What companies can learn about crisis PR from the United Airlines leggings incident

On Sunday morning, a United Airlines gate attendant barred two teenage girls from boarding a flight from Denver to Minneapolis because they were wearing leggings. News of the leggings incident went viral, and within hours, United Airlines had a PR crisis on its hands.

The incident started when Shannon Watts, political activist and founder of Moms Demand Action, overheard the exchange and tweeted about the incident to her followers.

 

 

The airline responded to the public backlash with its own tweets to explain the incident.   

 

 

The company also issued a release explaining customers are welcome to wear leggings on its flights. The release explains that United views employee pass riders as representatives of the company and expects them to be appropriately dressed for flights.

 

 

Though United responded quickly to the crisis, customers, activists and even celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen and Patricia Arquette have expressed anger about the incident.

Jonathan Guerin, a United spokesperson, said himself the airline should have done a better job of responding to the situation. According to Reuters, Guerin said, “We’ll definitely take something away from today, but we’ll continue to engage with our customers (on social media).”

So what can other companies take away from this viral situation when facing their own crisis?

First, never underestimate the power of social media. Incidents today don’t stay contained, and with Facebook and Twitter, angry customers have an easy—and potentially viral—outlet.

Second, be sincere. Many considered United’s response to the issue stilted or unsympathetic. As per the Reuters article, Guerin said the company could have been more clear in its initial response to the issue.

Finally, have a plan for your social media outlets. United did a great job of responding to a potential issue quickly and telling its side of the story, but because the initial response was bungled, it backfired. Know what kinds of feedback you need to respond to, what you’ll say, and in what format you will respond.

After all, the best way to handle a crisis is to prepare for it before you’re facing it. If you need help crafting your plan, give us a call. At Wellons Communications, we have experience in social media and in handling crisis situations, and we can help you put your best foot forward. Give us a call today at 407-339-0879.

Social media delivers results

Social Media campaign blogMore than 80 percent of Americans have a social media presence. If you’re not using social media as part of your marketing strategy, you’re missing out.

Social media marketing can be extremely effective, and it doesn’t have to be confusing or expensive.

There are two main ways for you to use social media marketing effectively. First, there’s the organic reach.

Organic social media marketing is content you don’t pay for. If you’re in business, chances are you already do this or have at least thought about it. These posts are generally content-driven and help keep your customers up to date with company news. They can also further your company’s brand.

But because these posts are organic, they can easily get lost in the flood of things available on the internet to the point where your followers might not even see them.

Because of that, if you choose to go the organic route, it’s essential to develop a long-term plan for your posting. It’s also important to keep your audience in mind and create shareable content so you can reach new people.

Paid social media posts, however, can help you meet your goals faster. Through paid ads and boosted posts, you can target specific audiences and have a flexible budget. Money can go a long way on social media, because, according to Moz, the average cost is about $0.25 per 1,000 impressions.

To create a strong social media campaign, it’s important to take a few things into consideration.

  • Target the right audience. Paying for posts that are going to the wrong audience can deplete your budget quickly and deliver few results. Write your posts for the specific audience you want to reach and put some thought into who your ideal target is to create an effective audience.
  • Budget your campaigns. Learn from experience which posts generate more engagement and reach. See which posts have a higher relevancy in Facebook and which ones convert into paying customers. Tracking conversions over social media can be difficult, but, over time, trends may emerge.
  • Choose the right platform. Although 18- to 29-year-olds dominate social media sites, there’s a more even spread of generations on Facebook, according to Pew Research Center. Use the platform to your advantage. For example, if you have a visual product or experience you want to promote, Instagram may be the way to go.

At Wellons Communications, we have experience creating both organic and paid social media campaigns. From the beginning, we’ll customize a plan which can help your company gain new customers and grow the relationship with your current customers. Give us a call today at 407-339-0879 to see how we can help your business grow to its fullest potential.

Let’s be clear: Why clarity is essential in your communications

With a multitude of changes unfolding as 2017 moves forward, we are increasingly seeing what kind of turmoil can transpire if communications are not perfectly clear.Clarity Image

Ask yourself “How clear are the messages I am conveying to my clients, my associates, and my potential clients?”

Are your communications immediately understandable — or is your core message lost in a sea of techno-babble that few can understand?

Are your messages consistent? Are you saying the same thing, in the same way, every time you communicate your message?

Do your communications talk to your audiences…or at them?

Communications go well beyond what you may think

In business, communications start with the usual letters, memos and emails. But it also includes informative brochures, marketing and advertising materials, publicity and public relations information, websites, logos, and anything that represents or defines your product or service.

And that’s just a part of the communications process.

Business communication also includes tone and language and nonverbal behaviors. Timing, and the context that surrounds your message, can influence whether or not your audience will even see your message, let alone understand it. How you convey your message affects clarity.

Combine the complexities of communicating simply with the number of ways messages can launched — from Twitter to texting – and the importance of communicating clearly becomes even more magnified.

The seven C’s: an old idea that remains surprisingly up-to-date

At Wellons Communications, we adhere to the seven C’s, a notion originated by respected University of Wisconsin public relations academics Scott Cutlip and Allen Center in 1952. The seven C’s include:

  • Correct: From spelling and grammar to information, is it totally accurate?
  • Clear: Do you present one thought at a time?
  • Concrete: Do you say precisely what you mean?
  • Concise: Do you get to the point quickly?
  • Complete: Do you provide a means so your audience can reach you?
  • Consideration: Can everyone understand your messages?
  • Courteous: What is the tonality of your message?

Reminder: Communications are the bedrock of marketing

At Wellons Communications, we offer only one service: effective communications aimed at helping you sell products and services.

Yes, we dutifully subscribe to all the other esoteric qualities of public relations like brand reputation management, social and corporate responsibility, and organizational leadership.

But overarching those hard-to-measure intangibles is the need to generate sales. That’s where we aim 99 percent of our efforts.

We are either trying to increase sales or remove any barriers from making sales.

And that’s about as clear a message as we can impart.

If you want to learn more about how we can help you communicate – with an eye on positively impacting your marketing program, call me at 407-339-0879 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com.

 

 

Pokémon Go marketing lessons: You gotta catch ‘em all

Pokémon Go is less than a month old, and there’s almost no chance you haven’t heard about it.

The game became an overnight sensation, quickly topping Twitter’s daily users and grabbing at Facebook’s engagement. Some millennials have been calling it their “second childhood.”

Brands and companies haven’t been far behind, using the game as a point to launch themselves into the conversation. And it’s not surprising. The game is loaded with lessons for the PR and marketing worlds. Here are a few we see:

Don’t underestimate the power of pop culture.

We saw it with the dress. We’re seeing it with Pokémon Go now. We just can’t always predict what will capture the attention of the nation. If brands want to make the most of the opportunity, it’s important to act and act fast.

Many business have been doing just that with Pokémon Go, looking to see if they are a spot gamers will want to visit or taking matters into their own hands and setting up lures to get more Pokémon to come to them. There’s even a startup, LureDeals, dedicated to attracting gamers to businesses. Knowledge on pop culture phenomena is power, and in this case, money.

Have a little fun on social media.

Pokémon Go is a game, after all, and it should be fun. Social media is the perfect place to take advantage of that. Many brands have put up clever posts that tie into the game and promote their services or products.

Best Buy Pokemon

Even police departments are using Pokémon Go humor to talk about safety issues.

Pokemon police

See more examples at PR Week.

Don’t try to force it.

But while social media can be a fun place to tap into the craze, media pitches aren’t always the best way to do it. If your company has news related to the trend, sure. But don’t force it. Grasping at straws can have the opposite effect, angering journalists.

Know that new technology won’t be perfect at first.

You’ve probably already heard some of the concerns about Pokémon Go. Gamers have caused accidents driving while hunting for Pokémon. Girlfriends have broken up with boyfriends. People have targeted and robbed players.

There are probably other issues that will arise, as well. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use the game to help your business. All new technologies have some unexpected bugs. Just keep up to date with the news and use your judgement.

Be ready for more.

Pokémon Go is the first taste of what augmented reality can do in the gaming world, but with its meteoric rise, it won’t be the last. Brands and companies should be ready to use the lessons learned from Pokémon Go in the future. If the game proves anything, it’s that marketing and PR strategies are always evolving.

Online reading: Changing the way we think

In today’s society, it’s getting easier and easier to reach for our phones and tablets to read the latest news story, article or book. Businesses and classrooms are turning away from mail-outs and textbooks in favor of marketing emails and ebooks. But what does that mean for the way we take in information?

Digital reading Apparently, a lot. According to The Washington Post, your brain doesn’t comprehend the information you read online the same way it does in print. Digital screens seem to cause people to focus on the information they are reading at the time instead of how it fits in a broader context.

Researchers from Dartmouth College and Carnegie Mellon came up with different experiments that could compare the effects of reading on different platforms. In one experiment, a group of participants read a short story online and another group read a printout of the story. A pop quiz was given to the participants once they were done reading, and it revealed that the physical-copy readers scored better on questions requiring participants to make inferences, while digital-copy readers scored better on concrete questions about the text.

According to the researchers, the results of the experiments show that our reading comprehension is changing as it is becoming more typical to read information on a digital platform. Our thought processes may slowly be evolving so that we will have to make an effort to look at the bigger picture.

So what does that mean for PR? Even though communications professionals will likely still make use of digital tools, the study shows the key is to try and make digital audiences think more abstractly. When writing an article that is going to be consumed via screen, try to challenge yourself to put in context which will help readers think critically along with the facts of the story.

Have a Laugh: Use Humor on Social Media

Dr. Seuss once said “From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.” This couldn’t be more true for social media. When brands get in on the humor, social media is even more fun. Here are 3 reasons why your brand should consider using humor on social media:

Attention Grabber: We all mindlessly scroll through our social feeds during the day, sometimes it’s the same information, over and over again. When a funny video, picture or post pops up on the screen, you can bet we’re going to stop, read it and like it.

Old Spice TweetRelatable: Humor shows that brands have a human side. They don’t always take themselves too seriously, and can laugh. Relating to your audience is a guaranteed way to increase engagement.

Taco Bell Tweet

Memorable: When your audience sees a funny post, they’re more likely to share it and remember it when it comes to making a purchasing decision. Take advantage of this by creating memorable content. Take this Virgin America post from Thanksgiving 2014, for example:

Virgin America Tweet

Taylor Swift: Always In The Spotlight

Taylor Swift Bad BloodTaylor Swift is everywhere. She’s won countless music awards, her songs play on almost all radio stations and her photos can be found online and in magazines. Clearly, she’s hard to miss.

Now it seems that Swift keeps getting into disagreements with other fellow musicians, such as Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj, although her feud with the former is ongoing.

So what’s the big deal? Why do people keeping “picking” on Swift? Are these musicians really jealous of her and her achievements? Or is there something underneath all the flustering?

Could it all be due to a typical Hollywood hoax, to stir up public attention for these artists?katy perry vs taylor swift

No information has been found to support such a theory, but the constant “hate” Swift gets seems somewhat intentional and timed.

For example, recently Nicki Minaj posted a tweet in which it was very apparent she was talking about Taylor Swift. Katy Perry decided to quickly jump in with a tweet to not so subtly offend Swift. Swift then responded by sending a tweet of her own basically denouncing Minaj for what she said. Minaj again tweeted a response to Swift saying that she wasn’t actually talking about Taylor and that she was still in her good graces, and Swift did the same. All in the same day.

These ladies all have PRtaylor vs minaj teams who monitor everything they wear, say or do, so wouldn’t these professionals stop them whenever these stars post controversial tweets or photos?

Or is it all part of the plan?

Every time a celebrity gets into a feud with another celebrity, it always becomes news. These “feuds” garner public attention, as well as admirers. Everyone loves a good show, and these situations provide just that: a good show!

If this were true, their PR teams show that they know what “sells”. They know how to get the public’s attention and keep it. This is an important skill for any PR professional. These artists’ PR teams know who they are targeting and will give them exactly what they want. Likewise, in other types of PR, it is also crucial that professionals know their target audiences and give them what they like, in the manner that want it, i.e. social media to reach millennials and younger generations.

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.