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Dog Eat Dog PR Wars

pet-food-marketingWhen it comes to pet food PR, it truly is a dog eat dog marketplace. Currently, the industry is dominated by brands you know well, Purina, for example. But, Ronn Torossian is following the ascent of the nation’s fastest growing player in the dog and cat food marketplace, Blue Buffalo. The company, which markets its kibble as the “all natural” alternative to traditional pet food offerings, has certainly struck a chord and is making major waves in the marketplace.

Torossian believes this is because Blue Buffalo has connected with an as yet underserved – and enthusiastic – market segment. The company connected with this market using some tried and true marketing methods that founder and Chairman, Bill Bishop honed at Kool-Aid, Tang, and SoBe, a beverage company he founded in the 1990s.

Pet Food Marketing & PR

One of these principles, which doubles as smart public relations, is the presence of a noticeable and memorable mascot. SoBe had that omnipresent lizard, now Blue Buffalo has the American buffalo. That may have absolutely nothing to do with pet food, but it doesn’t have to. That sort of brand characterization focuses consumers and makes a brand instantly recognizable to folks who are accustomed to looking for a competitor on the shelf. It offers a focal point that imbeds in consumer memory, so they will know it again when they see it. Plus, the emblem’s familiarity compels another look, and that’s when new customers are really captured based on better features and added benefits.

And, it is at the point of decision when Blue Buffalo really proves it knows its customers. Bishop says his marketing and advertising approach intentionally targets “pet parents,” those who are most likely to make a health-conscious choice for their pets. The ones whose pets are family members with carefully considered diets.

By making their brand memorable and connective, and by knowing their market well, Bishop and his team have been able to craft a PR message and a market presence that speaks directly to their intended target, a group that has responded by making a buying decision again and again.

Amazon Phone: Will it Crash and Burn?

amazon-phoneAmazon got some bad news recently when it was announced that poorer than expected profit numbers led to stock prices dropping, by nearly double digits in some reports. Some blamed intense market scrutiny that accused analysts of making too big a deal of micro level numbers. The implication then, is that companies such as Amazon or Pandora, which also showed a significant slip, are simply the latest victims in an increasingly minutia-inspired game.

Others are blaming recent expansions and what some are calling missteps for investor uncertainty, while there are some who are coming right out and blaming the Amazon Fire smartphone, calling the device a commercial albatross. And, since a smartphone is the product most consumers can identify with, that’s the story that is getting the press.

 

Amazon unveils new cellphone despite lower than expected profits

Because so many consumers are buying their mobile devices based as much – or more – on brands versus features and functionality, new players in the market really have to do something special to stand out. And that, say the critics, is where the Amazon Fire, much like its larger sibling, the Kindle Fire, fails. The larger Fire failed to differentiate from the industry leading iPad and gradually gaining Samsung Galaxy tablet. The cute commercials with the SOS answer girl may have come too late to save the Fire, as it still lives in the single digits in market share.

It may have been possible for the Fire phone to come on strong and make a major market splash in the same way the Samsung Galaxy did, but the phone released with little fanfare and even less market identity. People were not give a REASON to switch over, and the competition was giving them plenty of reasons to stay.

This scenario is a sharp consumer PR lesson for Amazon and any company with two distinct business arenas – stuff that the market understands and stuff that the average consumer cares about.

Even if investors understand why consumer confidence is down, many still like to play it safe, putting their money where the consumers’ mouths are. And, in this case, Amazon looks to be the loser. Does that mean they scrap the phone and concentrate on the market lines that made them an international powerhouse? Probably not in the immediate future, but that’s a question only Bezos’ team can answer.

In the meantime, the PR team promoting the Fire needs to get on the stick. Their time is almost up.

Beyonce and Jay-Z’s PR Crisis Management

jayz-solange-crisisIn light of recent rumors that Jay-Z and Beyonce’s marriage is on the rocks, Entertainment Tonight spoke with the CEO of 5W Public Relations, Ronn Torossian, about the couple’s public relations crisis and their immediate need for Crisis PR. The rumors began circulating in May 2014 after Beyonce’s sister, Solange Knowles, was caught on an elevator security camera swinging at Jay-Z at the Met Gala in New York City. The leaked video footage suggested that there was trouble in paradise. Beyonce and Jay-Z are not just husband and wife; they are business partners and their marriage is a brand.

With so much at stake, a clash of their personal and professional lives could mean an end to the Bey and Jay empire.Despite the negative media attention, the show must go own. With the couple currently co-headlining a tour, personal issues are being put on the back burner and business is remaining the top priority. The rumors may even be helping to boost ticket sales as fans of the power duo are now paying closer attention – such close attention, in fact, that the audience caught Beyonce changing a lyric to one of her songs while on stage, with the new wording suggesting her husband had been unfaithful.Aside from continuing the tour, Beyonce and Jay-Z have also been wisely keeping up appearances, which is causing the public to have more questions than answers. The two have remained quiet and casual despite the negative media attention and have been going on about their lives both personally and professionally as if their marriage isn’t in the headlines.

Since the elevator brawl, it’s apparent that the couple’s PR team has been working hard behind the scenes, making a few strategic yet discrete moves in an attempt to deflect the rumors. One of the first steps Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Solange took was to release a joint statement addressing the leaked footage. The statement said that Solange and Jay-Z claimed equal responsibility, apologies were made, and the family had moved on peacefully.

Beyonce also took to Instagram, posting pictures of her and Solange in what appeared to be a blatant attempt to prove the sisters were on good terms. Perhaps the most telling move the couple made was creating a short film together to promote their upcoming tour. The affection they shared in the movie left the public wondering how their marriage, and their brand, could ever come to an end. With all of this, there is no question that the Carter family crisis has been handled well by PR.

The PR Power of Taboo

taboo-prRecent U.S. sanctions against Russia have prompted an interesting side effect. Apparently, Russian manufacturers are literally running out of AK-47s. One of the companies included in the most recent sanction was Kalashnikov Concern, maker of the notoriously tough and reliable weapon. Now, CNN is reporting that K-Var’s website has listed AK-47s as “out of stock.”

Ronn Torossian says this situation illustrates one of the ways companies can turn taboos or scarcity into public relations bonanzas. It’s human nature to want what you can’t have, and marketers have been banking on limited or controlled market availability for centuries.

But, how can a company turn “you can’t have that” into a public relations coup? Start by loosely connecting the benefits of the product or service with the scarcity issue.

Now, look at the ways something that might otherwise be considered “different” or “weird,” and turn that into a feature or a benefit. Less than a year ago, American consumers were all about the AR-15. Widely considered a “better” weapon than the AK-47, the AR nearly dominated the American semiautomatic sporting rifle market. The Russian-made weapons had a proud history, but their American competitors were being featured nearly every day on the news. Why? Because they had become the central talking point for a rumored “assault rifle” ban. Suddenly, a weapon not in the highest demand was being presented as a product that might soon be illegal, or otherwise off the market. Consumers flooded retailers with orders.

The demand was so high it spawned several related specialty markets such as accessories and customization. Today, AR-15 orders have fallen off, and it’s the perfect moment for AK’s to fill the gap. The Public Relations Power of Taboo at work.

Microsoft banks on productivity… maybe?: Tech Giant Switching Gears

changes-at-microsoftThe tech company most known for giving users tools now wants to shift gears toward helping them get things done. Ronn Torossian believes this new market position, delivered by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, sends a potentially positive message that Microsoft understands that the tech PR world has moved on. Mobility and user experience matter more than anything else.

According to his Mission Statement Memo, Nadella is planning to lead a shift at Microsoft from creative gadgets and interface tools to “reinvent(ing) productivity for people who are swimming in a growing sea of devices, apps, data, and social networks.”

Sounds like Nadella is positioning Microsoft to create the Swiss army knife of mobile tech. His address went on to say that, under his leadership, Microsoft would “build the solutions that address the productivity needs of groups and entire organizations, as well as individuals by putting them at the center of their computing experiences.”

That would be an interesting market wide shift. Take a look at the average user these days, and they feel less in control as they simply react to the technology available. If Microsoft wants to put users in the center, it will have to figure out a way to engage them in proactive interaction with their devices.

Nadella went on to say Microsoft would empower people with new insights, and build tools that are more predictive and helpful. So, maybe this is more of the status quo than we want to believe. Yet, in the very next line, Nadella offers some hope: “Every experience Microsoft builds will understand the rich context of the individual at work and in life to help them organize and accomplish things with ease.”

Those back-to-back statements beg the question: “Which is it? Are you creating an experience or facilitating one?”

This will be a key PR message Microsoft must articulate if it wants to stake its own claim to the ever-shifting mobile computing marketplace.

Transformers Huge in China

transformers-chinaSometimes a movie won’t do well in the States, but it will find its footing across the ocean. And, sometimes, a film is designed to do just that. Sure, Transformers 4 was not the box office juggernaut it could have been in the USA, but it has already topped $220 million in sales in China. And, Ronn Torossian says, with a massive fan base of eager moviegoers you can expect an increasing number of summer blockbusters being built to travel.

So far, Transformers: Age of Extinction is setting the pace in this regard. According to Businessweek, the producers cast several of the movie’s cast via a reality show in China, and some of the action scenes are actually set in that country. Both of these facts were key points in a massive Chinese PR push ahead of the movie’s release in the People’s Republic.

But, marketing alone cannot turn a crossover film into a foreign success. They have to set the table with carefully crafted entertainment PR liberally seasoned with an acute understanding of multiple markets. The point being, even mass media isn’t made for just American “masses”, anymore. Not if anyone wants to make any money on the projects, anyway.

Americans are going out to the movies less and less, even during traditionally popular seasons such as the summer blockbuster time centered around the Independence Day weekend. In fact, the most recent 4th of July weekend turned in record low numbers, with theaters taking in one-third less than they made during the same period last year. While some are blaming this on soccer, movie producers have far too much invested to think so short term. To compensate for this trend, movie makers have to find additional audiences … and they have to market the same movies to them.

Every brand and every industry, sooner or later, has to face these challenges. Markets get saturated, and new markets must be discovered and developed. Without an expert PR team on your side, that task can prove next to impossible.

Israel Diamond Week, Henry Swieca & More..

henry-swiecaRegistration for the International Diamond Week in Israel, a customized diamond sales event for accredited diamond buyers, initiated and organized by the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE), is now open. This exclusive event will be held September 1-4, on the bourse’s trading floor in Ramat Gan.

Henry Swieca and others have strongly advocated for Israel business… Qualified buyers who register for this late summer edition of this exclusve diamond buying event will be offered up to four free hotel nights in the designated venue hotels. “We have secured blocks of rooms at several hotels close to the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange complex,” said IDE General Manager Moti Besser. “They will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, and therefore, we urge interested buyers to register quickly and not to wait.”

“We’re excited and highly motivated about bringing this event to the next level,” said IDE President Shmuel Schnitzer “For the September edition, we have joined hands with the Antwerp Diamond Bourse (Beurs voor Diamanthandel), Belgium’s largest bourse, and with the Diamond Dealers Club of New York (DDC NY), who will be arriving with their own member delegations, making this a joint venture with three of the world’s leading diamond exchanges. Together, the exhibiting diamantaires will offer an unprecedented choice of diamonds on the floor, expected to be worth far beyond $1 billion.

The September show will also feature an exclusive polished diamond auction by the Rapaport Group. Meanwhile, negotiations are also taking place with other partners for the organization of additional, value-adding events during the week.

How to Create Animated GIFs on Twitter – & what is their next feature

create-gif-twitterRecently, Twitter added a native feature that allows users to upload animated GIFs to their tweets and profiles says PR Executive of 5WPR Ronn Torossian. Users of Twitter have waited many years for these features and are quite excited to start including them in their Tweets. Twitter considers these animated files to be embedded media and therefore requires users to actually press a “play” button to see them. Nonetheless, they are still an exciting feature that users can include in their Tweets to make them more interesting for followers. Below is an explanation of how users can create animated GIFs for Twitter right now.

In the past, animated GIF files were only possible on Twitter either by linking to the file or by using a third-party platform called Giphy. For many users, this was acceptable but still caused concerns for others who didn’t like having to use a third-party service. When making a Tweet, users can simply add a GIF file like they would a normal image. This file will then automatically function as multimedia and therefore display this rich media content by default. While some services take animated GIF files and turn them into static images, Twitter will now support full multimedia GIFs in this way.

Many Twitter users are now wondering what took so long to finally get these new features. Most experts agree that Twitter was most likely afraid of suffering adverse performance due to a proliferation of these animated images throughout the website. Since they have a higher file size, perhaps Twitter was concerned with hosting costs back when bandwidth was still expensive. However, these changes still raise questions as to why Twitter didn’t go ahead and support more advanced formats like .webm, which is widely regarded as more resource-efficient by many magnitudes.

Users wondering what Twitter might do next could potentially expect to see formats like .webm in the near future on the website. In addition, the platform may start to support more advanced video formats that might even include proprietary ones that the world might not know about. Only time will tell, but for now users are free to enjoy these new animated GIF features on Twitter.

4 steps to Market Immersion using Targeted PR

targeted-advertisingProduct, service, brand, or idea – nothing can penetrate a market without a successful PR campaign. You must engage the market, get enough of them to listen, and keep that conversation going and growing. How to make that happen is a mystery that many businesses fail to unravel. They pay the price for that failure by falling into obscurity.

Public Relations executive Ronn Torossian says there are four sure-fire steps to grabbing a market, and getting them to pay attention long enough to make a pitch that lands. Without them, you are entering a land of endless speculation. With them, you are setting yourself up for success.

Market Immersion through Targeted PR

#1 – Curiosity – human beings are hardwired to be all but impervious to curiosity. Honestly, we are more curious than the proverbial cat. Get someone wondering, and they just can’t let it go. That’s just how our brains work. If you can create curiosity with your initial message, you will earn the opportunity to keep people engaged long enough to make your pitch. But, don’t do it… first you must create…

#2 – Speculation – this is nothing more than a different, targeted sort of curiosity. Instead of a general wondering or interest, speculation creates an internal dialogue about a specific idea or application related to your product or service. Something that can help your target… or something that, without it, will hurt your market’s life. But, once you get them thinking, you need to deliver.

#3 – Fulfillment – nothing succeeds like success, and nothing connects a customer to a marketer like fulfilling a promise. This transaction must be set up early on, though. You need to know your customer enough to understand how they will react, and how your product or service will work for them. You set up that expectation early on in the curiosity phase, build on it during speculation, and then deliver results before they have a chance to create their own fully-fleshed expectations.

#4 – Conversation – once you have them satisfied, ask them what they liked about the experience. Keep the conversation going. Ask them to share that positive experience with their friends. Remember, you have to do that while they are still feeling good about the fulfillment YOU said they would experience. That’s when the trust level is at its peak.

If you cannot deliver your message, even these steps will not help you succeed. Partner with a PR firm that knows how to get results, and the sky’s the limit.

Take Your PR Game to the Next Level

5WPRWhat’s in a name? Everything. The most successful corporations invest heavily in their trademarks and trade dress. They spend huge sums developing just the right logo with the right colors and dimensions to project their brand image to the buying public. But keeping up appearances and keeping your company in the minds of the right people may need an extra boost. Large corporations need to do more than advertise, and large brands need more than exposure to remain relevant. They need to put themselves in the mind of the consumer in everyday situations to become a true house-hold name.

 

Here are some key public relations and marketing ideas written by Ronn Torossian CEO of 5WPR, to take your Public Relations game to the next level: Make it Personal Put a face with the name. Put your CEO out in the public eye. Have him or her give interviews. Don’t shy from the press. Have key corporate personnel develop a relationship with the press.

 

Build public trust by telling people what you are doing, and why, and how it will benefit the market. If you’re hiring, talk about how your company is helping the economy, be it local or international. Investors and customers alike love to be able to put a face with a name. Building a stronger and better brand image means associating your company or your product with positive personal commitment and contributions to the community.

 

Taking Public Marketing to the Next Level

You’ve created a catchy and user-friendly website. Your page has interactive features and informative links to provide your customers with timely information they need. Now take your public marketing a step higher. Endorse a civic event with high visibility. Have your name or brand displayed in public places like a soccer field, a ballpark, or a concert hall. Sometimes, for surprisingly little, your company can sponsor the arts, sports or local events and enjoy increased and continuous public appreciation as a result.

Put It Front and Center

Product placements have become widely accepted in television, pay-per-view movies, and specials. It is no accident that some serials have featured top-named beverages such as Coke, Budweiser and Nike. Everyone loves a winner. Is there a well-publicized marathon in your city? Consider placing your shirt on the runners. They will run by the camera, or be interviewed, and your logo will appear wherever they do. You can also get a lot of mileage by sponsoring a local school team. Parents, team members, and people in the audience will see your name on the marquee, or in a sideline display, and associate your product name with the sport or event that is part of their everyday lives.