News and Updates from 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian

Tag: insights

A look at #GivingTuesday

ronn torossian giving tuesday Have you ever heard of #throwbackthursday? How about #womancrushwednesday? Chances are you’ve picked up on plenty of these catchy phrases. Our online lexicon has been inundated with meaningless hashtags, but a campaign with a cause has emerged in the last few years. #GivingTuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan and the United Nations Foundation to garner support for charity and philanthropic organizations during the holiday season. Our economy is especially consumer driven after Thanksgiving.

As an answer to that, GivingTuesday falls on the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday annually in an attempt to remind consumers to give back to those in need. The organizers hope that in time GivingTuesday will become a holiday tradition. GivingTuesday is mainly a campaign, relying on the use of hashtags in the hopes of reaching viral proportions. The movement even created the #unselfie, a clever hashtag to use when tagging photos to show your support of GivingTuesday on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. GivingTuesday support has nearly doubled every year since the campaign began in 2012. With over 20,000 charitable partners in 2014, the third annual event was the most successful yet.

The number of organizations partnered with GivingTuesday doubled from the amount in 2013, and people from 68 different countries participated. According to GivingTuesday.org, donations rose 63% over the previous year’s totals, and 90% from 2012’s numbers. The hashtag #GivingTuesday was used on Twitter 754,600 times and was a trending topic for 11 hours. #unselfie was tagged in over 7500 photos and tweeted nearly 40,000 times. There was a 101% increase in mobile transactions compared to the previous year, proving that the heavy use of social media influence in the campaign is paying off. GivingTuesday received donations from all 50 states in its first year, and has now received worldwide support in its third year. Notable organizations such as UNICEF and the American Red Cross have joined ranks with many other charities large and small.

The wide range of giving options makes donation more appealing, meaningful and personalized for the individuals who participate. With every year skyrocketing past the previous year’s totals, this holiday may have the best show of support yet. So, before you spend all of your holiday budget on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, remember GivingTuesday and start your holiday off with a selfless act. This year’s GivingTuesday is on December 1st, 2015.

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The Browns have a Bright Orange PR Problem

ronn torossian on cleveland browns public relations

Looks, it’s a cinch that football fans are not Cleveland Browns fans because of the uniforms. The Browns’ orange, brown and white scheme is only slightly less underwhelming than their cellar-dwelling on-field performances. The only disappointment more consistent than these duds is the Browns’ need for a quarterback.

That dynamic led to a highly anticipated and widely marketed rebranding initiative. The campaign took two years to complete, and the Browns recently unveiled their new logo to replace the iconic but somewhat tired orange helmet … the new result? Wait for it (the fans did for two years) … another orange helmet. Essentially, the team went from orange peel orange to traffic cone orange. That’s pretty much it.

Well, according to some wits on they also gave “The Dawg” rabies. Not an unfair commentary by any means. And the rest of the PR fallout from this decision? Incendiary. Even fans growing accustomed to disappointment seem to feel punked this time around.

Logic says, your reaction better be as big as your promotion. When you make legions of some of the most loyal fans in the history of sports wait for two years to experience hope in the form of a brand transformation and you come up with … not much transformation at all … it comes off as not trying. As taking them for granted. As … not putting enough care into putting out a winning product.

That’s not to say every logo is a winner. When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers debuted in the late 1970s, they came with an orange popsicle color combination and a flamboyant Errol-Flynn-Mustachioed pirate (of Penzance). Fans grew to hate the logo as much as they did the on-field (lack of) performance. So the Bucs went back to the drawing board, coming up with the iconic new color scheme and pirate logo. Then they put a winning team on the field and their fan base grew by massive numbers, everyone sporting the cool new gear. The creamsicle days are saved for irony and throwback games.

The Browns had the same chance. Judging by their fans’ reactions, they blew it … again.

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PR Winners and Losers at the Oscars

Ronn Torossian 2015 Oscars

The 87th Academy Awards show is now a part of the history books. “Birdman” was the big winner of the night, taking home four wins in the nine categories that it was nominated for. While it is always fun to take a look at the winners and losers, it is even more interesting to see who were the biggest winners and losers in the department. Every year has some presenters and winners who do amazing or head-scratching things while they have the spotlight, and this year was no different. Here is a look at the biggest PR winners and losers for this year’s Oscars.

Winner – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Even people who were outraged that “Boyhood” lost had to admire the graciousness that Gonzalez Inarritu displayed when he accepted his awards. His joking moment where he said he was wearing Michael Keaton’s tighty whiteys from the film was just the kind of hilarity that was far too infrequent in this year’s broadcast.

Loser – Sean Penn

While anyone who really knows Sean Penn realizes he is about as liberal and far from a racist as you can get, that didn’t stop from erupting when Penn asked jokingly, “Who gave this gave this son of a $*%#! his green card?” when he was presenting the award for Best Picture to Gonzalez Inarittu. Gonzalez Inarritu directed Peen in the film “21 Grams,” and the two are good friends. He even said backstage that he thought Penn’s joke was “hilarious.” However, the PR damage to Penn’s reputation is undeniable, but he will likely recover quickly.

Winner – Patricia Arquette

The brilliant actress was the only person to take home any hardware from the tragically underappreciated “Boyhood,” and Patricia Arquette made the most of it. During arguably the greatest speech of the evening, she delivered an impassioned plea for equality for women. In particular, she turned a spotlight on the wage inequality that exists for women today. Her fiery speech got the women in the auditorium as well as a number of the men on their feet. Meryl Streep in particular was cheering loudly.

Loser – Neil Patrick Harris

People are already arguing about how Neil Patrick Harris’s performance was as host, but the majority seem to feel he fell flat. He had a number of strange moments, including the running gag with his prediction box that aggravated both people at the show as well as those watching at home. He also had some uncomfortable moments with the few African-American attendees, including both Oprah and “Selma” star David Oyelowo. Coming out on the stage in his underwear was awkward as could be. It was definitely not in keeping with the classy presence an Oscar host needs. Perhaps his worst moment was when he made a tasteless joke about a winner’s dress moments after she made an impassioned plea for suicide victims. It is doubtful that he will ever get asked back to host.

Winner – JK Simmons

The career character actor was a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Whiplash,” and Simmons’s speech was one of the best of the evening. His impassioned plea for everyone watching to call their parents was one of the most memorable moments of the evening, and it will doubtless gain him lots of new advertising gigs like his commercials with Farmers Insurance.

Loser – John Travolta

Travolta was arguable the biggest PR loser of the night. First, Travolta crept up on Scarlett Johannsson on the red carper to steal a kiss from the obviously uncomfortable starlet. On stage, he was paired with Idina Menzel, whose name he famously butchered during last year’s show. He got her name right this year, but that didn’t make up for his uncomfortable chin-grabbing of her with a billion people watching. It was by far the most awkward moment of the show, and his already shaky reputation is even shakier now.

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Marcus vs Jameis at the Combine

marcus vs jameis public relations

In the lead up to the NFL Scouting Combine, the prognosticators grew louder than ever. Which quarterback would emerge from the Combine with the best shot at being number one overall in the next NFL draft? While, in the past, some top prospects chose to forego the annual talent showcase, this season does not lend itself to that luxury.

There are two quarterbacks in this draft who are widely considered to be all but equal in ability and intangibles. Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston have been endlessly compared, but the jury is still out on who is the best. Recently, Mariota was quoted as saying he doesn’t compare himself to other players. Well, if that’s the case, then he is the only guy who doesn’t.

There is no doubt that Mariota and Winston are both gifted athletes and excellent quarterbacks. Even criticisms about how each might function at the next level are offered with stacks of caveats and “yeah, buts.” Winston is considered to be the most “ready” to step into a pro style offense. But Mariota comes with his own huge upside.

Where will each end up in the draft? Likely, the teams at the top of the draft board have already made up their minds. But the Combine is an opportunity to either secure that decision or give them second thoughts. The for both outcomes is the same. Not only to achieve peak personal performance but also outperform The Other Guy.

At the Combine, this competition is distilled, obviously, but it is the same competition every brand faces every day. Whatever you do, your customers and prospects are always comparing and contrasting your “value” with that of your competition. Just as much as a quarterback’s stock depends on the scuttlebutt surrounding him, the value of your brand will be impacted by the nature of the message related to your brand. If that message is confused or mediocre, you can expect customers to look elsewhere. But if your PR message is poignant, positive and focused, you can expect your “stock” to rise.

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NFL “Bully” gets one last Chance with the Bills

Icognito’s Miami Dolphins teammate Jonathan

Some have called him a bully, others say he’s just the kind of tough guy the NFL needs, but has not been kind to Richie Incognito. As Ronn Torossian explains, now the veteran offensive lineman is on what even he has described as his last chance to continue his NFL career.

Incognito has been a polarizing figure in the NFL for years. A hard-nosed player with a well-established mean streak, that reputation became cable news fodder after Icognito’s Miami Dolphins teammate Jonathan Martin quit the NFL after bullying from Incognito. While some tried to classify events as the hazing of a teammate to toughen him up, others took a much more negative view of proceedings.

Now that he has signed with the Buffalo Bills, even Incognito says this might be his final opportunity to salvage both his reputation and his career.

Recently, Incognito spoke to NFL.com, saying he had learned from his mistakes and the whole situation. “I needed to respect those around me more and I needed to realize I may find things funny that others find offensive. This whole learning process was about becoming self-aware. About becoming a better person/teammate/leader.”

According to the statement, both Incognito and the Bills are in agreement that this is an opportunity the player should consider his last. But it is also a chance to bring attention to a sensitive subject. “I want to prove to people I’m not a racist jerk. We talked about possible ways to turn this situation around and ways to impact the community.”

For a brand – and make no mistake pro sports players are brands unto themselves – hanging on dearly to the end of his last rope, Incognito is saying all the right things. It’s certainly possible that he’s always been a pretty decent guy whose previous mistakes were taken out of context and over examined. That can certainly happen in today’s voracious 24-7 news cycle. Then again, this might just be a chance to see if a guy can change his ways.

It’s an opportunity not everyone receives. Hope he makes the most of it.

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Kalashnikov Is Booming And Selling Very Well – Despite Russia’s Crisis

Kalashnikov

Russia’s economy is in a downward spiral, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s going poorly for everyone. There is however one particular Russian brand’s continued success, despite the nation’s economic “crisis.”

In the past few months, the world has been watching Russia’s economy suffer from plummeting oil prices and sanctions. Many Russian businesses have suffered greatly as a result, but the manufacturer of the world famous AK-47 assault rifle is not having any of that. Kalashnikov is doing well, doubling production in 2014 and posting $45 million in revenue, up 28% from 2013. Better still, the company has posted a net profit for the first time in seven years. Right, and this is all happening IN SPITE OF the fact that Kalashnikov was one of the first companies hit with sanctions after Russia invaded Ukraine.

How is this possible? Well, Kalashnikov decided that, if they couldn’t sell in one place, they would look for other options. And that strategy has paid off in spades. Instead of fretting over sanctions and a lagging economy, Kalashnikov worked on opening up new markets in Africa and Asia, pursuing regions with huge demand and insufficient supply.

Add to this strategy an already rock solid reputation for making a strong, reliable product that nearly anyone can use with very little training, and you have a sure recipe for success.

The PR lessons here are multifaceted. First, Kalashnikov was ready. They had spent decades building a solid reputation with current and prospective customers. Further, the brand always kept a close eye on emerging markets. Then, when the moment came when the risk was mitigated by the potential return, they were ready to surge forward. Because strong allows you to skip much of the sales process, the company did not suffer from the loss of business in other areas. They just stepped into new markets and thrived. Why? Simply put, they were respected, and they were prepared. What about you?

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR and understands the power of taboo in public relations.

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Snapchat Launches Discover

snapchat discovery

Another social media powerhouse had decided to jump into the news business. Disappearing content provider Snapchat has finally released its much-anticipated news app, Discover. Discover allows media outlets to post small content snippets via the massively popular messaging app.

So, is this a case of delivering what the public wants, or is it another social media company trying to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up? Before answering that questions, let’s look at how it works:

Users tap to open a new story, swipe left to view different stories and swipe up to read more. And, ten major news sources have already bought in, including powerhouses such as CNN, ESPN and NatGeo. According to the media agreement, the ten media companies will generate new content for the app at least every 24 hours. This content will include both videos and text articles.

By connecting with Snapchat, media companies are hoping to woo younger audiences who are moving from traditional print and TV media in droves.

The question this move begs, though, is not will younger people connect. Instead, the real question is two-fold: First, what sort of content would grab the attention of Snapchat users. And, second, do Snapchat users want news from their favorite selfie app?

Sure, Snapchat’s motivation for pretending they do is clear. The company has to justify its multi-billion-dollar valuation. Tough to do when your chief “product” is middle schoolers swapping disappearing pics with their crushes. But the company has a big hurdle to overcome if they want to engender buy-in. They have to explain how their product isn’t Twitter. Sure, more young people are gravitating toward Snapchat and Instagram, but that doesn’t mean they want to get their news from these forums…or even that they want “news” at all.

But that apparent lack of a market has not stopped social media sites and apps from attempting to lure an “underserved” demographic into their ranks. And, if you look at their marketing push, Snapchat does make a good case for this move. Here’s a quote from their blog announcing Discover:

“Social media companies tell us what to read based on what’s most recent or most popular. We see it differently. We count on editors and artists, not clicks and shares, to determine what’s important…”

That sounds terrific, but what if those “editors and artists” are out of step with what Snapchat users want? Will Discover morph into yet another Buzzfeed clone?

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Sports Illustrated fires all Photographers

Ronn Torossian Photographer SI
It’s a headline you have likely read umpteen times in recent years. Some periodical or news publication just laid off tons of staff. They “cut back” or “cleared departments” or “downsized.” Bottom line, in an industry that is hemorrhaging working capital, someone has to pay the price. Ronn Torossian reports that the latest victims of this market reality are the staff photographers of Sports Illustrated. Yes, the team that has brought you countless iconic shots of America’s favorite games, contests and pastimes are all looking for work.

Brad Smith, director of photography for Sports Illustrated, made the announcement recently through the National Press Photographers Association. “There was a decision made through the company to restructure various departments, including at Sports Illustrated. Unfortunately, economic circumstances are such that it has cut the six staff photographers.”

The company says it plans to “rely more on freelancers.” That loaded statement could mean many things. It could mean that it will rehire some or all of the same shooters for similar money – but without the employee benefits. It could also mean that it will hire a platoon of less celebrated but equally capable camera commandos to work various beats during different seasons. That might make more sense. Instead of incurring the costs of sending its team of single-location employees all across the globe, the company will save money by employing locally-based shooters to work events in their areas.

This is not a new strategy for the nation’s premier weekly sports publication. Consider, with only six staff photogs, and innumerable print and online pics needed on a daily basis, SI has been relying on freelancers for some time now already. But this approach is not without potential pitfalls. Dynamic photos are the undisputed lifeblood of Sports Illustrated, both in print and online. From its weekly cover shots to the celebrated Swimsuit Issue, SI is, its award-winning writing aside, still primarily a visual medium. If the freelancers don’t deliver across the board, SI could immediately lose relevance in the international sports media marketplace.

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The Future of the Workplace

workplace in 2015 ronn torossian

Read just about any business journal, and you are bound to find articles extolling the virtues of the workplace of tomorrow. What it will look like, how it will work and what skills will be needed to make your mark in that environment. We’re not “there” yet, and if we don’t do better today than yesterday, we may not be around for “then.” With that in mind, let’s take a look at three current business trends and what they could mean for you.

Big Data will Continue to Transform HR

Human Resources need not be what it once was. Big data analytics are leading to some incredible breakthroughs in hiring decisions, employee retention, enhanced workflow and efficient internal infrastructure. Decisions that were once “gut calls” are now being made by complex and accurate analytics – and to great result. Ignoring this trend and its potential benefits will assure that you are far from the head of the class at year’s end.

Tech Changing What is Done and How We Do It

For decades, the main focus of technology was on what work machines could do and what work humans should do. As more machines and technology moved into work environments, humans began doing different jobs. Today, technology is allowing those same people to do the same jobs in better ways. Business is becoming more efficient and more profitable across a wide spectrum of market segments. Of course, there are still those who refuse to adapt. And, like anything that cannot adapt, eventually, it will be replaced by something that can and will.

The Line Between Work and Home is Blurring

Forget everything you are thinking right now about telecommuting and working from home. That’s last decade’s “new thing.” We’re talking here about the fading line between work and home. With smartphones and other web-connected and app-enhanced wearables, nearly all of us have productivity at the touch of a button. We can check work emails in the line at the grocery store. We can answer messages and do research waiting in line or at traffic lights. We can read memos and check reports while watching TV at home. With no firm barriers between work and play, the way we do what we do is forever changing. As are the expectations. Remember when people had “office hours” and never responded outside them? Those days are over for good. A trend that will soon become an expectation.

While not all of these will apply to you, and, certainly, none of them can guarantee your success, ignoring these trends will definitely handicap your ability to succeed. Regardless of what tomorrow holds.

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What Is A Reddit AMA?

reddit ama ronn torossian

The popular social networking website Reddit allows users to write messages in response to a submission by another user, known as a post. Reddit is divided into several categories called subreddits. One of the more popular subreddits, /r/IAMA, has over 7 million subscribers and averages nearly 12,000 concurrent readers.

AMA – Ask Me Anything

An Ask Me Anything (AMA) prompt is a way for an organization to interact directly with its user base. An organization registers a username and creates an AMA, which prompts users to ask questions about the organization.
Questions can include what the organization does, how it handles its day-to-day finances, how it deals with competition, or approach mundane topics such as what brand of butter the organization stocks in its kitchen. An AMA is an open invitation to the community to ask whatever it wants, however it wants.

Popular AMAs

Some of /r/IAMA’s most popular submissions include prompts from Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Larry King, Bill Nye, Stan Lee, and Al Gore. In the case of Barack Obama’s AMA, there were a total of 23,907 comments and 5.28 million page views. Businesses make up almost 6% of the top 500 AMAs, with actors/entertainers leading at almost 16%.AMAs can provide a way for businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors. Rather than having to identify and target marketing points, a business can use the AMA format to learn what customers care about directly from the customers themselves. Not all AMA questions have to be answered; the Reddit platform allows users to sort comments by popularity, making it easy to separate serious questions from some of the sillier or more abstract questions. This is accomplished through a rating system where users vote on a comment or prompt, either approving it (upvoting) or criticizing it (downvoting) based on the nature of the submission.

Marketing through an AMA requires some initial exposure to the culture and atmosphere of Reddit. As of July 2013, Reddit’s largest demographic consists of young white males aged 18-29. Reddit users are somewhat less susceptible to traditional advertising approaches, instead preferring a more casual approach with genuine responses instead of generic pre-planned (or “canned”) responses. The benefit of Reddit’s comment system is that it doesn’t require immediate responses, allowing businesses to identify trends in user comments and formulate responses that will best answer a user’s question.

Creating an AMA is a fantastic way for businesses to gain direct user feedback without a significant time or monetary investment.

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