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Posts Tagged ‘The Guardian’

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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Millennial Investors More Focused on CSR as a Value Indicator

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Ever had trouble convincing your clients of the value of CSR efforts? We’re guessing the answer to that question is “yes” because, in most cases, businesses judge the importance of public sentiment on the degree to which it influences investor relations.

We found a recent piece in The Guardian encouraging in that regard, however: as the average age of the investor class goes down, its interest in CSR and “profit with purpose” goes up.

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STUDY: Lululemon’s Success Lies in Making Its Customers Feel Bad

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Why can’t you do this?!

Speaking of “unapologetic” Barbie, observers have long argued that apparel and beauty brands play on their consumers’ own insecurities to move products—and research now confirms that it’s all true (surprise surprise).

The study in question, performed by the Canadian Review of Sociology, concluded that Lululemon and other “aspirational” brands succeed on the psychological level by “promoting a philosophy that blames people if their lives aren’t fabulous”—a philosophy that reaches directly into your wallet.

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How Does Content Marketing Relate to PR, Again?

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Tired of this question already? Get used to it—sponsored content and brand journalism and content marketing are here to stay (not that they’re really anything new).

Thanks to The Guardian‘s latest conversation (sponsored by Outbrain) on the relationship between PR and whatever you want to call that other thing, we have some helpful quotes!

From Justin Pearse, head of marketing at Bite:

“Using great content to tell brand stories has always been with us…The problem [with new content distribution channels] though is it’s these technologies that have also led to a flood of content pollution online, as brands create content for algorithms, not people.”

From Jeff Pyat, head of global PR at Outbrain:

“PR firms need to have a strong understanding of all the distribution channels available to them…If PR owns the content, the industry will be well positioned for the future.”

From Jo Sheldon, executive director at Edelman:

“It has to be signposted so that consumers know who’s funding it and can make their own judgements. If it’s great content, relevant and in the right place they’ll enjoy it—paid or earned.”

Does that clear things up?

Amazon Ordered a Sunday Night Drone Strike on the Retail World

Why do bald men always make the best evil geniuses?

You’re probably still scrolling through emails from clients upset that Amazon trumped whatever Cyber Monday promo stunt they had planned with last night’s drone delivery service “reveal.”

They’re not wrong, you know; if you were psychic, you would have been able to sense CEO Jeff Bezos thinking “Go ahead and beat this, I dare you” while smirking at the rest of the retail world in the 60 Minutes segment below. Show us the money, Charlie Rose:

One must admire the brass balls on display here, but we’re gonna have to burst your fragile bubble: of course it’s all just a big, brilliant stunt.

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Jennifer Weiner to Jonathan Franzen: Twitter Isn’t Evil and All Writers Are ‘Self-Promoters’

What about "An American Novelist?"How do we classify a popular novelist’s Twitter feed: is it marketing? personal branding? public relations? It’s a bit of a grey area. But, as Jennifer Weiner so politely told Jonathan Franzen this week, social media is a necessary tool for any writer who wants to engage with his or her audience.

Yes, this is a literary spat, but stick with us: it will feel very familiar to anyone in marketing, advertising or PR.

We like Franzen because he writes good novels, but he’s also an ivy tower contrarian who feels compelled to talk down to the young and unenlightened among us. This week The Guardian ran an excerpt from his latest long-form essay opus under the frightening title “What’s Wrong with the Modern World?”, and it’s an epic rant. Some key points:

  • The instant gratification of social media is destroying our ability to focus and create real value
  • Marketing has led us to define ourselves by the brands we buy (“I’m a Mac guy”)
  • Amazon reviews are the worst thing that ever happened to publishing
  • Writers who engage with the public via social are diluting the integrity of their profession

These are generalizations worth considering, but we’re more interested in his personal attacks on fellow authors who turn to social media to “brand” themselves.

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Dunkin’ Donuts Didn’t Look So Great in Blackface

Well, then: welcome back to the grind. We hope your hangover isn’t too harsh—and if it is you can just chug some Pedialyte.

So what happened over the long weekend? To start it all off, Dunkin’ Donuts hung its head and apologized for August’s biggest facepalm moment, a “bizarre and racist” ad starring an actress in blackface. This story makes a little more sense when you consider the fact that the spot ran in Thaliand, where CEOs and creative departments are all apparently a little loopy (and racist).

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Facebook, Other Tech Brands Respond to Latest NSA Surveillance Revelations

The newest bombshell headlines from The Guardian‘s slow-drip reporting on our own National Security Agency‘s data collection/surveillance practices have created some unwanted headaches for the biggest names in tech. Last week’s article revealed that the American government didn’t just gather data from Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft—it also paid them millions of dollars to cover related compliance expenses.

In short, the super-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA court) ruled in 2011 that some of the NSA’s practices were unconstitutional since the organization could not effectively distinguish foreign communications from standard domestic messages like the ones you send your co-workers and friends every day. The Obama administration declassified this information last week.

After the ruling, the agency had to adjust its way of doing things in order to remedy the problem, and those changes cost participating tech companies millions that the NSA then paid back—hence the “financial relationship” first disclosed in the Guardian piece. It’s all quite labyrinthine and infuriating, but we’re most interested in the big names’ responses.

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No, Maria Sharapova Will Not Change Her Name to ‘Sugarpova’

Personal branding: what does it even mean? For top tennis star Maria Sharapova, it means attaching your name to Every. Single. Product. you possibly can. But even the most unapologetic self-promoter must draw the line somewhere, and for Sharapova that line is the very name her parents gave her.

The world’s wealthiest female athlete may have announced her decision not to legally christen herself “Sugarpova” after the candy line of the same name. Yes, she took the time to let everyone know that she would not take the plunge after letting everyone know that she was “seriously considering” adopting the new name during the US Open. And we fell for her stunt…

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Top PR Pro’s Guardian Q&A Illustrates Familiar Industry Stereotypes, Challenges

In case you missed it, this week The Guardian ran a story penned by Nancy Brenner of MSLGROUP as part of its “A Day’s Work” series. Framed as a “Q&A” with an open comment thread, its headline consisted of a “what do you want to know?” offer to answer any questions readers might have about our industry. An interesting exercise, no doubt.

In the piece itself, Brenner recounts some of the more colorful stories from her time working for Fortune 500 companies and financial brands. Highlights include:

I sometimes compare working in PR to an emergency room.

I have chased reporters into the women’s bathroom to try to get their attention.

And:

I needed to find someone willing to suit up as Raggedy Ann & Andy in the freezing cold, for a minimum of money, and parade outside of the legendary building north of New York’s Madison Square Park to capture the attention of news vans.

But when I heard the Raggedy Ann & Andy toys mentioned as “a hot little Redhead” on television that night, I knew that I helped the client cut through the clutter and raise awareness for their product.

So…a little nutty, but par for the course at many firms. Here’s the thing, though: tales like these often confirm negative stereotypes held by those outside the industry. In the blog world we call it “troll bait.”

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