Starbucks takes a Venti “L” For its #RaceTogether Campaign

Race TogetherSocial media has increasingly become a tool used by companies to promote their campaigns through user-generated content. For example, Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign provided a hashtag and encouraged consumers to share their Coke physically as well as virtually, generating a lot of buzz for the company and the campaign. However, not all campaigns have as much success.

Take Starbucks’ #RaceTogether campaign. In just one week the campaign was nixed due to a negative response from consumes and Twitter users. USA TODAY reported last Monday that, in partnership with Starbucks, they’ll be tackling the issue of race in America – one barista at a time. Yes, Starbucks and USA TODAY launched its “Race Together” campaign geared toward generating conversation about race issues in America.

Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO, aimed to encourage Starbucks customers and its employees to discuss race, with the belief that this was the first step toward confronting and solving the nation’s race issues.

Within this campaign, Starbucks baristas were encouraged to evoke conversation with customers about their thoughts on race relations, and in addition, beginning Friday March, 20 USA TODAY’s print edition included a co-authored piece by both companies that will contain race relation “conversation starters” and questions. Customers were asked to tweet responses to these questions using their designated hashtag, #RaceTogether.

The Twitter community got a jump-start on the conversation and put its own spin on the hashtag, but not in the way Starbucks and USA TODAY intended. The campaign received a firestorm of backlash from Twitter users, so much so that Schultz deleted his Twitter account.

 

These were mild. However, amidst the firestorms were some who supported the initiative. Now the question remains, why did it fail? The high level of controversy surrounding the issue? Starbucks’ stigma? A lack of diversity in campaign ads? Or, should companies simply focus on their core values and initiatives rather than push the envelope and delve into controversial social issues such as race? PR News Online offers 3 PR lessons to learn from this campaign for companies who choose to use user-generated content through social media and fail.

The Dress, swords and truths about viral promises

The Dress is blue and black now

First of all, let me state my position: the dress is white and gold.  My daughter insists the dress is blue and black – but I’m convinced otherwise.

The dress is the latest viral sensation – it was the talk of my office and even hit my sport talk radio station. What goes viral in digital media is anybody’s guess.  And anyone who tells you they know for sure what it takes for something to go viral is telling stories.

Did you think 16 hours ago the color of dress would be Internet and social media buzz?  Be wary of promises and big guarantees from marketing gurus and digital media experts.

With the media – whether traditional press or social – nothing is a certainty. Anyone who has worked for a city editor or news director knows that.

This week a story took off for Ripley Entertainment about a pregnant sword swallower who will perform in Dallas as the National Sword Swallower Day February 28.  A nifty graphic helps tell the story.

Unusual stories, such as sticking a steel blade down your throat, have a good chance of catching an editors’ eye. But what is considered newsworthy or buzz-worthy is always changing and always fickle –again just look at the dress.

Maybe it is blue and black. Never mind, I am sticking to my position: the dress is white and gold.

Turning Pointe Studio Director Living Her Dream

 

Cathy Mae Cavanaugh is living her dream.

Ever since she was a teenager putting herself through college, Cavanaugh has been an instructor at Turning Pointe – A Dance Studio.

Over the years, Cavanaugh has taught more than 5,000 students to dance, or to dance much better. Her STAR teams have won countless awards and competitions. In the process of learning to dance – something magical happens – the students (and their parents) become members of the Turning Pointe family.

Working her way up the ranks at Turning Pointe, Cathy Mae knew that one day she wanted to own her own studio. Cavanaugh has always known more about tap, Jazz and ballet than being an entrepreneur.  Her life is dance, but her dream is rooted in running a business. Wellons Communications is proud to help businesses like Turning Pointe to thrive and grow.

In the past year, she purchased Turning Pointe from her former boss. She knew she would have to work tirelessly to help hundreds of children (and often their parents, family and friends) learn to be excellent dancers.

This fall, Cavanaugh’s dream will fully take shape. She is moving Turning Pointe – A Dance Studio to a new location in the Springs Plaza, off of State Road 434 (SR434) in Longwood. Cavanaugh will have the opportunity to put her stamp completely on the business, including installing just the right type of floors for any dance or exercise instruction.

The new studio will serve dancers of all ages from toddler to adult. Busy parents will likely enjoy that they can shop at Publix, or have a great meal in the Plaza while their child has lessons.

“This past year has been a whirlwind! We are so excited to be moving and building out a brand new space.’’ Cavanaugh said.

“The next chapter of Turning Pointe is going to be the most exciting yet!’’

Congratulations to Turning Point and Miss Cathy Mae. She has the honor of both shaping lives and living her dream.

To learn more about Turning Pointe – A Dance studio, go to www.turningpointedance.com  or call 407.862.5500.

Stop. Think. Remember the reason for Memorial Day

In today’s commercial world, some might think the reason for this holiday weekend is to give retailers a chance to sell mattresses at a discount or more beer for your holiday cookout.

A visit to the Lawton House in a Oviedo brings this weekend into sharp focus. For the second year in a row, the historic house in Oviedo is hosting a tribute to the men and women of Florida who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country.

There will be a Memorial Day service at 9 AM Saturday to honor all of our fallen heroes. The crosses on Lawton’s front lawn are an important reminder of the dedication and sacrifice Americans are willing to give to protect our freedom – both here at home and around the globe.

 
Jim Vanderbleek built more than 370 crosses – one for every military member from Florida who died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each cross holds a wreath created by 17 year old Conner MacFarlane and refurbished by his 14 year old sister Chloe. One of the crosses is in honor of their father, who died in Afghanistan in 2012.

The Memorial Day events are a joint effort of the First United Methodist Church of Oviedo’s Military Support Team, area churches, Jim Vanderbleek and Girl Scout Troop 538.

The Lawton house is located at 200 West Broadway.

 

In the News business, you get what you pay for

Back in the day, gossip rags and celebrity media were frowned upon as second-tier. In the new age of citizen journalists, bloggers and a shrinking traditional media – the celebrity press is acting like the leaders of the pack.

All hail TMZ – the entertainment medium is the industry standard in breaking stories that people actually talk about and share on social media.TMZ exclusively released the audio tape of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling sharing his feelings about who should attend basketball games for his NBA team.  This led quickly to Sterling’s banishment by the NBA.

Then, the media company followed that up with the release of the elevator fight seen around the world between Beyonce’s sister Solange and rapper Jay Z.

These are just two examples of TMZ lapping the field in “talkable’’ stories. Of course, they do come with a price. The company pays big dollars for quality content that will raise their brand above the competition.

What can normal businesses take from the TMZ model? To start with, it shows that quality stories may very well be worth the investment; and it does not hurt if that content has star appeal, either.

Building your brand one step at a time

Marketing agencies like to tout their wins for big companies. We applaud those wins, for we know how hard they are to garner.

Yet, what about small companies? Don’t they deserve the same services as the big firms? Emphatically we say yes!

Sometimes when you’re a small company just trying to make your way in the world you have to start somewhere. That somewhere might be a single press release, or media pitching, or social media campaign.

We have had the privilege of working with national companies in multiple markets.  Our firm takes an equal amount of pride in the work we do to promote smaller businesses. We are happy to provide project work – a single press release if needed – to bring companies the publicity and business they richly deserve.

In just the past few months we’ve announced restaurant openings, worked with dance companies, app developers, window shade manufacturers, and even horse farms to help promote small business owners.

We’d love to tell your story!  Reach out to us at 407.339.0879 or emailmystory@wellonscommunications.com to discuss your PR potential.

Festival of Trees: Bringing Art and the Holidays Together

A dedicated group of women tackles a tremendous task year after year for a cause they adore. Along the way they have made the Orlando Museum of Art the place to go to kick off the holiday season.

The Council of 101, a volunteer fundraising arm of the museum, hosts the Festival of Trees annually each November.  For nearly three decades, the group has decked the halls of the art museum with lavishly trimmed trees, exquisite gingerbread homes and fanciful holiday wreaths. It is sight to behold!

The hard work of the council – as well as countless number of designers that make the trees and holiday goodies – have raised millions to support the operation of the museum and help the Loch Haven Park cultural center thrive.

The Festival runs through Sunday, November 24. Youngsters can visit Santa, while mom and dad can get inspiration for their holiday decorating.  Better yet, you can buy a tree and have it delivered right to your home!

The Festival got off to a rousing start with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer lighting the signature tree.  See the fun for yourself and know you are doing your part to support the arts in Orlando here: http://youtu.be/OZm9XOsOaaI

For more information about Festival of Trees, please visit: http://www.omart.org/events/festival-trees-glitters

 

Controlling the message has its limits

A good Public Relations professional knows the media inside and out. They know what stories will soar and which ones will flop. They also know the limitations of their job.

One of those limitations is the ability to control the message once it gets into the hands of the media and the public. This topic has been top of mind this week since the firing of Oakland Raiders’ Public Relations Director Zak Gilbert. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, owner Mark Davis was unhappy with a Sports Illustrated story that was critical of Davis and his late father Al Davis. Gilbert lost his job over it, and the Raiders have been taking some heat for the decision.

The biggest take away from this week’s event is that PR professionals do not have complete control over the conversation surrounding their organization. It’s nearly impossible to know which stories will soar and which will flop. On the same note, once a story gets out we can’t control it. Don’t trust a PR firm that tells you any different. We do our best to build goodwill and broadcast a positive narrative, but we can’t always predict when a journalist or angry customer will decide to voice their opinion.

The best way to avoid or weaken the blow of negative PR is to build a good defense and look at the big picture. First, remember who your fans are. Community and customer goodwill goes a long way and can overpower less-than-desirable coverage. Second, consider the true impact of the story. Bad PR often feels worse than it is, which may have been the case with the Raiders.

(Source: NFL.com)

3 apps to make your life easier

Isn’t it great when you discover something that makes your life infinitely easier? We think so.

Here are three apps that will make you say, “How did I now know about this?!”

1. CardMunch – This iPhone app makes piles of business cards a thing of the past. Snap a picture of the card, and the information will automatically load into a portable Rolodex  The app also finds the individual on Linkedin, helping to grow your virtual network. Android users should checkout Hello by Evernote.

2. Aviary– Want to edit photos, but not ready to publish them on Instagram? Aviary brings creativity to the common photographer with its simple photo editing app for iOS, Android and Windows 8.

3. Google Drive – Google’s online document storage program allows users to edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations from anywhere and on almost every device. Plus, users can collaborate and edit files together through the chat function. Our favorite part – it saves automatically!

Ready to adjust your social media strategy?

 

Things are a changin’ at Facebook as it appears to adjust in order to meet the demands of younger users and hold onto ad dollars.

Last week, the social media giant announced its first major change to the newsfeed since 2009. Today, the Wall Street Journal reports Facebook is also investigating the use of hashtags as a way to group similar public conversations. It also recently announced an upgrade to its search mechanism.

The newsfeed redesign, which gives users the ability to easily filter their newsfeed to only show specific topics or users, may limit a brands visibility on the social network. Positive changes for marketers include the streamlining of desktop and mobile newsfeeds, and an emphasis on large visuals.

As social media giants battle it out for younger audiences and advertisers, we’ll be interested to see if Facebook can hold onto its title as Social Media King.

Check out these articles for more info:

http://mashable.com/2013/03/07/facebook-news-feed-marketers/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323393304578360651345373308.html

http://mashable.com/2013/03/15/facebook-teens/