Sword and the Script

4 Creative PR Ideas for Crisis Communications



4 Creative PR Ideas for Crisis Communications-Chevy-Tweet

Constraint breeds creativity.  It may seem counterintuitive, but the ingenuity of deftly navigating the most difficult of binds goes to show PR is often as much about problem solving as it is communication.

Corporate crisis communications provides a demonstration because there are very clear constraints:

  • Unknown unknowns – the effort to understand what is happening
  • Time hacks – crisis PR demands speed
  • Dichotomy – substantial pressure to credibly refute or validate

1. Chevy embraces the truck.

As a Chevy spokesperson Rikk Wilde’s job was to present a new truck to San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner.  As a corporate sponsor this was Chevy’s big moment to showcase some of the finer points about the vehicle they were about to handover to the World Series MVP.  It was an awkward presentation through and through, but at one critical moment, Mr. Wilde noted the new Chevy Colorado, “…offers class-winning and -leading, um, you know, technology and stuff.”

Twitter exploded and some quick thinker doing the Twitter for Chevy simply embraced it with this tweet which read in part, “Truck yeah the 2015 #ChevyColorado has awesome #TechnologyAndStuff!” Writing on the Ignite Social Media blog, Bruna Camargo gave the vehicle manufacturer good grades for its response,

“Instead of issuing some lame press release about how they’re sorry their guy couldn’t be more eloquent, they embraced it, rolled with it, and are now about to bank on it. Can’t cry over spilled milk, or Rikk Wilde’s sweat beads that surely moistened that Chevy-branded trophy. But you can, you know, make fun of yourself and stuff.”

The company is getting accolades from other reputable marketers.  Mark Schaefer, for example, called it GM’s Oreo moment.  Talk about rags to riches.  Crisis communications has changed — and Mr. Wilde should get a raise.  If there was a way to plan that — marketers would!

The video is embedded nearby — imagine watching this from the social media command center — and then tightening your seat-belt:

2. Suggesting edits to a reporter’s story.

Once upon a time there were few options for responding to a negative opinion piece in a major daily paper.  Some of these included a) contact the writer b) contact the editor c) write a letter to the editor in response.  These were all terrible options, which means picking and choosing battles was extremely important.  Today, corporations that put the time into cultivating corporate blogs, have an effective outlet for managing with crisis communications and added an option to the crisis toolkit.

When the New York Times published an opinion piece in part about Walmart, the company vigorously disputed the representation. In very creative rebuttal posted to Walmart’s blog titled, Fact Check: The New York Times “The Corporate Daddy”, David Tovar, then a vice president of communications with the company, offered edits to the Times’ writer’s “first draft.”  A few days later, the Times allegedly refused to publish a letter to the editor submitted by the company, which instead published on its blog.  This was a brilliant move and it’s a response well worth adding to the tool kit.

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3.  Best time to release a bad news story.

Late Friday afternoon used to be the besttime for corporations to release bad news.  The hope was reporters were more focused on getting on with the weekend and by Monday, well, the news would be too old to cover.  I don’t think that’s the case in the tech-driven era we live in – anytime is a great time to publish a juicy story.

So what’s the alternative?  Release the bad news when something else big is going on!  While a few outlets caught on, it probably could have been a lot worse. The Huffington Post was one of those outlets and published a story titled Snapchat Conveniently Announces Legal Settlement During iPhone 6 Launch.  In the article, associate business editor, Alexander C. Kaufman, wrote:

The timing of Snapchat’s announcement suggests that the company may have hoped news of the settlement would go unremarked. The company sent out its press release about the settlement at 1 p.m. EST — coincident with Apple’s big product launch event, which dominated the technology and mainstream press corps’ attention.

4.  Use your own product.

As a business, Yelp both creates and makes news.  From my vantage point it seems the company is essentially in continuous crisis mode over this issue:

Yelp denies filtering reviews to allow a more positive or negative slant depending on whether or not a business is a customer of Yelp.

A while back, Inc. Magazine ran this article – After 10 Years, Yelp CEO Reviews His Own Business – and the play on the word “review” struck me as creative. It’s proactive and counters a continuous theme rather than reacting to a specific headline.

Indeed, the article was written by Michael Liedtke a long time tech writer for The Associated Press, which assures wide distribution include on Inc.com, which I might add, is a sweet spot for Yelp.  And it seems Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman does in fact use his own product:

Q: Do you still write reviews yourself?

A: I do. I just did three or four today. I am at 1,214 reviews as of today. I was on a trip in Aspen, and I just gave a one-star review to this French restaurant. They gave us a hard time. We actually had to walk out. I didn’t even get to the food.

* * *

In these examples we can see tenets of crisis communications applied in modern era where news cycles are accelerated.  Chevy embraced a story while Walmart refuted another.  Timing was factor – reactive and proactive – in both the Snapchat and Yelp example.  Putting all these together provide additional creative PR options for managing crisis communications.

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10 Timeless Creative PR Ideas



by Frank Strong

Creativity

instagram.com/frankstrong

Where do creative PR ideas come from?  How do we develop ideas and what does the life cycle of an idea look like? 

There are those in our field that advocate a strict discipline of science – that is to say no idea is funded or given a seal of approval — without math. Data has the limitations of structure, yet we are not rationale beings.

On the other side, there are others that are purely creative — the Don Draper myth — they operate on instincts and gut feelings. However the very phrase “trust me” invites risk and suspicion.

The two approaches are at odds and I’ve found no better explanation than the words of Malcom Gladwell.  In a post titled, Art or Science: Creative Marketing and PR, I took a look at his analysis of the difference between puzzles and mysteries:

In the book, What the Dog Saw, Malcom Gladwell breaks down the distinction between a puzzle and a mystery. A puzzle is when we have all of the pieces we need to make a complete picture, we just need to arrange them in the proper order so that they make sense. With a mystery, information is scarce and we instead rely on intuition, interference or a gut feeling. Perhaps this is what Rumsfeld meant when he famously said, “unknown unknowns.”

If PR were a puzzle then we’d have all the pieces needed to simply assemble a creative idea. If PR were entirely a mystery, then we’d all be starting from the beginning with every effort. Maybe that’s how to make the uninteresting, interesting. Neither side is quite right, there is very little in our world that fits neatly into some bucket we’ve designed; the fact is that PR is a mix of art and science.

We can’t excel with just English (or a language) or just Math, we need them both. Read More…

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5 Creative Marketing, PR and Social Media Ideas



by Frank Strong

creative PR marketing social media

If reading too much can suppress creative thinking, then so too can habit.  Sure, Aristotle said excellence is not an act, but a habit, but how easy is it for marketers to fall into a pattern? The same old pattern.

Patterns are predictable and measurable; but they are also avoidable. It is consumer reflex to avoid a pitch. Consider email, for example, which is easy enough to mark as spam.  What would happen if email suddenly was not a tool in the marketer’s toolkit?

I’d suggest that a freak-out session would be followed by a creative session – and perhaps even better and more creative marketing ideas. To that end, here are five creative marketing, PR and social media ideas: Read More…

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Seriously Fun Analysis: Google’s Android KitKat PR Stunt



by Frank Strong

Google Android KitKat

Chocolate robots? This is a Halloween 2013 costume for sure.

Who would have known a candy bar could make such headlines? After all when was the last time chocolate earned this level of media? I’d suggest I was chocolate covered grasshoppers – and that was a PR stunt too. Before that it was E.T. and Reese’s Pieces.

By way of quick background for those that might have missed it, Google decided to name its newest version of its Android operating system, that’s the stuff inside smart phones like the Nexus 7, after a candy bar. In this case, KitKat was the lucky brand.

 

Candy Coated Headlines

It’s been all over the news, with editors and producers everywhere writing sugar-coated headlines that play off old marketing taglines. “Break me off a piece of that,” begins ABC – while CNN writes “Android sweetened by KitKat.”

Read More…

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7 Sexy and Creative PR Ideas



by Frank Strong

7 Sexy and Creative PR Ideas

cre·a·tiv·i·ty

noun /ˌkrē-āˈtivitē/

The use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work

I  love to write posts about  creative ideas. And creative ideas are hard to find.  Go ahead — search for creative PR.  You’ll have to dig deep to find good ideas.

So as I’m perusing the web I try to make a point to save up links until I get to a point where I’ve got enough to share a snappy post.

And I’ve been itching to write this post, because there are some really good ideas in here.  Here are seven creative PR and marketing ideas: Read More…

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Art or Science: Creative Marketing and PR



marketing art or scienceby Frank Strong

There’s an old saying that half of all advertising budgets are wasted but marketers never know which half.  That phrase was coined long before the rich analytics the web provides — and that might lead us to believe we could figure out which half and therefore improve the results.

Certainly, there’s a science to marketing:  create, publish and analyze.  It’s experimenting and then calculating the gain or loss in visitors, page views and conversions.  And it’s true that studying data can improve results.  That’s why email marketers use A/B tests and why ecommerce specialists tweak the location, prominence and copy behind calls to action on the web.

Like most people, I’m a creature of habit.  I like process and methodology.  I like measurement.  I like data.  And I think these things are important.  But the longer I’m in this industry, the more convinced I’ve become that there is an art to marketing and PR is an under-recognized  talent.   Read More…

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Product placement meets content marketing meets creative PR



by Frank Strong

Even the venerable NPR can be a sucker for a good marketing story every once in awhile.  And DC Comics scored big time.  I just can’t believe more PR pros didn’t pick this one up for their blog. It’s very creative PR.

What’s the scoop?
Remember that James Bond movie where James jumps off a cliff after a plane, gets inside it and flies safely away?  I was taking a college physics class then, and leaned over to my buddy to let him know because of friction, that scene was, well, impossible according to the laws of physics.

I thought I was smart.  My buddy thought I was a 7 letter word that begins with an “A” and ends with an “E” for ruining a good scene. Read More…

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Creative Mother’s Day Pitches



by Frank Strong

We’ve got a few more days to get something for Mom – or grandma, or baby’s mama, or a sister with kids (mine has six!).  This year I was planning ahead – a marketing email from the same local flower shop where I order something for my mother each year hit me up early.

There was only one downside:  they don’t deliver on Sunday (the 13th) which is the actual celebration of Mother’s Day.  Ditto for the big shops – I ordered another gift from 1-800-FLOWERS and they don’t deliver on Mother’s Day either!

At any rate, I took to Google to search for some creative PR and marketing ideas around Mother’s Day.  What are some things businesses are doing?  Here’s a look at seven I liked:

1.  Help the kids pick gifts.  When I was about 4 or 5, I gave my Dad a nickel and a dime in an old candy case for Christmas.  Back then fifteen cents was a big deal to me but I can still remember him laughing his ass off when he opened it.  Sort of hurt my feelings. Of course, now I understand, but this anecdote underscores a business pain:  kids have a hard time picking out gifts for parents. Charlie Gaudet writes in a blog post on Predictable Profits, “Create an event for children to come inside your store and select items just for mom. Perhaps offer a special discount to children, or offer a special low-priced selection just to kids.”  Great idea!  By the way, I found Charlie’s post by way of a PRWeb release (owned by my employer) which you can see in the nearby screenshot (click the image to enlarge) was the top search result in my Google News search for ideas to write this post.

Read More…

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5 Creative PR and Marketing Ideas



by Frank Strong

Seven creative PR and marketing ideas

Not everyone gets feedback from David Pouge or Robert Scoble for their PR pitches, but creative PR and marketing ideas do have a way of earning the right attention all on their own – and hopefully from customers.  I like to keep an eye out for those really creative ideas, but the reality is they don’t come along every day:   The list of seven below was nearly a year in the making.

1. Earning more blog comments.

“Commenting seems to have decreased over the past six years,” wrote Geoff Livingston on his blog recently.  You wouldn’t know it by the number of quality comments on Adam Singer’s blog, The Future Buzz. Perhaps that’s because Adam does something very clever in rewarding great commenters:  every so often, he turns the best comments on his blog into a blog post.  It’s a savvy tactic I’ve also observed elsewhere, like Mack Collier’s blog.  People like to be acknowledged for their thoughts and this is certainly a nice way of doing it; bonus for re-using great content to develop an easy, but value added blog post. Read More…

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Dots of Intelligent PR


Dots of Intelligent PR

Photo Credit: Flickr

by Frank Strong

Bob Tippee, the editor of the Oil & Gas Journal had some interesting, if not eloquent, things to say in an Advertising Age opinion article published in the March 22nd issue. On the heels of winning a 2010 Crain Award, his words were directed to fellow newsmakers, however I feel these are also wise words for PR pros.

On news and changes in news, Tippee wrote:

“My colleagues and I do what all news people do: hustle facts, write stories, and try to create linear intelligence out of the splendid mayhem of human activity — in our case a specific realm of human activity…We now compete in and contribute to a dimensionless yet expanding mass of information nobody wants to pay for..,And let’s face facts: a lot of that information is duplicative, unfocused, and superficial. Why should anybody pay for it?”  Read More…

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