News and Updates from 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian

Tag: strategy

Why Snapchat is Exploding

RONN TOROSSIAN SNAPCHAT

According to reports in TechCrunch, social media upstart Snapchat is looking to bring in more than $500 million in new investment. To that end, the company has been wooing groups that include Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. The amount they are seeking nearly matches the $648 million the company has already received to date. While the companies in question are not talking to reporters, Bloomberg reported that Alibaba has agreed to invest $200 million in Snapchat.

A couple of interesting notes here. First, Alibaba, as an e-commerce company, has an opportunity to hedge its ‘net interests while also expanding them in what some have called the “uncertain” marketplace of . Further, Prince Alwaleed has also invested in Twitter, long described as a competitor – or even a proto version of – Snapchat. Spreading investments across competing brands is nothing new to Alwaleed. His firm also holds interests in AOL, Apple, Motorola and Fox.

All this cross-investing and funding of competing brands might be seen as either bet-hedging or yet more evidence that the ‘net really is the Wild West. The former could certainly be a fair assessment, but the latter is less so.

Yes, the Internet still qualifies as both a technology and financial powder keg, both a realm of almost limitless possibility and an environment with all the loving nurture of outer space. There is certainly plenty of cash to be made, but many fortunes will be shattered along the way. So, what’s the best way for a company to set itself up to look enough like a winner in order to get the funding it needs to become what it aspires to be?

Again, Snapchat provides a solid answer. The platform began with a proven commodity then tweaked it just enough to be seen as completely distinct in the consumer marketplace. That distinction appealed to a wide and enthusiastic demographic, which flocked to the product in droves. When their experience exceeded expectations, they kept coming back for more. Quick success and a rapidly expanding fan base equals investor gold. Add to that a consumer base that either is not aware it IS the product or does not care, and you have a winning combination.

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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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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 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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Leveraging Facebook Effectively for Your Brand

ronn torossian facebook

Growing a modern business and brand requires more than traditional methods of marketing and advertising. Understanding how to implement and utilize social media including Facebook is essential for growth today. Using a few tips and tricks can help to ensure you are on the right track for any campaign you have in mind for your brand with the use of Facebook.

Create a Branded Page

Registering a Facebook page for your brand is a quick way to help others contact and locate more information about your business. Maintaining the same URL, name and look for all pages along with your official website is essential to gain trust and a positive reputation from followers and potential customers.

Use Updated Imagery

Using well-designed logos and other images to capture your products, services and brand as a whole is also essential when looking to leverage followers and the number of users on Facebook. The more visually appealing a brand is, the easier it becomes to attract new sales and generate leads from those who are genuinely interested in your business and what it has to offer.

Posting Consistency

Consistent updates are key when looking to use Facebook effectively while building a brand whether you are launching a start up company or looking to take an existing business to the next level of growth and success. Create a posting schedule to ensure your visitors do not go without updates and new content. Sharing relevant, unique and interesting content published by your brand is also beneficial as it provides potential customers with additional reasons to trust and stay loyal to your company.

Utilize Facebook’s Ad Platform

Getting familiar with the ad platform offered by Facebook is also necessary when you want to reach an extended target market or demographic. Facebook’s ad platform gives individuals the opportunity to choose the market you want to reach while also adding specifics of age, gender and location to guarantee you are hitting the mark once you choose to run the campaign and launch your ads live.

Taking the time to learn more about Facebook and its advertising methods is a way to not only gain insight into your brand, but also into the audience and demographic you want to reach. The more you understand your target consumers the easier it is to begin building the solid reputation and credibility you need to reach higher levels of success in any industry.

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Companies Must Share Financial Plans and Successes

Companies Must Share Financial Plans and Successes

We live in an information age and companies should learn how to use that to keep their markets up to speed regarding financial plans and successes experienced by their company.

Each company should address issues specific to their industry as they report to customers, investors and the market in general. Doing this while conveying the unique nature of your company’s vision and mission is a way to make your company leap ahead of the rest of the pack.

Just remember to include your employees in the process. Some of the best press is the positive things your employees have to say. Keeping the working environment upbeat and aware is a great start to building a strong and reliable face with your consumers and in .

As your company introduces a public scorecard with financial plans for investing, as well as providing the story of successes you have had recently, will provide a panoramic view of your strategic goals. Showing where you are directing your efforts to accomplish the company’s vision will allow others to feel your success is part of their success as well.

Providing information in real time instead of waiting for quarterly or annual reports keeps your products and services before the eyes of your market. This allows your business to catch the heart and imagination of those looking for the same future you believe in and are advancing with your company’s efforts.

Taking this opportunity allows you to check and double check where you stand in regard to goals set by your company. Reporting new relationships with businesses or charities that foster the same goals or supporting events related to your company’s vision will help to accomplish those ideals. They may also be of interest to a wider section of the public than you might otherwise attract to your services and products. Participation becomes easily reportable on social media sites with both quick blurbs and longer articles. Pictures or catchy but appropriate captions can move public awareness of your business quickly if done well.

Current statistics show that various social media sites such as Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and others are changing the world’s way of purchasing – whether products, information or otherwise into an internet-dominant experience. Do not hold back on reporting successes and plans. Keep your name in the public eye in a positive and professional way and bask in the glow of your success and savvy understanding. Keeping your company in front of those who are most interested in your causes will strengthen your organization’s capabilities for growth and interests unique to your brand. This creates competitive advantages that maximize your company’s value.

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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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