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Posts Tagged ‘PR’

Jared and Subway: The latest story of fallibility.

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

For 15 years Americans “ate fresh” and celebrated the beloved five-dollar-foot-long in light of Jared’s tremendous weight loss success. Hundreds of subs, first class flights and millions of dollars later, Jared Fogle’s Subway partnership swiftly ended following a federal raid on his home. Meanwhile, Subway execs and spokesmen buried their heads in their hands wondering, “Why Jared, WHY?”

Subway is among a long list of companies whose credibility has been endangered/damaged by an individual endorser or representative. In 2009 AT&T and Gatorade said goodbye to Tiger after Woods admitted to adulterous relations with several women; in 2012 Nike ditched Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong, following doping allegations. So why do companies continue to employ walking billboards – aka potential ticking time bombs?

In many cases, utilizing an individual or celebrity to symbolize a brand or company can be very lucrative. Consumers are more likely to purchase and support a brand or company whose credibility has been endorsed by a real person and with whom they can relate to in some way.

Perhaps one of the most famous and successful company-individual partnerships is that between Nike and NBA legend, Michael Jordan. Despite a minor hiccup, Jordan has managed to avoid major controversy and remain a powerhouse for the Nike brand. In 2013 Forbes cited data indicating Jordan, despite being retired for several years, continues to outsell current athletes like LeBron James, in shoes.

So success can be had; however, it is imperative that companies and marketing strategists remain realistic in the realm of individual endorsement/brand identity. Humans after all, are… well… human. It is impossible to predict the future actions or behaviors of an individual and unrealistic to expect a perfect outcome. It is imperative that companies with individual endorsers create a strategic (crisis communications) plan in the event that controversy arises.

In the case of Jared Fogle, Subway took the appropriate actions given the circumstances (they immediately published a statement recognizing the issue, but not condemning him or ending their relationship). In the long run, Subway most likely won’t suffer… and if they are looking to replace Jared, perhaps they should look toward creating or borrowing an animated persona. It’s pretty safe to assume that Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse aren’t going to cheat on their wives or get a DUI.


Ann Keeling says:

It’s a gamble anytime a brand brings on a celebrity or pseudo celebrity spokesperson. It can pay off big-time for brands in terms of visibility, relevance to their audience and in sales. Subway definitely did the right thing with their statement – simply recognizing the situation and not casting aspersions. If at some point Jared is found to have not done anything illegal, there’s a good chance that Subway can resume their relationship with him and build on his brand equity from the past.

Athletes’ Second Job

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Some of the most well known public figures are athletes. Not only are they known from their professional athletic careers, but they are equally as recognizable from commercials and other advertisements. In many cases, the sports stars that are the most successful generate far more profit from their endorsement partnerships than their professional sports contracts. While it is necessary for an athlete to be the best of the best to earn national endorsements, a significant amount of public relations is also utilized for them to improve their exposure opportunities.

Good appearance, positive press and public speaking skills all help separate the strong contenders from the thousands of professional athletes when it comes to endorsement opportunities. While not every PR partnership is going to secure a career like Michael Jordan’s or Tom Brady’s, PR can help improve marketability with media training, diction, key messaging, social / community commitments, in addition to working to secure media placements.

So, if an athlete is already in a multi-million dollar contract, why would they consider pursuing an endorsement? With most things in life, everyone should try to maximize their abilities – for athletes it’s no different. Unlike other careers, an athlete’s profession is relatively short-lived due to the small window of “peak performance.”

Ann Keeling says:

Endorsement deals can help to create a controlled public persona off the field/court, for an athlete, and can also enhance the positive image of a team. Moreso if the brand an athlete is choosing to partner with is strategically aligned with the team and the sport.


Peace, Love, Weed – And PR?

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

The tough stuff, controversy and all, needs help bolstering its image amongst the public. Legalized marijuana being one of those hot topics. Are PR firms ready to tackle the initiative?

Hemp Public Relations is a new firm helping individuals and businesses in the legal marijuana industry to achieve greater visibility. Founder and public relations professional Mark Goldman states “The marijuana industry is growing rapidly and experiencing wider public embrace on a national level. Entrepreneurs who seize the opportunity to make a positive impression on the masses now, stand to gain generational loyalty and years of successful business”…not to mention tremendous profits.


Map of canabis laws in the United States.

The topic of marijuana has been making headlines across the nation the past couple of years with states lifting many restrictions. Washington and Colorado are completely restriction-free, with a number of states following suit with medical cannabis acceptance, decriminalized cannabis possession laws, or both. That said, marijuana is still illegal in over half of the nation – and much of the nation isn’t okay with the change in policy. Many unique challenges confront the legal marijuana industry and practitioners are calling on specialized PR firms for help in trying to communicate the value and safety of the newly legal product, perhaps even encouraging a few other states to hop on board.

Marijuana is not the only example of an issue that has its fair share of controversy. When working on a contentious issue, PR firms need to spend time considering the opposition, creating key messages that resonate with those opposed and those in favor, as well as really understanding the target audiences. Not every product, company, or stance can appease everyone, but that is where trained PR professionals can make a difference. Businesses need to focus on areas with the most opportunity for growth and influence. PR firms have expertise in communication strategy, and perhaps may even specialize in your company’s niche market. A good PR firm can mitigate negativity by being strategic about the message, delivery, and understanding the target media to secure the third party credibility that can sway and convince.

Ann Keeling says:

Good clients know they don’t know everything; that’s why they hire people like us.  They listen and consider our points of view.  We get creative about how to resolve a potentially hairy communication issue.  That’s a great partnership.

Will the Moustache Stay Beyond Nov. 30?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Facial hair is starting to become as synonymous with November as turkey. With Movember (the month to for dudes to grow facial hair in support of men’s health/issues) on a roll, we’re taking a look at the campaign and whether or not these offbeat engagement strategies are working for nonprofit organizations.

From joining a community of Mo Bros to participating in the Running of the Mos, Movember has found a way to reach out to men in a fashion that would never have worked if it were just about ribbons (pink or otherwise) and being serious. Using humor and ol’ fashioned stereotypes of men, Movember has succeeded in becoming cool and socially acceptable. According to Dan Zenka, the senior vice president of communications for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, “Men are very different from women. They’re not going to put on the T-shirts and do the runs. [Movember] is really suited to the male psyche,” (The Huffington Post).

Movember is one of many marketing initiatives incorporating creative nontraditional tactics to attract a wider-audience. But this tactic might not be the most successful for both raising funds and getting the right message across to the public. While the idea of these campaigns is good in theory – it can fall short of affecting real change. When relating to the individuals who are suffering with the illnesses, many feel that these gimmicks create distance from those truly at stake. That said, sometimes the best way for a foundation to generate awareness and buzz is through an off-beat and aggressive campaign. Once the nonprofit has its name out there, it can leverage its elevated position to promote more cause-focused messaging.

Ann Keeling says:

Initiatives like Movember and the Ice Bucket Challenge are two phenomenal examples of thinking WAY outside the box to engage the public at large AND drive massive levels of awareness.  Movember has grown its notoriety and association with men’s health issues massively in a relatively short period of time.  If a woman sees a guy with a mustache or beard in November, she may make a rather automatic assumption that he’s participating in Movember, even if he’s not.  That’s the power of a great public engagement strategy.

Vacation Time? When PR Plays Trip Advisor

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Recently, some of our nation’s most recognized places and campaigns have announced their search for, or partnership with a public relations firm. Wyoming, the home of one of the nation’s most legendary landmarks, Yellowstone National Park, hired an Ohio public relations agency to help the state’s tourism industry.

So maybe not everyone wants to see a national park or experience life “where the buffalo roam,” but what about the Big Apple? According to a report from Everything PR, the iconic I Love New York campaign is in the market for a PR agency as well. The New York State Department of Economic Development explains how I <3 NYC spirit wear can help the entire New York tourism industry, “travel and tourism represents a $95.4 billion industry in New York State and accounts for over 832,000 direct and indirect jobs. As tourism remains an integral part of the New York State economy, the I LOVE NEW YORK campaign represents a vital link to one of the most tested and resilient vehicles for continues economic growth.”

Both the state of Wyoming and The New York State Department of Economic Development, realize the value that PR brings to the table. PR provides inspiration; a fresh spin and reinvigorating messaging – creating bottom-line, measurable success. Next time you take a vacation (perhaps to Wyoming or New York), think about what went into your decision-making process – public relations probably played a pretty significant part. Public relations can help you develop the best sales pitch to promote your service or business to attract target customers. Image is much more than advertising & marketing, and PR can be the most worthwhile investment, acting as an instrumental partner in building the entire brand identity.

Ann Keeling says:

Places just as much as companies and products need PR to drive the message and reach the target audiences.  There are PR professionals behind nearly everything – so don’t ever think that news story you saw is just interesting or an accident – the majority of reported news is strategized and placed by good PR folks.