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Memorial Day PR Mishaps

As both a somber holiday and the joyful unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day is the day in which Americans remember those who died in service to the country, while also spending time barbequing with family and friends. It is especially important that PR professionals take this into consideration when planning campaigns or events to avoid what many turn into a PR disaster. PR professionals should thoroughly think through the potential downsides of any campaign, but when coordinating programs around this holiday it is important to be extra cautious.

Drawing from the PR mistakes of other companies over recent years, here are three pitfalls to avoid this (and every) Memorial Day:

  1. Being distasteful or disrespectful. Last Memorial Day, retailer PacSun learned this lesson the hard way. In their store windows, they displayed a black t-shirt featuring an upside-down American flag. Customers took to social media to express how angry they were at the store for being disrespectful on a holiday meant to honor those who died in service to the flag. If freedom of speech or creative expression is a value your company holds, perhaps there are better times to showcase that edginess.
  2. Missing the forest for the trees. The swanky Standard Hotel in New York hurt its reputation last Memorial Day when a bouncer refused entry to a sailor in uniform due to its strict dress code. The sailor’s friends appealed to the managers, and the incident drew the attention of bystanders and the New York tabloids. Denying servicemen and women an evening of leisure any time of year, especially Memorial Day weekend, is not the best PR move. The Standard issued an apology, a public statement, and extended an invitation to the rebuffed sailor to come back anytime.
  3. Losing sight of the occasion. When hosting an event attended by media, it can be tempting to cater to what media want, to make a good impression and attempt to maximize coverage. But journalists covering the event should be held to the same standards of respect as everyone else. CNN host Anderson Cooper got this right when, while covering a commemoration for shooting victims in Canada, he reprimanded another reporter who approached him and asked for a selfie.

5 PR Lessons from Top Chef

On each season of Bravo’s Top Chef, talented restaurateurs and chefs compete for the title. The show has unique challenges for the contestants, and it features the who’s who of established chefs to serve as judges.


For PR professions, Top Chef has lessons that you can incorporate into your regular work day. Now you can feel less guilty about binge watching all of the episodes you have DRV-ed this weekend.


Here are five lesson PR pros can learn from Top Chef:


  1. Everyone has their own palette. There are a wide variety of guest judges on the show – a French chef, a molecular gastronomist, Jimmy Fallon, and even Pee-Wee Herman – that all have different views and tastes. Contestants need to make sure they are meeting individual expectations for the guest judges. This is something that PR professionals should consider when pitching stories.
  2. There are judges, but you’re not one of them. Every season a contestant gets voted off the show. In their post-production interview they will usually say something about how they still thought their dish was the best. But according to the people whose views matter most – the judges – they in fact did not have the best dish. The same is true for the relationship between PR and media. If a pitch is not being received well, changes need to be made.
  3. Sometimes, you have to give up on old recipes. There are some PR tactics that are outdated and need to be done away with. This can include everything from spray-and-pray PR, bombing the comments section with promotions drivel, and a variety of other practices that should be removed from our PR cookbooks.
  4. Half-baked is never okay. One of the quickest ways for a contestant to get kicked off the show is to serve raw or partially cooked meat. In the PR world, sending out pitches that are half-baked or not given a full effort does not get results.
  5. The amuse bouche. An amuse bouche course is typically one bite, served pre-appetizer, and offers diners an idea of what is to come. Many PR agencies send off an idea for a contributed piece with the whole article attached. There’s a pretty good chance you are pitching the same thing to multiple publications which means you are ignoring the whole “everyone has their own palette” thing (see point 1), and it is not giving the editor an opportunity to think about it.

The Perks of Video Marketing

Technology is advanced to the point that even the most amateur videographers can make great-looking videos for their companies. While traditional marketing techniques do work, making a video will boost your visibility and gain attention even more!

Here are seven benefits of creating and sharing videos online:

1.Increase Your SEO

SEO, or “Search Engine Optimization” is the process of getting visibility through the non-paid search engines. Because social media’s market dominance is growing, big search engines give a lot of value to videos. This means that on your website, your video’s SEO will rank higher than your article’s SEO.

2. Distribute Content via Social Media

Add your videos to the popular video-sharing sites: YouTube, Daily Motion, Vimeo, etc., as well as social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. People are more likely to share a video than an article.

3. Increase Your Website’s Appeal

Add a video to your website’s homepage to increase visitor retention. People stick around if they see an entertaining video explaining your website or service.

4. Boost Sales by Alleviating Doubts

A video review can show things that cannot be conveyed with text, which is far more effective with increasing conversations about your product or service.

5. Better for Subscribers of Your Email Newsletters

A video-based email makes a nice change in someone’s inbox. Concepts can be explained clearer in a video, which will prompt the subscriber to open the more than a text-based email.

6. Personalize Your Customers’ Experiences

Make your customer’s experience similar to that of visiting an actual store. Use data mining to provide personalized video experiences, aimed at the individual customer’s buying habits, referencing past purchases.

7. Bonus: Get Famous on Facebook

Upload your videos to Facebook and share them to generate more engagement. Upload your video natively, not by using a YouTube link, so that you can boost all of your content and your page will get more visibility.

MythBusters: Public Relations Edition

Confusion about who to contact to get your message out there and how to contact them has stopped many small businesses from getting involved in public relations. Business owners get hung up on all sorts of “myths” that circulate about PR, and they are losing out on valuable attention their company could gain.


Here are the top seven PR myths busted:


  1. Press releases don’t work anymore. Press releases do work, and they are a great way to get your news out there. The key is to use a press release in the right way – find your news story first and then package it in the right way for the right journalists.
  2. It’s all about contacts. If you can establish and build a relationship with journalists, then all is well and good. But the key for journalists is the value and relevance of what you have to offer.
  3. You have to be able to write. Writing is an important part of PR, but there are ways to work around it if you are not confident about your writing. Instead of relying on press releases to announce your news, the phone can be just as effective.  
  4. You have to have a lot of news stories to get coverage. You don’t just need news to get noticed. Establish yourself as an expert by commenting on other people’s news and contribute to feature articles to raise your profile.
  5. PR is all about press and media. Press and media relations are just one part of PR and just one way of reaching your target audience. Think more widely about your business objectives, what you want to achieve, who you want to communicate with, and what you want to say.
  6. Journalists won’t be interested. A little bit of research goes a long way. Take the time to identify a few key journalists to target and get to know what interests them and how you can take advantage of that. A well pitched story or idea will interest journalists.
  7. PR is free and easy. While you aren’t paying directly to have your messages printed or broadcast, you will need to invest time and effort. You might not get a response from a lot of your email pitches and that can be disheartening but don’t give up. Be prepared to keep at it.

Social Media Lessons From Queen B

Queen B (AKA Beyoncé) released a surprise album, “Lemonade,” right after her HBO special debuted this spring. Leading up to the event she did not participate in any interviews, pose for any magazine covers, or guest star on any late-night talk shows. Instead, Beyoncé and her publicity team took to social media to promote the release of her visual album. Through the videos and photos that were posted to her accounts, her loyal followers, dubbed the “bee-hive,” were tipped off, setting the internet on fire.

Let’s take a look at the social media marketing lessons we can all learn from Queen B:

  • Give them what they want. Beyoncé’s social media accounts are full of candid pictures of her family and behind-the-scene videos. In order to find out what your followers really want, analyze your top performing posts and research the most engaged followers to find commonalities.  
  • But also give them what they need. Not only does Beyoncé utilize social media to give her fans a glimpse into her fabulous life, she uses the platforms to promote her campaigns. Videos and photos of her new clothing line and details about her tour and album are weaved in among her personal posts. Your followers need a mix of content containing your core messages but also highly-engaging posts, so figure out a system that works for your brand.  
  • Control the message. When rumors speculated that Beyoncé and her beau, Jay Z, were going through marital problems, Beyoncé and her team flawlessly dismissed the rumors by announcing she was going on tour with him, allowing her to bypass traditional media and fully control the message she wants presented.  

Now let’s all channel our inner Sasha Fierce and create social media content that would make the Queen proud.  

Say, WHAT? 9 Phrases You Are Mispronouncing

Mispronouncing words and phrases in your speech or misspelling them in your writing can be extremely embarrassing. But some mistakes have become so common that you have probably don’t even realize that you are incorrectly phrasing or pronouncing it. Language experts have argued whether you should use the common or proper usage . Advocates for keeping the words and phrases in their incorrect form say that readers will get confused. What do you think?

Take a look at this list of commonly mispronounced and misspelled words and phrases to see what you have been using incorrectly:

1. Incorrect: Chomp at the bit

Correct: Champ at the bit

“Champ at the bit” refers to race horses chewing at their “bit”, a metal mouthpiece used to control them. 

2. Incorrect: doggy-dog world

Correct: dog-eat-dog world

This phrase refers to the world in which people will do anything to be successful, hence the “eat” part.

3. Incorrect: hierarchy (prounced hi-archy)

Correct: hierarchy (prounced \ˈhī-(ə-)ˌrär-kē \)

Remember to pronounce all four syllables of the word, and not just skip over the second one.

4. Incorrect: for all intensive purposes

Correct: for all intents and purposes

“For all intents and purposes” means “in every practical sense”.

5. Incorrect: nip it in the butt

Correct: nip it in the bud

“Nip” refers to pinching something to destroy it, while “bud” refers to the bud of a flower. Thus, creating the meaning of the phrase which is to stop something completely.

6. Incorrect: irregardless

Correct: regardless

“Irregardless” is a made-up word, and a double negative.

7. Incorrect: spitting image

Correct: spit and image

“Spit and image” is a Bible reference, meaning when God used spit and mud to create Adam in His image. The term is commonly used to describe something who looks exactly like another person.

8. Incorrect: try a different tact

Correct: try a different tack

“Try a different tack” refers to trying another approach. A “tack” is a term for an abrupt turn of a boat, while “tact” is a shortened form of the word “tactic”.

9. Incorrect: victual (pronounced vicshual)

Correct: victual (pronounced \ˈvi-təl\)

“Victual” is actually supposed to be pronounced so that it rhymes with “whittle”. It’s a word meaning food that is prepared to eat.