Category Archives: The Industry

“Aww, here it goes!”

by Bailey Carpenter

It was 11 p.m. on a weeknight, and having finally finished my homework, I settled in bed to watch TV. As I scrolled down the channel guide, I came to a sudden halt when I saw “Clarissa Explains It All” in one of the blue boxes, followed by “Kenan & Kel,” “All That” and “Doug.” I immediately slammed my thumb down on the “select” button.

What was this glorious gift from the TV gods? The first commercial break offered me an answer: “The 90s are All That” brought to you by the good people at TeenNick. It appeared someone had finally wised up at Nickelodeon studios and brought back TV favorites from the 90s, satisfying the cravings of 90s children nationwide.

Having previously planned to go to bed early, I ended up staying up into the early hours of the morning absorbing every second of shows that tickled my memory and made me miss my light-up Keds and neon windbreaker suit.

My excitement peaked, however, when another commercial break advertised the Twitter hashtag #90sAreAllThat and handle @90sareallthat_. I immediately pulled up the Twitter feed and found that I was not alone. Thousands of my peers were vigorously tweeting about the two-hour block:

audude08: “Its U Pick on @90sareallthat_ now watching #Doug. I love those 90s Nick shows… brings back the memories.”

AdamChaseFields: “@90sareallthat_ is the best thing that’s happened to television in SO long”

Kayla Aldridge: “@90sareallthat_ thanks for playing all these shows that i love.”

Bralein: “Made a Twitter account because I wanted to tell @90sareallthat_ that I want to see Aaahh!!! Real Monsters!”

Being the PR nerd that I am, I could not help but to reflect on the way Nickelodeon was not only bringing back its original audience from the 90s, but also incorporating the current lifestyle of that audience.

Nickelodeon is not the only network to take advantage of these connections: both Facebook and Twitter exploded with posts from my peers when Disney brought The Lion King back to theaters. According to a PR Newswire article, the film grossed $30 million in its opening weekend.

It seems now that my generation has some discretionary income, networks like Disney and Nickelodeon are using nostalgia to re-gain us as an audience and increase their profits.

In an Oct. 21 blog post, Kiren Pooni said, “The marketing and PR industries have successfully used nostalgia to play on the emotional connections consumers build with brands. When this is done well it is possible for former glories to be restored.”

It is safe to say that Nickelodeon and Disney have both “restored their former glory.” The 90s Are All That has expanded to include the TV show “Hey Dude” and brought back Stick Stickly to host an “interactive” portion of the two-hour block. Stickly’s show plays different 90s Nickelodeon favorites, as voted for on the 90s Are All That Facebook page.

Disney not only profited from the theatrical re-release, but is also experiencing high sales for The Lion King Blu-ray DVD released Oct. 4.

“Consumers are jumping at the chance to re-engage with their past and wrap themselves in the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from nostalgia,” Pooni said.

One major advantage of The Lion King’s return to the theater was that it not only brought in lines of now 20-somethings wanting to relive their childhoods, but also introduced the film to a whole new generation of children.

“What is clear is that in times of doom and gloom, there is comfort to be found in the ‘good old days’ and if you can capture that feeling in a brand, product or even a musical comeback, you could well be onto a winner,” Pooni said.

It looks like PR practitioners everywhere need to follow in the footsteps of Nickelodeon and Disney. Or, as Kel Mitchell says in “Kenan & Kel,” they should just say “aww, here it goes!” and incorporate nostalgia into campaigns aimed at sustaining audiences.

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Chill out, super woman

by Emily Diab

The frenzy of Operation: Crackdown has begun for many college seniors, and for some of them it’s too little too late. But for others, the intense feeling of utter stress from the commitment they’ve applied for years will soon pay off. They will walk across the graduation stage and gleam with pride, finally getting a chance to breathe. But contrary to the “end of the road” analogy, that’s not where the crackdown ends.

Some people like to think that the celebratory stroll to receive the coveted diploma is the end of a long road and the beginning of breathing easy. Those people are wrong.

The hardworking PR students who land a career post-grad are smart enough not to let their work ethic die, in fear of losing their money source and sense of being. This tenacity is a familiar token in the successful women of PR, but can be detrimental if it isn’t resisted.

A recent Forbes article by Larissa Faw addressed the “burnout” condition that many young professionals, specifically women, are experiencing.

“One reason that women are burning out early in their careers is that they have simply reached their breaking point after spending their childhoods developing well-rounded resumes,” Faw said.

We have been coached for years on how to develop professionally, network with connections and ultimately land the careers of our dreams. Many of us haven’t had a second to breathe, in fear of losing out on a rare opportunity for success. We are in a competitive environment, and have been made well aware of the risks we take by not striving to be the best.

Do you smell something burning?

As you read this, you might be nodding your head in agreement. Those of you who agree have probably been blessed with the firm force of strict professors and the personality of a success-driven maniac. Most of us have been PR practitioners since preschool, and we will thrive as adults in the world we were born for.

But the reality is, Super Woman does not exist. The superhero powers we expect from ourselves are not the reality, and the burnout theory proves it.

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Beyond the headline

by Alex Reichenbach

There is one writing tool that all PR practitioners know like the back of their hand — the press release.

This basic “who, what, when, where, why and how” document has always been a major component of the public relations industry. But many of us fail to realize there is a science behind this straightforward, informational piece.

Dan Zarella, social media scientist at Hubspot, shared secrets in a Webinar that go beyond the simple writing components and into the actual data behind the effectiveness of press releases.

We all know press releases are distributed to a variety of media outlets. But how can we really determine whether or not viewers are reading the press release? Hubspot has partnered with PRNewswire and gained valuable information that has made a great impact on the effectiveness of press releases.

Zarella believes looking at the total views will reveal statistics of the release that will help publishers reach a higher number of viewers.

According to Zarella, the total views represents the total amount of times someone has looked at a release, whether it was through RSS feeds, e-mails, search engines or other outlets. An important aspect of the total views is the fact that it calculates the number of times someone reads the actual release, NOT just the headline.

Now let’s look at a variety of ways you can publish a release to reach the highest number of viewers.

What day should you publish?

Every day of the week has a different number of total views. Surprisingly, the most effective day to publish a press release is either Saturday or Sunday. This seems shocking to me, being that Saturdays and Sundays are considered days of leisure for many. But Zarella has a very interesting reasoning behind this.

“If everyone at a party was screaming and shouting, you would have to yell just to be heard,” Zarella said. “But if you say something awkward, you will be heard.”

In other words, it’s not the norm to publish a press release on the weekends, while it is extremely popular in the middle of the week. If you choose to publish on these seemingly awkward days, you will most likely be noticed.

What time should you publish?

The time of day you choose to publish a release may be the most important factor when calculating the total views. For those of you who stay up late, you’ll be happy to know press releases published between 12 and 1 a.m. are correlated with a higher number of total views. If you think about it, when publishers arrive to work early in the morning, they are most likely going to see your release before anyone else’s.

Zarella mentioned a benefit of publishing at these hours that had never crossed my mind. If your press release is intended for viewers across the world, these hours are very accommodating to time zones outside of the U.S. Your press release will capture a global audience.

How many characters in a headline?

What’s so important about the number of letters in a headline? Believe it or not, the headline is the most important aspect of the press release. If it doesn’t appeal to the reader, there is no reason for them to read what you have to say.

According to Zarella, the secret behind an effective headline is to stay between 120 and 140 characters. This is especially important when promoting a release through social media outlets. Social media users would understand how posts more than 140 characters are boring and most likely overlooked.

To be effective with your headlines, stick to the basics and know how to appeal to your readers.

Are pictures really worth it?

Publishing a release with photos is correlated with much higher total views. This shouldn’t surprise any of us. If we are browsing the Internet, we are prone to click on a picture to read more, rather than a bunch of words.

Publishers who include a picture with their release are setting themselves apart from other publishers and will be more successful in reaching their target audiences.

The successful press release

Press releases are writing tools that are used on a day-to-day basis. In the public relations world, publishing your press release can be extremely competitive. By following these Hubspot secrets, you can be certain your release will not only be published, but also read by your viewers.

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Putting the “relations” in public relations job searching

by Hope Peterson

I can think of few things more nerve-racking than entering the real world. It’s frightening to think of a place without the cushion of our parents’ security blanket, familiar faces and the excuse, “I’m only young once.”

However, entering that place should be a little less intimidating for PR students like us. The scary black hole of the real world should seem a little less unsettling.

Now, it’s a given that grades are important, but the key to obtaining the interview and holding the job is delivering greatness in person. You can’t get that from a transcript.

PR teaches communication, which places its students ahead of their competition. Through effective communication practices, PR students are familiar with the “how-to’s” of networking and interviewing.

First, the more people you know, the easier it is to do your job as a PR professional. Logically, networking before and after obtaining an interview is crucial.

This is not to say that “sucking up” is beneficial, because often that can lead to more name calling than job offers. But rather, it’s the art of knowing how to establish connections that will get you the phone call for an interview.

An article on the PRSSA website defines networking as “a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.”

There are two types of networking: “social and real world.”

PR professional Derek Devries said on his blog that is it important to create social media pages such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to establish your online identity the way you wish to be perceived. Devries said, “In your spare time you need to be blogging, tweeting, posting, liking, creating, and sharing content with the goal of creating a big footprint for people to find when they’re searching the web.”

As Devries put it, “just do something” to force yourself to be seen by others.

Next, real world networking includes most social interactions dealt with in every day life. Everyone you meet is important; every party you attend, after-class talk with your teacher, dinner with your friends’ parents or lunch with your sorority adviser could lead to something more.

Devries advised in his blog to “take these opportunities: they can be the difference between starting a new career OR moving back home with mom & dad when you graduate.”

But it takes a little more than a smile and a “how are you?” to establish a connection. You need to separate yourself from the crowd. Devries said that PR students are ahead because they never enter “blindly.” He said to always be prepared for social situations with a professional and online presence, business cards, notes and information for small talk.

After ensuring plenty of successful connections, the interview is next.

It should go without saying that PR students should be able to communicate and carry on conversations; putting the relations in public relations comes with the degree, right?

An article on PR Daily advises students who are interviewing to do their homework about the company, practice common manners, maintain appropriate work-related conversation and follow up without stalking.

Basically the tips can be summed up through one over-arching statement — learn how to connect with people to establish a relationship.

Graduating with a PR degree might just make that jump into that real work a little less scary. PR doesn’t just tell us to make an impression, but teaches us how. Effective communication is key.

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The road back to Happy Valley

by Meghan Rodriguez

On Saturday, November 12, the Penn State Nittany Lions faced the Nebraska Cornhuskers as millions across the nation watched on ESPN. This wasn’t just another football game. It was Senior Day and the first in-conference game against Nebraska since it joined the Big 10 Conference this season.

Most noticeably, it was also the first game since 1946 that head coach Joe Paterno wasn’t present on the sidelines or in the coach’s box. Three days prior to the game, Paterno was fired by the Penn State Board of Trustees. Paterno failed to report his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky to police after allegations had been made that he had molested several young boys over the course of 15 years.

What happened not only rocked State College, Penn., but the nation. Paterno was known in the college football world for running a clean football program built on hard work. Penn State has one of the highest graduation rates among its players. And unlike several other big name programs in recent years, Penn State manages to operate within the rules set by the NCAA.

As news of Paterno’s firing quickly made its way across campus, student protests turned into violent riots. Images of destroyed property joined by chants of “Hell no we want Joe,” were broadcast by major news stations across the country.

I sat and watched with disbelief thinking to myself: “Do these kids even know what they’re protesting? Do they realize why Paterno was fired?” Although only a fraction of Penn State’s 45,000 students were involved in these riots, the images were still disturbing and did not send a good message to those watching.

ESPN began its broadcast of Saturday’s game 15 minutes early to show the seniors being introduced one by one on the field and a moment of silence for victims of sexual abuse. However, the most powerful moment of the broadcast was when the teams met midfield and knelt in prayer, led by a Nebraska assistant coach. The moment was unexpected and gave me chills.

During the week, I heard numerous television reporters repeat the line, “Penn State is bigger than Joe Paterno. It is bigger than football,” but in that moment, it was football that played a major part in the healing process.

The image Penn State projected on Saturday was a stark contrast from what it displayed Wednesday night. After a week of being the focus of media attention, those tied to the Penn State family and those directly affected by the scandal used Saturday as a form of therapy.

Students distributed blue ribbons outside the stadium and fans were asked to wear blue in honor of sexual abuse victims. As the cameras closely focused in on individual players, fans, cheerleaders and other attendees, it was clear that many of them were fighting back tears. It had been an emotionally draining week for all those with ties to the university.

Penn State prides itself on the motto, “We are Penn State.” In September, I had the opportunity to attend a Penn State football game and was impressed with the class and school pride that the students exhibited. Despite the team’s loss, Beaver Stadium still erupted in cheers and chants, especially when Paterno was shown on the JumboTron.

To many, Joe Paterno WAS Penn State. To those he coached, he was a teacher and a father figure. To the students, he was a legend and the face of not only the football program, but also the entire university.

In order for Penn State to take the steps toward rebuilding its image and football program, it had to start with a clean slate and remove everyone who had knowledge of the scandal. This had to begin at the top with the president and eventually make its way to members of the coaching staff.

It’s going to take time for Penn State to get used to the fact that Joe Paterno is no longer its coach. He was a great football coach, but his morality and ethics will forever be questioned because of what he didn’t do when he had the chance.

Penn State’s image may be tarnished at the moment, but it has taken the first step toward recovery and healing. Other universities have faced crises and major trauma and bounced back, and Penn State will do the same.

It is a great university that is defined by its rich tradition, student body, alumni and community and in time will return back to the nickname it has been given, Happy Valley.

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The three Rs according to Soledad

by Amber Parker

“Ratings, Revenue and Reputation . . . [are] ingredients for a bottom line franchise,” said Soledad O’Brien in her discussion on diversity with University of Alabama students Nov. 9. Because much of the internationally known journalist’s recognition comes from CNN’s “In America” documentary series, I wonder: How much do people care about topics surrounding minority groups? How have they impacted CNN? How have they impacted O’Brien? And most of all, how have they impacted the “bottom line”?

Ratings

The “In America” Series started in 2008 with Black in America. The two-part documentary focused on exposing disparities in education, the prison system and single parenthood, as well as the toll that HIV/AIDs has had on communities. In July of the same year, the documentary garnered approximately 2.6 million viewers. Black in America 2 aired in the summer of 2009 with a less impressive 1.4 million viewers, yet it still managed to outperform other cable documentaries from all other networks that year. It is safe to say that the “In America” series started off strong, piquing national interest in areas that had received limited coverage prior to these exposés.

However, the ratings really began to drop when “Latino in America” aired in 2010. According to a Huffington Post article, it “drew an average of 1,007,000 total viewers and 293,000 A25-54 viewers. That’s down 45% in total viewers from the debut episode of July’s ‘Black in America’.” Based on these numbers, one has to wonder if stories like these have fleeting appeal.

Revenue

It is unclear how much money CNN makes from O’Brien’s documentaries or how much money she generates personally. But it is clear that high ratings do correlate with the amount of revenue amassed by the network and, in turn, the individual.

The following is a list of O’Brien’s most recent work: “Don’t Fail Me: Education in America,” “The Women Who Would be Queen,” “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door,” “Pictures Don’t Lie,” “Almighty Debt,” “Rescued” and “Gary and Tony Have a Baby.” Each of these relates to concerns of minority groups, with topics ranging from homosexuality to religious acceptance. Since 9/11, O’Brien has provided in-depth coverage of a wide range of underrepresented groups, ultimately earning the respect of her peers and even her critics.

Reputation

“For me it’s about the story, it’s about telling the stories of amazing people all across this great country and the world,” O’Brien said.

This journalist has used stories to catapult herself as a trustworthy source in the sphere of journalism. In early 2012, she will return to CNN’s “American Mornings” as an anchor. After years of rotating hosts for the morning talk show due to poor ratings, the producers decided to take a shot with O’Brien. I am sure CNNhopes her reputation will help to turn the show around and eventually bring both ratings and revenue to CNN.

During a reception prior to her speech, she expressed her excitement about returning to daily news. She hopes that she can bring new perspective to the show by continuing to tell the stories of the world’s underrepresented people every day.

If CNN’s producers are right this time, O’Brien’s return will prove that of the three Rs, reputation is the most important.

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Throwback throwaways

by Jaley Cranford

As I punched the button for a familiar soda choice, I awaited a familiar purple can. But the purple marketing blunder that I grabbed was a far cry from the Grapico can of my childhood.

Though the packaging bears no influence on the familiar taste of the grape soda, I was incapable of enjoying it. This horrific rebranding begged the question: what guy at Grapico fell asleep at the wheel and sent this idea forward?

Grapico has long been packaged in a purple can with a diagonal text logo.

The rebranding shows a grape that I expect to dance at any moment accompanied by a new tagline: A Southern Tradition.

Conflicting ideas? Anyone who is drawn to the clipart-esque cartoon of a grape is probably more interested in when Dora the Explorer airs than the idea of Southern tradition. More than the obvious discrepancy . . . and tagline . . . and art, this product looks like an off-brand soda. When I first saw this can, I paid no mind and assumed that someone had brought a can of Walmart grape soda from home. Is that the way Buffalo Rock wants to market Grapico?

Maybe the soda market is a breeding ground for bad rebranding ideas. Mountain Dew, Mellow Yellow and Grapico have all done a round of throwback cans recently. But apparently Mountain Dew and Pepsi throwbacks are here to stay.

Bevreview.com reported Buffalo Rock announced both Pepsi and Mountain Dew would be available in a throwback can or bottle for the indefinite future. Due to overwhelming positive responses from fans, the soda company kept this

Who are these adoring fans? Who are the millions in love with these cartoon relics that are a mockery of design? Apparently some such fans are running Grapico.

According to an article on al.com, Buffalo Rock execs said, “This ‘new retro’ look brings together the nostalgic best of Grapico’s proud history and the ever-growing popularity of the same grape great taste.”

The article continued with a quote from another proud figurehead. “We really wanted to splice something old with something new to create a new look for Grapico and Diet Grapico,” said Buffalo Rock Chairman/CEOJames C. Lee III.

New? I’m still searching. Maybe it’s the clipart grape . . . that was new . . . in 1998. I’m not against throwback packaging. But this Grapico has turned into a big purple mess.

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