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Holiday Shopping Goes Mobile: Lessons for Marketers and Companies amidst the Shift in Shopping Patterns
by Jen Kindred

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Photo credit: Sense Networks

Photo credit: Sense Networks

Ah, December… a time for reflections and predictions. Marketing and PR professionals are especially fond of this annual season of round-ups and forecasts. It gives us a chance to take a step back and think about what we’ve learned, to note patterns and emerging trends, to take a deep breath and prepare for the rush of work that will land on our laptops in January. Here in Silicon Valley, the holiday season has us thinking a lot about mobile technology, among other important topics. How has the rapid expansion of the smartphone universe impacted holiday shopping, consumer behavior and family traditions?

Recent news reports about the health of the holiday economy are less than clear; by some reports, retail spending fell 11% on Thanksgiving weekend. We’re still in the first half of December, so the comprehensive picture of retail results remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: mobile is a big game changer. According to MediaPost and IBM, online traffic from mobile devices on Thanksgiving Day was stronger than traditional PCs for the first time, accounting for 52% of all online traffic. Best Buy experienced such an unexpected surge of mobile traffic, their web site crashed.

Black Friday shopping—complete with crowds, bad weather, and parking lot hassles—has lost some of its luster now that similar discounts can be found online before, during, and after Thanksgiving. Some of us, after all, are old enough to remember when Turkey Day was more about family than the frenzied pursuit of doorbuster deals. Perhaps the convenience of shopping from our phones, tablets, and laptops in the comfort of our own homes is helping us reclaim some of the true spirit of the holidays. Indeed, teens and Millennials appear to be one of the most lucrative targets for in-store Black Friday sales; American Eagle, Old Navy, and Victoria’s Secret had a banner weekend.

As with any major paradigm shift, the remarkable changes we’ve seen in consumer behavior over the last few years have far-reaching implications, some of which we are only beginning to understand. When we step back from retail numbers to take in a bigger picture, we see that mobile devices are impacting much more than just shopping trends. In recent years, increasingly dire weather conditions have impacted the shopping season; many retailers started promotions earlier this year to hedge against this risk.

The ongoing debate about the disappearance of the middle class and the struggles of the working class appears to have also had a sobering effect on many Americans’ spending habits. While the overall economy shows promising signs of recovery—lower gas prices, improved jobs numbers, the best consumer sentiment stats in seven years—retailers may have been too optimistic about how this good news would hit their bottom line this season. After many years of economic struggle, many Americans are using the extra room in their household budget to pay down debt, save for retirement, and donate to charitable causes, knowing that tough times may still lie ahead. (For more on this, see IBD’s article about the Principal Financial Well-Being Index.)

According to Entrepreneur, the number of ads and promotions the average consumer sees during the holiday season is equivalent to standing in the middle of Times Square for 10 weeks. Yikes…how much of that can possibly be sinking in, especially in the middle of a dramatic news cycle? Obviously, in the face of advertising overload, the smarter and more personalized the marketing, the better chance it has of reaching its intended audience and converting to an actual purchase.

Mobile is the most obvious choice for delivering more intelligent, customized promotions to targeted consumers. It will be interesting to see how advertising, marketing and PR professionals use the data generated by this holiday season to analyze consumer trends and tailor their approach. And it will be even more fascinating to see how emerging technologies like wearables (Apple Watch), mobile payment systems, 3D printing, and smart, connected products (IoT) converge to transform our buying and consumption habits in ways we have yet to imagine—not to mention how these habits will be influenced by economic, political, and social developments. Looking back and looking ahead, one thing’s for sure: If you’re on the high-tech beat, 2015 will be a busy year!

What do you think? Is mobile changing the way we shop for and celebrate the holidays? Which retailers were able to break through the noise and make you pay attention this year?

Carlos in Danger – How the Media Can Turn on You
by Danielle Giaccio

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As a born and raised New Yorker, I have been around for my fair share of NY political scandals. New York is the hub of the media world and the saying is true, “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”. As a PR professional, I think the saying should also be, “if you can survive the media here, you can survive it anywhere.”  The NY media is currently focusing on a scandal that has yet again rocked the NY political scene. Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner aka Carlos Danger was ousted as being involved in another scandal and admitted it, again.

Prior to the scandal coming to light, Weiner actually had a lead in the polls and it was looking like New Yorkers were ready to forgive and forget. Even the media was being kind to the once embattled congressman who initially had to resign due to the first round of accusations.

Weiner came out strong and had a good PR team to paint him in this new reformed light. He made several TV commercials acknowledging his past mistakes while asking New Yorkers to take a second look and give him a chance. He seemed to be a changed man in the eyes of voters and the media and we began to listen to what he had to say about the issues facing New Yorkers. We started to forget about the past scandal and started to take him seriously as a candidate.

All of that changed when a young woman went to the media with yet another claim against Weiner.  She opened a can of worms on the candidate and inevitably ruined what his PR team worked so hard to prove to the media and the voters – that Weiner was a reformed candidate who was ready to put the past behind him. Little did his PR team know that his past would come back to haunt him and inevitably ruin the image that was initially portrayed to the media.

This brings to light an issue many publicists face in their daily work. What do you do when the image you worked so hard to build in the media and public is tarnished? How do you help the image recover? In this particular situation, can they recover?

In Weiner’s case, prospects for staging yet another recovery are dim.  Let’s face it: he had a second chance and blew it. There is nothing the media loves more than a comeback – except maybe an epic scandal.  Now he is left with a broken campaign and poor public image.

The unraveling of this campaign is not a reflection of poor PR tactics, just a poor candidate. The PR team successfully utilized the media to push the new reformed image of Weiner. But when the second scandal hit, there was little they could do to repair it. The media likes to report on trends, digging up old stories and giving them new meaning.

As PR professionals, it is important to remember that journalists do more than report specific events and transactions – they look for the bigger picture.  Coverage of Apple or Samsung, for example, is rarely only about the latest gadget , but rather what makes it new from previous versions, and relevant in the current environment.

Deal of the Week
by Liana Hawes

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Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post last week was a media darling of a deal.  The waning  newspaper finally got a buyer and to everyone’s surprise  it’s Amazon.com’s  founder who paid $250M for the Pulitzer Prize winning  Daily, once valued at several billion dollars.  Bezos was there to catch the Post in what could have been a steep fall from grace if a buyer didn’t show. Bezos dealt with the Graham Family, the paper’s publishers and operating executives for four generations.

The year 1993 was the height of The Washington Post’s daily circulation which peaked at 843,332 daily subscribers (source: Alliance For Audited Media).  In March 2013, The Post’s daily circulation was 474,767 and was down 7 percent in the first half of 2013. In 2012, the paper had 640 employees. It once had 1,000.  The Washington Post Company reported that it lost $50M in revenue during the first part of the year, because of its newspaper operation.  Despite its legacy and prestige, the Washington Post is now a cash drain.

Large publicly traded companies don’t want their newspaper properties any more.  But small private investors do. Bezos, however, is not just any investor. If you look at his personal wealth, this $250M price was not a big purchase , a drop in the bucket for Bezos.   There’s six degrees of separation and, if you read between the lines, the purchase is not that surprising.

What does Jeff Bezos, a techie entrepreneur/billionaire  possibly want with a newspaper property with declining circulation and advertising?  Bezos is a media mogul who changed the book publishing industry and managed to make Amazon into a brand giant and household name –  and himself a billionaire in the process through Amazon’s various operating entities.  Who has not bought a book from Amazon or gone shopping on the site?   If Bezos hasn’t made Amazon.com consistently profitable, he has made it  valuable as a brand giant, an in-your-face always-on digital media company.

Whether we can expect that The Post, which won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking a key Watergate story in 1973, has any hope for a bright future, let’s watch and see if the sale signifies, “The beginning of a phase in which this Gilded Age’s major beneficiaries reinvest in the infrastructure of our public intelligence,” as  stated by The Atlantic editor James Fallows who’ said the deal put him in a ‘state of shock’, according to an August 5 story in The New York Times Dealbook column.

When a media or communications company invests in or acquires a content company or digital media property,  typically a subscriber base is  co-opted such that existing content and programming expands to a new audience of consumers creating revenue growth opportunities CPMs.  Media conglomerates, therefore, are one of the most heavily regulated sectors.  Their ownership of the airwaves and broadcast networks monopolized access and control of public communication to serve their own commercial interests.  Aside from broadband and cable, where are new audiences to be found?  Where will those 474,767 Post subscribers go, along with those of their sister properties?  Where will The Post’s find a new audience for its editorial content?

Look no further than behind the LDC screen of your Kindle digital reader.  What better medium to deliver and promote news product.    If you are one of the 22 millions owners of an Amazon Kindle devices, you may soon find yourself  a subscriber to The Post and its sister publishing businesses ( also included in the $250M price).  And don’t be surprised if a Post story pops-up during your online shopping experience on Amazon.com.  A digital content distribution model such would not be  rocket science especially for Bezos, who is credited  with changing  consumerism.  All speculative at this point since Bezos himself (not his company) was the purchaser.  But just how will Bezos leverage his new toy from an operations standpoint?    How much fun is there to be had with this new toy?  There could be six degrees of separation?

Now here’s another angle that was investigated by NPR’s media correspondent David Folkenflik, who looked at this deal from the standpoint of intellectual property and sales tax.  This report revealed Amazon to be a major vendor of cloud storage to the CIA which paid Amazon $600M to build its cloud storage system.   While it may be a large storage provider to the CIA, Amazon wants nothing to do with Wikileaks, which it booted from its web hosting service Amazon Web Services back in 2010 at the height of public interest in Wikileaks.  You might think Bezos is new to Washington but his Company had no problem following  the directive of Senator Joe Leiberman when he called for retaliatory action against Wikileaks.  Amazon Web Services stated that Wikileaks violated its terms of service because it “doesn’t own or otherwise control all the rights to the classified content” and that the 250 classified docs that Wikilieaks was publishing was not “redacted in such a way that they were not putting innocent people in jeopardy.”

Whatever the reasons or the way the language is written, Washington may not be such an unfamiliar ground Bezos and his purchase of the Graham enterprise is more of a power shift than a good will purchase of a curious new toy.

Controlling the Media Message: The Angelina Effect
by Danielle Giaccio

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This past week, the world was shocked to find out that one of the entertainment world’s most popular and sexiest woman, Angelina Jolie, had undergone a double mastectomy. When people think of Angelina, they can’t help but think of her “killer body” but also, they think of a woman who has made it a point to do good in this world and use her celebrity status to do that. Angelina did something a lot of celebrities choose to do in a world where one tweet can lead to a full blown scandal if not perceived correctly by the general public – she got in front of the message.

Angelina JolieAngelina chose to write an op-ed in the New York Times, on “My Medical Choice” to own the story and control her message, rather than having the media control the message for her. Often times when a celebrity gets in front of something, such as a scandal or big public announcement, it is easier to control the message they want to get out there. Rather than having some hospital worker leak a story and have it on the front page of Star Magazine, she chose to bravely tell her story and get the message out there that she is strong, in better health, and is telling story directly, rather than have someone else speculate on the facts.

In PR, whether dealing with a person or a business, it is important for PR professionals to advise clients on the best way to control the media message. Angelina’s PR team clearly went the right route by putting Angelina “front and center” to own her decision and spin it in a way that’s positive and inspiring to others.

Angelina’s PR team also did the right thing by putting her in a light that made her seem like every other woman. They made her more relatable than she’s ever been.  The general public has a tendency to view celebrities as “superhuman,” so Angelina’s decision to publicize her story in a personal way made her struggle the same as any woman in Minnesota, or Alabama, or New York. She became a voice for all women struggling to make the same decision and she used her celebrity stature to not only control what the media would say, but to also use her voice to help others.

Angelina’s message was simple; this happened to me, I am strong, and I am going to use my voice to tell other woman in similar situations that there are other options. Her words struck a chord with many breast cancer survivors and victims and definitely brought a bigger conversation to light as women can see this is a viable option if you are someone who carries that gene.

At Gutenberg, we are proud to represent HERS Breast Cancer Foundation, an organization aimed at supporting all women healing from breast cancer by providing post-surgical products and services regardless of financial status.

We have had the pleasure of working with women who are survivors of this disease and who work tirelessly to promote awareness and help women in need of treatment or care options. We all owe a great gratitude to Angelina for not only bringing the conversation to the forefront, but also for controlling the message and letting people know that her struggle is one of many and that it does get better.


How Big Bird Became the Snuffleupagas In the (Debate) Room
by Hugh Burnham

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While as a PR firm, we remain bi-partisan and impartial to parties and candidates, there are some real media lessons to take away from Wednesday’s Presidential Debate.

Both candidates have made their fair share of blunders in the campaign, but this week brought some new fodder for the American media.

Mitt Romney told the audience (and it was a sizeable audience) that he would cut funding for PBS and in particular, he called out Big Bird, or, as Snuffleupagas, his imaginary friend calls him, just: Bird.)

Romney’s pledge to cut a government subsidy to PBS, the public television network that has aired Sesame Street since 1970, combined with a throwaway reference to the show’s beloved Big Bird, inadvertently produced a top-trending hashtag, dozens of fake Twitter accounts, and the internet’s new favorite meme.

Here’s what Romney actually said:

“I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. [...] I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you [moderator and PBS employee Jim Lehrer] too. But I’m not going to [...] keep on spending money on things, to borrow money from China to pay for it.”

Within minutes of his remarks, #BigBird was one of the fastest rising trends on Twitter. According to the Associated Press, at one point the site registered 17,000 tweets per minute mentioning our fine feathered friend.

The lesson is: In today’s hyper digital environment, it’s critical to consider how your remarks will play out on the broader stage.  What you say will be interpreted by more than just the people in the room, or by the traditional media covering it.  Sound bites, ideas, images take on a life of their own when tweeted, re-tweeted, posted to Facebook, blogged about, and so on.

One thing is clear – if you want to keep something from going viral, go easy on Big Bird.


Why A Consonant Matters
by Hugh Burnham

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Many outlets covering the passing of astronaut Neil Armstrong have noted that he was actually misquoted in his first words from the lunar landing: “That’s one small step for ‘man’, one giant leap for mankind.” Armstrong himself maintained that he actually said …one small step for ‘a man’, rather than just ‘man.’  But why does it matter? And what does it have to do with public relations?

The ‘a’ changes everything, in that it denotes a step for a man, rather than ‘man’, which would be the same as mankind.   We probably never really thought of it that way, but it’s a big difference.

We always counsel our spokespeople to communicate in pithy, quotable phrases, that are both succinct and memorable.   Oftentimes, we anticipate interview questions and how to answer them. Neil Armstrong was a great American. In the end, the fact that his ‘a’ was inaudible on the tapes never hurt his legacy, because the message he delivered was powerful, memorable and quotable, and will survive in the history books forever.

Had Armstrong told people, “Oh, that’s not what I expected,” as he took his first steps, or “Wow, this is strange,” he likely would not be as enduring a figure as he is now.    At least I doubt that the President would be ordering flags to be flown at half staff for his funeral.  So remember, if you want to make an impression, choose a phrase that captures the moment with some flair and drama. Neil Armstrong sure did.




Penn State: Frozen Like A Statue
by Hugh Burnham

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Penn State has been digging itself out of one of the largest messes a university has ever found itself in, since the board of directors discovered that a cover up had been going on in the Sandusky child molestation case.

Although the University took decisive action and communicated effectively in some instances, it has been remarkably deficient and unwilling to put responsibility on the beloved former Head Coach of its Nittany Lions, Joe Paterno.

The recently released Freeh report once again brought JoePa into the spotlight and for all the wrong reasons.  It seems that Joe Paterno willfully dissuaded President Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley from reporting Sandusky’s pedophilia to the authorities and they went along with the revered football Coach’s demands.

In light of the report, many people expected the University to remove the statue of JoePa from the Campus.

The University, however has resisted those calls, in blatant disrespect to the victims of Sandusky’s crimes.  No matter how many supporters Paterno has in the University and the Community, it has become glaringly obvious that the statue is now a monument to a man who helped cover up heinous crimes.

This morning, in another example of poor communication, Penn State contradicted reports that the statue would be taken down, insisting instead that no decision had been made.

When a crisis strikes, there needs to be a full plan to deal with the aftermath.  While it would be painful to take down the statue of a man who was so revered and created such a great football program, it would also send a message that the University was very, very wrong in the way that it handled this crisis, and that Paterno himself made very bad mistakes.  However, accepting responsibility for a situation is the first step in rebuilding a positive reputation.

Otherwise, the pressure will grow on the University until it buckles to public opinion that the statue must be removed and someone else will decide for Penn State what is right and wrong.   Handling a crisis requires a full understanding of the likely outcomes and a deep sense of what is morally right.  Paterno was so beloved for so long that it may seem like heresy to the board to remove his statue.   But it is the only way to break cleanly from the past.  Sooner or later, the statue will be gone.  The University has a short window of opportunity to accept responsibility for its role in this scandal, and start to act in a way that rebuilds trust and its improved its reputation over the long-term.

End of an Occupation – End of a News Cycle?
by Liana Hawes

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Brookfield Properties owner and former New York City Planning Commission Chairman John E. Zuccotti has a public park named after him in the Financial District of lower Manhattan where Trinity Place, Cedar Street, Broadway and Liberty Street converge. The site itself was formerly known as Liberty Park Plaza, one block south east (or thereabouts) of the World Trade Center. If you’ve ever had a day job in the Financial District, you’ll know what an important respite this Plaza, with its trees and seats, was (is) to a weary workers on lunch break. 

Zuccotti’s real estate, and the area surrounding it, has a place in history as defending private commercial interests. While the plaza itself has been used frequently in the 20th century for public demonstrations and the staging of protests, back in the 17th century the ground was part of the Dutch Colonial settlement “New Amsterdam”, an extension of the Dutch Republic. The settlement was just outside of Fort Amsterdam (which protected the interest of the Dutch East India Company’s fur trade operations on the Hudson River) and strategically situated on the southern tip of Manhattan Island. This region, including the settlement and the Fort which was the Colony’s capital, eventually became known as New York City.  In recent history, as the Towers fell, Liberty Park Plaza was covered with debris and in the aftermath was used as a staging area for recovery efforts.

Over the past few weeks the park has again taken a place on center stage as it’s been a staging area for the OWS movement. On a recent visit to the Occupy Wall Street encampment, I was particularly struck at how impressively the OWS drum battery was staged in the Plaza. They sounded terrific and beat a call for all the tourists and onlookers who walked by in curiosity, disgust, wonder, ignorance and encouragement. 

After throngs of spectators trampled through the Park’s maze over this past weekend of assemblage, protests and camping, the Plaza was yet again strewn with debris – trash – which has since been cleared – along with the Protesters. It was empty and clean this morning and glam shots of pristine Zuccotti Park evoked the Liberty Park Plaza of yore, New York’s Financial District in all its glory where the Towers once stood strong and Liberty could be felt.  Although I’m not sure why this Park was ever dubbed “Liberty”, maybe for Liberty Street?   

Why did Mr. Zuccotti and his team at Brookfield Properties insist on a name change from Liberty Park Plaza and will he want to go down in history for his role as OWS’s landlord, tolerant of their presence yet pushing for their removal by enforcement? Will the name Zuccotti Park forever be tainted with images and stories about the health, legal, and safety threats the authorities said this particular OWS camp posed to the public at large?  This rather than the cause that actually inspired the Occupy Wall Street movement and other camps to subsequently form in cities across the U.S. in national protest?   

So far, the news media has focused on the logistics of the Camp, the occupation itself, the costs to taxpayers, law enforcement and the legal and removal strategies of the City authorities. Now that the occupation’s over, I’d like to see more stories about the core message in the protest and the rallying cry against the financial establishment, for it was strong and passionate enough to inspire similar “Occupy” protests throughout the nation. I’d like to see Mr. Zuccotti, for whom the Park is named, going head to head in a nightly news roundtable discussion with an OWS operations official. 

How did Mr. Zuccotti get private money to renovate the Park after 9/11?  What were the goals of the renovation and how was Zuccotti Park designed to function as public space? 

This was an $8M renovation by a prestigious firm which installed trees, granite sidewalks, tables and seating as well as in-ground lighting.  It seems like as good a place as any for an urban camp. While the granite is hard as a sleeping surface, it’s great for outdoor cooking and the tables are conducive to networking discussions, training, interviews, chess, dining and computing – all things that make for a successful protest.

The Occupiers will find it hard to be removed but they might be more comfortable if they can go home to a good night’s sleep and a meal and prepare properly for the days and nights of protesting ahead.  Or is the movement made stronger by the camp itself and the community it fostered among its inhabitants? Camps are powerful structures when it comes to group cohesion, defense, protection and taking a stand.

I’m following updates and Tweets on these developments from the New York Times City Room and WNYC news among others. These seem to indicate that the City and Brookfield say that while the Camp must go (and has) the protests may continue.  Now that camp’s over, perhaps the news media will no longer focus on camp logistics and we’ll get to the meat of the story with investigations now turning towards the reasons for the protest and what, if any, are the key messages behind Occupy Wall Street.

If the PRSA is on Your Case, Maybe You Should Listen
by Hugh Burnham

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Rosanna Fiske, Chair of the PRSA, just issued a statement around Rupert Murdoch’s response to the growing crisis surrounding News Corporation, criticizing News Corp.’s CEO for trying to protect his closest lieutenants as more and more revelations surfaced of wrongdoing. The July 4 revelation that reporters working for the News of the World had in 2002 deleted messages from the voicemail of missing schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, turned the phone-hacking saga from something that interested a few lawmakers to a national scandal in the U.K.  Over the weekend, as News International CEO Rebekah Brooks was arrested and brought in for questioning, the fallout from the scandal seemed to mushroom exponentially.

Wrote Fiske:

“In unsuccessfully trying to save the careers of some of his top lieutenants, including former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, Murdoch is damaging the reputation of all his media properties.” 

And indeed, according to any accepted doctrine of crisis communications, Murdoch’s approach is dead wrong.  News Corp. needs to find out exactly where the wrongdoing occurred, communicate that openly and transparently to the public, and root out and expel those responsible for the egregious practices. 

News Corp. competitor Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek itself has a huge cover story this week devoted to the culture that gave rise to such practices and an inside look at Rupert Murdoch himself.   Yet, crisis communications does not come innately to many businesspeople, particularly when it comes to those that are close to them. Brooks, according to BusinessWeek, was like a daughter to Murdoch.  Losing her from his company was a very deep wound.  And a crisis like this, by its very nature, comes up on a company with little warning. The potential impact at its outset can be difficult to gauge.  After all, these allegations against the News of the World had been around since 2007.  How was Murdoch to know that the phone hacking would mushroom into an issue capable of costing him his empire?   In fact, argue the Bloomberg BusinessWeek reporters, the very culture of News Corp. was to obfuscate and challenge whenever allegations like this were made.

The answer is that someone near Murdoch needed to make it clear to him that the very serious allegations which first surfaced in 2007 were true, and the potential outcome could be disastrous for News Corp.   Unfortunately, it may be too late to save Rupert Murdoch’s empire, even for those diligently counseling him now.  Three days ago, Murdoch visited Milly Dowling’s parents to apologize for the egregious behavior of News of the World.   But it may be too little too late.  Murdoch may or may not lose his iron grip on News Corporation, but the costs to his reputation have been steep and a break-up seems a very real possibility. 

The newspapering business is a tough one.  It seems that the very aggressive tabloid culture that sold so many newspapers and created shareholder value, has now come back to haunt Murdoch.  Let’s see how he responds to the issues ahead.

Tweetalee Dee, Tweetalee Dumb
by Joanna Leis

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It looks like the Pittsburgh Steelers are repeat offenders.  James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley sure know how to put their feet in their mouths when it comes to tweeting: Harrison called his boss an idiot for the new Pittsburgh Steelers Rule, and Woodley was non-apologetic for hitting too hard. Yes, hitting is part of the game, but as Kevin Allen of Ragan’s PR Daily says: “With the NFL going through PR hell right now, with its plague of severe head injuries and the current lockout, tweets like this are the last thing it needs.” It seems as if these players forgot that they are not only the faces of the Steelers, but they are also the faces of the NFL as well. What they say and do impacts the organization.

In my previous post, I talked about the BronxZoosCobra tweeter and how he or she successfully turned a crisis into an opportunity. The comedic tone made the BronxZoosCobra’s tweets successful. But in certain instances, humor does not work and should not be used. The tone of the situation must match the tone of the tweets. A misguided use of “humor” can cause a crisis of its own.

For example, Gilbert Gottfried, a famous comedian most recently known as the voice behind the duck of Aflac is now recognized for making a very famous mistake. He tweeted jokes about Japan’s tsunami during the midst of the crisis, stating “Japan is really advanced. They don’t go to the beach. The beach comes to them” as well as another tweet that is just too appalling to rewrite.  Making fun of people while they are in distress isn’t nice, and it’s bad business sense. His tweets were offensive to many and as a result, he was fired from Aflac.

Another example is Kenneth Cole; his tweets on the situation in Egypt damaged his company’s reputation which was known for its professional appeal.

These attempts of humor on Twitter have caused damage to these individuals’ reputations. They may have also caused damage to the companies’ brands, but that’s something only time will tell.

When you represent an organization, you need to monitor what you say and do at all times. With social media there is no separation between company and personal time. As PR Professionals, it is our responsibility to remind our clients that everything they say, write and do is under the scrutiny of the organizations’ constituents, especially if they are the face of the company, a spokesperson or a famous football player.

With the expansion and increased use of social media PR Professionals need to provide counsel on both the corporate and private aspects of spokespeople lives. PR Professionals can work with their clients/organizations to protect their reputations by:

  • Having integrated access to all public social media accounts (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Monitoring conversations within social networks
  • Consistently advising clients on what to and most importantly what NOT to say

PR Professionals need to have a say in everything that is publicly stated, for they are the guards of corporate reputations and can only remain to be so if they have full access to all communication channels.

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