Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Social Media Day!

Mashable, the number one social media blog in the world, has declared today as Social Media Day- a day dedicated to celebrate the revolution of media becoming social, honoring the advancement in technology that has allowed us to connect with and engage people all over the world.

So how are we all celebrating this new holiday? By being social! There are more than 600+ meet ups in 93 countries today with thousands of attendees and people all over the world are making status updates in honor of this much deserved day of recognition.

Here is message from Mashable's Founder and CEO, Pete Cashmore to explain the reasons, ideals and goals behind Social Media Day:

And also thanks to Mashable, here are some great ways to get involved today:

  • Watch the live streams worldwide.
  • Tweet: Use the #smday hashtag on Twitter. With so many participating, we should be a trending topic on Twitter on June 30. Also, we’ll soon be announcing a prize for those that tweet or post to Facebook.
  • Comment via Facebook: Go to and leave a comment either promoting your meetup or tell us what you’re doing for your event.
  • Meetup everywhere Mashable. Sign up to attend an event!

So how are you going to celebrate the first ever Social Media Day? Let us know!

Major Flop for the New Apple iPhone? Don't Believe the Hype.

With an average four hour wait in line and an estimated $1.5 million in sales, it appears as though Apple has another success on its hands with the new iPhone 4.

However, rumors have been circulating across the web about a massive recall due to signal issues when the iPhone 4 is held a certain way. Many of these rumors were sparked from tweets that were being broadcast from @ceoSteveJobs, an obvious parody account that states so in the bio. However a tweet from the fake account stating, "We may have to recall the new iPhone. This, I did not expect," was enough to convince the UK publication The Daily Mail to write an article that resulted in the spread of a world wide rumor.

As the Mashable article goes on to state, it is hard to imagine that Apple was not aware of the signal issue and that ultimately, the engineers decided it was a worthwhile trade-off for improved reception.

Although it may be hard to believe that such a fake Twitter account could result in hundreds of articles, this is not the first time a parody account on Twitter has received large amounts of attention. This is why Twitter has taken the necessary precautions into verifying the accounts of important people and publications as an attempt to prevent occurrences such as this one.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What NOT to Do During an Interview

If your behavior during your job interviews is making your interviewers wonder if Ashton Kutcher is going to pop up to tell them they have been "Punk'd," then you probably are not going to land any jobs.

Believe it or not, some hiring managers claim they
have wondered this while conducting some interviews. Luckily, the Wall Street Journal has provided a list of "Eight Mistakes Job Hunters Make" to help you avoid becoming an interview to remember- for the wrong reasons.

Entitlement Syndrome: Asking your interviewers to take you out to lunch or to correct mistakes on your résumé is not going to impress them.

Behaving Rudely: Bringing along your child or eating a sandwich during an interview would not only be distracting, but also very rude. Other examples of rude behavior reported by hiring managers include showing up more than an hour early for interviews, interrupting interviewers in mid-sentence, refusing to fill out a job application and referring hiring managers to their résumés instead.

Acting Arrogantly: Having your phone ring during an interview AND taking the call gives the impression that you think you are a shoo-in for the job or are not interested. Other candidates have shown arrogance by demanding to bypass human resources, inquiring about salary and job benefits at the start of an interview and insulting former employers.

Lies, Lies, Lies: Telling lies about previous experience, taking credit for work you didn't do and inflating your salary will not make you look good once your interviewer catches on.

Dressing Down: Some interviews may be less formal than others, but it is never appropriate to dress down. Jeans, flip-flops, and tight or revealing clothing are never appropriate for a job interview.

Oversharing: Your interviewers are not interested in your personal issues such as your health problems, your love life or your financial hardships. This information can-and most likely will-be used against you.

Saying Thanks with Gifts: Sending a thank you note is a definite do after an interview, but sending a thank you gift says you are trying to buy yourself the job and will most likely knock you out of the running.

Sporting a Mom-and-Dad Complex: Having your mom or dad accompany you to an interview or email the company to ask why they haven't extended an interview to you does not send the message that you can handle matters maturely and independently.

While some of these may sound far-fetched, they are based on
real experiences reported by hiring managers! To read some of the actual stories they told the Wall Street Journal, click here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Figure it out!

Are you a PR student? If so, like many of us, you are probably using the summer months off from school to develop more experience in the industry as a PR intern. Lauren Novo recently posted a blog post about achieving success as a PR intern.

Please make sure you read her post, as I found it very insightful. In it, she offers six tips for getting the most out of your internship while giving the most to the company for which you are interning.

The tip that struck me the most was the third tip on her list, "don't ask what you can figure out for yourself." At first I thought this tip sounded rather harsh. After thinking about it more though, I came to see it as very wise.

Last summer, I completed my first-ever internship. Perhaps because I was so inexperienced in the industry, I would ask thousands of questions and was almost crippled by my paranoia that I follow every instruction to a "T." While I continue to believe that asking questions is one of the best ways to learn, I saw a lot of value in Novo's suggestion. This is because I would spend a lot of my day walking to and from my boss's office, which took a lot of time away from my projects and also caused many disruptions to her day.

This year, at my new internship, I've learned that it's best to sit down and try to figure things out on your own first. If there seems like there should be a simple answer, most of the time it's because there is. And plus, you were hired for a reason; the company would never have chosen you for an intern if they did not have faith in your abilities and qualifications.

The bottom line is that it is always better to ask a question than to make a huge mistake. At the same time, though, I would agree with Novo in that some of my best learning experiences as an intern occurred in situations in which I prevailed over a problem and completed a task on my own from start to finish. When you do have questions, I am a big fan of Novo's suggestion that it is best to save questions in a list to consolidate interruptions to your supervisor and to save time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Death of the Business Card

We have written to encourage our student readers to purchase business cards. But wait! Read this post before you purchase any. Business cards may be old news.

According to “Why Your Next Business Card May be Virtual,” an article on, people may be forgoing paper business cards for trading numbers. Even though the business card may not be completely dead, its popularity is being threatened by the use of smart phones and their apps.

According to Josh Catone, author of the article, he still collects stacks of business cards at networking events. But once he collects them, they sit on his desk in a pile until he collects others, throwing the old ones away. Catone questions what the point of them is if they sit on a desk in a pile never getting used.

Networkers are using their smart phones more than ever to exchange contact information. There are even apps that allow for the easy exchange of information. With the expansion of what technology can accomplish for us, the business card may not last long.

What do you think? Is the business card dying or will it always be a social ritual?

Read the full article here.

This guest blog was written by staff member Evan Nicholson.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mexico is Buying U.S. Out

Do you know who owns Thomas’ English Muffins, The New York Times newspaper, and Saks Fifth Avenue? - Mexican corporations. Mexican investors are taking advantage of low interest rates and diminished prices during the economic downturn in the United States. They are buying U.S. brand names, expanding their U.S. operations, and increasing their investments in U.S. firms.

Such companies are going to need good public relations to overcome the animosity that comes with foreigners owning U.S. businesses. There are also many stereotypes to defeat, such as the businesses being bought with drug money or by illegal immigrants (even though what they are doing is not illegal and they are not immigrants).

Some even think Mexican investment in the U.S. will benefit both countries. It could create more jobs in the U.S., while also helping to strengthen Mexico’s economy. Other products currently produced by Mexican owned corporations include: Entenmann’s pastries, Arnold Bread, Boboli Pizza Crust, Dairy Fresh Milk, Net10 cell phone service, Borden dairy products, Flav-O-Rich milk, and Straight Talk cell service.

Do you think Mexican corporations buying U.S. businesses is going to create ill feelings with the U.S. citizens and a need for good PR, or do you think this is merely another facet of globalization?

This guest blog was written by staff member Trish Wyatt.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Introducing our New "Alumni Thursday" Blog Series!

It's official.... after Brianna Fisher's popular "Hello Real World, it's Nice to Meet You" post, we have decided to bring back a few other of the fabulous grads for our new "Alumni Thursday" blog series throughout the summer. We will have three PRowl Public Relations alumni writers: Brianna Fisher, Melissa Marsili and Crystal Wang.

All three graduated in May 2010 and have gone on to pursue various endeavors in the PR/marketing field. I'll let the girls introduce themselves:

Brianna Fisher
"I work for Vault Communications in Plymouth Meeting. Vault provides public relations, social media and marketing services to our clients. I'm assigned to one account - AMResorts. They have more than 20 resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean. My account work consists entirely of social media management for these resorts. I also support several of our other clients including the Mark Twain House, Heartland Payment Systems, the National Pest Management Association and Tastykake."

Melissa Marsili
"I work for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) as a Partnership Marketing Associate. GPCC promotes growth and development in the Philadelphia region as well as advocates for sound public policy. I write sponsorship proposals that are sent to members for our events, sell website advertisements and work to engage high-level members of the Chamber."

Crystal Wang
"I've made the move to the Big Apple, where I'm interning at Bullfrog and Baum, an award-winning agency specializing in hospitality, lifestyle and consumer public relations and marketing. I'm currently working in the hospitality division directly under Kay Lindsay, Vice President of Hospitality and Susan Hosmer, Vice President of the company's West Coast offices. I'm very excited to have the opportunity to combine my interest of public relations, gastronomy, and the restaurant hospitality industries."

The series will begin next Thursday, July 1 with a post by Melissa. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Teaching Through Social Media

I came across an amazing article through about a recent movement made by a Buffalo hospital to teach children about the fight against cancer. Roswell Park Cancer Institute wants youths to know about the cause by connecting to them on a more personal level. Through the use of Facebook, YouTube and a basic website, the hospital is able to reach out to children and inform them of the cause in a comprehensible and convenient way. They have the information at their fingertips.

Those who know about the campaign have been posting messages on the Web site with questions and comments about the feedback from children. The YouTube video, “How Big is Your Heart,” features dancers as well as real patients singing and dancing, reaching thousands of views in such a short amount of time. The Facebook page has also been a hit, acquiring well over 1,500 fans.

This just goes to show that social media can be used in powerful ways: to help educate children of such a heavy topic like cancer and connect them to it in a comfortable way. Other movements like this one can use social media to help continue the spread of a great cause to the younger generation and truly make a difference.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The 15 Most Hated Companies in America

We all, without a doubt, have an ongoing list of companies that we dislike for a myriad of reasons ranging from poor customer service to poor quality of product.

Recently, 24/7 Wall St. has examined these issues with corporations to create a list of the 15 most hated companies in America. The list was created based on five criteria: employee impressions, return to shareholders, customer satisfaction numbers and reputation figures, brand valuation changes and lastly, views of taxpayers, Congress, and the Administration of these companies. 24/7 Wall St. analyzed hundreds of companies and produced the top 15 most hated corporations.

Surprisingly, some of the companies you would expect to see due to recent news or established poor reputations did not make the list such as Goldman Sachs, AT&T, Comcast and Wal-Mart.

Here are just a few of the companies that made the Top 15:

1. AIG: AIG is the most hated company in America; the prominent reason being taxpayers extreme dislike for the firm for receiving $180 billion in government aid. Additionally, employee morale is incredibly low due to the company firing a large amount of employees and operates to turn around its operations. In the last two years, AIG lost over 99% of its value, wiping out the firm's equity investors.

4. Hertz: Hertz, the largest car rental company in the US, has been suffering from financial problems that has resulted in massive layoffs. The company was also placed on the Audit Integrity list of American companies most likely to go bankrupt. The company also makes the Glassdoor list of "worst companies to work for" and Vanno gives Hertz low ratings in both customer and employee satisfaction.

8. Dell: Dell's shares are off over 30% over the last two years while its competitors Hewlett-Packard and IBM have shown impressive gains. The company also trails Apple, Toshiba and HP in many Customer Reports measurements of laptop computers by screen size and their score on the Customer Service Index has dropped from a 78 to a 75 out of 100. Additionally, Dell has laid off a massive amount of employees which included 8,000 in 2008 and at least 1,400 last year with their most recent group of layoffs fired in November.

12. Rite Aid's: Their stock is down nearly 50% over the last five years and and nearly 30% over the last two. The company has repeated labor problems and has faced legal and political actions because of the treatment of their employees and received low reputation scores from both Glassdoor and Vanno. With over 5,000 stores, tens of thousands of low-paid workers and millions of customers serving a population that is unhappy with the health care system, their reputation is unlikely to improve anytime soon.

Check out the full list here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Importance of Word of Mouth Marketing

How many times have you tried a new product or service because you heard about it from a friend?

We are bombarded with advertising campaigns every day, but we will usually trust the opinions of the people we know over the advertisers. Even the most convincing campaigns can be hindered by friends who report a bad experience, while products or services you have never heard of or thought to try may appeal to you when a friend gives a good recommendation.

This is why word of mouth marketing is such an important strategy to remember. People will talk about your company's product or service with or without your help, so using a word of mouth marketing campaign to encourage a positive discussion will only benefit you.

Another plus side of word of mouth campaigns is the cost effectiveness. In the video below, Andy Sernovitz, author of "Word of Mouth Marketing," gives an example of an inexpensive word of mouth campaign that worked. When Potbelly, a Chicago sandwich chain, opened a location in Austin, they rented a mailing list of people who had moved from Chicago to Austin. They mailed out coupons to the people, who may have been customers in Chicago, inviting them to bring 10 of their friends in for sandwiches. By doing this, not only did Potbelly get the old customers into the new restaurant, but they generated recommendations from people who had eaten their product before to new customers.

To learn more about word of mouth marketing watch the video below or click here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

To Infinity and Beyond

If you remember watching characters like Buzz Lightyear and Woody in Disney's "Toy Story" on the big screen for the first time, you were probably fascinated by the detail and clarity in the movie's graphics. Having released "Toy Story 3" this past weekend (to great critical and box office success), it appears that Disney is continuing to utilize ground breaking new techniques as it continues the story.

This time around, though, the company is using other, more behind-the-scenes techniques to bolster the movie's success. In fact, Disney has been identified by as the first company to advertise its product using the trending topics feature on Twitter.

What is a trending topic? According to the article, the use of trending topics is Twitter's "effort to monetize their platform and allow for companies to pay for greater visibility by tweeters." As such, companies can pay to have their tweet featured at the top of a search results page. The tweet will also feature a different background color, both to catch viewer attention and to help differentiate a sponsored tweet from a regular one.

Disney has tapped into this new feature to sponsor tweets about the new "Toy Story 3" movie. Do you see the promotion of trending topics as s useful or valuable marketing tool? Have you ever promoted a trending topic or been drawn to a promoted trending topic? Let us know what you think!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

There is Nothing Like the Summer To Spark Up Nostalgia!

As my tribute to the infamous hit Summertime by Will Smith infers, the summer of 2010 can be defined by none other than a little nostalgia. Feeling like you are in Grease or a Happy Days re-run recently? In case any fashionistas did not take notice yet, vintage designs from the 1940s and 50s are making a huge comeback. What is the theory behind this? According to Nigel Hollis, the chief global analyst for the market research firm Millard Brown, “We’ve been through a very unsettling time, and it’s when people are discontent with the present that they really start appreciating or having a nostalgia for the past, marketers are seeking to tap into that.” Current market research Gallup polls indicate that retail sales have declined 1.2 percent since the fall.

To combat and help improve these figures, retailers such as Eddie Bauer, Jantzen, L.L. Bean and others are going back to the drawing boards of the 1940s and 50s. From a PR perspective, this can be considered a type of "branding." By bringing back styles from a better economic time period, consumers will intuitively think things are turning around in the economy, and this encourages them to buy more. To see some of the styles or to learn more about the vintage comeback, read the entire New York Times article here.

This guest blog was written by staff member Michele Reilley.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hello Real World, it's Nice to Meet You!

It's always nice to get an update from our PRowl Public Relations alum! Brianna Fisher was a member of PRowl for two years and excelled in all positions she took on, including Account Executive and Director of Finance. A full-time PR pro now, Brianna checks in via the blog today:

No, I'm not talking about a run in with the cast of the popular MTV show. It's been about a month since graduation from Temple U and it's finally starting to sink in that I'm officially a PRowl Public Relations alum. As new, fresh bloggers move up the ranks I'm tickled at the opportunity to guest blog (thank you, PRowl!) and couldn't resist the chance to share some knowledge I've gained as a full-time employee at one of Philadelphia's top PR agencies.

Agency work is exciting and fast paced. I have yet to experience a boring day at work and I don't see that happening any time soon. This made the transition from college to the working world a lot easier for me. If you're going to be at one place 40 hours a week, you'd better like it!

That being said, this work can easily start to overwhelm a new hire like me. As a college student with a lot on my plate I thought I was the queen of prioritization and time management, but those two concepts have a completely different meaning in the work world.

Luckily, I reached out to a colleague for some advice on how to be successful in my entry-level role. This is what she said:

1. Don't be afraid to ask for help! (Gee, how ironic that I had just reached out to her!)
2. Don't be afraid to take time to finish work thoroughly.
3. And finally, don't be afraid to ask questions!

She relayed several stories of past entry-level folks who began feeling overwhelmed with their new duties and got burnt out before any of their coworkers realized there was a problem. If you don't tell anyone you're feeling stressed then they can't help you out!

Thoroughness, she said, is one of the biggest problems for entry-level people. Working with the notion that an agency's pace is fast as lightening will only make the final product less than stellar. I found the more I was assigned, the more I tried to multitask and the less I got accomplished. After hearing that thoroughness was next to godliness in the agency world I began allowing myself to completely focus in on one project at a time and am much more effective as a result!

As a newbie, the last thing you want to do is ask a bunch of questions that could potentially make you feel stupid, right? WRONG! My colleague clued me in to the fact that asking questions is the only way to know exactly how the project should be completed (remember, thoroughness?). If I don't understand something - I ask - saving me a lot of time trying to figure out what the heck they meant by asking me to pull a folder out of the wiki on the data drive?! Lots of companies have lingo and acronyms that you will learn by experience, so ask, ask, ask!

One of the best things I've learned in my transition is that there are a whole lot of things left to learn. But, I'm enthusiastic and excited for the future. What are your plans for the future? What do you think will help you get there?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Say Cheese!

I came across this comical yet truthful video on I know we all can relate to this subject: corporate photos. Whether it be for a website or just to have on file, they are awkward!

My mother recently approached me to take her staff picture and it was the typical set up. She stood in front of a blank wall and had one of the fakest smiles planted on her face that I’ve seen her make yet.

We see these pictures all over businesses’ websites. CEO Mark Ragan decided to create a video to stir people away from taking these awful pictures and try to direct them into creating photographs that represent the company in a better light.

If you can't view this video, check it out here!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Customer Is NOT Always Right

"The customer is always right" is a company mantra that has been recited by almost every business since the phrase was coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge's department store in London in 1909. Most businesses utilize the phrase in order to:
  1. Convince customers they will get good service at the company.
  2. Convince employees to give customers good service.
However, as Alexander Kjerulf points out in his article- "the customer is always right" mentality is actually detrimental to many businesses and goes on to list the five main reasons why.

  1. It makes employees unhappy. You can't treat your employees like serfs- you have to value them. If they think you won't support them when a customer is out of line, even the smallest problem can cause resentment.
  2. It gives abrasive customers an unfair advantage. Abusive customers using the slogan "the customer is always right" can demand just about anything. By definition, they're right and this makes the employees jobs much harder.
  3. Some customers are bad for business. Most businesses think the "more customers the better" but sometimes businesses are better without the abrasive customers.
  4. It results in worse customer service. When the company and management continuously side with customers instead of employees it sends a clear message: employees are not valued, treating employees fairly is not important and the employees have no right to respect from customers. At that point, employees stop caring about customer service and the best a customer can hope for is fake good service.
  5. Some customers are just plain wrong. The fact is that some customers are just wrong and businesses are better without them.
As a retail employee myself, I found this article to be incredibly valid and valuable. There are often times when an unreasonable customer is preferred over an employee and the results of the situation are always counter productive in providing good customer service, leading to disgruntled employees who feel unappreciated.

What do you think? Is the customer really always right or should businesses consider nixing this mantra for good?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kraft Foods' Sticky Situation

Over Memorial Day weekend, a woman opened a leaking pouch of Capri Sun to find a thick moldy substance inside. She contacted Kraft and an independent testing lab about the substance. She asked Kraft to issue a recall on the products, but they declined. Kraft did not issue a public statement about the problem for 10 days.

On June 10, Kraft issued a statement on their Facebook page claiming that the material was tested and found to be mold, which is "unpleasant" but "not a safety issue." Many consumers were not pleased by this response, as evidenced by the backlash on Kraft's Facebook page.

On Friday, June 11, Kraft added a "Capri Sun" tab to their Facebook page. The tab contains answers to some of the questions consumers have been asking about the issue.

While Kraft's recent efforts to respond to concerned consumers seem like a step in the right direction, the amount of time it took them to issue a statement and the lack of concern shown in the statement has put them in a tough spot. Many consumers are still not satisfied and continue to leave comments stating that they will no longer buy Capri Sun products.

In addition to the many comments from consumers expressing disgust, there have also been many comments suggesting better ways Kraft could have dealt with the issue. Some examples I saw suggested that Kraft should have pulled the products from grocery store shelves while waiting for lab results or that Kraft should think about introducing clear juice pouches so that there is no question about the contents.

While Kraft may not have seen the issue as cause for concern, the consumers did and that is what matters here. Kraft claimed that mold is not a safety issue, but who wants to purchase a product with the thought that there may be mold growing in it?

Unfortunately for Kraft, this may be a lesson for the textbooks about the impact of social media responses in a crisis.

To read more about Kraft's response to the issue, click here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ever make a "stop doing" list?

If you're busy like me, you are probably very familiar with "to do" lists. I make them all of the time. In fact, at any given moment, I probably have two or three running to do lists on various sheets of paper in my room or tucked in my planner.

"Do you have a 'stop doing' list?" The question was posed to me by the book "Good to Great," by Jim Collins, which I am reading for work. I'm guessing the idea sounds as foreign to you as it did to me when I first came across it.

In reality, though, it makes perfect sense. "Most of us lead busy but undisciplined lives," Collins explains in the book (139). "We have ever-expanding 'to do' lists, trying to build momentum by doing, doing, doing--and doing more. And it rarely works. Those who built the good-to-great companies, however, made as much use of 'stop doing' lists as 'to do' lists. They displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug all sorts of extraneous junk."

I came to see that a "stop doing" list can be a great way to help generate growth and change in life by helping cut down on things that don't matter, are detractors from your goals and/or are wastes of time. I am certainly going to try building one of these lists! For instance, I really need to stop spending money on clothes I don't need because I am trying to save money for vacation. What things would you put on your own "stop doing" list?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tips for Keeping Your Facebook Pages Safe

Most people in the world of PR are becoming increasingly aware of the power of social media. However, many people are unaware of the dangers and limitations that accompany the free marketing options that social media sites have to offer.

I was given the opportunity to go through an intensive Facebook marketing program for my job. While many of us are savvy with fan pages, groups and “likes” from our own personal page experience, those who are utilizing Facebook for business need to be aware that certain actions can put their Facebook pages in danger.

As the networking site has expanded from college students to all demographics, their safety measures have tightened. Facebook is constantly looking through pages to find “robots” or “spammers,” and many marketers are unaware that certain actions can get your Facebook page disabled immediately.

Here are some tips for keeping your page safe:
1. Do not copy and paste all of your messages. This makes Facebook believe that you are sending out mass impersonal e-mails.
2. Do not add more than 50 friends in a day, because Facebook may start to track your activity.
3. Do not join over 300 groups- this is the limit, but if you join too fast you may be disabled.
4. Avoid repetitive actions that could make you look like a spammer.
5. Try to restrict posting on more than five people's walls at a time.
6. If you get a warning, DO NOT go on your Facebook for 24 hours.

Some of these rules might seem obvious, but Facebook has the power to delete all of your accounts, groups and fan pages without any warning at all! Take a few minutes to read through Facebook’s Terms of Service. Be careful of the way you use this powerful tool: it can help you but it can also delete you!

This guest blog was written by PRowl staff member Meagan Prescott.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Track the World Cup on Twitter

For all you soccer, or "football," fans out there, I'm sure you are glued to the TV screen (or maybe sneaking some online viewing while pretending to work...) today to watch the first day of the 2010 World Cup! For all you innocent people who are not taking "sick" days to watch at home or those with a streaming browser minimized on your work screen, there is still a way you can keep up with what's happening in South Africa.

Twitter has launched a sleek new World Cup tracking portal that can be organized by countries you're interested in following. You can view "what's happening," tweets about the current game, click on the flag of the country to want to read more about, and much more.

To view the World Cup tracking portal, visit

If the official Twitter portal isn't enough, has also posted other ways to follow the games here.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Salty and Sweet: Mars, Inc. Introduces New Member to M&M Characters

Thanks to 9 Inch Marketing for their contribution, I decided that my last blog wasn’t as up-to-date as it could have been for the M&M® brand. Being a lover of all things chocolate and the world of event planning, I figure one other blog couldn’t hurt.

Mars, Inc., 9 Inch Marketing and Synergy Events collaborated again to unveil the new filling of M&Ms: pretzels. They created a giant M&M stage that was 24 feet tall and 22 feet wide. According to Craig Rice, the Vice President of Synergy Events, the stage took around three months to construct. To help celebrate the new candy, Mars invited the top ten of this season’s American Idol to perform on the stage. You can read more about the event in this article by the Wall Street Journal.

When planning an event for any company, whether it is your local marketplace or Mars, Inc., you need to think outside of the box. You need to think of a creative PR stunt that will get your client noticed and ahead of the market, for good reasons. As they did when the Statue of Liberty M&M was displayed, Americans will talk about this giant orange candy in Herald Square for months to come and will know what an orange M&M will taste like.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Social Media Savvy Spin for Charity

Add one black dress, recycled and donated accessories, 365 days and one creative blog and you have the "Uniform Project" - a charity that was created by Sheena Matheiken to exercise sustainable fashion and raise money for children in India to go to school.

The "Uniform Project" blog was updated daily with photo-documented posts featuring the 365 ways the little black dress was reinvented. Through the project and Sheena's savvy use of social media, the "Uniform Project" raised
$94,958 and sent 263 kids to school.

Check out Sheena's video that features all 365 outfits!

Uniform Project Picture Book from The Uniform Project on Vimeo.

What charities do you know of that have utilized social media to increase the success of their charity? Let us know!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New AP Social Media Guidelines

The recently released 2010 edition of the AP Stylebook acknowledges the growing importance of social media with the addition of a Social Media Guidelines section. AP announced last week:

"The new Social Media Guidelines section includes information and policies on using tools like Facebook and Twitter, how journalists can apply them to their work and how to verify sources found through them."

The section also includes 42 new entries relating to social media. Some of the new entries include: app, blogs, click-throughs, friend and unfriend, metadata, RSS, search engine optimization, smart phone, trending, widget and wiki. A list of acronyms commonly used in text messaging and instant messaging is also included.

With the widespread use of social media as a profession tool, it seems necessary to have some guidelines for using it correctly. The new guidelines may also be helpful to those who have not yet mastered the use of social media.

Will you be picking up a copy of the 2010 edition to get up to speed on the new social media guidelines?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Targeting Life Events

I recently read this article from Target Marketing Magazine (by Alan Weber) about an interesting way to appeal to customers in marketing and PR: tie your product or service into important life events that may be occurring in your targets' lives.

Examples of such events include "graduations, marriages, buying a home, the birth of a child, and retirements." These events both offer you a chance to develop a deeper relationship with your customer and represent a likely change in their needs or priorities. Such life events may cause a break from past purchasing behavior and induce a change to new and different behaviors.

How can you make these events work for you? One way, according to the article, is "rather than wait until a customer decides it is time to switch from puppy chow to active dog chow, you should tell the customer when it is time." This can help you capture and/or keep your customer's business.

The article recommends using event-driven marketing in three ways:
  1. Getting customers: target consumers who are entering new life phases and may be developing a need for your product or service.
  2. Keeping customers: use life events as a means to continue relationships with customers.
  3. Growing customers: use life stage to "expand and deepen" relationships with customers.
Do you see event-driven marketing as a valuable strategy for getting, keeping, and growing customer base? I think it is an excellent idea, although it is not something that had occurred to me before.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fake BP Twitter Account Sheds Dark Comical Light on Oil Spill

A satirical Twitter feed called @BPGlobalPR is making news for its clever, but often dark tweets. The Twitter account is entirely fictional, although it has confused and outraged some who mistook it for the real deal. To many others, however, the account is amusing and helps take some of the focus off the current catastrophe. Examples of @BPGlobalPR's posts include: “Of course, bp cares about the fishing industry as well. Now, all the tuna from the gulf coast comes pre-packaged in oil” and “If Top Kill doesn’t work, we’re just gonna toss a giant ‘Get Well Soon’ card into the gulf and hope for the best.”

BP has not yet taken any action to remove the fake Twitter account, despite that it may be in violation of Twitter’s terms of service. Meanwhile, the account continues to misrepresent the brand and poke fun at the situation.

@BPGlobalPR mocks that BP is not taking the Gulf disaster seriously. BP does not appear to be doing much of its own public relations work, making it even easier for @BPGlorbalPR to jokingly handle the company’s PR for them. The account currently has over 120,000 thousand followers, while the real BP Twitter account, @BP_America, has only a little over 10,000 followers. Some feel this fake account is adding to BP’s PR nightmare and also pokes fun at the field of public relations itself. Others, however, think BP would benefit from embracing this account.

If BP convinces Twitter to shut down @BPGlobalPR’s account, they run the risk of looking like a bully who can’t take a joke. Outspoken Media suggests that BP should join forces with the fake Twitter account and make the negative press and attack work for them.

What do you think BP should do about the fake twitter account and their current lack of public relations?

This guest blog was written by staff member Trish Wyatt.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Delivering Bad News Gently

Although PRowl Public Relations staff members may be students now, we all hope to achieve success in our professional lives in the future. With that success will come growth and career satisfaction (or so is the plan), but as we continue climbing the ladder it is almost inevitable that we will have to deliver bad news, both internally and externally, at some point.

Here are 9 tips to help convey bad news gently from Communication Solutions.

1. Deliver the news privately.
2. Deliver the news without delay.
3. Give the news face to face, not with a memo or letter.
4. If the person is experiencing a personal crisis, delay delivering bad news if possible until after the crisis has passed.
5. Combine the bad news with some good news to take the edge off.
6. Don't use humor; it may be seen as insensitive.
7. Sympathize as much as possible, if appropriate.
8. Discuss the reasons behind the decision leading to the bad news.
9. Stay calm if the person reacts angrily, do not match their anger.

Do you have anything to add?

A part of public relations is knowing how to effectively communicate with your audience (in this case, possibly a disgruntled employee) to create a desired effect. These tips can be used to help us think about our communication style and method when delivering bad news.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand!

I came across one of my take-home goodies from Drexel’s BizarrePR event back in April and decided to look through the guest speaker information once again. Everyone at the social had a chance to meet with Synergy Events, an agency that works with PR firms and companies in order to help boost their publicity through the use of an event.

One of the great events they created and put together happened in January of 2007. Synergy Events, along with M&M®, created an event to help promote their “Inner M” campaign to encourage Americans to find the M&M within them. The event: revealing Lady Liberty’s 53-foot Inner M. The statue floated down the Hudson River, creating a lot of publicity for the famed candy. Synergy Events reported the campaign generated over 100 million media impressions for M&M®.

To see some of the publicity the event got, watch this video on Youtube!

To learn more about Synergy Events, visit their website here.

I know I’ve created my own personal “Inner M” a few times since they began the campaign.

Has anyone else? Create yours here!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Online Critics: Beware of being SLAPP-ed

As consumers, we have all experienced hair-pulling, fist-slamming experiences with companies that have left us outraged, confused and upset. With social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook at our finger tips, it has become incredibly easy to air our greivances publicly and attract the attention and comments of other distressed consumers. However, with the rise in popularity of these sites, companies are taking notice and the platforms that social media provided are now turning into court battles and lawsuits.

An article by The New York Times goes on to write about a college student, Justin Kurtz, who created a Facebook page called "Kalamazoo Residents against T&J towing" after finding that this car had been towed, regardless of his permit, costing him $118 in expenses. Two days after the creation of the group, 800 people had already joined, many posting their own comments about bad experiences with the company.

T&J towing decided to take their own action and filed a defamation suit against the student, seeking $750,000 in damages caused by the Facebook group. The company's lawyer went on to state that the Facebook page was costing the company business and had unfairly created a damaging and poor reputation because Kurtz's permit was not visible and was therefore held legally responsible for being towed.

However, many lawyers are seeing the case differently and are referring to T&J's action as a legal manuever known as a strategic lawsuit against public participation, otherwise known as Slapp.

It is an age-old action that many businesses have used not to necessarily win damages but to intimidate critics and their potential followers by threatening them with heavy fines and overdrawn court hearings.

Currently, 27 states already have anti-slapp laws and Congress is now considering a bill that will make it more difficult for businesses to file such suits and would eventually lead to federal anti-slapp laws. Under the proposed federal law, if a case is being dismissed for Slapp, the plantiff would be responsible for paying the defendant's legal fees.

So it all boils down to one question: To what extent do we have the right to free speech?

What do you think? Are we legally entitled to use sites such as Facebook and Twitter as a platform for consumers to voice our grievances? Or do businesses have the right to take legal action to protect their reputation and interests?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Facebook Addresses Privacy Issues- Again

After receiving much criticism over the current privacy settings on Facebook, founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to make changes. Zuckerberg has been encouraging users to share more information about themselves through Facebook, but most Facebook users have resisted.

The new privacy settings will be made available to Facebook users in phases. The new settings are meant to be much simpler, allowing users to make changes in just a few clicks. What had previously been about 50 settings has been condensed to 15 settings, Zuckerberg said.

While Zuckerberg's plan to make changes in response to negative feedback sounds like a positive move, I will be skeptical about the functionality of these changes until I see them. I recall hearing before one of the previous rounds of privacy setting changes that the new settings would allow us to control the privacy on virtually every piece of information we shared. However, the changes seemed to give users less control than before and caused concern about outside applications and marketers gaining access to our personal information.

Zuckerberg stated that this next phase of changes will be the last for a while. Are you confident that Facebook will have ironed out the privacy issues once and for all with the new settings or do you think issues will still remain?

For more information on Facebook's upcoming privacy changes, check out "A Guide to Facebook's New Privacy Settings"