Brilliant Example Of Engagement Reminds Us All To Keep Pushing The Envelope

bodyformTo say that the lines between PR, media and marketing are blurred is putting it mildly. What was once about facilitating and gatekeeping has now become a creative free-for-all as more brands step into the role of content makers to try to strike a chord with their respective audiences.

As an agency, we’re constantly thinking about best practices among the complimentary disciplines, along with how we can leverage a combination of them most effectively for our clients.

One of the more recent discussions was around engagement on social media. While we’re all familiar with it from a personal perspective, it’s still an area that can be a challenge from a business standpoint.

Even though there’s a general understanding among brands that social media is a marketing tool that can help them reach out to their customers, it can be difficult to convince them to loosen the reins and fully harness their network’s power to unlock the true potential.

Bodyform 1But rather than brainstorming something like a list of the “10 tips for better social media engagement,” we simply wanted to show an example of the magic in action in this video from UK maxipad maker Bodyform, made late last year. The company created it in response to a man’s tongue-in-cheek “rant” on their Facebook wall, claiming that he’s been lied to about the “happy periods” depicted in their ads over the years.

What might make some brand managers bury their heads in the sand to avoid addressing, Bodyform embraced as an opportunity to get a conversation, ahem, flowing in its community.

“We found Richard’s post very amusing and wanted to continue the positive dialogue around periods that this generated,” said Yulia Kretova, brand controller for Bodyform, in a statement. “…Breaking down the taboo around Bodyform and periods has always been a challenge, and I hope that we have started to address this.”
The result? Well, not only did it delight fans and followers, but the video went viral, and we’re still talking about it months later as a hilarious – and effective – example of engagement at its best.

While the saying “no publicity is bad publicity” will always be up for debate, there’s no denying that any kind of feedback – even negative – can be a major opportunity in social media to convert its loudest naysayers into its most fervent fans. And that’s something none of us should overlook – period.

PerkettPR Staff Picks for Must-Read Summer Books

Photo courtesy of m-trends.org

Photo courtesy of m-trends.org

It’s safe to say that communications professionals are pretty voracious readers. After all, our business is staying on top of and in the mix with massive amounts of content, so there’s more than a good chance that our eyeballs track back and forth across screens and pages for at least part of each day.

But when was the last time you really read something? No, we’re not talking about Google alerts, news scans, blogs or client placements – but a good old-fashioned (or digitized for our Kindle/iPad contingent!) book.

Summer is the perfect time to make a dent in your personal library – and if you want a little inspiration, check out what’s on our must-read list while squeezing in some vacation time before the kids head back to school:

Professional/Business Reading

Personal/Pleasure Reading

  • South of Broad by Pat Conroy: “Not a quick beach read, but his stories about the south and all of its many charms are always a nice escape to somewhere warm and different. I really liked Beach Music, too, and would recommend that first to see if you like Conroy’s style.”
  • Inferno by Dan Brown: “Brown’s books speak to my appreciation of history and my interest in the impact of religion on society and culture, as well as my (and everyone else’s) fascination with a good conspiracy theory.”
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: “I’m a little slow to the party with these, but better late than never! They’re chock-full of cliffhangers, so I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what Katniss Everdeen will face next.”
  • Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture by Andy Cohen: “I’m reading it on the iPad and absolutely loving it…super funny!”
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: “I quickly read through this and book two (Shadow of Night) and am now eagerly anticipating the next in the series. A history scholar and teacher, Harkness combines her passion and curiosity to create an amazing, rich story and uniquely compelling characters that stay with you long after the book ends.”
  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer: “If you’re looking for more intellectually stimulating material…I just finished it, and it’s terrific!”
  • Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich: “I’m hooked on them and am eagerly awaiting number 20. Any book that has you laughing out loud is better than therapy as far as I’m concerned!”

If one of your favorite books didn’t make the list, let us know. What are some of your recommended summer reads?

5 Desk Exercises for Busy PR People

desk-exercises-300x199Between client deadlines, monitoring headlines – and everything in between – regular gym visits all too often slip down (or completely off) a PR person’s daily to-do list.

But this lack – or total absence – of activity is serious business: According to this infographic by Medical Billing & Coding, most of us spend more time on our behinds (9.3 hours per day) than in bed (7.7 hours a day), and this sedentary lifestyle (i.e. sitting for more than six hours a day) can increase your risk of death up to 40 percent.

Wait…what? Yes, simply put, the more you sit, the shorter your lifespan, which is a very scary prospect.

But the good news is there’s something we can do about it. Even if squeezing in an hour-long sweat session into your day isn’t feasible, there’s still hope for staying in shape. By incorporating short bursts of exercise into your day, it’s easy to increase your overall level of physical activity and help stave off things like obesity and cardiovascular disease.

This doesn’t have to involve sprinting around the office so you arrive sweaty to meetings, however; keep it simple and gradually work your way up to more movement as your body adapts.

Here are a few simple desk exercises to get you started.

  1. Chair Dips. Sit on the edge of your office chair (without wheels is best!) and place your hands on the edge of the seat, fingers facing your body. Slowly lift off the seat, and lower your body toward the floor, bending elbows into a 90-degree angle. Push yourself up, using your triceps.
  2. Plank. Work your entire core by positioning yourself, facing down, with both hands and toes on the floor (like the upper part of a push-up). Keep back straight, and pull your belly button upward to engage abs. Hold for one minute.
  3. Lunges & Squats. In the comfort of your cubicle, time yourself for 30-second sets that combine stationary lunges (alternating sides) with squats to wake up your entire lower body.
  4. Incline Pushups. Stand a few feet away from your desk, placing both hands on the edge. Carefully lower yourself so your chest is a few inches from the top of the desk, before pushing back up to engage your chest, arms and upper back.
  5. Pushouts.” Stretch your back and strengthen your biceps by sitting in your chair (a rolling one this time!) and grasping the edge of your desk. Slowly push back until your head is between your arms and you’re looking at the floor, and then pull yourself back in.

Perform three rounds of each exercise with 10 reps each (and just three one-minute segments of the plank) for a complete workout, or break it down and do one exercise at a time throughout the day.

What are you waiting for? Get off that heiney and on the road to better health!

A lesson in social media missteps: Advice for Amy’s Baking Company

o-AMYS-BAKING-COMPANY-facebookBy now most of us have heard of the recent social media meltdown by Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro owners, Samy and Amy Bouzaglo.

The Scottsdale-based couple was recently featured on an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares,” where, ultimately, the Bouzaglos were allegedly so difficult to work with that Ramsay fired them.

But what started as reality TV fodder unraveled into a crisis communications professional’s dream this past week, when they took to the company’s Facebook Page to respond to criticism and comments.

Instead of quelling the storm, however, the Bouzaglos only added more fuel to the fire. In their misguided attempts at defending their brand, they provoked exponentially more derision via comments on Reddit and negative reviews on Yelp.

The downward spiral continued (although many of the negative comments have been removed, highlights were documented in this Buzzfeed post) until Amy and Sam seemed ready to wave the white flag by declaring that their Facebook, Yelp, Twitter account, and website had been hacked.

But the next chapter of the saga started when, in an attempt to disassociate itself from the surrounding firestorm, the restaurant opened a new Facebook page and posted an update about the alleged hacking.

Strangely enough, though, the tone and content of the posts on the new page were very similar to the “hacked” comments on the original page. This has only incited further interest from Internet trolls who are still flocking to the page in droves (follower counts went from 2,800 to more than 100,000 at this writing) to follow the drama as it unfolds.

As the tirade continues to make news, many people are calling for the restaurant to close its doors. The incident has certainly sparked conversation amid the PR community about brands and how they handle social media, so we wanted to share a few takeaways on best practices for managing similar situations before they become a national debacle.

  1. Pick your battles. The Bouzaglos attempted to take on the entire Internet, it seems, by responding to every Facebook post and creating fake Reddit accounts to take on commenters there as well. Instead, had they prioritized and responded only to a select number, they could have avoided they angry mob that ensued.
  2. Don’t engage trolls. It’s a fact of our digital world that some people get their entertainment by being a thorn in others’ sides. Instead of feeding into this aggressive group, the Bouzaglos should have had the sense to step away and ignore these commenters, as nothing good comes from interacting with them.
  3. Keep a cool head. Online, as in real life, it’s a good rule of thumb to restrain yourself from knee-jerk reactions. Although the Bouzaglos were no doubt feeling attacked, defensive and angry, they would have done well to wait and let their emotions settle before resorting to name-calling, insults and other derogatory language. Remember, everything is permanent once it’s posted online.
  4. Finally, be honest…or be prepared to face the consequences. This is the golden rule of social media, PR and marketing. In the case of the alleged hacking, the last thing the Bouzaglos should have said was what they did: “Obviously our Facebook, YELP, Twitter and Website have been hacked. We are working with the local authorities as well as the FBI computer crimes unit to ensure this does not happen again. We did not post those horrible things. Thank You – Amy & Samy.” Consumers are very savvy and can sniff out the truth, so other brands would do well to heed this warning, as well.

Got any other words of wisdom for the Bouzaglos? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

5 Elements of an Effective Press Release

press_release_writing“The shorter and the plainer the better.” –Beatrix Potter

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” – Shakespeare

Minute by minute, a dizzying amount of data is created in this content-driven world. (Don’t believe me? Check out this infographic from DOMO )

And as PR folks, we’re under the gun to get the message across – clearly, thoroughly and correctly on behalf of our clients.

More often than not, this takes the form of a press release, the worth and future of which has become an annual debate. (But that’s another blog post entirely… For our purposes here, rather than dispute its inherent value, let’s focus on a few ways in which we can improve upon the content of future announcements we’re putting out into the ether).

I found a great article by Bill Stoller, The Ten Commandments of a Press Release, where he outlines his top ten “shalts” and “shalt nots.” In it, he argues that “when the recipient of a release focuses only on its content — and not on its creation — the writer has succeeded.”

Stoller’s point is an important one: Good writing allows the reader to focus on the message versus the medium. Although we’re taught to write one way growing up, I tend to think that the most effective press releases today follow these five guidelines:

  1. K.I.S.S. “Simple” works, but “short” is even more impactful in our content-crazed world.
  2. Sell the story, not your company. Yes, we know who is paying for the release, but that doesn’t mean anything if no one wants to cover it, correct? Take the time to create context.
  3. Remember your audience. Resist the urge to use marketing speak or pepper in industry acronyms. B2B or B2C, it’s doesn’t matter; keep it straightforward and interesting.
  4. Do the legwork. Again, know your targets and how they like to receive content. Social media savvy? Try tweeting a link to the release. Very visual? Scrap the words and make an infographic with your information. Make it easy for journalists to do their job, and they may just reciprocate.
  5. See number one. We’re following our own rules here.

Do you have any other principles for better press releases that you’d like to see added to the list? We’d love to hear your thoughts!