Archive for April, 2010

How Do You Stop A Rat From Getting Out of the Can?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by innovativemediapr

Chef Boyardee has been a family food staple for generations.  Spaghetti and meatballs in a can has been a quick and easy treat for parents to serve their families. Now, after the posting of a video on YouTube showing what appears to be a dead rat in a can, Chef Boyardee is a brand that is tarnished.  How much of an impact will this have on the brand?  That depends on how quickly they deal with the fallout.

“I opened it up and my face was very close to it and immediately you could tell there was a dead rodent on top, in fact you couldn’t even see the spaghetti and meatballs at all,” said Jennifer Aker, the Ohio mom who opened the can in question.

ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE: CAG), the owner of Chef Boyardee, was contacted by Aker and asked her to freeze the contents of the can so they could have a courier pick it up for testing.  They asked her to take a photo of it.  Instead, Aker had her nephew film a video which promptly made its way to YouTube for the world to see.

Local news reports used the YouTube video and ConAgra Foods spokesman Dave Jackson was quoted as saying:

“We take all consumer inquires seriously, and when a consumer has a bad experience, we work with them to determine the source of the problem and correct it. We also work with them to make up for their experience as best as we are able.”

In today’s world of internet video, waiting for testing simple doesn’t cut it.  When looking at the ConAgra website there is no response at all to this video.  No statement is posted in the press room section. In fact, the last notice is for a corporate purchase of Elan Nutrition back on April 12.

A rodent finding its way into a can of spaghetti and meatballs during the canning process is certainly remote, but definitely possible.  Whether this case really did occur or whether this is a prank by an Ohio family looking for attention remains to be seen.  However, all the general public knows is that they smell a rat and Chef Boyardee is going to pay the price.  How many kids shopping with their moms will walk down the aisle at the supermarket and say, “Do you think there’s a rat in that can?”  How many thousands of others have already heard about this and shared the video?

If this was the 1950’s, a person going through this experience would be shocked and would have most likely contacted the company.  They probably would not have even thought to call the local media to complain. Today, a consumer calls the company and then takes their plight to the blogosphere, YouTube, the media, Facebook and a myriad of other outlets to share their outrage and shock.

ConAgra Foods needs to act fast.  A review process should be activated to evaluate security procedures in the cannery process of its goods.  Are safety and cleanliness guidelines being met?  Have there been past rodent problems at such facilities? If so, how have they been dealt with?  How often is this monitored?

B-roll footage of the canning process should be posted online on the ConAgra website and YouTube.  If there is no existing footage, a crew should be brought in immediately to facilitate this. A statement should also be posted as well.

ConAgra Foods, which also makes such brands as Healthy Choice, Egg Beaters, and Hunt’s, Orville Redenbacher and Banquet among others, and has a vision statement which is, “One company. One goal. Making the food you love.”

Allowing one video to tarnish such an old and reliable brand as Chef Boyardee would be a shame. That’s why the testing phase is over. Whether real or staged, this video has already done damage.  It’s time for ConAgra to take action.  And for other companies, they should review their crisis plans to see if they will be ready when the time comes to let the rat out of the can.

 Tom Cosentino

 

 

Does the New Nike Tiger Woods Ad Solve His Crisis?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 8, 2010 by innovativemediapr

Last night on the eve of the Masters Golf Tournament, ESPN and The Golf Channel aired the first Tiger Woods commercial since his famed sex scandal.  The 30 second commercial by Nike, filmed recently at Tiger’s home in Florida, featured a somber looking Woods staring silently into the camera as the voice of his dead father Earl Woods asks him questions about his return to golf.

Some media outlets like FoxSports.com and London’s Daily Mail, have labled the ad as creepy.

By the time Tiger Woods tees off in his return to the sport he has transformed, thousands of responses will be posted by media, fans, curiosity seekers and critics, who have watched the spot.

Was the use of Earl Woods’ voice appropriate to call out his son on his transgressions?  Was the silence of Tiger an effective way for him to show his remorse and seek forgiveness from his fans? And, was this the proper way for Nike, one of Tiger’s only sponsors that stayed with him during this crisis, to show their support?

From Nike’s perspective you would have to say they hit a home run.  The ad has generated buzz and has allowed the brand to showcase to the world, its full support of Tiger Woods.  For a company that has never shied away from controversy or edgy campaigns, this was a brilliant move by them to pave the way for the return of their prized property.

Only time will tell if Tiger Woods can regain his credibility and stature and put this sex scandal behind him.  If he does, Nike will stand to benefit greatly.

From  a communications standpoint, this ad was effective in several ways.

Many might argue that it’s inappropriate to use the voice of his father who passed away in 2006. However, he has consistently said that the loss of his father was a devastating blow to him. He obviously had to endorse this use. The psychological ramifications and significance of this can only be addressed by Tiger.

Tiger’s silence for three months following the first revelations of his sex scandal were criticized by many, including myself

His silence in this ad was a bold move to show his remorse to the world.  By staring at a camera and having his father dress him down, Tiger Woods basically tells the world he can no longer hide from his transgressions. 

For those who discount the importance of crisis communications, this is a very important example.  Companies and individuals faced with a crisis need to be out in front of it.  A transparent, honest response to a crisis is essential. The more you hold back information, delay disclosure and stonewall, the more you will find yourself in the position that Tiger Woods placed himself in.  He ultimately had to lay his soul bare letting his father scold him before the world to see. 

You might criticize the process and use of his father in an ad, but how you respond to a crisis will either lesson the eventual impact of the crisis on your business or person or make you open to worldwide disdain and criticism.

 Tom Cosentino

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PR Can Still Be Inspirational

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 2, 2010 by innovativemediapr

You know public relations is still the industry for you when you can get charged up about something you’re working on, either because it’s an exciting event or in the case of our firm, iMedia Public Relations, working with a pair of clients that are truly inspirational.

One is Chrissy Carew, Personal and Business Coach and Trainer based in Nashua, New Hampshire. We have been helping Chrissy launch her new business and web site, Insightful Player™, a bold movement of hope for the youth of America, which officially made its debut on April 1. Featuring the inspiring stories of 22 current and/or former NFL players, including Hall of Famer’s Roger Staubach and Andre Tippett, Insightful Player™ is designed as an educational resource to encourage young people to overcome obstacles and hardships by showcasing how some of their professional sports heroes have done so in their careers.

“My inspiration for Insightful Player comes from my late father, Walter R. Carew Sr., a high school English teacher and head football and baseball coach. He was a high integrity coach and I learned a lot of my coaching and life skills from him, says Carew.” 

 “We have released a comprehensive series of inspiring stories and interviews featuring high integrity people such as current and former players, who join me in my mission to lift the spirit of all, especially children,” added Carew.  “The players share their stories and show how they not only overcame adversity but learned to respect it and became grateful for how it helped them leap forward.”

Each Insightful Playerstory shows solid evidence of the immense power of the human spirit. The following are just some of the obstacles faced in life and overcome by Insightful Players:

  • A player’s father was murdered when he was eight; he had to duck for cover in his home because bullets were flying on his street …
  • Another player saw people shot as early as the age of five and often saw dead bodies on his street before his teens …
  • A Hall of Fame player never had a winter coat or winter boots and didn’t always have food to eat …
  • A former player was put in classes for the mentally disabled, his father “beat the tar” out of him, his coaches wouldn’t help him get into college because they said he had no talent….
  • Another former player lost his arm, part of his shoulder and several ribs to cancer. He was told he would never be able to participate in sports again. Two months after his surgery he was a strong competitor on a racquetball team without a handicap. He is now an avid runner and even plays golf….

The web site is the first phase of a planned series of Insightful Player™ programs, including player appearances, special events, school curriculum activities, books, workbooks, magazines and more.

Then there is John Robinson.  John’s life is actually quite normal. He is married with three children, loves to play golf and is Director of Corporate Support for PBS-affiliate WMHT in upstate New York. He is also a congenital amputee, born 41 years ago without the extension of hands or feet.  The 3 foot 9 inch tall Robinson is a Giant in terms of inspiration.

He is the subject of a national documentary now running on Public Broadcasting Stations titled Get Off Your Knees: The John Robinson Story and has recently authored an autobiography Get Off Your Knees: A Story of Faith, Courage, and Determination published by Syracuse University Press, which is now available through Amazon.com and other outlets.

The book is the result of numerous individuals throughout the years asking him to relay his inspirational message of dealing with his physical challenge.  Robinson compiled a journal for the past three years which serves as the foundation for the book.

Here’s John telling his story on NBC’s New York Non-Stop broadcast with Chuck Scarborough. 

 One of Robinson’s long-range goals is to potentially start a foundation that raises money for organizations that support people with physical disabilities.  He would also like to continue gathering stories from individuals he comes across during his motivational talks and through his web site in order to create a new documentary and book. 

What makes John Robinson and Chrissy Carew special as clients is that their endeavors are their life’s mission. Their actions are easy to publicize and promote because they are all about helping others.  It’s refreshing working with both and we look forward to a long relationship with them. They certainly make it worthwhile to be in public relations.

Tom Cosentino