Sorry is the Hardest Word

SORRY (1)

In recent weeks, celebrities like Giuliana Rancic and Benedict Cumberbatch have found themselves in the wrong kind of spotlight for remarks that the public found to be in poor taste. While the history of the public mea culpa has long been documented, it is not solely reserved for celebrities and public figures.  At times, brands will find themselves in situations where a public apology is all but required. Whether it is the result of a customer service blunder, a product launch delay, an error in product manufacturing or simply a misguided tweet, there are moments when brands are faced with the decision of having and how to apologize to customers.

Should one find themselves in the situation where an apology is required, there are a few tactics that should always be kept top of mind. The apology must be authentically remorseful. Take responsibility for what you have done and provide acknowledgment that a mistake has been made. Transparency is a word often tossed around in the PR world, but in this scenario it is truly important for brands to be honest with consumers about the situation – what really happened, how do you plan to fix the problem and how do you plan to make sure the same problem doesn’t happen again.  An effective apology ensures that the same mistake won’t be repeated.

At the end of the day, every brand will have to consider their own unique circumstances to determine the best course of action. Not every situation calls for a public apology. However, with every mistake, there is always an opportunity for brands to learn and grow. They can and should use these opportunities to reconnect with consumers and show them why they became loyal to the brand in the first place.

Falling In Love with an Open Dog Policy

 

sending all The love (1)

Working in public relations isn’t typically conducive to having a pet. PR Professionals work tireless hours, have chaotic schedules, require intense concentration during the majority of their days and rarely find time to even grab a lunch away from their desks. So what prompted me to get a 12-week old puppy? An Open Dog Policy!

 

After spending the good part of a decade wanting a dog, the opportunity presented itself as a three pound Chorkie, whom I’ve named Penelope “Foxy” Brown. She’s a dynamic member of the GRS team and is grateful for the Open Dog Policy. Well, in hindsight, I guess I forced the Open Dog Policy on my office, but I believe we pawed the road for a very successful business and interoffice-enhancing policy update.

 

Pet policy in the workplace is a hot topic, and the benefits of pet ownership are well supported in numerous scholarly journals. From stress relief to companionship and even the effects of therapy dogs in patients with dementia. In 2010, Central Michigan University conducted a study and found that the presence of a dog in the office helped employees work more effectively together. While Penny generally sleeps most of the day, she is already our catalyst for change at GreenRoom. We occasionally pause to play or engage with her which activates our creative minds and give us lots of laughs making the workplace more enjoyable through difficult tasks. PR requires multitasking and juggling many complicated problem-solving tasks at once, it’s amazing what a quick 10 minute walk and mental break with a pup will do to reopen the mind and reinvigorate those puzzle-solving tactics.

 

While one might think having a pet in the workplace is a distraction from daily activities, this couldn’t be further from the truth. From a work-life balance perspective, with poochie at the office employees aren’t worried about the welfare of the four-leggers as they sit home all day. Plus, they can care to their canine’s welfare at the office without missing important late-night meetings or after hour events.

 

It’s evident that the vibe of GreenRoom has shifted. In the past two weeks since Penny has been on campus, we’ve laughed more often, been more active and generally more pleasant. We’ve also enjoyed working through tasks together as a team more than before. We’re a strong team of rockstar PR pros, but Penny is a constant comedic relief in our daily routines that helps reduce our workday stress and keeps us active.

Now & Then: A Millennial’s Look Back at Tech

 

PULLOUTTEXT (3)

Some of my most vivid memories from childhood are from lengthy trips to the public library. When I was a kid, writing a paper on Sir Francis Drake or endangered rhino required spending a full roll of quarters and a couple hours at the local library photocopying pages from Encyclopedia Britannica.

 

Nowadays though, information is readily available at our fingertips, making trips to the library practically obsolete. Between Google, Wikipedia, seemingly endless social media platforms and the prominence of mobile technology, we’re able to seek out more information than ever before without even leaving our homes.

 

The evolution of technology over the past 25 years is, to put it simply, pretty mind blowing, and like most things, it’s not until we look back at where we started that we realize how far we’ve come. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite reminders that show us just how far technology has come.

 

The Floppy Disk

 floppy discs

Nowadays Floppy Disc’s are solely reserved for the “Save” icon on Microsoft Word, but Floppy Disk’s were once the cornerstone of 90’s kid tech evolution. These things used to only hold 1.44 MB’s, now we have USB drives capable of holding up to 1GB.

 

The Original iMac

imac

Remember when computers came in an assortment of colors? Enter the iMac G3, which was primarily responsible for Apple’s turnaround in the late 90’s. Kids today would gasp in shock at the pure size of Apple’s then innovative design, so let’s all give thanks for how far we’ve come.

 

The Sony Discman

Discman

There was nothing truly portable about the Sony Discman and skipping tracks was always an issue.

 

Blockbuster

Blockbuster

Friday night trips to Blockbuster were one of my family’s celebrated traditions. Now, we can easily stream movies and catch-up on any TV shows we may have missed through streaming services such as Netflix and OnDemand. Be kind, but there’s no need to rewind.

 

Planning for a Product Announcement

SECRET (1)

A brand can make a media announcement as often as every couple of weeks or as seldom as every few years, but each one is just as significant as the other. Although a client announcement or launch takes place over the course of a day, the work of an agency begins weeks in advance. Being prepared and planning methodically will be the difference between a successful or unsuccessful effort, and these tips and insights can help you get started:

  1. Communication With The Client: You’ve spent countless hours of drafting, revising and finally receiving an approval on your press release, but do you and your client have a mutual understanding of who’s at the receiving end of the news? Bypass a potentially stressful situation for the agency by working with your client’s marketing team to identify their top targets. Make these publications a priority while continuing to saturate the entire media market to maximize coverage
  2. Building New Media Relations: Clicking send on an email distribution can be easy, but the anonymity of this process negates the role of a public relations representative and does not ensure the best results for a launch. This is especially true for a media market you may be unaccustomed to working with. Take the time to introduce yourself to new contacts in advance of the launch and then they will be familiar with you and the company you represent.
  3. Pre-Launch Outreach: Embargoed news can really help with the success of a launch. Notifying your personal contacts ahead of time will give them time to ask questions and fully prepare the news for the day of the launch. This will help generate a slew of great press, providing your client with the coverage their announcement deserves.

The ultimate goal of an announcement or launch will depend on the nature of news you are conveying to the media. Whether it is a new product launch or an announcement of your client’s goal on a crowdfunding platform, maximizing every possible press opportunity will help your client succeed.

The 7 One Hit Wonders of the Tech Past

In honor of One Hit Wonder Day the GRS team decided to compile a list of our favorite products that rose to glory and faded reluctantly into darkness. Take a trip down memory lane with us and hit the comments with any classics we missed. We definitely didn’t mean to skip-it!

1. Tamagotchi – Because pets weren’t allowed in school

Tommagatchi

2.  Zune – Thumbs up to Microsoft for trying to keep up with Apple. #DeadInTheWater

    3.  Hit Clips – Because you really only need one minute of  your favorite 90’s songs to get the party started!

Hit Clips

4. Teddy Ruxpin – Siri, who?

Teddy Ruxpin

5.  Talk Boy – Because of course PR professionals love hearing the sound of their own voices!

.

7. Nintendo Power Pad – Who says you can’t work up a sweat playing video games?

The Evolution of a Startup: Steps to Growing up as a Brand

the evolution of a start up- steps to

Defining a startup can be challenging; is it based on company size, yearly or quarterly growth or projected income? While most people define a startup as a company in the early stages of its operation, there are no hard and fast rules of the definition.

We see a lot of startups in the consumer goods industry; everything from the small 2 man operation to larger teams with well over 100+ employees.  While there is a place and time to be defined as a startup, as public relations professionals and brand consultants, there comes a time when we have to encourage the companies we support to evolve.

We know growth can be tough, especially for companies, but eventually every company will be faced with pertinent decisions about their future. To prepare for those moments, we have a few tips to prime your company for the transition from startup to the growth phase and ultimately transform into an established company.

Media Programs

Of course, this is our agency’s bread and butter. By developing core media programs that include company profiles and executive interviews that not only demonstrate thought leadership, but company growth, can be a determining factor when legitimizing a business or organization. The media not only creates a framework for discussion, but provides a platform for a brands’ message to be told to a wider, interested body of consumers and investors. The agency shapes and molds the message with the media to help accelerate a company into the forefront of consumer’s attention.

Effective media relations also give companies the chance to be seen by retailers and buyers. The agency pinpoints publications with readerships in key retail markets ensuring the product is seen by decision makers and buyers.  Not only do retail partnerships create a steady stream of income, but provide a wider distribution of messaging which can help accelerate a company on all fronts.

Creative Assets

Media relations isn’t the be-all and end-all for transitioning a company from startup to established. It takes a holistic approach. Everything from the look and feel of the company website to formal headshots and expertly crafted executive bios, no detail should be overlooked when entering the competitive space of Corporate America. Adding a creative edge with polished assets can create the perception of an established company even if the startup hasn’t quite reached established level yet.

Guidance

Your PR representative should not only be a brand ambassador with the media, but provide guidance and direction during the entire growth process. PR representatives should seek and cultivate opportunities for brand growth by encouraging participation in mentor or accelerator programs, panel discussions and speaking engagements. Further, PR representatives should provide continuous brand counsel during these programs ensuring the brand’s message is being formed effectively and appropriately.

With the knowledge and know how from your public relations team, the agency can be a driving force for brand growth. Sam Cooke said it best, “It’s been a long time coming, but I know a change gon’ come”, and if executed properly, those changes can effectively move a company from startup to established.

Persuasion in a (Mis)guided World

I think it was the Blockbuster hit best movie ever, Field of Dreams, that once said “If you build it, he will come”, but any entrepreneur, heck any business owner, knows that isn’t always the case. We build, destroy, strategize and rebuild again before finally landing upon the perfect business model or product that not only appeals to the masses but to funders and investors. However, without an effective communication plan, even the best idea can fall short.

That’s where we come in. Like you, we understand there is no magic formula – anyone remember Pepsi’s fail “Crystal Pepsi”? Like I was saying, the public relations, marketing, social media and communication strategists fly in like the Marvel Comics to advise and provide media strategy in hopes of making the needle move out of the red and into the GREEN. We are an integral part of the brands’ team working directly with the company to make an unforgettable campaign.

While there might not be a secret formula, we’re willing to tell you one of our secrets. The foundation of everything we do; our most valuable tool. The one we cannot live without is rhetoric. Yes, old fashioned, debate club, rhetoric. By definition, rhetoric is the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing which has an effect on its audience.

This skill is what makes our campaigns and strategic communication plans go from good to great. It is how we effectively tell stories, communicate concepts and move the needle with knock-em-dead media coverage.  The short and sweet of rhetoric is three elements: logos – logic, reason, proof; ethos – credibility trust; pathos – emotions, values.

Rhetoric is an invaluable tool that must be taken into consideration with any business or communication plan – from the beginning stages of product development to strategic public relation campaigns. If we could offer one piece of advice for startups or companies looking to build a brand, rebrand or create a product with the help of a public relations agency we suggest asking if the perspective agency can define the three elements of rhetoric. If not, call us.