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April Fool’s Etiquette: Who Did it Right?

Filed Under (blogs, community, integratePR, marketing, Public Relations, Social Media) by integratePR on 03-04-2014

April 1st is always a day filled with laughter, and caution, because of the inevitable pranks that are bound to be played on innocent, or not so innocent, parties.  This year’s April Fools’ Day was no exception.  Brands and businesses around the globe joined in on the jokes.

The phrase “If it’s on the Internet, it must be true” definitely isn’t the case on April Fools.  The Integrate Public Relations team thoroughly enjoyed reading about the different, light-hearted jokes companies played on their customers.  Buzzfeed’s Definitive Guide to Every April Fools’ Day Prank even made its way around the office email chain, and we definitely had some favorites.

With selfies on the rise, Metro News in England played a huge practical joke on selfie lovers. An article titled  “Appetite for Selfie-Destruction” went live on Metro’s website at 6 a.m. on April 1st.  The article claimed that selfies would soon be banned in Britain, which left selfie fanatics across England in an uproar.

As to be expected, Google was on top of the pranking game.  Google Maps unveiled a Pokemon Challenge where users would need to find all hidden Pokemon characters in various locations on Google Maps in order to complete the challenge successfully.  Additionally, Google gave a nod to photobombs when Google+ added the Auto Awesome Photobombs feature for its users to take advantage of.  Always wanted David Hasselhoff to photobomb your picture?  Now he can.

Large, global corporations weren’t the only ones participating in the pranks.  Our client, Goode Company, couldn’t resist playing a good April Fools’ joke on its beloved customers.  Goode made its social media followers’ hearts drop when it announced that, due to the rising price of pecans, it would temporarily discontinue the renowned Brazos Bottom Pecan Pie.

A PR professional’s job is to know and understand a client’s audience and how they will react to everything and anything the client receives attention for or the campaigns we execute on their behalf as their public relations team.  This holds true when it comes to April Fools’ jokes, as well. 

Not all companies’ audiences will be receptive to pranks, so it’s imperative to understand who they are talking to and to fully consider what kind of reaction the prank may evoke. If a company should decide to do a prank, it is part of the responsibility of the public relations team to make sure the prank is age-appropriate, family-friendly and remains in line with the voice of the brand.  Pulling a practical joke can be unpredictable.  Discussing how this joke could possibly backfire and how to handle it if it does will be a top priority for the PR team. 

If an April Fools joke does go haywire, it can be tricky to know how to respond. Do you, as a PR pro, ruin the joke for the rest of the audience, or do you tackle the backlash on an individual basis? If a customer was to misunderstand the prank, it is important to handle that incidence delicately. Through private or direct message, explain to that user that the joke was all in good fun in honor of April Fools Day, and that the joke will soon be revealed and things returned to normal.

From a PR standpoint, a perfectly executed prank engages the audience, generates genuine curiosity and buzz, and keeps people laughing. Generally speaking, they are also harmless and can be identified as a joke after a good laugh and further investigation.

All in all, we’d say that this year’s April Fools’ Day jokes went smoothly for most brands and companies.  For more thoughts and opinions from our PR experts follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  

And the Oscar Goes To…

Filed Under (blogs, Events, integratePR, marketing, Public Relations) by integratePR on 06-03-2014

We’re still laughing from the Oscars this past Sunday. The Integrate Public Relations team agrees that this year’s Oscars was one of the best. Ellen DeGeneres, emcee for the awards show, brought a light-hearted humor to the ceremony. She didn’t try too hard to be something she’s not. She did her thing and the laughs came naturally.

From a public relations stand point, the 2014 Oscars was also a huge success.  The ratings were phenomenal, with this year’s broadcast deemed the most-watched telecast in 10 years.  Fox News also states that ratings are up 7 percent over last year’s televised award show.

This year’s Oscars also did some good and raised money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  Remember that infamous Oscar selfie, with stars like Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Spacey and more Hollywood royalty?  You know, the one that crashed Twitter.  Well, that selfie was retweeted more than 3 million times, and now Samsung has matched that amount to donate $3 million to St. Jude.

Another big stunt at this year’s Oscars was when the pizza delivery from Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizza arrived. Ellen brought him out into the audience to share the slices, and superstars like Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and Brad Pitt were seen enjoying the obviously delicious pizza and chatting with the delivery guy.  This is an example of great product placement, especially because this delivery guy had no idea what he was about to step into.  And now, even after the Oscars are over, the small, local business is still reaping benefits and gaining coverage.

As PR professionals, our ultimate goal is to garner coverage for our clients and spread the word about their work.  From news and radio stations mentioning our clients like The Houston Wave and Goode Company BBQ, we’re always thinking of new and innovative ways to get client names out there. IPR works with our clients to not only raise awareness for the client’s business, but also to help clients get involved in the community.  From the work that Three Brothers Bakery does with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to the iPads our newest client, West Point Lincoln, donated to a class at Spring Oaks Middle School, we’re proud to help our clients help others throughout the Houston-metro area.

Stay up to date with IPR company happenings and client happenings by following us on Facebook and Instagram.        

WestJet Brings Holiday Joy

Filed Under (blogs, company culture, integratePR, marketing, News, Uncategorized, youtube) by integratePR on 12-12-2013

Over the last few days, there is one video our office has been watching, sharing and watching again. WestJet’s Christmas Miracle video is a treat that fills us with the holiday spirit from head to toe. We don’t want to spoil it for you, so you’ll have to watch it yourself (which, if you have been on the internet at all the last few days, you probably already have). 

Before you saw this video, did you have any idea who WestJet was? We didn’t, but its Christmas Miracle stunt has bumped it up to our favorite Canadian airline. So how did this campaign turn an airline into an over-night sensation?

For starters, with unpredictable weather and cranky passengers, we tend to hear only about terrible experiences, rude people, lost luggage and endless flight delays. But here we have a wonderful story about how an airline wanted to give its passengers a holiday to remember.

Secondly, there is an element of surprise for the passengers. We know what’s going on and can’t wait to see the real, emotional reactions of every person on that flight, especially the children as they realize that Santa was able to find them, even at a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet.

From a more strategic standpoint, SocialMediaToday points out that WestJet could have done something much smaller for far more passengers, like given out cards and candy canes, and people would have appreciated it. Instead, it chose an out-of-the box, surprising campaign that reached a smaller audience, but on a bigger scale, and required way more effort than candy canes. The reach is achieved through the video, which, given that the video has been viewed 13 million times, has probably resulted in a just few loyal customers for the airline.

An incredibly original and well-executed campaign, WestJet not only touched the lives of its passengers, but also spread the love to millions of others. The Grinch’s heart even grew a few sizes.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the WestJet Christmas Miracle video. How have you seen the holiday sprit come alive? Share your comments and stories with us on Twitter and Facebook

 

 

Election Coverage pt. 4 – The Pizza Party

Filed Under (Guerilla Marketing, marketing, Public Relations) by integratePR on 11-10-2012

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Pizza Hut is offering free pizza for life to anyone who is able to ask President Obama or Mitt Romney if they prefer sausage or pepperoni pizza. People will have the opportunity to ask the question during the town-hall style debate on October 16th. Pizza for life means a $520 gift card every year for up to 30 years; full information about the promotion is available via their official press release

As far as Pizza Hut’s public relations is concerned, this promotion is already getting editorial coverage in major news outlets. While the overall tone of the campaign is lighthearted, given that the audacious question would most likely make a mockery of the debate, many who will be watching will be on the edge of their seats waiting to see if anyone asks the questions at hand. A good campaign spreads an idea and Pizza Hut has certainly made people aware of their brand through this unique promotion.

While we admire the creativity of this stunt, we do still want to think about the ramifications of using this method to get a message out. Although this is an effective way of promoting their business, people may begin to perceive Pizza Hut as a brand that does not take the debates or the election seriously. If they are in fact, able to convince someone to ask this question on live television, it is quite possible that many people will be upset that this has taken up precious debate time.

 Do you think that this marketing ploy was a good or a bad idea? Will your answer depend on if someone is able to successfully ask the question during the debate? Send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter

 

Non Traditional Brand Interaction – Guerilla Marketing

Filed Under (Guerilla Marketing, marketing) by integratePR on 28-09-2012

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As a companion to yesterday’s blog post about non-traditional brand interaction, we wanted to follow up with another story of two brands coming together. However, this case is different because it was actually one big prank. A costumed man walked into a McDonald’s restaurant in Rome, Georgia, dressed as the Burger King “King”. The man in question ended up handing out free hamburgers on the premise of fundraising before he left the restaurant.

 

The stunt was actually produced by a local comedy troupe called “Woodcreek Faction,” and not Burger King – who officially retired the King mascot in August 2011. However as previously discussed, it would have been great for either brand to mention the stunt, if not in a formal press release, than on their respective social media channels. It’s probable that these corporations are too busy to answer every mention of their restaurant. However, responding to a stunt like this shows off a broader spectrum of the brand’s personality – their ability to take a joke. Additionally, it would show that they are completely self-aware, even if they mentioned even small instances that were getting attention online. While this wouldn’t necessarily be labeled a fail on the part of either company, there was potential for a larger conversation to be had surrounding the stunt.

If you were the social media manager at Burger King or McDonald’s what would you say? Tweet or Facebook us your answer!

Food [Truck] Fight!

Filed Under (community, Houston, marketing) by integratePR on 27-09-2012

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Although invisible to the naked eye, there’s a food war going on in the streets of Houston. Food trucks are not allowed in downtown Houston because the city regulations, which state that, propane-operated trucks cannot be parked on the street.  However, when you take to the web, it is easy to see the #SLGT foodie scene is in an uproar. The dispute lies in the industry changes that food truck vendors would like to see, which include:

  • Eliminating the rule stipulating that trucks must be a 60-foot distance away from each other
  • Having the ability to park next to existing seating
  • Being able to provide their own seating, limited to 3 tables and 6 chairs
  • Allowing up to 40lbs of propane on private property

The food trucks of Houston have banded together to form the Mobile Food Unit Houston who define themselves as: “A collective of micro-entrepreneurs looking to further increase our city’s unique and affordable food options and business successes.”

If you would like to support these proposed changes to make it easier for food trucks to operate in the downtown area, you can do so here by signing the petition.

What’s your take on the food truck fight? Do you think that there is true competition between food trucks and the restaurant industry? Let us know on our Twitter or Facebook.

Non-Traditional Brand Interaction – Twitter

Filed Under (marketing, twitter) by integratePR on 27-09-2012

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Yesterday on Twitter, one of our favorite followers, @zacharywright showed us a hilarious interaction between two brands on Twitter. In the same vein as the OldSpice vs. Taco Bell tweets that gained a significant amount of attention, @AMCTheatres and @Oreo were able to take playful jabs at one another.

While these tweets may seem playful, there is a great brand lesson to learn here. In the same way that monitoring Google alerts is important, monitoring Twitter and tweets about your brand is vital to showing your brand’s character and making sure it is portrayed in the most positive of light. The ability to show company culture and personality is the name of the game on social media. While pundits believe it to be invasive, as marketers we know that it is important to capitalize on these opportunities. AMC Theaters and Oreo might not be involved in a traditional marketing alliance, but their ability to communicate with each other allows them both to be seen as companies that do not need a monetary incentive to play nice. Who knows, this interaction could even lead to an eventual partnership further down the road.

What is your favorite example of non-traditional brand interaction? Let us know on our Twitter or Facebook.

 

Niles Paul is a CapriSun Juicehead

Filed Under (customer service, google, marketing) by integratePR on 21-09-2012

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Professional athletes are known for their speed and athleticism. However, as with many entertainment industries, widespread media coverage has allowed fans to get a more intimate view of their favorite players.  Niles Paul is a tight end for the Washington Redskins, who mentioned during this year’s training camp that he loved Capri Sun juice, but never wanted to bring his favorite flavor to the locker room, out of fear that his teammates would drink them all.

CapriSun responded by sending Paul a case of his favorite flavor, with all of the straws removed, and a foolproof method for keeping his juice safe: In place of the individual yellow plastic straws, they sent the unique silver version above. When Paul received the box full of his beloved of Capri Sun, one of his teammates actually did attempt to swipe a pouch, but was unable to enjoy the drink because of the lack of the signature straw!

A good marketer is always on the lookout for opportunities to keep their brand relevant. At IntegratePR, we recommend monitoring your brand through Google Alerts. By keeping constant vigilance where your brand and how it is perceived by consumers and the media, you are more likely to find opportunities similar to this Capri Sun example. Additionally, you can prevent potential poor product placement by becoming aware of a situation at the very moment it occurs. Whether you end up finding the perfect place to insert your brand over another or avert a potentially harmful situation, monitoring always helps!

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.

Olympics pt. 3 – Don’t Show Up Expecting a Marketing Showdown

Filed Under (Guerilla Marketing, marketing) by integratePR on 25-07-2012

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One of my favorite guerilla marketing stunts happened at Austin City Limits in 2008. With imported lager Heineken as the festival’s alcohol sponsor, local favorite and domestic beer Shiner Bock was unable to sell their product. The innovative McGarrah Jessee firm decided to hand out thousands of koozies with their logo, transforming the brews without breaking violating the terms of sponsorship.

The Olympic opening ceremonies will air in less than two days and one of the hotly debated topics in our industry are the terms of sponsorships. The only fried potato products – excluding the ubiquitous British national dish of fish and chips – allowed to be sold at the 800 food retailers at the 40 Olympic venues across the nation are from the golden arches themselves: mega-sponsor McDonald’s has a firm stronghold on all chips or French fries served at the event. If you’re looking for a cold Carlsberg or Mullholland, you will have to look elsewhere during the two week Olympic series, as Heineken (they’re everywhere!) is the only beer allowed to be sold in the Olympic perimeter.

However, the question comes into play if any of these competing brands will be attempting a Shiner-esque guerilla marketing tactic for the games. Unfortunately, their ideas have already been curtailed as the chairman of the International Olympic Committee and Olympics minister have agreed that large groups coming in together wearing clearly visible branding and marketing are forbidden. While individual shirts would not be banned (for example, the lone Pepsi shirt above would not trigger ejection due to Coca-Cola’s sponsorship) the committee has presumably learned from examples such as the 2010 World cup when 40 women attempted to promote Bavaria beer clad in orange shirts.

Is it fair to ban these creative tactics or is a pre-emptive ban necessary to protect sponsors who have paid good money to be placed at the front lines of spectator events? Make sure to share your opinions below, on our Facebook or Twitter.