Public Relations Tactics

PR Blotter

February 28, 2014

Ice dancing doesn’t usually attract big U.S. corporate sponsors, but this year is different.

The Wall Street Journal reports that ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White were the first Americans to receive the gold medal for the sport during the Sochi Olympics.
Davis, 27, and White, 26, have the longest list of sponsors ever for a U.S. ice dance team — including Visa, Procter & Gamble, Kellogg, Ralph Lauren and AT&T.

The pair is an Olympic sponsor’s dream: Polished and wholesome, they grew up in suburban Detroit and have skated together since elementary school.

In the weeks before the games, Davis and White tweeted about Puffs tissues, skated with cameras on their heads for a Visa-sponsored video, and signed autographs at a Kellogg plant.

Ice dancing still has far less marketing might than men’s or women’s singles figure skating, but the sport’s popularity continues to grow.

Bucking a long-range trend of declining viewership, the audience for local TV news grew in all three major time slots in 2013.

Viewership climbed 6 percent in the morning (from 5 to 7 a.m.) and 3 percent in the early evening (from 5 to 7 p.m.), according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. The audience barely edged up — by .1 percent — in the late night slot (11 p.m.), a newscast that had suffered the biggest decreases in recent years.

While the 2013 numbers are encouraging, the overall trend in these audiences has not been positive.

Even including 2013, the morning newscasts — the most consistent viewership performer in local news — have lost 3 percent of audiences since 2007. The decrease from 2007-2013 in early evening news viewership has been more dramatic — 12 percent.

Still, local TV remains a top news source for Americans, with almost three out of four U.S. adults (71 percent) watching local television news, compared with 65 percent viewing network newscasts and 38 percent watching cable news.

Facebook is the most popular platform among Millennials when looking to interact with companies/brands online.

According to research from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 62 percent of respondents currently Like at least one brand on Facebook, 23 percent follow a brand on Twitter and 11 percent have pinned a brand on Pinterest. (Nike is the most Liked/followed brand.)

When it’s time to dismiss an employee, don't try to sugarcoat the news.

That only confuses your message and makes it harder for the other person, Fortune magazine columnist Anne Fisher wrote on Feb. 6.

Begin with your core message says Geoffrey Tumlin, who heads the Austin, Texas-based Mouthpeace Communications. When giving employees bad news, your core message is always easy to identify because it’s the thing that’s hardest to say, like, “We’re switching vendors” or “We have to let you go.”

Tumlin suggests that the message and the reason for it fit into a single sentence. Adding other information runs the risk of letting the discussion drift. Answer factual questions such as, “When’s my last day?” or “What happens to my 401(k)?” but beware of trying to answer speculative or probing questions.

Giving an employee a poor performance evaluation should be an ongoing discussion, “because you’re hoping to keep the people you’ll be speaking with, assuming they can get better at their jobs.”

Even when the most tech-savvy people meet in person and want to exchange contact information, they’re still using paper business cards.

As The Wall Street Journal reported on Feb. 6, a digital replacement for the seemingly old-fashioned cards remains elusive.

A few smartphone technologies show promise, but most are limited or overly complicated. A hassle-free, cost-effective alternative to business cards has yet to appear.

Google’s Beam feature lets people hold two phones together and transfer information, when both are enabled with “near field communication” and run on the Android operating system. But Apple iPhones don’t contain the right chips for the transfer to work.

Evernote, a popular note-syncing service, updated its Hello app last year with a feature that lets users swap contact information through audio tones, but the steps are too cumbersome to compete with the simple act of trading business cards. 

Instagram is becoming a powerful selling tool for brands.

The app for sharing photos and videos has attracted more than 150 million users in three years, growing twice as fast as Twitter.

Instagram’s community is more engaged than those of Facebook (its parent company), Twitter or Google Plus, according to research by innovation think tank L2.

Marketers are cozying up to the platform for sharing selfies and other eye-catching imagery, adorned with branded hashtags.

Coach started an Instagram hashtag that encouraged users to share photos of their shoes. The brand of affordable luxury accessories has been savvy about cultivating relationships with style bloggers and on social media outlets, and its sales reportedly soared during the recession.

Instagram also offers sponsored posts and direct messaging with customers — features that it says are boosting reach, recall and awareness in pilot campaigns from Levi’s and Ben & Jerry’s.

Designer Michael Kors added 34,000 Instagram followers within 18 hours of posting a new ad in November, and Estee Lauder’s followers grew after the brand let a model take over its Instagram stream.



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