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Posts Tagged ‘The Huffington Post’

Chipotle Sponsors an Entire Page on HuffPo

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If people keep asking you to define “sponsored content”, then we have just the URL for you—today our sister site FishbowlNY reported that Chipotle has teamed with The Huffington Post to sponsor an entire page called “Food for Thought.

We have surprisingly positive feelings about the project so far. One might be forgiven for confusing it with HuffPo’s usual food page at first glance, but it’s more than a series of paid ads despite the fact that Arianna can’t seem to stop praising the chain and CMO Mark Crumpacker’s first post is all about how Chipotle is absolutely nothing like McDonald’s and hasn’t been associated with McDonald’s for several years, so stop bringing it up!! 

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PR Pro in HuffPo: Don’t Call Us ‘Marketers,’ Dammit

Nope. Not us.Canadian PR professional and dog photography enthusiast Brian A. Kilgore just published a piece in HuffPo Canada advising readers not to “…insult PR people by calling them marketers.”

Given that this is a depressingly common topic of conversation, we figured we’d go through his points. On the common perception of PR:

“PR is multi-faceted, but it’s the publicity and media relations sub-set that most people think of as PR. These PR people are in the news industry, on the content side.”

On working to inform the public:

“‘Editorial and public interest sensibility’ means we in PR do our best to craft honest and non-misleading messages, we believe in ‘the public interest’ as well as ‘of interest to the public’ and many messages are conveyed with the third-party endorsation and the alterations and editing of editors and producers and other controllers of the information conduit.”

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CNN Cancels Hillary Clinton Biopic

Not impressed.

The minute CNN announced that it would be producing a film version of Hillary Clinton‘s career, critics pounced on the move as evidence of the network spinning its wheels on behalf of the former Secretary of State and all-but-certain presidential candidate. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus went so far as to cite the doc, along with NBC’s planned miniseries, when calling on his party to boycott both networks in 2016 due to “obvious bias.”

Now they might not have that problem. This morning the film’s would-be director Charles Ferguson, best known for his financial industry doc Inside Job, announced via The Huffington Post that the project is officially kaputt. He cited a lack of cooperation on the part of Clinton’s media team as the main reason for his decision.

Seems HC’s publicist phoned the director the day after he signed the contract to ask some probing questions; “media fixer” Philippe Reines followed by grilling various CNN executives about possible “conflicts of interest” on the for-profit movie before leaking his concerns to Politico. No word on whether he told Wolf Blizter to “f*ck off and have a good life.

In short, the team agreed with Reince’s conclusion and vetoed participation in the project in order to minimize the inevitable “lamestream media carries water for Clinton” critiques. The HuffPo story has more salacious details about Ferguson’s meeting with Bill, whom he calls “a really good actor” (that’s not a compliment).

Don’t worry, though: NBC’s miniseries is still on, meaning The Daily Beast will have plenty of time to figure out whether Diane Lane is “too sexy” for the role.

9 Pointers for Building Branded Blogs

Gear Patrol Super Gear Featured Image The theme “If you build it, they will come” worked magically in the baseball movie Field of Dreams, but in the crowded blogosphere, only a fraction break through to the big leagues of major media brands. While The Huffington Post, Bleacher Report and Vice are well-known examples, many other blogs succeed on a smaller scale.

A “super bloggers” panel convened at Advertising Week in New York on Thursday, sharing their perspectives on editorial content and sponsored posts with moderator Manoush Zomorodi , host of WNYC’s New Tech City radio show. They included Ben Bowers, founder of Gear Patrol, Julie Carlson, editor-in-chief of Remodelista, Emily Schuman, founder and editor of Cupcakes and Cashmere, and Joy Wilson, founder of Joy the Baker.

While their blogs cover consumer categories like home design, baking, fashion and gadgets, their approaches also apply on the corporate side. Some areas below serve as reminders, while other issues like sponsored content are more recent.

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When Sponsored Content Met CSR and Made Magic Happen

Matt Crenshaw, Mother Nature Network

One thing we can all agree on: PR professionals will spend a lot of time working on sponsored content and corporate social responsibility projects for the foreseeable future.

“Sponsored content” is the hottest phrase in PR and marketing right now, primarily because it means such different things to different people. Yes, it’s a new twist on the classic advertising discipline, but SC can clearly amount to more than BuzzFeed listicles barely related to the product at hand or conspicuous blog posts that hang out at The Huffington Post under the “sponsored story” heading.

Last month we spoke to Matt Crenshaw, president of environmental and social responsibility news site Mother Nature Network, to learn about how his organization has begun to serve clients by combining CSR and sponsored content in one fell swoop.

Why are brands increasing their focus on CSR? 

Well, a recent Cone Communications study found that 80% of people feel that brands have a responsibility to tell them what they’re doing for the greater good, and another study found that brands that put “values” at their core outperform the S&P 500 by about 300%. We all joke about Whole Foods being “Whole Paycheck”, but they are really a lifestyle platform based on “values”, and they’ve done a great job of taking this niche movement and making a big business out of it.

What role can sponsored content play in this equation?

We live in an age where brands need to tell a story and hit you on an emotional level. MNN wants to be the Whole Foods for content: if you’re AT&T and you want to reach the high-value, socially responsible consumer, then you don’t talk about a discount on your phone, you talk about these tablets you created for kids on the autistic spectrum to help them learn. So MNN created a documentary series about it:

Of course, at the end it’s “AT&T: Rethink Possible”, and it’s clearly labeled “content provided by AT&T“, but our role is to say “here’s the story behind the brand.”

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Reputation Management at Amazon: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Last week, online retail behemoth Amazon received the kind of PR boost that any brand outside the Republican Party would kill for: President Obama visited its massive Chattanooga warehouse and used his media megaphone to promote the company for creating jobs fit for every politician’s favorite fallback character: the “middle class” American.

This is all well and good, but Amazon’s recent reputation management challenges are far more complicated…and less complimentary.

The real purpose of the President’s visit was to propose a bargain between the two political parties in which he would trade a cut in corporate tax rates for increased government investment in “education, training, and public works projects” designed to facilitate the creation of those precious middle class jobs. The event unsurprisingly attracted critiques of both the company and the President that highlight their unique PR struggles.

It’s true that Amazon’s planned hiring wave will create as many as 7,000 American jobs, but Obama’s visit raised several questions that the company would rather not address:

  • Are these jobs truly “middle class?”
  • Is Amazon the sort of company that will help strengthen the American economy at large?
  • Will this PR stunt facilitate any truly meaningful political activity?

That’s easy: no, no, and…no.

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10 Tips for Pitching Entertainment Media Outlets

“Unique ideas often start with pitches, and many are surprising”, according to Breanne Heldman, New York bureau chief at Yahoo! Entertainment. She was speaking on a PRSA NY panel on Tuesday about placing entertainment stories.

Other panelists included::
Lauren Brown, Site Director, Ok! Magazine.com
James Chairman, New York Bureau Producer, E! News
Erin Clements, Celebrity News Editor, The Huffington Post
Paola Leva, News Director, In Touch Weekly
Benjamin Wagner, Senior Vice President, MTV News

Below are their tips for breaking through the clutter with original, creative pitches leading to mutually productive relationships. Some appear self-evident, but may be worth repeating.

1.Celebrities promoting brands: These types of stories provide access, Clements said. The outlets will touch upon the brand tie-in, then cover the celebrity’s work. As Heldman added, sometimes it’s even funny, as when they interviewed a pregnant celebrity plugging a rum brand on St. Patrick’s day. All she could do was mention what she’d like to be drinking.

2.Exclusive content is highly desirable, or at least most media outlets prefer to receive it first. As Brown observed, “nothing is really exclusive online anymore, because once it goes online it’s fair game”. But if her site posts an item early on, their readers will share it and build the outlet’s own social media following.

3.Story extension ideas: Sending pitches to extend a big story running for several days is advisable. For example, it may be an expert who can speak about Angelina Jolie’s recent medical news, Heldman said.

4.Finding unique angles is critical, Clements noted. Brown wants the flexibility to add first person spin and avoid a cookie-cutter approach. As Wagner added, for MTV News, merely an announcement of a new album release is a non-starter. (Image at left courtesy of MTV News’ story, “Cannes Film Festival 2013: Our Must-See Movies”)

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The Art of Creating and Pitching Well Crafted Op-Ed Pieces

Even Rodin, the French sculptor who created iconic images like The Thinker, (left) might have a hard time getting his opinions published in some media outlets today. That is, unless the artist also possessed a writing style with a strong viewpoint that was provocative or counterintuitive with a catchy, conversational tone.

Those were some of the pointers from the editorial panelists at a recent PCNY event on pitching opinion pieces, bylined and contributed content. Other desirable criteria include articles with compelling angles that are well sourced and grounded in facts. Self-serving or promotional pieces don’t make the cut. So if a sculptor like Rodin was intent on seeing his name in print or online, he’d be well advised to write about the fine arts category, not focus exclusively on his own masterpieces.

The panelists represented a broad array of digital and print outlets with varying degrees of difficulty for outside submissions to break through. These included: CNN Digital, Bloomberg View, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Ad Age and The Muse. Of course the industries these media brands cover aren’t targeted or limited to art. They encompass categories ranging from politics and economics to technology, marketing, media, careers and lifestyle.

Each editor painted a brief picture of their outlet and provided tips for prospective guest contributors.

CNN Digital: The Opinion section of the site “hosts a wide range of views across the spectrum of politics, religion, arts and other areas”, explained Richard Galant, senior opinion editor. They only publish one or two outside submissions per day, and they want original, exclusive hooks to ongoing news stories.

Bloomberg View: Editorial board member Frank Wilkinson described the two-year old site as “a startup within a large news organization”. He said their op-ed page only takes selected outside contributors since they now produce more opinion related content in-house. Their core focus is the intersection of economics, finance, government and cultural issues, and they look for densely researched pieces.

Business Insider: The site has evolved, according to managing editor Jessica Liebman. There are now 15 sections, like technology, finance, retail, politics, sports, lifestyle, military and defense, with plans to add energy and healthcare. Their current focus is having quality contributors and selected bloggers post about newsy or fun topics.

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BuzzFeed Has This ‘Sponsored Content’ Thing Down

The biggest “must read” story making its way around the web this week is New York Magazine’s profile of BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti and his enviably successful approach to paid content.

To sum things up, Peretti, who also helped launch The Huffington Post, was a math student at MIT who grew fascinated with the concept of viral memes and later created BuzzFeed as a tool to identify and facilitate the spread of said memes via algorithm. His goal was to truly capture the magic behind “word of mouth” buzz (the cat GIFs and political reporting came later). Most of the Internet and quite a few of the biggest brands in the world agree that Peretti has uncovered a secret formula for creating native advertising that might just go viral. Here are some revelations from the profile:

  • BuzzFeed editors work directly with marketing specialists from partner brands to create content in a “newsroom”-style environment.
  • The vast majority of traffic for both BuzzFeed originals and paid posts comes from social sharing.
  • The site’s most popular posts don’t go viral after a single big-name personality shares them — they’re simply picked up by several isolated individuals who share them in small groups (average nine Facebook friends) that spawn small “share” groups of their own.
  • There’s a science to this. Peretti has literally devised a formula.

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Someone Finally Told The New York Times About Sponsored Content

We know it’s something of a stereotype that traditional and especially print media tend to take their time in arriving at/commenting on a hot story. Such is the case with The New York Times, which made waves this weekend by reporting on a phenomenon that PR and marketing folk already know quite well: paid or sponsored content.

We’re not saying that the many talented reporters at the Times have ignored the trend until now; this Media Decoder post regarding The Atlantic‘s Scientology advertorial scandal mentions the fact that BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post and other top web publishers already maintain sponsored content sections. But the weekend’s article does seem to be the first time the Times has deemed such content worthy of comment in print.

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