Nearly 18 years after a terrorist attack on America snuffed out thousands of lives, the first responders who fought to restore order and rescue the injured that day are back on the front pages. Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart’s appearance on C-SPAN yesterday in testimony to a congressional subcommittee was powerful and relentlessly on-brand. But a celebrity face and voice isn’t a guarantee that your message will be received, or received well. Here are some questions to keep in mind if you think you might need a celebrity to get people to pay attention to your cause.
Taking a stand or promoting a cause is important for brands, which want to identify with their target audience and its beliefs. Unfortunately, some brands view events such as Pride month or International Women’s Day purely as profit-making opportunities. Here are three tips brands need to embrace so they can be seen as promoting activism not slacktivism.
Last week, PETA tweeted a picture of a character from the next installment in the upcoming “Pokémon” video game series, a sheep pokémon named Wooloo. Suffice to say, video game fans weren’t having it. There’s much that communicators can learn from this bizarre campaign, including how to engage your detractors on socials in a constructive way along with when not to jump on a trending news story just for engagement.
Keeping research a secret is a bad look for Pfizer, especially during a time when a spotlight shines on the Alzheimer’s disease. And upon further reading, it can seem somewhat baffling to have kept the information, which may have proved useful to researchers, from the public. Pfizer now faces a brand crisis in which a large population of those affected by the disease may garner distrust to a company that looks like it kept profits the first priority.
To kick off Pride Month, Budweiser UK announced its partnership with London Pride by launching a “Fly The Flag” campaign featuring nine different brightly-colored Budweiser pint glasses, each depicting a different pride flag. Suffice to say, Twitter wasn’t having it. Advocates in the queer community resented seeing their flags used to sell beer, calling it opportunistic and insincere. Others lamented that Budweiser went too far by over-explaining what the various flags meant.
IHOp is at it again. During the Memorial Day Weekend, a traditionally slow news period, it tweeted that the p in its name soon will stand for something other than pancakes. Of course, last year it raised its blue roof when it announced the letter b would replace the p. That short-lived stunt left the brand seeming inauthentic to some, though sales rose and IHOp was a topic of conversation for at least seven days. Has the brand learned from last year?
Brand personas as a concept has been gaining ground as businesses seek for new ways to differentiate themselves and gain competitive advantage in the face of increased competition and generational shifts in loyalty. Differentiation through personality is a way to keep consumers loyal to a brand even though other elements may resist differentiation (i.e., service, product selection, and price). How can you determine your brand’s persona and apply this to your strategy?
Nike found itself in the midst of a major PR crisis when The New York Times published an opinion piece on Mother’s Day that revealed Nike did not provide pregnant athletes with paid maternity leave. Nike has now released a statement saying that all future contracts will be written to protect pregnant athletes from discrimination. In this action, Nike is clearly following the crisis management playbook and changed the narrative in its favor in its quick remediation. What can we, as PR professionals, learn from this?
Call it a target market, tribe, or online community: In all cases, building and maintaining an audience for your products or services is now key to maintaining a competitive edge. What’s more, with the amount of time that audiences spend online rising, even as attention spans are declining, it’s more imperative than ever for businesses to find clever ways to engage end users.
There’s no rule in media relations that says communicators need to answer a reporter’s question immediately, particularly during a crisis. Never lie to a reporter, but sometimes doing the best thing for a brand means deferring on a question until you’re ready with an answer that’s carefully crafted. Veteran communicator Arthur Solomon offers tips about how to do this well.