From the Heart…

August 7th, 2013

Where does good PR start?  It begins in the heart.

A pair of recent stories drives this point home: the Riley Cooper racism scandal and the Lance Corporal Kerr “mission.”

These two situations could not be more different, yet they have a critical common thread.  Both sets of actions occurred without thought of public perception or positioning.  They were acts that reflect the genuine spirit of the two men’s hearts.

For those who missed the video, NFL player Riley Cooper was caught on tape making a hateful, racial comment during a Kenny Chesney concert.  Not only did he damage his reputation, his words could have a negative impact on both the Eagles team and the country music star.  No one would appreciate the association with such ingorance.

On the flipside, U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Myles Kerr was participating in a Michigan 5K footrace.  He became the de facto running mate of a 9 year old boy who became separated from his running group.  Kerr stuck with the boy, encouraged him to finish and helped reunite the child with his party.

Photo Credit: Seal of Honor Facebook

Photo Credit: Seal of Honor Facebook

The cost to the Marine?  He finished dead last in his age category.  For the über competitive soldier, that might seem a tough pill to swallow.  But in reality, the young man stayed true to his oath by serving his country in an unusual way.

Both men made choices, one good and the other bad.  In the heat of the moment, their character was obvious.

No amount of PR can ever replace the facts for both stories.  Spin control always comes in second place to authenticity.

The lesson learned is that the best PR campaign reflects genuinely held values.  Being sincere is always the best formula for success.

When PR Turns Ugly: Three Ways to Prevent Losing Fans

July 31st, 2013

marketing fail

Last week, a car rental company based out of Germany called Sixt posted a picture on its Facebook page that featured two seemingly naked models covered by a sign that stated, “For 1,000,000 Likes we’ll drive topless through Hamburg this Sunday!” Users were quick to point out that the tongue-in-cheek joke referred to the topless car, not the women.

Although the picture received over 10,000 “Likes,” the damage was viewable in the comment section. Many commenters were offended by the sexual nature of the post, despite the fact that it was clearly a joke. From posts that read, “FAIL!” to “hiding behind marketing,” the post was received poorly, overall.

Providing an element of humanity to a brand or company can be helpful, but not when it is at the expense of losing fans. So that brings up the question: how does one strike a balance between staunch professionalism that lacks a human element and wacky unprofessional marketing “stunts” that alienate people?

The solution can be summed up in a short, three item list:

  • Matter-of-fact tone is always best – Remember that a company is made up of people and that the best tone to take is the tone people normally speak in: professional, but not robotic.
  • The more eyes the better – If only one set of eyes has looked at something, chances are, there’s something wrong with it. Even at the highest levels of management, no one is impervious to making a mistake.
  • Wait a day – A common rule when replying to volatile emails is even more applicable when it comes to a potentially controversial social media post or a news release that takes an obtuse stand on an issue. Sleep on it and decide if the stroke of brilliance is worth it in the long run.

Inspiring Office Creativity… Why it Matters

June 13th, 2013

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It might not be the first thing considered when a company, especially a small, budget minded one, chooses their office space and stakes their new home, but design matters.
You wouldn’t want to come home to a fluorescently lit, grey walled chamber, would you? Seemingly an obvious answer, many small business leaders forget or overlook the simplest and most important things.
A recent study by furniture-maker Turnstone shows us how the smartest and most collaborative organizations use design to foster more creativity and provide an environment that promotes team work.
Let’s take a look at some easy things you can do to your office to foster creativity:
1. Let employees deck out their desk and personal area. Allowing your employees to customize their work area with pictures, art, lamps, books, models, etc. costs nothing while providing instant benefits. Besides simply making employees feel more comfortable on the job, letting your team be themselves will build solid collaborative relationships. Turnstone found that people who were able to feel and act more normal and relaxed, innovative and creative juices really get pumping.

2. Leave Cubical’s in the 90’s. Turnstone says with mobile technology and connectivity, the “one desk per team member” mentality is not the answer. In Turnstone’s experience observing small companies, they found that at any given moment throughout the day, up to 60% of desks were not in use. With mobile work, brainstorming meetings and other projects, an office with specific “zones” can make the difference.

3. Zone for Zen. A great city has zones, why shouldn’t an office utilize this genius? Turnstone concluded that having different sections of the office with a different “feel” gives employees the option to change scenery at will. It makes for a better space as well as more positive collaboration amongst team members.

4. Cultivate Creative Buzz. Think about it like a cool restaurant. As dinner parties start coming in, guests talk quietly until the restaurant becomes busier. Before you know it, the whole place is buzzing with excitement. Office environments can work the same way. Keep creative energy and people in the same area so everyone is free to voice ideas and interact with each other. The background “buzz” gives everyone a sense of privacy within their team or group.

5. Concentration Centers. Office buzz is great for collaboration and creativity, but let’s face it, there are times when employees need to concentrate in a quiet setting and crank out work. Turnstone suggests creating a quiet space for employees to do concentrated alone work where everyone knows not to interrupt.

These ideas and design suggestions will help your company create its own culture and identity. Bottom line – happy and comfortable employees will consistently produce higher quality work. So watch your workers and consider certain behaviors. Those behaviors give clues for what may work for a particular company.

When CEOs Speak Out – Part II

May 28th, 2013

communication

In our last post, we discussed the topic of when CEOs assert their personal opinions and business views, and how this tests company communications professionals. So, whether internal and external reaction is positive or negative, what steps should the team take to manage the messaging? It’s essential to remember a few key items:

  • Determine the company’s communications philosophy – both internal and external. Additionally, define the protocol for managing company news, such as who are the spokespersons, and if they have received media training, how the inbound inquiries are managed, etc. It’s key to build belief and transparency with your audiences while also balancing the concern of revealing sensitive data, including competitive information.
  • Maintain open dialogue with senior leaders – whether it’s operations, sales, human resources or the CEO, the ability to stay on top of the latest business movements allows you to consider the associated communications risks when gauging the day’s current social or political dialogue. Once that assessment is complete, you can address your approach.
  • Evaluate current communications platforms – how and when do staff receive news? What social media applications are you using? Are there others that should be considered? How can you better serve the press?
  • Prepare and prepare again. There will be moments or issues you didn’t anticipate, but your crisis planning will give you a solid road map.

These concepts are not new, nor are they groundbreaking, but it’s the smart, strategic and tireless communications professional who applies them that will win the hearts and minds of their colleagues, press and the public. Public trust and loyalty is the key to the company’s sales success, growth and jobs – and public relations plays a direct role in achieving this.

Social Media in Natural Disasters

May 22nd, 2013

Tornado

The proliferation of technology has the capacity to change the way humans interact and behave in their everyday lives. From the internet forever changing communication, to automobiles forever changing transportation, these advances have the ability to radically alter our lives in many ways.

One of the most fascinating examples of this is the ever changing adaptation of social media. In the case of natural disasters, like the tornado that devastated Oklahoma on May, 20, 2013, social media is now being used as a powerful tool to empower and assist those affected by tragedy.

In a time of trouble, social media is often a first-stop for people to turn to in order to find information quickly and easily.  According to an article by USA today, more than 1,700 people have joined the group Moore Oklahoma Tornado Safe where people are posting information about missing family members. One photo album is titled “Photos of survivors, hope one is your lost loved one.”

According to a study done by NBC News, one in five Americans has used an emergency app. Of those Americans affected by natural disasters, 76% used social media to contact friends and family; 37% of used social media to help find shelter and supplies; and 24% used social media to let loved ones know they’re safe.

But social media isn’t just connecting loved ones with one another, it’s also connecting people with professional assistance. During Hurricane Sandy, a group of Red Cross staff members were assigned to monitor Twitter for specific postings so they could better respond to the natural disaster. They monitored and responded to over 4,500 tweets related to the disaster.

As the extent of the damage in Oklahoma becomes clearer, social media will likely continue to play a major role in the aftermath. Many organizations are also taking advantage of their social media outlets as a quick and easy way to handle donations and raise awareness about how to help victims of the disaster.

While social media might not be an all-in-one solution to any issue – natural disaster or company snafu –the repurposing of a social media platform can sometimes be the most effective and quickest way to reach an audience. As media professionals, it’s important to understand that the landscape of technology is constantly changing, as is the ways that individuals make use of this technology in their everyday lives. By taking advantage of this, it’s becoming increasingly easier to connect with an audience in a significant and powerful way.

When CEOs Speak Out – Part I

May 20th, 2013

Communicating

We’ve seen it many times. CEOs speaking out about political or social issues and creating global waves of support and disdain, meanwhile, their company communications teams work quickly and strategically to respond to the staff, media and public reaction. For these company stewards, it is truly a test of their mettle, and whether the professional works for a public or private company, when their senior leadership steps into hot bed issues, both internal and external reputation management takes on an entirely new level of engagement.

Certainly, CEOs asserting their personal and business views is not a new phenomenon. However, add social media to the 24-hour news cycle, and it ups the ante on crisis communications messaging. In this two part discussion, let’s first take a look at a few examples:

  • Starbucks – Company CEO, Howard Shultz, has been waging a few battles. From calling on his fellow business leaders to withdraw political campaign support in an attempt to halt Washington gridlock on reducing the deficit, to most recently challenging a Starbucks shareholder to sell their stock if they didn’t support the company position on gay marriage rights, Shultz is direct and authentic in sharing his views.
  • Chick-fil-A – Last year’s Chick-fil-A boycott due to company president Dan Cathy’s remarks on unapologetically contributing to anti-gay marriage organizations is one for the history books. The outrage on both sides of the issue was fervent, and to make it worse, the vice president of public relations (a 29-year company veteran) passed away due to a heart attack during the crisis. The company is still declaring its position (January 28, 2013 news release) on its Christian principles, long history of charitable giving and its wish to not “support political or social agendas” in these decisions.
  • Westgate Resorts – Timeshare company owner, David Siegel, sent an email to his employees during the 2012 elections, “If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current president (Obama) plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company,” he wrote. “Rather than grow this company, I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.” Though bear in mind, this not the first time Siegel has sent communications to this staff along this similar vein. This is his leadership style.

It’s also important to point out CEOs speaking out is not always received negatively. These executives are pillars of industry and their influence can help forge change for both Wall Street and Main Street. For instance, in 2009, J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr. defended the tourism industry in a Washington Post op-ed calling for an end to the “toxic rhetoric” by Washington politicians who were piling scorn on travel and corporate meetings after executives of bailed-out AIG were discovered staying at a luxury hotel for company business. The industry cheered, thanking Marriott for his bold voice. The lodging industry was not the enemy, nor were the companies that cancelled their seminars and incentive meetings in fear of public outcry.

So, what is a communications professional to do? Please watch for part two of this topic.

AUTOMOTIVE FINE ARTS SOCIETY OFFERS ALTERNATIVE GIFTS FOR CAR-LOVING DADS ON FATHER’S DAY

May 13th, 2013

To purchase one of the great automotive fine art pieces from world renowned AFAS artists, simply visit the Automotive Fine Arts Society website where you’ll find contact information for each artist!
If you are a journalist and would like high res images for editorial prints, please email Austin Knott at TPRM or call 214.520.3430 x302
For more information about TPRM visit www.TPRM.com

•    1968 Firebird Ridgefield High – Art Fitzpatrick
68 FB Ridgefield High 12

•    1969 Pontiac GTO, Cortina D’Ampezzo – Art Fitzpatrick

69 GTO Cortina 300 dpi

•    1969 Firebird at the Dunes – Art Fitzpatrick
F69 FB 400 Dunes

•    Hookin Hard – Tom Fritz

Tom Fritz - Hookin Hard

•    Incident at Mile Twenty – Tom Fritz

Tom Fritz - Incident At Twenty Mile
•    Out Quicker Than a Hiccup – Tom Fritz

Tom Fritz - Out Quicker Than A Hiccup
•    The Good Lift – Tom Fritz
Tom Fritz - The Good Life
•    Shell 23 Ferrari – Nicola Wood

Nicola Wood - shell 23 (fathers day)
•    1950’s Era Ferrari Formula 1 – Tony Sikorski

Ferrari Formula 1 - 1950's Era - Tony Sikorski
•    1930’s Duesenberg – Tony Sikorski

1930's Duesenberg - Tony Sikorski
•    The New Dodge Viper – Harold Cleworth
Dodge Viper - Harold Cleworth

•    Indian Motorcycle – Harold Cleworth

INDIAN MOTORCYCLE - Harold Cleworth
•    Classic Chevy – Harold Cleworth

IMG_0304 - Harold Cleworth

Top 3 Takeaways from the Associated Press’ Hacked Twitter Response

April 25th, 2013

Social media is sometimes overlooked by companies as “irrelevant” or an “unprofessional” means of communication, but websites like Facebook and Twitter have more influence over people than one might expect. On April 24th, 2013, a tweet from the Associated Press stated that there had been two explosions at the White House, and that President Barack Obama had been injured in the blasts. Almost instantly, the stock market responded and the DOW fell 143 points – an amount worth an estimated $200 billion.

Almost as quickly as the panic had set in, the Associated Press announced that its Twitter account had been hacked and that the tweet was fake. The stock market quickly recovered, but the incident provides an interesting look into the current landscape of social media. There are several great takeaways from a situation like this.

  1. People are listening – Often times, when companies invest large amounts of time into social media, it can feel like the impact isn’t worth the time. Sending off a tweet or firing off a status update seems a bit innocuous, but regardless of the size of a brand’s following, it is out there for the world to see. Whether you’re one of the largest press syndicates in the world, or a mom-and-pop operation, people are listening.
  1. People are acting – The stock market’s response to the tweet shows that not only are people listening, but they are acting on relevant information as well. When people are connected to important, applicable information, regardless of whether it’s in a news release or a tweet, they’re going to act upon it.
  1. Social media is not unprofessional – There a several schools of thought on this matter, but the fact remains that there are few better ways to get information out quickly and efficiently than to post something via a social media platform. It is now totally acceptable to keep fans, friends and clients updated in this manner. During the hunt for Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, many news stations took to Twitter to provide short updates when an entire story wasn’t warranted. This model is not only becoming more prevalent, but it is also becoming a first-stop for many folks when they want information on a brand, a news story or a new restaurant. Lengthy, well-written and informative articles will always have their place, but tweeting or posting to Facebook is certainly effective as well.

Fall in love this February

February 18th, 2013

imagesLove is in the air this February and as you scramble to pay your credit card off from that super-exclusive restaurant, the big heart of chocolates and flowers you presented to your Valentine this month, another relationship you must also think about is the one with your client’s audience.

Similar to a loving relationship, a client’s relationship with its audience should be handled with care, attention and open communication. To help your client continue its positive position in the market, here are five “love-filled” recommendations to help your client receive the “TLC” from its target audience.

  1. Keep your promises – Nothing upsets a customer more than a company that doesn’t provide reputable services and products it advertises. Recently, the 13th annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotient released its top 10 most and least reputable companies, which included Amazon and Apple in the top five. These companies are dependable and provide exactly what they advertise – good products and good services.
  2. L-I-S-T-E-N – This may sound simple, but listening is crucial to establishing a long term relationship with your client’s audience. If a company listens to feedback, complaints and questions, it’s more likely to deliver exactly what a customer wants and needs, and will better prepare the company to keep its promises.
  3. Be honest – Transparency is key. Whether you’re in a relationship with your boyfriend, wife or customer, an honest and open relationship will alleviate any mishaps, arguments or worse – lawsuits.
  4. Apologize – Hopefully, after years of arguments, men have this down to a science. Apologizing is essential to keeping a long and happy relationship when you know you’re the one who messed up. If your company is in the wrong, apologize, apologize and apologize again. In Carnival’s recent mishap, the Cruise line not only took responsibility, but refunded its stranded passengers in full, offered them a credit for a future cruise and paid them $500 for their travel back home
  5. Be a gift-giver – What customers love more than a company that keeps its word, is a company that gives freebies. Whether you advertise through coupons, giveaways, contests, Groupon or LivingSocial, if your company has the means and funds to do so, offer a giveaway or contest. It excites your customers, you’re able to interact with them on a positive level and keeps them coming back for more.

Following these simple guidelines won’t just help you snag the woman or man of your dreams, it will also help your client snag loyal customers and repeat purchasers.

A Picture’s (Still) Worth a Thousand Words

December 17th, 2012

001-lancaster-tornado

In the age of social media, messaging can build a business or destroy a reputation in an instant. Sadly, many people overlook the simplest (and first) form of communication – a photograph.

The power of an image is more dominant now than it ever has been. In fact, research reveals that 10 percent of all shots taken since the dawn of photography happened in 2012.

Recently, TIME Magazine organized its top 10 photos of 2012. At TPRM, we were proud that one of our own, Parrish Ruiz de Velasco received accolades for his Texas Twister photograph, which earned him a spot on the top 10 list and some instant fame on TV.

There was a much broader message than winning accolades, though. TIME reported that more people are now communicating through images and photographs.

Social media tools such as Instagram and Pinterest are captivating audiences one photo at a time. And bystanders are becoming “unofficial reporters” using cell phone cameras to capture images and videos of breaking news.

To adapt to the new “now” generation of the rushed, impatient “Millennials”, PR professionals and advertisers must adjust how they deliver their messages. Images are not only required to accompany any text that’s sent to the public or journalists, it’s demanded. Social media accounts, YouTube videos and interactive ads are the new norm.

While good PR professionals understand the command of an image, exceptional PR pros utilize this powerful messaging tool to create an influential connection between clients and their target audience.

As companies look to the future for the next trending advertising and PR tool to get their messages across, the age-old saying still holds true: a picture is worth a thousand words.