Archive for January, 2011

Taco Bell Provides “Beefy” Crisis Response

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 30, 2011 by innovativemediapr

Back in the 1980’s the hamburger chain Wendy’s took on competitors through a series of ads with  actress Clara Peller who  became famous for saying, “Where’s the Beef?”  Last week a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in California charging that the taco filling that Taco Bell uses is not all beef led to a major response from Taco Bell. It was a response that met a potential crisis situation head-on and may ultimately avoid any erosion in Taco Bell’s market share in the fast-food industry.

What Taco Bell did right away was launch a national advertising campaign, taking full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times and other papers and online outlets to set the record straight.  The print ads went as far as saying in large block letters, “Thank you for suing us. Here’s the truth about our seasoned beef.”

Taco Bell responded rapidly to a major attack on their brand, something companies of all sizes need to do in a crisis situation.  Whether it will defray any negative reaction by consumers that may be result from the publicity surrounding the filing of the lawsuit remains to be seen. However, the quick public response made in a confident and open manner by Taco Bell management certainly showcased a company not hiding or running from an attack but one that was more than willing to reveal to the public, the true makeup of the ingredients in its seasoned beef.

The suit alleges that the fast-food chain actually uses a meat mixture in its burritos and tacos that contains binders and extenders and does not meet requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be labeled “beef.”

The following is taken from an Associated Press Story on the case:

 The lawsuit, filed by the Alabama law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, doesn’t specify what percentage of the mixture is meat. But the firm’s attorney Dee Miles said the firm had the product tested and found it contained less than 35 percent beef. The firm would not say who tested the meat or give any other specifics of the analysis.

Taco Bell says its seasoned beef contains 88 percent USDA-inspected beef and the rest is water, spices and a mixture of oats, starch and other ingredients that contribute to the “quality of its product.” The company said it uses no extenders.

Still, the company couldn’t ignore the case after it made headlines and quickly spread online.

“This is one of those things that could be a humongous threat to their brand, which is why Taco Bell has taken such an aggressive stance on this,” said Marc Williams, an attorney at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough with extensive experience in fast-food litigation.

The case, Williams said, is thin in potential legal liability. Lawyers would have to prove that most consumers expect and believe they are getting something other than what Taco Bell actually serves. Most fast-food customers, he said, realize taco meat has other ingredients besides beef. And the lawsuit cites U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for labeling ground beef, which don’t apply to restaurants.

The USDA’s rules apply to meat processors — the companies Taco Bell buys its meat from. Tyson Foods Inc., the company’s largest meat supplier, said it mixes and cooks the meat at three USDA-inspected plants and that the meat is tested daily to make sure it meets requirements.

Claims of false advertising typically are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission.

Since no foreign objects were found in the food, nor have any consumers been harmed by the contents of a Taco Bell burrito or taco, this could be a short-lived crisis for the fast food chain.  To their credit they did not let a law firm dictate the story through the filing of a law suit. Instead, Taco Bell made news of its own and began the education process to assure consumers the product they were consuming was indeed beef.   Taco Bell acted proactively and took the steps necessary to control any negative fallout from such a lawsuit.   That’s a great “ingredient” in handling any crisis situation.  Study the situation, prepare your response and act fast.  Where’s the beef in your crisis plan?

 Tom Cosentino

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NEW JERSEY WINERIES ELECT TO INTERVENE IN FEDERAL SUIT

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 24, 2011 by innovativemediapr

Contact:
Tom Cosentino, iMedia Public Relations
609-514.2643 – office/732-801-9557 – cell
tcosentino@innovativemediapr.com

NEW JERSEY WINERIES ELECT TO INTERVENE IN FEDERAL SUIT
— Retain Sills Cummis & Gross in Suit Affecting Outlets and Sales —

HAMILTON SQUARE, NJ (January 24, 2011) — In response to a federal appellate court decision and on-going litigation that could significantly affect the sale of New Jersey wines throughout the state, New Jersey’s wineries have elected to intervene in the litigation, hiring one of the most prominent law firms in the Garden State for that purpose.

The Garden State Wine Growers Association, representing most of the state’s 39 wineries, has hired Newark-based Sills, Cummis & Gross P.C. to seek to intervene in a proceeding that is about to be conducted in the U.S. District Court. The proceeding was ordered by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals following its decision in Freeman v. Corzine, which held that parts of New Jersey’s alcoholic beverage laws unconstitutionally infringe on interstate commerce by discriminating against out-of-state wineries in the retail sale of wine.

Under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, New Jersey wineries have the right to sell wine at retail in a limited number of off-premises tasting rooms and to sell directly to retailers, bypassing the wholesale level of distribution. Out-of-state wine producers must sell only through licensed wholesalers. The Court of Appeals ordered the District Court to choose between two remedies to put New Jersey and out-of-state producers on an equal footing – either directing the state to give out-of-state producers the same rights as New Jersey wineries enjoy to bypass wholesalers, or eliminating the rights now enjoyed by New Jersey producers and ordering all wineries to sell only through wholesalers.

All New Jersey wineries fall below the threshold for a small winery under federal law. Because wholesalers find it uneconomic to handle the products of small wine producers, the ability to bypass wholesale distribution is essential for this small but growing industry to find a market for its products.

Under present law, the industry has virtually doubled its size in the last five years, with winemaking becoming the fastest growing segment of the state’s agricultural economy. New Jersey now ranks seventh in national wine production and last year the state’s wineries won more than 150 international and national awards for its varietal and fruit wines.

Despite their small size, Garden State wineries have been acquiring hundreds of acres of farmland under the state’s Farmland Preservation program creating an emerging agri-tourism industry that has drawn tens of thousands of tourists to the state’s farmland areas in search of award winning wines. A legal decision taking away the present right to sell wine at retail and direct to restaurants and retail merchants would be a grievous setback to the state’s small, independent wine producers.

Given the issues at stake, the wineries said they had little choice but to intervene. They voted unanimously on Wednesday to engage the Commercial Litigation and Appellate Practice Groups

of Sills Cummis & Gross. The firm’s attorneys include Mark Olinsky, Peter Verniero and James Hirschhorn who, in addition to representing clients before trial and appellate courts, have served in various public positions.

“We are hiring Sills Cummis & Gross to help us intervene in the case- to plead our state’s interest in protecting our wine industry. We have hired the best law firm in the state to help us,” said Louis Caracciolo, Chairman of the Board of the Garden State Wine Growers Association and a vineyard owner.
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How the World Cup Academy Was Born

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 20, 2011 by innovativemediapr

When the world’s greatest soccer players converged on South Africa for the World Cup last June, a group of United States youngsters from Charlotte, North Carolina also competed on the global stage, representing the U.S. in the 2010 World Cup Soccer Academy and Tour presented by Charlotte United Futbol Club.

On Friday morning, Jan. 21 at 11 a.m. ET on the iMediaPR radio show, we’ll talk with Benjamin Robinson, the coach and creator of the World Cup Academy about the experience in South Africa and plans for expanding the World Cup Academy for the next World Cup in Brazil. Charlotte United Football Club established the World Cup Soccer Academy, which was housed at the world class facilities of Stellenbosch University in Cape Town in mid- June, and featured instruction from UEFA-licensed coaches. The U.S. team members from the U-16 Charlotte United club were joined by youth teams from across the Globe, including teams from South Africa, Lesotho, Brazil, and various other players from an international school. All of the players were in the U-16 age group.

Hope you can join us. 

Tom Cosentino

iMedia PR News

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2011 by innovativemediapr

 As a new feature, we are now going to profile client activities and new developments for iMedia Public Relations each week on our blog. We open with the addition of two new clients, 1299onthehighway.com and Dr. Patricia Fuzzi of Professional Behavioral Center of New Jersey, P.A. 1299onthehighway.com – We have officially been engaged to launch 1299onthehighway.com, a new music site and online store focused on developing and marketing emerging music artists from New Jersey and other locales.

The Biggest “Secret” in New Jersey is now out with the Launch of 1299OnTheHighway.com; New Online Music Site and Store to Provide Platform for Emerging Musical Talent in New Jersey

A mainstay for the world’s best musicians but a hidden secret for years to the general public, The City Lights Recording Studio located at 1299 Route 33 in Farmingdale is now open for business to the world with the launch of http://www.1299onthehighway.com a showcase for some of New Jersey’s great musical talent, as well as performers from all over the country. 1299onthehighway.com is founded by singer-songwriter and producer Guy Daniel, who has been operating City Lights Recording Studio, since 1990, one of the leading recording studios on the east coast. City Lights Recording Studio has been profiled in leading industry trade publications such as Mix Magazine and Pro Sound News.

It is New Jersey’s premier State of the Art Digital Recording Complex, offering the best in both digital and analog recording technology, located just one hour from Philadelphia and Atlantic City and minutes away from the Jersey Shore. Some of rock n roll’s greatest performers have recorded at the studio including Bruce Springsteen, James Brown, Bad Company, Rich Blackwell from the original E Street Band, Richie Sambora, members of the Rolling Stones, members of the Bon Jovi band, and even Brooke Shields, among countless others.

“New Jersey is the rock n roll capital of the USA and 1299onthehighway.com will allow us to show why by featuring some of the great musical talent in this state and throughout the country,” said Guy Daniel. “1299 will be more than just an online store. It will be a record label, promotional and merchandising arm and a recording studio for the 1299 artists, who will be able to perform and record on-site here at the City Lights Recording Studio.”

1299onthehighway.com will be the place for emerging New Jersey musical talent to showcase and sell their recordings, in a secure environment that protects their intellectual rights. The only way individuals can purchase or listen to the music on the site is to register as either an artist or with a fan account. A total of 99 performing slots will be open on the site and those performers will be actively promoted by 1299. Artists will move up and down the 1299 charts based on downloads and on-site plays of their songs. In addition to being the home of emerging musical talent, 1299onthehighway.com will feature classic R&B and soul music of the past, including artists such as Bonnie Pointer, the Chi-Lites , Hall of Famer Lloyd Price and Rat Pack legend Sammy Davis Jr.

Professional Behavioral Center of New Jersey, P.A. – has been assisting patients at its Manalapan location for several years and has now opened a second location at Two Jocama Blvd. in Old Bridge. Dr. Patricia Fuzzi has retained iMedia Public Relations to develop pr programs to educate the community on the introduction of two unique treatment technologies to the practice, Neurofeedback (EEG) and Neurostar TMS Therapy unit. Neurofeedback is brain exercise. The electroencephalogram (EEG) is another name for the brain wave recordings and, in this context, biofeedback refers to the process by which patients learn to change their brain waves and thereby gain greater control over brain states. Neuorstar TMS Therapy is an innovative technology for the treatment of depression. TMS has been safely administered with over 20 years of research. Used at over 200 centers around the country, the Neurostar is the only TMS device FDA-cleared for the treatment of depression. It’s a safe procedure performed in the office using a magnetic field, similar to an MRI, while patients remain awake and alert. Professional Behavioral Center of New Jersey, P.A. will be the only facility in the state offering both technologies. In the spring, Dr. Fuzzi will be launching a separate Educare Childcare Center for children adjacent to the practice’s new offices at Two Jocama Blvd. The Manalapan office remains open.

Client News

Insightful Player – Our client, Chrissy Carew, was profiled in Patriots Weekly, the official newspaper published by the New England Patriots. Carew is the founder of Insightful Player. The Insightful Player™ recognizes current and former NFL players who are persons of integrity, all who share the common goal of spreading their personal message of hope, for the sole purpose of lifting the spirits of all, particularly children. The Insightful Player™ team members are individuals that believed in themselves and relentlessly pursued their most far-reaching dreams, which resulted in a career in the National Football League. The InsightfulPlayer.com website features the inspirational stories of 30 current and former NFL players, each of whom overcame great obstacles and hardships to become not just fine athletes, but through their values and their life experiences, became extraordinary individuals that serve as an inspiration to us all. Rashied Davis of the Chicago Bears and Jerricho Cotchery of the NY Jets are two Insightful Players, recognized for overcoming gang violence in their youth.

Association of NJ Chiropractors – With the recent snowstorms, we have issued health alerts for snow shoveling to area media, using tips provided by the Association of NJ Chiropractors, the statewide association representing over 1700 chiropractors statewide. Some of the recent press pickup includes:

Bergen Record

Morristown Patch.com

Press Releases Still Matter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 7, 2011 by innovativemediapr

As I enter into my 26th year of working in the public relations industry I’ve thought of all the changes that have occurred since I started out as an Assistant Publicity Director at Yonkers Raceway in New York back in the spring of 1985. The fax machine that allowed us to send information directly to news desks; the word processors that served as computers and allowed me to file a story to at the time, was called a wire room at a newspaper; and the clunky shoe-sized hand grenades we called cell phones back in the mid-eighties, which kept us connected to the office.

Of course, nothing has changed the industry more than the advent of social media. From the birth of email to today’s Facebook and Twitter, mobile and smart phone applications, the communications industry has adapted to and utilized every new tool at its disposal. However, despite all of the evolutionary developments over the years, one tool that has remained constant is the press release.

Many will argue that press releases are archaic and serve no purpose in today’s world of 140 character tweets, but I disagree. The press release, written the way it’s always meant to be, as a vehicle to deliver the who, what, where and when of your client project or event, can be delivered across numerous platforms and provide the information needed by media and consumers alike to learn about the program you are charged with publicizing.

Assignment desk producers, feature editors and other decision-makers at news outlets still ask for a press release. They even seek you out, based on the information you provide in the release. I know this is true, because I’ve experienced it a number of times over the past few months here at iMedia Public Relations following the issuance of a press release on behalf of a client. Most recently, I received a call this week from a producer at WCBS-TV in New York, responding to a press release I had put out prior to the holidays on behalf of the Association of NJ Chiropractors. The release focused on the dangers of being injured while playing video games like the Wii.

The producer called me after reading the release on Twitter, off of a link I had posted. Thus, the old school method of creating a press release, distributing it and then repurposing it for social media placement turned into a potential news segment with a major television news affiliate.

What was essential when I started in 1985 and still is essential now is that if you craft a press release for a business, event or other project, make sure it has news value. Too often in my career, I’ve had to talk clients out of issuing a self-gratuitous type release. Make sure there is a news hook to what you are writing. If so, it will generate the effect you desire, awareness and coverage for your client. If done right, that one press release can serve multiple outlets and be tweeted, posted on a Facebook wall, picked up by bloggers and read by a news producer at a major affiliate.

The press release is like a Craftsman tool purchased at Sears. Once you use it, it will last forever.

Tom Cosentino