Posts Tagged ‘publicity’


Snooki’s Appearance at Rutgers University: Good PR or Poor Reputation Management?

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Lauren Shapiro*

The New York Daily News: Walker/WireImage; Polich/Getty

The New York Daily News: Walker/WireImage; Polich/Getty

Rutgers University’s decision to distribute a press release, on April 1st, regarding Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s speaking engagement was either ironic or genius. Speculation about the April Fool’s Day release had the Internet a chatter about the validity of the story. But as days passed no one from Rutgers came out to take responsibility for the prank.

Rutgers University reportedly paid the Jersey Shore star, Snooki, $32,000 to educate its students on the benefits of tanning, self esteem, and always having a work hard, play harder mentality or in Snooki’s terms, “study hard, but play harder.” The University comes under a fire storm of controversy, not just for inviting the reality TV star (best known for being punched in the face at a bar and being arrested for disorderly conduct) to the campus, but for paying her $2,000 more than Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison, who will speak at the university’s graduation ceremony in May.

Although a controversial decision, one wrought with repercussion from both parents and students, Hollywood Reporter announced that 2,000 people came to Rutgers to hear Snooki’s pearls of wisdom. Jersey Shore fan or not, there must be an underlying reason for choosing such a mainstream star to rock the boat. As we have all noticed, the economy has taken a toll on every institution, with no exception to the institution of higher education. Tuition has gone up, expenses are higher than ever and students are looking for a good education at a good price. Is it true that any publicity (positive or negative) is better than no publicity at all?

Rutgers paid $32,000 to Snooki and in return received nationwide coverage for the school, coverage that would have cost them a pretty penny and publicity Rutgers’ budget may not have been able to afford. Is Rutgers trying to ride the wave of Snooki’s fame? Was the Snooki gig a genius PR move or a detriment to the school’s reputation?

Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

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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

IF AN EMPLOYEE SPEAKS UP IN THE FOREST…

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

PLEASE JOIN ALAN COHEN FOR A BURRELLESLUCE WEBCAST ON JANUARY 5, 2011 at 1 PM EST. 

THE 12 ESSENTIAL TALENTS OF MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS LEADERSHIP…AND OTHER LESSONS LEARNED FROM HARRY POTTER

REGISTER NOW http://budurl.com/uxym

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We’re all familiar with the old brain-teaser: “If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

A question that’s much easier to answer – and more relevant to effective leadership practices – is: “If an employee offers an idea, and no one pays attention, does the employee stop participating?”

In most cases, the answer is a definite yes. Ignore a staffer’s input, and he or she will feel put out, turned off, alienated, and discouraged from offering suggestions in the future.

It’s no surprise that one of the biggest challenges to leadership today – perhaps the biggest – is that of employee disengagement…staff membersAlan Cohen, Acts of Balance Executive Coaching feeling they are not being heard, a feeling they translate into not being valued and ultimately not part of the creative team. So they tune out and stifle themselves from offering potentially valuable contributions in the future.

 It’s not much different from the man who complains to his psychiatrist, “Doctor, everyone ignores me.”

The doctor responds: “Next.”

The opposite side of the disengagement coin is that, at some of the nation’s most successful public relations firms, employees at all levels are inspired to present ideas, no matter how far out of the proverbial box, and encouraged to question ideas of top management. And their challenges of these ideas are not only tolerated but even applauded. 

When I was publicity director of the Scholastic team spearheading the publicity campaign for the Harry Potter book series, we all knew our mission and were committed to it. But at the same time, we welcomed the questions from everyone on the team, even when they reflected healthy skepticism.

Like the best elements of brainstorming, everyone was encouraged to present free-flowing ideas, confident there’d be no snap judgment articulated, no scoffing or rolling eyes or turned-up noses. Everyone’s idea was listened to, encouraged, and amplified. And as a result, we were all strengthened with everyone feeling he or she had shared in moving the team and its mission forward.

Some team leaders need to remember that it doesn’t diminish the boss’s luster to have an idea from a lower-level employee implemented. In fact, it rebounds favorably. Part of leadership is identifying and implementing good ideas, whatever or whoever the source.

An employee’s willingness to present possibly controversial ideas or to challenge those of higher-ups emerges only in a company culture that encourages it. That culture develops only when the leader is willing to identify employees’ hidden assets and potential and helps develop those qualities. The results: greater individual contribution and professional growth.

Leaders who understand this welcome employees who think differently from themselves. Rather than clone themselves, they don’t limit those they hire to “yes-men or -women.” Rather, they seek out even “no-people,” individuals who aren’t negative for the sake of it, but rather who aren’t intimidated about pointing out flaws in the boss’s thinking or who will sometimes take a contrary position, a la devil’s advocate.

A good balance to strive for: while demonstrating he or she is in charge, the boss realizes the possibility of being wrong, and thereby demonstrates an open-mindedness that encourages risk-taking for the ultimate good of the team.

Beyond this, forward-thinking bosses maintain an open-door policy, literally and figuratively, encouraging employees to share not only professional but personal matters as well. This means being a good, attentive listener, an often forgotten component of good communication, whether with an employee or a client.

You may have read recently of the first wedding to take place in space. When the capsule came back to earth, reporters hurried to interview family members. One reporter cornered the groom’s grandmother.

“How was the wedding?” he asked.

“Beautiful,” she said.

“The ceremony?”

“Fine.”

“The music?”

“Fine.”

“The food?”

“Fine.”

The reporter said, “All your answers are positive, but there’s something in your tone that suggests everything wasn’t ideal.”

“Well,” said the grandmother, “to tell you the truth, there was no atmosphere.”

Yes, atmosphere matters. We’re in a serious business, but that doesn’t mean the environment has to be solemn. A wise leader put a premium on fun, light-hearted moments that help foster camaraderie and provide a pleasant cushion for the inevitable long hours and hard work.

They can also reflect the positive – contagious – energy that filters down from top to bottom in a thriving company, one where employees feel engaged and connected.

The plus factors are numerous, not the least of which is what a current Employment Engagement report by Blessing White (http://ow.ly/3vT4h) has found: engaged employees plan to stay at their firms for what they give; disengaged stay for what they get.

 The company’s survey also found that “executives appear to struggle with key leadership behaviors, especially what’s required to create a high-performance culture.” It also points out that managers have to understand each individual’s talents, interests and needs, and then match those with the organization’s objectives…while creating personal trusting relationships.

Blessing White emphasizes the importance of leadership focusing on engagement, “creating the dialogue, stirring up participation and driving people to focused, purposeful action.”

It urges the adoption of a “coach approach” as a means of transferring disengagement into “high-energy buy-in motivated employees and strong results.” By focusing on “what is working” and the strengths and individual needs of employees, the report contends, the odds of success are increased. The report notes that recognizing that each individual is motivated differently (seldom by money), will help create opportunities that mesh with individual needs.

The company strongly recommends self-evaluation to determine how open a leader is to engaging in a dialogue even with someone with a contradictory perspective, without feeling the need to prove anything about the leader’s point of view…and flexible enough to accept and implement someone else’s better idea.

All these goals are attainable, starting with listening – really listening – to that employee offering a potentially super idea.

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 Alan Cohen, president of Acts of Balance Executive Coaching (http://www.actsofbalance.com/) and a PRSA Counselors Academy member, is an executive coach, trainer and brainstorm facilitator with more than 25 years of experience in business, including public relations and human resources. 

Download a free copy of “The 12 Essential Talents of PR Leadership” at http://ow.ly/3vT7d

Crisis Communications: A Case Study in the Making

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

by Lauren Shapiro*

Flickr Image: kbaird; Original Image: Charlie Riedel / AP

Flickr Image: kbaird; Original Image: Charlie Riedel / AP

British Petroleum has been making front page news since April 22nd as approximately 800,000 gallons of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico each day. BP was once an organization thought to be a “friendly brand in the oil business” – despite its previous disasters. But as the oil continues to spill into the summer months, and according to government officials into the fall, BP is being scrutinized now more than ever.

One might assume that companies that specialize in goods/services, particularly those that could potentially wreak havoc on the safety of the world’s inhabitants, would have a well prepared protocol for crisis situations. Furthermore, if the company had a predecessor that experienced a similar crisis (i.e., Exxon Valdez, 1989) they would sculpt this protocol by learning from the mistakes previously made. It’s highly doubtful that BP did not have a crisis communication procedure in place, but was and is it a good one?

According to Chris Lehane, Newsweek’s master of disaster, “One of the rules of thumb of crisis management is that you can never put the genie back in the bottle in terms of what the underlying issue is. People evaluate you in terms of how you handle things going forward. And obviously doing everything to be open, transparent, accessible is the type of thing that the public does look for from a corporate entity in this type of situation.”

 As the situation in the Gulf continues to unfold, BP has promised one solution after another with no success – in other words, they over promised and under delivered, a cardinal “no-no” in business or any crisis resolution. Lehane states, “If you tell people what you are going to do, and you suggest it’s going to be successful, you need to be successful. Because once you create those expectations and you don’t fulfill them, when you already have a significant credibility problem, it further degrades your credibility.”

BP’s inability to implement a successful solution to fix the spill isn’t the only thing affecting its credibility. BP came under fire during the U.S. Congressional hearings when executives from BP, Transocean, and Halliburton took turns blaming each other for the incident coined “the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.” And BP’s executives continue to make one public relations faux-pas after another: (more…)

What Do You Do When You Find Yourself at the Center of a Negative Story in the Media?

Friday, June 25th, 2010

In ancient China, soldiers would warn against impending attacks by sending smoke signals from tower to tower up to 300 miles away within just a few hours; In 1775, Paul Revere used his vocal chords and a horse on his “midnight ride” to warn of the British invasion and in the 1800’s Samuel Morse used a type of character encoding system to send 20 words per minute via radio.

Today, in just a few typed lines and a few clicks, stories are being spread around the world through social networking sites circling the globe in a matter of seconds. And the vivid details from personal accounts through citizen journalism and the proliferation of camera phones are adding more truth and authenticity to these stories. In some cases the immediacy and extra scrutiny can lead to positive things (e.g., shedding light on last summer’s Iranian protests). In others, it can be

Image: sinotechblog.com.cndevastating for the main character or brand – causing irreparable harm to their reputations. The BP oil spill in the Gulf, the English goalies blunder against the U.S. team in the opening round of this year’s  World Cup, or any Lindsey Lohan story these days are just a few stories that go against the old PR adage, “Any publicity is good publicity as long as you spell my name right.”   

Celebrities have been putting up with this type of scrutiny, to some degree, for years with paparazzi constantly photographing unsuspecting beach goers wearing unflattering bathing suits or in compromising positions. But when it happens to our politicians, business leaders, corporations, athletes or just everyday people, how does one cope with the instant barrage of viral videos, bloggers, or tweeters, and the repercussions that follow? At least bad weather would force the ancient smoke signalers to take a break every now and then. Barring a colossal Internet crash, today’s perpetual flow of information continues to tarnish reputations worldwide (and many times rightfully so).

 Today crisis communications is becoming increasingly difficult with public relations and marketing people scrambling to keep up with today’s technology.  One lesson that Southwest Airlines taught the PR community back in February is to always keep a close eye on what the media, especially social media, is saying about your company. When movie director Kevin Smith was kicked off a Southwest Flight on Feb 18, 2010, essentially for being too fat, he tweeted about the episode and the next day the story was all over the Internet. However, Southwest wasted no time and offered an apology to Smith via Twitter and posted an explanation of their policy on its own blog before the story started to trend.

Maybe there should be an island for all the victims of negative social media fall out, where they can live in solitude and where there are no computers, web access, or mobile devices until their names are mercifully pushed down the search engine results list.  Even then, it probably wouldn’t take long before helicopters were swirling overhead taking video and instantly downloading the footage online.  A more practical approach would be to prevent the crisis from spreading further by paying close attention to what is being said in all forms of media and to who’s saying it.

The “who are you with attitude?” is old school now. So how are you preparing your clients and executives for “the every one is a reporter mentality?” Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

My Own Word-of-Mouth (WOM) Campaign

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

If you are following me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Plaxo, you know I have been training for the Avon Breast Cancer 2-Day Walk, which took place this past weekend in Washington, DC. I only decided to do the walk a couple months ago. This gave me a short period of time to raise the $1,800 required to walk. Using ideas from other successful word-of-mouth cause campaigns, I put together a plan.

My goals:

  • Raise at least $1,800 for breast cancer help and research.
  • To help a great cause. Set a secondary goal of raising $2,220.
  • Gain encouragement and support for the actual walk.

My tactics:

  • Create an e-mail campaign.
  • Start and continually update a blog on my Avon Breast Cancer Walk personal page.
  • Issue consistent messages on all social mediums I use.
  • Create a Facebook group to encourage support.
  • Post a link and interface application on my Facebook home page with updates and easy links to the Avon walk.
  • Make the walk a part my everyday conversations with friends, colleagues and acquaintances. (My off-line message was consistent with my on-line message.)

team-flower-power-finishing-the-walk.jpg

The success story:

  • I exceeded my goal and raised $2,310. I have been asked by some friends if they can still donate.
  • The Facebook event prompted 14 people to say, “They would attend.” Six of them donated to the walk and three came and cheered this weekend.
  • Nine friends wrote on my Facebook event wall, prior to the event, and four of them donated funds.
  • I had three return tweets, the day of the event, offering encouragement.
  • Fifteen friends made positive posts on my Facebook wall during the weekend of the walk.
  • Two of my LinkedIn connections were prompted by my status updates to ask how they could donate to the cause.
  • At least four donations came from casual conversations with friends and colleagues at BurrellesLuce.

I found social media to be very useful to helping me raise awareness for a great cause. How are you using social media to promote your causes?