Monday, September 22, 2008

PRSA Chief: There Are Some PR Pros Who Do Wrong

This is an excerpt from an excellent article centering on PRSA President Jeffrey Julin's advice to the presidential candidates, as well as his take on bad actors in the profession.--Editor

Julin concedes that the PR profession has its own PR problem when it comes to the public’s perception of its own conduct, and that some in the business have fueled that perception.

“Quite honestly, there are communications professionals who do the things that people think [we do], who obfuscate, who do manipulate the information,” he said. “And as an organization for public relations, and as an advocate for effective public relations, we say no, that’s not the way to go.”

In fact, Julin argues that ethics in communication isn’t just a matter of doing the right thing; it simply works better.

“It’s true whether it’s elections or business,” he said. “The most effective communications, no matter what you’re trying to get, is based on truth and accuracy and respect.”

And based on several months as PRSA’s leader, Julin said he’s convinced most communications pros buy into that idea.

“It’s a great profession to be in, and there are great people in it,” he said. “They really do care.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Extended Stay Hotels: A Windy Approach to Advertising

A new ad campaign from Extended Stay Hotels is apparently hoping to put the wind in their sales. If you haven’t seen the new spot, it’s basically a series of moments of blissed-out individuals passing gas all over their hotel rooms…in the hall, in the laundry area, on their pillow, in the chairs, etc. followed by the tagline: “No place makes you feel more comfortable.”

At this writing, this website and this one have the spot posted for your viewing pleasure.

The Sauce

Okay, as a fan of Blazing Saddles, I have to say that I appreciate a good fart joke. But as a matter of establishing an image or a brand I would seriously question whether I would want my client to be known as “the smelliest hotel.”

Honestly, we all pass gas, but do you really want to stay at a hotel that is so obviously “in your face" about it. (Literally in your face if people are farting on pillows. Ewwww. There, I said it.)

I think Extended Stay is a good hotel chain—I have stayed in one in my travels. Heck, I probably even broke wind in there, but: I didn’t advertise it when I did, and by the same token, neither should they.

A guest’s comfort in a hotel is a key marketing message, hence the marketing of plush beds, room service, swimming pools, concierge services, etc. But what’s next? Extended Stay Hotels: We’re So Comfortable We Even Have Toilet Paper? Spare me that visual.

I called Extended Stay’s corporate offices for a comment, but I got blown off.

Let's be clear about this: being edgy, clever and fun are important in rising above the fray in today’s media mix. There are also those who say that any publicity is good publicity. However, there’s a line—ever vanishing, but it’s still there—called good taste. Extended Stay has crossed that line, and this ad campaign has overstayed its welcome.

I’d say it’s time for Extended Stay to pass on future use of this theme. It could have a silent but deadly effect on sales. Guests could literally be gone with the wind.

The Comment section is open for your remarks...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tooting Our Own Horn...and Yours

The Kansas City Business Journal did a fantastic piece on the Bernays Sauce parent company, EventPros, Inc.

Just goes to show you what a good public relations pro can do for your business--no matter what the size. If your story is compelling and you pitch it right, good things can happen!

Here's an excerpt, followed by a link to the complete story.

When you listen to the clients of EventPros Inc. talk about the company’s owners, it’s easy to envision the two men as something straight from DC Comics, the letter S emblazoned on their chest, faster than a speeding bullet and always able to save the day.

Example one: Setup was complete for KCRiverFest in the summer when a microburst hit the evening before the event. Half of the tents were destroyed, the stage lighting was blown off, and debris littered the park. The day of the event, the two men and their team were up before dawn and set everything back up in five hours, in time to open that afternoon.

Example two: The HNTB Cos. 2002 holiday party was in danger after parting ways with another event planner just two weeks before the event. The day of the party, EventPros showed up unexpectedly and unannounced, spent two hours with the group and saved the party.

“They were wonderful. They were our heroes,” said Amy Rempel, an executive assistant for Scott Smith, CEO of HNTB.
Read the rest of the story here.

Contact us today to discuss your public relations and special event needs.

Who knows? Maybe someday soon the media will publish something about your company to toot about!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How Blogging Gets Me 10-15 Customers a Week

An interesting article on business blogging from

In Bellingham, WA, most businesses don’t become profitable after a few months – but don’t tell that to Evergreen Team Concepts, a consulting and training company. Armed with four employees and a $1,000 a month marketing budget, Evergreen tried it all, including: going door-to-door, direct mail marketing, cold-calling, issuing press releases and everything they could find on the internet. Only one thing brought customers in the door with consistency.

“We tried a number of advertising methods. Newspapers were probably the biggest waste of money, whereas, MerchantCircle was getting about 10-15 customers a week through our doors as a result of the blogs we were writing on our MerchantCircle page. We were showing up at the top of search engines in our area,” said Mike Ridpath, who handles marketing for Evergreen.

After launching the business in September of 2007, Evergreen grew from four employees to 11 by April of 2008. By then, they were one the biggest training provider in all of Washington and nominated as a Start-Up of the Year finalist for Whatcom County in Washington. The company has plans for future expansion outside of Washington, and MerchantCircle will be an integral part of marketing.

“The key to generating more visitors to your listing and driving up your search engine results come from blogs,” says Jennifer Roberts, MerchantCircle Customer Support. “There’s a consistent theme amongst our merchants who get several hundred hits to their listings a month – they all stay active writing and posting blogs. The search engines love the fresh content, and Evergreen Team Concepts is an excellent example of that.”

EventPros can help you get started on business blogging. Give us a shout here to learn more.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Happy Friday Everyone!

Hi Folks,

Just wanted to wish you a Happy Friday and a safe, fun and restful weekend. Also, if there are questions, comments or tips about which you'd like us to blog, the comments section is open.

Until then, please come back next week for some more of the good sauce!

--The Gang at Bernays Sauce

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

McCain Opts for More Traditional Veep Announcement

On Aug. 22, we mentioned the clever way the Obama campaign was notifying supporters and media of his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden:

It’s a clever idea on Obama's part to use text messaging and email to make the announcement; thus reinforcing to what most polling indicates is his base: younger, tech savvy voters. Despite some hoaxes, it has also generated some nice PR for him outside the usual stuff we get every four years when it's veep announcement time...Have you signed up for the text message? Like Obama or not, it makes you part of history when that text message notice beeps, for whatever that's worth. Next week we'll look at what McCain is doing to build buzz for his Veep pick.

Though it did leak out close to the end, we give Obama points for bringing new media into play in this high interest story. It also had the effect of engaging younger voters and generating solid “buzz.”

The Sauce on McCain

Well, if Obama went with something fresh and new, John McCain instead went for the more traditional approach--a smart move if he wants to position himself differently than his rival.

His announcement of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin went the normal, joint announcement route. Also, he did do a bit of a head fake—suggesting strongly the nominee could have been Sen. Lieberman, Mitt Romney or Gov. Tim Pawlenty—but instead he introduced the relatively unknown governor of the Last Frontier. Complete with a crowd whipped into frenzy and even some cheerleaders, McCain stunned the punditocracy and the nation. Though we don’t think it was nearly as innovative or interesting as Obama’s method, it still managed to generate plenty of buzz by virtue of his off-the-wall pick.

Extra points for the fact that, despite making the announcement on the Friday of Labor Day weekend (Fridays are typically a media dead zone--often called the "media dump day" because people just aren't watching the news in large numbers on a Friday night--and make that Friday the kickoff for a holiday weekend, it's even less), McCain still managed to get killer press.

So, both candidates managed to pull off a PR coup in their announcements. Now after the conventions end and the last bits of ticker tape are swept up, the real fun begins.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. Please remember, this post is about their PR strategy, not their politics...