Category ArchiveBusiness of PR



Business of PR &Electronic PR &market positioning &Marketing &Media &Public Relations Tools &Social Media 16 Feb 2009 10:51 am

Sports Page PR

It’s hard to turn on ESPN these days without a report on Michael Phelps or Alex Rodriguez. Both superstar athletes have suffered massive blows to their public image in the past few weeks, but each has taken a different approach to managing their respective crisis.

Various media personalities heralded Phelps as the greatest athlete in Olympics history (a modern history dating back to 1896) after he swam to eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. Equally captivating was the recently released picture of Michael holding a bong at a college party in November. The Phelps camp has been frantically trying to save the swimmer’s reputation ever since the picture hit the internet. Strategically, Phelps management agency, International Management Group (IMG) is playing the “youthful spirit” PR card, asking for understanding and forgiveness…a very sound strategy. But the drawn out saga that has unfolded probably wasn’t in their plans. Every additional apology Phelps’ issues goes straight to the front page; every informal poolside press conference has Phelps out of breath and un-groomed. Phelps needs his character and integrity reaffirmed, but neither his coaches nor friends have displayed support to the media. More proactive PR tactics are needed in times of crisis management.

Alex Rodriguez and his PR staff were far more aggressive in handling his recent admission to steroid use in Major League Baseball (MLB). Sports Illustrated broke the story on Sunday and Rodriguez disclosed all in an interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons on Tuesday. He attacked the allegations and tried to minimize the damage by giving answers to questions sports fans were asking. Pulling a page from Phelps’ book, Rodriguez blamed his humanity for “making a mistake”. While Rodriguez’s image will never be the same, he was able to control the story, instead of letting the story control him.

These two sport-related cases offer lessons in crisis management. While the public will never forget these two incidents, savvy PR practices can minimize the damage to their respective reputations. Basketball’s Michael Jordan was able to stay in the public’s favor for years despite gambling allegations. Many businesses, company leaders, athletes, celebrities, etc. make mistakes because they are human. PR specialists must realize this fact and build a plan to emphasize the way individuals learn from mistakes.

Case Ernsting

Business and Economy &Business of PR &Clean Tech &Ecofriendly &Environment &Leadership &Marketing &Media &Michigan Public Relations Firm &Thinking Green 05 Feb 2009 05:41 pm

Bailout Fallout

Last week I wrote about including “Going Green” in business plans of the future, not only to help the environment, but also to sustain company coffers. This strategy is readily apparent following General Motors (GM), Chrysler and Ford’s visit to Congress last month and their subsequent unveilings at last week’s North American International Auto-show (NAIA).

In December, the CEOs of Detroit’s Big Three trekked out to Congress on the wheels of their newest hybrid vehicles in search of a Bailout. Although the CEOs were successful in acquiring a $17.4 Billion loan, the trip cost the automakers a great deal of credibility and public perception. GM CEO Richard Wagoner defended the decisions of the last few years as “right for the time”. GM’s resolute decision-making resulted in sluggish development of fuel-efficient vehicles; a disparaging trend given the nimble (and successful) movements of Toyota and Honda. The U.S. auto leaders needed to become relevant and responsible once again. Like many businesses both in Michigan and around the world, they turned their focus to environmental issues.

The Big Three were able to secure the congressional loan on the merits of their plan to go green and produce hybrid vehicles; an act that will benefit all three companies financially and in the public’s eye. A report in the Michigan Business Review identifies the mission ahead:
“[Chrysler, Ford and GM] face the challenge of introducing new products while convincing the public that they’ll be around to build those products.”

These new products include a more fuel-efficient, direct-inject turbocharged engine called Ecoboost from Ford…which sounds cool enough to be in a Batman movie. GM is looking for big returns on their E-Flex platform in which vehicles are battery dominant and plug-in capable. Chrysler is making the most of its new bailout bounty by promising three electric vehicles by 2010, shocking to some. Until these new innovations reach the market, PR opportunities such as the NAIA and news reports must be considered deftly. Going Green isn’t enough anymore to sway the American consumer. Companies now must to show purpose with environmental measures, especially when they are receiving our tax dollars.

Case Ernsting

Business and Economy &Business of PR &Ecofriendly &Environment &market positioning &Marketing Communications &Thinking Green 28 Jan 2009 10:58 am

Public Relations & the Choice to Go Green

Are you going green? Do you know how to go green? At the Micro level, you might walk to the corner store instead of driving…or perhaps you turn off the lights when you leave the room. But at the Macro level, many companies have gone green in a big way. Earlier Eiler blogs have highlighted the benefits of “Green-ifying” your company and working with green organizations. I will point out the crucial role public relations plays after your company goes green.

Companies that go green are preserving the environment, but also preserving their revenues. New television commercials (IBM, Wal-Mart, etc.) are highlighting the economics of going green, but what about the beneficial public perception that goes along with these actions? As Larry as been pointing out in recent blogs, the concept of branding is evolving, but the reasons to brand remain the same.

Companies and corporations need to differentiate themselves from competitors now more than ever, and the opportunity to go green appears to be the newest source of market differentiation and corporate social responsibility. For instance, Wal-Mart is trying to wash away its less than stellar public perception by instituting long-term green alternatives. McDonald’s, in the throes of a brand shift towards healthier meal options, promote a healthy, green relationship with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Additional globally-renowned brands going green can be found here.
The public knows the value of going green due to an increase in media attention. In today’s economy, that awareness and concern can be leveraged and turned into sales through savvy public relations practices.

So if I say, Coca-Cola is going green by focusing on energy protection…do you know what they’re actually doing? Inherently, we agree with this practice even if it’s not obvious what “energy protection” means. This is where your friendly Public Relations (PR) firm steps in. PR can bridge the gap between great ideas and the customer, especially now that the economy has stifled consumer spending. Companies are investing millions of dollars in creating new technologies and innovative ideas to protect the environment, but much of these success stories are not relayed to the public effectively With PR, brand messages are recognized instantly.

In an upcoming blog, I’ll look at how General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler are using forward-thinking green innovations to save their companies, as well as how the Big Three will benefit from involving knowledgeable PR methods.

Case Ernsting

Blogging &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Electronic PR &Marketing &Media &Social Media &Technology PR Insights 26 Jan 2009 06:00 pm

Women Bloggers? A new demograhic in social media/tech?

I was recently reading an article in Fast Company magazine about the most influential women in technology. The article was the second in a series that was originally called,
“ The Most Influential Women in Web 2.0.” The first article became a heated debate on many social media networks, including Digg because some readers felt the article was sexist. Sexist? Come on.

This lead me to think about what a disadvantage that women have had in the technology department by any metric: average salary, top-management representation, board memberships and many geographic areas like Silicon Valley are still just a boys club. In fact, most of technology seems to be a “boys club.”

The fact of the matter is now that social media has taken off with such rapid fire, women are becoming very influential and making a dent in the technology world. For instance, look at some of the executives of large social media and technology firms. Susan Decker, President of Yahoo, Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook, Megan Smith VP, New Business Development of Google.

What about some of the fastest growing social networking sites? Caterina Fake
Co-founded the photo-sharing elephant Flickr and then sold it to Yahoo for a reported $35 million. Everyone is buzzing about her highly anticipated project called Hunch, which is in development.

Women Bloggers? Look at the site http://www.blogher.com/ and you will find over
2,200 women bloggers and counting. This site has become its own community that even has its own blogging conference. Anyone can sign up and have your blog posted. There are even large advertisers on the site such as Cover Girl and Oil of Olay. Wonder what Eilsa, Jory and Lisa (the founders of Blogher.com) made on that contract?

It’s not just about money, although that is a great perk. Blogging allows us the freedom to write and discuss things that are relevant to us and to have them published. Anyone can blog and anyone can use blogging to drive traffic to his or her site, develop their own company or just have an opinion. It has become the way of communicating these days and it would be a shame to not take advantage of this great tool in marketing and PR.

Jennifer L Peak

Business of PR &Ecofriendly &Electronic PR &Environment &Thinking Green 18 Nov 2008 04:11 pm

Should public relations companies go green?

With the interest in high tech public relations companies to begin using the green and environmentally friendly strategy, one has to ask would it really make an impact? From a business and public relations standpoint, yes. Here’s why:

1) By greening your business it creates a favorable impact on the public and their perceptions of the environment.
2) The organization would have decreased expenses on materials, disposal of waste, and energy.
3) There would be increased and improved client relations whose interests reside in green or clean tech PR.
4) It provides staff and clients a purpose to protect/enhance the environment
5) Lastly, small steps save money.

Environmentally responsible businesses are efficient businesses.

Christian

Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Business of PR &Clean Tech &Ecofriendly &Environment &Michigan Public Relations Firm &Technology PR Insights &Thinking Green 18 Nov 2008 04:09 pm

How is being environmentally conscious going to affect the high tech PR companies and their approach to media?

With the world of technology beginning to think “green,” high tech companies are finding ways to improve their products and promote them to the environmental friendly way of life.

Whether you are a PR firm in Ann Arbor or Michigan, when you are considering your market positioning strategy, one key opportunity today is using “green.”

What PR companies have to realize is that it is not enough to just write a media release saying how good the company is for the environment. It is more about putting words into action that people care about. These clean tech companies are going to have to create products that demonstrate what they advocate (less toxic items in their products, recyclable, etc). And wouldn’t a green-minded public relations strategy enhance the clean tech mindset? The options could include paperless media kits, flash drives, digital releases, media tours that promote both the company and green ideas, getting experts in the field to endorse what you are doing.

In reality, true green thinkers are more adept at picking out the falsehoods from what is fact. With PR, one of the main ideas should revolve around not doing publicity for the sake of publicity. It needs to mean something. Green thinking and clean technology is becoming a cause, like the fight against poverty, or the global food crisis, or even the fight against cancer. It is a hot topic issue among presidential debates or around the local watering hole. And high tech public relations companies need to understand that it is not just talking about the environment but acting upon it as well.

Yes there is a but. The biggest obstacle to promoting environmental organizations actions and services is the lack of creativity on our part. We need to understand that not every story is a “breakthrough” and find that angle that makes it relevant to the public.

Nevertheless, when doing PR for a company that either promotes green living or wants to sell itself as environmentally friendly, it the public relation company’s responsibility to make sure that the business in question carries those values into their own daily operations. Otherwise, it just becomes hypocritical publicity.

Christian

About Eiler Communications &Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Blogging &Business of PR &Electronic PR &Michigan Public Relations Firm &Public Relations Tools &Social Media 12 Nov 2008 09:50 am

Why blog for PR organizations?

It is increasingly difficult nowadays to be recognized for ones expertise in Michigan public relations, hi tech companies, and communication world with the amount of information that is out there. However, there is hope, and it has been around for a while: blogging. Interactive market positioning is oftentimes key to giving people the needed information they seek. The importance of blogging rests on six principles:

First, blogs are easy to publish on the web. The ability to upload thoughts, ideas, or general information is just a few clicks away, allowing for a mass flow of information across a wide spectrum.

Second, blogs are inexpensive. Especially in today’s economy, Michigan PR companies don’t have to spend vast sums of money getting their names out.

Third, it is quick and efficient. There is not wait time. The information is “published” fast and allows for instant reactions. This works especially well with a public relations organization like Eiler Communications to respond to industry and client needs.

Fourth, similar to my third point, blogging grabs the attention of search engines. The more the company blogs the more hits they might get and the more attention it receives via non-paid publicity, a huge bonus for the organization.

My last two points are tied together in that it both positions the company in a favorable light in the eyes of client, industry, and public to treat them as an expert and as a result, hopefully, increases its profits and notability.

Regardless of the reason a PR organization uses blogging, it can be an extremely important tool in the sphere of high tech communicating. And what better way to prove that the company knows media and the field of communications than actually communicating!

Christian

Business of PR &Electronic PR &Leadership &market positioning &Marketing &Marketing Communications &Media &Public Relations Tools &Social Media 11 Nov 2008 10:11 am

Social Media Marketing and the success of Barack Obama

More than ever political candidates nowadays are seeing the huge advantages of market positioning and high tech PR via social media. Once in a while a candidate comes along and is a breath of fresh air. There was no better time for Barack Obama than now. With the 2008 election finally over, to the relief of many, we can sit back and assess the impact this positioning and PR had on candidates and nominees.
We are a society of pop culture and instant downloads where information is accessed at astonishing rates. News an hour ago is not news anymore and we are constantly searching for updates.
President-elect Barack Obama is an incredibly charismatic individual and plays well into this culture. Here is my thinking: I don’t think that policy and issue play as large a role as it should have and did in previous presidential elections. Although unfortunate, I feel image is a larger determining factor for the voting population.
Using these ideas, media relations and market positioning are just a couple of ways to build a fan base that can promote a candidates influence in multiple venues. Examples of this type of social marketing would include viral videos on YouTube, vlogs, internet forums, podcasts, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Flickr, just to name a few. Videos seen on YouTube of campaign rallies were free PR on a national scale. In fact on his home website, there is a link to “Obama Everywhere”, which lists all the above and a handful more of places where you can learn and discuss Obama. His campaign took advantage of this social market positioning and used it in their strategic plan for success. He reached out to the numerous constituents and gained their attention and respect by understanding that technology is continuous and evolving.
It was in this sense that Obama was able to fundraise from micro donors (and in return allowed him to disclaim lobbyist influences in government). Furthermore, according to a CNN.com exit poll, 66% of all 18-29 year-olds and 52% of 30-44 year-olds voted for Obama. These are the same typical demographics that are familiar with and use social media as both an outlet for discussion and information seeking; the so-called “internet generation”.
The reason this is relevant in politics today is because you will not find a single candidate out there who does not have a website and/or numerous spin off sites. For example, Obama teamed up with Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes to create My.BarackObama.com, in which users could join an online community that boasted over a million members. Using these high tech venues one can find local events, contact undecided voters near you, and share stories via blogs. The thinking is this: candidates, especially at the presidential level, can be, and oftentimes are, impersonal. My.BarackObama.com removes that a little bit and makes him and his campaign feel more about you.
Obama positioned himself as a beacon for change. He spoke with an intelligence that articulated respect. He symbolized a new beginning or at the very least a fresh start from the turmoil of the last 8 years. Obama had a strong grasp of the power public relations and high tech devices to campaign in new ways. From my viewpoint, someone who understands the way people think and seems to have a direction definitely gets my vote.

Christian

About Eiler Communications &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Media &Michigan Public Relations Firm &PR Firm for Economic Development 10 Nov 2008 01:05 pm

Experts in the field?

A few weeks ago on our blog, the question was asked why is public relations important, especially in our poor economy today? Jenny was dead on when she rhetorically asked how are you supposed to attract new business if you get rid of the people that are in charge of bringing it in? Her first point in having a public relations company was to target in on the marketing position. Agreed, no doubt. Unpaid advertising and marketing is extremely important to companies nowadays. Many cannot afford to spend the money when it is needed elsewhere to make a successful business run smoothly. That is where the PR firm plays its role.

I think there is something else however that it can do to enable its market positioning strategy further for success and that is position the company to be an expert in its respective field. Eiler Communications is a case in point. It specializes in high tech PR and has the experience and track record to prove that.

Proving to an audience that the company is an expert in hi tech is a type of brand equity. An organization with strong brand equity will enjoy visibility and a reputation that makes them stand out from their competitors. It also becomes relevant when people believe the organization, or its services, add value to their life. Therefore, by strategically placing the company through a public relations agency that specializes in market positioning (especially in high tech areas), they can relax knowing that clients will become interested based on their expert services with little money spent on paid advertising.

Christian

About Eiler Communications &Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Blogging &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Corporate Communications &Marketing &Marketing Communications &Michigan Public Relations Firm &PR Firm for Economic Development &Public Relations Tools &Social Media 07 Oct 2008 09:42 am

Why is Public Relations Important?

Public relations is the art and science of establishing relationships between an organization and its key audiences. In today’s business world and economy who doesn’t need to establish long lasting loyal relationships?

It is always amazing to me that in times of hardship in a company or small business the first thing to get “cut” is public relations and marketing. When business is slow, isn’t the objective to attract more business? The pieces don’t seem to fit in the logic of cutting what drives consumers to your business.

There are many different forms of marketing to reach your audience, but the first thing that should come to mind is positioning your company. Marketing positioning strategy is when marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its product, brand, or organization. In other words, try to say something that is so profound or shocking (but true) that you clear enough space in the brain of your consumer to make them forget about all of the other competition.
Sounds pretty simple right?

In most cases, it is not that simple.

That is why it is so important to use a mix of marketing methods, one of them being public relations. PR reaches your audience in a much different way because it is not a paid advertisement. It also helps you to reach an audience that you might not have been able to reach or afford to reach with traditional marketing methods. Public relations also uses diverse techniques such as opinion polling and focus groups to evaluate public opinion, combined with a variety of high-tech techniques for distributing information on behalf of their clients to the target audience.

What if you wanted to reach the audience that reads the Wall Street Journal, but your marketing budget wouldn’t allow you to spend 40k on a small black and white ad? PR will help you to reach an editor at the WSJ with a compelling story and get it published. Wouldn’t you be much more likely to read an article written by a third party rather than a paid advertisement and find more value in that?

Think about the different forms of social media these days! Blogging, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook! If you are not staying with the changes in technology then you will be left behind. All of these groups of social media are forms of PR and a good way to reach your audience or at the very least, hear what they are saying about your product directly.

Here is one more thing to think about. What if you had a major public relations crisis in your company and no one on your staff knew how to talk to the media? Wouldn’t you regret not having a PR firm?

Jenny

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