News and Updates from 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian

Tag: Public Relations

Volvo catching up with BMW

volvo-vs-bmw

Volvo has been struggling with sales over the past several years, but the launch of a new luxury SUV may put the brand back on top. says that sales for the new SUV may even rival Volvo’s long-time German competitor, GMB. Excitement for the new vehicle is already at a fever pitch after a tantalizing marketing campaign that only revealed portions of the new XC90. Now, the SUV is hitting the market and already gaining momentum on its climb to the top.

According to Torossian, the furor from the XC90’s launch could reverse the downward slide that Volvo has had since being owned by Ford Motors from 1999 t0 2010. Now owned by a Chinese company, Volvo is returning to its roots and only using Swedish parts to make its vehicles. The company hopes that the XC90 will help to double sales of Volvos in the United States by the year 2020.

Volvo began to reveal the XC90 with a tantalizing marketing campaign that featured photos of parts of the new SUV, but never unveiled the entire vehicle. Back in June, the interior was finally revealed. A big flatscreen in the console, blonde wood trim, and all the bells and whistles make the XC90 a top of the line luxury SUV, and the recently revealed exterior is just as attractive.

One of the major selling points of the XC90 is that it is the first car in fifteen years to be made entirely from Swedish parts. It is a complete relaunching of the Volvo brand after the legacy left by Ford Motors. After being purchased by Chinese company, Geely, Volvo has undergone several changes including an all-new, ultra efficient engine that will be cleaner than the Toyota P
rius.

Such advances, however, do not come cheap. The XC90 is priced at $66,000 dollars initially with a limited edition version that jumps to $91,000. Only 1,927 of these will be sold. The price may seem steep for what Volvo has done in the past, but the company is confident that the new SUV will compete with other vehicles in the same price range such as the BMW X5.

Torossian says that Volvo has made huge strides in rebranding itself and earning back a share of the American market with the XC90. A slow marketing campaign was key for intriguing potential buyers, and now Volvo is confident that they will be able to compete with car companies such as BMW.

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

changes-at-microsoft

The tech company most known for giving users tools now wants to shift gears toward helping them get things done. 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.

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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.

China Needs More Than Marketing

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.

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Addressing PR Challenges as the New Guy

public relations new hire

public relations new hire

Any time a company faces any sort of changes there will be questions to answer. Public relations is vital at this juncture to provide a positive narrative, and alleviate any potential consumer doubts. But, what if you are the new guy coming in? You don’t know the culture, and you don’t really know all the challenges you may face…what does that look like, and what sort of PR skills will you need to fill the shoes of the “old guy,” while still putting your personal signature on operations?

Ronn Torossian answers these questions through the experience of recently hired Yum! Brands CEO, Greg Creed. Yum! Brands owns KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, among other holdings. Creed is replacing David Novak. The outgoing CEO is a well-respected and successful executive who steered the company for fifteen good years. This exchange of power provides a strong example of how to do it right, and how the new guy can use positive PR in multiple ways to help smooth the transition.

Emphasizing similarities is job one. You want both investors and employees to remain as comfortable as possible, so emphasizing the good attributes of the old regime that will continue is a smart move. But, you also want to make sure you don’t come off looking like an interchangeable cog in the machine.

The “new” aspect of the exchange should not be downplayed in service to the old. The positive growth and differences should be celebrated. This is best done not by immediately announcing “Big Changes,” but by celebrating past successes that could benefit the new company. In this case, Creed saw great success working with Taco Bell on the successful “Fourth Meal” concept, and the new, and so far well received, breakfast options.

This is a fine line to walk, but necessary if you want to be successful. Whatever the pros and cons of the exchange of power, you want to emphasize those good things that will continue, while also celebrating the new energy and creative or administrative dynamics that will lead the company toward continued success.

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4 Ways to Judge a Book By its Cover

Ronn Torossian writer

You may not realize this, but not all book covers are created equal. In fact, published books can have wildly different looks based on where those books are being marketed. Even the titles sometimes change to fit the culture. As an author, I know well that the reasons for this are simple to understand. These reasons can inform the marketing decisions of just about any consumer brand.

4 questions book covers consider that you should as well:

#1 – What do the colors mean?

When it comes to cross cultural marketing, one of the easiest things to miss is the color meanings. Not only do popular colors change across various cultures, what those colors represent changes as well. You need to know what these mean before you make a mistake.

#2 – What do the pictures mean?

Imagery, like color, is easy to overlook. You may think an image is perfect for one market, but it might serve as an instant turnoff for another. Sometimes, this can be a fine line, and sometimes these images don’t even exist in the same universe of thought.

#3 – Is there a potential language barrier?

What will your PR sound like in another language? Moreover, what will the literal and figurative translation mean when those various markets interact with them? Just throwing something up on the internet without considering this can create an endless PR disaster.

#4 – Will your market change in a different culture?

One question many marketers fail to consider is whether crossing a cultural zone will impact their target market. Not only in gender, but in age, socioeconomic, and many other considerations. What might be a hit in one demo somewhere, might be better served for a different audience in a different market. This circumstance might call for an entirely different visual approach.

 

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Marine humiliated on Delta flight?

5W PR, led by CEO Ronn Torossian

This was one of those things that everyone who was involved wished didn’t happen – not very smart. Even people who love to be angry wish something like this didn’t happen. But according to one Marine, and several witnesses, on a particular Delta flight … unfortunately it did happen.

An amputee Marine, injured during service in Afghanistan, was on board a recent Delta flight when he was, reportedly, paraded down the aisle in his wheelchair to his seat. Along the way he was accidentally bumped into other passengers, all the way to almost the back of the plane. When several passengers in first class volunteered to give up their seats so that the wounded veteran could have more room, the flight crew ignored these requests.

It is important to note here that the complaint did not come from the offended Marine. Instead, it came from Army Col. Nickey Knighton, a fellow passenger on the flight. Col. Knighton sent a complaint to Delta Airlines about how the Marine was treated. Then, the Washington Post got hold of the complaint and published the story.

Many other major media outlets picked it up and ran with it as well. While Delta has released no official findings since the incident, the airline did say it would investigate. But stopped short of even admitting the incident happened. Regardless of the accuracy of the story, the airline will likely have to deal with a crisis PR firm for this one.

Delta should have acted more quickly to diffuse the rage that came from this. They may eventually issue an apology, but one should have come already. In fact, it should have been the first thing that happened. Instead, Delta opted for  the response that“this in no way reflects how Delta treats customers.”

In fairness, this official statement did end with an apology. However, that admission is more omission, and one that will ring hollow for most consumers. While Delta may not treat their customers poorly, the incident in question begs to differ. As of this writing, that point has yet to be addressed.

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Best Super Bowl Commercials

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5W Public Relations, a leading PR Firm in NYC

In the quaint and peaceful days of ” a couple years ago ” Super Bowl advertisers actually waited until the game to reveal their super selections. Not so much anymore. In the days leading up to the Big Game, revealing early can mean tons of free publicity. Brands have taken notice and many have jumped on the early release bandwagon. A few top-line thoughts from  on why these brands may have benefited from their early release.

Budweiser’s puppy love: Yet again, the horses were back. But this time they “adopt” a cute little dog. The animals spend the rest of the commercial bonding. The “awww” factor here is off the charts. Most folks grab beer for the big game. Bud hoped the early release translated into sales on the way to the Big Party.

The Muppets steal a car: Who wouldn’t want the Muppets to hijack their ride? Well, most of us probably, but we sure enjoy watching it happen to someone else. This promotion of the upcoming movie captures some of the irreverent humor of the original weekly show.

The ‘Full House’ reunion: While it may not be Jesse and the Rippers, this reunion of one of the 90’s favorite sitcom families spiked the nostalgia factor like punch at the prom. This crew hasn’t been back together in nearly two decades. Was America ready? We can’t be sure.  But you can bet the “house” went quiet when this commercial came on.

Ellen’s Beats Music commercial: Ellen understands smart product placement, and as an avowed fan of the Beats Music app, the comedienne has parlayed that interest into a starring role in a Big Game commercial. This is a great barometer of where someone is in their career. Only household names get to host a Super Bowl commercial. It’s more about having fun than building a reputation.

Whether promoting another product, giving the audience what they want, or reminding people just how much fun your brand can be, finding a spot in a Super Bowl ad is a tremendous opportunity to grab attention.

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4 Steps to Crafting the Perfect PR Message

How to craft the perfect message

Who What Where When Why

Ronn Torossian has built his firm, 5WPR into one of the top – and fastest growing – firms in NYC through smarts, grit, and a talent for getting the right message to the right people. In this article, he shares just a bit of his expertise to help you craft the perfect press release.

First, know your audience. Messages will differ in tone, and content depending on who you are speaking to. If you try a one-size-fits-all approach, your message will lose impact. Knowing your audience takes work, it requires an investment in time, and resources to get it right. But. make an assumption here, and your PR will suffer.

Second, understand the importance of tone. The vast majority of conversation is nonverbal. You can tell a lot about a person based on their tone of voice. And, believe it or not, written communications have “tone” as well. Is your tone professional, combative, obnoxious, terse? Have you ever even thought about how your messages come across? Remember, messages are more than just the words you write. It’s more about how you put them together.

Third, keep it simple. Press releases should NEVER be the “whole story.” Leave that for the press interview. You need to present the facts in an interesting way, but just enough to draw interest, not so much that you steal all the curiosity from the reader. Don’t try to cover all the angles, and answer all the questions before they are asked. That’s impossible … and can be a tedious read.

Fourth, and most important, answer ALL 5 “w” questions. There’s a reason Torossian named his company 5WPR. The 5 “W’s” are the essential questions all media wants answered in every published article. Your press release should answer all five as concisely and completely as possible.

What are the five W’s? For answers to that question, and any others related to the PR field, click here to contact , and 5WPR today.

 

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Why Double-Checking Makes PR Sense

Ask Ronn Torossian, and he will tell you that reputation can be a terrific thing. When you are bringing in a special speaker, you want to make sure he, or she is not only qualified, but dynamic, and well respected. But it’s very important to consider the source giving you the referral. That, Torossian says, is a lesson one Texas high school principal recently learned the hard way.

In attempting to book an encouraging, and challenging speaker for a recent high school assembly about social issues such as teen dating, this principal worked with the school’s PTA president to bring in a man with a big reputation in this field. However – and this is where the story gets fuzzy – either they didn’t know exactly WHAT that reputation entailed, or simply believed the controversial message was one teens needed to hear.

Unfortunately for all involved, the reaction to the speaker was unexpected…and immediate. Accusations of misogyny, and sexism exploded across the Twitterverse. Now, the staff, and administrators are apologizing. But, to many, those apologies are ringing hollow.

In articles discussing the incident, commentators are not holding back. Some are accusing the administration of incompetence. Others are claiming it’s a conspiracy to bring “church values” into a “state school.” Virtually no one is taking the side – or even asking the side – of the administration. They are just collectively backing over them in a proverbial bus.

Now, it might be easy to decry the immediate, and reactionary nature of for all the kerfluffle. And it might be easy to dismiss the griping as overwrought, and emotional teenagers who get worked up over any ol’ thing. But at the end of the day, those criticisms – and many others just like them – don’t matter at all.

When it comes to PR in the digital age, source is much less important than content. When people read negative reviews, or reactions to your business, or brand, they are not stopping to check the source. They are simply absorbing the information.

Let that stark lesson provide you with some basic directions on how to handle your social media. When you hire someone to represent you, better make sure they know how to support the brand vision you are building.

 

 

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Handling Bad Celebrity PR

celebrity pr issuesCelebrities are always in the news, both because they are famous, and because when they aren’t getting attention, they become less famous. It is an ouroboros, feeding into itself, creating a 24/7 buzz about everything that is that individual, from what they wear to where they eat to their opinions on the issues of today. They say that in the world of fame, there is no such thing as bad publicity, since what they are selling is anything about that person that attracts the eyeballs of the populous. However, it is pretty clear that this outmoded concept has gone by the wayside, and there is most definitely such a thing as “bad publicity.”So what does one do when faced with bad PR attached to a celebrity? What is actually even the bad stigma, and is it the same as for a business or corporation? According to Ronn Torossian, the CEO of 5W Public Relations, a maverick PR consulting firm based in NYC, the answer can be more complex than you might believe. Since certain celebrities feed off of the “bad-boy” or “bad-girl” image, then actions like wrecking a hotel room or cursing someone out in public actually feed into somewhat positive PR for them. It continues their brand, like a rockstar or tough-guy type actor.

Crossing The Public Line

However, there are those things which are simply over the line. The public may like the image of a rebel or someone who breaks the rules, but they tend to be less forgiving if people are actually hurt, or their image of a straightlaced person is shattered. For example, a DUI is always a bad press moment, since drunk driving is a more taboo act in the eyes of the public. If the person involved is seen as having a more sweet and innocent public persona, such as what happened to Lindsay Lohan or Amanda Bynes, then the fallout tends to be much worse.

celebrity pr issuesSo how are things like this generally dealt with? There have been many different approaches over the history of public relations disaster aversion, and while each situation is a little different and unique, the basics still remain the same. The general public likes someone who owns up to their actions, and apologizes. Once that is done, if there can be an explanation that shifts the blame elsewhere, then that usually happens. Apologies are generally meant to be heartfelt, and teamed with some kind of compensatory action, such as volunteerism, or large donations to a charity related to the faux pas.

This is sometimes coupled with a public announcement that the celebrity in question is seeking some kind of counseling for a condition related to the incident, like sex addiction for Tiger Woods after he cheated multiple times on his wife, or Mel Gibson blaming alcoholism for his anti-Semitic rants, then going to rehab. Generally, the first rule is apology, the second is finding a way to shift blame so that the public feels sorry for the celebrity, and finally, show that the celebrity is back on their feet and better than ever, because everyone loves a famous person who capitalizes on a second chance.

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