Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Successful event PR tips courtesy of U2

Photo credit:  Daniel Boud
Last Saturday, U2 brought its U2360 tour to TCF Bank Stadium and had the Twin Cities talking about the concert before, during and after the show. Here are some tactics that U2 used successfully in promoting the concert and just might work for other events:
  1. Involve the fans. Fifteen minutes after the set of the opening act (Interpol) ended, U2's crew was capturing the entire stadium using a GigaPixel FanCam. Concert attendees were then able to visit U2's website a couple of days later, tag their images, and share via social media.
  2. Connect with the community. Even though he has a very tight schedule, Bono took the time before the show to meet representatives of the local Somali community to talk about efforts to combat famine in East Africa. U2's show even featured Somali rapper K'naan on a cover of "Stand By Me."
  3. Conduct pre-, day-of and post-event publicity. There were so many angles to the story -- "The Claw" stage, parking issues, first concert at TCF Bank Stadium, number of attendees and other concert statistics, and more. News stories about the concert started a few days before the show and continued for a few days afterward.
  4. Embrace the rain. This was a big story the day of the show. What would U2 do if it rained? Well, it rained throughout most of the band's set, and they played on. The band and the crowd definitely shared a special moment by persevering through the rain.
  5. Tap into emotions. At the beginning of "Beautiful Day," a video played on the concert screen featuring NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The video was recorded from space, and Kelly said, "Tell my wife that I love her -- of course she already knows."
I have been constantly thinking about the concert since last Saturday. Maybe if some of these tactics are incorporated into your organization's event, attendees may feel the same impact.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An unconventional crisis response

The conventional wisdom regarding successful crisis communications involves saying sorry and moving on.

In the case of Transocean, the company that owned and ran the Deepwater Horizon, the opposite approach seems to be working.

Transocean has taken a no-holds-barred approach to the April 20, 2010, disaster, refusing to apologize and placing the blame squarely on BP.

Bloomberg Businessweek recently ran a cover story on the situation that included a hypothesis on the reasoning behind Transocean's approach. In essence, the survival of Transocean is at stake. The total liability for the accident could be $50 billion, which would sink Transocean. BP is a much bigger corporation:  it had revenue of $297 billion last year, compared to Transocean's revenue of more than $9 billion.

While the dispute will take a long time to wind its way through the legal system, it appears that Transocean already is beating BP in the court of public opinion.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Optimizing your online pressroom

Considering that journalists are overworked, your organization has a better chance of getting into a news story if a reporter is easily able to access the information that he or she needs. One of the best ways to do that is to have a well-organized online pressroom.

Here are some insights on how to make your online pressroom meet today's media needs:
  1. Keep it simple. Reporters are often on deadline and need information right away. Make it easy for them to find what they need.
  2. Make media contact information prominent. Often reporters just want to pick up the phone and call someone. They become frustrated when phone numbers are not readily available.
  3. Ensure easy access from your company's home page. While many departments of a company compete for precious home page real estate, if reporters cannot find your media information then your organization may not make it into the story.
  4. Provide RSS feeds. Rather than checking frequently to see if your company has released information, RSS feeds can give reporters your company's news as it happens.
  5. Keep your online pressroom organized. Clutter and chaos have no place in an online pressroom.
  6. Use the terms "media" and "press" in your online pressroom. A reporter's typical Google search to find media materials is either "media" and the company name or "press" and the company name. If you use both, reporters have a better chance of finding you.
  7. Offer a search box. While your online pressroom should be intuitive and easy to navigate, offering a box in which reporters can search for specific terms can help them find information.
  8. Provide more than just press releases. Online pressrooms that provide executive bios, company statistics, research, downloadable content and more give reporters story ideas as well as the information that they need.
These insights are from an article that I wrote with search engine optimization expert Chris Peterson. Here is the entire article (opens PDF)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Will Myspace get its sexy back?

This week News Corp. announced that it was selling Myspace to Specific Media Inc. for $35 million, including a 5 percent stake in Specific Media. This pales in comparison to the $580 million purchase price News Corp. paid in 2005.

What happened? Bloomberg Businessweek ran an in-depth story that offers some insight.

I believe that two of the keys relate to public relations and nimbleness.

Public relations:  Myspace gained a reputation as a haven for perverts. In 2007, four families claimed that their daughters has been sexually abused by adults met on Myspace. The site tried to handle the situation by removing 90,000 sex offenders from the site in 2009, but it was too late.

People flocked from the site in droves, and parents were reluctant to let their teens participate.

Nimbleness:  As we learned from AOL-Time Warner merger, it just doesn't seem to work when big media conglomerates run Internet companies. The culture shifts, there becomes more of a focus on profitability, and the user experience declines.

Apparently Justin Timberlake will take a stake in Specific Media and help develop a new Myspace strategy, but it's too late.
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