PR Roundup: State of PR, Wienermobile Revamp, TikTok Ban

Wienermobile renamed Frankmobile

As the advent of summer approaches, so do new brand identities, goals and challenges. Brands encourage everyone to have the "best summer ever," by emerging with a new beach bod or booking a trip to an exotic locale. However, some audiences may be stuck behind in summer school or returning to an annual family reunion, caught up in a classic summer vortex of the familiar.

This week's PR Roundup looks at a report from Muck Rack that includes some of the familiar, but an emergence of some new exotic data, as well as a glow up on a classic treat. And finally we look at a popular app, being sent away to sleepaway camp and not knowing exactly when or if it will return.


Muck Rack Releases 2023 State of PR Report

What happened: This week, Muck Rack, a familiar tool for PR pros and journalists alike, released its annual State of PR report. The platform surveyed 1,034 PR professionals about the industry’s current state—including insights on budgets, diversity, PR tech and more.

The report thoroughly provides a contemporary analysis of the trending issues the PR industry is facing. This year, emerging topics include a shift in social media platform usage (Twitter is out for pitching and LinkedIn is very in), emerging learning curves (AI), spending/budgets and internal communications. DEI remains a continual work in progress.

Communication lessons: According to Muck Rack the biggest 2023 concerns in the industry mimic much of those in the business world—the economy. 

“PR pros still see challenges across the industry due to a troubled economy,” Muck Rack says.  “Brands are more concerned about having enough resources (55%) than their agency counterparts (42%), and while both anticipate budgets will stay the same, brands are more likely to say their budget will decrease.”

 Other highlights from the survey:

  • 59% of employees at agencies say they feel very valued, while only 25% of staff at brands feel this way.
  • About one-third say their workplace has little to no diversity, with more than half revealing there is little to no diversity on the leadership team. 
  • 44% of brands state the time they spend on internal communication is increasing. 
  • LinkedIn is now the top social network for communication strategies after increasing more than 10% compared to last year, displacing Twitter.


Wienermobile Changes Name

What happened: Oscar Meyer decided to debut a new image for summer, giving its legendary Wienermobile a brand new name for the first time in almost 100 years. To celebrate the brand’s release of its new recipe 100% Beef Franks, the Frankmobile will tour the nation this summer.

Now, this not only applies to the hot dog fleet, but the former weiner-themed swag as well. The famous Wiener Whistles will now be known as Frank Whistles and the Hotdoggers in charge of the Wienermobile tours have been deemed Frankfurters. 

And if your name is Frank, keep an eye out for the Frankmobile. Bevy up to the giant namesake, and you could score a coupon for a free pack of the new Franks.

Communication lessons: Any kind of rebrand, particularly with an iconic namesake, can be tricky. Oftentimes fans can be resistant to change, but open if done right. 

Adam Ritchie, principal at Adam Ritchie Brand Direction, says the name change is probably not permanent, but just trying to draw attention to the new hot dog recipe. 

“The Wienermobile was a classic stunt,” Ritchie says. “The name change to Frankmobile is a stunt on top of a stunt, like putting mustard on top of your relish.”

Ritchie refers to the now infamous move by IHOP to replace its name with IHOB in 2018 to promote burgers, which immediately faced backlash, and eventually reversed back to its original name. He notes how any beefy brand change needs to be transparently communicated to fans. 

“The temporary name change is a classic move, but you have to give it some time, a category jump or a creative build before taking a page from someone else's strategy,” he says. 

“Repackaging the Wienermobile as the Frankmobile is undercooked. If they're trying to communicate that the new recipe has a beefier flavor, a better campaign concept would be to transform the Wienermobile into a beefier vehicle (e.g., a monster truck) for the duration of the launch, while being transparent that the vehicle change is temporary but the flavor is here to stay.”

Ritchie states once the new recipe gains public approval, the iconic Wienermobile can be restored and call the campaign, “mission accomplished,” making fans new and old, happy. 


TikTok Banned in Montana

What happened: On May 17, Montana became the first U.S. state to pass a statewide ban on the TikTok social media app. According to NPR, “Gov. Greg Gianforte signed Senate Bill 419, saying he wants to protect the state's residents' private information from being compromised… [and] pointed to the Chinese government as a potential threat.”

"The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented," Gov. Gianforte said.

The Bill claims that platforms that offer the app on their marketplaces, such as the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, will face fines up to $10,000 a day.

Many state governments, as well as the U.S. federal government, have banned the app from government devices, referencing high-level security issues. 

Communications lessons: It wasn’t long ago that PRNEWS took the temperature of the industry in the midst of swirling TikTok ban rumors. In March 2023, a majority of poll respondents claimed they would not be shying away from TikTok campaign strategy. 

However, access bands, now applicable in regards to public consumption, create a conundrum for communications who depend on the platform for promotion. While the ban does not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2024, it may give PR pros something to think about as they strategize future campaigns, especially if other states follow suit.

Kate Black, SVP Social Strategy at Horizon Next, says her organization was already hard at work determining how this could affect platform strategy and how users will handle the ban.

“As we speak, we are in discussions with TikTok about state-specific download rates to better understand the impact of the ban, and question the reality of enforcement on this potential ban,” Black says. “Will users be tapping into VPNs or crossing state lines to download the app? Time will tell.”

Black also says clients should not anticipate immediate campaign impacts, because the law does not take effect until next year.

Nicole Schuman is senior editor for PRNEWS. Follow her: @buffalogal