The position of head football coach at a major conference university is almost always a hot seat. Typically, coaches find themselves in the news either for winning or losing, or reacting to winning or losing. Occasionally, though, a coach at a big-name school will say or do something that has nothing to do with the sport he was hired to coach, but still manages to put that coach and the university that employs him in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Such is the case for Washington State football coach Mike Leach. With the upcoming NCAA football season set to kick off in a little more than a month, Washington State’s head football coach is in the news… and not for enticing a blue-chip recruit to play for the Cougars. Instead, Leach is answering questions about a heavily edited political video he shared on social media. For the purposes of this article, it doesn’t matter who the video was about, what the topic was, or which “side” of the political spectrum it was meant to agitate. The fact is, the video was heavily doctored to create a false impression of what the person in the video said and what they meant by what they said.
What do you do when you have a hit show but choose to fire the star? A star, who also happens to be the program’s namesake? If you’re ABC, you reboot the same show without that cast member, and try to sell it to the same fans who loves the old version of the show.
Here’s the rub… Many of the fans who loved Roseanne, loved it because of the frank conversations about politics and current events through the filter of multiple different perspectives. In firing Roseanne for a tweet about Valerie Jarrett, ABC angered many of the same fans that say they loved the show’s take on free — and not “politically correct” — speech. Many of those loyal Roseanne fans agreed that, as the actress said, the tweet was in poor taste and a “bad joke”. They didn’t see the need for Roseanne to lose her job, though, even if they, personally, didn’t like her comments. Now, regardless of how fans feel about how the incident with Roseanne was handled, there’s no doubt we have a very interesting PR campaign about to unfold.
With the advent of digital marketing, social media marketing, SEO, and content marketing, some people have given up on one of the staples of media relations: earned media. That’s a huge mistake. No matter what’s happening in other areas of the industry, earned media is still a hugely valuable commodity.
And, for PR professionals, earned media is definitely something your client will expect. That’s not to say it’s easy. After all, even though news is 24-7 these days, and there are more outlets than ever before, there are certain topics that always seem to grab headlines. With these popular topics crowding the news cycles, getting noticed takes the right message, a winning strategy, and precise timing. Here are a few ways to win some earned media even in the breakneck pace of the Digital Age.
When most people think about “peer pressure” they get a negative connotation. Bullying, cajoling, kids trying to get friends to do things they know they shouldn’t. But peer pressure can be a good thing too.
In fact, I would venture that all of us have done some interesting and exciting things thanks to peer pressure. We tried that ride or that sport, tasted that menu item, or talked to that girl (or guy). We learned a new language or an instrument, or we picked up a long-forgotten hobby — all thanks to friends that “pressured” us to do so.
Two elements of effective PR that you should never discount are timing and clever brand placement. Sometimes, all it takes to get noticed is to have your brand in a prime place at the right time. From red carpets and royal weddings, to sporting events and movies, product placement can be a very effective way to energize or introduce a brand. Just ask Kellogg’s.
Eggo waffles have been around for decades. Most American kids grew up eating them. In fact, it may have been one of the first things those kids – who now have kids of their own – learned to cook.
Frequent fliers, if you like the window seat, Emirates has some news you may not want to hear, but the International Airline is going to try to sell you on their new pilot program anyway.
Recently, the Dubai-based airline revealed a new “first class” option on some of its jets: virtual windows. Instead of the “real thing” passengers are treated to videos of what’s outside the airplane, recorded by cameras outside the aircraft and projected inside the first-class suite. According to Emirates, the transition could eventually be applied on all the aircraft in its fleet, as long as they can sell passengers on the idea. The first salvo in that consumer PR campaign: without window, airplanes are lighter and fasters. That means flights will be faster, and less fuel will be used, which means flights “could” be cheaper.
You never know when you might find yourself dealing with a PR crisis. In those moments, when every word of every message is being dissected on social media and cut up for headlines, that is not the time to be building up goodwill for your brand. That needs to happen long before the bad news hits… otherwise you may never dig out.
A great example of a company that was well-prepared for a PR disaster is Chipotle. The “fast casual” dining establishment hit the scene and made a big splash, enticing legions of customers with quality food, quick, and selections that would keep the whole family happy. Soon, those customers were loyal fans. But that didn’t happen by accident. The restaurant work hard and smart to help those consumers make the transition from casual diners to hardcore fans.
Publix Supermarkets, an employee-owned grocery chain based in central Florida, has supported the political aspirations of “local boy” Adam Putnam for more than a decade. But recent outsized donations to Putnam’s campaign had customers seeing red and threatening to take their green elsewhere.
Publix reportedly donated $670,000 to Putnam’s campaign for governor. The current Florida agriculture commissioner, Putnam is in a heated battle with Rep. Ron DeSantis, a member of the so-called “Freedom Caucus” who enjoys the support of President Donald Trump.
It’s no secret that some press agencies have a contentious relationship with the current U.S. presidential administration. Generally, disputes or dustups between the two sides are supported along roughly partisan political lines. It’s rare that voters and consumers react in one voice to an action taken by the administration… But that was the case when it was announced that certain press agencies would not be permitted to attend a recent Environmental Protection Agency meeting.
The “summit” was supposed to focus on water contaminants, but the headlines shifted when representatives from CNN, the Associated Press, Politico, and others were told by security they were not welcome to attend.
A few years back, Marvin Ellison was a candidate for the top spot at Home Depot. While he did very well running U.S. operations for Home Depot, Ellison didn’t get that gig, but he was tapped to lead struggling department store JCPenney. Now, four years later, Ellison will get another shot to build a legacy in the home improvement retail industry as he takes over at CEO of Lowe’s.
Taking over his former employer’s chief rival is a bit of a bittersweet move for Ellison, who spent about 12 years working at various executive positions at Home Depot. But he’s certainly pleased not to be tied to JC Penney at this juncture.