March 30, 2015
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PR Biz Update

We Are Speechless: Germanwings’ Handling of Media Inquiries Raises Concerns about When It’s Appropriate to “Wing It”

When is it appropriate to go off script? Crisis communication has become a well-developed specialty. It brings with it well-developed scripts for what to say under various reputation-threatening circumstances, particularly accidents or tragedies where a company has to say something before knowing all of the facts—or sometimes any of them. During a crisis, companies have to respond because “no comment” is interpreted as a confirmation of the question. That is, in the current incident where a Lufthansa subsidiary crashed into a mountain, perhaps on purpose, killing 150 people and the reporter asks, “Did you know the pilot was suicidal?” The “no comment” response appears to say, “We sure did.”

Innovation Is More than a Buzzword—Consumers Are Willing to Pay 21% More for Innovative Brands, New Ketchum Study Finds

The term "innovation" is so frequently used in marketing that it risks losing its value as a motivating brand attribute. Yet a new study by Ketchum shows that innovation still has a major effect on purchase decisions, brand preference and product pricing. The 2015 Ketchum Innovation Kernel Study shows that 68 percent of consumers are willing to pay on average 21 percent more for a brand they consider innovative. Of the more than 4,000 working adults polled, nine in 10 also say that innovation is important to their brand preference. "The good news is that innovation has not been reduced to a meaningless buzzword—it still has the power to influence corporate and brand reputation and even command a higher price at the checkout counter," said Ketchum’s Susan Butenhoff.

Winning PR Campaigns

American Heart Association & Edelman Employ Multimedia, Star Power and Social Innovation to Help Introduce Hands-Only CPR to a New Generation—and Win Bulldog Awards Gold

After some years of success with its Hands-Only CPR educational campaign, the American Heart Association (AHA) realized it was facing a major challenge—the messaging strategy that had appealed to Boomers and Gen Xers was at risk of not resonating with Millennials because so many in the generation lacked familiarity with the campaign's disco theme and its anthem, "Stayin' Alive." The challenge was compounded by the fact that reaching this “always-on” audience meant getting the message out on their home turf—digital and social media—and in compelling ways that would grab the focus of a sector famous for it’s short attention span.

The AHA enlisted Edelman to not only help develop a strategy to educate a new generation of lifesavers by reaching them in their social comfort zones, but also to catch the attention of increasingly overwhelmed traditional media outlets to keep other generations engaged as well. The execution resulted in widespread digital/social visibility and audience connection, along with tremendous media attention and coverage, and also earned the AHA and Edelman a Gold distinction in the “Best Use of Digital/Social for a Health/Fitness/Medicine Campaign” category in Bulldog Reporter’s 2014 Digital/Social Awards.

Thought Leaders

Mixing Old School with New School to Communicate Successfully—Celebrating Women’s History Month

By Michelle Flowers Welch, Founder and Chairman, Flowers Communications Group

Nearly 25 years ago, I started an agency to help brands and companies better reach multicultural consumers using the most culturally-relevant and culturally-resonate approaches. As a part of my mission, I wanted to create an environment that was not just focused on great work, but also on the growth and development of our industry’s next generation of talent. Guess it’s no coincidence that my maiden name, “Flowers,” speaks to that nurturing spirit.

Through the years, I’ve been blessed to learn from and work with some truly phenomenal people, including other women who own their own businesses or have accomplished careers in the government, agency, nonprofit and corporate sectors. So, when I was approached about writing a piece for Women’s History Month, I thought it would be an opportune time to share some of my seasoned veteran observations and tips that have evolved from constant interaction with talented, creative millennial professionals. 

On Deadline

PR Lessons Learned From Disney Movies: How to Create a Successful Brand Campaign Without a Fairy Godmother

By Kate Connors, Senior Account Manager & Social Media Strategist, Media & Communications Strategies

With so many millennials in the public relations industry, it is no surprise that many of these individuals still look fondly on the lessons they learned from their favorite childhood movies. Many of these “PR millennials” were born at the start of the Disney Renaissance, a period of Disney filmmaking that is remembered for its beautiful animation, dynamic scores and lovable characters. With Disney in our blood, it is no surprise that these beloved talking animals and singing characters also had some great communications lessons that can be applied every day in our jobs. Here are a few of my favorites that I learned from these lovable Disney characters:

“The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.” – Rafiki, The Lion King.

No organization likes to experience a public relations crisis, but just like Rafiki tells Simba in The Lion King, you have to face the crisis and deal with the situation head on. Not long after The Lion King aired for the first time, Odwalla Inc., the popular juice company, experienced this lesson first hand in 1996 when there was an e coli outbreak in their juices. Instead of backing away from the crisis, CEO Stephen Williamson immediately recalled all Odwalla products that contained the unpasteurized carrot or apple juice.

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