Category Archive: Reputation Management

Donald Trump: Promoting his Brand

donald trump photo

We’re all aware of the media circus surrounding Donald Trump these past few weeks. It seems that every day Trump makes yet another statement offending a specific group or person, such as those towards illegal immigrants and John McCain. Just yesterday he read aloud Republican presidential opponent, Senator Lindsey Graham’s private cell phone number. Traditional PR would condemn such practices, especially when a prospective candidate is trying to make a name for himself in the political arena; however, according to several political polls such as the Washington Post-ABC News polls, he is currently the GOP frontrunner.

People Love A Good Show

As a part of a good PR strategy, one must be able to attain and keep the public’s attention. No doubt Trump is doing that. His controversial statements seem to occur more and more frequently as time moves forward, ensuring that he is in the news constantly. All this attention is contributing to his early support.

Donald Trump is a business man. He knows how to market his products and services well. He knows how to promote his brand.  He has been able to keep himself in the public spotlight for many years, which is no small feat.

And while the Trump route is not the recommended path, it seems to be working for him for the moment.

The real question is will Trump’s recognition as a prospective political candidate for 2016 continue to increase? Or has he peaked in popularity?

PR Lessons: Ariana Grande says “I hate Americans”

Looks like Ariana Grande has one more problem. The singer was recently recorded as saying, “I hate Americans, I hate America.”

The security footage went viral, with Grande’s words making headlines.

In the video, you can see the former Nickelodeon star and her friends covertly licking a doughnut on a display counter. Grande was recorded licking the doughnuts not once, but twice. After inquiring about a tray of over-sized doughnuts, Grande was recorded saying “What the #^&% is that? I hate Americans, I hate America.”

Watch for yourself here:

As the video got more popular, Ariana Grande sent a statement to several outlets including BuzzFeed News, saying:

I am EXTREMELY proud to be an American and I’ve always made it clear that I love my county*. What I said in a private moment with my friend, who was buying the donuts, was taken out of context and I am sorry for not using more discretion with my choice of words. As an advocate for healthy eating, food is very important to me and I sometimes get upset by how freely we as Americans eat and consume things without giving any thought to the consequences that it has on our health and society as a whole. The fact that the United States has the highest child obesity rate in the world frustrates me. We need to do more to educate ourselves and our children about the dangers of overeating and the poison that we put into our bodies. We need to demand more from our food industry. However I should of* known better in how I expressed myself; and with my new responsibility to others as a public figure I will strive to be better. As for why I cannot be at the MLB show, I have had emergency oral surgery and due to recovery I cannot attend the show. I hope to make it up to all those fans soon. That being said let me once again apologize if I have offended anyone with my poor choice of words.

*Grande’s representative later corrected this to “country”.

*Grande’s representative later corrected this to “should have”.

What can we learn?

When fighting a public relations battle, apologizing is often a good course of action, but how you apologize will determine whether your apology falls flat. If your apology is not well-received, it can potentially do more harm than good.

Apologies should be sincere – In her statement, Grande never says that she is sorry for what she said, but only for how she said it. Whether her initial words were taken as anti-patriotic or as fat-shaming, no one got the apology they were looking for.

Quality of writing/medium is important – Grande’s statement had a few grammatical errors. This can be construed as a hurried, careless apology. Being thorough in a written, apologetic statement sets the tone for how your apology will be received.

Stay on topic – There was some speculation that Ariana Grande pulled out of performing at the MLB all-star game because of this incident. She says it is because of an oral surgery recovery. If the two are truly unrelated, there is no need to address the MLB performance in this apology.

New Facebook Videos Will Generate Ad Revenue

Four million users a day watch videos on Facebook. The social media site now wants to cash in and more aggressively compete with Google Inc.’s YouTube.

 

Mark Zuckerberg talks about Facebook Video and it's plan to share revenues with it's users.Facebook announced a revenue sharing model this week similar to YouTube’s where they will share ad revenue with video creators in a move, according to the Wall Street Journal, designed to attract more polished content and more ads. If successful, Facebook is a more daunting threat to the Google owned online video site.

 

While many people are mesmerized by family moments and funny animal stories, the Titans of digital media clearly see your videos as a strong revenue stream. Interesting fact to note: smart phones are the source of 65% of all video views on Facebook.

 

For more details on the changing landscape of what you’re seeing online go to Fortune.

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.

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)

Mobile Movement

Ask Americans for the one thing they can’t leave home without, and we’ll bet most of them name a smartphone or tablet.

The popularity of mobile devices isn’t anything new, but a surprising number of entrepreneurs don’t consider how it affects their business. Smartphones and tablets have changed communication in ways that dramatically affect the business world.

With that in mind, it’s vital that business owners consider the mobile implications of any marketing initiative – the most important being a mobile version of your current website.

Let’s look at the facts:

  • Average smartphone usage grew 81 percent worldwide in 2012.
  • In 2012, the number of mobile-connected tablets increased 2.5-fold to 36 million, and each tablet generated 2.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone
  • Last year’s mobile data traffic was nearly twelve times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000
  • Mobile network connection speeds more than doubled in 2012, opening the door for easier and more frequent surfing

So, take a critical look at your company website. View it on multiple devices and consider the ease of navigation. For a real perspective, ask someone who has never viewed the site to take a look and share their impressions. You may not like what you hear, but it’s a window into the potential revenue losses that come from a less-than-stellar web presence.

Data from Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast
Photo courtesy of Microsoft

Don’t be a dope: drug scandal leads to sponsor fall out

Lance Armstrong. American professional road racing cyclist. Seven-time winner of the Tour de France. World champion of the sport. And a bona fide dope.

In light of strong evidence of the use of performing-enhancing drugs, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has banned Lance Armstrong from competing and will strip away all his titles earned throughout his career.

For years Armstrong has craved the spotlight, but now he’s making front-page coverage in leading media across the country for all the wrong reasons. And sponsors are taking notice. Endorsers – such as RadioShack, Anheuser-Busch, and longtime friend Nike – are bailing on the popular former cyclist in light of these allegations.

This controversy surrounding Lance Armstrong shows how a reputation built over time can be destroyed in mere seconds. Especially in today’s digital world where headlines jump from your computer screen to your daily morning paper in less than a day, it can be hard to hide from the truth.

Organizations fight fake reviews

The value of a good review for a business is priceless. How many of us browse Yelp when choosing where to grab a bite to eat, scout TripAdvisor to plan a vacation, or check out reviews of the local auto mechanic down the street just to see what others are saying? People rely on the opinions of others (instead of just advertisements) to decide on where to spend their money, which is why online reviews are so important.

However, don’t let the urge to get more buzz around your business sway you to the dark side. Fake reviews can tarnish your brand, and organizations have been cracking down to weed out fraudulent posts.

All the sites I mentioned already have algorithms and human moderators in place to fight fake reviews. Yelp in particular is very aggressive, with 20% of their reviews never making it to public display. In fact, Yelp is planning to punish repeat fraudsters by exposing them and shaming the businesses that employ these deceitful tactics. It is also against Federal Trade Commission guidelines, which states that you must disclose if you have been paid to endorse a product or service. Not doing so entitles you to steep fines, like a $250,000 one the FTC slapped Legacy Learning Systems in 2011.

But an even greater damage that outweighs any monetary concerns is the damage to your reputation. Years of building your business as a credible organization would instantly evaporate and instead be replaced with public scrutiny. Make sure to only employ reviews from credible sources and not engage in deceptive practices to ensure that the next business exposed online and shamed for fake reviews is not yours.

“There is a permanent record today and it is called the Internet”

Privacy is a commodity. In today’s world dominated by the Internet, anything and everything can be posted instantaneously and shared with millions in mere seconds. David from “David After Dentist” would agree. However, privacy concerns are no laughing matter. Vigilance should be taken to ensure that the next breaking news scandal that hits the front page of Yahoo does not revolve around you, which is why we’re shaking our heads at Mitt Romney this week.

After secretly recorded comments from a private Boca Raton fundraiser leaked of Mitt Romney saying that 47% of Americans are victims dependent on the government, we can’t help but wonder why the aspiring President would vocally disparage almost half of his country. Here’s a tip for you Mitt Romney: if you are running for President, everything you say and do WILL be held against you in the court of public opinion, thanks to the Internet. The video was leaked to the press, and now everyone from Jon Stewart to Diane Sawyer is spreading the remarks to their audiences; meanwhile the Mitt Romney campaign has spun its gears to full-on damage control.

Another unfortunate recent example of the royal lack of privacy today comes from an Italian magazine publishing topless photos of Kate Middleton. The Duchess of Cambridge was simply enjoying a sunbathing session on a secluded French chateau getaway when a paparazzi photographer captured the scene. Now, the British royal family is taking the matter to court with hopes to stop further publications from printing the photos, but you can’t take back what has already been done. Amazing what a zoom lens and internet connection can do to the public image of a Princess.

Even the common person is not immune to the repercussions of online activity. Everything that you post, from Facebook cover photos to the latest Tweet about what you had for dinner, becomes fair game when you click “publish.” Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor and lawyer for high-profile defendants, says that young people nowadays don’t seem to value privacy. “They put stuff on Facebook that 15 years from now will prevent them from getting the jobs they want,” he said. “They don’t understand that they are mortgaging their future for a quick laugh from a friend.”

And that’s nothing to laugh about.

Mac users steer to more expensive hotels on Orbitz

Many Mac users are fanatical about their computer and are willing to pay extra to own the brand.

Those same Mac users apparently also like to spend a little more on hotel rooms. The online travel agency Orbitz says Mac users spend as much as 30 percent more than PC users on the average hotel booking. The Wall Street Journal reports that the online travel service is showing Mac users more expensive properties.

Orbitz is experimenting with showing different hotel offers to Mac and PC visitors. The move is raising eyebrows and attracting front-page attention. The online travel agency is following a growing trend using predictive analytics to target potential buyers. Orbitz is quick to point out that both Mac and PC users can still rank hotels by price if they wish.

Companies used to just track what websites were being looked at, now they are tracking what computing system are being use.

Budget conscious Mac users should be cautious. Orbitz is likely to begin using the same algorithms to show rental cars and airline flights.

For PC users – especially those with broken hinges on their three-year-old laptop – expect to see more budget-friendly options on the front page of your online travel agency.