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Archives: August 2010

BP’s Ad Spend Called Into Question

BP.jpg The Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce has asked BP to report how much money the company has spent on advertising since the beginning of the oil spill disaster on April 20. The numbers were due on August 16, but so far BP hasn’t provided any.

With some speculating that the company has spent millions in the 18 weeks since the spill, the question for some is whether that money could’ve been better spent.

Fortune spoke with Levick Communications SVP Gene Grabowski who called the advertising a necessity.

“In a crisis, issue-based advertising is essential. You have a relationship with your customers, and implied in that relationship in the 21st century is a conversation,” he said.

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Survey: ROI a Barrier to Going Green

sustainability.jpg Seventy-eight percent of respondents to a recent Gibbs & Soell survey identified “not enough return on investment” as a barrier to businesses going green. Following closely behind, 71 percent of respondents said “consumers’ unwillingness to pay a premium for green products or services” was an obstacle. The PR firm polled 304 executives at Fortune 1000 companies to gather these results.

The July poll – executed by Harris Interactive – also found that only 16 percent of consumers believe most or all businesses are committed to going green. The firm polled 2,605 consumers for this study.

Greenwashing is still a fear on both sides. Consumers are on the lookout for companies that are painting a false picture of their efforts and companies are afraid to tout their sustainability efforts for fear of being called out.

“Given the general level of distrust of companies that exists right now among mainstream consumers, any greenwashing story that hits the general press undermines all companies who have a sustainability message,” Gibbs & Soell SVP for greentech and sustainability Ron Loch told Adweek. Perhaps the answer is better engagement with audiences on your sustainability programs?

Havas Reports 22.5 Percent Increase in Net Income for H1 2010

Havas reported its interim 2010 numbers today, announcing a 22.5 percent jump in net income to $62.2 million compared with the first half of 2009. (All figures are converted from Euros based on today’s currency rates.) Revenue is also up 4.2 percent over last year to $925.1 million. Net financial debt was also down nearly 28 percent for the half.

Abernathy MacGregor Group
and Euro RCSG are among Havas’ firms.

Adweek gathers the forward-looking thoughts from the various holding companies, which also largely reported good financial news recently.

A Peek Inside the Ugandan PR World

chihi.jpg One of the more fascinating PR reads on the Web today is the story of John Chihi (pictured at left), who has played a big role in the burgeoning PR industry in Uganda.

While PR is a global enterprise, Africa is still an evolving market with countries in their early stages of building an industry. (Chihi only began his career in Uganda in 2003.) This story from the Daily Monitor goes beyond Chihi’s CV and looks at the roots of the Ugandan PR industry. Interestingly, Chihi is the founder of the firm Mediage PR, which counts P&G and AIG among its roster of clients and partners with Ogilvy PR Worldwide, according to its website. With all of the changes happening across the continent, Africa promises to play a significant part in the PR industry’s growth.

NASCAR: PR Will Help Bring Back Fans

nascar.jpg NASCAR has announced a number of major changes to its communications function, including new leadership and the creation of an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) department that will help the organization to take a “more strategic and offensive approach to selling the sport in a constantly-evolving traditional, digital, and social media landscape,” according to the press release.

The changes come at a time when NASCAR has seen a drop in numbers, including attendance and TV ratings. Ramsey Poston, MD of corporate communications, says the economy has played a role in that decline. Fans tend to spend days at a NASCAR event, camping out in RVs as part of a summer vacation, for instance. Now that’s difficult for many fans to do.

“That has presented hardships to our fans,” Poston told PRNewser. “PR [will] remind fans that NASCAR has the best racing in the world, tickets are affordable and available, and to come out and see the events.”

Poston will continue in his role through 2010, then step down. A CCO will lead NASCAR IMC (Korn/Ferry International is helping with the search) reporting to the CMO, Steve Phelps. And at the season’s end, VP of corporate comms, Jim Hunter, will assume the role of VP of special projects.

The changes come as a result of a four-month study led by Taylor, which will continue to provide counsel.

“We have been conducting similar studies to see how we’re doing as a company,” said Poston. “It’s part of a regularly occurring look inward.”

MTV Wants to Bring Success of ‘Paranormal Activity’ to ‘Savage County’

savagecountyposternew082310.jpg MTV, hoping to re-create the viral success of the horror flick Paranormal Activity, has launched a digital campaign to drum up support for its new movie Savage County.

Savage County was originally intended to be a Web series, but if 100,000 people go to and demand it, the film will air on MTV2. “The online voting seemed like a cool way to get people engaged to see it,” David Gale, MTV EVP of new media and executive producer of Savage County, told Reuters.

In addition to the online voting, an MTV spokesperson told PRNewser via email that there’s an iPhone and iPad app, which will offer free content and a Facebook app will host live events with cast members as they near the 100,000 mark. (The Facebook page has over 1,500 fans.) Surprisingly a search on the MTV website doesn’t yield any results besides a blog post from a couple of weeks ago. But there is a separate Savage County site.

As of this morning, the film has over 72,000 votes, so it’s well on its way to reaching its goal. Voting closes October 18.

Press Sec Gibbs Makes the Morning Show Rounds


White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was back from his vacation and hitting the morning shows to prepare the nation for President Obama’s speech tonight. The speech, only the second delivered from the Oval Office, will focus on the troop withdrawal from Iraq and the ongoing effort in Afghanistan. He appeared on NPR, the Today show, and CNN among others. Gibbs’ appearance on the CBS Early Show after the jump.

Read more

How to Handle the Pope’s PR


With the Pope’s trip to Britain on the horizon, the Guardian takes a look at Benedict XVI’s press team and what it’s up against when it comes to pushing out a certain kind of message and image.

The article offers up the PR “disasters” Benedict XVI has already faced, from the Regensburg address in 2006 to his decision to pardon Richard Williamson. The man the article says is “not a natural communicator” allegedly has too many cooks in the kitchen.

“Statements are disjointed, as if several contributors have been involved and then it has all been hacked together by the Vatican press officer, Father Federico Lombardi,” the article suggests.

It offers the confusion in contrast to Pope John Paul II’s press situation, which was overseen by press secretary Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who was said to have the message well in hand.

All said, it purports that the Pope’s visit, set for Sept. 16-19, should thus be an interesting time as far as the issues, and the team, are concerned.

The Ticker: Beck’s Rally and New Website, Facebook Film Gets Facebook Site, TheStreet Partnership

Tech Reporters Freak Out After eWeek Breaks Google Embargo

Last time we checked, we thought TechCrunch, the wildly popular tech blog, wasn’t taking embargoes. Or they were, sometimes. In fact, their policy was pretty unclear, and could basically summed up as: it depends.

Exhibit A is a tweet last night from TechCrunch reporter Jason Kincaid:

Tech press, I invite you all to raise your collective middle finger toward eWeek for botching the Gmail embargo.

Google was set to announce a new feature to Gmail, and had what seems like most of the major players lined up with their embargo of the news.

Then, eWeek’s Clint Boulton had his story go live, in advance of the embargo, leading everyone to scramble.

It’s unclear right now if Boulton’s move was intentional, but this leads us back to our original question: does TechCrunch take embargoed news?