The Week in PR

  1. Can this bird grow?

    Brands: Twitter continues to commit news. After laying off 8% of the workforce two weeks ago, last week new CEO Jack Dorsey hired former TheNew York Times editor-at-large Marcus Mabry to work on Twitter’s new Moments feature. Moments is the feed of video, news and tweets that Twitter curates without the assistance of pitches from PR professionals. It’s been fairly impressive so far. No doubt an editor of Mabry’s experience will improve it. The question is whether or not Moments can add to Twitter’s roster of 316 million monthly active users. Facebook has 1.49 billion. Prior to Twitter, Mabry was editor of the Times ’ “Watching” section, also a curated site. Before the Times, Mabry spent nearly two decades at Newsweek. Then Thursday Dorsey revealed he’s donating one-third of his Twitter shares to the employee equity fund. In a tweet, Dorsey indicates that’s about 1% of the company. At Thursday’s price of $29.16/share, billionaire Dorsey is throwing about $198 million into the pool. Dorsey’s tweet says he’s “reinvest[ing] directly in our people.” He prefers a small share of something big than a larger share of something small. “I’m confident we can make Twitter big!” Dorsey tweets. Perhaps Twitter will get bigger, but it was an uneasy week for the company’s share as Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to sell, based on doubts about attracting more users and advertising potential. Twitter reports Q3 earnings Tuesday. – While KFC stumbled digitally in the U.K. (see next story), on another front it shined, literally, by making a smart branding move in time for Halloween. In a tweet from its official account, KFC offered followers the chance to download a stencil of the iconic Col. Sanders, making it easy to carve into a pumpkin. A photo of a pumpkin with the Colonel’s face on it, illuminated by a candle inside, next to a traditional Jack o’ Lantern was compelling. Now that’s a finger lickin’ good way to spread the brand.

  2. Enjoying Peppercomm’s 20th.

    News Bits: There’s disagreement over the origin of “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” Some believe it dates to the early 1900s, when visual ads began appearing on the sides of streetcars. Others recall Ivan Turgenev’s novel Fathers and Sons (1861), which contains the passage: “The drawing shows me at one glance what might be spread over ten pages in a book.” There’s little doubt, though, over the role pictures played in the image problem facing KFC’s new Ricebox. The story also illustrates the importance of integrating corporate units; in this case marketing, advertising, product development and operations. The Ricebox comes in a small, rectangular container. A menu item at British KFC outlets, the dish consists of pulled or fried chicken atop a bed of lettuce, rice and vegetables. The problem? The Ricebox looks fabulous in advertisements, but not nearly as appetizing when it is served to the consumer. As highlighted in a terrific piece in Business Insider, disappointed Brits tweeted photos of the item upon receiving it at KFC outlets. BI reporter Hayley Peterson presented the story well, essentially stepping back and letting the unappetizing pictures do the work. In addition to integration lessons, there are takeaways galore here for brand communicators and executives who think social media isn’t worthy of their time and believe an inferior-looking product can survive in the digital era.

  3. Dawn Rowan, VP, director of media relations, Rubenstein PR

    People Moves: Dawn Rowan was named VP, director of media relations at Rubenstein Public Relations. Prior to joining Rubenstein, Rowan was director of communications at the local NYC NBC affiliate, NBC 4 New York. Earlier she was an SVP at Dan Klores Communications. – Newlink Group named Angela Camacho to lead its reputation management and public affairs practice. The newly minted VP comes to Newlink from Microsoft, where she was director and associate general counsel. – D.C.-based Sage Communications named non-profit veteran Scott Greenberg to run its non-profit division. – Congrats to APCO Worldwide’s founder and executive chairman Margery Kraus, who received a Luminary Award from The Committee of 200 last Friday in D.C. Kraus founded APCO in 1984 and transformed it from a small shop into an international consulting firm. Prior to APCO, Kraus assisted in creating the Close Up Foundation, an educational foundation. C200 is an invitation-only, global organization composed of leading female entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. – What began as a plucky, 2-person firm in a squalid one-bedroom apartment and eventually was named our Small Agency of the Year in 2006, celebrated its 20th birthday earlier this month with several well-deserved events for staff and clients. Named for co-founder/CEO Steve Cody’s pooch, Pepper, Peppercomm today boasts Fortune 500 clients yet remains plucky. Heck, how many PR agencies insist employees get trained in standup comedy as a way to improve presentation and listening skills? It was no joke that Crain’s NY Business cited this in awarding the agency NY’s Number 1 Place to Work in ’12. Dawn Rowan, VP, director of media relations, Rubenstein PR Enjoying Peppercomm’s 20th. Can this bird grow?

This article originally appeared in the September 26, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.