Archive for January, 2009

The Right Spokesman is a Super Bowl Dream

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2009 by innovativemediapr

The state of the economy caused Playboy and Sports Illustrated to cancel their always popular Super Bowl parties , as well as the postponment of other planned outings, such as a celebrity golf and poker event. While this year’s game may not be creating the buzz usually associated with the Super Bowl, those brands that invested in a corporate spokesman are reaping the benefits of being associated with the event.

Yesterday was the annual Super Bowl Media Day. Players from the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers gathered to address serious and mundane questions from a couple of thousand media representatives from around the world.  While there was a lot of attention focused on that event, the real work was being done in the media center on radio row where dozens of radio shows from across the country broadcast during Super Bowl week.  There, dozens of publicists lead former and current athletes around like sheep, conducting one interview after another. The majority of these interviews revolve around promoting a brand that has no affiliation with the Super Bowl.  It is a goldmine  for companies wishing to cash in on America’s biggest sporting event.

A couple of years ago I shuffled former Dallas Cowboys great, Ed “Too Tall” Jones around radio row to promote the NFL Charity Bowling Event that was  to be held the day before the big game.  It was amazing how crowded the area was with athletes and personalities.  In the span of a couple of hours, Jones conducted about 20 radio interviews, as well as ESPN and the NFL Network

Radio row is just one of the many areas surrounding Super Bowl Week that is an opportune setting for getting your spokesperson interviewed.  With the plethora of media outlets from throughout the country and world descending on the Super Bowl city, there is no shortage of chances to book your spokesperson.

Of course, you’ll need the right individual to carry your message.  And, you’ll need to plan and budget for this way before next year’s game.  Prices vary for athletes depending on their standing. Companies looking to capitalize on the Super Bowl next year in Miami  can use outside athlete representation firms like our friends at The Agency to secure the right person for their brand. That spokesman will ensure a brand’s message is heard round the world, as they travel radio row and beyond.

Tom Cosentino

Kay Yow Leaves A Lasting Legacy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2009 by innovativemediapr

I have had the privilege of working with many athletes and personalities during my career.  None touched me as much as coach Kay Yow. Yesterday, God called her home after serving as his Ambassador on Earth for 66 years. Coach Yow was much more than a Hall of Fame coach.  She was a true inspiration.

She passed away Saturday morning after facing three bouts with breast cancer.  In addition to a Hall of Fame coaching career, 700+ career victories and an Olympic Gold Medal coaching Team USA in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Coach Yow leaves behind a lasting legacy, the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, established in 2007 in conjunction with the Jimmy V Foundation, to raise funds to cure female cancers. 

I met Kay Yow for the first time last March when I spoke for an hour with her by phone to gather information for a story I was writing to help promote the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.  We spoke about her memories coaching with her long-time friend and colleague at NC State, Jim Valvano, and her goals for the Fund, her perseverance in battling through breast cancer, and her strong religious faith.

I told her how I had admired her ability to soldier on as she faced her health struggles and I shared with her the memory of my own mother doing the same as she battled breast cancer. Then, in June, I got the chance to meet her in person when she came to New York to conduct a couple of interviews I had set up.  She could not have been more gracious.  Accompanied by her assistant coach Stephanie Glance and Brittany Harmon of Fishbaitmarketing, we traveled around the city to interviews at the New York Times and Bloomberg TV.

I felt as if I knew her my entire life.  That’s how she made anyone in her presence feel.  A short time after her New York visit I received a package. It contained an autographed basketball from Kay Yow and a letter from her thanking me for setting up the interviews and for the conversations we had shared.  This is an item I cherish and proudly display in my office.

This world has lost a great ambassador for courage.  However, her legacy lives on with the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.  Like her friend, Jim Valvano, she will continue to be a winner in our eyes, not for coaching victories, but for inspiring others to find a cure for this dreaded disease.

Please remember Coach Yow in your prayers. Following is a link to a video newsfeed we developed and distributed on Saturday to networks, to raise awareness for her true legacy, cancer research.

 Video Link:

 

http://media.xfactorcom.com/phoenix/kayyow.html

 

 Tom Cosentino

 

 

PR Is All About the Search

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2009 by innovativemediapr

When examining ways to help a client partner, online video is now one of the leading tactical elements I build into a plan. As the Web 2.0 world has emerged, our role as public relations communicators changed with it.  The first thing I now do when researching a prospective client is to do a Google search on the company and executives to see where they rank and what has been written about them.  I also then go to You Tube to see if there is any video on the company.

I started towards the trend of searching out video after watching my 18-year-old son Mark consistently utilize the service to search for information.

Thus, I found Emily Steel’s story in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal about how marketers are looking beyond the major search engines like Google and Yahoo to place their search ads very interesting.

As Steel points out in her story:

Universal Pictures is promoting its new horror movie “The Unborn” on YouTube, targeting visitors entering phrases like “scary movie” and “horror firm.” The trend reflects a change in the way consumers are navigating the Web. More online searches now take place on YouTube, the popular video site owned by Google, than on Yahoo, the No. 2 Web-search property. The change has companies including Pizza Hut, Universal Pictures and Monster.com rethinking their search marketing strategies.

 Whether it’s a Facebook application, You Tube campaign or just adding video to a web site, video production is now an essential part of any public relations strategy. One of our clients is Dr. Marc Sorenson, a health expert and author of the new book: Vitamin D3 and Solar Power for Optimal Health, the first book written for the layman on vitamin D.  We recently sat down with Marc in New York and interviewed him speaking on a variety of topics concerning the health crisis caused by vitamin D deficiency.  These were then posted to You Tube. This content was then added to his web site at vitaminddoc.com.  Now, we’re currently working on driving people to You Tube to see the videos and pass the link on to friends and family to get tested their vitamin D levels checked. 

We are also working on a plan for a prospective client that involves reviewing the company web site and making recommendations for improving the SEO optimization of the site.  One of the major elements of the plan as it stands right now, is adding video content.

As this industry continues to evolve and more technologies come into the forefront, enhancing a client’s search capabilities through video will be a major component.  As all of us have discovered, relying strictly on driving the message through mainstream media has changed.  Online rankings, video and WEB 2.0 applications are what matters.

PR is now all about the Search.

Tom Cosentino

 

 

 

Public Perception Is Influenced by Internal Brand Ambassadors

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 19, 2009 by innovativemediapr

The announcement by Circuit City on January 16, that it would close 567 stores and liquidate after failing to find a buyer or financing, is another sad chapter in the decline of the American economy. It is also another failure by an American corporation to take care of its brand ambassadors, the veteran employees that represent them in the community and fulfill customer needs when they are on the premises.

 Over the next couple of months a fire sale will be conducted in the remaining stores and over 30,000 additional workers will be unemployed.  Sure, competition from the nation’s leading electronics retailer Best Buy, which always seemed to have a better deal as well as WalMart, helped lead to Circuit City’s downfall. However, I believe that Circuit City’s real decline began in 2007 when the company fired 3,400 veteran employees in order to replace them with cheaper workers.  There was a great outcry from the general public then.  Instead of someone who could provide advice and expertise to a prospective customer, consumers were left with a young entry-level staffer who had no answers.  The veteran workers took pride in their jobs and their ability to being a great resource for the customer.  Their replacements, like any other fast food employees, were there to punch a clock until they could move on to something that paid better. Lacking the service they received in the past, many Circuit City customers went elsewhere.  I believe many fled strictly due to the decision by Circuit City to eliminate these experienced employees.

This was an example of when managing public relations is more than how you communicate through press releases, advertisements or special programs.  It comes down to managing perception and how the general public relates to you and your brand.

The Home Depot a few years ago under then CEO Robert Nardelli, made similar decisions, lowering the hourly wage for thousands of older workers, many of them retirees who were more than happy to share their experiences with customers. Back then, you never had to look more than a few feet before seeing a Home Depot employee. And, you could be sure that your plumbing question was answered by someone in plumbing. You didn’t have to go looking through aisle after aisle to find a person that could give you a competent answer. 

The general public’s connection with a mass retailer like Circuit City and Home Depot is largely experiential.  Stores that provide good value in price and selection, are convenient to get to and most importantly, offer great customer service, are the ones consumers make regular stops at.

When that connection is damaged, such as the perception that it is no longer a store that cares for people, then consumers find alternatives. They also let others know why they did so. In the case of Circuit City, there were plenty of other places to go. 

 Tom Cosentino

 

PR is Still PR Despite the Changes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 13, 2009 by innovativemediapr

As I write this initial blog entry from my desk at iMedia Public Relations  in Princeton, New Jersey, I’m struck by the fact that what I’m doing would have been considered revolutionary when I started out in this industry.

My public relations career started in 1983 when I served as a media relations intern with the New York Yankees. Back then, the way the media relations director, Ken Nigro, communicated with the beat writers covering the team was simple. He picked up the phone and reached out to them.   Of course, like the team does now, there was no shortage of reporters, television crews and radio reporters covering the team on a daily basis.  However, if there was breaking news on a day when there was no game at Yankee Stadium, the only way to contact all of the media in the New York metropolitan area was for us interns to get on the phone and call them.  Now,  hundreds of reporters can instantly be reached by email, text, IM and cell phone.

What hasn’t changed over the past 26 years is that you still must reach out to media and communicate your message. Back then we did not have a computer, cell phone or even fax machine.  Now, we can reach editors at a moment’s notice and track their movements via Twitter.  I used to laugh when  Nigro, who now runs the Red Sox fantasy camp, used to duck George Steinbrenner’s phone calls, moving from one clubhouse to another. I was on the receiving end of a tantrum by the Boss many a time when his call got bounced back to the media relations office after being forwarded to where Nigro was supposed to be.  That was when Steinbrenner was still Steinbrenner. I only can imagine what it would have been like for his pr men back then if George could have had access to the technology we have today!

As a public relations executive in this new media era, we are now blessed with numerous tools to reach media.  However, where many agencies fail clients today is that they embrace the technology available and forget that this is still a relationship business.  While it’s easier to reach media, you still need to communicate with them.  Whatever the platform, good pr is still achieved the same way it has for generations.  Build solid relationships with the media. 

This is especially vital for young account executives just entering the business.  It’s only natural that a generation that grew up with social media makes it their tool of choice.  This is fine if it achieves one of the communications objectives for a client program.  However, even in a social media space, it is imperative that these young pr professionals engage the bloggers or reporters they are targeting and foster a solid working relationship.  Just firing off an email does not do the trick. Building a relationship does.

Tom Cosentino