News and Updates from 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian

Tag: insights

Responding to Viral Customers to Benefit your Brand

viral

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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What the Tunsil Gasmask Disaster Teaches us about Crisis PR

Laremy Tunsil

Laremy Tunsil’s NFL draft night turned from celebration to horror, after a post on his Twitter page created a disaster. The mysterious post appeared just minutes before the draft began and showed Tunsil smoking marijuana through a gas mask. He then removed the mask, revealing his identity.

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Instagram Logo Re-Design: #Win, #Fail, or #Draw?

new instagram logo 5wpr ceo

In case you were unaware, Instagram recently re-designed their logo and app aesthetics. And boy, oh boy, did it make waves.

According to Ian Spalter, Instagram’s Head of Design, “…the Instagram icon and design was beginning to feel…not reflective of the community, and we thought we could make it better.” For better or worse, Instagram went for it.

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Frozen Food Recall Creates Consumer PR Problems

Frozen berries with frost

Listeria. Ask most folks what it is and what it does, and they would have a hard time explaining it. But ask them if they want it in their food, and they know full well it’s very bad. Just the mention of the word leads consumers to stop buying, much less consuming certain products. Now the outbreak scare extends to frozen food, some bought as far back as 2014.

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Zimmerman Back in Press for Gun Auction

Not since the Zimmerman note has a general public hated a Zimmerman more than they do George Zimmerman. The guy’s always in the news for the wrong reasons and just can’t seem to get a clue.

When you, as a private citizen, have managed to engender the type of bone-deep revulsion that Zimmerman has, it’s a good idea to try to make your life as private as possible. Instead, Zimmerman has managed to be in the news for many, many bad days even since he was cleared in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

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Ringling pulls elephants years ahead of schedule

ringling pulls elephants

In a move just about every side is taking credit for, Ringling Brothers Circus announced it would “retire” its performing elephants in early May, two years before the planned date.

By May 11, teams of elephants who have been performing together for decades will be off-loaded from trains and trucks for the final time to finish their days in Central Florida on a 200-acre farm for retired circus animals.

The retirement has been planned for some time, mostly in response to public outcry fueled by negative PR and activist activity. The company said initially the plan was to have all the elephants off the road by 2018, but sped up the timetable because they realized they could. The situation was all logistics, according to the company. They thought their resources were more limited and they needed more time to prepare. That turned out not to be the case.

Activists, of course, are calling shenanigans on that argument. They are claiming victory while further excoriating the circus for continuing to use any animals in its performances at all. Ringling denies this and says they have no plans to pull other animals from their shows.

While Ringling says played no part in their decision to pull the elephants early, CEO Kenneth Feld told National Geographic activists concerned for the elephants were creating a problem at his company’s events.

“We’re in the entertainment business. It takes away from the total enjoyment when you’re getting yelled at, and your kids are getting yelled at by these activists,” Feld said.

In addition to activist activity at events, the company faced multiple lawsuits alleging animal cruelty. Even though Ringling won all their lawsuits, the company still had to face local legislators who had been feeling the heat from angry constituents.

“You can win every lawsuit, but you can’t fight city hall,” Feld told Nat Geo.

City Hall, however, is not claiming victory here. Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle lauded Ringling’s announcement, saying:

“For wild animals whose natural habitat is outdoors, life in a traveling show is filled with unending misery … all so they can perform silly tricks.”

Ringling could punch back, saying many of these animals are not wild and could not, in fact, survive long in the wild. This is just part of the winning arguments from their legal cases … but Feld knows this isn’t the right time to engage adversaries that are already reloading. Some have already taken aim at the place the elephants will be retired, calling it just as cruel … a battle and a narrative Ringling will likely face sooner rather than later.

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Arizona DOC investigation leads to firings

Arizona DOC

It’s been a bad month for the Arizona state Department of Corrections. According to the Associated Press, separate investigations into two inmate suicides at Arizona prisons have led to the firing of 13 corrections officers and sergeants. Six others have been “disciplined”. That’s a whole lot of fallout … but why?

According to information that is still coming out, various correctional officers and other employees failed to conduct security checks and perform other duties. Neglect, ethics violations, and duty failures were also reported. But it gets worse, reports have also surfaced that records were falsified, and misconduct was either not reported or investigated.

From a PR perspective, while this case involves specific employees of a specific prison system, it reflects poorly on the entire Arizona DOC and the state as a whole. That creates a widespread and nuanced crisis across multiple departments. Heads will roll, and that’s just the beginning.

In any situation like this, the general public will demand accountability. That may or may not stop with the firings and discipline of the various DOC officers and employees. It might extend to elected or appointed officials further up the food chain. That is if this issue continues to stay in the headlines for extended periods.

On a national scale, the state and those in danger are benefitting from a hotly contested presidential election stealing most, if not all, of the airtime and column inches. However, at a local and state level, the problems are just beginning. Everyone from activist groups to prison reform organizations will look at this case as a touchstone, an opportunity to drum up support for their cause.

This sort of multilayered administrative failure can be a very attractive situation for those seeking to advance various agendas critical of both the police in general and the prison system in particular. When people are dead, and officers apparently created a situation that allows it, the environment is ripe for hyperbole and broad brush statements.

State, local, and law enforcement PR specialists must understand this and act quickly, or they risk losing control of this narrative and becoming the go-to example of every problem or issue these systems face.

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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.

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.

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.

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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Maricopa County says no more iPhones

Maricopa County iphone

If you were wondering how much of a political PR football this fight between Apple and the FBI is becoming, now you know. Maricopa County, Arizona, you know the place that always seems to find a way into the news when there’s a far right political issue in the press, has taken a hard line stand against Apple CEO Tim Cook’s refusal to create a backdoor into its iPhone.

According to a statement released to the media last week, Maricopa County officials declared they will no longer give Apple devices to employees. The message came directly from county attorney Bill Montgomery:

“I don’t expect my action to affect Apple’s stock price,” Montgomery said in a statement. “But I cannot in good conscience support doing business with an organization that chooses to thwart an active investigation into a terrorist attack that claimed the lives of fourteen fellow citizens. If Apple wants to be the official smartphone of terrorists and criminals, there will be a consequence.”

The county currently uses fewer than 400 iPhones, so the loss of this customer won’t even cause the company to blink. But the language could quickly be adopted by competitors looking for an edge in certain markets.

Think about what was said. An elected county official just accused an American company of actively supporting terrorists and criminals. Sure, he couched it in enough modifiers to be free from any legal action, but the intent bled through the thinly veiled accusations.

While some might dismiss this guy and his loudmouth, media-hungry county as just a bunch of no-count rabble rousers, many are not taking it that way. The language and the action used by the county attorney are sure to find their way onto talk radio and political websites, and may even end up in TV and print headlines.

Suddenly the accusations are playing out on a much bigger stage. While it’s likely that most people’s minds will not change on this issue, based on these comments, when they reach a certain point of saturation, Apple will be forced to respond. And that’s a tried and true tactic. It doesn’t matter what you say, get your opponent answering your accusations and suddenly everything you say appears to have more merit.

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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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