Monday, December 26, 2011

The rush for the next hot product

Shoppers wait patiently in line at Best Buy on Black Friday. (Photo credit:  StarTribune)
In what came as a great surprise to me, shoppers have been getting into fights and stampedes are happening over a retro version of a classic Air Jordan model shoe. Who knew?

We've heard of riots on Black Friday, craziness over Cabbage Patch Kids in the early 1980s, and the frenzy over Turbo Man in "Jingle All the Way."

So, who benefits when a product causes such a stir? Retailers do, because sales go through the roof. Sellers on eBay do. The human race doesn't, though, because it's a race to the bottom of rude and mean behavior. Before partaking in the next frenzy for a product, try to take a dose of civility.

By the way, Toys "R" Us recently released a limited edition of Vintage Cabbage Patch Kids. No riot there -- such is the law of supply and demand.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Which technology initial public offerings will succeed?

Many people remember the dot-com bubble that took place from approximately 1995 to 2000. How could anyone forget the puppet?

Now another wave of Internet companies are going public. Let's take a look at how those that already have gone public have fared:
  • Zynga, Inc. (ZNGA) -- The developer of social games such as FarmVille had its initial public offering (IPO) last week, and the stock fell 5% on its first day of trading.
  • LinkedIn Corporation (LNKD) -- The "world's largest professional network" debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in May. On the first day of trading, the stock closed at $94.25; today it trades around $65.
  • Groupon, Inc. (GRPN) -- This deal-of-the-day website has been publicly traded since early November. The stock ended the first day of trading at $26.11 and currently trades at around $22.
  • Pandora Media, Inc. (P) -- The Internet radio company closed its first day of trading back in June at $17.42. Today it trades at just under $10.
Of course, the blockbuster expected IPO in 2012 will be Facebook. The Facebook IPO is expected to create at least a thousand millionaires and could value the company at as much as $100 billion.

From the looks of how the four "social stocks" referenced above have performed, hopefully investors are remembering the dot-com bubble and focusing on traditional metrics such as the P/E ratio.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Media advice for Kris Humphries

Kris Humphries, Kim Kardashian's ex, gave his first television interview since the split this week on "Good Morning America." Humphries looked shell-shocked; he gave a horrible interview. Here are some interview suggestions for Humphries from a fellow Minnesotan.
  • Let the producer know before the interview what topics are not allowed. Apparently Humphries was expecting the entire interview to be about his new cookbook with his mom. Wrong! Most of the questions were about Kardashian, and apparently Humphries was furious about that. Humphries (or his publicist) should have let the producer know ahead of time that questions about Kardashian were off limits.
  • Be engaged. Humphries looked like a deer in headlights. He should have paid closer attention to what the interviewer was asking. Humphries also would have delivered a better interview if he smiled or even had a half-smile.
  • Know your key messages. In a media interview, it's important to practice answers to possible questions and how one would answer them. Key messages can be incorporated into the answers of just about any interview question.
  • Practice. As they say, "practice makes perfect." One doesn't want to have rote responses, but it definitely does sound better after practicing rather than just being off the cuff.
I hope that Humphries gets some coaching before his next interview. There are plenty of opportunities for him to tell his side of the story.

Monday, December 5, 2011

How to find a public relations firm

So your organization has decided that it needs some visibility, and you have been given the task of finding a public relations firm. How do you go about finding a public relations agency? Here are some tips:
  • Start with Google. By doing a quick Google search, you will be able to get an overview of public relations companies in your area. Use common search terms such as "public relations firms," "public relations companies," "public relations agencies," "agency public relations" and "companies public relations" to get a good snapshot.
  • Ask for referrals. Perhaps you have friends that work for other companies who have used a public relations firm. Ask their opinion of practitioners that they have worked with, including the scope of the project, areas of expertise, cost and other questions that you might have.
  • Consult the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). On the PRSA website, there is a "Find a Firm" tool. It provides the opportunity to find public relations firms by name, geographic region, industry or practice specialization, and whether or not the firm has accredited members.
  • Visit a local blog. In Minnesota, we have the Minnesota Public Relations Blog, which includes a list of Minnesota PR agencies as well as some agency profiles.
  • Read local business publications. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Twin Cities Business provides a list of the top 25 public relations firms, and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal offers its Book of Lists for sale.
After you identify some possible firms, give them a call to describe what you're looking for and, if it seems appropriate, meet with them in person about next steps.

Monday, November 28, 2011

What is Cyber Monday and other holiday shopping questions answered

Happy Cyber Monday! Today is the Monday after Thanksgiving, which is one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. Here's how Cyber Monday and other "days" around Thanksgiving originated:
  • Cyber Monday:  the Monday after Thanksgiving. The term originated in 2005 in a press release, "'Cyber Monday' Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year." Research showed that 78 percent of online retailers reported a significant increase in sales in 2004 on the Monday after Thanksgiving. It's not a very productive day in the workplace; on Cyber Monday more than half of the dollars spent online originate from work computers.
  • Black Friday:  the day following Thanksgiving. Black Friday marks the first day of the Christmas shopping season, and retailers offer many deals to get shoppers in the doors. It's typically the busiest shopping day of the year. The term originated in the late 1960s, as a way for the Philadelphia police department to describe the huge traffic jams and crowded sidewalks in the city because of all the shoppers. In the 1980s, a different explanation for the term Black Friday arose:  that the day marked the time during the year when retailers shifted from operating at a loss (in the red) to a profit (in the black).
  • Small Business Saturday:  the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday was created by American Express in 2010 as a way to encourage consumers to shop at their local stores. American Express also offers many free marketing materials to help retailers promote themselves for Small Business Saturday.
  • Big Wednesday:  Thanksgiving Eve. The night before Thanksgiving is the biggest drinking night of the year. It's a time when college students come home and get together with friends. For those working, there's plenty of time to recuperate before going back to work on Cyber Monday.
Have fun shopping today -- I hope that you find a great deal!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What to do when a reporter calls

The phone rings. It's a reporter from the local television station on the line, and he wants to talk to an executive at your company right away.

What do you do? First, take a deep breath. You don't need to respond right away -- start by asking the reporter some questions, such as:
  • When is your deadline?
  • What is the angle of your story?
  • How will the interview be conducted -- over the phone, in person, via satellite, etc.?
  • Whom else are you interviewing for the story?
Take note of the reporter's answers. Be sure to write down all of the reporter's contact information, and then tell the reporter that you will get back to him in time for his deadline. Then connect with the appropriate subject matter expert and prepare him or her for the interview.

In terms of deadlines, they are critically important to meet -- both for the reporter and for you. If you don't get back to a reporter in time, your organization or client probably will not be included in the story.

Monday, November 14, 2011

'Moves Like Jagger' and other songs about musicians

Maroon 5
"Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 is one of the catchiest songs that I have heard in a while, and it led me to think about what other musicians are distinguished enough to have their names in a song title.

Here are some of the songs that I found:
What other songs that have musician names in the title come to your mind?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Safer baby shampoo on the way

Thanks to a two-year campaign by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Johnson & Johnson has announced that it is phasing two carcinogenic chemicals out of its baby products worldwide:  formaldehyde-releasing preservatives and 1,4-dioxane.

The campaign started in March 2009 when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released a report, "No More Toxic Tub," that revealed that Johnson's Baby Shampoo, along with many other children's bath products, contained two carcinogens that were not listed on labels.

In addition to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the movement involved 40 organizations representing 1.7 million parents, the American Nurses Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Between July and October this year, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics purchased and reviewed labels of Johnson's Baby Shampoo sold in 13 countries to see if the products contained quaternium-15, a chemical preservative that kills bacteria by releasing formaldehyde.

The organization found that Johnson's Baby Shampoo sold in the United States, Australia, Canada, China and Indonesia contains quaternium-15, while Johnson's Baby Shampoo sold in Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the U.K. contain non-formaldehyde preservatives.

Another report was released last week, "Baby's Tub Is Still Toxic," and that's when Johnson & Johnson announced that it would phase out the chemicals.

Kudos to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics for pursuing the issue and to Johnson & Johnson for understanding the importance of healthy babies.

P.S.  On the topic of different products in various countries, perhaps it's time for Coca-Cola to offer its pop formulated with sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup in the U.S. After all, Pepsi Throwback has become popular. . .

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Redbox price increase: a different story

In some instances, there are clear benefits to being the second to do something. In the instance of the recent Redbox price increase, Coinstar (the parent company of Redbox) benefited from Netflix's missteps.

Here are some differences in how Coinstar communicated its recent price increase:
  • Shifting of blame: Who better to blame than the pariah of the day -- banks? Coinstar said that "rising operating expenses, including new increases in debit card fees" was the main reason behind the rise in prices.
  • Relatively minimal percentage increase: Coinstar increased prices by 20 percent, compared to the up to 60 percent increase that Netflix imposed. Coinstar also kept daily rental prices intact for Blu-ray Discs and video games.
  • Smooth transition: From Oct. 31 to Nov. 30, the Redbox DVD rental price stays at $1.00. Additional rental days are $1.20.
While Coinstar's stock slumped 7 percent in the day following its price increase announcement, I doubt that there will be the same impact on business that Netflix has suffered.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tips on engaging in social media in regulated industries

Because social media moves at the speed of a tweet, it can be downright difficult for organizations in regulated industries such as financial services or healthcare to participate effectively. With some planning and incremental steps, though, successfully participating in social media can be a clear reality and success.

Here are some tips on engaging in social media in regulated industries:
  1. Start by listening. Listening to social media conversations does not break any rules or regulations, and provides insight into trends of topics.
  2. Develop cross-organizational support. Obtaining buy-in from departments ranging from legal to compliance to IT can smooth the road to social media engagement.
  3. Prepare key messages ahead of time. Just as in the preparation of talking points for traditional media, having key messages approved in anticipation of specific topics will allow quick social media responses.
  4. Develop accelerated approval times. Social media moves at the speed of a tweet, yet content needs to go through appropriate approvals – just faster.
  5. Train your organization. From executives to day-to-day contributors, provide an education on the importance and intricacies of social media.
  6. Remember that social media is a casual dialogue. Stilted language is out of place in social media. To comply with regulatory language requirements, consider linking to disclosures from tweets.
  7. Move beyond numbers in measurement. Numbers can provide some insight, but more meaningful indicators of success include consumer sentiment, engagement (comments and feedback), and development of new business relationships or the expansion of current ones.
  8. Develop a social media policy. Having a policy in place that includes the dos and don’ts of participation will make all stakeholders more comfortable. For instance, The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority requires that firms keep records of all communications on social media sites by their registered representatives and that those who participate in social media are properly trained and supervised. And to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, employees in the medical industry need to be sure not to reveal patient information.
These tips are from an article that I wrote with Jared Roy for PR News Digital PR Guidebook, Vol. 3. Read the full article.        
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...