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Product Launch

Why ‘The Grade’ App Gets an ‘A’ in PR

the grade 2Remember when online dating was so taboo that bringing it up was akin to playing the theme to The Exorcist on a dark, windy night?

I should know. In 1999, I met my bride…online.

Think about that: before the turn of the century, when most of America thought computers were going to explode and the Great Lakes were going to turn into blood, spit, and venom.

There was no clutter in the dating market — no Tinder, Match, Chemistry, OkCupid (today, they’re all owned by the same company, IAC). Back then, it was just apprehension and fear of the unknown. Today, it’s much of the same because dating online is yesterday’s news.

Until “The Grade” showed up to class, using PR to knock out the competition.

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Mediabistro Course

Mediabistro Job Fair

Mediabistro Job FairLand your next big gig! Join us on January 27 at the Altman Building in New York City for an incredible opportunity to meet with hiring managers from the top New York media companies, network with other professionals and industry leaders, and land your next job. Register now!

Columbia Sportswear Thinks Every Athlete Should Use PEDs

Women's_Platinum_860_TurboDown_JacketColumbia Sportswear is going to win the SEO game or else.

The company officially introduced its new TurboDown line to the public today with the tagline “Columbia Sportswear Encourages PED Use”. That’s technically “performance enhanced down”, but in case you missed it here’s the second sentence from the press release:

“TurboDown is a patent-pending insulation construction that creates such outsized results it’s like a “down jacket on steroids.’”

Get it yet? No? Here’s a quote from company CEO Tim Boyle:

“Performance Enhanced Down offers unmatched performance and this winter, you can experience how science can enhance the limitations of nature, and it’s legal!”

We’re not exactly sure how effective this campaign will be. Columbia’s site is not on the first page of search results for the phrase “sports steroids”, but it IS on the first page for “sportswear steroids.”

On the other hand, we can’t imagine too many people searching for the latter, so maybe this was just an attempt to have fun with a press release.

It made us click — and unfortunately, we’re not high on anything.

Girls Are Scientists, Too: LEGO Responds to Customer Demands for Female Minifigures

lego 1_0Last week we told you about Disney coming to the hard-won, customer-fueled realization that girls like Star Wars, too, and that it might be a good idea to make Princess Leia toys (who knew??). Now, thanks to consumer demand, LEGO has come to a similar conclusion; the company has just announced the approval of the “Research Institute” set, which will feature a female astronomer, chemist, and a paleontologist.

A few months back, we covered the story of a little girl named Charlotte, who, dissatisfied with the limited selection of female minifigures and their stereotypical themes (beauty parlor, shopping, etc.), wrote a strongly-worded letter to LEGO, saying:

“My name is Charlotte. I am 7 years old and I have LEGOs, but I don’t like that there are more LEGO boy people and barely any LEGO girls. Today I went to a store and saw LEGOs in two sections…All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks. I want you to make more LEGO girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun OK?!?”

Little Charlotte, it seems, is nowhere near alone in her strong sentiment; Read more

Disney to Make Princess Leia Toys Thanks to #WeWantLeia Hashtag

leiaBack in May, Disney announced it would be rolling out a new line of Star Wars themed toys, which will be available for purchase in Disney stores. As excited customers browsed through the soon-to-be-collectibles, they quickly noticed the lack of products featuring female characters — Sure, Luke and R2 and Han and Vader were all represented, but where was the no-nonsense heroine Princess Leia?

A mother shopping for her daughter asked Disney that exact question via Twitter, to which the brand responded:

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The New York Times Has Answer for Lost Revenue in Newspapers: NYT Opinion App

NYT OpinionLove to complain? Love to gripe? Love to just get it all off your chest? Basically, are you from New York?

If so, there’s now an app for that too. Introducing The New York Times’ answer to lost revenue in this new economy where everyone reads news on this Interweb thingy: NYT OpinionSomeone in the NYT Company is doing their homework because this says to the publishing world, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em … and then editorialize it.”

They did and it’s working.

(NOTE: I am not from New York, but all my colleagues on PRNewser [including our fearless leader] are, so this will probably be my last post for that wise crack. Crap.) Read more

Adventures in Marketing: Dothraki Language Course Is a Real Thing

Living Language Dothraki_ A Conversational Language Course Based on the Hit Original HBO Series Game of Thrones(Paperback) Book | HBO ShopHave you ever wanted to ask out the Mother of Dragons herself, Daenerys Targaryen, but were held back only by the language barrier? Never fear: Language Dothraki: A Conversational Language Course Based on the Hit Original HBO Series Game of Thrones is here.

A mouthful of a name? Sure. But so are most of the names in the book series and show. The new guide to Dothraki, compiled by acclaimed language and culture consultant David J. Peterson, features over 500 words and phrases, some of which were made up exclusively for the course, and will cover everything from vocabulary and grammar to pronunciation and cultural notes.

Three versions of the system (the basic package, the expanded online course, and one with a companion mobile app) will be available for your educational needs on October 7th, but all three are currently available for pre-order — because the marketers are no dummies, and likely wanted to ensure the promo was announced while the current season of the show was going strong. Read more

Will You Be Pitching to Ezra Klein’s Vox?

It’s a worthy question, because despite former Washington Post writer Ezra Klein’s wonky history reporting on economics, his new venture Vox promises to cover “Politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, business, food, sports, and everything else that matters.”

This promo video also serves as a look into the current state of reporting. When was the last time you saw a trailer for a news organization?

Klein’s challenge is to convince the public to pay attention to factual stories that don’t contain the latest form of visual distraction. As the founder himself puts it, he’s betting the bank that readers will eat their media veggies as long as the material isn’t presented in such an unappealing “this is good for you but we guarantee you will hate it” way.

We’re very interested in seeing where Vox goes with this concept, but for now the launch is a nice reminder of the inherent challenge of getting people to click and, referring to the “understand the news” tagline, truly absorb informative content.

Surely you understand.

Are You Drunk Enough to Join This ‘Niche Network?’

No, that’s not a trick question…or is it?

The almost-too-clever LIVR (as in “liver failure”) requires users to attach a breathalyzer to their smartphones—and only those with blood-alcohol levels above the legal limit may proceed.

Why would you want to join such a network? We’ll let its supposed creators (who do not in any way embody certain longstanding stereotypes) explain:

We can’t quite agree that “our best ideas are found at the bottom of a glass”, and we almost hope this app is a joke—the breathalyzer itself has us leaning toward “SXSW stunt pitch that worked.”

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Are ‘Connected Appliances’ the Next Big Thing, or What?

One way to bring attention to your client’s burgeoning industry: sell it to Google. The company’s $3.2 billion purchase of “smart home” startup Nest was the best possible PR for the push to synchronize appliances, which has yet to catch on despite all the press because it sounds a little weird.

This morning, however, we found ourselves strangely compelled by this demonstration of the world’s first “connected washing machine” via Berg, a UK cloud service company.

Today the product scored a mention in The Guardian, and based on the headline/pitch we can see why…

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Samsung Tones It Way Down for New Galaxy Launch

Samsung Galaxy S IV Debut 1

Call off the brass section

Last week we asked whether tech companies should stop scheduling big events for every upgrade and “new” product launch. The answer was a nearly universal “no”—and Samsung seems to have gotten the message.

The New York Times tells us to expect less “singing and dancing” and more fawning over gizmos as the company introduces the public to the Galaxy S5.

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