5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian News & Updates

Tag: 5W Public Relations

Can Snapchat Really Match up Against the Bigger Hitters in Social War?

ronn torossian snapchat

In , Facebook and YouTube reign supreme. But there are a host of up and comers and strong contenders, especially second generation apps like Instagram and Snapchat, which marketed to Millennials and younger audiences, leaving Facebook largely to their parents. Twitter, though it does cross generations, is not in the top three.

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Can the Cowboys save the NFL?

Can the Cowboys save the NFL?

In case you haven’t seen a sports channel or read the sports section of the newspaper lately, here’s a bulletin for you: the NFL is in dire straits. With viewership – and profits – falling the league needs to find a way to make it work like it used to.

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Backlash builds for Wells Fargo

Backlash builds for Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. Predatory lending gave way to a massive scandal that revealed thousands of employees were creating millions of fake bank, savings, and credit accounts using the personal information of current account holders.

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Responding to Viral Customers to Benefit your Brand


Today, customers have a stronger voice than ever thanks to the rise of social media. As more and more people adopt smartphones and grow accustomed to an always-connected lifestyle, responding quickly to consumers is critical for delivering exceptional customer care.

Consumers are getting tired of shopping the old-fashioned way, with more customers opting to buy things online than in-store. But, that’s not the only thing they’re doing more of online. Given the hectic pace of modern day life, consumers have had to adjust to new constraints on their time.

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American Idol Signs Off for the Final Time

american idol public relations

American Idol is done, and there is no doubt the program changed the way we do TV in modern America. Back in 2002, the reality TV craze was just gaining real steam, but Fox has something new and exciting up its sleeve. A twist on the familiar talent show shtick that would allow viewers to determine the fate of the contestants. We could all be Caesar with our thumbs up or down.

American Idol Season One

At the end of season one, Kelly Clarkson edged Justin Guarini to take the title. She went on to global superstardom and was remembered fondly in an episode earlier this season in which she served as a guest judge and mentor for the contestants.

This time around, it was another male-female finale. Trent Harmon beat La’Porsha Renae to take the title and the recording contract that comes with it. After 15 seasons, American Idol was done.

In its heyday, AI was as “must see” as TV has been in the 20th Century. Huge numbers of people watched and voted and voted and voted. The show drew big name sponsors and made household names out of DJ Ryan Seacrest, acerbic producer Simon Cowell and offered new chances at fame for musicians like Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul.

American Idol Viewership Declines

In later years, viewership waned, and, finally realizing it was the judges and not the singers who were the stars of the show, producers brought in actual music superstars to be the judges. After a few interesting seasons – remember Steven Tyler – the show found the right group in Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick Jr. The trio brought together most popular genres as well as collective decades of professional experience.

But, despite its evolution through 15 seasons, the show returned to its roots for the finale. Clarkson appeared in a pre-taped segment, and the curtain fell with Seacrest joined onstage by Jackson, Abdul, and Cowell.

The finale didn’t lack for contestant nostalgia either, bringing back Scotty McCreery, Taylor Hicks, Diana DeGarmo, Jennifer Hudson, David Cook, Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, Jordin Sparks and Kimberley Locke … and, of course, megastar Carrie Underwood, the undisputed queen of Idol alumni, who sang a duet with Urban.

American Idol – The End of an Era

Even President Obama made an appearance, in a pretaped segment. When POTUS shows up on your finale, you know you’ve made a cultural impact. Now some are asking if there will be another show as impactful as Idol. Skeptics abound. They argue viewership is changing. Folks are too splintered, too distracted to connect in the same way. Then again, there were a lot of people, way back in 2002, that said talent shows were dead too.

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Rockefellers no longer oil barons: That’s A Tough PR Sell


Any time you are a member of a club, and one of the founding members drops a very public hammer on that club, things get rough from a perspective. Accusations fly, and massive counter programming campaigns begin from various factions.

Such is the case with the Rockefeller family’s recent parting of the ways with Big Oil. The patriarch of the family, commonly thought of as one of the first American business tycoons, John D. Rockefeller, founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870.

Somewhere down the line, John’s progeny, who all benefited wildly from the fossil fuel industry, founded the Rockefeller Family Fund, a charity created to support environmental causes, economic justice and other related issues. Now that charity, run by Rockefeller’s direct family line, is pulling its assets out of oil companies, including major holdings in Exxon Mobil.

Fund representatives told CBS News, “While the global community works to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, it makes little sense — financially or ethically — to continue holding investments in these companies. There is no sane rationale for companies to continue to explore for new sources of hydrocarbons.”

That statement, even more than the funding transfer, rang out like a shot directly aimed at the oil industry. It was a personal statement. After all, Exxon was one of the companies spun off from Standard Oil when President Roosevelt went trust busting at the turn of the 20th Century.

That may have been enough to start a war of words between the representatives of the various parties involved, but the attacks didn’t end there.

“Evidence appears to suggest that the company worked since the 1980s to confuse the public about climate change’s march while simultaneously spending millions to fortify its own infrastructure against climate change’s destructive consequences and track new exploration opportunities as the Arctic’s ice receded,” spokesmen representing the fund said.

This is not the first time the family has confronted the oil industry head-on. Senator Jay Rockefeller once accused Exxon of directly funding climate change deniers.

Now the gloves are off. CBS News reported a response received from Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers: “It’s not surprising that they’re divesting from the company since they’re already funding a conspiracy against us.”

The “he said/she said” tactic was just the beginning of Exxon’s response. They have repeatedly argued the science on climate change is inconclusive, and now they are trying to paint the Rockefellers as climate extremists on a crusade against business.

How the public responds to this exchange depends both on preconceived ideas as well as which side does a better job of counter programming PR. Should be interesting to watch.

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Starbucks facing massive backlash over rewards

starbucks public relations

Starbucks managed to slide through the Red Christmas Cup “Nontroversy” with ease, as most consumers and coffee fans realized it was cup ado about nothing. But now there’s news that has Starbucks fans legitimately upset.

The company recently announced it would be changing its rewards program, a move that has its caffeinated fans in a tizzy. Until April, patrons in the program receive one “star” per visit. Now, patrons will receive two stars for each dollar spent. Sounds great, right … especially since each visit likely earns you, at least, four stars.

Well, here’s where the other shoe drops. Starbucks is changing how the points or perks are tabulated. Before the change customers received “gold” status once they earned 30 stars. Basically, go to S-bux 30 times and you’re, at least in this respect, golden.

What’s so special about that? Well, gold members get free stuff after they earn 12 more stars. So, go to Starbucks 30 times plus 12 and you get free stuff. Simple right?

Well, not anymore. Now customers will need a whopping 300 stars ($150 in spending) to reach gold status. To actually achieve anything with that status, customers will have to spend another $60 or more for EACH FREE ITEM.

For folks who drop $5 each visit, they can go 30 times and still get paid. Well, qualify to earn the opportunity to get free stuff, anyway. Customers who just come by for a quick cup of Joe will have to come A LOT more often to earn the chance to begin working toward free stuff.

Doesn’t sound like much of a rewards program now, does it? Nope. And customers agree. Just ask Twitter. The tweet rage has been phenomenal. Folks REALLY hate the new rules, and they’re not at all shy about letting Starbucks know all about their feelings on the matter.

In response, Starbucks doubled down, telling aggrieved customers the decision was based on their requests for a spending-based incentive plan. In effect, Starbucks is telling their customers: You’re unhappy? Well, be careful what you wish for … because we’ll give it to you.

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Barilla pushing pasta as a healthy alternative


Pasta is good for you. That’s the message Italian pasta maker Barilla hopes to deliver convincingly to an American public fast becoming distrustful of all things bread. From carb counters to gluten-fearing consumers, American eaters are moving away from bread-based diets at a fast rate.

Meanwhile, the so-called Mediterranean diet is all the rage, a dichotomy Barilla CEO Guido Barilla can’t quite square. Thin and undoubtedly in shape, Barilla says he eats pasta daily, sometimes twice, and calls it the basis of the real Mediterranean diet.

While the company adjusts its sauce products to suit American tastes – more spices and sugar – if they can’t get folks to eat pasta, their efforts are all in vain.

So, the uphill battle faced by Barilla is two-fold. They must simultaneously kowtow to American preferences while also somehow convincing Americans that their ideas about food are wrong. It’s the latter that Barilla takes on most directly. In CNN reports, the CEO has plainly stated American consumers don’t “know the facts.” He argues that Americans think they know what’s good for them, but are simply buying into propaganda.

If that argument fails, Barilla is already working on a backup plan. Instead of just telling people they are wrong – a tough sell no matter what the subject is – his company is suggesting people explore the differences between carbs in white bread and donuts and the carbs in pasta.

This is an argument that may find more traction. People are much more willing to explore and learn than they are to believe they are just flat out wrong. Trying to get someone to just “believe” they have been duped is all but impossible. Just look at . Doesn’t matter the topic, any comment that says: “you’re wrong” is nearly always met with derision or outright profanity. People don’t like being told they are wrong.

Conversely, they really don’t mind being told one thing is different, even if only slightly, than something else. People love choosing one thing over another. The trick is for Barilla to make people think the choice is their idea. If he can do that, he’s really onto something.

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Intergalactic PR: Space Tourism Become a Reality

space tourism public relations

As SpaceX continues to surge ahead in the consumer race back into space, its competitor, Virgin Galactic is doing its best to get off the launch pad.

Virgin Galactic’s latest initiative – which should be revealed next week – is a second generation of its previous space tourism rocket, SpaceShipTwo. The rocket is the first to roll out since an accident in 2014, which destroyed its predecessor and killed the pilot.

It was a rough setback for the industry, and Virgin Galactic’s owner, Richard Branson, wisely pulled back out of the spotlight, going back to the drawing board and allowing SpaceX to get some – though not too much – of the positive press.

At the time, Branson told the press he was having second thoughts. “When we had the accident, for about 24 hours we were wondering whether it was worth continuing, whether we should call it a day.”

An investigation into the incident blamed pilot error on the mishap, and Branson said both astronauts and others made it clear that space travel is much too important a dream to abandon after one tragic accident.

Now Branson and Virgin Galactic are back to attempt wresting control of the modern space race away from its competitor. SpaceShipTwo is designed to carry a crew of eight – two pilots and six passengers – and climb to an altitude of about 62 miles. It’s a suborbital flight, but will allow guests to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and get a higher than a bird’s eye view of earth.

The project is still in the testing phase and quite a ways from actually taking consumers into space … but Virgin is officially back in the space business.

Both major competitors have suffered losses in this process to date, and public perception remains hopeful. History proved that going into space the first time was not ever simple or easy, and even when shuttle flights had become relatively routine, accidents could occur.

At this point, though, the best way to re-establish full consumer confidence is to succeed – and succeed in a big way. That will take risk. A factor with which Branson is intimately familiar.

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Does Macy’s closing signal the end of malls?

Macys Closing Pr

These days most department stores are hemorrhaging cash. Macy’s was supposed to be one of the big holdouts. Strong, while JC Penney’s and Sears suffered (some by self-inflicted wounds) Macy’s stood strong on the strength of unimpeachable positive consumer PR. Everyone loved Macy’s thanks to the Thanksgiving Day Parade and Miracle on 34th Street. Consumers see Macy’s as more than a department store. It’s a part of Americana, as ubiquitous as shared holidays and apple pie.

Malls Are Out

Maybe not anymore. The company recently announced plans to shutter up to 40 stores nationwide. Not a huge number, but a significant one. The closures are seen as harbingers of the end of an era. America isn’t interested in malls anymore.

Once the go-to hangout for American teens and the go-to shopping destination for suburban moms, malls were all the rage. It was where you met your friends, where you browsed. Cultural groups defined themselves by where they shopped. Were you a “Sears” shopper or a “Macy’s” shopper? Foot Locker or Journeys? Chess King or Hot Topic?

Now, while many of the malls in question teeter on the brink, a Macy’s departure could be all she wrote. Consultants have already said replacing Macy’s could be “all but impossible.”

Now the malls in question have a big problem. What to do if and when Macy’s leaves. Some have said just give it up. Move on, because that’s what America is doing. The social aspect of hanging out at the mall can’t trump the loss in revenue when an anchor store leaves. Lose the anchor, the rest of the place begins to drift.

Department Stores Are Suffering Too

There’s no question that department stores are suffering. Pretty much the bottom of the barrel in retailing. Higher costs, negative growth, and plummeting customer base. Consumers are quickly pushing themselves into two categories – bargain shoppers and boutique shoppers.

Bargain hunters don’t want to go to perceived high-end retailers and boutique shoppers are looking for a specific item. They don’t want to sort through stacks and racks of Everything Else to get what they want.

Those who have fully embraced this potential reality have already begun looking for ways to convert mall space into different uses – offices, churches, that sort of thing.

Others are hoping for a different retail option. But answers are not readily obvious. It will take a totally new idea and a strong PR push to grab consumer attention and begin to influence their buying habits in a world where online shopping and specialty stores already cater to them like personal butlers.

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