Category: In the News

Bowl Games and PR

5W PR is a leading media relations and PR Firm

Image via Bleacher Report.

New Years means bowl season for college football fans. These games mean huge PR opportunities for brands across the nation. But, is the PR, and exposure gained from being a bowl headliner all that it’s cracked up to be? Ronn Torossian discusses:

At one point in history, not that long ago, there were only four college football bowl games: the Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta. Then, as more money flowed into the sport, and more schools wanted more opportunities for postseason play, more and more bowl games were added to the schedule.

On the surface, this seems like an incredible opportunity for smaller brands to get in on the action. Many took advantage, and found their brands launched into the national spotlight. Then, more and more followed suit.

But how, exactly, is this national PR benefitting the programs? Ronn Torossian examines the pros and cons.

PRO – A very public banner mention

Bowl Games, even the small ones, get an inordinate amount of media coverage. A huge win for brands trying to garner a more national following. Just ask Papa Johns, or Meineke.

CON – Perceived levels of importance

Bowl games have levels. It’s unavoidable. In fact, the day on which the games are played can even be an indicator of where they fit in the pantheon of college postseason play. The further away from Christmas, the more important the game. When a brand chooses to sponsor a game, the importance of their brand is tangentially connected to the importance of the game.

PRO – Hours of advertising

When a brand sponsors a bowl game, they are not paying for commercial time. They are paying for hours of advertising, and name repetition, for weeks before, hours during, and days after a game. This is a huge benefit.

CON – Brand type casting

Some brands reach levels of success that plateau. Sponsoring the same mid, or low level game, year in and year out, can create a brand typecasting scenario that pigeonholes the brand. At this point, the brand in question can choose to use this coverage as a way to connect with their audience, or just be content with the name recognition. Choose the former and reap the benefits. Settle for the latter and end up typecast.

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AT&T’s PR is Not Complicated

5W PR is a leading media relations and PR Firm

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One of the most successful commercial series of the last couple of years has been the AT&T commercial campaign featuring a spokesman chatting with a handful of cute grade schoolers. The tagline, if you are unfamiliar, is “it’s not complicated.”

The thrust of the PR is to drive home the idea that AT&T’s service is not complicated. It’s simply “better,” for many obvious reasons. This point is repeated, point by point, over a series of several commercials that each covers a specific point.

Ronn Torossian explains why the use of the kids in the spots is a brilliant way to communicate the message without spelling it all out:

Kids are a great delivery system for messages, because they come across as so honest, and believable. Plus, they carry with them the “kids say the darndest things” cuteness that viewers easily connect with.

But, the kids also reinforce the “it’s so simple” message. They are bottom line, to the point, and honest to a fault. But their answers are simultaneously simple and creative.

These qualities have the combined impact of driving home the overall “it’s not complicated” message, while also entertaining the audience so they forget they are watching a commercial.

“This second dynamic is excellent when it’s done well,” Torossian said. “People love to be entertained but they hate to be ‘sold’. So, entertaining your audience while also convincing them of your message is a gold standard in advertorial PR.”

Plus, entertaining and simple PR has the added benefit of being memorable and fun to talk about.

“Viewers will be motivated to share their entertainment value, and they will remember the content well enough to have something entertaining to share with their friends,” Torossian added. “Never underestimate that power of accurate repetition of a core message.”

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Facebook Changes Walk a Fine Line (again)

5W PR is a leading media relations and PR Firm

Facebook and change…

While it appears that this might come as a shocking revelation to many users, the social media juggernaut known as Facebook, is in business to (gasp!) make money!

But, this undeniable, and incredibly fair, fact does not deter users from losing their minds every time the social media platform changes its interface or backend programming in an effort to make more money.

This past August, Facebook announced that it was making some changes to how the information displayed on Facebook business pages would be displayed and visible to users. The execs wanted fewer silly memes and more actual content showing up in users’ news feeds. Of course, they also wanted serious businesses to start paying for advertising instead of trying to connect with one billion users for absolutely free, umpteen times every day.

The move sent many social media marketing firms back to the drawing board, and reminded everyone who uses social media what providers REALLY want on their platforms: content.

But, according to Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, while Facebook is entirely within their rights to make any changes they want, their situation presents an interesting public relations example.

“On one hand you have a business that has responsible to its shareholders: to be as profitable as possible. But, on the other hand, you have an entirely volunteer customer base which is, at the same time, also your product. Piss off the customer, and they will MySpace you as soon as an alternative comes along,” Torossian said.

It’s a tough line to walk for any product or service that depends on an active and dedicated fan base, and a lesson to these businesses to always consider their fans in any creative decisions.

“Will people forgive Facebook for these changes and adapt? Probably. They have before, but that doesn’t mean their patience, and adaptability are limitless,” Torossian said.

And this goes for a company whose users flock to it with religious devotion. Twenty minutes per visit, untold times each day. Time one billion. It’s very likely your brand has a much thinner line to walk.

Not that this is a call to fear change, only to realize that most people do not react well to it. Both your messaging and your interface must be on point, or you are sure to generate animosity…which could turn into fans searching for your competition to offer them relief.


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The Rock’s Herculean PR Effort

Dwayne Johnson, the former wrestler known worldwide as, “The Rock”, continues to parlay his successful career in the squared circle to success on the big screen as the go-to quirky action star. Johnson’s charisma is undeniable, and his fan base makes just about any film a strong contender at the box office.

Set for a summer 2014 release, Hercules: The Thracian Wars, the story of the demigod’s life after completing his legendary 12 labors, is already receiving serious press.

So far, the reaction from both fans, and critics has been relatively warm, and hopeful. This is good news, considering the tragic end of The Rock’s other current movie project. Johnson was set to reprise his role as Hobbs in the latest Fast and the Furious film. However, that project was delayed – and likely scrapped – after the untimely death of franchise star, Paul Walker.

Desperate for some positive PR after that horrific accident, Johnson’s fans are flocking to the web in search of information about the Hercules movie. Where once the film may have been another summer blockbuster, the buzz it is generating may very well push Hercules over the top.

Ronn Torossian says this is a solid example of how life goes on after a tragedy. When something horrific happens, people always seem to ask, “what now?” The eventual answer that everyone arrives at in their own time is, of course, life goes on. But it’s that transition that can create a PR challenge.

Fans want more, but they may feel guilty about leaving aside the pain so quickly. It’s up to the brand – in this case Johnson – to lead the way. Torossian said that this situation is being handled well, and offers three benchmarks for a smooth transition.

Take the time to grieve

Most everyone who knew Walker appreciated him. They took the time to honor him in the best way they could, and did not hide their grief. This allows fans to grieve as well, a mutually cathartic exercise.

Focus on the positive

Without saying they moved on, people then moved on. Dwayne went back to working on promoting Hercules, and did not dwell on what might happen with Fast/Furious.

Respect the reactions of fans

Because everyone grieves in their own way, not every Rock fan will be ready to move on to the next project. Many are frustrated that they will not be able to see their Fast/Furious “friends” on screen, and they may take longer to buy in to the new project. Johnson’s PR team might be focused on promoting Hercules but he – and they – need to be ready to field questions about Fast/Furious as well.

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French “Nudecast” Translates into PR Coup for Saucy Weather Girl

She may have meant it as a cheap bet, but one French weather girl made good on her promise. Doria Tillier said that if France qualified for the World Cup, she would do her weather cast in the buff. Most took it as a joke, but many tuned in to see if she would keep her promise.

The PR boost didn’t stop there – See, Tillier actually did go through with her nudecast. Sort of. And the result is one part saucy, and two parts hilarious.

Showing a faux sultry face and wearing a long overcoat, Tillier begins the report by promising to keep her promise. Then the scene cuts to a long shot of a green field far away in the distance. Suddenly, a whooping, vaguely female figure sprints across the field seemingly wearing only boots.

The production is not remotely sensual, or sexual. It’s actually quite funny. Tillier races across a field in a far off shot that leaves pretty much everything to the imagination. Whooping, and leaping, she communicates just how cold it will be over the next several days.

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Whether due to promise, or the presentation, the clip went viral over the next several days, vaulting the model turned weather girl into international fame, and providing a laugh for nearly everyone who saw the video.

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR in New York, says, while stunts like this can easily backfire on all involved, particularly in countries with less relaxed views on nudity, the clip worked because everyone involved knew exactly how to manage the situation.

No one really expected Tillier to make good on the promise, but they tuned in “just to see.” Then, when she ACTUALLY DID IT she, and the crew pulled it off in such a funny way, people could not help but laugh with them.

“This could have gone all sorts of sideways,” Torossian observed. “But, they pulled it off with exactly the right sense of humor. And that’s tough when you might be relating to a foreign crowd.”

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USAF Flash Mob Wows Smithsonian Guests

5W PR is a leading media relations and PR Firm

PR may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the armed forces, but, as Ronn Torossian points out, our men, and women in uniform need to keep their brand out there, too.

Gone are the days when Uncle Sam’s “I Want You” commands attention. Today’s armed forces advertising has become about adventure, and being a global force for good. But, a recent production by the USAF Band and Chorus raised the bar on military PR.

Ronn Torossian explains: “Guests at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum were treated to a holiday-themed flash mob performance like no other. Beginning with a single cello player, eventually the entire USAF band came out, playing their own arrangement of ‘Jesu.’ Then, just when the viewers were completely blown away, the chorus came in, transitioning from ‘Jesu’ to ‘Joy to the World’.”

Of course, the entire event was captured on video, and placed on the DOD YouTube page. The video has since gone viral, with enchanted viewers spreading it across social media.

Why is this great PR for the Air Force? First, it’s a goodwill offering by the armed forces, which is always a great idea. Second, it tells people, in a spectacular way, that there are a LOT of other ways to serve in the Air Force. Who knew you could play a French horn for Uncle Sam?

Further, the schedule for the band scrolls after the video. That’s information that most people would never even think to look for otherwise. Now, not only have they heard an amazing performance, they know where, and when they can hear some more.

And that, friends, is the real PR lesson here. If you leave them wanting more you better tell them how to get it.


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Singing Star Shares Medical Condition with Surprised Fans

5W PR is a leading media relations and PR Firm

British singing sensation, Susan Boyle, first blazed into the public eye through a knockout performance on a British talent show. Since wowing the judges, the singer has become an internet sensation, and released a massively successful album of holiday music. Recently, Boyle announced to the world that she has Asperger’s. Throughout her life, Boyle has struggled with learning disabilities, and other physical, and emotional issues. But why reveal these things to the world?

According to Boyle, she is releasing this personal information because she wants her fans to have a better understanding of why she sometimes has struggled with her fame, and the attention it brought.

Boyle told a local newspaper: “I would say I have relationship difficulties, communicative difficulties, which lead to a lot of frustration. If people were a bit more patient, that would help.”

While this personal request may seem strange of a star to make to adoring fans, Ronn Torossian says Boyle’s heartfelt request strikes exactly the right tone. “She is not being overbearing, or obnoxious. She is just asking for a bit of understanding. That’s something we can all connect with.”

And that connection, Torossian says, is the key to knowing when to release personal information to the public. If a brand, or performer, wants to connect more openly with a fan base, releasing personal information can be an effective way … as long as that information is released with the right tone, and message.

People want to feel opened up to, not whined to, or complained to. Whining is whining, no matter who’s doing it. This creates a terrible PR situation. However, expressing real human emotion – something all of us can connect with – can be a real PR win.

“Being open with your fans is a way to pull them up to your level, to say, ‘hey, we’re all human, and I appreciate that you appreciate me’”, Torossian says.


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When Excellence is Easy to Spot

5W PR is a leading media relations and PR Firm

Recently, there was a story down in Florida that gained national attention. A central Florida mother got upset when her son brought home an honor roll citation along with a report card that had a “D” on it. According to that county’s school system, honor roll is determined by cumulative GPA, not the typical “all As and Bs”, that many parents remember.

Well, this mother didn’t feel like her son deserved to be honored since he was, reportedly, slacking a bit in the class where he scored the “D.” According to the mother, standout effort and standout results deserve standout honors. Slacking in one area does not. Now, parents, and educators across the nation are taking sides on the issue.

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations, says there’s something all young entrepreneurs can learn from this situation.

“Look, if you want to be successful, you need to understand that it’s not the bar someone else sets that should be your target. You need to find a way to surpass what you have believed to be your best. You need to find a way to do ‘more’ and to do that more in a better way,” Torossian said.

Torossian says that’s what the mother in this case is really trying to say. It’s not that she doesn’t want other kids to get an honor, and it’s not that she isn’t proud of all the A’s her child has earned. It’s that the system is allowing for children to meet a minimum and be honored the same as those who far exceed that minimum.

“That’s not the way the world works. Our economy is set up to reward those who work better, and do a better job. Not just those who work harder, but those who find a way to be the best,” Torossian says.

That should be your ultimate goal. Not to do as well as all those guys out there doing “alright for themselves.” Your goal should be to surpass the status quo. To find a way to do what’s being done better, or to do something new in an attractive way.

“If you can make that standard a foundation of your business plan, you are setting yourself up for success. Fail to do so and you are setting yourself up for mediocrity.”



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Beauty in the eye of the beholder

The “embarrassing car” list raises eyebrows and gets people talking

Few things are more subjective than vehicle design. While most sedans, and many compact cars seem made from the same mold, other models stand out from the rest. Ronn Torossian points out that, while these “different” designs certainly turn heads, some have also been known to turn stomachs.

Recently a list of the 12 most embarrassing recent car models has been making the rounds. Most major automakers had a model on the list. Those receiving votes included Honda, Nissan, Pontiac, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Lincoln, Chevrolet, Subaru, and Hummer.

Some models receiving votes, like the Honda Element, or Chrysler PT Cruiser, or Volkswagen Bug have huge numbers of ardent fans. Others, like the Nissan Cube, Smart Fourtwo, and Chevy SSR were popular among drivers looking for something different.

How can the makes that made the list spin this PR in their favor? Torossian says it may be easier than you think.

#1 – Focus on the positive

Look for, and promote the good things people are saying about the vehicle. There will always be people out there that don’t like it, but what is it about the car that draws fans?

#2 – Aim for your group

Most of these “different” vehicles have a very specific target market in mind long before they rolled off the assembly line. Makers should concentrate on their target market, and see what they are saying about the product. That lesson transcends across nearly all markets. While what other people are saying may be somewhat important, your buyers are who you should be out to please.

#3 – Don’t listen to the detractors

If you are selling well, and your customers are happy, let those negative vibes bounce right off. It’s one thing if everyone is panning your product, and it’s not selling. It’s something entirely different when a group of people who weren’t going to buy from you in any case criticize your product.

In the end, subjective is subjective. No matter what you do, someone out there is bound to hate it. Don’t sweat it. Focus on keeping those who love it happy.

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Little Tikes Scores Big By Answering “The Question”

Online addition eases fears and increases time on site

When it comes to toddler toys, the number one concern all parents have is this: “Is it safe?”.

Companies do all sorts of things to allay those fears. They print age restrictions, warn about small parts, and sharp edges, and follow industry safety guidelines. These steps help reduce those fears, but they don’t assuage them. Not really.

Little Tikes has taken those efforts one step further and created a huge digital media win for their preschool toy brand. In a recent print advertisement – you know, the ones kids shove relentlessly in their parents’ faces – Little Tikes invited parents to tour their manufacturing facility. Online.

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, explains the successful strategy, “Parents can go to the website and see exactly how those toys are being made. This is a tremendous way to answer that number one unspoken question that every parent has when buying toys for their kids. They can see the safety measures, put faces on the “faceless” people monitoring the process, and feel that much more reassured.”

But, Torossian adds, from a digital media marketing perspective, this move has other, huge benefits.

#1 – Massive time on site increases

A factory tour is no 30-second clip. Watching it keeps viewers glued to the page for an extended amount of time, measured by web standards.

#2 – Opportunities to market to parents

Little Tikes knows it will be parents checking out the video. So, they would be smart to place coupons, special offers, and exclusive deals right there on the same page as the video screen.

#3 – Opportunities to market to the target

Many times parents will watch those videos with their kids. Clever product placement motivates kids to add a few things to their wish list while their parents watch the movie.

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