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Tag Archives: Ronn Torossian

When Hollywood invades YouTube, what happens next?

YouTube has long been considered the place where no-names with big talent can try to get their big break. And it’s worked for quite a few current big names in the music business. But for moviemakers – the actual natural users of YouTube – the social media platform has been less of a springboard. But Ronn Torossian says Brian Robbins might be the one to change that.

The former child star (Head of the Class), hit teen dramady producer (Smallville, One Tree Hill) and big screen producer (Varsity Blues, Good Burger) has now set his sights on the video free for all that is YouTube. Robbins says he has good reason. After watching his own sons consume media, he is convinced YouTube will have a major role in how youth will consume media in the very near future.

Sure, big budget summer films are still raking in hundreds of millions, and both network and cable TV are chock full of shows aimed at teens and tweens, but Robbins believes the future of youth entertainment is, at least partly, is in shorter, viral content.

With the success of other streaming subscription companies producing their own content, Robbins believed the timing was right to try the same thing on YouTube, hiring the teen heartthrobs of tomorrow and helping them get their start in originally (and sometimes professionally) produced YouTube series.

Robbins launched his YouTube channel, AwesomenessTV, way back in the Dark Ages of 2012. In less than two years, the “Network” amassed more than 88,000 channels and more than 56 MILLION subscribers. Not to mention nearly 2 million videos and more than 6 BILLION views. Yes, six billion. By any traditional measure, those numbers indicate a hit.

Of course, the next step is figuring out how to optimally monetize this content. And, then, of course, the price for players will increase. Maybe not to Charlie Sheen or Big Bang Theory cast levels, but even talented up-and-comers will want more than attention for their talents.

And, eventually, this “underground” entertainment venue that remains almost entirely separated by the generation gap will become mainstream. Robbins is certainly betting on that. And, if history is any indication, he will get exactly what he is looking for.

Hollywood’s SUMMER of Discontent

public-relations-moviesAccording to reports, U.S. box office totals are in a freefall, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Terrible news for the film industry, which has practically owned Get Out Of The House entertainment media for the better part of a century. Even with the standard slate of action adventure movies and big budget summer blockbusters playing in theaters across the country, U.S. ticket sales are down at least 20%.

Ronn Torossian says this appears to be a trend, not a fluke, and the industry needs to start paying attention, yesterday. But, it seems like, at least some of them, have their heads in the sand. Transformers 4, Godzilla, and the latest Planet of the Apes movie all fell well short of domestic box office forecasts. This means Hollywood Big Boys such as Paramount, Warner Brothers, and Fox all missed the mark and failed to meet expectations.

Some prognosticators have said moviegoers are just tiring of retread sequels, but Torossian and other consumer PR experts say there are many other causes to consider. Digital media and on demand programming have hit the theater with a solid one-two combination.

Now, not only can people get as good (or better) resolution on their home screens, they can watch titles – even some new releases – whenever they want. The former excitement of waiting till opening day just doesn’t hold the same power it once did. Plus, with films going from the box office to the on demand queue in mere months, many consumers are opting to wait a bit longer and enjoy the films in the privacy and comfort of their own homes.

Without a captive audience to depend on, Hollywood needs to make some changes or they will find their returns diminishing even further. Step one for that would be to look at where the consumer mindset actually is rather than just giving them what they always have.

How has your market changed, and how are you changing your business plan and PR campaigns in order to stay ahead of the game?

Facebook Social Experiment Issues

facebook social media experimentIt appears that Facbook purposely manipulated news feeds for hundreds of thousands of its users PR Executive Ronn Torossian 5wPR CEO says. The reason was to study emotional reaction over various social networks. This is the ultimate social media social experiment for facebook.

Study

The individuals responsible for the study were from Cornell University as well as California University in San Francisco. The goal was to find out if showing fewer positive message would make people less likely to post positive content. They also studied if negative message cause more negative content to be posted. The algorithm responsible for putting posts in the news feeds of Facebook members was changed. A program identified happy and sad words. Some members were given happy information from friends, and others were provided with sad information. The resulting posts were then studied.

Problems

The study showed that social networks can create good and bad feelings for its members. The problem is that Facebook intentionally manipulated the emotions of thousands of its members. Many people have found this type of study quite unethical. Others feel they may have crossed the line of federal law and human rights declarations. Some believe that such a study should only be conducted with informed consent from participants.

Serious Matter

Unknown and intentional manipulation of people’s emotions is a serious matter. Some believe that since Facebook does not receive any federal funding, they may be exempt from Common Rule. These are federal rules that protect human subjects during behavioral and social science experiments. There is now a move to have the Common Rule updated to cover studies such as the ones conducted by Facebook.

Permission

There is a section of Facebook’s data use policy that may be interpreted as giving consent to research. It does state that Facebook can use information they receive about its users for internal operations. This use is identified as testing as well as research and service improvement. Many people don’t feel is the same as giving informed consent to be part of a research experiment.

Reaction

Adam Kramer was one of the people responsible for the research. Once the research was published by the National Academy of Sciences, Facebook users were quick to provide Mr. Kramer with comments on his Facebook page. The comments covered a wide range of responses. Some had no problem with how the study was conducted. Others were enraged, and many people closed their Facebook account. There were even many who felt Facebook should donate money to assist individuals with mental health problems. Many people believe this has decreased the level of trust for participation in Facebook. Experts believe this has damaged their brand identity. Only time will show to what extent.

Why Is Facebook Page Reach Decreasing?

If you have a Facebook Page, you know how hard it can be to get your content to show up in your fans’ News Feeds, says Ronn Torossian – who’s company 5W PR has cemented itself within the Tech PR and Startup PR industries. Competition for this coveted News Feed space is getting fierce: With the number of Pages Liked by the average Facebook user growing each year, Facebook has attempted to filter users’ News Feeds in an attempt to show each user the most relevant content. However, many Page owners aren’t pleased with the way Facebook has done this filtering. Let’s take a look at the way Facebook currently manages News Feed content and see what factors come into play when sorting the feed.

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Addressing the Decline in Reach

Organic reach is defined as the percentage of fans that are able to see a Page’s posts. In recent years, organic reach has declined over 50%: This plunge can be correlated with a near 50% increase in the number of Pages Liked by the average user. People may be Liking more and more Pages, but the space in their News Feed remains finite. Therefore, Facebook needs to keep their users engaged and interested by deciding what content gets displayed and what doesn’t.

Facebook’s Filtering Methods

The algorithm used by Facebook to sort and filter content is known as EdgeRank. While about 100,000 factors are used to determine the relevance of a post, some indicators are more powerful than others. Interest, which Facebook measures by the amount of comments, Likes, shares and clicks a post garners, plays a major role in determining relevance. A post creator whose prior posts attracted interest from a user will have an advantage when competing for that user’s News Feed space. Facebook also looks at the types of posts that have been popular with a user in the past, as well the relative newness of the post itself. These factors, combined with many other criteria, are used to assign a relevancy score to each post.

While it’s clear that Facebook’s current approach to Page content isn’t perfect, the company’s methods for preserving News Feed quality are necessary for long-term survival. If Facebook simply displays more Page posts in response to the decline in reach, users may abandon the platform if this content isn’t relevant to them. However, the company needs to be more transparent about how and why their filtering algorithm works. Unless it addresses the concerns of Page owners watching their reach suffer, Facebook runs the risk of becoming a social-media casualty like Myspace.

Ronn Torossian wonders which Colbert will helm the Late Show

 Colbert Late ShowIt’s official! Comedian, and talk show host Stephen Colbert will take over for iconic David Letterman, as the new host of the Late Show. Ronn Torossian said, while the announcement surprised few, it did raise a good many eyebrows, and lead to some interesting public relations questions.

Chief among them is the issue of branding. Colbert has made a name for himself with a carefully cultivated comedic conservative persona. So convincing was his act that, early on, big name GOP politicians sought his stamp of approval to help them win over younger voters. But, soon everyone was in on the joke. Colbert was a parody, albeit a brilliant one.

Yes, he’s a comedian, every bit as sharp and talented as the legendary Letterman. But, will Colbert risk alienating his fans by playing it straight in the host’s chair? Will we finally learn just exactly where Colbert’s politics really lie? Will he try this game, but fall back into the old routine? Staying out of character has proven elusive for Colbert in the past.

It’s a tough question to answer, and one that will surely intrigue viewers enough to watch, at least at first. But, what will they expect? So far, CBS has been mum about any format changes. When Leno finally left the Tonight Show (the second time) there was a clear passing of the torch. Similar format, but a very different show with Jimmy Fallon at the helm.

But, in that case, viewers knew exactly what to expect. Sketch comedy, and rapping with Justin Timberlake. So, what will they expect with Colbert?

Torossian says you can bet that Colbert’s camp, as well as Comedy Central and CBS, all want a strong answer to that question. Colbert needs to know that his brand of comedy – whatever it might be – will play as well as it did on Comedy Central. His old network needs to know it can fill his spot without losing any steam. After all, the Colbert counterpoint to The Daily Show has been working wonders for the network for years. Will they find another faux Conservative comic, or try another formula for success?

Then, there’s CBS. Generally, when you invest in a brand at this level, you have a solid idea what you are getting. So you can bet they know how Colbert will play it. But, how will that brand sell on a major network in a coveted time slot?

These are all questions the public will have answers to, sooner rather than later. However the chips fall, it should make for very compelling PR.

 

Pinterest vs. Twitter, Who’s Winning the PR war

 

There was a time, not too long ago, when Twitter was the latest social media darling on the net. People were flocking to tweet their latest,and greatest thoughts. To have tiny conversations with people across the room and across the world. But, given the limitless potential for social media interaction, there were sure to be competitors entering the market.When Pinterest released their APP, tens of millions flocked to the service. Most of them were female, and many were outside Twitter’s target audience age. But this wouldn’t last.

 

In fact, the latest social media trends are showing some interesting changes in the marketplace. Pinterest use has jumped by 8 points in the last year, when measured against the population of US adults on the internet. Meanwhile, Twitter has only grown by 2 percentage points. The rub? Fewer adults, particularly professionals, are using Twitter, while millions more are discovering the marketing potential of Pinterest.

 

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, says these changes could be as much about public perception as they are about product usability.

 

Torossian explains: It’s not that Twitter doesn’t have value, but it’s “imminent” nature can tempt you to Tweet without thinking. Often, Pinterest requires a bit more contemplation. Yes, it’s visual, so there’s room for misinterpretation … but Torossian says there’s a more telling dynamic.

 

“Look at so many of the latest social media related PR crises. What’s the common denominator? Twitter. The medium itself is not bad. In fact, it’s a great way for people to hold a conversation with as many people as possible, no matter where they are in the world … but … when the only time you see it on the news is when some celebrity pisses off thousands of people that perception sticks with you,” Torossian said.

 

The PR guru wanted to underscore that he didn’t see the medium as bad, but he was beginning to notice a public perception problem that could be contributing to Twitter’s slowing growth, and the subsequent rise of other social media options.

 

“Limitless communication, which is what Twitter offers, is like the best chef’s knife in your kitchen. It can help you create the best meal you have ever eaten, or it can cut you deep.” Torossian added, “Use with caution.”

3 Tips to Staying on an Editor’s Good Side

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In the public relations game, you will spend quite a bit of time connecting and interacting with editors, producers, and other media gatekeepers. It follows, then, that it’s probably a good idea to know how to interact positively, and profitably with those media gatekeepers.

 

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR in New York, offers 3 tips on staying on an editor’s good side.

 

#1 – Follow their protocols

 

All publications, and productions have submission guidelines, tips, and expectations. Learn these, and follow them. Do not ignore them. Don’t skip them and assume you deserve preferential treatment. They are in place for reasons you may never fully understand, but those reasons are integral to the operation of the publication, or production to which you are submitting.

 

#2 – Be timely and on point

 

Nothing makes an editor smile more than a timely, on point piece. They have deadlines, and space to fill, so receiving a timely, accurate, and content-conscious submission helps them succeed at their job. Conversely, a late or short or disjointed submission has the opposite effect. Want to piss off an editor? Waste their time.

 

#3 – Never underestimate the power of gifts

 

We’re not advocating bribes here, but there’s nothing wrong with finding out what a major gatekeeper enjoys, and providing it for them from time to time. This is not a step in getting past the gate, this is only to help them connect your name, and face with a pleasant thought or experience. A dozen donuts, or a box of chocolates are a small price to pay for priceless access.

 

At the end of the day, relationships could determine whether or not you are successful in your PR submission attempts. Relationships can help you stand out in ways that other tricks and tips never will. They take longer to cultivate and will involve more work, but the end result is well worth the effort.

Understanding What’s Important in a Press Release

Public relations is all about connections, but some people struggle to understand what to put into a press release in order to connect with their audience. In this article, Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, offers 3 tips for how to connect with your audience, and craft a press release that will get noticed and followed up on.

 

#1 – Connection

 

Is your content connective, or just a bunch of semi-relevant facts spewed into a release? When people read it, will they care more, or less about the topic of your content? Be honest. If your delivery isn’t good, hire a professional to polish it up for you. Don’t cut corners here. People will either be drawn closer to your brand, or pushed further away by your content. Which do you prefer?

 

#2 – Relevance

 

Does your content matter to the readers, viewers, or listeners of that publication, or production? Seriously, does it matter? It is the kind of thing those people want to know about? Would it interest them? This is what the editor, or producer cares about. Not whether or not the content matters to you. Of COURSE it matters to you. But does it matter to them??? Answering this question will help you identify which facts, and information you should leave in, and which should be taken out of, your press release.

 

#3 – Information

 

One of the most frustrating things for any reporter or editor to deal with is interesting content with no way to connect. Either the submitter forgets to add a contact point, or doesn’t include that information in the story for the readers or listeners. It happens more often than you might think. People get too worked up about the content, and forget the most important piece – what people can do with that information.

PR Winners and Losers in 2013

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PR fails in 2013:

 

Burger King had to go into damage control mode when one of its employees sent out a tweet showcasing his feet in tubs of lettuce. To make matters worse for the company, the tweet was captioned “This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King.” For a any company, such an awful tweet can be felt for years.  For a restaurant, the damage may be irreparable. And if you thought things could not get more disgusting in the world of food, you were wrong. A Taco Bell employee posted a tweet that showed him urinating on a plate of tacos. Even though he assured those who had seen it that the plate would be thrown out, management had not choice but to immediately – and publicly – fire him.

 

An NRA employee, just hours after the Aurora, CO shooting tweeted, “Good morning, shooters! Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” They were quickly forced to delete the tweet, and later a NRA spokesperson also apologized officially.  He said that the individual who sent out this tweet had not known of the events that had unfolded the previous evening.

 

Before producing their own maps, Apple maps borrowed from Google. This strategy had proven frustrating for some Apple users, and they were relieved when Apple released their own maps. But, to their dismay, the new map app turned out to be a huge failure. It had so many errors that the manager of this application was fired just months after its release. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and after issuing a public apology, Apple’s CEO encouraged iPhone users to use competitors maps.

 

Media Relations wins in 2013:

 

Coke knows how to get attention, and in a 2013 campaign, they did just that.  They made seemingly run-off-the-mill, yet highly attractive people, overcome a huge number of obstacles just to reach the premiere of the new James Bond movie, Skyfall, first.

 

To help promote the newest Muppet movie, cupcakes featuring the faces of the main characters were sent to those who were tweeting the most about the movie. This was a cute, and thoughtful way of appreciating the tweets and attention from fans online. This was cutest PR bid of the year.

 

In an anti-smoking advertisement, children asked older people around them to light their cigarettes. This ad used real people, and hidden cameras to capture the true emotions evoked by such a controversial act. It has been reported that this advertisement did force many people to take a step back, and rethink their smoking habit.

3 Responses to a Smear Campaign

 

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We all know that haters are out there, and they will, without any doubt, hate. They hate success. They hate progress. They hate innovation. And, this hate inspires jealousy, and all it’s ills. Eventually, some hater will try to smear your good name. How this will be done, and when it will come, will be a surprise.

 

But you don’t need to react like you are surprised. Surprised reactions inspire mistakes, miscues, and missed opportunities. But, that doesn’t mean you should just pretend it didn’t happen. Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, offers three possible reactions to a negative, or attack PR campaign. And, Torossian has a strong opinion on which one you should pick.

 

#1 – Ignore it

 

The temptation is to ignore the issue, to not “dignify” the smear campaign by addressing it directly. While this may be a popular idea, it’s a dangerous position to take. Refusing to confront an issue may make some people assume there is some truth to the allegations. It will look like an admission, or at least a concession. This is exactly why this tactic is a bad idea.

 

#2 – Argue it

 

Have you heard the old saying about arguing with an idiot making both people look foolish? That’s exactly what happens if you choose to argue against the allegations. First, the opponent will try to keep you arguing by offering little proof, but extended accusations. This works great for them, and just wastes your time. Plus, it has the added effect of elevating them, and demeaning you. Again, this is a bad way to go.

 

#3 – Demand proof and present evidence

 

When an allegation is false, the easiest way to make the accuser go away is to challenge them to present evidence. This must directly be followed by an act of good faith, or good business. To the audience, not the accuser. Give the audience something, and they will be more likely to take your side, particularly when the allegations are either nebulous, or unproven.

 

Sure, everyone likes a salacious story, but they like someone who takes care of them even more. So, don’t let the bad press get you down. Get on top of it by being good, and putting the burden of proof on the liar.

 

Mid Season Finales Offer Prime Promotion Time

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The holiday season has always been prime commercial time for TV networks. Lots of people are watching, and, with holiday specials, lots of people are watching the same thing. This combination makes for a prime PR opportunity for both popular, and not so well appreciated programs on the major TV networks.

 

There are a lot of reasons why the midseason “holiday” break is a PR winner for both networks and fans. Ronn Torossian, president of5W Public Relations, breaks down five ways the break works out for everyone.

 

#1 – Honors the holidays

 

The vast majority of Americans celebrate one, or more holidays during the month of December. Taking a break from regular programming for classic, and new holiday programming encourages viewers to celebrate WITH the networks, instead of without them.

 

#2 – Takes a break when most people already are

 

Taking a holiday break allows the networks to join the rest of the country in breaking it’s routine for the holidays. Consider how odd would it be for everyone, and everything else to be celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years EXCEPT the top TV networks. Ignoring the holidays would never sit well with the viewers, sort of like that one house on the block that refuses to decorate for any holidays. A dark spot in an otherwise brightly lit holiday season.

 

#3 – Prime commercial opportunities

 

We mentioned earlier that more people are watching the same shows in December than at any other time of the year. Yes, the Super Bowl, and national championship games get more viewership, but this is a month-long opportunity of alternative programming. More viewers tuning in to the same shows means higher ad revenue, not just on one day, but most of the month.

 

#4 – Opportunities to promote to prodigal fans

 

Mid-season, many shows have lost some of their luster for fans. The advertising, and media relations opportunities over the holiday season, give networks ample time, and extra opportunities to hook, and real in lapsed fans. Targeted PR with inside information only known to regular viewers can help to reconnect them with the program that used to be “must see TV.”

 

#5 – More opportunities to recruit new fans

 

The best reason for networks to replace typical weekly shows with holiday programming is to recruit new viewers to shows they may have missed. Check out any holiday program this season, and you are sure to see advertisements for the networks’ other programming mixed in with their typical holiday good cheer.

 

Given the disparate ways people choose their entertainment these days, the holiday season is the best time to reconnect, recruit and re-energize their best – and worst – performing programs before January kicks off the second part of the winter season.

 

3 Responses to Positive Press

Everyone wants great press, but how many times do you hear people talking about what to do once you get it? Hardly ever, really. But, Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, a leading NYC based media relations firm, says there is a right way, and a wrong way, to handle positive press. Here, Torossian offers 3 basic responses he has seen, and which one will give you the best chance of getting a repeat performance.

 

#1 – Do nothing

 

Sure, act like you’ve been there before, and maintain all the dignity you want to maintain. But, when you are honored with a spot in print, don’t just pretend like you don’t care. Whether you are a PR pro working on behalf of your client, or a brand trying to get some press, when you get some good coverage, you need to respond.

 

#2 – Act like you deserved it

 

Nobody appreciates an attitude of entitlement. Least of all the press. These guys work hard to give their readers the content they want to read. The fact that your release made the cut should mean something to you. Sure, you may have followed their submission guidelines, but that doesn’t guarantee you publication. Nor does your past record – or anything else. No matter how many times you find yourself in print, be sure to take a moment, and show some class.

 

#3 – Build relationships

 

See, the right response to positive media relations goes well beyond just saying “thanks.” That’s just common courtesy. But positive press is an opportunity to make real, positive relationships with the people who gave you the good story. Reporters, editors, and other news sources are people, too. Saying “thank you” is a terrific BEGINNING to a conversation. But, Torossian says, far too many people treat it as if that is the END of the conversation.

 

Relationship is a huge part of effective public relations, Torossian says. You need to know who you can trust, and build relationships with key people at the publications you want in your corner.

3 Elements of a Top PR Campaign

Everyday, countless press releases are submitted, countless public relations campaigns are launched, and millions of brands enter the harsh light of the public eye. What happens next depends on an endless number of decisions, and moving parts. Many of these factors are completely outside your control. But, according to PR guru, and president of5W Public Relations, Ronn Torossian, at least three factors are completely within your power to control.

 

#1 – Well planned

 

PR campaigns are, more than anything else, campaigns. There should be an understood beginning, middle, and end. Each one of the steps between these parts should be planned, and developed to work together for the best possible result. Obvious? Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean people actually do it. Everyday, people push “go” on PR campaigns that are nothing more than wishes, and hopes with no effective directive.

 

#2 – On point

 

Your message is your message. If you don’t embrace it, then who will? Your public relations must be tied and, in fact, defined by your overall brand mission, and message. Yes, Torossian says, you can reflect specific aspects of your brand, or brand message, but PR that does not tell your story can cause consumer confusion, and dilute your brand image.

 

#3 – Accurately targeted

 

Your campaign should not just say something. It must speak TO someone. Target marketing is not just for salespeople. PR should be targeted as well. Implementing this standard will help your PR team think through, and develop the best possible PR campaigns. More importantly, it will help you dismiss ideas that will not accurately target the right market for your brand.

 

While there is much more that goes into a successful PR campaign, Torossian says he has seen many plans never make it because they ignore one or all of these three basic points. For many, fundamental does not always mean foundational.

 

Education PR: What Matters Most

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From preschool to graduate school, one educational principle remains a debate: What constitutes the “best” school, and how can a student – or a parent – measure this success? This is a question that all educational institutions, public or private, must answer when planning their annual public relations campaigns. But, they cannot stop there if they wish to be successful.

 

They must decide what their potential customers want to hear, and what matters most. Ronn Torossian, 5WPR CEO says, while each institution must answer this question in it’s own way, it is far from the only question at hand in the emerging education marketplace. Here, he offers some additional questions that institutions must ask to measure success:

 

What is your market looking for?

 

Where once there were only two primary educational tracks in this country, the marketplace is growing. “The educational marketplace, at every level, is widening, and deepening. Earlier schooling, virtual schooling, homeschooling, charter schools … the market is completely different than it was ten years ago.” Torossian suggests that the successful educational institutions will begin asking – and answering – a question their forebears would have considered superfluous. “What is my market looking for?”

 

What does your market value most?

 

Education entrepreneurs must learn what their market values most. This may seem like a question better suited for the retail marketplace, but cultural qualms will not protect the establishment from the new rules of this emerging trend. To understand what the public wants, companies must understand what consumers value. It is no different in education.

 

What are you best equipped to provide?

 

Torossian says this question is one that far too few companies ask of themselves. They try to be all things so when they get in touch their students, they are not even doing well what they could otherwise do amazingly well. Your inherent uniqueness may not only set you apart, it may create a niche that all but guarantees you an opportunity for marketplace success. But, only if you take the time to determine what you are best able to provide, and how to go about marketing it.

 

How will your customers measure results?

 

While some consumers are concerned first, most, and always, with test scores, and college entrance positioning, others are looking for a “well rounded” education, a thirst for learning, or the development of social skills. If you do not understand how your customers will measure results, you will never know if you are achieving success with them. All the intentions in the world will not save you if you cannot manage your reputation.

 

If your company intends to succeed in today’s changing educational marketplace, then you must begin by thoroughly answering these questions. How your customers measure success will always be your primary concern in a consumer culture, but do not get caught up in policy debates, and forget to answer these other vital educational success questions.

Don’t Tweet Dumbly !

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Social media is one of the most convenient ways ever conceived to communicate with the largest number of people. The potential for PR, and for profit, is nearly endless. But there are some pitfalls. A lesson one young professional learned the hard way in a recent – and very public – firing. Her offense? Being incredibly stupid on Twitter. While on her way overseas on a business junket, the woman tweeted out something both incredibly unfunny, and incredibly racist.

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations in NY, said, while most people assume a PR professional would know not to make this mistake, this woman’s real mistake was not the tweet. It was in not understanding how to carry herself professionally.

“There is simply no place in the professional public forum for adolescent behavior like this. Ever. Yes, it’s okay to get out, cut loose, and have a good time. But, the business sector is not the place to live out a Katy Perry video. Even for a split second. Once you hit ‘send’ there’s no taking it back.”

Ronn’s point is that, while saying stupid things is part of the human condition, those things tend to have a short shelf life. Social media extends that shelf life indefinitely. Something that sounds funny for a quick minute in your mind, at that moment, and in that context, probably won’t be remotely humorous a week later when the net gets ahold of it.

 

Of course, in this situation, it didn’t take nearly that long. By the time the woman’s plane landed, her tweet was viral, and her company had already released a statement condemning her comments, and telegraphing her pink slip.

 

This is the point where some people usually jump up and condemn social media. It’s too easy, they argue, to do and say dumb stuff online. There’s the easy access, the momentary impulse, and the false sense of privacy all enticing you to slip. All that may be true, Torossian argues, but social media is not a devil on your shoulder, it’s a mirror revealing your understanding of social convention and what it means to carry yourself as a professional.

 

“Social media is in no way inherently provocative. The medium should never be blamed, even in part, for how some people choose to use it. The level of foolishness displayed by this person is not about falling victim to the convenience, and false privacy of social media. It’s about an inability to understand the potential consequences of one’s actions.”

 

That is not the sort of person you want running your public relations campaigns. Social media pros must be obsessively focused on both the message and the medium. It is their job to protect their companies, or customers, from this sort of publicity. Not to create it.

 

Three Ways to Control the Message

In most PR situations, there comes a point when you need to take control of the narrative, and define the conversation. Best case scenario is when you start the conversation with a planned campaign, and continue to control the narrative throughout. However, this is also not how things usually happen.

In a public relations scenario, there are infinitely more voices in the “public” than you have working for you. The only way to maintain any semblance of control is to create a message, and a delivery system that can drown out all the dissenting voices, and help you keep your version of the message at the center of the conversation.

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations in NYC, has three tips to help you pull that off:

#1 – Craft the most compelling message

People don’t want the truest, or most factual message. They want the most compelling message. Sure, you can stay honest, and still be compelling. You just need to be able to communicate the truth in a way that people want to hear. Bare facts are hardly ever the right way to go. Yes, you need to gauge your audience, but for the most part, people want something entertaining, interesting, and engaging. Otherwise, they will not be compelled. Complain all you want purists, but doing so just ignores the reality.

#2 – Use the biggest bullhorn you can find

Here, Torossian is not advocating that you stand on a street corner with a literal bullhorn. The best way to counter a million contrary voices, or disparate narratives, is to present yours to the most people possible as soon as possible through a voice, or medium those people recognize, and trust. That’s the true strength of the media. Choice. Consumers choose who to listen to. If you want them to listen to you, then you better be using the voice they already love.

#3 – Ignite and deploy your fans

Personal referral marketing is still the most effective sales technique. If you want people to understand, and connect with your message, you must engage your fans, and recruit them into the cause. Passive fans are not business builders. You need to make them a part of the story. Let your fans become your advocates. Craft easy to understand, and easier to convey messages, for the web, and social media. Create viral commercials, and soundbites. Anything your fans can use in passing conversation to defend you at the watercooler, and on Facebook.

By following these three tips you may never have the largest voice in the crowd, but you can be sure your message will always be delivered by both a crowd and by signature voices that have already earned trust. In this way you have a much better chance of either controlling the message from start to finish, or of wresting control from others who may not have your brand’s best interests at heart.

Sign of Bad Times in South Africa

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AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE

By now, the world has heard. South African officials hired a fake sign language interpreter to work at the largest public event that country has seen, well, ever. With new information pouring into the public sphere every day, South Africa is facing a PR crisis. Yes, the country has been seen as backward, dangerous, bigoted and many other negatives. But, many of those perspectives were erased by the heroic tenure of Nelson Mandela, the man whose funeral was desecrated by the goofy schizophrenic fake.

 

Worse, information has come out that the South African government has used this guy before. Come again???

 

Yep. In fact, some have said this is a fairly common occurrence in South Africa. Talk about your PR problems. Ronn Torossian breaks them down.

 

#1 – Looking foolish

 

When it came out that the government had used this fake interpreter before, and received complaints about him then, the country didn’t look stupid … they looked foolish. The entire world wondered why they didn’t learn from their mistakes. Further, they started asking when they ever would.

 

#2 – Looking incompetent

 

That’s not to say the government didn’t look silly, as well. Seriously, you can’t look at that guy, and not see a dozen Saturday Night Live, or Light Nite sketches in the making. He’s a national disgrace, eclipsed only by the people who hired him in the first place.

 

#3 – Looking dangerous

 

But, all joking aside, this admittedly crazy person was standing mere feet from some of the most powerful, and influential political figures on the planet. This could have gone bad. Really, incredibly, fatally bad. Thankfully, it did not. But, it did look horrendous, and that potential for carnage lands squarely in the lap of South Africa’s media relations team.

 

But, there is a bright spot. Now that they have such an incredibly bright spotlight on their country, South African officials can use that light to their advantage. They can promote what’s amazing about their country, and celebrate the many successes.

 

But will they? Because, the world is watching.

 

Golden Globes Uproar – Good or Bad for TV Brands?

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(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / December 12, 2013)

Golden Globe nominations have been released. As expected, there are a few surprises, and more than a few unexpected snubs. As you can imagine, it’s the snubs that really have fans worked up in a lather. People who could not even tell you who won the Globes last year are fuming on message boards, and comment threads because their favorites didn’t get the nomination nod.

 Ronn Torossiansays, win or lose, this uproar is a huge PR win for the networks … and may even be by design.

Think about it. Each year there are some surprise nominees, and more than a few “what do you mean they didn’t get it?” snubs. Those non-nominations are good for days, if not weeks, of constant conversation in the entertainment media field, online, and in print.

Fans just can’t stop screaming about the disrespect to their favorite shows, or cast members. And every single angry comment, tweet, or post is free advertising for the Golden Globes awards show.

Awards shows in general have been losing audience numbers for years. The continual commentary is one way to get – and keep – people engaged. Producers don’t care if viewers tune into boo the shows that win. As long as people tune in.

It’s the Holy Grail of PR, Torossian suggests, you get people watching because they’re happy and you get all the pissed off people, too. That’s pretty much everybody, when you get right down to it. At least, everybody who watches TV. Even if they don’t watch the entire show, they will tune to it, DVR it, or stream a portion at some point.

Why? Because of all the energy expended arguing, or commenting about it. By the time the show airs, these people are invested. They need to get that feeling of completion, of angry closure.

Fast Food Decision Makes for Some Fresh PR

The fast food wars continue to rage, and despite all the salads that have been introduced, nothing comes close to what Chick-Fil-A just announced. The “Eat Mor Chikin” company has recently announced that it will cut out corn syrup, dyes, and certain other additives, sometime in 2014.

While this won’t make the waffle fries any healthier, this is a breath of fresh air in the fast food media relations wars. And it may set a trend. No news on that yet, but Chick-Fil-A is getting a massive PR bump after making the announcement.

But, aside from the obvious, what is the specific PR protocol that the chicken company followed that Ronn Torossian says is worth a second look?

#1 – They broke the mold

Fast food has always been about getting it out, quickly. Nobody ever called it healthy. But for years, the industry has been getting hammered for additives, and other reportedly unhealthy ingredients. Now Chick-Fil-A is raising the bar.

#2 – They did it first

You can’t ever be better than first. Sure, someone may come along and do it as well, but they will always be compared to the pioneer. That pioneer status is good for almost permanent PR bonus points.

#3 – They took the initiative

Sure, there were documentaries, and all sorts of articles demanding change. But, you know who wasn’t asking for change? Fast food customers. But Chick-Fil-A did the right thing anyway. They wanted to stand out, so they took some initiative. Some people still might not care, but it’s a good bet that the general public will be looking for opportunities to eat more chicken.

#4 – They communicated clearly and invited feedback

The restaurant chain didn’t release some bland, and nonspecific PR about making healthier decisions. They listed several specific things they would no longer be using. These are easy to check, and you can bet the competition will be checking.

Taken together, Torossian says one thing is abundantly clear. Chick-Fil-A is no chicken. They have broken new ground, and we all just might be better for it.

 

 

WestJet Christmas Miracle is Incredible Holiday PR

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Screengrab via youtube.com

When it comes to holiday public relations, it’s hard to top this. In fact, it may just be impossible. Local small flight airliner, WestJet, has forever raised the bar for any and all corporate holiday PR. So says, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO, of 5WPR.

At this point most of the world has seen this heartwarming holiday gem, but if you are one of those who has yet to experience it, grab some tissues, and take a gander at this:

 

http://distractify.com/people/westjet-christmas-miracle/

 

Okay, besides the obvious “ahh” factor, what else can we learn from this top notch PR piece? Torossian has some answers.

 

“First, they gave you something you thought was coming then completely blindsided you. Surprise is always an excellent way to get people talking. Especially, if it’s the kind of surprise that staples a smile on your face all day long.”

 

Next, Torossian says the commercial bathes the viewer in wonder. “Curiosity is one of the most compelling emotions there is. The way this commercial is laid out, you almost HAVE to keep watching. You want to know what’s up with Santa, and what Westjet REALLY has up its sleeves.”

 

That curiosity creates anticipation. Then, the commercial goes over and above – WAY over, and above – what the viewer really expects. No one believes that couple at the end is getting a TV, but there it is on the baggage conveyor.

 

Finally, the commercial evokes real emotion. None of the people on the plane are actors, so you get to see their real reactions to this incredible scenario. This, in turn, elicits real emotions from viewers. You can’t help but let your guard down, and THAT’S when they really get you.

 

Not that viewers are complaining. This Westjet ad will likely become the runaway holiday advertising hit of the nation. It has everything you could want in a Christmas commercial … and then a whole lot more.