Archive for February, 2011

Desk Side Media Visits Still Matter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 25, 2011 by innovativemediapr

 Yesterday afternoon we accompanied one of our clients to a desk side briefing at the Newark Star Ledger with one of their business reporters.  The meeting, which took place in a conference room, lasted just over an hour and was a free-flowing discussion.  The session allowed our client to update the reporter on the status of their project, answer tough questions on and off the record, as well as clarify some misinformation on the program.  By the end of the discussion, both the reporter and client felt satisfied that they had not only developed a dialogue with each other, but that for the reporter, he had received some new insights that could eventually be incorporated into a story.  That was the underlying reason for the meeting. 

Media desk side visits are an important tool in the communications process. Despite the layoffs affecting news organizations across the country, desk side visits should still be a tactic employed by all communications professionals and companies.

In order to make them effective, communicators should establish criteria before pursuing such meetings. This should include:

–          In setting up a desk side visit, coffee or lunch appointment with a media member, have a clear goal of why you are setting up the meeting. Maybe it’s to get to know a reporter who covers an industry that involves many of your clients. Or, a way to understand what an outlet is looking for editorially over the next few months. Perhaps it’s just to get associated.  Whatever, you do, make sure it’s about fostering a relationship and not just pushing your message.  This meeting can turn into a long-term relationship that can be mutually beneficial to both parties. Make sure you start off on the right foot.

–           A desk side visit should not be a sell job. It should be a platform for giving a media outlet background on what you’re trying to achieve as a company, and a chance to answer questions that will help educate and update the reporter, editor or producer about your program or project.

–          Look for these meetings as an opportunity to help a media outlet learn more about what you and your company do.  Don’t look at these meetings as immediate news opportunities. Let the relationship you foster be a driving force for future editorial stories.

–          Showcase how you or your company can become a resource for that given media outlet.  It’s not always about you. Serving as an industry resource and expert can help you build an identity and grow your client or company’s reputation.

–          Make sure your client or spokesperson knows going in that the meeting is for informational purposes and for cultivating a relationship with the outlet.

A desk side visit can be an effective tool in the communications process. How you use the tool will determine what kind of relationship you build.

 Tom Cosentino


How Groupon Became a PR Case Study

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 11, 2011 by innovativemediapr

Some 55 years from now when they prepare to play the 100th Super Bowl and start counting down the memories of the first 100 games, commercials will play a large role in the historic review.  Right at the top of case studies of the worst Super Bowl ads will be the infamous Groupon Tibetan ad from this past Sunday.

 The ad created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky and featuring actor Timothy Hutton, looks like a simple public service ad for Tibet and human rights issues. It was intended to be a takeoff on Public Service Announcements, and was intended as a satire on the ambivalence of Americans towards tragedy. 

 “The people of Tibet are in trouble, their very culture is in jeopardy,” Hutton says.  After watching the mountains and surrounding Tibetan landscape and seeing native Tibetans, the camera closes in on one individual. Hutton then says, “But they still whip up an amazing fish curry.” It turns out the man was a waiter serving Hutton at the Himalayn restaurant in Chicago—where the actor and 200 others got $15 off a $30 meal.

The response was immediate, especially for those monitoring Twitter, and it wasn’t pretty. The ad was lambasted as being insensitive to the plight of the people of Tibet.  Many fans of the Groupon site even stated they would cancel their subscriptions. We were among those expressing outrage as @imediapr tweeted immediately after the ad hit:

Timothy Hutton you should be ashamed of yourself
Why the huge outcry? How could Groupon have missed the mark so badly, especially when it was supposed to highlight the company’s Save the Money charitable donation-matching campaign? Tibet was actually one of the four charities the Fund assists.

However, spending $3 million for a Super Bowl ad that was a parody of a PSA and never conveyed the charitable intent of Groupon was a terrible disconnect.  Most likely it was a case of a company trying to cram too much information into one commercial.

Whet Moser outlined the confusion associated with the ad in his The 312 Blog on

Back in October, Groupon received $3.5 million from Illinois—which, if you haven’t heard, is in dire financial straits—shortly before turning down a $6 billion buyout offer from Google. Last night the company spent about as much as it got from the state on a Super Bowl ad that’s currently living in infamy.

The ad doesn’t say anything about Groupon’s charitable outreach, which probably explains a lot of the wildly negative reaction. To see that their heart might be in the right place, you have to go to their website:

Which puts another step between the viewer and the punch line. Or you could have gone to the bottom of the page, located their blog, and found their lengthy explanation of the creative process behind the ads. There’s a lot of “joke” crammed into 30 seconds; that they felt the need to so carefully explain it makes me think they didn’t think through the impact of the ad.

And there’s still the joke itself. In his blog post on the ads, co-founder Andrew Mason demonstrates that the company is well aware of the tension inherent in it:

Since we grew out of a collective action and philanthropy site ( and ended up selling coupons, we loved the idea of poking fun at ourselves by talking about discounts as a noble cause.

While Groupon has become an internet phenomenon, many watching the Super Bowl were probably unfamiliar with what Groupon does. For them, they were looking at an actor offering a public service awareness talk on Tibet.  Only at the end did they realize it was a commercial for a coupon site.  Nowhere was a connection to Groupon’s charitable cause for the Tibetans made.  Instead, many took the ad as nothing more than a tasteless play at attention-getting. 

Thus the  real message was lost. Not a smart way to spend $3 million. Then again, look at the attention Groupon garnered from the spot.  All the more reason why 50 years from now, this simple PSA parody will be part of a case study.

Tom Cosentino

One Woman’s Crusade to Spread Positive Stories

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 1, 2011 by innovativemediapr

Insightful Player™ Asks Parents to Take Time Out Sunday to Read A Positive Story to Kids; All Part of One Woman’s Crusade to Spread Positive Stories about Athletes to Youth

This Sunday is arguably the biggest sports day of the year in the United States. Over 100 million people will watch the big game in households across the country. As families gather and host parties, tune into the game, await the halftime show and keep a scorecard for the best and worst of the popular big game commercials, Insightful Player™ asks parents to take a few minutes out of the day to educate their children that these players should be appreciated not only for their athletic prowess but more importantly, for the good deeds they do in the community and the inspirational way many overcame obstacles in life to achieve success in the NFL.

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 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.

Insightful Player is encouraging everyone this weekend to take a few minutes to access the site and read at least one of these inspiring stories. Shouldn’t we be educating our youth on some of the positive, community-oriented and charitable things that players do on a regular basis?

That is a question that has been the driving force for Chrissy Carew, a personal and business coach based in Nashua, NH who has made it her life’s mission to accomplish this. Insightful Player is a client of iMedia Public Relations. In April 2010, she founded Insightful Player™ with a vision of providing an answer to a crucial worldwide calling for messages of hope that provoke positive action.

Carew believes that the human race is at a crossroads of transformation and obliteration. The world is depressed, especially our kids. We are in desperate need of role models. Young people today look up to professional athletes for their power, grace and ability on the field or the court. Sometimes sports figures are also heralded by young people for their high-flying lifestyles, material assets and high-profile friends. In some cases, such as the recent NFC Championship game, athletes themselves publicly bash fellow players and degrade them to the media, which is then picked up by our youth. In the case of this year’s Super Bowl, the starting quarterback for one of the teams had his own off-the-field incident to deal with in the past.

What athletes should not be admired for is social behavior that is unacceptable. Unfortunately the media has been inundated lately with stories of such transgressions.

Carew believes that from the time we are very young children, everyone who holds influence over our lives, for better or worse, contributes to the core of who we are – that unique spirit within each of us made up of our ideas, perceptions, motivation and sense of faith.

This is why she feels it is imperative for the sports industry, whether it is coaches, school administrators, scouts, agents, sports marketers, sponsors and most importantly, professional athletes, to recognize the impact they have on the impressionable youth in this country.

Not all of us have positive role models in our family. Many of the children today going into athletics come from broken homes. The impressions made during this time can have positive and negative effects on that child’s future. Our children require more positive reinforcement.

Too often, all kids hear about and have drilled into them are the negative things associated with their athletic heroes. We must all be cognizant of the message we’re delivering to youth. She believes the entire sports industry has to be held accountable. Just think of some of the ways recently our youth have learned about their favorite athletes:

o A quarterback exits a championship game with a severe knee injury and then has his character questioned by media and fellow players who post disparaging remarks on Twitter.
o When an athlete is arrested for DOI and kids see that his punishment is just to sit out a quarter of the team’s next game, what is that telling them about responsibility?
o A hero of the Super Bowl goes into a night club and is arrested for carrying a gun. Another is accused of abusing a young woman not his wife. What are we doing to educate young athletes early on in their careers about putting themselves in such situations?
o Major brands target the young demographic audience with edgy campaigns. Then we wonder why there is a disconnection regarding values.

By drawing out these very important inspirational stories, Carew’s goal is to inspire today’s youth to follow this example: not an example of expensive possessions and celebrity lifestyle, but an example of embodying your values and deepest moral beliefs in everything you do as you strive to reach your own successes.

Please encourage your family members, friends and colleagues to take a few minutes out this weekend to get inspired and read one of the Insightful Player stories. It will be a refreshing change from what is being written today about off-the-field exploits of athletes.