Red Lobster Fumbles their Publicity Opportunity

Once again I’m talking about Beyoncé (I promise this post will be shorter!) As you may have heard, Beyoncé released a new song and video titled “Formation.” The artist doesn’t hold back in her lyrics or her visual effects in her video.

One very surprising line that Beyoncé featured in the song had people’s mouths wide-open. The very shocking lyrics are “When he F^@K me good, I take his a$$ to Red Lobster.” Talk about keeping private life confidential!

Many were waiting to see how Red Lobster would respond. It took hours for their social media team to come up with this response:

Red Lobster screenshot

Even though their sales have increased 33% since the song was released 3 days ago, many truly believe that Red Lobster missed the opportunity to do more with this free publicity. If you recall back in 2013, when Beyoncé headlined the Pepsi half-time show, the stadium’s lights were blown after her performance. It took a few minutes for the game to resume but nowhere near long enough for Oreo’s social media team to use that moment with what I believe is the cleverest tweet they could have done in that moment:

oreo 2013.png

 

They won Twitter and the Super Bowl that night!

Key Takeaway: Make sure your social media and graphics team are quick on their feet, especially during major televised events. You never know when you will have the opportunity to capitalize off free publicity. Peyton Manning sure was ready to drink a lot of Budweiser after the Broncos won Super Bowl 50. Keep in mind a 30 second commercial during the Super Bowl ran advertisers $5 million dollars and Budweiser scored big by having Manning mention it is TWO separate post-game interviews. According to Market Watch, “just one mention by Manning was worth about $1.6 million for Budweiser.”

Oh the joys of public relations!  Do you think Red Lobster fumbled their opportunity?

Beyonce Stands for Freedom, in ALL Forms

beyonce-dancers-superbowl-halftime-show-black-panthers-2016
Photo credit: Beyoncé.com

 

Post Michael Jackson, Beyoncé may very well be the greatest entertainer of our time. She is an amazing singer, actress, dancer, song writer, and entrepreneur.  Universities have taken to create entire semester-long courses surrounding Beyoncé’s business decisions.  There is little that she can’t do.  She validates this in her new song, “Formation” with the lyrics “I see it, I want itI stunt, yeah, little hornet. I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it.”  She is the epitome of hard AND smart work.

History indicated that she has a knack for surprising her fans. Beyoncé announced the Mrs. Carter World tour after her Super Bowl performance back in 2013. While touring, she secretly recorded songs and music videos leading to her digital drop later that year in December.  Beyoncé’s self-titled album went platinum with no promotion, due in part to her loyal fan base.

She has been relatively quiet on social media since the New Year, which means that she is been either working, taking a break, or both possibly. On Saturday, February 6th she dropped a new song and video titled “Formation”, a day prior to her scheduled guest appearance during Cold Play’s Super Bowl 50 Half-time Performance, sponsored by Pepsi.

Going back to the surprise element, Beyoncé’s new song “Formation” featured lyrics regarding her past, up-bring, and how she is completely comfortable with her life and the decisions she has made. She consistently faces negative comments about her daughter’s hair styles as well as her speech.  Beyoncé is from Texas and if you pay attention to previous interviews, you can tell that she tries very hard to control her dialect due to societal and business pressures. She is also showing signs for taking a political stance against the poor treatment of the African American community from society.

The thing is…may none-African Americans don’t see it this way. Some, who can’t fathom the struggle of the African American community, see her as being “anti-police” because she sunk a police car in her “Formation” music video.  Being an artist gives her the ability to express her art and platform in deeper ways than face value.  Beyoncé’s video is about being a care-free person and being able to live your life like your neighboring counterparts, without fear of being placed in a category based on their outward appearance.  We also must confront and bring to light injustice as it happens which is what Beyoncé did in her “Formation” video.  Do you really think Kanye West’s remark about former President George Bush not caring about black people was a random, irrational statement…or a true belief within that man that New Orleans was not treated with the priority it deserved after Katrina.  Don’t get me wrong I’m sure many were surprised he actually made that statement on live TV, but it validated what many people thought about how the government handled the situation.  New Orleans, especially the districts populated mainly by African Americans, is forever changed and may not ever go back to what it was before Katrina struck.

She doesn’t advocate “anti-police” but she does certain promotion “pro-black”: meaning that it is ok for the African American community to be themselves, to accept themselves and to have others accept them without conformation. Unfortunately, the African American community deals with biased people, who are ignorant to reality, (good example: When the police were called, by white neighbors, because some teenagers, who were not white, were being “loud” playing basketball outside.)  The good outcome about this was that not only did the cop decided to brush off the complaint and join the game; he was able to bring NBA legend Shaq to play with the next time.

Other protesters against Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance and new video have stated she promotes capitalism and materialism. Her lyrics in the “Formation” song at the end say, “Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper.”  Beyoncé didn’t invent capitalism nor did she invent the rules of the game. Those who have historically have had powerful roles in charge of laws and businesses are now bashing her for trying to “play the game” and be economically stable, and that seems counter-productive as society as a whole is doing this.  We get influenced by our peers along with media and magazines of what is “popular.”

Beyoncé wants what most African Americans and other races want in America: to be on the level playing field with operators and enforcers who are open to different backgrounds and upbringings. She is what I like to call the “new feminist,” someone who supports her spouse and takes care of house and home but also knows when to put her foot down and knows how to demand the respect in the business world as how a man would normally require.

With her loyal fan base and her large platform, Beyoncé can finally speak her mind without hesitancy and let the world know: if now isn’t the time to address this issue, will there ever be a good time? It is extremely uncomfortable to deal with racial issues however the conversation must be had.  Otherwise, we would still see “whites only” signs in restaurants and movie theaters.  We are still a growing society with good and bad influences.  It is up to us to continue to allow the bad to happen of affect change so that others will not be afraid to change with us.

I encourage everyone to have an open mind when commenting on or discussing with others Bey’s “Formation” video and her performance at Super Bowl 50.

 

 

The only time NOT to publicize your good news!

pb_logo
courtesy of http://powerball.com

 

 

With the Powerball reaching over $1.5 billion dollars, everyone is having lottery fever! It provides the winner with the small window of being an overnight BILLIONAIRE!  With the chance of winning being at 1 in 292.2 million people, you’d have a better chance of being hit by lightning!

As a publicist it is my job to help my clients spread good news about their products/services/brand. In the case of winning the lottery, I will offer some free advice from a professional level.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT tell everyone that you’ve won. Trust me you don’t want that kind of attention right away.  If you’re state doesn’t require your name to be release or you don’t have to participate in a mandatory press conference, consider yourself lucky.  You’ll have plenty of people trying to contact you as it is because eventually it may get out.

Here are some helpful tips to get you started on the right foot to being a multi-millionaire:

  • SIGNED THE BACK OF YOUR TICKET IMMEDIATELY
  • Delete all social media accounts and start fresh once you’re a settled millionaire:   it will be harder for people who don’t know you that well to contact you if your name is released in the media
  • Contact a lawyer and a financial planner to help you plan long-term: several lottery winners in the past have lost their winnings within five years due to carelessness behavior
  • Research the amount of taxes that you would have to pay if you were to give large amounts away to family members
  • Spend wisely but LIVE

Bonus (Personal) Tip: Take the lump sum! You can have all of your taxes taken out at once and then you can carefully manage how you can possibly avoid paying taxes the rest of your life!

Being PResumptouous: Assuming Incorrect Behavior

Please excuse my French in this next sentence.

Have you ever heard of the phrase: To ASSUME is to make an A$$ of our U and ME (ASSUME get it?)  Well I want to go over a time in the work place where I made complete @$$e$ of not only myself but my co-worker.

AAUGH!
This is how I felt after I assumed incorrect behavior. Photo courtesy of http://peanuts.wikia.com/wiki/Aaugh!

Let me give you a little background on how I was to contribute at this particular job.  I was hired in a new position created by my boss and trained by my now co-worker/equivalent. I was to help my co-worker manager the day-to-day operations of their large account, of which contributed to the highest sales of the company out of all accounts.

This particular co-worker has one account while our other co-workers have an average of 6 accounts.  I was promoted a year ago to the same position of all my co-workers(and trainer) but with a contingency: I still have to help my co-worker that trained me.  This was due to a hiring freeze at my company so my old position was never fulfilled.

Now this co-worker is very Type A: very much into the details and stresses if they overlook one detail the co-worker will then stress themselves and the others around them. Essentially they do not trust others to do their job if it affects how they have to do their job 99.9% of the time, following up with several phone calls until their requests becomes a priority, even when it can wait.

This particular day however my co-worker came to see me.  They asked me what I was working on and I told them: working on our account reviews for our boss, that requires a lot of research into our last 5 period sales.  This person was telling me that they were glad I was working on that project our boss asked us to do.

I made the terrible mistake of cutting this person off, before they could finish, to let them know I would not be doing this particular report for their customer.

Now before you shame me to death, hear me out!  We all have busy days to manage our customers.  The majority of the time this co-worker will normally come to my office to ask me to assist them with something, but not always.  Sometimes I’m visited by this co-worker to ask me about my weekend/day or to vent however 90% of the time it is to ask me to help them with something.

This particular co-worker however is always under some sort of “stress.”  If you were to ask this person how they were doing midday, they would cry out loud saying “UGH I have so many things to do!”  Then we would hear of the laundry list of things they have to do. Now to give this frantic co-worker credit, they do deal with a lot of things from their ONE customer but the point being is that the co-worker brings onto themselves unnecessary stress.   However I can see how each of my co-worker’s management styles differ.  Other than myself, no other  co-workers would not be able (or want to for that matter) deal with this customer.

I’ve aided in helping this co-worker out, even at the disadvantage of the tasks I handled for my own customers.  I respectfully aided my co-worker even in the smallest of tasks that they requested (but not most efficient use of my time in my requirement to still aid her) so my co-worker could worry less and because this person taught me everything about the business.  Every time I hear her pace (yes I have designated this co-worker with their own walking pace to my ear) I prepare myself to help her at that very moment.

Back to my story: After interrupting what my co-worker had to say, they corrected me, quite frankly I might add for one who was upset, in saying they was not asking me to help them, and began walking away.

I quickly realized how I was completely wrong for assuming something so I got up and followed her, calling out to immediately apologize.  This person shut their office door 2 seconds before I could arrived so I knocked and opened the door slightly to tell her I was sorry that I misunderstood.  She then stated she had an email to send and she would call me later.

UGH! I felt like a complete dummy.  I got very upset with myself for being presumptuous that I sent her a quick email basically stating I’m sorry for the miscommunication, knowing she would read it and went to grab lunch to eat while working.

After pondering on it at lunch, I realized how she disrespected me when she walked away as I was trying to apologize so I tried to recall the email that I sent to resend the email to her to also let her know I felt disrespected.

A couple of hours later she replied essentially stating to imagine how disrespected she felt when I cut her off when she only intended to complement me on how happy I was being able to do my reports, as she could not get around to doing hers yet.  She also said she understands miscommunication and to move on and not worry about it.  I felt even worse but still curious as to why she came to see me in the first place.

Talk about drama!  Although I felt that it could have been resolved when I went to her office, I am glad that we have moved passed it to continue the flow of our work relationship.

Moral of the story is: Listen more than you speak.  I’m the master at this as I grew up being quiet and shy, which is why I was so disappointed in myself when I interrupted.  I knew better.  Listen to all the facts first before you assume behavior.  It may be normal to expect something however it could really be something entirely different from what you expected to receive.  Also, speak up if you feel that your use of time is being used inefficiently.  Had I learned how to wean my co-worker from giving me tasks she could easily do, I would have never had to assume anything.

Bonus:  On that day, before I co-worker emailed me back, my boss knocked on the door and came into my office, but not before closing the door.  Immediately I began to panic, thinking my co-worker said something to my boss, but I decided to wait to see what actually came out of his mouth; a task I’d wish I had done only a few hours earlier.  I expected the worse but actually received a raise.  Talk about waiting to hear all the facts!

Pitch to End

In the world of PR, pitching is sometimes our way of networking and relationship building outside of social media.  We tend to monitor social media posts by journalists to get a feel of what their tone or personality is in order to better craft a pitch.

Picture Courtesy of Ragan's PR Daily
Picture from original article post: courtesy of Ragan’s PR Daily

Depending on the relationship the publicist has with the respected media professional as well as the tone of the message, there are appropriate ways to end an email.

If you’re pitching a press release regarding the loss of your company’s CEO, a publicist may not want to close their pitch email with “Cheers” or “Later, Vader.”  Fostering established relationships with the media is also important so you if an email is being sent to a current connection, ending the email a close such as “Until next time” may be more appropriate than a distant “Regards.”

Here are 35 other ways to close an email:

1. All the best
2. Anonymously
3. Be well, do good deeds, and keep in touch
4. Best wishes
5. Confusion to your enemies
6. Copyright 2014
7. Cordially
8. Enjoy your weekend
9. Fare thee well
10. Goodbye and good luck
11. Good job
12. Good luck
13. Have a good one
14. Have a great day
15. Hope this helps
16. In anticipation of your valued response
17. In my humble but accurate opinion
18. I thank you for your time
19. Keep up the good work
20. Live long and prosper
21. Looking forward to your reply
22. Stay tuned
23. Tag. You’re it
24. Take care
25. Thanks for your help
26. Thank you for your quick response
27. The end
28. This message will self-destruct
29. Very truly yours
30. Vive la revolution!
31. Wishing you continued success
32. With appreciation
33. With many thanks
34. You don’t need to see my credentials
35. Your friend

This post referenced Laura Hale Brockway’s post on Ragan’s PR Daily.

What IS Public Relations?

When it comes to public relations, many people don’t know exactly what it entails.  Some people think it’s building social media followers…but PR existed before social media.  Others think it’s event planning however that may possibly be only one part of a publicists duties.

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defines public relations as “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.

Strategic is key in this definition from PRSA.  It is the job of a publicist to use their variety of  professional communication skills to communicate the RIGHT message to the intended targeted audience through the appropriate media outlet.  A media outlet is anything that provides information to the masses such as newspapers, magazines, blogs, TV, radio shows, etc.  It is IMPORTANT to have something newsworthy before contacting a publicist.

Do you need public relations?  If so, contact me today to discuss how PR can help generate sales/downloads/views for your brand, product, or service.

Cassandra
cassandrajohnsonpr@gmail.com

The Interview

The Interview. Photo Credit: rollingstone.com
The Interview. Photo Credit: rollingstone.com

A matter of national security derived from a movie made by Sony Pictures called “The Interview.” One movie!

Ok let me back up.  Sony Pictures created a movie called “The Interview” starring Seth Rogan and James Franco.  The movie is a satire based upon the United States planning the killing of North Korea’s communist leader, Kim Jung Un.  Of course the real Kim Jung Un, or at least his supporters anyway, didn’t find this very flattering.  With the original release date Christmas Day 2014, a group calling themselves Guardians of Peace (GOP), hacking Sony’s private documents and emails the previous weeks leading to the release date.  Several emails and social security numbers of Hollywood’s elite, including Angelina Jolie, Will Smith, Kevin Hart and even President Barack Obama.

With the threat from GOP promising attacks on movie theaters showing the movie, many movie theaters decided not to show the movie.  Sony eventually postponed the release on 12/25/14.  President Obama even weighed in during the chaotic time, stating that Sony didn’t make the right decision postponing.  I agree as it would set a terrible precedent  in the industry.  That means every other country could control how the United States conducted business by threatening to blow up a movie theater.  With this plug from the most powerful leader on earth, Sony had a change of heart and decided to release the movie online right before Christmas.

The movie made $15 million dollars!  This is slightly below what the studio projected according to NPR.  This movie had the best free publicity EVER!  Say what you want.  Never have I seen this much controversy over a movie about make believe.  I’m sure this movie has millions of impressions in the multiple media outlets, blogs, and social media.  You couldn’t ask for better publicity!

Personally I have not seen the movie.  I care much more about how this example will be used by other brands/studios/companies for their own benefit.  It sure did help Sony.  Now they just have to put part of the money made from this movie towards the paying Judy Smith (my fav!) do damage control from the humiliating internal information that is now public.  Read her book “Good Self, Bad Self” by the way!  It can be very helpful in a professional and personal setting.

Given our relationship with North Korea, I think Sony could have avoided the threat of 9/11 – like attacks if they just did a surprise release.  Not sure if it would have made as much money in the first week as oppose to the second week after North Korea would have had a chance to react.  What do you think Sony could have done differently?

DVF Global Brand Ambassador

DVF Brand Ambassador: Photo Credit: dvf.com
DVF Brand Ambassador: Photo Credit: dvf.com

I’ve been a fan of Diane Von Furstenberg for a few years now.  Her iconic wrap dresses and bold prints just compliments the body in all the right ways, especially for a curvy woman like myself. I was excited when she released her book: “The Woman I Wanted To Be.”  Even more excited that I was able to purchase a signed copy!

Her story is a very inspiring one!  She had no clue what she wanted to do in life. For someone in the early stages in their career, I’m at a place where I know where I want to be, I’m just not certain of how to get there.  I guess that’s what having a career is all about, the journey.

When E! decided to give DVF her show, House of DVF, I was excited and sad at the same time.  Sad because I had the opportunity to try out for the show in hopes of becoming the next brand ambassador however limitations presented themselves so I did not pursue the opportunity.  It’s exciting to see the show from beginning to end and to know what to expect.

I’m so excited Brittany won!  She truly deserves the position, her experience speaks for itself.  Amanda was a great candidate however I felt that she wasn’t as ready as Brittany.  Now that I think about it, I feel my personality resembles Amanda’s in the sense that I sometimes never voice my opinion and can be seen as a push over.  I know I’m not and I know Amanda is not either so I’m very excited to see where her future will take her.

Community Crisis Management: Catcalling

Last week a video went viral in showcasing a model walking around New York City.  10 hours of video footage was edited down to under two minutes for a PSA for the anti-harassment group Hollaback!

This group hoped to show the daily harassment that not only that women have to endure,  but also people of color and people of the LGTBQ community have this in common.  Instead this went viral for the wrong reason.  There was a lot of perception on the fact that the woman didn’t acknowledge any of the “nice” people that were just saying hello.

Photo Credit: abc7.com
Photo Credit: abc7.com

New York street harassment video goes viral (Business Insider, 2014.)

Not only that, the public is turning this video into a racial issue when it’s not.  Keep in mind that this was edited down from 10 hours to a 2-minute video.  Many people are saying that there aren’t a lot of white people in the catcalling video but does that mean white people don’t do it?  FYI they do, just as much as any other race.  Perception has clouded the real issue, so much so that the actual model has received rape threats.

Yes, it may be perceived rude if someone does not respond to a person’s greeting but have you considered that sometimes a person may just have too much on their mind?  Maybe they didn’t hear your hello?  Then again maybe, and I’m speaking from my own personal experiences and empathetic views, we hear you and choose not to respond because guess what, we don’t HAVE to!

Now I hate to be perceived as rude because if anyone that knows me, I’m far from it.  There have been many times I’ve dealt with harassment from men.  With history I’ve been nice and I will respond back which will then will give the “harasser” the opportunity to try to hit on me or make a statement about a body feature that they consider a “compliment” when it really is not wanted.  Many people, especially men, may not realize a friendly hello from a stranger can turn into harassment in two seconds.

Because of that, before I’ve tried not respond or make eye contact with men.  I’ve received responses in which where I was deemed rude or even called a bitch in some cases.  A couple of time men would tell me to smile.  I guess men want to see pretty girls smile…not my problem.  I don’t exist to please these men.  How do they know I didn’t go through a tragedy or I have a huge decision to make?  Am I suppose to always smile when I’m in public?  Should I say thank you to a compliment about a body “asset” that was given to me?  Either way, somehow it’s becomes the victim’s fault whether they choose to respond or not.

Now when someone says hello I respond with a nod/smile or a “hello, how are you,” depending on how I’m feeling.  If harassment begins to occur I keep it moving, not responding or giving any additional feedback.  I don’t pay attention to the names other people call me anymore.

I’m very interested in hear other people’s opinions, especially the men readers.  What was your first perception of the video?  Do you think differently now?

 

Crisis Management: NFL

The National Football League is clearly in the public eye regarding all of the domestic violence scandals brought on by such players as Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Greg Hardy. It has been harsh criticism towards how NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, handled the Ray Rice’s disciplinary action. There is even more pressure on what the “standard” disciplinary action should be within the NFL for players who are irrefutably responsible domestic violence situations.  Accountability throughout the NFL was dropped over these scandals.

Photo Credit: Fortune.com  http://fortune.com/2014/09/20/ray-rice-adrian-peterson-tiger-woods-athletes-dropped-endorsements/
Photo Credit: Fortune.com http://fortune.com/2014/09/20/ray-rice-adrian-peterson-tiger-woods-athletes-dropped-endorsements/

The NFL has yet to lose any sponsors over this yet however they are requests from media buyers asking to shift their ads during Viking and Ravens games.  Players have personally lost endorsement deals including Rice’s endorsement with Nike.

Here are 6 leadership lessons, originally provided by Clinton Colmenares and paraphrased by me, for any organization to reference when they’re in a sticky situation:

  1. PR is strategic.  It should not be used to “spin” stories, especially in favor of the ones at fault.
  2. Find out ALL the facts.  In the Rice incident, it was the implication that the NFL had no knowledge of the video of Rice in an elevator showing physically attacking his then fiancée although the Associated Press says differently.  Plausible deniability is not an effective tactic in public relations as everything, especially in a huge viral scandal, will come to light.
  3. Be honest with stakeholders.  The initial punishment for Rice was a two-game suspension.  The NFL probably didn’t think the video would go viral months after initial punishment was implemented.  Now Rice is suspended indefinitely, thus showing the NFL was not serious about punishing its’ players.  The league also mentioned that they would conduct an “independent investigation.” Reporters easily noted that the investigator had NFL ties and would answer to NFL owners.
  4. Think long-term.  The Rice incident happened back in February but it went viral in September with the release of the video.  In this case “no news is good news” did not work in the NFL’s favor.
  5. Get ahead of bad news.  The NFL should have used this tip back in February.  If the public knew that action is being taken, people are more forgiving.  If you have to explain, you’re losing wrong and you’ve lost  control over the situation
  6. Rely on values.  Continuing to allow bad decisions based on poor judgement and weak values to be made can be the decline of an organization.  It can become a societal issue.  Controversies, particularly within the NFL (domestic violence, concussions, player violence, substance abuse) can and have created mistrust, inefficiencies, and chaos before the situations became public.

When the NFL still had control over the situation, they should have:

  • Found out the facts
  • Got everyone to sign non-disclosure agreements that had access to the video
  • Held a press conference about Rice’s suspension only disclosing what’s necessary, noting that he will be receiving the help that he needs.

What else can you think of that an organization can keep in mind for a crisis?