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Archives: November 2012

North Korean Archaeologists Re-Discover Ancient Unicorn’s Lair

UnicornBefore we leave for the weekend we feel an obligation to share what is, without even the slightest doubt, the very best press release of the week (if not the year).

This one comes to us from the tragically, hilariously misnamed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its news agency, KCNA (don’t even bother clicking on the link if you want to retain your sanity).

According to the amazing release we’ve captured via screenshot below, archaeologists representing the DPRK and its Very Important History Institute “have recently reconfirmed a lair of the unicorn rode by King Tongmyong, founder of the Koguryo Kingdom (B.C. 277-A.D. 668).” Note the use of the word “reconfirmed”–it was there all along, but they just had to make sure.

Does it get better? Oh yes.

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Biggest Stories of the Week

2012′s Top Baby Names Are Soooo Predictable

There may still be such a thing as childhood innocence–but the days of parental innocence are long gone.

As the world’s population continues to grow on a planet with limited resources, parents know their children will be living in a competitive landscape. Before many children are even born, their parents are already busy networking and negotiating a future that will offer their offspring access to the best schools, the best jobs and—in theory—the best lives.

That entire process begins with conceiving/adopting a child, of course–and then the personal branding begins. Everyone asks expectant parents if they’ve considered a name–and it’s a dumb question. Of course they have; in fact, they’ve probably bandied about dozens of options, running them through that emotional Rolodex of acquaintances in their heads and trying to remember whether Cliff was a bully in grade school or Samantha was that girl who got kicked out of high school for smoking weed in gym class.

Choosing a name is a daunting endeavor for parents, because they usually approach the deliberations with airline-loads of personal baggage. Then they’re subjected to the personal baggage of others—from prying mothers-in-law to gruff strangers on the subway.

Life is hard by nature. The last thing anyone wants to do is burden a child with a word that will impede his or her chances at success in life.

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Driving Brand Journalism Through Social Media (Pt 3)

Over the past two days, we brought you posts on the intersection of brand journalism and social media (co-written by Tim Gray, content strategist at online marketing/web design firm Blue Fountain Media). Today we conclude the series by reviewing distribution issues and offering several more examples of “owned media” sites that get the new PR equation just right.

The final step in the three-part journey from traditional PR to brand journalism:

3. Achieve Maximum Participation

In order to succeed as a brand journalist, you must be an expert in your field—not just a producer/distributor of goods, services and press releases. Your best content will reach across social media by appealing to readers who’ve never heard of your brand but have a vested interest in the products you offer.

Create content that can be re-used and re-purposed as often as possible. Write multimedia stories that can simultaneously serve as tweets, Facebook updates, blog posts, and sharable video files. Hit all avenues at once for optimum exposure. And, again, facilitate interaction by explicitly encouraging followers to “tell us what you think in the comments.”

  1. Making the most of all social media channels will boost your traffic numbers while building your reputation as a trustworthy source of information. The larger “conversation” will ultimately revolve around those who create original, high-quality content—no matter which channels they use.

Social Key: You should encourage every member of your team to promote all your content across multiple social media channels—but you also need to make sure you don’t repeat yourself too often. Followers will quickly tire of a rep who just re-posts the same material in different venues. At the very least, you should learn to update, alter and re-frame your material to make sure it’s still fresh for your audience.

For example, if a follower tweets a story that you ran a couple of weeks ago, re-tweet his/her message and add a comment. This simple act may re-kindle interest in a post that no longer shows up in your followers’ feeds but remains relevant.

If you don’t have any original material at a given moment, share something from a source you follow that you believe your own audience would enjoy. Small touches are still touches.

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No-Shave November: Were You Scruffy for a Cause?

While the origins of No-Shave November, “Noshember” or “Movember” are debatable (some credit Plato while others blame lazy college kids with poor grooming habits), one thing about the viral month of scruff is certain — it has definitely caught on, and most of the time it’s all for a good cause.

According to the movement’s official Facebook page and accompanying website (both of which are associated with the American Cancer Society), “No-Shave November is a unique way to raise cancer awareness. The goal is to grow awareness by embracing our hair – which many cancer patients lose – and letting it grow wild.  Then, donate the money you normally spend on hair removal for a month to cancer research.”

While men seem to be the main target, women are also encouraged to quit shaving, cancel waxing appointments, etc.  (It’s November and it’s cold; why not?)

While we’ve yet to receive word on just how much money was raised (and how much hair was grown) this year, we think it’s safe to say that thousands of people got involved–and that they weren’t afraid to be creative.

Full disclosure: My significant other is a teacher, and he made a deal with his students–if they could raise $100 for the charity during the month of November, he would shave his beard and ‘stache into whatever ridiculous shape the kids wanted (and leave it that way for a week). While the donations won’t be tallied until next week, the students have already voted that, should the hundred-dollar goal be met, my beloved will be sporting the Batman symbol on his face for a full week. Click through for a preview:

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Journalists: Send Us Your Worst Pitches!

Here at PRNewser, we believe ourselves to be equal opportunity chroniclers of the public relations industry: its ups, its downs, its internal politics and its always-active revolving doors. Like everyone else who runs a blog or publication, we also get pitches–lots and lots of pitches. Some are clever and personal, some are informative but bland, some are completely irrelevant and some are just bad–like “why bother” bad.

We post on the art of the pitch with some regularity, and while we certainly wouldn’t call ourselves experts, we know how this game works because we pitch content to other media outlets all the time–it’s part of our job description. So we’d like to encourage a sort of dialogue about the state of the pitch by highlighting examples of what not to do.

On that note, we have a request for all our journalist/blogger friends to consider over the weekend: send us your worst pitches. Not the ones that you scanned and deleted or the ones that didn’t apply to the industry you cover–we mean the ones that made you cringe.

Why do we want to do this? It’s not because we’re mean people (though we may well be). We have no interest in shaming people, and we will not post the names of any individuals or their organizations. It’s mostly because, while the act of pitching isn’t quite a fine art, it is something that requires a bit of finesse–and we would love to inform the PR world on the best ways to go about it.

Also: there wouldn’t be much point in posting on the best pitches, because those are the ones that we in the media turn into “earned content.”

So have at it–send us the worst you’ve got and we’ll highlight our personal choices.

PR Fail: Did the Red Cross Double Your Sandy Donation?

American Red Cross Hurricane SandyThis week a LinkedIn editor’s personal story highlighted a significant and previously unreported problem with the American Red Cross’s uneven Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Due to a technical “issue”, the organization’s online payment system charged “an unknown number” of well-meaning supporters twice for the same donation.

While the Red Cross claims to be “working quickly to resolve the issues” that affected “a small number of donors”, its spokespeople have yet to release a statement despite reports of efforts to contact each affected individual.

We shouldn’t have to say it, but this is not the proper way to address a potential PR crisis–however isolated it may be.

The longstanding aid group has already received a good bit of mixed-at-best media attention for its “slow” response to the Hurricane Sandy crisis. Lest we forget, the American Red Cross is not a nonprofit organization, and headlines about “raking in $150M in the name of the storm” do not boost the public profiles of prominent charity brands like this one.

Of course, technical snafus are an unavoidable part of modern life. But we classify this story as a PR Fail because the Red Cross didn’t mention it until the post surfaced on LinkedIn this week—and its reps have yet to offer any specifics beyond a claim that the issue affected “fewer than 1 percent of donors.”

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Great PR: Customized Holiday Greetings from Stella Artois

Stella Artois produces mid-range “European” beer, but the brand also looks to sell a certain sort of effortless cool—remember 2011’s awkward Super Bowl commercial starring Adrien Brody as a chick-magnet crooner?

Now they’ve created one of the best PR/ad campaigns we’ve seen this holiday season. A brilliant Facebook app called “Holiday Carole” revolves around a video of a Mad Men-era lounge singer who shows up at your virtual front door (or that of a friend) to deliver a swingin’ holiday ditty—and it’s all personalized.

Not only does Ms. Carole check out the weather report for your hometown, hand her driver a note with your home address written in lipstick, and deliver a personalized message of your choice along with a fresh-poured glass of Stella; the app uses images drawn from Google Maps, Street View and other resources to place the actress and her entourage on your block. If you live in the city like we do, you’ll be amused to see your cross-street neighbor’s taped-up windows behind Carole and her band as she sings. (And, as Ad Age notes, her snowy drive would prove particularly fun if you happen to live in the Hawaiian Islands.)

It’s all so cool that we can overlook the lead actress’s not-even-remotely-convincing stab at lip syncing. The promo vid is nice, but you really should try it yourself.

PR Challenge: Fast Food Workers Stage Mass Walk-Offs

Burger King Protest New York CityThe fast food industry can’t seem to catch a break these days.

Just kidding, those chains make billions of dollars a year—and most have seen their profits increase during the recession. But their employees are another story: they keep trying to unionize! What’s that all about?

Thursday saw a successful blunt-force trauma PR campaign waged by New York City fast food employees with the backing of churches, civil rights groups and labor unions–all united under the Fast Food Forward banner and the “can’t survive on $7.25″ tagline. The first group of workers walked off the job at a Manhattan McDonald’s at 6:30 in the morning, when supporters gathered with signs demanding higher pay and better benefits. More followed suit throughout the day.

The struggle to unionize has a long history in nearly every industry, but yesterday apparently marked the first time that so many have left work en masse at dozens of different restaurants in a coordinated effort to pressure employers.

Some basic facts: The average New York City fast food employee makes approximately $7.25/hour, earning only $11,000 per year. This total obviously doesn’t amount to a living wage in a city like New York—and organization is particularly challenging in an industry with such a high turnover rate. Some also claim that their employers do not offer sufficient sick days or health care benefits. Their collective demands include hourly wages in the range of $15, which would be a substantial increase.

From a distance, this looks like a textbook case of terrible PR.

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Humanitarian Cop Hits The Today Show

The New York City police officer behind this heartwarming viral photo/PR win appeared on NBC‘s Today this morning to flesh out his story.

Jennifer Foster, the tourist who snapped the pic, joined him, describing his now-famous decision to buy shoes and socks for a freezing homeless man as “an act of human kindness…he had no intention of receiving any credit for it”. Officer Lawrence DePrimo downplayed his instant celebrity, calling it “surreal and humbling” and saying that he simply did “what any other officer in this city would do”. One has to admire his modesty.