Wellons Communications helps tell your story in 2012

The New Year is right ahead. Have you drafted your story/vision for the coming year? WWC Logo 2011 - small

It’s likely that you have a story to tell and may not even realize it. Many businesses have stories about their progress, new programs, expansions or cool new ideas of how to get things done.  Journalists, bloggers and even your Facebook fans love to learn what you have planned.

Communicating often – whether to your employees, your customers or your future customers – pays consistent dividends.

One of our clients recently remarked, “I had no idea what we were doing was even remotely newsworthy.’’ The comment came after she was profiled in the most highly sought after trade magazine for her industry.

Stories worth telling net business results, either with direct impact to the bottom line or a priceless boost in credibility.

We are experts in developing and promoting businesses’ stories.  So if you don’t know your story yet, let us help.

Heads will roll if you don’t push sales

burger-kingEven some of the biggest heads in the business will find themselves out of a job if they don’t help sales.

Just ask the Burger King.

The King was dethroned recently, after his wacky, teen-targeting commercials weren’t pulling in customers. Sales for Burger King are down 6 percent in the first quarter. These ads were replaced with the California Whopper, a serious image twist touting fresh and favor-full ingredients.

It’s all about the change in the market. You can see the “Whole Foods effect” in all the top advertising campaigns; McDonald’s, Subway and even 7-eleven.

Sorry King, we like your commercials full of silly antics, but they certainly did not have us in the drive thru.

What do the media and hurricanes have in common?

Unpredictability is the rule of the game when it comes to hurricanes…..and the media.

This past weekend, the media rushed to call Hurricane Irene a once-in-a life time storm – a major hurricane that would race up the eastern seaboard and wreck havoc on all along its path.

In many ways, Irene lived up to its billing. Just ask the millions of people still without power or the good citizens of Vermont who are still sopping up the damage from massive flooding.

Yet the same media that staked out weather teams ready for wall-to-wall coverage did not appear satisfied with the multi-billion dollars of destruction. As soon as the storm cleared the U.S. border, many news organizations switched quickly from forecasters predicting gloom to news writers asking why the gloom and doom didn’t meet the forecast.

Only the media could create so much noise and then turnaround and complain that the noise was too loud for the result.

Hurricanes have been – and always will be – unpredictable. You never know what path they will take or how hard they might hit their target. Unfortunately, the same can be said for many members of the media.

The take away: Prepare as best you can. Whether with hurricanes or media relations, it is best to have a firm plan in place for when the storm hits your business.

Marketing to Mommies

Besides the usual suspects of Facebook, Twitter and traditional outlets, two big time fast food giants are marketing to the person who knows best – mom. We_Can_Do_It!

Recently McDonald’s rolled out a down-sized French fry portion and added apples to every kid’s meal. Burger King just announced a new ad campaign focusing on fresher and healthier food options.

Both of these chains are refocusing their messages to mom. Now, mom bloggers are regarded as key influencers with the ability to spread news quickly. According to the BSM Media, moms are the family decision makers for everything from food products to cars and electronics, spending trillions each year.  Another study revealed 96 percent of moms value the recommendation they find on blogs.

In an age of social media, as marketers we have to embrace non-traditional media, because some mom bloggers have more readers than city newspapers.

In short, mommy dearest is a force to be reckoned with.

U.S. in a PR nightmare with no end in sight

Posturing with no results behind it will lead to very bad PR – just ask the federal government.

For most of the past month, consumers, big businesses and small businesses held their breath while our so-called leaders debated raising the national debt ceiling. Some in Congress saw this debt ceiling debate as an opportunity to take a stand, make points and play politics with the stability of the U.S. economy.

Payback time has arrived. Our leaders are awash in bad PR. One of the leading rating agencies – Standard & Poor’s – has trimmed the U.S. gold standard AAA credit rating. Financial markets across the globe are taking a beating.

A credit rating is just an opinion, but perception is reality. The new reality for the U.S. is that our leaders can’t be trusted to make financial decisions in a timely and prudent manner. So we all suffer.

The communications lessons are many. Words and boastful stands without actions and results to back them up can be damaging. Sometimes empty promises damage brands, and sometimes empty promises damage entire economies.

Netflix #fails with fans

Netflix was instrumental in changing the movie rental process. The old corner video store was out – DVD delivery by mail and instant online streaming was in. However, in the midst of backlash against a recent price hike, Netflix has ignored changing methods of communication, putting consumers in a permanent queue.

Netflix logoAfter announcing a 60 percent price increase to consumers via a company blog, Netflix has since remained stunningly silent on the issue. But Netflix users have grown loud, blasting Facebook and Twitter with angry rants directed at the company. According to CNET, pages have since formed with titles like, “Cancel Netflix” and “I used to love Netflix until they decided to rip me off.” Angry tweets announcing subscription cancellations are trending on twitter. Thousands of comments have been posted to the company’s blog. Netflix has not responded to a single complaint.

As communications professionals, we should be just that: communicators. In the midst of consumer disappointment, don’t ignore the power of social media. Embrace it as a source for immediate interaction with customers. The simplest response could make all the difference, allowing you to retain customers despite upheaval.

What can marketers learn from Oprah?

oprah-goodbye2After a 25-year reign on daytime television, Oprah said goodbye in May. Even if she’s off the small screen, Oprah’s influence leaves a lasting impression.

As we reminisce about freebies and star-studded specials it’s important to consider the lessons we’ve learned from the queen of talk.

Communication – After 25 years, and countless awards and nominations, Oprah knows how to connect with her guests and audience through the art of communication. Her ability to make people laugh, or bring them to tears is a testament to her ability to connect and appeal to millions.

Be transparent – Honesty was key with Oprah, not only for herself, but for her guests as well. She made sure anyone appearing on her show played by that rule or she would call them out without a second thought. Through her transparency she became more relatable and trusted.

Be personable – Oprah was constantly opening up her life to her audience. Whether it was about her hair, weight or her troublesome upbringing, her ability to share details about herself engaged her audience even more.

Suspense is everything – The word Oprah just stirs up a buzz. Down to her “Secret Show” finale Oprah knew how to generate attention and intrigue.

The power of a review – Oprah was famous for showering her audiences with extravagant, red-carpet gifts. If she happened to mention one of your products, that product would soon fly off store shelves. On the flip side, if she happened to criticize your product, hold on for a heck of a dry spell.

Public Relations 101: Don’t be a Weiner

Okay, you have just been caught with your pants down – pun intended. When the world finds out about your wrong doing or your company’s wrong doing, you should:

A.      DenyUSREPORT-US-USA-POLITICS-WEINER

B.      Blame the media

C.      Say it was someone else

The correct answer in communications is D. None of Above.

Rep. Anthony Weiner was caught tweeting a photo of his underpants to a young woman and admitted to flirtatious online exchanges with several women. He took all the actions of someone who thought he could outsmart the public. For days he claimed he had not sent the racy photos and that he was hacked, before finally coming clean in a garden-variety tearful apology.

Why not just start with the truth – the story cycle ends quicker that way.

PHOTO COURTESY OF REUTERS

GoDaddy’s Elephant in the Room

Buzz is nothing new to internet domain host, GoDaddy. This time, however, the controversy is not over a racy Super Bowl ad, but over videos of the company’s chief executive, Bob Parsons, hunting big game.

Last month Parsons posted a video of him killing an elephant in Zimbabwe along with a photo of the dead animal on his blog. He then tweeted about it, setting off a firestorm of bad publicity.

This immediately sparked a backlash from animal rights organization, PETA, who is calling for a boycott of GoDaddy until Parsons agrees to abandon the annual hunts.

Parsons is unapologetically brushing aside the criticism, calling the remarks misinformed.

“I think that most people, when they see this video, will understand what’s happening,” said Parsons. “These people are on the brink of starvation; they need their crops and need to eat. Elephants are not endangered and probably there are too many of them. A lot of people are up in arms about this. Their hearts are in the right place but they don’t understand the situation. If they’d go on one of my trips to Zimbabwe, they’d understand.”

GoDaddy’s competition is now firing off deals for GoDaddy customers to switch to their companies, including free domain hosting, discounted transfer rates and donations to charities that protect elephants. Poaching GoDaddy’s customers is a smart way for smaller firms to take advantage of the negative PR surrounding Parsons and the company.

As communications professionals this story brings about the important message to keep your audience in mind. If Parsons would have kept his hunting excursions to himself, GoDaddy clients would not be in the sites of animal enthusiasts.

Babies being served booze

boozing babesIt’s a parent’s nightmare and an instant public relations crisis.

This article on USA Today looks into a couple of these restaurant mishaps – babies being served booze! Something most of us never thought would happen is now front page news and on the minds of a lot of parents.

Within one month two different incidents were reported at two of the nation’s largest casual dining chains, Applebee’s and Olive Garden.

So how do these restaurants win back the loyalty of worried parents? Well, they can either ignore the issue and release statements like this one made by Applebee’s.

“In an industry that serves more than 150 million meals every day, these are two extremely rare occurrences. However, we believe that even one incident like this is too many.”

Or they could face the issue, react quickly and positively. A couple of suggestions from restaurant operators: retrain staff, rethink alcoholic drink policies, limit bar use, be forthcoming and involve consumers in new regulations. Concerning communications get your messaging clear – from the hostess and servers on the front line, to your media statements.

After all, this juicy story is out and now diners want to know, what restaurants will do to ensure their child will never be served anything more to drink than a soft drink.