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Jessie’s Food Tour of Houston

Filed Under (Houston, integratePR, IPR Staff Blog, opinion) by integratePR on 09-04-2013

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April marks my two-year anniversary at IntegratePR, and also living here in Houston. I’ve discovered many amazing things about the Bayou city since moving here from Austin: the great museums and parks, a fun nightlife, lots of great live music, and most importantly: the food. Coming from the Capitol City where I thought the variety of local restaurants couldn’t get any better (I mean, who doesn’t love a Trudy’s Mexican martini or a greasy Don Juan?) I was shocked to find out just how much Houston has to offer a foodie like me. As I’ve eaten my way around town, I’ve put together a few of my very favorite stops that you might want to add to your list: 

Uchi: Uchi Houston hasn’t been open that long, but there’s always a crowd at this amazing sushi and Japanese food eatery. Duck in a jar and champagne cocktails with blueberries. Need I say more? 

Coppa: This place has the perfect atmosphere for a date night or a fun girls’ night out. Amazing pizzas, pastas, salads, and wine selection make this Washington spot one of my very favorite places to dine. Try the crispy prosciutto pizza!

Underbelly: Delicious farm-to-table selections and a vast assortment of local beers is why Underbelly is one of my favorites. Plus, chef Chris Shepherd might just come sit down at your table to chat with you about what you ordered. Try the Wagyu tenderloin or the pork belly if you’re in the mood to beef up your dinner.

Goode Company: Yes, Goode Company is one of our beloved clients, but I’ve enjoyed dining at this local BBQ, Seafood, and Taqueria restaurant group for years. Everyone knows about their famous pecan pie, but try the burgers at the Taqueria or the fried chicken at The Armadillo Palace.

Baby Barnaby’s: You can find me at this hole-in-the-wall Montrose favorite almost every morning on the weekends enjoying a cup of coffee and a giant waffle with my friends or fiancé. Come say hi if you spot me!

Houston has so much to offer, so why not get out and try something new this week? Email me if you’d like my full list of favorites and the best places to try! Happy eating! 



Questioning Journalist Integrity In Newtown

Filed Under (blogs, opinion) by integratePR on 18-12-2012

The tragic shooting that took place last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. has left the entire nation in shock and heartbroken beyond belief.  We are all grieving the loss of the twenty beautiful children and six dedicated educators who lost their lives in what is being called the second deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Exactly what took place at the school is still unclear, and while the entirety of the story is still unfolding, one thing is certain: December 14th was a day of devastating tragedy in our nation.

Because of the public’s demand to understand what happened and why, news outlets are taking drastic measures to ensure they report breaking news first. In a time of immeasurable sorrow, reporters are still fighting for ratings, and doing things that do not always uphold their responsibility as journalists.  

Some television news journalists that conducted live interviews of the students who survived the shooting have been under fire since Friday. On the day of the incident, in fact, within hours of it, young boys and girls were being interviewed outside their school about what they heard, how they felt and what their classmates were doing. Journalists walk a very thin line between what’s ethical and what’s not, and in many people’s opinions, they may have crossed it altogether.

The Society of Professional Journalism has a Code of Ethics on its website. Part of the code states that journalists should minimize harm and “show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.”

Do you all think journalists desensitized the situation and went too far by interviewing the young students of Sandy Hook Elementary School immediately following the shooting? Did they violate the Society of Professional Journalism’s Code of Ethics? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and community affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. If you would like to help Sandy Hook and Newtown, Conn., you can sign the online national sympathy card on causes.com, make a donation to the United Way’s Sandy Hook School Support Fund, or donate to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund, which is being administered by the school’s PTA. 

What’s in a meme?

Filed Under (marketing, online presence, opinion) by integratePR on 06-09-2012

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To once again quote Shakespeare, that which we laugh at in any other form would be as funny. While the topic of memes is discussed frequently in our office, some of us struggle with the definition. You may have seen some of our favorite funny images on our Facebook and Twitter but in reality, a meme is more than just a picture with text. A good colloquial definition that we have found is “an idea, behavior, style or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.” While Richard Dawkins first coined the word “meme” in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, we believe that our above definition lends itself to many ideas and behaviors, particularly in the field of marketing. One of the earliest memes that comes to mind is the “Uncle Sam – I want you” which first made its appearance in J. M. Flagg’s 1917 poster. Nowadays, as communicators have harnessed the Internet as a force to spread their messages, memes have followed suit. Old memes have gotten an update (as seen below) and technology has allowed for more memes to be generated at a rapid pace.

As professionals now have a larger audience to communicate with, their messages can be broadcast to outside cultures, broadening an organization’s sphere of influence. When taking the example of the above political meme, we would like to highlight two very interesting memes that we have come across regarding the upcoming presidential election.

The meme above is a message that has been circulating since December of 2011 when then hopeful presidential candidate Mitt Romney used the phrase “Keep America America” during several public appearances. Both the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post incorrectly reported this to be Romney’s campaign slogan, and established that this was eerily similar to the slogan once used by the Ku Klux Klan, “Keep America American.” The Republican National candidate’s official campaign slogan, which was announced in April 2011, is “Believe in America.” While both outlets provided a retraction shortly afterwards, the meme has once again risen in popularity following the Republican National Convention.

The second meme that we have seen while browsing the interwebz is an image proclaiming the message that “life jackets should be banned.” The meme was conceived following the recent statements made by Republican Senator Todd Akin regarding abortion. An online petition is currently being circulated and the image is being shared through popular community forums such as Reddit, Pinterest and Cafemom.  Although the image has spurred many conversations in the blogosphere, this is not an official message from the Democratic National Party.

As previously stated, a meme is not necessarily a picture; it can be an idea or message. Both of these examples portray the fact that memes can allow individuals to be champions for an organization’s cause. While memes can be used to generate interest, this is a double-edged sword: an independent representative may convolute your message, leading to confusion within your audience as to which ideals you, or your brand, truly stand for.

With the continual shift of PR and marketing to incorporate more online conversations, utilizing a meme as a tool could help communicators who are attempting to push out a message. The key part of the definition the idea that it spreads quickly throughout a culture, keeping the messaging interesting is important to ensure that you grab the attention of the public. The ability to create something intriguing without losing the message is the mark of a good communicator.

Personal Opinions in a Public Business– Chick-fil-A Case Study

Filed Under (case study, crisis communications, opinion) by integratePR on 03-08-2012

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Chick-fil-A has been in the middle of a media whirlwind over the past two weeks. While everyone has their own opinions about the matter, this blog post is inherently about Public Relations and although everyone has something to say, we would like to talk about the public relations aspect of this story. In case you were confused about what exactly public relations entails, the Public Relations Society of America defines it as “… a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” As public relations professionals, we are trained to be able to model our messaging to fit in with a company’s goals and values.

Again, this blog is not made to post personal opinions or editorials but merely comment on the PR work that is being done. So while we cannot say that we support or do not support the message, we are interested in the fact that Dan Cathy stood by his statements.

Although we work as an agent for our clients, part of our job as communication professionals is providing counsel to them and letting them know when they should separate their personal opinions from the way that they do business. So we position this question to our blog audience: should you use personal opinions in the public like this to segregate your audience? Leave answers in the comments below or start a discussion with us on our Facebook or Twitter!


Going Viral to Change China’s One Child Policy

Filed Under (community, opinion, social change) by integratePR on 12-07-2012

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China’s centralized authoritarian regimes may have gone one step too far in attempting to get one woman, Jianmei Feng, a resident of the province of Shaanxi, to adhere to their “one child policy”. Local officials enforced the policy by forcing Jianmei to have an abortion. Unfortunately for China, the photos of the aborted fetus were captured by Feng’s family and posted to the Internet where they were subsequently spread and turned viral.

While the horrendous vision of what happened to Jianmei Feng is something that cannot be undone, this is an example of social media being used to create real world change. After an unheard of apology and an investigation into the Shaanxi province officials where the incident occurred, the Chinese government fired several of the officials involved. Feng’s husband attempted to pursue legal appeals but was awarded a package of $11,000 in compensation in order to drop the charges.

The “one child policy” was implemented in 1978 in an effort to curb population growth, and since then, millions of women have reportedly been forced to abort their children.

While each government in the world maintains their own laws and regulations, it is always interesting to see how a viral image can affect practices that many condemn as inhumane.

Freedom to speak in Super Smutty Sign Language

Filed Under (community, opinion) by integratePR on 06-07-2012

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Over 3,600 signatures have signed an online petition to ban the creation of Kristin Henson’s new book, “Super Smutty Sign Language.” The book features American Sign Language signs of phrases that range from mildly to wildly offensive, from “dirty” signs to expletives. The ASL community believes that the book is a poor portrayal of a small niche community, and additionally exploits the language for profit, perpetuates racism and sexism with its colorful comments and is overall disrespectful.

The author on the other hand, believes that the book piques interest in deaf culture. As communicators, being able to connect with even the most marginalized groups of people is important, but being able to send an appropriate message goes hand in hand. While not wishing to trample over the author’s civil liberties, it would be great if her book were more sensitive to the needs of the community. What will happen to this cause and petition? Stay tuned to our blog to find out – and let us know what you think! Do you think Super Smutty Sign Language should be published?

Social media makes social issues matter

Filed Under (facebook, opinion, Social Media) by integratePR on 28-06-2012

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In today’s world of the 8-second window of spreading your message, when a social issue enters into the realm of consciousness, do people care to share their opinions more openly because of social media? Take today’s Obamacare health reform as an example. As the story broke, you may have noticed an above average amount of comments about the decision across social media platforms.

Both positive:

and negative:

As social media professionals we rely on the fact that ordinary citizens can be brand ambassadors, sharing our content with their own circles through “citizen journalism”. People have opinions and are willing to share them.

However, as seen above, the key for those disseminating a brand message is to make sure that you provide all of the facts to your audience. While it is important to get your message out, it is even more important to be able to translate these feelings and thoughts into real, tangible actions. While social media continues to assist people in sharing their opinions, it is important for those sharing information to do their due diligence and take responsibility for each and every post.


Feeding a Frenzy : Doritos and Denny’s

Filed Under (corporate social responsibility, marketing, opinion, Public Relations) by integratePR on 05-06-2012

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While you may not describe the new Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos or the Danny’s Grand Slam as the pinnacle of American culinary offerings, they are at the pinnacle of current American restaurant marketing. What do these two offerings have in common besides a dangerously high calorie count? Both have applied mass marketing techniques that have managed to catch the attention of a nationwide audience that lives in a 3 minute messaging world.

Doritos Locos Tacos have produced the most successful product launch in Taco Bell’s 50-year history, selling 100 million tacos in just 10 weeks while it took rival fast food chain McDonald’s 18 years to sell 100 million burgers. While the numbers may be attributed to the growing number of actual fast food consumers, IntegratePR is willing to bet that their savvy marketing strategies have also aided in propelling the taco to the top. Thousands of tweets have been generated from the #doritoslocostacos hashtag and more popular tweets have been featured in their commercials including one claiming that eating a taco is “like kissing a unicorn on a pot of gold.” You can’t buy this type of marketing, which is solid gold to any type of business.

Denny’s has been serving up Grand Slams for over 50 years and is a breakfast icon in the United States. They have recently begun promoting their mobile app which will allow you to check-in at each of their restaurant locations. They are launching an entire marketing campaign based on the premise of checking in to Denny’s location all around the country. While we’re not sure that creating another check-in based application is the way to go instead of utilizing the already popular FourSquare or SCVNGR, it has gained a lot of initial attention and we’ll be interested to see how it all plays out.

While these campaigns are noteworthy for their popularity as well as social media usage, the question of corporate social responsibility does come to mind. As you may have seen us post on our Facebook page recently, Mayor Bloomberg of New York City has recently proposed a ban on the sale of any sugary beverage over 16 ounces in any of the city’s restaurants, delis, movie theaters or street carts. While some may feel that the government may not have the right to intervene in issues of public consumption, should a marketing, advertising or PR company back down just because a product is deemed unhealthy? Should 100 million Doritos Locos Taco have been sold to a nation of rapidly increasing waistlines? Is promoting the idea of going to not only one Denny’s restaurant but to 50, wise?

Any promotion comes down to the product. In our opinion, promotional efforts can reinforce the idea of enjoying any product, but the messaging must reverberate with the fact that these items should be enjoyed in moderation. Although marketers, advertisers and PR professionals would like to believe that the public understands moderation, we believe it is always important to act responsibly across campaigns.

What do you think? Post your thoughts and comments below, on our Facebook or Twitter!

We Want Your Two Cents about the Alamo Drafthouse

Filed Under (Houston, integratePR, opinion) by integratePR on 01-06-2012

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Are you really excited for the new Alamo Drafthouse opening in Houston? Here’s a little tidbit from one of our friends who works at Sundance Cinemas downtown:

“Movie theaters within five miles of each other can not show the same films. So, if River Oaks theater shows a certain picture, Sundance can’t, and vice versa. Alamo Midtown is within 5 miles of Sundance, River Oaks Theatre, and Edwards Cinemas, which ultimately means that for indie fare, Alamo, Sundance and River Oaks will all be fighting over films. This is honestly not a bad thing – this city needs more indie features coming through for longer. However, Alamo Drafthouse has their work cut out for them since they will be fighting against both Sundance and Edwards for films.”

Will the healthy competition be a good thing for Houston? Do you think we will get a wider selection of movies faster, or will this prove to be a poor move for Alamo Drafthouse? Post your comments below!

Becoming the Leader of the Pack

Filed Under (company culture, opinion, twitter) by integratePR on 05-04-2012

After seeing Keri Cook tweet the article “Why Great Leaders Are in Short Supply” by James S. Rosebush, we decided to take a deeper look into this so-called issue. To

summarize the article, it speculated that there were three problems with leaders in today’s society: the first was that the general public has too much access to information. With traditional media outlets like radio, TV, and print publications, being coupled with the power of the Internet, consumers are inundated with information all day, every day. The second issue was that leaders can only be seen as an extension of the institution that they represent, and the institution itself has often become disreputable. And finally, Rosebush states that many leaders do not have a strong foundation of upstanding moral principals which would allow them to navigate a business successfully. The article concluded with the fact that in this current age, good leaders have never been more valuable to businesses, both big and small.

After our discussion with @cook_keri, we were able to come to a clear and formidable opinion: while the “problems” discussed in the article do affect today’s leaders, we aren’t sure that we necessarily see them as problems. People having access to information about what you do and how you do it is not a problem if you are making sound and responsible decisions. We believe that the reputation of an organization more so depends on the people that run it, rather than just the individual leader.  Although these issues could definitely be considered “problems,” they sound more like challenges to us, and can ultimately help leaders evolve into the kind of leaders that are truly needed in this ever-changing landscape.