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Product Launch

Google Wants to Get Your Experts on Camera, Like, Yesterday

Got some experts in your pocket but don’t know where to pitch ‘em? Google might just have the solution with its new “Helpouts” feature.

Here’s the promo clip, complete with uplifting background music:

The point? Google realizes that search has its limits, and sometimes you need face-to-face contact with an expert on the topic at hand. As the company’s VP for engineering puts it, “most of the world’s useful information still resides in people’s heads”—and it’s the big G’s job to get that info out in front of the public.

So if you have a client that specializes in programming or healthcare or yoga or makeup or pretty much anything, you could theoretically get them on Helpout. (And yes, the experts can charge by fixed rate or by the minute.)

What do we think: is this a new tool to give clients exposure or just another passing fad?

PR Stunt: Microsoft Released a Bunch of (Canadian) Zombies for Product Rollout

Another Halloween stunt we missed yesterday: in order to promote the new Xbox, Microsoft Canada staged a little zombie apocalypse with the help of a few dozen extras bussed in from wherever actors gather to drink and commiserate.

Earlier in the week, the company set up a huge replica of the new console in a parking lot, leaving many to wonder what the hell was going on. They got their answer yesterday morning, when the box opened to reveal the zombie scourge, assembled to promote the upcoming shooter Dead Rising 3.

We assumed that the undead Canucks would be a little more polite than your average zombie, being from the Great White North and all—but judging by these Vine and Instagram video clips, they were just as thirsty for blood and flesh as your average recently deceased, newly cannibalistic fiend. Some onlookers were like “meh“, but most seemed impressed.

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How Can PR Take Content Distribution Into the Mobile Age?

shutterstock_135797666In the age of the smartphone, using traditional email press releases to reach your target audience can feel a bit like performing brain surgery with a pair of scissors. So how can PR make sure the right message hits the right people at the right time—content and all?

Earlier this year we interviewed PR veteran Jeff Corbin on theIRapp, an application that helps those in charge of investor relations stay in touch with the people who matter most. At this week’s PRSA International Conference in Philadelphia, Corbin unveiled a new version of his product called theCOMMSapp, which he designed to serve the needs of a wider swath of the PR/corporate communications discipline.

Before the event, we had a chance to talk to him about the new product and about the PR industry’s need to go mobile ASAP. In the simplest terms, Corbin says it’s all about taking the message to them rather than making them come to you. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

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Diddy Wants to Save the Music Video (Good Luck With That)

One type of content we haven’t seen recently on broadcast television: the music video. Sean “Don’t Call Me Puffy” Combs wants to change that, and Time Warner Cable thinks he might be able to do it. This week he’s pushing his new Revolt TV venture as “the ESPN of music”, offering both your standard videos and some “behind the music” “news and information programming” (aka Snoop trying and failing to form a coherent thought).

So…a dated performer promoting a dated concept? It’s win-win!

It’s tough to make a video stand out without a little gratuitous nudity or a movie tie-in; the days of renting a suburban California mansion and turning a 48-hour party into a three-minute video are long gone. In other words, Diddy had better bring out the big guns: more famous friends, more flaming pianos.

On a side note, he can do comedy:

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Diet Coke Has Taylor Swift and Pepsi Has ‘a Pleasing Aroma’

pepsi01

Two things we learned from Pepsi‘s latest Adventure in Marketing: there is a Scent Marketing Institute and the number two soft drink company just patented a “delivery system” technology designed to “[cause] a favorable aroma” as soon as you open each bottle. The purpose of this brilliant invention is to, you know, counter all the artificial chemical smells of the packaging and the terrible product inside.

Looks like the smell will come from some sort of chemical combo contained in a small gelatin capsule on the inner side of the cap. Remember that gelatin is made of cows, puppies and sunbeams, which means Pepsi will no longer be animal-free. That’s a PR problem waiting to happen, but at least the moo moos aren’t genetically modified!

This might beat Diet Coke‘s skinny Taylor Swift can for sheer ridiculousness. But is it dumber than the new “conforms to your hand” bottle? You be the judge.

Hat tip to Consumerist.

Devil Dogs and Ring Dings Join Twinkies on Shelves Once Again, In a More Subdued Way

drakes cakesRing Dings, Yodels, Devil Dogs, and Drake’s Coffee Cakes are joining Twinkies back on grocery store shelves this week after a short hiatus while business matters were sorted out.

McKee Foods, the company behind Little Debbie, is orchestrating the Ring Ding revival. And it’s a markedly more quiet one than what we saw from Twinkies. The Drake’s website will provide a store locator for the cakes starting on Wednesday. There’s a contest or two happening. And the company’s social media sites are promoting the comeback. But it’s been a markedly more subdued comeback so far.

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PRSA Launches MBA-Level Strategic Communications Courses

Like this, except there will be people.

In case you’ve abandoned your plans to earn a degree in the already dated field of social media management, the Public Relations Society of America has collaborated with leading business schools to create a more logical alternative: MBA-level strategic communications courses.

This week the organization announced that it will work with three universities to launch the program during the 2014-15 academic year:

  • Syracuse University (S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Whitman School of Management)
  • Ohio State University (Fisher College of Business)
  • The University of St. Thomas (Opus College of Business)

In an effort to expand upon last year’s successful pilot program*, students at these schools will be able to take full-semester courses covering topics like:

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Has the Apple Brand Lost Its Edge? (Yes, It Has.)

It’s tough to be a luxury brand—no, really. Just ask Apple, whose “most important thing in the world ever” iPhone rollout seemed designed to appeal to both lower and higher-end consumers but failed to impress either (according to the tech blogs).

There were no surprises today. The products were pretty much what we expected: there was the “cheaper” 5C phone (which is still expensive once you consider monthly data fees, etc.) and the “fancier” 5S phone with “a better camera” and the much-touted “Touch ID” technology that allows you to unlock your phone by touching the screen rather than typing and swiping. The rumored gold phone is real, but it’s not really fabulous. Oh, and there’s yet another new operating system. iTunes Radio could be cool, but again it’s nothing new, and to many this all feels like Apple trying to catch up to its competitors.

What happened?

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Campbell’s Soup Coming to a Keurig Near You!

Has it ever occurred to you to put some bullion into your Keurig coffee machine, toss some dehydrated noodles and veggies into the “broth” that comes out, and call it “soup”? No? Well, it occurred to Campbell Soup Co.

Just in time for Fall’s impending chill, Campbell has announced its plans to offer K-cup soup packs that can be made with Green Mountain‘s popular Keurig coffee machines. The soups include a K-cup pack of broth that is brewed over a packet of dry pasta and vegetables.

Think Ramen Noodles, but from your coffee machine.

“It’s delicious soup at the touch of a button,” Campbell CEO Denise Morrison told the Associated Press.

Campbell and Green Mountain plan to launch three varieties next year, including Chicken Broth & Noodle.

For anyone super excited about the idea of insta-soup from a coffee machine, but concerned their morning coffee will end up tasting like hazelnut-and-vanilla-rubbed-chicken, Green Mountain assures customers that its machines are designed so that the system is cleansed by the brewing process, preventing flavors from mixing. Read more

Yahoo! Goes Sans-Serif, Earns Media Coverage with Classic Marketing Tricks

Well, then: Yahoo! (don’t forget the exclamation mark) sure got the media excited to report on…nothing this morning. OK, maybe not nothing, but certainly nothing newsworthy.

In the latest stage of its Marissa Mayer-era rebranding adventure, your grandma’s favorite browser homepage unveiled its new (still purple) colors and went about trying to convince everyone to get excited. We have to admire their tenacity, because while no one seems particularly impressed with the site’s new duds, we’re all still talking about the rollout.

Slow clap.

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