Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Eich Steps Down as Mozilla's Chief Executive

Mozilla CEO - Brendan Eich - OkCupid.com
Recently, the dating website OkCupid played a role in bringing down one of the internet's most powerful CEO's, Mozilla's Brendan Eich. 

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5wPR Public Relations, says that Brendan Eich, who was pivotal in developing some of the world's most cutting edge technologies, resigned under pressure. Eich was the CEO of Mozilla, the force behind the extremely popular Firefox web browser and creator of technologies such as JavaScript.

Mozilla announced Eich's resignation via a blog post. They explained that their organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness, but Eich's support of Prop
osition 8 did not match their views. Mozilla noted that Eich made the decision to resign on his own, "for Mozilla and our community."

He had only been in the position for two weeks, as he was just named CEO on March 24. Eich was felled because he once donated money to support Proposition 8, the California measure that worked to ban same-sex marriages. Eich donated $1,000 in 2008, and today says he is not sorry that he did.

Eich’s support for Proposition 8 became public immediately after he took the helm of Mozilla
, and the public's reaction was swift. Soon, it was evident that Mozilla was facing the backlash.

How did it happen? As stated previously, the online dating website, OkCupid was instrumental in his resignation. OkCupid published an open letter that was visible only to its clients who visited the site via Firefox. It called out Eich, and explained that clients would not be able to use Mozilla to access their website.

OkCupid was not the only company to show their support of gay rights, and their opinion that Eich should step down or let Mozilla face the public's scrutiny. Backlash on Twitter drew Mozilla's notice, too, as did outrage from Mozilla's employees. This is a perfect oppurtunity for a big brand to leverage a Crisis PR Firm - to help mitigate any damages done to brand reputation. 

While this is not the norm--asking CEO's to step down due to their lack of support of gay rights, it may help to create a real dialogue among corporations about whether their board's personal beliefs should in any way affect their hiring choices. 


Friday, April 04, 2014

USAF dealing with PR Crisis as Nuke Students Caught Cheating

Image via nbcnews.com

It’s a headline no one on the planet is particularly comfortable reading: Nuclear studies students in the US Air Force caught cheating. Airmen in control of the most powerful weapons on the planet, lying to get certified in skill sets they do not possess. The USAF acted responsibly in summarily firing nine mid level nuclear commanders. Officials followed this up by announcing that it will “discipline” dozens of junior officers at the nuclear base where the cheating is said to have taken place.

This is the first step in repairing a PR crisis that only got worse when it was reported the cheating had been going on much longer than originally believed. According to USAF officials, this discipline is unprecedented in the history of the United States’ intercontinental ballistic missile force.

The strong reaction, and “unprecedented discipline” may also be connected to the reports that surfaced last year of a series of security issues in the ICBM force, including a failed security inspection at the same Air Force base where the cheating occurred.

Fortunately, for both the reputation of the Air Force, and those who were justifiably shaken by this news, Col. Robert Stanley almost immediately began a PR campaign to reestablish confidence in the USAF. The first step was a letter titled, “A Lesson to Remember.” In it, Col. Stanley admitted that the reputation of the ICBM mission was “tarnished because of the extraordinarily selfish actions of officers entrusted with the most powerful weapon system ever devised by man.”

Then, in an extraordinary move of his own, Stanley, who had been nominated for promotion to brigadier general shortly before the cheating scandal was revealed, promptly retired. In his retirement letter, Stanley lamented that “we let the American people down on my watch.”

The USAF has insisted that Stanley is no scapegoat, that he retired on his own accord. Regardless, his sacrifice stands in stark contrast to the selfishness of his junior officers. That gives people a hero to look to for the sort of accountability they expect from military leadership.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

HBO Drama Game of Thrones - Watch TV & Help Business


The HBO drama Game of Thrones does a great job of taking lessons for promotions that can be used for business...
Movie trailers are so integrated into American culture that there are even several popular YouTube channels dedicated to making fake "honest" trailers that lampoon both movies and m3/27/2014ovie trailers simultaneously. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but that title may just go to satire.

In recent years, many popular premium channel television programs have been borrowing the "movie" trailer promotional concept to advertise upcoming seasons. Perhaps none have done this more successfully than the epic HBO drama Game of Thrones. Taken together, each element of these trailers creates curiosity, the levels of which are determined by how these elements connect with different viewers.

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR a leading public relations agency in NYC explains how to apply these elements to your business:

#1 - Sneak peeks intrigue the outsider: Sharing a simple premise will never really connect with someone who just "doesn't care." You need to pique their curiosity. GOT accomplishes this with sneak peeks of gorgeous cinematography and interesting interactions on screen. And dragons.

#2 - Revelations hype up the regular viewer: Regular viewers also have favorite characters and storylines. GOT uses trailers to reveal bits and pieces of "what comes next" for these favorites. This gets regular viewers excited to see what "really happens."

#3 - Confusion and misdirection compels the "true fan": Any business can borrow these thematic elements to help promote their brand. The dynamics are very similar. Giving outsiders a glimpse of what your product or service can offer will intrigue them. Revealing new and different applications can compel customers to action, and a bit of careful misdirection can get the true fans talking.

And now, you found a way to watch TV and claim its helping business...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Coke Documentary turns a Brand into a Reality Star


Coca-Cola is, without a doubt, one of the most recognized brands in the world. In fact, some
have called it THE most recognized brand in the world. Because of the recent Coke documentary, the Coke brand became more than another famous brand. It became a reality star. Each aspect of the story “personified” the brand, giving it a connectable history and personality. Here is how:

#1 – History and cultural impact 
Heroes always have a history and in the documentary, Coke is not presented as the brainchild of any one genius. It is presented as an entity unto itself. Almost as if Coke created its own Public Relations mojo. The brand’s cultural impact is never credited to anyone or anything other than the brand, which puts “Coke” in the place of the hero of the story. Wal Mart had Sam Walton and McDonalds had Ray Kroc. Coke had…Coke.

#2 – My fault, not theirs 
Then there was New Coke. The documentary puts the blame for this aberration squarely on the shoulders of management. The segment sounds more like a manager or coach taking the blame for a poor performance than a product that the public just hated. Again, the brand is exonerated.

#3 – The celebrated comeback 
But, when Coke Classic is released, the brand is treated like a Rocky Balboa coming out of retirement due to popular demand. It’s the classic heroic tail of the underdog fighting his way back into the spotlight.

#4 – Fan based social media 
Coke is one of the only brands that allows its fans real control over its social media presence. After a handful of fans created a Coke fan page, instead of shutting it down based on copyright infringement or just making their own “official” page, Coke ENCOURAGED the fan interaction. This is something a famous actor, writer or musician might do; make their fans part of the success story. Very few brands have tried this, and fewer still have pulled it off so successfully.

In choosing the tone of the documentary and presenting the brand in this way, Coke made its brand even more relatable and connected to its fans. In personifying the brand and giving it all the credit for its hero journey, people were able to connect with Coke like it was an actual celebrity worth admiring rather than just a picnic beverage.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

3 Ways McDonalds Extending Breakfast Hours is a PR Win

Image via elitedaily.com

The breakfast wars are heating up in the fast food marketplace. Subway entered the fray a few years back, and seems to be at least holding its own. Even Taco Bell is considering adding breakfast. Many other fast food joints already enjoy loyal breakfast crowds. Now, McDonalds has announced that it may be considering expanding its breakfast hours. Now may be exactly the right time for such a move from the undisputed industry leader. The CEO of 5WPRoffers 3 reasons why the Golden Arches should be open longer for breakfast, and why that makes perfect PR sense. 
An expansion like this may seem simple, but for a business as large as McDonalds, the move has a huge number of moving parts.
Still, the result could very well be worth the added complications and possible risk, as Ronn Torossian’s reasoning reveals. 
 #1 - Traditional meal hours are evolving 
American culture once had nearly universal meal times. In recent decades those hours have
begun to shift. Breakfast is being eaten on the go, and dinner is being served much later than
six o’clock when June Cleaver had it on the table for Ward and the Beav. Now may be the perfect time for McDonalds to use its cultural clout to establish a new norm. 
 #2 - People HATE that five-minute window of frustration 
Some McDonalds stop serving breakfast at ten. Others, at ten-thirty. Regardless, there is
always a subset of the local community that does breakfast a bit late and gets there are 9:55
or 10:25. What greets them? A worker switching the sign and scant leftovers to choose from.
Not pretty…and hardly appetizing. If McDonalds does expand its breakfast hours, Torossian
suggests it consider overlapping the meals by fifteen minutes or so. This way they could
eliminate that customer frustration. 
#3 - More opportunity to advertise Frappes and other “breakfast” drinks 
 Specialty coffee drinks are hugely profitable, and McDonalds has been doing very well with its McCafe line. If they choose to expand breakfast, then it stands to reason that they will sell more drinks commonly associated with breakfast. Plus, the move would provide another opportunity for the chain to advertise its McCafe line. 
Whether or not McDonalds goes forward with the move, which is currently being test marketed, it will be interesting to see how it succeeds, and more importantly, how its competition responds.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Disney Ups Prices


Image Via DisneyVacationClub.com
Citing expanding costs and increasing demand, Disney Parks representatives recently released their 2014 single-day admission rates for their Florida-based theme parks. Surprising no one, the prices have gone up to nearly $100 for a single-day ticket.

This announcement set off the standard series of scathing responses and grousing in print, online, and on the web. But Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, says Disney has nothing to worry about. Torossian said the company long ago established a solid business model for increasing ticket sales. A model that, Torossian says, other parks have followed and that even businesses in other sectors could learn a thing or two from.

Here are four reasons why Torossian says this move will not hurt the Mouse at all.

#1 - The increase is relatively minor
While the thought of a single-day ticket flirting ever closer with triple digits gives some people sticker shock, the reality is that this increase is only a few dollars. Most Disney vacationers plan on spending hundreds, if not thousands, on hotels, travel, food, and souvenirs. An extra couple of bucks per person is easily absorbed when you are budgeting in the four figures.

#2 - Package deals erase the extra cost
In addition to the Principle of Relative Cost, Torossian says the vast majority of Disney visitors are not paying face value in the first place. Most tickets are purchased as packages, or receive other individual or group discounts. Some are sold as multi-park deals or come with hotel stays—or both. Whatever the case, consumers are seeing substantial savings and purchasing ticket prices far below the retail price.

#3 - People understand cost increases, even if they don’t like them
The basic reality of life is that stuff will continue to cost more over time. None of us WANT to pay more for food, fuel, or entertainment, but we understand the basic market principle. Sure movies used to cost a buck. Now they cost ten or fifteen. People still go in droves to see the latest release. In some cases people cut back to conserve cash, but Disney visitors have been budgeting (relatively) big money for theme park vacations for years. Sure, it cost their parents less to take them when they were kids, but everything else cost less too.

#4 – The dynamic of timing-value-perception
One final point Torossian cites is that the cost increases were released shortly after Disney announced several improvements, enhancements, and renovations to their Orlando parks. Given the juxtaposition of these releases, consumers will interpret the increased prices as commensurate with the increased value, realized by the renovations and enhancements. Thus, instead of seeing increased prices as unfair, they will view them as evidence of increased value. 

This placement, Torossian said, is a lesson that ALL businesses should apply any time they plan a price increase. When you show the customer that you are working to give them more value, they understand a slightly increased cost.

This dynamic works in contrast to the lesson of Netflix, where customers were suddenly asked to pay twice as much for the same content.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

4 Tips for Perfect Promos

Self-promotion is one of those difficult tightropes to walk. Too much, and people resent it. Too little, and you miss out on the connections you need to succeed in whatever endeavor you are trying to promote. So, where should your promotional messaging land on this somewhat vague, and all too often changing scale? Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, offers 4 guidelines to help you hit the mark.

#1 – Know your audience

One of the first mistakes many promoters make is talking TOO MUCH about their product or services without adequately considering the audience for that message. To properly address and connect with your audience, you need to know not only who they are, but the best possible way to connect with them. That takes research, not assumption.

#2 - Be specific

General praise might make you feel great, but it will not compel a consumer into a buying decision. They want and expect SPECIFIC details that explain exactly how your product or service will benefit them. Here’s a tip: NEVER NEVER NEVER use the phrase “and more” in anything. It never helps to close your argument with a generalization. 

#3 - Use words that mean something

Speaking of generalizations, another common mistake promoters make is to use words that don’t mean anything. Your goal is accurate communication, not dubious communication. Avoid “descriptive” terms that don’t actually describe anything. You want to paint a picture, not just make an impression.

#4 - Invite them to do something

Once your customer knows what you have to offer, and specifically why they need it, you still need to “make the ask.” Every promotional message you send out MUST end with a call to action of some sort.

If you appreciated this information or you have some suggestions of your own, leave some comments below.

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