That’s a Wrap! Capitalizing on Shark Week, PR mistakes surrounding the death of Robin Williams, the growing pay gap between public relations and journalism and why women are taking over PR

August 15, 2014


If you haven’t gotten your Shark Week fix, it’s time to act fast. Shark Week ends on Saturday, and plenty of savvy marketers have already capitalized on Discovery Channel’s most popular week of the year. However, while those marketers were cooking with gasoline, others seemed intent on only burning themselves and their clients with ill-conceived public relations pitches surrounding the death of comedic legend Robin Williams. Capitalizing on shark week? Great idea. Capitalizing on a tragic celebrity suicide? Terrible idea.

Here’s the best and worst from the world of public relations this week, along with some new research showing public relations is not only a growing field but also an industry full of women.

Marketers cash in on Shark Week

Cue the Jaws theme…it’s Shark Week! Along with Discovery Channel’s own Shark Week promotions, this week we’ve seen several marketers creatively piggyback on Shark Week. Our very own Heather Kingry tweeted about Shark Week and received a fun and unexpected response. Here was Heather’s tweet:

Season Sardines decided to get in on the Shark Week action and respond to Heather:

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That’s a Wrap! Google’s autocomplete headache, PR firms freeze out climate change skeptics, John Oliver skewers native advertising, Nine West steps in it, B&B’s bad bridal policy

August 8, 2014

As wild weather bombards parts of the nation, it’s time for Reputation Ink’s round-up of the week’s wildest stories in PR, marketing and social media. Which companies and tactics weathered the storm? You be the judge:

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Developing your marketing strategy: why an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach is more important than ever

July 15, 2014
Reputation Ink INKsights Developing your marketing strategy why an all-of-the-above strategy is more important than ever

Don’t put all your marketing eggs in one basket

Remember when traditional marketing was dead?

It was only a couple of years ago that everyone from the Harvard Business Review to Forbes magazine was trumpeting the demise of traditional marketing and public relations strategies. In a world of social media and online marketing, they contended, old-school tactics for connecting with customers just wouldn’t cut it.

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That’s a Wrap! American Apparel’s Challenger tweet, retailers under fire for Nazi ‘home decor,’ Time magazine’s winning Facebook strategy, Frontier’s pizza pilot and Kickstarter’s kicka$$ potato salad

July 11, 2014

Congratulations! You made it to Friday. As Germany and Argentina prepare to face each other once again in the World Cup finals, it’s time for INKsights’ look back at the week’s winners and losers in the world of PR, content marketing and social media.

First, the losers: “Insensitive” was the word of the week, as major retailers got raked over the media coals for using images of historic tragedies in their sales and marketing efforts.

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How to hook a journalist on your press release from your email subject line

June 26, 2014

156705768I recently participated as a panelist in a webinar by BusinessWire for public relations professionals who pitch to journalists covering sports. I was asked to be a panelist because of my experience as a sports business analyst and reporter for outlets such as ESPN, Forbes, and Comcast Sports Southeast. However, I also brought something to the table the other journalists on the panel did not: I’m also a public relations professional.

Before the webinar, each panelist was asked to think of three things public relations professionals should know before pitching to journalists. I think all three of us on the panel immediately went to some version of advising people to only pitch us content relevant to our reporting and our platform. I would conservatively estimate 60 percent of the pitches I receive are on topics or story angles I would never cover for any of the outlets where I report.

A larger problem I discussed, however, is that I miss pitches that are perfect for my reporting because I simply can’t read every email I receive. That’s why it’s imperative to hook journalists from the subject line of your email.

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Writing press releases: 7 tips to improve your copy

June 3, 2014

Reputation Ink 7 tips to improve your press releasesWriting a press release doesn’t have to be hard. Some writers, intimidated by the thought of writing copy that eventually will be reviewed by professional reporters and editors, make the mistake of trying to “elevate” their writing. Long words replace short ones, sentences become more complex and the message gets lost amid a sea of technical terminology.

By keeping in mind a few simple guidelines, writers can produce shorter, more effective press releases that emphasize clear communication over impressing an editor. Employ these few simple tips, and you may just do both:

Start strong

Your lead, or opening paragraph, doesn’t have to be fancy or long-winded to get results. It should, however, follow the “inverted pyramid” formula of placing the most important information up top, followed by less important and finally background information. Reporters and editors are busy; don’t make them hunt through your copy to find your news.

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5 tips to increase your news release pick-up

May 13, 2014

5 tips to increase your news release pick-up“Why don’t my news releases get picked up?”

Just about every PR consultant has heard this lament at one time or another – often, from a prospective client who’s been trying to handle his own PR with little success. Yet even veteran communications pros have experienced the frustration of sending out a news release that never makes it past an editor’s inbox.

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The 5 As of an effective public apology

April 17, 2014

INKsights blog: how to make a public apology

Recently, we talked about that bane of celebrities and major corporations alike – the public apology – and gave a few examples of some memorable apology train wrecks. As those examples attest, far from quelling a PR crisis, a poorly worded apology can add fuel to the media fire and send the crisis spiraling out of control.

Now that we’ve discussed some of the common mistakes public entities make in their media mea culpas, let’s review the key components of an effective public apology. Given how often public figures need to issue these types of statements, it’s surprising that more celebrities and companies fail to do the following:

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How not to make a public apology

April 1, 2014

In honor of April Fools’ Day, we recall some of the less-than-successful public apologies made by celebrities and other public figures. Believe it or not, these apologies weren’t meant as an April Fools’ joke – and their impact on the reputations of the individuals involved was anything but funny.

Elton John was right. Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

With celebrity scandals erupting on an almost daily basis, you’d think that actors, politicians and other public figures would eventually become adept at delivering public apologies. More often than not, however, at the first hint of a scandal celebrities immediately adopt one of the following apology personas:

Reputation Ink Inksights How not to make a public apology Paula Deen#1. The Victim

When celebrity chef Paula Deen was accused of making racist comments, her “apology” focused more on how the scandal had affected her instead of those who might have been offended by her remarks.

“The pain has been tremendous that I have caused to myself – and to others,” Deen said in an apparently homemade video. She later told Today’s Matt Lauer, “There’s been some very, very hurtful lies said about me….”

A public apology is no time for a self-pity party.

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There is such a thing as bad PR

March 18, 2014

They say there’s no such thing as bad PR. Tell that to Mike Jeffries.

Not long ago, Jeffries — the longtime CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch — was flying high on his reputation of transforming stodgy A&F into one of the hottest teen clothing brands. But then sales started to decline, and last year a 2006 interview Jeffries gave to Salon came back to haunt him when excerpts appeared in the newly published book The New Rules of Retail. In the interview, Jeffries candidly shared Abercrombie’s marketing strategy of targeting attractive “cool” kids:

“We want to market to cool, good-looking people,” Jeffries said. “…A lot of people don’t belong, and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

The resulting outrage exploded across the media landscape, prompting Abercrombie boycotts and providing ample fodder for the late-night TV shows. The brouhaha even sparked a grass-roots campaign to transform Abercrombie into a brand associated with homeless people.

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