Tag Archives: public relations

doesnt work at 10 2 or 4

So on the surface, it looks like a publicity win-win-win-etc when the Dr. Pepper folks good naturedly agree to pay up on an outrageous bet that they made with the public. That is until the public tries to collect and their website is inaccessible because of the slam in traffic (which they should have anticipated).

CONSPIRACY THEORY ALERT: Or maybe they purposely held back on shoring up the website so they wouldn’t have to payout all of their “23 flavas”

In either case, it turns a great publicity opportunity and chance to build the brand into an example of an online branding disaster. Forget the MotrinMoms. It”s time for the Dr. Pepper Pain.

UPDATE: (thanks to Doug – see comments) They’re trying to limit brand damage. Dr. Pepper has extended the offer until 6pm Monday

zero tolerance social media

For the last couple of months, I’ve been on the receiving end of Peter Shankman’s thrice daily HARO email blast.

I think it’s great — on many levels. I have functioned as a source for a few reporters doing marketing and/or business stories. But I really enjoy HARO more as a great example of how the web2.o (sorry) economy functions and how that new economy is sometimes a threat to the mainstream establishment. Like a typical web2.0 (sorry) service, HARO is free — both to reporters and sources. And that’s a problem to HARO’s old school competitor, PR Newswire. It’s a great case study of the conflict between the economies especially when Shankman and PR Newswire head David Weiner have discussions in public comments about their businesses.

But even with all that, what I enjoy most about Shankman and the HARO are his reprimands and banishments for the good of the list. You can imagine that publishing email addresses and phone numbers for reporters at major media outlets to a public list of over 24,000 sources would be like crack cocaine for PR flunkies who enjoy spamming and pitching irrelevant topics to those reporters. But if someone steps over that line, Shankman severely punishes the offenders. Take the lead of tonight’s HARO for example:

Hey listen – I hate to bring this up again, but it would see that WOW Public Relations, specifically Nan Murray and Chris Burres, continue to SPAM HARO reporters. Now, I know for a fact that I’ve kicked them off the list, but for whatever reason, these people don’t get it. Here’s the problem: They continue to spam on behalf of their client, [redacted] – I’ve talked to [redacted], and he’s told them to stop, yet WOW public relations continues to SPAM reporters. So, if you get an unsolicited email from them, know that they’re not welcome on HARO, ever. I’d never, ever work with them, nor would I ever recommend them. I personally have added @[redacted] to my killfile, and you all might want to consider doing the same. It’s sad – some people just continue to do the wrong thing, despite being told repeatedly why it’s wrong.
[Edited: Peter said he thought he was too harsh on the client in the next morning’s HARO and has asked me to omit the client’s name.]

I’ve noticed that these outings and banishments happen rarely. But there’s usually an uptick after a massive influx of new members. (Shankman got a plug from Seth Godin earlier this month — so now is a tumultuous time.)

Shankman warns offenders, but some don’t listen (see above) and face the consequences. It’s very much like the first week in a prison or boot camp, learn the rules or face the wrath.

Look on the web and you’ll see a lot of criticism of his tough stance. I think some of that has been generated by the PR establishment or people who have been on the receiving end of a public lashing. But Shankman’s zero tolerance policy is necessary. For HARO to work or even exist, he needs the trust and respect of the reporters. They have seen he means business.

The problem with the web being open for anyone is that the web is open for anyone. Anytime we see a major step forward with communication, the snake-oil folks show up with viruses, spam, and other noisy junk. I wonder if email spam would have gotten to its current critical mass if people could have punished those who abused the system.

While you hear alot from web2.o evangelists about the goodness of open source / cluetrain / kum-bah-ya / feelgood communication, it needs to be remembered that there will always be people who will take advantage of the system. And that needs to be accounted for. Shankman’s HARO is a good example of how the community can deal with it.

cyprus snail spam

I’ve been getting alot of pitches lately in the inbox. (You know, because I’m such an A-lister.) But while the spinmeisters sending the email are working hard to find marketing/business blogs, they’re not putting much effort into the actual pitches. Instead of the stale monotony of a data merge form email, it’s typically the stale monotony of a perky intern trying to garner my goodwill.

Most of the time, you can tell they’ve never visited the blog because they’ve gotten some basic obvious fact about me or the blog wrong — or because the product they’re pitching is not even related to the topics I normally cover. But, of course, most pr and ad agencies make money on efforts not results. Some agency or marketing firm has blown smoke up some client’s oriface by ensuring that they can get blog coverage of thier product, book, etc so they just spam every blogger hoping to strike one eventually. (look! we can work the social media web2.0 buzzword train!)

I’m used to it in the email inbox, but not my postal one. Imagine my surprise today when I open my spider-infested mailbox and I have a letter from Cyprus, the small eastern Mediterranean island country where they like to center-justify their address fields.

The letter inside is a pitch for some dvd training system for speakers and lost me after about the first paragraph. But I opened it and looked at it (which is an essential step in any direct marketing campaign).

I suggest all these PR agencies trying to get blog coverage start doing this. Instead of setting up a bunch of interns in a cubicle farm and spamming bloggers, why not send them all to an island nation (Malta, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago) and have them send us postal pitches?

It might work.

(and btw — I am always looking for something to write/blog about. If you have a relevant well thought out pitch and want to reach my millions billions of engaged readers who are all innovators and early adopters, send it along. And seriously, if you’re one of the readers who wants me to take on a topic, please email me. I’m starting to get blogger’s block.)

give me 6 months

I don’t mean to keep hatin’ on ’em, but it’s just such easy pickings. From AdAge, about blog coverage of American’s $15 bag PR fiasco,

Mr. Flanagan, who felt media coverage of the announcement and on some blogs was very fair, said American injected itself into conversations online only when inaccuracies were being reported. He said American hopes to have its own corporate blog operational within the next two quarters.

6 months?!?! The corporate blogging question I ask you is: are they 6 months too late or are they 3 or 4 years too late? This is one of the many reasons that you should have a corporate blog strategy NOW. It will take months/years to build a dedicated blog audience. It’s not something you can build to deal with a PR meltdown.

double half caff

Earlier this week, Advertising Age quoted me in an article on some comments I made about Starbucks shutting down over 7,000 locations one night in late February for a barista boot camp.
It’s now old news, but let me clarify and expand upon my original comment — and provide some updates.

First off, it’s obvious that the shutdown was not “training”. It was nothing but a PR/media stunt. It garnered LOTS of free coverage from the press who seemed not to realize they were being used.

I had said in my original comments that I would be interested when baristas started spilling the beans (ha!) about what went on during the 3 hour period. Just as I predicted, customer service was discussed during the training as well as how to make a machine produce three dollar foam. But some baristas are ticked off about the training and point to poor working conditions and wages as a reason for sub-par customer service and not-so-perfect drinks.

But here’s your big problem, SBUX. Customers aren’t finding any big difference. And that is a huge problem. After pulling a stunt that showcases how you’re going to improve, people expect…improvement. When it doesn’t show up, you’ve ultimately hurt the brand.

last train to brandville

Long time readers of the Shotgun Marketing Blog know that I’m a big anti-fan of the idea of governments trying to “rebrand” a geographic area — (many past examples here)

City leaders of Clarksville, TN are tired of all the negative publicity their town is getting so they are looking for a new slogan.

Earlier this month, a citizen committed a Budd Dwyer style suicide during a city council meeting.

Yeah. A catchy slogan ought to do it. Maybe even a jingle.

(thanks to mvp for the tip)