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February 23, 2015

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Publicity – Or is There?

By Nicole Lasorda, 2:45 pm

The saying, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” has been around since the invention of publicity itself (or maybe “time immemorial”?). But, is it a true statement? Can a company do whatever it wants and not suffer the consequences, simply because it garners the publicity the execs wanted in the first place?

Let’s take a look at a few recent controversial PR stunts.

A key brand at the center of the controversy – a company that clearly believes in the old adage about publicity – is Urban Outfitters. This company is no stranger to controversial marketing and PR. A couple of weeks ago, Urban released a tapestry reminiscent of the uniform Nazis forced gay prisoners to wear in concentration camps. This isn’t even Urban’s first foray into offensive Holocaust goods. In 2012, it released a yellow shirt – which the company claimed was a case of mistaken identity – that had a Jewish star placed on the left pocket. Buchanan Public RelationsOther poor choices of the past include the infamous “blood-splattered” Kent State Shirt, pill-bottle shaped alcohol paraphernalia and “Ghettopoly.”

It seems as though Urban thinks it can’t get any publicity unless it’s doing something controversial – and the company certainly gets a ton of publicity, but is it worth it? 

In November, Urban Outfitter’s store sales were down seven percent, while the company’s tamer siblings’ – Anthropologie and Free People – sales were up two percent and fifteen percent, respectively. The company’s shares were also down 17 percent in the same report. These numbers certainly aren’t supportive of the “all news is good news” mantra.

Another recent – though far less controversial – flub was by web giant GoDaddy. Who can forget the outrage last month when the company’s planned Super Bowl ad was released online? GoDaddy has seen its company grow with tasteless commercials using sex to sell its product (that’s a whole other story), but this time, it decided to deviate from the norm and use a cute puppy and humor to sell its product. What the company didn’t bank on was how vocal animal welfare advocates are and the hatred they have toward anything resembling a puppy mill.

The outrage caused the company to pull its ad and quickly throw together another one  to take its $4 million Super Bowl place. The “Journey Home” puppy ad was talked about a lot, but did it get the reaction desired? The company’s CEO said it missed the mark and – though no results have been released – anecdotally, I saw quite a few social media comments from people who claimed they canceled their accounts. My guess is that in order for a company to toss out an ad they planned for the big game, it must have caused enough customers to cancel their accounts.

Possibly the original and most notable, though primarily unintentionally controversial marketing stunt, was the War of the Worlds broadcast. I don’t think I need to remind everyone what happened when CBS broadcast Orson Welles’ fictional drama in a realistic format. Just in case you don’t know – let’s just say mass hysteria (or at least as it was reported)! Even back then, these stunts were apt to backfire.

Here at Buchanan PR, we tell our clients: Unless you’re willing to stand by your decision 110% and risk losing customers over your stance, proceed with caution. That said, are these controversial stunts the genius of edgy marketing, PR and advertising teams, or are they the result of lacking creative teams? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

February 16, 2015

The Horrible, Awful, No Good Week

By Anne Buchanan, 3:48 pm

For those who still believe in the power and magnificence of journalism, last week was a truly awful week.

It started, of course, with the downward spiral of Brian Williams’ career after it was confirmed that he had been telling an untruth about a news reporting incident in Iraq. The same day that Mr. Williams announced he was taking himself off the air, Jon Stewart announced he was stepping down as host of The Daily Show.

The week was far from over, though, and the losses still to come took the form of tragedy. Veteran reporter Bob Simon was killed in a car accident on Wednesday night. (This, after surviving 40 days of captivity 24 years ago in Iraq.) And then I awoke on Friday to the news that Buchanan Public RelationsThe New York Times’ esteemed media critic, David Carr – who only days earlier had written about Brian Williams – had died in the newsroom, after suffering an apparent heart attack. Later on Friday, former NBC foreign correspondent Ned Colt died of a stroke in Boston. (more…)

February 5, 2015

The Art of the Apology

By Emily DiTomo, 11:52 am

As public relations practitioners, we are masters of communication, regularly consulting our clients on what to say, how to say it and – in some cases – when to retract it. This week, venerable NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams is facing public scrutiny after repeatedly reporting a false story, whereby he claimed to narrowly escape enemy fire during the Iraq war. (more…)

January 5, 2015

5 Resolutions Every PR Pro Can Use in 2015

By Kathleen McFadden, 8:26 am

As clichéd as it may sound, making resolutions is a great way to reflect on the past 12 months and pinpoint areas where you can make a positive change in the year ahead. From one public relations practitioner to another, here are some of my 2015 resolutions. (more…)

December 24, 2014

4 Christmas Tunes, PR-ified

By Megan Keohane, 1:34 pm

I don’t know about you, but my office has been filled with the seasonal sounds of the *NSYNC Holiday station on Pandora for a solid six weeks now (I’m a bit Christmas-obsessed). Although, have you ever heard a song so often that you start making up your own lyrics? Me, too (maybe I’m slightly influenced by Jimmy Fallon).

So, here you go. Four of my very favorite holiday songs, modified to fit into our PR workday. (more…)

December 3, 2014

10 Struggles PR Professionals Know Too Well, As Depicted By Dogs

By Maddie Klein, 9:30 am

Although I’m still a newbie in the world of public relations, there are several things I’ve already realized I will face throughout my career that will cause stress, panic, and probably even make me question my sanity. These are situations that PR professionals deal with on the regular. Allow these dogs to further explain. (more…)

November 17, 2014

Lessons I Learned From Bartending That I Now Apply to PR

By Christina Dudley, 10:59 am

I was the stereotypical college student who was quick with a joke or to light up your smoke, (not so much anymore in PA), and yes, you guessed correctly, I bartended my way through college. It was fun, it paid the bills and I learned a few things other than just how to make a dirty martini.

While my experiences bartending made for good life lessons in general, they are also – funnily enough – applicable to the world of PR.  (more…)

October 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday: How My Time as a College Newspaper Editor Prepared Me for My PR Career

By Jen Tedeschi, 11:03 am

As a recent graduate of Saint Joseph’s University and a newbie to the public relations industry, I often think about my time spent in college and how it prepared me for working in this field. While my classes and extracurricular activities provided a solid foundation, nothing helped prepare me more to work in the “real world” than my time as the features editor of The Hawk, my alma mater’s campus newspaper. (more…)

October 21, 2014

It’s Not What You’re Not

By Nancy Page, 11:17 am

It’s what you are.

According to Wikipedia, a not-for-profit agency is an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends. That doesn’t sound like a description of what something is not to me. It sounds like what it is!

“Not-for-profit” is a bad way to describe what these organizations are. Nonprofits exist for a purpose. They’re pro-mission. They do all kinds of good things for society and in the world. Not for nothing, but there’s a need for some re-branding here. (more…)

October 13, 2014

The Oft-Overlooked Boilerplate

By admin, 4:48 pm

This week’s blog post comes to us from our friends at GroundFloorMedia, PRGN’s Denver affiliate. Amanda Brannum reminds us of the importance of the boilerplate.Buchanan Public Relations

I came across this wonderful reminder about the often overlooked and under-appreciated boilerplate today via – “The Secret Formula for Writing Boilerplate.” So often, people want to include everything and the kitchen sink in their company’s boilerplate – or, as Russell Working points out, they want to fill it with flowery-sounding jargon. However, as PR pros, we need to remind clients that boilerplates are meant to be simple, straightforward company descriptions that tell what your company is and what it does. (more…)

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