News and Updates from 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian

Tag: 5W Public Relations

Who’s better: Cam or Peyton?

cam newton peyton manning

The Super Bowl is once again upon us, and the matchup – Peyton Manning versus Cam Newton – has many industry commentators asking which quarterback is better.

On paper, that question is laughable. Peyton Manning is one of the best of all time. A five-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champ, and advertising powerhouse. Acknowledged as one of the best-prepared players to ever take the field, even Newton calls him “The General.”

Manning has inspired and informed a generation of QBs. He has been a model of how to play the game. And that’s where the rub is. Manning “has” and “has been.” While clearly he’s not a “has been” quite yet, Peyton is clearly in the twilight of his career. Pretty much everyone is taking for granted this will be his last Super Bowl appearance.

When it comes to marketing, Peyton still holds sway. He can be in commercials without ever mentioning his name. He can get you humming his brand’s theme song just by making a few self-mocking sketches in a 30-second spot. Crawfish shorts? Really?? That’s Peyton Manning, advertising juggernaut. While players before him have taken a Superman approach to marketing, by hyping themselves as much as their products, Manning seems content to laugh (at himself) all the way to the bank.

Newton is hot on his heels. As I’m writing this, the NFL MVP for this season has yet to be announced, but most prognosticators expect Newton to be a lock. They also expect him to massacre the Broncos in next weekend’s Super Bowl 50. And, of course, Manning is likely considering retirement. Sure, retired QBs like Brett Favre and Joe Montana still cash checks from advertising, but the NFL is a young man’s game. The fattest checks always go to the established, but still up and coming superstar. Cam Newton is that guy.

Newton is made for Madison Avenue. He’s literally bigger than life, and he absolutely loves the spotlight. Plus, he’s figured out the same thing Peyton has, but in a slightly different way. It’s all a game. Football is big business, but that business is fun, so if you bring the energy, people will love you. On the field, Manning is stoic and controlled, but still deadly. Newton is a wrecking ball. He literally and figuratively steamrolls opponents. Then he celebrates in front of their fans. Imagine what advertisers could do with that sort of attitude. Sports marketing hasn’t had someone that much fun since Bo Jackson.

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Jamie Foxx Rescues Driver

Jamie Foxx Saves Driver

Sometimes fantasy comes crashing into reality, leaving both looking the worse for wear. Other times, when tested, the on-screen hero comes through in a big way. That’s the story coming out of Hollywood after actor Jamie Foxx found himself in a life or death situation.

Foxx heard a crash on the street outside his home. He ran outside to see a truck on it’s side, engulfed in flames. He could have called 911, he could have run, he could have done all manner of things nobody would have blamed him for. Instead, Foxx climbed inside the burning vehicle and rescued the man trapped there.

Brett Kyle, 32, was driving too fast, reportedly drunk when he crashed his Tacoma in a drainage ditch near Foxx’s home. That’s when the Hollywood star stepped in.

Speaking to reporters at CNN, Foxx said, “I said, ‘you’ve got to help me get you out because I don’t want to leave you.’ I said, ‘ You’ve got angels around you…’”

Foxx helped an off-duty EMT cut Kyle out of his seatbelt and drag him away from the burning truck.

“I don’t look at it as heroic. I just look at it as … you just had to do something,” Foxx said, “It all worked out.”

By the time fire crews arrived on the scene, the entire truck was aflame. While Foxx may be downplaying his role in the rescue, others are not.

CNN reported Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Mike Lindbery saying, “When fire crews arrived on scene just one minute later, they reported the vehicle as fully involved in fire … It was a pretty courageous thing to do. It’s rare these days that you find someone willing to jump in to help.”

At that moment, Foxx made a “rare” decision that, in the eyes of the consumer public, revealed the action hero to be much more than an on-screen imitation of the guy in the white hat.

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Chipotle Still Reeling Thanks to E-Coli Scare

CHIPOLTE PUBLIC RELATIONS

Chipotle just felt the “two” of the one-two punch land. Immediately after the CDC discovered an outbreak of e coli in locations in Seattle and Portland exploded with endless barrages of consumer doubt and disgust. Recently, the company was forced to disclose the outbreak was not contained and could be in as many as six states. Upon hearing that news, the market responded accordingly. Chipotle stock plummeted about 12 percent last.

Now the company is facing a PR crisis on two fronts: consumer and investor. The consumer PR crisis is bad and getting worse. Every time the CDC announced a new state impacted by the outbreak – California, Minnesota, Ohio, New York, Oregon and Washington have been listed so far – it gets worse for the brand.

The more people who hear about it, the more people are talking about it. That volume also leads to longevity. A relatively minor outbreak could come and go quickly, barely registering a blip on the national news. But now, with locations in six states (and, possibly, counting) involved in the CDC investigation there is no containing this monster. It’s a safe bet that the only reason Chipotle is not the lead story right now is that the POTUS race and refugee crisis are monopolizing the news cycle.

At this point Chipotle is relegated to reporting a rather bleak silver lining. No new cases have been reported in the original epicenters of Seattle and Portland. That’s scant reassurance for a consumer public growing increasingly weary of this outbreaks and wary of mass produced food – even if it’s purportedly healthy.

In quite possibly the worst choice of words, representatives said the outbreak was “contained.” Unfortunately for them, the consumer public doesn’t agree … and they are sick to death of hearing about “contained” threats. Take a wild guess how many times folks have Googled “contained threat” in the past week or so … your guess is probably very, very low. And, while most of those responses will be about Obama’s ISIS comments, there’s Chipotle, mixed in the search responses with … ISIS! Yeah, talk about from bad to worse.

Recently, Chipotle offered a sincere apology. Given the state of things and the unfortunate language used that, however unintentionally, connected their brand with much worse news in the world, it’s going to take more than an apology to make this right.

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Why A-list Star Power is Not Enough

Old Hollywood

In the salad days of Old Hollywood, when the studio system ran Tinseltown, Star Power mattered more than anything else. Theater fans didn’t go to see this or that movie. They went to see the latest movie starring this or that person. And, when people didn’t know much more about a film than who was in it, that worked wonders.       

Today, not so much.

In an era when even teaser trailers are endlessly dissected and discussed online, no movie is safe from negative impressions before release. And, if a film deviates from a proven formula, the results can be financially disastrous and catastrophic for an actor’s career.

Making a “bad” movie when you are a relatively new actor can send you searching for a new career. Even established actors can crash and burn. Two prime examples, Kevin Costner, and Mel Gibson, offer a stark contrast in what can happen with the so-called passion project, when an actor puts everything into a role and thinks, suddenly, everything they will do is a success.

Costner struck gold with “Dances With Wolves” Everyone loved it, and it catapulted Costner into rarified air … so much so that he made “Waterworld” and “The Postman”. While both movies had their fans, neither was a success, costing the star and the distributor a ton of cash.

Ditto Gibson. “Braveheart” was a critical and financial success. And, though reactions were decidedly mixed, “Passion of the Christ” made ridiculous bank. Then came “Apocalypto”. For most people, not even Gibson’s yet to be tarnished name was enough to ensure success.

The latest misstep in this regard goes to two Halloween releases, the Sandra Bullock vehicle “Our Brand is Crisis” and the Bradley Cooper movie “Burnt” opened to great fanfare … and nobody showed up.

Now, on one hand you could argue the timing was terrible. Do people really want to see political dramas or passion projects when they are thinking about ghosts and zombies? Apparently not.

But the trends say it was more than timing. People are simply not going to movies for the stars anymore. They want story. They are consumers looking for a particular product, not a particular face. There are a lot of reasons for this. Overall, fewer people go to the movies less often. Streaming steals huge numbers from cinema audiences. Sure, throngs line up for “Star Wars” and “The Hunger Games”. But they also want to see “The Fault in Our Stars” or a dozen other films with no-name actors and great marketing

Some actors and studios figured this out. Many find success releasing so-called passion projects directly onto streaming platforms. Where, not that long ago, a “straight to video” release was code for “bad movie,” that dynamic changed dramatically. In today’s diluted, overlapping media marketplace, where lines are thinner and consumer demand is in the driver’s seat, even A-list actors chase the streaming dream. Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt,and  Frances McDormand show their colleagues how it’s done. Expect more to follow.

And while, in the right project, Big Names still put butts in the seats, people probably would still go to see “American Sniper” or “The Blind Side” with lesser known names in the lead role.

Bottom line, consumer tastes change, and these shifts directly drive the market more than ever before. If studios and stars don’t adjust their expectations, they too will join Bullock and Cooper playing to empty theaters all across the country.

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Crisis PR Situation: 19 Kids and Unemployed

19 kids and counting public relations
Popular TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting has been pulled from the lineup after allegations of past sexual abuse by one family member on other family members was confirmed. In a further development, Josh Dugger, who admitted to the acts “12 years ago,” has also resigned from his position at the Family Research Council. It’s likely the blowback of this revelation will continue. Here’s the story:
Since 2008, the lives of the Dugger family have been watched by countless American homes. They were paragons of “family values” and the darlings of social groups and politicians alike. Then, in the wake of one article, it all came crashing down. In Touch Magazine reported that eldest Dugger child Josh, now 27, admitted to molesting several girls when he was 15 years old. At least some of those young girls were family members.

Since the article ran, TLC has released this statement: “Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of ’19 Kids and Counting’ currently from the air. We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time.”

Josh Dugger countered the impending PR firestorm with a Facebook post: “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends.”
Possibly worse for all involved, TLC was running a “19 Kids” marathon the day the claims made the national news. erupted with rage.

Of pulling the episodes, one TLC executive said, “this is a family in crisis. It’s no time for a television show.”
TLC has yet to say the show will be canceled, only that it is being pulled for the time being. Are they testing the waters to see how forgiving the viewing public can be? Sure, Americans are willing to forgive just about anything…but a supposed paragon of virtue molesting his family members, then his parents covering it up for the better part of a year before they told authorities? That seems like a lot to forgive.

Child molestation is one of those things that Americans are rarely able – much less eager – to forgive. And what about advertisers on the show? Which brands really want to be coupled with that sort of baggage? Time will tell. Until then, that nameless TLC exec is right: this is a family – and a brand – in crisis.

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What Makes these Companies Magnetic?

top companies

As a business professional, whether you want to advance in your career or become a job creator, there are many things you can learn from companies that are already doing it right. Recently Glassdoor created a list of the top 50 places to work. In this article we will look not only at who made the top spots on the list but, more importantly, why they scored so high…and how your business can benefit from these lessons.

Once again, Google finds itself among the top places to work in 2015. How does this massive corporate giant continue to score so high with employees? Great question. After all, it has all the hallmarks of a company that might be excused some negative employee reviews. It’s huge. It’s growing and it’s massively profitable. Right, and it has no shortage of people wanting to work there. But why? What is it about Google that makes it so magnetic?

First, Google has high standards. It wants the best and brightest, so it offers them enviable perks…and fewer limits on personal creativity. Yes, the environment is famously inviting, but the real draw here is Google’s penchant for combining high expectations with real responsibility. This is a combination all entrepreneurs would do well to foster.

Now let’s take a look at the Mayo Clinic. While far removed from the brash, fun-loving and creative Google experience, employees at the Mayo Clinic also love it there. They experience being a part of something, not just bigger, but also spectacularly professional, innovative and advanced. In addition to being able to be part of something definitively special, Mayo Clinic employees also appreciate the “ample” time for family and personal pursuits. That ideal ratio is different in every industry, but it is something far too many employers forget to consider.

The Texas-based grocery chain H-E-B gets top marks for leveraging tremendous benefits, good pay and solid advancement opportunities to create what employees describe as a “warm work environment.” The lesson here is two-fold. Pay people what they are worth and you will get the most worth out of people. Second, offer obvious opportunity to do bigger, better and more. The best people love the opportunity to get better…and to earn more as a result. Do not neglect this in building your team and you will reap the benefits.

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Office for iPad – Yeah, That is Happening!

5W PR is a full-service PR agency in NYC

 

Apple purists may not know what to think, but the legions of consumers who are caught between a Mac and PC world are rejoicing. Microsoft Office will soon be available on the iPad.

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, said this is tremendous PR news for both Apple and Microsoft.

This trend reverses a line in the sand that Microsoft drew when it began marketing its own handheld mobile devices a few years back. Office has been available for Mac desktop and laptop OS-es for years now, but it looked like the software might never be available for iPad users.

Then, Satya Nadella held his first ever product unveiling as CEO of Microsoft. While many were struck by Nadella’s rapid-fire cadence and kinetic presentation, it was the product he unveiled that drew the most response. It may just be the biggest announcement from Microsoft since the XBOX1, or the Windows phone…the long rumored, and long-delayed, Office for iPad.

The devil is officially buying a snowboard. Microsoft product manager Julia White blew minds even further by announcing that, “The iPad has a reputation for helping you look cool. With Excel, it can make you look smart, too.”That line was both a backhanded compliment and admission that Microsoft has never, and likely will never, attain the “cool” status of any Mac product.

But, knowing who you are, and what your brand represents, is part of effective PR. No one in that crowd would ever argue that PCs were for the “cool kids.” But those smiles on the faces of Microsoft reps reveal that they believe they will get the last laugh. They envision a world where iPad users, familiar with Office software at work or on their laptops, will opt for the Windows product over the made for Mac word processing and database software.

Early tests have proclaimed that the iPad Office suite looks even better than the desktop or laptop versions. Time will tell if the app actually catches on, but in the meantime, Microsoft once again has the opportunity to enjoy being the darling of the technology consumer market…even if the buzz only lasts until the next iPhone is released.

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Show’s Over! 4 PR Secrets Program Finales Can Teach Us

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5W PR in New York

TV finales have been all over the map with viewers. Most go quietly, having lived long past their relevance to all but the fiercest fans. The phrase, to “jump the shark” that is used to describe something that has gone over the edge into silliness even comes from such a program, an episode of Happy Days where The Fonz literally jumps a shark while water skiing in a leather jacket. It may have made perfect sense to producers at time, but even fans just shook their heads and looked away. Here is how you create a great strategy marketing for a show.

#1 – The end isn’t always the end

Fans decide when you are over, even if producers have other ideas. For shows that live past their expiration date, there is shark jumping infamy. For others, whose fan bases refuse for them to die, there is syndication. The Internet is where products and services that “won’t die” can live forever. Does your brand have an effective Internet longevity strategy?

#2 – Some things need to be finished

Leaving too many things unfinished can frustrate fans. Sure, you want to keep your options open so there’s room for growth, but don’t just drop something that people enjoy without giving them an alternative. Storylines that keep “evolving” but never get anywhere might be intriguing in the short term, but long-term they leave fans frustrated and unfulfilled. The same could be said for a brand that keeps promising but never delivers.

#3 – You can’t let viewers down

Similar to the previous point, the end must give viewers real closure. They are emotionally connected to these characters and their stories, so the shows must honor that. In recent years, programs like The Sopranos and Seinfeld ended in ways that frustrated and enraged fans. They wanted more, and the producers chose to get “cute.” In business, when you deliver you have to do so in a way that appreciates your customers and honors their expectations.

#4 – Set ups should create conversation

Some shows just demand spin-offs. Secondary characters that deserve more of the spotlight and universes in which many different stories could be told are excellent opportunities for spin-offs.. The same could be said for products or services. Some are one-offs. They do “this” and that’s it. But if your product or service has an alternative, better use, the time to start developing that is when your current application is still popular. Don’t wait until the “show’s over” to start thinking about where to go next. If you plan ahead, you can begin to acclimate your customers to the new “character” well before your current offering jumps the shark.

Any time something ends there are several dynamics in play. There’s a reason commencement means both “beginning” and “end.” That being said, all shows – like all products and services – have an optimum life cycle. The end of said cycle does not mean the end of the company, or even the product or service. Only that the time for change has come. Understanding these dynamics and applying relevant PR techniques can help a business reach the next level. Miss these, and you may end up being the “once great” that got left behind.

 

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Using Social Media to Connect with Customers

It’s hardly any secret that is where your customers are. And, increasingly, they are neatly packaged into nice little advertising aggregates for you to market to. However, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about that marketing. Ronn Torossian explains.

#1 – Be consistent

Getting on a consistent posting schedule is one of the most important steps you should take when building a social media plan and platform. You need to create an expectation in your fan base, then reward that expectation to continue to build habits in your users.

#2 – Be specific

Not just in what you post, but in who you target. Most social media platforms allow you to laser target exactly who you want to serve, but before you can do that effectively, you need to know exactly who you want to connect with. Social media will allow you to use content to determine who is your best target audience.

#3 – Be worthwhile

Consistency is terrific, but your content also needs to matter. Take the time to study approaches, and content, that works, then follow that pattern with your own content. Position it to be interesting, and compelling. Not just – or ever – advertorial.

Apply these tips to a plan already in progress and use them to determine how you should build campaigns in the future. Remember, while methods may change, and will certainly continue to evolve, the basics remain the basics. Customers want to know they can depend on you to be there, be quality, and to be what they are looking for. Succeed based on those metrics and you will build a foundation for future success.

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GoldieBlox Debacle Continues

Ronn Torossian is a PR expert and CEO of 5W Public Relations

Image via The Huffington Post

It seems like the GoldieBlox story just won’t go away. The company is back in the news again, and what started as a huge publicity boon, might just end up blowing up in their faces. Will they need a crisis PR Agency?

GoldieBlox is a toy company that markets engineering toys for girls. Their message is essentially, “skip the ‘pink aisle’, and get what you really want girls.” Now, putting aside all the political and social arguments that stem from that sentiment, the idea is fair and marketable. However, how the company chose to do its marketing may not have been. In an initial video commercial for the company’s products, GoldieBlox chose to use a version – they call it a parody – of the Beastie Boys song, Girls.

Fair use being what it is, they never bothered to check with the artist who created the music. As it turned out, Adam Yauch specifically amended his will to keep advertisers from EVER using their music for ANY advertorial purpose. When the surviving Beasties sent a letter to the boss at GoldieBlox essentially saying the same thing, the company SUED THEM.

The blogosphere and entertainment media erupted. Suddenly, the tiny toy company had all the PR it could want. Then it went and promised to do what the band – and its legions of fans who now had kids in the exact age range GoldieBlox is targeting – wanted. It would pull the commercial, and drop the lawsuit.

Fast forward a year. The ad has been pulled, but the lawsuit remains. In response, the Beastie Boys have filed a strong countersuit. And this is where the PR fallout could get really messy. GoldieBlox got the pop it wanted from the controversy, but they may find out that the sentiment now being attached to that popularity is not what they are looking for.

Who really wants to be the company that sued the friends of a dead icon for the right to steal his work against his expressed will? Apparently, GoldieBlox.

Brands can fall even faster than they rise and public opinion is notoriously fickle. That sun today might just be torches burning tomorrow.

 

 

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