Posts Tagged ‘spokesperson’

Celebrity Branding: Accountability and Influence

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Ruth Mesfun*

Virtual%20SeatI won the lottery! Okay, so, not the Mega Millions (apparently my luck did not transcend to that one). However, I did win tickets to Oprah’s Lifeclass the Tour for last night, April 2, at Radio City Music Hall. I picked up the tickets over the weekend and even though they were reserved, there was still a line circling the block. While waiting, I noticed no one complained about having to stand in line, in the rain, as if it was expected since we were Oprah’s “students.” After picking up my tickets, I hurriedly skimmed through the seating chart to see where my father and I were to be seated.

Orchestra seats I thought and I walked out with the biggest smile on my face.

While clutching the tickets I thought about the possibilities. How Oprah and Tony Robbins would share their secrets to an enlighten self and make all my problems disappear. My mind started to wander as if having tickets to their show was the Willy Wonka golden ticket to true happiness.

Then, I abruptly stopped and thought, Oprah is just a person she cannot solve my problems— that is my job.  

I also realized, in that moment, the true power of branding.

When I first studied branding in college my initial assumption was that branding was only for products or companies like Pepsi or Starbucks. Then it permeated to celebrity brands, such as Oprah and Tony Robbins. Now, with the advent of social and digital media, personal branding can be added to the mix. Branding people, particularly celebrity spokes people and their brands, opens a Pandora box which often hinders our ability to think objectively.

Instead of stepping back and having an objective perspective, if someone has a recognizable brand, we immediately join their cause without any initial thought of the situation, or at least not until afterwards. We are continuously in “sleep-mode” allowing branding to shift our thoughts and, as a result, our actions.

Celebrity branding also extends to the media and its ability to influence our response to the day’s news. (The recent Spike Lee social media gaffe comes to mind.) Often we trust and believe what is posted and reshare without double checking the facts.

So, while branding certainly has its place, as individuals – whether personally or professionally – we need to take responsibility for how our actions are influenced by branding and how we influence the actions of others via our own branding.

It is great to have an “AHA” moment just getting the tickets. Whatever else I learned during the Lifeclass, I promise to share in the coming days and weeks. 


 Bio: Before joining the BurrellesLuce team in 2011, as social media specialist, Ruth worked as a marketing assistant in a kitchen design firm and, later interned with Turner Public Relations. She holds a BA in Economics with a minor degree in International Relations from Rowan University. In addition to economics, education, and finance – Ruth is passionate about understanding the business implications of social media, including how it can be used to increase ROI, find and maintain a career, and create a business. Connect with her on Twitter: @RuthMesfun LinkedIn: Ruth Mesfun Facebook: BurrellesLuce

Crazy Target Lady: Seasonal Campaign Brands Memorable Spokesperson

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Andrea Corbo*

Whether or not you’ve been trying to ignore the over-abundance of holiday sale commercials — if you’ve watched any TV in the last few weeks, you’ve surely noticed that the famous Crazy Target Lady is back again. Who am I talking about? The over-enthusiastic, fictional shopper who performs extreme measures to take full advantage of Target sales. With funny quotes like, “The Target 2-Day sale is almost here. The last thing that’s gonna stop me is weak thighs,” you’ve surely taken notice.

With so many holiday sale commercials in existence, it’s quite an accomplishment to create a campaign that can stick out in the mind of viewers, be remembered, and get people talking about your brand and purchasing your products.

Nearly every commercial we’ll see in the next month will be winter and holiday related, but does that really help guide us to shop for that brand? Or is that something we consumers have come to expect from the brands we already loyally shop? Perhaps just the idea of snow, family, and presents is supposed to drive the typical consumer toward the nearest mall? Whatever the recipe for holiday marketing, Target is making a lasting impression of its name with this series of commercials from Wieden + Kennedy, a full service integrated advertising agency.

Branding a memorable spokesperson, however fictitious she may be, is something that viewers can recall each year and, in fact, many do love that crazy Target lady. If a viewer is a fan of the comedic commercial series, this may again contribute to brand loyalty. Despite the fact that the commercials don’t exactly highlight any specific products, you’re still reminded of the Target brand itself along with the fact that you may need to do some shopping.

Personally, I don’t usually watch commercials because I fast forward through them. However, there has been such hype about the Crazy Target Lady by word-of-mouth that I’ve now stopped to take notice. People are talking online and offline which means the branding is working.

What other brands have created a seasonal campaign that you can clearly and successfully identify? Are there commercials you talk about with friends and family? Are there ads that have made you take action?


Bio: After receiving a B.A. in communications, and briefly working at a TV production studio, Andrea began volunteering abroad. This lead her to work in the non-profit world, where she was fortunate enough to learn about international education, women’s empowerment and social issues for the elderly, while traveling to over a dozen countries.  Since joining BurrellesLuce in 2011, Andrea is excited to share her thoughts and views on branding, social media, and communications with the growing Fresh Ideas audience, as well as her passion for cultural awareness, volunteerism, and sustainable efforts. Twitter: @AndreaCorbo; Facebook: BurrellesLuce; LinkedIn: BurrellesLuce 

I Am Not Alone…and Other Things I Learned at the PR News Media Relations Forum

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Lindsay Nichols brings a broad range of public relations expertise to Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, helping clients build relationships with key audiences and influencers and sustaining awareness about their missions. In her nine year career, Lindsay has provided media relations, public affairs, grassroots marketing, crisis communications, and healthcare communications consulting to a variety of organizations focused on a variety of industries, including social purpose, advocacy, corporate, consumer, healthcare and legal.


From left: Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce, Lynn Sweet, Howard Arenstein, Doug Stanlin

From left: Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce; Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times Washington Bureau; Howard Arenstein, CBS Radio News; Doug Stanlin, On Deadline blog, USA Today.

This post first appeared on the @OgilvyPR blog, Social Marketing exCHANGE, June 29, 2010.

I’m clearly a geek, but I’m going to proudly say it: it’s an exciting time to be in media relations.

I started my career in media a decade ago and as the field has changed, the practice of getting key messages in front of target audiences via the media has only gotten more interesting. From crafting the story idea, to hearing the spark ignite for a reporter, to reading or listening or watching the final story unfold – the entire process is exhilarating. Social media has only broadened that landscape for me – I have more choices than ever to spread my clients’ messages and make an impact with the audiences that matter. And while media relations may seem more complex then the days when I used to thumb through a media directory book to find a reporter’s name and beat, in a lot of ways I find it much more strategic and exciting.

This geeky love I have for media relations was recently nourished when I was lucky enough to attend the PR News Media Relations Next Practices Forum as a guest of sponsor BurellesLuce. I got to hear from some of the best talent in the industry across all walks of PR life including corporate veterans Stephanie Anderson of OSRAM SYLVANIA and Ed Markey of Goodyear; consulting mavens Karen Hinton of Hinton Communications and Andrew Gilman of CommCore Consulting Group; and nonprofit leaders Laura Howe of the American National Red Cross and Glen Nowak with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; among others.

And – I can’t but help but show a little pride here – Ogilvy PR had a great client showing:  Mark Phillips of the USO and Colleen Wilber of America’s Promise Alliance both had wonderful insights to share. The keynote speaker was former Marriott spokesman and current Senior Director of Communications for Catholic Charities USA, Roger Conner, who shared his PR experiences both humorous and humbling.

The knowledge these speakers imparted was too much to share in detail, but some highlights were:

  • Think like a newsroom
  • Use social media to collect real-time feedback on the quality, tone and resonance of a conversation – listen constantly
  • Let others (volunteers, employees, customers or consumers) tell the story for you
  • Don’t script people – just teach them how to use social media tools effectively
  • Don’t tell media what the news is – just tell them what you have and how they can use it
  • Individuals as influencers are becoming increasingly important – never underestimate your audience
  • Say the full message: not just “go online,” but “go online and donate”
  • Mobile media is the next frontier in terms of location, platforms, video, social search, virtual collaboration and cloud computing
  • Before you spend any resources, make sure audience is there; speak the right language and understand who you’re trying to influence
  • Stop trying to control the message – just be part of the conversation
  • You must call media on their mistakes – they are working as fast as we are, and mistakes happen; it’s our job to give them the correct information
  • Claim as much real estate as you can on a TV screen – provide information for the lower-third/crawl, facts, b-roll, bulleted messages, etc.; have your spokesperson hold a prop
  • Your actions must match your words

One of my favorite parts of the forum, the “Media/PR Smackdown,” was a panel of well-respected and much sought-after journalists Howard Arenstein, Correspondent of CBS Radio News and CBS News Radio’s Washington, DC, Bureau Manager; Doug Stanglin, Editor of the “On Deadline” blog at USA Today; and Lynn Sweet, Columnist and Washington Bureau Chief of Chicago Sun-Times. They reinforced the tried and true of the media world – don’t call unless you know the reporter’s beat, you know your pitch fits perfectly with what they cover, you’ve already sent an email, and you have a personal relationship. But they also taught me a thing or two about how journalists have embraced the recent changes to the media relations landscape. Reporters love Twitter. I can’t emphasize that enough. They love it personally, and they love it professionally. Doug Stanglin uses his Twitter as a news aggregator. Reporters also love blogs – their own and others. They no longer have one deadline a day – they have them throughout the day. And they are truly excited about sharing their news on different platforms.

So apparently I’m not the only one geeking out about media relations today.

Above all, the overwhelming message of the forum was loud and clear for me: I am not alone. I heard it from the friends I made at my table and around the room and the speakers who represented so many industries and so many types of PR. We’ve all had great ideas but neither the adequate time nor resources to get the job done well. We’ve all dealt with public crises that we didn’t see coming. We’ve all been met with overworked and under-resourced journalists who can’t (or won’t) hear us out.  We’ve all had to deal with leadership who didn’t understand how the media work and expected us to move mountains with only a spoon to start digging. But we all love what we do. We love shaping stories, spreading our clients’ messages, and entering in the public conversation. We all have a passion for getting it right the first time. And we all have a zeal for where media relations has come from – and where it’s going.

And somehow, just knowing that – that I’m not alone – feels good.

You can find more about the forum on Twitter: @mrf.