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The Biggest PR Disasters of 2017 – Part 3

Over the last couple of weeks, I have shared Part 1 and Part 2 of my biggest PR disasters of 2017, which included United Airlines, Red Cross, Pepsi, Facebook, Papa John’s, the Oscars, Kathy Griffin, USA Gymnastics, Nikon and Cheerios. Here is the final look back at the year’s biggest PR debacles.

Uber Logo UpdatedUBER … When the hashtag #DeleteUber becomes your company’s most impactful marketing campaign, you know what kind of year it has been. You can pick which issue was the worst: privacy and tracking concerns, erratic behavior from its CEO, a plot to evade regulators through a complex program named “Project Grayball,” allegations of systemic sexual assault, being banned in the London – the choices go on and on. Former CEO and still-current board member Travis Kalanick added to the miserable year by feuding with his fellow board members, threatening a potentially lucrative IPO.

Equifax Logo.svgEQUIFAX … There are only about 320 million Americans, so it takes a special kind of incompetence to let hackers steal the personal data (names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses and driver’s license numbers) of more than 145 million of them. But the good folks at Equifax rose to the challenge. Particularly frustrating is that there is little to nothing that average consumers can do to punish the company. Fortunately, Equifax’s corporate clients have also grown leery of the company. And to date, it has spent nearly $90 million in legal fees and other expenses to respond to the incident.

Subway LogoSUBWAY … Subway has been on my annual lists of biggest PR disasters for so many years it should win a lifetime achievement award. In years past, the disasters have been much worse (think convicted pedophile/spokesperson Jared Fogle), but this year the ubiquitous sandwich chain made the list for a research study that found that the “chicken” it serves was only 50 percent chicken. Panicked Subwayophiles were relieved to learn that the other 50 percent was soy rather than something more sinister, but the sensational headlines were everywhere. In the end, it may not hurt Subway as much as it could. The decision-making hierarchy for eating at Subway starts with price, moves to taste and eventually lands at quality. Hybrid soy-chicken is still cheap and salty.

Nivea LogoNIVEA … Every year, a company wins the award for “Needs a more diverse set of employees.” This year, that company was Nivea. In February, the cosmetics company launched a “White is Purity” ad campaign that targeted consumers in Middle East countries. The campaign quickly went viral, and earned it the support of a white supremacist group that posted on Nivea’s Facebook page: “We enthusiastically support this new direction your company is taking. I’m glad we can all agree that #WhiteIsPurity.”

Adidas LogoADIDAS … Context is king in public relations, and Adidas blew it this year. The Boston Marathon has become an almost-sacred event in the wake of the terrorist bombings that killed three and injured hundreds of others in 2013. This year, Adidas launched an email promotional campaign to marathon participants congratulating them for “surviving the Boston Marathon!” The company quickly apologized and is unlikely to suffer any long-term damage. But, it was an extraordinary gaffe from a global company that doesn’t often blunder.

Read the entire series of 2017’s biggest PR disasters:

Part 1: Includes United Airlines, Facebook and Papa John’s Pizza
Part 2: Includes Kathy Griffin, the Oscars and Men
Part 3: Includes Uber, Equifax and Nivea

The Biggest PR Disasters of 2017 – Part 1

As 2017 comes to a close, we take time to reflect on the year’s biggest PR disasters:

United_Airlines_Logo.svgUNITED AIRLINES … The only good news for United Airlines is that its string of PR disasters occurred early in the year when they could be overshadowed by newer debacles over time. But what a year it was. The airline took the worst hit when it literally dragged a passenger off an overbooked plane, breaking his nose and knocking out teeth in the process. While that incident took the lion’s share of the headlines, the airline also managed to make additional waves when it banned two girls from flying because they were wearing leggings and forced a mom to hold a toddler in her lap for a full flight because it gave away the toddler’s paid-for seat to a standby passenger. United apologized for all the incidents, but the airline’s brand was harmed and its stock price remains down nearly 17 percent since the first incident.

Red_Cross_Logo.svg

RED CROSS … NPR and ProPublica have been a thorn in the side of the American Red Cross since the media outlets examined the nonprofit’s spending following Superstorm Sandy in 2014. They found, for example, that seven months after the storm, the Red Cross still had not spent $100 million of the $300 million it had raised. Unfortunately for the Red Cross, NPR revisited the questions about the Red Cross’ efficacy just as Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and the Red Cross was frantically trying to raise money for relief efforts. The Red Cross promised more transparency, but a generation of Millennials who like to invest locally have been finding smaller nonprofits on the ground in affected areas to support. The long-term implications of this PR disaster for the Red Cross have to be scary. Read more after the jump…

Creativity: Put in the Time

"Let's make a music video..."

“Let’s make a music video…”

Our CenterTable video team brought home a Silver Leaf Award from the Colorado Healthcare Communicators last week for our “Hand Hygiene: 1-2-3” music video with our clients at Good Samaritan Medical Center.

Sure, I want you to click on the case study and check it out – but as I was thinking about how this project came together it occurred to me that the success of this video campaign was largely dependent on the creative thinking and execution of our video team.

Read more after the jump…

We Trended on Twitter, and This is How We Did It

Screen Shot 2017-12-19 at 12.31.33 PM
We’ve all been there: Your client wants his or her message, product or event to trend on Twitter, the account they’re using doesn’t have a lot of followers and you don’t have immediate access to Justin Bieber to lend your hashtag a hand.

So what do you do?

We were faced with this scenario earlier this year working for our hard-nosed clients at Colorado Succeeds. Tell this scrappy education nonprofit they can’t accomplish X, and they’ll have accomplished X, Y and Z in the time it takes you to lay out the case as to why they’ll never accomplish X.

So naturally, it was a goal for them to gain trending status for their inaugural Succeeds Prize, a first-of-its-kind live awards show for teachers set to be broadcast live from the University of Denver by KUSA, Denver’s NBC affiliate and market leader.

So where did we start? First, we went straight to the source to find out how Twitter defines trending. This is what we found word-for-word, as put forth by the platform in 2010:
Read more after the jump…

Live, Baby, Live! Storytelling on Facebook Livestream

Facebook Livestream tips for on location

Facebook Livestream tips for on location

Facebook Livestream has brought communicators a fabulous storytelling tool for clients. Whether you are looking to cover an event, launch a new product, host a seminar or share news, it is a simple way to engage specific target audiences.

In fact, I recently worked with a local television station partner to amplify messaging for a public education campaign via Facebook Livestream on location and wanted to share a few tips:

• Once you determine a date/time, share that information across your social platforms to help gain an audience; repost it during and after with links to the livestream, as appropriate.
• Scout out a location beforehand and determine connections, best lighting, areas with the least noise/interruptions, etc.
• If you are outside, check on the placement of the sun and shading. Read more after the jump…

Branding & Loyalty: What Are Micro-Moments?

consumers-in-micro-moments

 
Get ready for micro-moments.

Buyer behaviorists have for a long time relied on the traditional consumer journey funnel to describe how a potential customer starts with a set of brands and through a set of methodical steps, reduces the number of brands down to a small number to make a purchase. The following funnel visually indicates the typical consumer journey:
Read more after the jump…

An Introvert in the Extroverted World of PR

IMG_2381 (1)I am unquestionably an introvert. I love people, and I love being around people… until it’s time to recharge. Then, I need to be alone. With a good book, hiking the trail near my home, or simply laying down and staring at the ceiling fan. I need to be quiet, turn my focus inward and regroup. Afterwards, I’m ready to be around people again.

Read more after the jump…

CenterTable @ SXSW 2017: Saturday Favorites

Yesterday it didn’t just rain – it poured on Austin. We didn’t lose any electronics to the downpour (Carissa met someone who had just lost their iPhone in a puddle…), but we did run from building to building and learned to bloom where we were planted. Here are the highlights:

Fried chicken w/the hot sauce, please.

Fried chicken w/the hot sauce, please.

Nomnom:

The fried chicken from Mr. P’s Electric Cock was just what the doctor ordered on a rainy day.

 

 

Piranha sushi's take on the Old Fashioned.

Piranha sushi’s take on the Old Fashioned.

Libations:

  • Jim started the week with an Old Fashioned, and nearly every restaurant we’ve eaten at has had one on the menu. So now we’re on the #OldFashionedTour

 

 

 

Hang Ten, bro.

Hang Ten, bro.

 

Grab Bag:

Surfing in downtown Austin as a part of a promotion for the TNT show Animal Kingdom.

 

 

 

Overheard:

  • “I put my feelings on Instagram” – an attendee explaining how not every man is always looking at women on Instagram
New socks from Richer Poorer!

New socks from Richer Poorer!

Free stuff:

Pretty cool when a speaker decides to have her “Oprah Moment” and give the entire room a pair of free socks!

Number of steps taken:

  • Jim – 11,200
  • Carissa – 10,000

Hours of sleep:

  • Jim – 6.5
  • Carissa – 6.5

Caffeinated beverages consumed:

  • Carissa – 1 (I’ll do better today!)
  • Jim – 4

Through the lens:

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ Carissa and Jim

CenterTable @ SXSW 2017: Saturday Sessions

Tons of great info on Saturday - including some audience targeting from Antiques Roadshow

Tons of great info on Saturday – including some audience targeting from Antiques Roadshow

It was a rainy day in Austin, but that didn’t slow the super strong lineup of speakers and events on a Saturday. Here are the most memorable takeaways from Day 2 of SXSW 2017:

Jim’s Take:

  • My first session of the day included representatives from Major League Baseball and the WWE discussing the future of providing content direct to consumers. It was interesting to hear how large brands are constantly working to push streaming/live content to their audiences, and how the target is constantly evolving based on audience needs. The most interesting comment was how consumers have built-in expectations about pricing and flexibility of the packages based on how they currently pay for Netflix or Hulu. The takeaway is knowing your audience and what their expectations are before working on a model that doesn’t meet their needs and, one that ultimately will fail because your customer’s expectations don’t align.

Read more after the jump…

Blogging For SEO

Last month we talked about whether or not an organization should blog. Knowing that timely, original, meaningful and well written blog content can be incredibly beneficial for SEO, it may very well be worth the investment.

For those of you who took the time to map out a blog strategy and have decided to move forward with launching a blog – congratulations on this exciting development! As you start developing blog content, there are many on-page SEO tactics you can implement to improve your chances of ranking well in search engine results.

How To Optimize A Blog Post For SEO

When developing blog content, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Conduct some keyword research to ensure you’re talking about your topic in the same way your audience is.
  • Create an engaging blog post title incorporating targeted keyword terms.
  • Aim for a minimum of 300-500 words per blog post.
  • Write all original content. Do not scrape (aka, steal) content from another website – or even from your own!
  • Be authentic and true to your brand and messaging.
  • Break the content into smaller, more digestible chunks using headers and bullet points.
  • Include at least one image with an optimized file name and image alt tag in the top right corner of the post.
  • Assign proper categories and tags to every post. If your blog were a book, the categories would be the table of contents and the tags would be the index.
  • Create internal links to related content, such as including “related posts” at the bottom of every blog post.