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Product Launch

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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Twitter’s New ‘Editorialized Tweets’ Feature Helps Highlight Earned Media Mentions

The big tech blogs have all reported on The New York Times‘ recent experiment with what it calls “editorialized tweets”. In case you missed it, the feature allows news organizations to highlight chosen quotes and sentences in a story and allow readers to instantly turn those sections into individual tweets with a simple click or a tap. The links that appear in those subsequent tweets will drop readers right into the section of the article where the lines appear. Here’s how it works:

This is obviously great news for PR teams: a key quote by or about a client will get even more attention if it happens to appear in one of the article’s highlighted lines. Twitter‘s research on the experiment is encouraging, too.

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$99 ‘Useless Box’ Makes it to Best Buy Shelves Thanks to Clever Prank

If you’ve ever had a printer break down on you mid-project, or watched helplessly as your ultra-expensive laptop crashed, effectively rendering all of your precious files nonexistent, you’ve likely felt as though you shelled out a ridiculous amount of cash for what, in the end, amounted to little more than a useless plastic box.

Playing upon this common frustration, street artist Plastic Jesus created a fake Best Buy product called “useless plastic box,” and stealthily sneaked it onto the shelves of five Los Angeles-area Best Buy stores. The accompanying (perfectly branded) tags listed a price of $99.99, and boasted a product description that included phrases like “will not work once you get it home,” and “battery life too short to be of use.” The warranty reads: “There is no warranty with this piece of crap. If you are dumb enough to buy it you deserve all you get.”

In response to the prank and subsequent media attention, Jon Sandler, a spokesman for Best Buy, told AdFreak: Read more

Man Tries, Fails to Promote New Website ‘Aimed at Women’

Good PR pros know: you have to understand and appreciate your audience in order to craft messages and content that will truly speak to them rather than at them or—even worse—around them.

The journalists on our Twitter feeds spent much of the last week mocking the “glorified press release“ that web entrepreneur Bryan Goldberg wrote to announce the fundraising achievements and subsequent launch of Bustle.com, his new “high-revenue [publication] aimed at women”. We’ll take a moment here to observe what, exactly, he did wrong—and how he could have avoided the poor response he received.

Goldberg, who regularly contributes to the tech site PandoDaily, wrote the announcement as a blog post and Q&A that that initially earned the Internet’s ire for quotes like this one:

My job, as CEO, is to hire the right people…Knowing the difference between mascara, concealer, and eye-liner is not my job.

And this one:

Yes, we believe that a partner-track attorney can be passionate about world affairs and celebrity gossip. On the same day. During the same coffee break. And there is nothing wrong with that.

One more:

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Don’t Call Russell Simmons’s New ‘Digital Marketing Company’ an Agency, OK?

If Jay-Z can pretend to be a sports agent then Russell Simmons can pretend to be a marketing guru, right? Sure — just don’t refer to his new company Narrative, which offers “digital marketing, entertainment and technology” services, as an agency.

Why not? Because Simmons and partner Tricia Clarke-Stone want to help agencies, not compete with them. How does that work? Narrative‘s founders say they will use its nascent creative team to produce the “marketing solutions” and digital campaigns that said agencies will then promote. The group already has a couple of clients in Sprint‘s Boost Mobile and Simmons’s own site GlobalGrind.

Simmons and Clark-Stone aren’t exactly new to the promo game — GlobalGrind doubles as a marketing company that’s already served some big-name clients like Pepsi, Tide and Toyota. They see their new venture’s purpose as filling a “gap” in an industry ill-equipped to serve a public for which “urban culture is [now] the mainstream” regardless of race, background or geography. But how can Narrative not compete with agencies when its service description sounds so similar to those of its prospective “partners?”

Simmons has obviously done great work in the past, and we don’t doubt his promotional prowess — but this is a strange rollout, no?

Oh, Right: Facebook Did Something Today!

Calm down, everyone: Facebook will not provide you with a shiny blue smartphone. What it will do is take over the phone you’d planned to buy next month. Today’s Zuckerberg press conference served as the launch of the new “Facebook Home”, a sort of app cluster that will dominate a specially designed HTC Android phone. Facebook doesn’t want to create your mobile phone — it wants to become your mobile phone. Zuck called Home “the best version of Facebook there is”, and the company debuted this promo spot:

Looks…cool. But what does it mean?

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Google and Yelp Launch Mobile ROI Calculators. Why Do We Care?

Google Mobile "GoMo"No matter who your clients are and what kind of content you use to promote them, a growing number of people will read it on mobile. That’s why Google‘s release of its first “mobile ROI calculator” is a big deal. It’s true that the “Full Value of Mobile” calculator is more directly relevant to marketers and business owners than PR pros (especially since it’s primarily concerned with Google Ads or AdWords). But it’s going to be very important for your clients’ brands.

Why? Because it will help them better understand exactly how their mobile ads influence sales — and it will help client teams use real-world data to demonstrate the success of Google ads and cost-per-action (CPA) campaigns. According to Google’s blog post/announcement, a recent study showed that nearly 3 in 10 web searches lead consumers to visit a store, contact a business or make a purchase. So this is a big deal to any client who sells products online.

If you have any clients in the food/brick and mortar retail sectors, Yelp‘s announcement should be of interest as well: the site’s “revenue estimator” will show the owners of small businesses how many “leads” come directly from their Yelp pages and related promo campaigns — and make estimates as to the ultimate dollar value of that traffic.

So will we be using either of these tools? What effect might they have on our relationships with clients?

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