Friday, September 12, 2014

DiGiorno Debacle A Systematic Problem With Social Media

By: Toby Srebnik

One of the biggest social media mistakes brands continue to make is not thinking through a situation before hitting send on a keyboard or mobile device.  It happened again earlier this week when DiGiorno Pizza’s attempt to engage with the hashtag #WhyIStayed completely backfired. While the brand routinely interjects itself and its brand of humor into trending hashtag topics, the DiGiorno social media team failed to research why #WhyIStayed was trending.

Earlier that day, Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice was cut from his team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL when new video emerged from his domestic violent incident earlier this year. The new video became a discussion topic throughout social media Monday and led to frank domestic violence discussions occurring under the hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft.

Instead of clicking on the hashtag to see why #WhyIStayed was trending, the DiGiorno Pizza social media team tweeted this to its 82,000+ followers:

Within minutes, the account’s mentions made it clear they had made a mistake and they deleted their tweet and apologized:

Because of screenshots, deleting the tweet didn’t make the situation any better. To the company’s credit, the team managing the account has done a phenomenal job of apologizing using different words in every single tweet back to people who tweeted their displeasure at the company directly.

However, this situation begs the question: Why don’t brands safeguard their social media the way they would any other communication tools?

There are countless examples of companies marketing around a tragedy (, not realizing which account someone is logged into while tweeting a personal opinion ( ), or deleting comments from a Facebook page in response to something the brand posted (

All of these things could be avoided if common sense principles are included when handing social media:

1) Interjecting your brand into a current events discussion without doing proper research beforehand can completely damage the brand’s credibility. Clearly, had the DiGiorno team spent 30 seconds reading through the #WhyIStayed tweets, they would have realized it was not a place to include their normal attempt at humor. Instead, they have spent the last 72+ hours apologizing to tens of thousands of people on Twitter and Facebook.

2) Train the social media team to triple-check scheduled and real-time posts before hitting return. Many errors can be resolved before a post or tweet is ever sent to the general public by taking an extra 10 seconds to make sure everything reads properly and that a link takes a person to where the team wants them to go.

3) Being transparent at all times, whether it’s a crisis situation or not. Whereas Chapstick alienated a lot of social media fans by simply deleting consumer comments rather than answering them, DiGiorno realized their mistake immediately and hasn’t shied away from apologizing for it. Countless people have tweeted to them or posted on their Facebook page that they’ve done a great job of handling themselves following a social media snafu.

Bottom line: Brand social media teams should think before they tweet and have a plan in place on how to handle a crisis in case one arises.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

5 Charts: The Shifting Landscape of Digital Video Consumption

By; Chad Cohen

Mobile is the future. We've all heard it. We've all been taught it. We're all engaged in it. But that shift to mobile brings another shift - the way video is consumed. Here is what Digiday had to say about it.

Online viewing continues to climb, but TV is far from dead. A report from Nielsen this week found that Americans aged 18 to 64 have doubled their digital video viewing from 13 minutes a day in the second quarter of 2012 to roughly 27 minutes today. A caveat: Digital viewing is, on the whole, still dwarfed by television, which is still dominating upwards of 4.5 hours of people’s days.
As expected, much of this increase can be attributed to mobile, where mobile pageviews have increased 81 percent compared to the same time last year, according to KPCB analyst Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends report. What’s more, mobile now accounts for 22 percent of overall digital video consumption.
Mobile video is fueled by the young, but old folks are catching up. There are also some notable shifts among specific demographics. While people aged 50 to 64 were watching 11 minutes of digital video a day at this point last year, today that number is closer to 19 minutes. At the same time, adults have slightly cut back their time in front of traditional TV to 6 hours and 12 minutes a day.
Mobile video means shorter video. Mobile video viewing lends itself to the short and snackable. Over 60 percent of overall ad views are for video less than 20 minutes, according to data from video ad platform FreeWheel.

Larger mobile screens are helping to boost mobile video consumption. A good rule of thumb is that the bigger the mobile screen, the more video people are watching on it. Data from NPD group, for example, found that Wi-Fi and cellular data consumption on smartphones with screens larger than 4.5 inches was 44 percent greater than that on smaller phones. This sentiment was echoed in a recent poll from Strategy Analytics, which found that 42 percent of phone owners would watch more videos on phones with larger screens.

The result: digital ad spending is growing, but TV spending is growing more. The rapid rise in mobile video consumption means that the mobile video ads are rising just as quickly. Video ad revenue is expected to climb from $5.96 billion this year to $12.71 billion in 2016, according to eMarketer. Again, that spending is still far outpaced by the growth in TV spending, which echoes the overall disparity in digital viewership compared to TV.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Making the Case for Paying Attention to World News

By: Ashley Rodriguez

As an account director at Fish, I lead several foodservice and franchising accounts. It's a pretty niche world. Every day, I'm reading the same e-newsletters, getting my news from the same websites and talking with the same reporters. But as a PR professional, I make an effort to pay attention to events happening around the world. (Tip: If you're busy and need a no-frills e-newsletter you honestly can read while standing in line for coffee, check out The Skimm. It's brief, informative, smart and witty. Perfect way to get up-to-speed on the biggest stories around the world, first thing in the morning.)

A few weeks ago, several of my colleagues and I were pitching health reporters for a client event. And then ebola took over the news cycle. Americans living in Western Africa were affected. The attention of every health reporter suddenly shifted. So we paused.

A few weeks after that, Robin Williams passed away. Now health reporters were focused on depression. We paused again. (Sadly, others didn't. And even took advantage of Williams' death to promote their own clients. Chad writes more about that here.)

Those are just a few examples. I've had TV stations decline to cover clients' grand openings for things like shootings, hurricanes and even a sinkhole opening up in the middle of a house. Most times, we know about these things in advance and can be sensitive when calling reporters and news desks who are usually scrambling to coordinate breaking news coverage. It's very rare anything a PR pro would be pitching would take precedence over a tragedy.

Just this week, as Jim Romenesko wrote on his blog, a PR team made a serious faux pas when they sent out pitch emails promoting the release of Sleepy Hollow: Season 1 -- also known as Headless Day / National Beheading Day. They later apologized, writing that the news of Steven Sotloff's death "hit the web as the email was being sent." But either way, had someone been paying attention to any national news station, the beheading pitch theme may have been nixed. It's only been a few weeks since James Foley's tragic beheading and ISIS repeatedly had threatened to do the same to Sotloff.

With how quickly news travels and how accessible it has become, there's really no excuse for such #PRfails to happen. Of course they do, but PR pros should pause before hitting send. A badly-timed press release can do more harm than good, in some cases.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Burger King Never Really Embraced its Miami Roots

By: Chad Cohen

Burger King is ruling a much bigger fast food kingdom today after the Miami-based restaurant chain made it official on Tuesday announcing it agreed to merge with Canada-based Tim Hortons restaurant chain. The deal, valued at about $11 billion, will create the world's third-largest fast-food company, with about $23 billion in annual sales and more than 18,000 restaurants in 100 countries.

The new company will be headquartered in Canada, but each brand will be managed independently, with Burger King retaining its US offices in Miami, the two companies said in a joint statement.

With its new base north of the border, the Burger King merger was quickly lumped into the growing public outcry over tax inversions, but that's not what I'm here to write about.

Burger King's business dates back more than a half-century, having been founded in 1954 when James McLamore and David Edgerton opened the first Burger King restaurant in Miami, Florida. That's right, Burger King is from Miami. How many people actually know that?

It's one of my biggest contentions with the brand. They've never embraced their roots. Granted, I'm coming from a jaded place because I was born and raised in Miami and still call South Florida my home. I love Miami for all its amazing features, faults and the shadows in between. My question is why can't Burger King ever love Miami just the same?

Maybe it's because they've been through too many leadership changes. Maybe it's because they are always looking over their shoulder at what the competition is doing. Either way, it's a shame that such a global and iconic company has never fully embraced Miami. Maybe one day they'll look back and remember how important it is where they came from.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

To Engage or Not to Engage, That is Thy Question

By: Rachel Tabacnic

It’s not rocket science — our world is shifting from a print-focused universe to a digital database, where with one click of a button you can be engaged with someone across the country. In 140 characters or less, you can pitch a reporter, find out what someone ate for breakfast or even avoid traffic before you begin your commute. Whether your passion is to focus on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, you must stay conscious of what you share on these mediums as it can influence your audience’s decision to connect with you in real life.

Today’s social media life allows us to expand into new horizons by giving us the opportunity and ability to share our inner thoughts, secrets and aspirations by pressing share, post and connect. In a recent Entrepreneur article, a reporter chronicles the basic rules for connecting with your audience via social media. While some of these tips may seem black and white to you and me, others are learned along the way.

Tip #1 - Leave meaningful or humorous comments on people's photos or blog posts.
Just because you’re trying to engage with people to attract new business leads or story ideas doesn’t mean you can’t share your own person comments. Engage for yourself and show your followers that you are a unique individual, who isn’t only focused on one end result.

Tip #2 - Cross promote your followers’ articles.
Simple enough, if you like something that you read, share it with others. Not only is it the fondest form of flattery, but also it’s showing your stance in life. We always recommend that our clients share content that could influence their audiences’ decisions to engage with our brands. Why not do something that can benefit your own personal credibility?

Tip #3 – Get Chatting.
My most favorite tip of them all: engage personally with others on social media, whether it is a one-on-one conversation or in a group chat centered on a specific topic. It's the most vulnerable place to take a stance on what you believe in, but it also can allow your audience to see you in a new light and not just as a hard sell.

Tip #4 – Take the Conversation Offline.
Don’t forget about the real world. It’s still out there. Once you make a connection online, take it offline to build and nurture your relationships. I’ve personally made hundreds of connections that have turned into lifelong friendships, professional references and even national media stories.

Most importantly, remember that social media is not a one-way conversation. It takes two to tango, after all. You’re already half way there, so now is the time to join the discussion.