Are You a PR Pro From Krypton?

If you’re an immigrant from Krypton living in the U.S.—or in any spot on Earth—then flying without the benefit of a wingspan or jet propulsion and hearing the flutter of a butterfly in Ensenada while you’re leaping over the Empire State Building in a single bound is old hat. Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel, the new Superman reboot, is no cause for celebration for you either—it’ll just flush out the anti-immigrant wingnuts who’ll once again terrorize you and your relatives with Kryptonite hockey pucks.

You didn’t ask for superpowers—you just needed to find a more hospitable planet. Your superpowers make you feel like a freak and, if you work in PR, cause no end of frustration. Using your superpowers for your own professional ends feels too much like cheating—your old-school Kryptonian parents certainly wouldn’t approve—and so you toil away like just another Clark Kent.

I’m telling you now to embrace your true, Kryptonian self—own your inner Superman or Superwoman, put your powers to use as a PR pro. Let’s face it—part of the reason you deny your superpowers is you’re afraid that they might not be so super after all. And that’s just not logical.

Here are just three suggestions to get you started:

  1. If your brand is in crisis because of, say, an oil spill or because of a cruise ship that’s run aground, fly around the Earth really fast to reverse its rotation around the axis. This will take you back in time so you can prevent the oil rig from exploding or the cruise ship captain from carousing.
  2. Make your brand a CSR leader by using your super breath power to re-freeze the melting polar ice cap.
  3. Use your blinding speed to respond to every tweet that mentions your brand’s name—in real time! And, as a bonus, using this speed you’ll finally be able to clear out all those unopened emails.


Lessons From The Dunkin’ Donuts Customer’s Racist Rant

One of the bigger viral stories of the last two days was the foul-mouthed racist rant by a Dunkin’ Donuts customer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who filmed herself abusing the store’s employees and posted the video online.

The coffee-shop chain has a policy that states that if employees neglect to provide an accurate receipt, then the customer gets their order for free.

In the video, the customer, Taylor Chapman, had made a drive-through order the prior evening and didn’t get a receipt, and she showed up the next morning loaded for bear, claiming that because she and her friends didn’t get a receipt the night before, she should get the same order that next day. Her bizarre eight-minute video got worse and then worse still, but all the while, the DD employee, 18-year-old Abid Adar, calmly and politely handled the abuse, offering to make good on the policy and provide a free order for Chapman.

Put aside for the moment that the rant was so over-the-top crazy, and that the video was first posted by an anonymous YouTube account with no prior videos, that it made the entire incident seem somehow “off.”

Consider instead how Adar was an exemplary brand ambassador, and that it took Dunkin’ Donuts a full three days after the incident to acknowledge Adar’s poise and make some form of recognition.

There are significant communications ramifications here. In no particular order, here are some that occur to me:

• Other than some Twitter responses, I’ve found no official Dunkin’ Donuts statement on the incident, hoax or otherwise. Big mistake.
• If nothing else, use a personal statement by an executive, in a press release and not just a tweet, to acknowledge that your employee, a bottom-of-the-totem-pole teenager, responded with exceptional restraint and professionalism.
• Better yet, take his story to the media and make him an example to all of your employees coast to coast.
• Remember that your people are your best brand ambassadors. Adar and a second employee, who was singled out for especially ugly invective late in the video, were either well trained or were special representatives of Dunkin’ Donuts. Sometimes the most valuable PR can come from the most unheralded and unexpected sources. Internalize that. Make it policy. Make it proactive. That way, every employee will know in advance how to deal with abusive customers.
• Rethink the policy about the receipts. It’s dumb. Most times I don’t need a receipt for my coffee, and when I do, if I don’t get it, I don’t expect a free order.

PR Takeaways to Die For from ‘Game of Thrones’

Image: Helen Sloan/HBO

Image: Helen Sloan/HBO

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you know that there will be blood and some of your favorite characters might not make it to the next episode of the HBO fantasy hit series. Sunday’s episode, dubbed “Red Wedding” was a fascinating, cringeworthy episode that angered fans and saddened so many viewers that a Twitter handle @RedWeddingTears was created to comfort the afflicted.

The episode got me thinking that the beloved Starks could really benefit from communications counsel. Game of Thrones is, in a sense, about relations with the public, a rather unforgiving fractured world of stakeholders who are ready to fight for their leaders to gain market share and mindshare. The Starks are a relatively honorable family in this fictional world. Robb Stark, heir to Winterfell and the North, seeks counsel from his mother and wife as he attempts to form game-changing alliances.

I present to you a few PR tips stemming from Robb’s ill-fated decision last episode that might be applicable to your next business decision. Hindsight is 20/20, but you might find these useful for your next potentially heated situation:

Trust but verify: Your heart might be in the right place, but when doing a deal with a competitor, do a background check on who will be in attendance at the seminal meeting. Check out the meeting space. Had Robb Stark taken this advice, he might not have shown up for the Red Wedding.

Your mother doesn’t always give the best advice. A PR counselor would have told her client that his mom is a wonderful person but her advice might need to be tempered with reality. Robb should have gone with his gut or taken advice from a professional.

Apologizing doesn’t set you free. Just saying you’re sorry doesn’t lead to absolution. Sometimes people don’t want to forgive.  Know your audience and if you sense you might get stabbed in the back anyway, be prepared to defend yourself.

Don’t let them shut the doors on you. As viewers of the Red Wedding, we knew things were going to get bloody when the hosts closed the big doors and silence ensued. Always look for an “out” and make your way to the exits without causing a stir.

There’s one more episode left of this season’s Game of Thrones. Perhaps they’ll introduce a communications expert who will introduce a new measurable strategy for the remaining Starks that will allow them to rule the kingdom. This is a fantasy, after all.

Follow Diane: @dianeschwartz.

What Should Adam Levine Do? The Voice of Reason…

Adam Levine

By now you’ve heard the news that Adam Levine hates his country. No, he loves his country. Wait a minute: what does he really feel and why do we care?  If “The Voice” coach and Maroon Five singer truly hated America, the worst that could happen is he gets kicked off “The Voice” and his band suffers in the Apple store.

For communications professionals, Adam Levine’s gut response, “I hate this country” made after two of his singers got voted off “The Voice” on Tuesday night, is an example of public figures saying something stupid for a split second. That’s all it takes, a split second, for a quote to go viral and escalate to a top story. The public and media know a great sound bite when they hear it, especially surprising when it comes out of the mouths of generally well-liked, behaving celebrities.

What PR advice would you give Adam? Here are some steps Adam has already taken and that he might want to consider over the next 48 hours:

Respond via social media. On his Twitter handle, he tweeted definitions of “humorless,” “joke,” “misunderstand” and “lighthearted.”  His fans are on Twitter, so responding to them in a less conspicuous manner was the right move.

Issue a statement.  That he did:

“I obviously love my country very much and my comments last night were made purely out of frustration. Being a part of The Voice, I am passionately invested in my team and want to see my artists succeed. Last night’s elimination of Judith and Sarah was confusing and downright emotional for me and my comments were made based on my personal dissatisfaction with the results. I am very connected to my artists and know they have long careers ahead, regardless of their outcome on the show.”

Ride it out.  This too shall be passed over by other non-important news.  Justin Bieber continues to behave badly, Arrested Development is back and Beyonce might be having another baby.

Be more careful. That microphone works, Adam. Think before you speak into it.

Here are things Adam shouldn’t do in the next 48 hours:

> Wear red, white and blue.

> Get a tattoo of the U.S. flag on his wrist (wait at least a year).

> Write a song about patriotism.

> Become the spokesperson for the Armed Forces.

> Step down from “The Voice.”

And, for the producers of “The Voice,” enjoy the boost in ratings.

- Diane Schwartz







Measurement is Sexy. Really.

There you are, reporting to your CEO on the outcome of a recent PR campaign you spearheaded. Your excitement is contagious as the CEO wants to know more about the positive tone, product awareness and visual dimensions, more about your company’s share of voice and the way you were able to tie sales to the efforts. He asks you what the ad equivalency would be for this PR campaign and you explain, patiently, that AVEs are not how we measure anymore; that’s for amateurs. You refer a few times to the Barcelona Principles, but you had him at “awareness.”

Measurement is the new black. Those who measure their PR understand the profound impact the activity can have on a company’s brand and bottom line. Measurement experts go far in their career because they have gained a keener understanding of their activities by tracking what’s important and by dispensing of activities that bear either no fruit or rotten fruit. One of the best indicators of an organization’s support of the PR department is its investment in measurement and its willingness to listen to the results (however tough they may be) and heed PR’s counsel.

What used to be cordoned off as the geeky discipline within PR, measurement and research is now integrated into everything communicators do. Or it should be. Whether it’s measuring the impact of a tweet or analyzing the performance of a year-long community relations effort, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

In a recent PR News/CARMA survey, roughly 10 percent of respondents admitted they don’t typically set objectives for some campaigns and don’t measure social media, and nearly 64% still use clip counts more than other metrics. And surprisingly, 32% said the primary reason they measure is because their boss or senior management requires it. Until we get the 32% of PR pros to measure because they want to be better at PR and until we get 100% of communicators setting real objectives, then we are not done with evangelizing the power of measurement.

- Diane Schwartz


PS: At PR News, we are bringing hundreds of communicators to the National Press Club on May 15 for our annual PR Measurement Conference. We’ll share measurement tips, tactics, war stories and advice. Hope you can join us for this “sexy” event.  I hope you’ll join us. Email me your hot-button measurement questions to pose to the speakers at




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