more likely the corporation is to suffer a PR crisis.
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So here you are: You’ve landed your dream summer internship. Look at you! Being an ambitious, forward-thinking go-getter, you’re already wondering how to convert it into a full-time job. We were in your shoes not long ago. Below are the most important things we did as interns to land full-time gigs. To add perspective, we’ve invited our boss, Becky Boles, to add her thoughts on what it takes to get hired by a major communications firm.
When negative news, such as a recall or a possible E. coli outbreak, hits the headlines, how should brand communicators handle it? And since most PR News Pro readers are outside the food sector, let’s broaden the discussion: How should communicators react when negative items about their brand make news? We’ll use food as a jumping-off point. The tactics and strategies we’ll cover apply to most sectors.
It is becoming increasingly critical to meet the needs of businesses that operate in different markets around the world. As a result, many companies are integrating global media measurement programs into their communications plans to provide a worldwide roadmap that drives future strategy. If you are considering a similar path, here are some important steps to take your measurement program global. Many are the same that you follow in your U.S. market. But there are some stark differences that require your attention.
Good journalists and editors can smell when brands are looking for media coverage about how wonderful they are. By contrast, editors and journalists seek pitches that will touch their readers. They want stories about interesting problems. Issues or problems that large groups of people may be facing can make excellent stories. A pitch about one brand’s journey, told in its own words from start to finish, will not.
It’s happened again. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has upended a major brand for failing to comply with regulations concerning influencers. This time it’s Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc. Its online influencers failed “to disclose adequately” that the brand paid them to provide favorable coverage during a late-2014 marketing campaign for video game Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. The brand settled with the FTC, the agency said July 11.
You know how bloggers have invented a writing subgenre of mocking the PR pitches they get? Recently I saw a lengthy takedown of a PR firm’s effort to publicize what the blogger felt was a hollow startup. The blogger portrayed the PR firm’s pitch as comically superficial. I’ll forego linking to the post because I prefer to avoid boosting ad revenue for crass blogs that bully people. Admittedly, the pitch material was superficial. It went against every principle of clear writing that I teach. All things being equal, the PR firm’s staff should have pushed back on the startup to get more concrete facts about the new company’s goals, what it does and why it’s credible. But that wasn’t the main problem, and it didn’t prevent the startup from ultimately succeeding elsewhere; more on that below. The biggest problem is where the startup’s material landed: in other words, where the material was pitched. Granted, the pitch was directed to a blog that’s well read among the startup’s target market: millennials. But this particular blog also is known for snarky opposition to PR outreach. It was like putting red meat in front of a gaunt, stray dog.
After a reported two years of testing recipes, researching and listening to consumers, PepsiCo admitted June 27 it had goofed regarding artificial sweeteners. The result: Not even one year after spurning aspartame and launching Diet Pepsi with sucralose, the soft drink brand was forced to reverse course. Amid falling sales and consumer outcry, it said Diet Pepsi with aspartame will return shortly. Adding a touch of confusion to the situation, PepsiCo also will continue to offer Diet Pepsi with sucralose. Importantly for communicators, this sour episode occurred when it’s easier than ever to gather information about customer preference via social media.
In one of social’s least-surprising developments, video is booming. Exclusive data Shareablee has provided PR News is evidence that consumers are engaging with brands’ video at unprecedented levels. And with online video having an estimated ad revenue of $10 billion in the U.S. market, even Instagram, created to highlight still photos, added a whopping, by its standards, 45 seconds to its stingy 15-second video limit for non-brands; brands were granted a full minute early in 2016 to preview Super Bowl ads.
In our nervous-twitch environment, PR execs who provide media training often face an executive or a team that has received coaching previously. These executives or team members know—or think they know—the basics and don’t want to waste time on Training 101. They are content- and results-focused and likely lack the PR knowledge about how the 3 P’s (preparation, practice and performance) can be the difference between a successful or unsuccessful interview.