Posts Tagged ‘Huffington Post’


Best Practices for Ethical Native Advertising

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Best Practices Ethical Native Advertising Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasNative advertising has been enjoying considerable resurgence the past year, due in no small part to its potential to be mutually beneficial to advertisers and publications. Traditional sources like The New York Times are embracing native advertising as part of their strategy, with “high hopes” for its payoff. They follow online sites like Buzzfeed, Mashable, and The Huffington Post, all of which have already been using their editorial and production departments to generate sponsored content.

Native advertising is becoming more main stream, but that’s not the end of the conversation. Native advertising occupies such a gray area that the Federal Trade Commission titled a conference about native advertising after Robin Thicke’s popular but unfortunately misogynistic song “Blurred Lines.” Advertorial-wise, these out-of-focus lines arise when paid content resembles editorial content.

Why does this matter to PR pros? One of the appeals of native advertising is the chance to catch the attention of and appeal to a certain audience segment and receive instant feedback to reader reactions. In its worst cases, native advertising is a bait-and-switch routine; in its best, it’s an informative, useful item that also happens to be paid for.  Enter the FTC, which hopes that not only will there be a clear demarcation between editorial content and native advertising, but that the advertisers and marketers will self-regulate.

There’s nothing unethical about native advertising, as long as it’s clear to the reader that it’s sponsored. Of course, defining “clear” is a murky process, but we’re not here to define any guidelines; we’re here to look at ethics and best practices that PR pros can employ for native advertising. And many marketing or advertising pros aren’t so keen on labeling their advertisement, fearing that it undermines the purpose of the advertorial in the first place. But this fear may be misplaced, as some preliminary research shows that a third of consumers don’t care if content is an advertisement or editorial, and that many would be more likely to select an item if they knew it was an ad.

Being an ethical PR practitioner means that you don’t want to compromise a journalist’s ethics, either. And since one of the tenets of ethical journalism, according to the Society of Professional Journalists (SJP), is to “Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two,” the best way to start is with transparency instead of worrying about labeling the ad. This includes not only a label stating that it’s sponsored, but also physical demarcation such as borders and a different font. The FTC stressed, however, working towards such transparency should be a joint responsibility of publication and marketer.

During the FTC workshop, advertising widgets such as Outbrain or Tabula were a popular topic, however FTC staff pointed them out as specific examples of native advertising which were difficult to distinguish form editorial content.

The lack of hard and fast rules means that communication between PR/marketing/advertising and the publication is absolutely necessary. One way to do this is to work with outlets like Buzzfeed, which creates branded content in tandem with sponsors. It’s up to the outlet to ensure that in creating both editorial and advertorial content that journalism ethics are upheld.

An excellent resource to help ensure native advertising meets existing regulations is the FTC’s .com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising, and make sure to check it for periodic updates.

How do you work with ethical issues in native advertising? Will the FTC’s findings impact content marketing pieces picked up by another outlet, and what implications would there be?

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Pinterest: The newest ‘pin thing’ in social media?

Friday, January 20th, 2012
Flickr Image: Nate Hofer

Flickr Image: Nate Hofer

Just in case you have been out of commission and haven’t heard of Pinterest, according to its About Page, “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web […] Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.” 

The site was (soft) launched less than two years ago and is still by-invitation-only, but has exploded in popularity in the past few months. According to ZDNet, Pinterest received nearly 11 million total visits in the week ending December 1, 2011. That’s 4,000 percent growth on visits during a single week in just six months, points out CNET, bumping it into the top 10 social sites among the more than 6,000 properties that Hitwise tracks.

In fact, for the first time Pinterest made the new BurrellesLuce 2012 Top Media Outlets: Newspapers, Blogs, Consumer Magazines, Websites and Social Networks. The site comes in at number 9 on the top social networks (with 0.41 percent market share) according to Hitwise rankings for the week ending December 17, 2011 – beating out newcomer Google+ which rounds out the number 10 spot with 0.36 percent market share.

We all see cool stuff online that we’d like to share or save (aka “pin”) – I have some Facebook friends that I wish would use Pinterest instead of filling my stream with kitten images and quotation graphics, but that’s for another post. Snark aside, it is no surprise that people are finding use for this online pinboard. Friends and colleagues that are engaged are pinning wedding themed items, foodie friends are pinning recipes, fashion junkies are pinning wish-list items, etc.

So, I get the individual use, but what, if anything, can this do for companies or organizations? (more…)

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Disappearing Act – Brands That May Not Be Around in 2012 – Part 2

Monday, January 16th, 2012

by Deborah Gilbert-Rogers*

Executive_Crystal_BallAt this time of year, perhaps more than any other, we PR and marketing professionals can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that there are no shortages of bloggers and writers flexing their “intuitive” muscles to predict the trends and topics in store for the coming year.

Not too long ago I posted on Fresh Ideas about the 10 Brands That May Not Be Around in 2012 as revealed by 24/7 Wall Street, a firm offering insight analysis and commentary for U.S. and global equity investors.

Now CoreBrand, a branding and marketing research firm, is making some predictions of its own. According to an article on Business Insider, These Famous Brands Will Disappear in 2012, “two days before the Wall Street Journal  reported Kodak will fill for bankruptcy, James R. Gregory, CEO of branding and marketing research firm CoreBrand, predicted that Kodak would ‘disappear’ as a brand in 2012.”

The article is quick to address that “bankruptcy doesn’t mean the end of Kodak as a business. The company and its brands could be bought or restructured.”  Still we can’t ignore that many businesses within the tech industry are struggling to find relevancy in a rapidly changing digital landscape – even the ones who have consistently relied on their strong branding efforts to pull them into the new millennium.

The same can be said for companies in the automotive industry, which have struggled to balance their bottom lines even after extensive government and taxpayer bailouts. In fact, Saab, number four on the list, also recently filed bankruptcy.  Yet the company still garners media attention, because, as this Wall Street Journal article explains, “this quirky little car brand with its few, but fiercely loyal enthusiasts, has been a source of great affection, nostalgia, and Swedish nationalism.”

But having a recognizable and timeless brand can’t do much when an organization suffers financially and structurally… or can it?

Lesser known companies may not seem to do well on their own, but might still rely on the success of their products. For example, Yum Brands! (number 7 on the list) is parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, all of which seem to do well in their own right. That is, if Yum Brands! avoids taking a page from the playbook of Hostess (whose classic brands include Twinkie, Sno Balls and Wonder Bread brands). Last week, Hostess filed for bankruptcy just two years after emerging from bankruptcy, confirms the Huffington Post.

What are your thoughts? Are these “disappearing acts” just a sign of the times or can something be done from a communications and PR standpoint to help other brands from avoiding a similar fate? What is digital media’s role in all of this, if any? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Bio: After graduating from Rider University, where she received a B.A. in English-writing and minor degrees in Gender Studies and French, Deborah joined the BurrellesLuce Marketing team in 2007.  As a marketing specialist she continues to help develop the company’s thought leadership and social media efforts, including the copywriting and editing of day-to-day marketing initiatives and management of the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog. Facebook: BurrellesLuce Twitter: @BurrellesLuce LinkedIn: dgrogers

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Marketing Brand Loyalty: How Far Would You Go?

Monday, November 28th, 2011
Yfrog: the_951

Yfrog: the_951

As I was going through my daily ritual of skimming through my Google Reader and industry headlines, this one caught my eye, “Zappos Founder Launches New Voyeuristic Ecommerce Site.” I figured it was a teaser headline so after only a brief pause, I continued on.  When I saw this one a minute later, “Zappos Founder Wants to Peek in Your Closet.” I knew it was something I had to read!

Nick Swinmurn does want to see what’s in your closet, as do many other marketers and advertisers. According to AdWeek, his new platform RNKD (pronounced ranked) opened to the public (in beta) on Wednesday, November 16th. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Swinmurn said he felt there had to be a better way for vendors to know who their customers are and to create a channel of communication. 

Mashable explains, “The concept is simple: Take pictures of all the things you have in your closet. Tag them by brand and purchase location and get rewards and deals based on your proven likes.”

In a statement to Huffington Post Swinmurn says, “Every consumer has favorite brands and stores they are loyal to, but most have never been recognized or rewarded for their purchases. If you buy more shoes from Nike than anyone else – shouldn’t you be given early access to new lines and different pricing than someone who is trying the product for the first time and may never buy again? ” Swinmurn argued that RNKD, unlike many other social sites, gives people an incentive to share.

There are tiered rewards, presumably to make sure beginners are able to win some deals. Users can earn points, badges and discounts by uploading, “liking,” commenting, or accumulating a particular brand as well as inviting friends and sharing via Twitter and Facebook. There are also individual ranks for the various types of apparel. The user can even peruse other people’s closets to find new brands (although you are able to make your profile private if you prefer).

According to a WSJ blog, the catch right now is that not many brands have jumped onboard yet, and it could be a while before the site reaches the scale that brands really begin to offer discounts.  Currently the site shows users being rewarded based on weekly rankings with gift certificates from Zappos and Dethrone Royalty – two of Swinmurn’s own creations.  The blogger notes brands currently have no control over how their clothing items, shoes, and accessories are being portrayed on RNKD, since the content is user-generated – to which Swinmurn replied, “We’re telling brands, that’s just real life. Here are the $100 shoes in people’s closets, next to the $20 pair, because that’s what people really own.” 

So, as the old BASF tagline goes, “At BASF, we don’t make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.” Swinmurn is betting that RNKD will revolutionize the brand loyalty arena by allowing retailers to offer the biggest discounts to those who deserve them – their biggest fans.

What do you think? Will you whip out your phone (yes, there’s an app for that) and start uploading pictures of what’s in your closet? Do you think Swinmurn is on the right path? I look forward to your feedback!

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It’s [NOT] The End of the World As We Know It

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Speaking through megaphoneLauren Shapiro*

The world may not have ended on May 21st 2011, but Harold Camping surely secured a place for himself in our history books as the man who convinced [some of] the world that the beginning of the end was near. Though it wasn’t the first time he made such predications, it was, perhaps, the first time that such an elaborate advertising initiative was implemented for such an occasion.

Through billboards, advertisements on buses, and the infamous camping trailer that transported dedicated followers spreading the message, “Judgment Day – the Bible guarantees it,” how could you not take notice of the FamilyRadio.com campaign? Whether you emptied your life savings in preparation for the rapture, were a little nervous around 6pm or did not buy into it at all – the nation was talking about Harold Camping and his radio station.

Regardless of Campings’ [clearly] incorrect prediction about the end of the world – one must give him credit for the sheer genius of his marketing campaign. Social media was a-twitter about the predictions sparking end of the world parties and hash tags like #rapture. People even spent their life savings to purchase billboards! But, the true magnificence of the FamilyRadio.com marketing campaign wasn’t the message itself; it was the viral nature at which it spread. Everyone from the Huffington Post, as seen in this article, to this post from National Geographic continue to talk about Harold Camping and FamilyRadio.com.

Print, online, and broadcast media all covered the “end of the world predictions.” So, did Harold Camping truly believe that the end was near or was his radio show desperate for more listeners and more money? Probably both.

Regardless of the hoopla Camping caused, it is essential to give a nod to the art of marketing. Camping and FamilyRadio.com prove yet again that it’s not what you’re selling; it’s how you sell it.

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*Bio: Soon after graduating from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, in 2006 with a B.A. in communication and a B.S. in business/marketing, I joined the BurrellesLuce client services team. In 2008, I completed my master’s degree in corporate and organizational communications and now serve as Director of Client Services. I am passionate about researching and understanding the role of email in shaping relationships from a client relation/service standpoint as well as how miscommunication occurs within email, which was the topic of my thesis. Through my posts on Fresh Ideas, I hope to educate and stimulate thoughtful discussions about corporate communications and client relations, further my own knowledge on this subject area, as well as continue to hone my skills as a communicator. Twitter: @_LaurenShapiro_ LinkedIn: laurenrshapiro Facebook: BurrellesLuce 

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