A Blog About Blogs

An undergraduate thesis about blogging, public relations, marketing and social media

PR pros must be proactive November 21, 2008

Filed under: Public Relations — Stephanie Sheppard @ 7:20 pm
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Len Gutman, Valley PR Blog author and founder of Open Door Communications, posted this today about the American auto maker CEOs’ use of private jets in route to Washington D.C. He notes that when asking for bailout from the government, arriving in style is a PR disaster.

“Where was their corporate communications counsel? Or perhaps they got counsel but didn’t care. I’ve been a corporate communications executive at three Fortune 100companies so I know how hard it can be to get heard in these situations, but surely someone with an APR or an ABC (or hell, even a PR student) could have seen this disaster coming and warned someone.”

Since Len also teaches PR at ASU, I’ll go ahead and let the “PR student” comment slide. 🙂 While Len makes a great point, however, my colleague (whose husband is a lawyer) and I were discussing that there may be legal agreements in their contracts prohibiting commercial flights for safety, among other business reasons.

The issue here is managing how the action is viewed by the public rather than the action itself. As Len notes, it’s often difficult to get the PR voice to senior-level management and change course (for example, persuading CEOs not to use private jets), but what we CAN do is be proactive. Recognize that this may be ill-perceived and communicate the necessary reason for private jets. Whether it be time efficiency (mobile office/meeting room), cost efficiency or contractual agreement, communicating this to the public can reduce any misunderstandings and ensure people don’t assume poor money management.


Blogger’s Choice Awards November 20, 2008

Filed under: Blogs — Stephanie Sheppard @ 6:12 am
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Browsing around today, I stumbled upon The Blogger’s Choice Awards.

“This site not only allows you to nominate your favorite blogs within a slew of unique categories but you can also vote and comment on others that have already been submitted. In turn, others can also vote and comment on the blogs you’ve nominated… Winners in each respective category will be revealed in late 2008, and will be recognized at a one-of-a-kind awards ceremony (date and location to be determined at a later time). The results will be posted here at BloggersChoiceAwards.com.”

Pretty cool, right? They have categories for almost everything including Best Marketing Blog, Best Parenting Blog, Best Gossip Blog and even Hottest Mommy Blogger. Perezhilton.com is currently leading “Worst Blog of All Time” – which, of course, I have to disagree with.

The vote tallies aren’t very high, so I don’t know how credible or wide-spread these awards are, but I think the idea is interesting. I wonder if this kind of thing will catch on. Do you know of any legitimate blog awards?


Green billboard in Times Square November 18, 2008

Filed under: Marketing and Advertising — Stephanie Sheppard @ 12:27 am
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I’ve posted about new billboard technology before, but this is so exciting! AzCentral reported today that construction begins this month on “Times Square’s first environmentally friendly billboard powered entirely by wind and sun.” It will be complete by the time the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

It’s not the perfect solution — apparently it weighs a lot and may not be as flashy as the digital billboards Times Square is typically known for, but “powered by 16 wind turbines and 64 solar panels, the sign is expected to save $12,000 to $15,000 per month in electricity costs.” In addition, it will significantly reduce carbon emissions.

It’s great to see more major changes in the name of sustainability. Something like this billboard is obviously expensive, but will undoubtedly save money and the environment in the long run. Sometimes the things an individual can do to “go green” seem to have such a minor impact (and in many cases, are very difficult to do!) but when we have major corporations and universities taking action, the future seems much more promising.


Barnes and Nash suspended November 14, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephanie Sheppard @ 10:30 pm
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Basketball is pretty much the only thing on my mind today, especially since tonight is the season opener for ASU basketball – and it’s at home.

The other big basketball news today is that both Matt Barnes and Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns received suspensions today for a fight that took place Wednesday against the Houston Rockets. Barnes will sit out two games and Nash will be out tonight’s game. There was a lot of talk about it this morning and the office, and it got me to thinking about handling these types of situations from a PR standpoint.

This kind of thing happens frequently, so I’m sure there is a media and interview plan for every team. But so often it seems things go wrong. Journalists are eager for interviews and players get angry about the situation or the fines/suspensions and say something that puts the organization in a bad PR spot. (Anyone remember when Shaq misspelled period?)

I think in this case, the Suns are doing a good job of maintaining the situation. They’re not shutting out media interviews and Nash, Barnes and coach Terry Porter have voiced their disagreement with the actions taken in interviews – but not in an inappropriate way that will damage the Suns reputation.

I do, however, think the Suns are in a better position than some other teams because they’re not known for fighting or poor off-the-court conduct like some others are.


McDonalds and Wal-Mart See Success

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephanie Sheppard @ 3:35 am

Despite economic gloom and doom, MarketWatch is reporting positive third quarter results for Wal-mart and McDonald’s. Walmart’s sales rose 2.4%, including a 2.2% gain at Wal-Mart U.S. and a 3.6% increase at Sam’s Club while McDonald’s same-store sales rose 5.3% in October in the U.S.

So, what are they doing right? 

“Highly competitive pricing, especially on basics throughout the store, is driving these results,” said Eduardo Castro-Wright, Wal-Mart U.S. president and chief executive officer. “Customers see that we are broadening the price gap against our competitors.”

I don’t know if people never realized the price difference at Wal-Mart, or if they were just more willing to skip the lower prices in place of convenience when economic times were happier. Maybe now people are driving an extra mile or skipping the enticing aroma of Starbucks for home-made coffee bought from Wal-Mart.

I’m also willing to bet that the ever-popular recent Monopoly sweepstakes had something to do with the McDonald’s sales.

Many say the economic crisis isn’t that bad because most people have not dramatically changed their way of life. While I agree that most people haven’t yet – I think that’s because this is just the beginning. It’s only going to get worse before it gets better. I think the success of Wal-Mart and McDonald’s shows the slowly but surely, people are making SLIGHT adjustments. Instead of going to their favorite restaurants for dinner, people are buying groceries from Wal-Mart and settling for Big Macs as “going out to eat.”

I’m interested to see who else will benefit from the tough times when they get tougher. It can’t be all bad for everyone, right?


Nasty shopping carts November 13, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephanie Sheppard @ 6:35 am
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Right after watching the awesome CMAs tonight, I was disgusted to see an ABC News story about how many germs are on shopping carts. According to ABC News, “University of Arizona researchers tested shopping carts and found that their handles have more saliva, bacteria and fecal matter than public toilets.”

This story has received a lot of media coverage, and was obviously a result of some successful public relations pitching. The ABC News article talks about PureCart Systems, a mini car wash for your cart, that is being installed in grocery stores to calm shopper worries about germs. The ABC story contains a photo of the system courtesy of PureCart. PureCart Systems

I just wanted to point out the smart PR efforts and this nasty find. Happy grocery shopping! 😉


Save Net Radio November 11, 2008

Filed under: Social Media — Stephanie Sheppard @ 7:17 pm
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I heard a rumor that online radio is in trouble, so I did some Googling and found SaveNetRadio.org. According to the site:

“A recent decision by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) that increases the royalties owed by Internet webcasters pay to play music by between 300 and 1200% has jeopardized the future of Internet Radio.  This decision will affect millions of Americans who enjoy the unparalleled radio diversity that is only available on the Internet; and hundreds of thousands of artists who depend on Net radio to reach new fans, and thousands of webcasters whose livelihood depends on their ability to play music for their listeners.”

Because of the major increase in royalty payments, big Internet radio providers such as AOL, Yahoo! Radio and Pandora are in trouble. Internet radio now pays much more royalties than broadcast radio or Satellite radio, and since Internet radio is all advertising-based, it won’t be able to sustain itself much longer. SaveNetRadio.org is dedicated to lobbying against further damaging legislation and working for improvement.

I can see the dilemma here, but I’m troubled by the difficulty Internet radio is experiencing. In my mind, it’s only a matter of time until AM and FM radio is extinct and everyone streams stations online. It seems like today, people have much easier access to Internet than to radio frequencies, considering most people don’t let their Blackberrys leave their sides (guilty).

I would have assumed that each radio station would soon be making cell phone applications so you can stream your favorite station at work, at home, in the car and on the road. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about missing your favorite morning show when you travel or static and flipping through new frequencies on road trips. Pandora already has an advanced phone application.

I see this as inevitable, and something I would absolutely enjoy. (At least, before the Edge 103.9 traded in Chuck Powell for Adam Corolla.) So I hope Internet radio doesn’t go away, because I see great things to come from it.


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