Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

Meijer’s Magic January 5, 2014

Filed under: marketing — thisgirlsarah @ 7:35 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Before the buzz about snowmagedden and before the Colts beat the Chiefs in the wildcard game of the playoffs, there was another buzzword in Indianapolis: Meijer.

WTHR showcases empty shelves at Meijer.

WTHR showcases empty shelves at Meijer.

You should know that Meijer is a Walmart-like store based out of Michigan. More important background to their PR story is the fact that on Thursday, Colts fans were facing the threat of a blackout game. The NFL elected to extend the deadline to sell-out the game until 4:30 on Friday, at which time Meijer swooped in to save the day by buying 1200 tickets and the blackout was avoided.

Obviously, their name was in every news story instantly. Not only did they prevent a blackout, they also donated the tickets to military families (which melts my heart). Naturally, when the time came to stock up for the winter storm, many Indianapolis residents turned to Meijer over other grocers to support the company that saved the playoffs.

Surely, the bread would have flown off of the shelves despite them buying the remaining Colts tickets, but this move had good timing. People needed to go to the store and the Meijer brand was at the top of consumers minds. It was good timing. I anticipate that Meijer will continue to be at the top of Indiana consumers minds in the future for their respectable donation.

Did more people choose Meijer over any other store this winter storm? Maybe, or maybe not, but I know their name definitely means more to this Indianapolis resident than ever before. My vote? Brilliant move. Expensive, but brilliant. What do you think?



Adapt or Die: Marketing Trends That Said Goodbye March 11, 2013

90s Hunk

Leonardo is definitely a 90s hunk.

I’m a 90s kid and, like all 90s kids, love the lists on Buzz Feed of things from my childhood. For example: “35 Things You Will Never See Again” featuring the VHS tape and “90s Hunks Shirtless: Then and Now”  even the word “hunk” is a 90s flashback!. Today, I saw a list like those that was  written by Hubspot called, “25 Things You’ll Have to Explain to Your Kids About Marketing One Day”. This list offers a lot of perspective as to where marketing was and is going in the future. (I’ll wait while you read.)

The craziest “whoaa” moment for me while reading this was the fact that I had been taught about most of these things in my high school marketing class and even college classes just a few years ago and now the list claims they are going extinct. My job in social media didn’t even exist a few years ago, will it exist 10 years from now? What’s both really scary and really funny is to go back to my first blog post (which was for my social media class senior year- also the FIRST time it was offered as a topic) titled “Times Change“. To further embarrass myself, I’ll pull a direct quote: “This Youtube clip from Erik Qualman, author of “Socialnomics,” shows statistics regarding social media and really opened my eyes to the success of these trends.”

“The success of these trends.” I called social media, my job, a trend. Is it? Will it go away like the Yellow Pages, newspapers and catalogs?  I think they will only grow and improve. Newspapers aren’t really dead (yet). They have adapted to the changing culture. Cassette tapes have died and CDs  are dying, but they were replaced with an even better tool that makes it easier to listen to music. Direct mail has been replaced by e-newsletters. Newspapers and magazines are still printed, but their online versions were created to adapt to the changing times. I don’t like change, so my vote is we keep them, but make them fit our fast-paced lifestyles better.

Today’s marketing focuses on the online world and takes a special interest in what consumers want. We no longer live in the world where the advertiser tells us what to think or do. Now, marketers use crowd-sourcing and target ads based on our search history or Facebook profiles. Add that to the list of things to explain to your kids: “Kids, back in the day, marketers couldn’t see what you searched for online enabling them to cater their advertisements to your specific likes or dislikes. Life wasn’t creepy like it is now.”

Who am I kidding, Don can handle anything except our smoke free society.

Who am I kidding? Don can handle anything- except our smoke free society.

Wouldn’t you love to see Don Draper take on the marketing world today? He nearly had a heart attack when Peggy Olson staged a ham fight as a PR stunt, I can’t imagine how he’d handle the dynamic world of online marketing. Then again, even he had to adapt as cigarettes, their biggest client, became a health concern.

I don’t think social media will be something we’ll tell our kids about because it doesn’t exist, but I do think it will change dramatically. I leave you with 20 Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2013 and Beyond.

What do you think we’ll see?


Slamming your own brand: Does it work? March 16, 2012

I’m going to be honest, every time a Domino’s commercial comes on TV it makes me cringe. Ever since a video of two uniformed employees “messing” with a pizza went viral in 2009, Domino’s has fought big to stay as a front runner in the pizza business.

Following the viral video incident, Domino’s received high props for their reaction to the crisis through both traditional and  social media outlets. That same year, the company decided to listen to its customer’s complaints about the quality of the pizza and did a complete reinvention.

The new pizza resulted in the launching of an entire new campaign and website called The Pizza Turnaround. “You can either use negative comments to get you down, or you can use them to excite you and energize your process,” Patrick Doyle, President of Domino’s, said in “The Pizza Turnaround” documentary.

I think this is brilliant. I love that they reinvented their pizza and listened to their customers. What they did, and how they did it make for a great case for any marketing and public relations person to study.

Here’s what makes me cringe: the fact that they have criticized their pizza, chicken AND cheese breadsticks. What’s left to hate about Domino’s?!  Every time you turn on the television they are slamming another one of their products. The campaign began at the end of 2009 which means they have spent over two years marketing how bad their product is, sorry, was.

It’s like Domino’s has a gambling problem. They took a risk and went “all in” by re-inventing their pizza, but instead of walking away with a success story, they keep gambling. At some point, they are going to lose.

Today, Business Insider tweeted a story that caught my eye for the same reason. Internet Explorer recorded an advertisement that straight-up bashes their product. Um, it’s hilarious. I love it because I also told my parents to stop using Internet Explorer, like the guy in the video. My concern is that while it is a humorous video, it takes 45 seconds before the IE bashing stops and the new and improved IE is mentioned. Even once it is mentioned, no discussion of what makes it better is ever announced. Instead, they feature a cat in a police officer outfit to end the video- which, is random.

So does this strategy work? Something must be working because an article earlier this year in National Restaurant News states that Domino’s will continue to focus marketing on improving its product rather than using marketing tie-ins.

What do you think about slamming your own brand? Is it beneficial? I think it is a scary gamble and a company must really analyze their full strategy before going “all-in”.


QR Codes: Scannable business cards November 13, 2010

A few weeks ago in our Missouri State chapter of PRSSA our executive board was really excited about something called a QR Code and how it can make your networking life a breeze. Lost? I was. Time to rewind and research.

A QR Code looks like a complicated maze  and serves as a unique link to information, a video or website.

According to Mobile-Barcodes, “The acronym QR is derived from the term Quick Response. The company Denso Wave originally spawned the term QR as the creator intended that such barcodes and their contents were to be decoded at high-speed electronically.”

A QR Code is similar to the bar codes you find on products at stores because both barcodes because stored information can be retrieved by scanning/ taking a picture with your phone.

Consider a QR Code like a hyperlink on the Internet, but is a 2D picture that can be put on a tangible item you can hold outside of the online world. For instance, a movie poster QR Code would show a movie trailer when scanned.

Other ways companies and people are using QR Codes is to link to a website, coupon, video or contact information. As a student beginning to network for jobs, I found the vCard especially interesting.

A vCard is a QR Code that stores all of your contact information. To create one using Nokia, it asks for your name, phone number, organization, email, title, address and website. This is an excellent and creative way to create a business card because you can store the image to your computer and print it on a business card to hand out.

I am definitely learning as I write this blog, but as far as I can tell, a QR Code and vCard can be stored as text, immediately as a contact, as the website or as an image depending on the application the person you are sending it to has to read it.

Mobile Barcodes has an excellent comparison list of QR Code readers that you can explore to find the best one for your needs. While some are free, there are others that cost anywhere from $.99-$2.99.

vCards and QR Codes can be printed on stickers, t-shirts, business cards or anything you can imagine. I can definitely see this trend picking up in the next few months as more people begin to use it. If businesses begin engaging their audience with QR Codes it will grow immensely. For now, I am still learning and wishing I had a phone with this capability.

Here is a video example of how this all comes together:

Would you use a QR Code?

Find out more:

Here are a few resources I found useful during my quick research for this blog:

Fun fact: Thanksgiving break begins in one and a half weeks.


Animoto love November 9, 2010

Our COM 509 assignment a few weeks ago was to conduct an independent learning project. We were assigned to explore an area of social media we did not have any experience using or perhaps know anything about.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I decided to explore Animoto after I watched a video created using this application and was extremely impressed with its professional look. Since that post, I know you have been dying to find out how my Animoto experience went and I am proud to tell you I succeeded in creating an awesome video.

I began my learning project by researching what Animoto was and whether or not there were any other similar websites available. I found out that anything similar to Animoto was no longer in existence or not as versital. For instance, some just used pictures and others were simply not as exciting.

This SlideShare presentation I created explains step by step how to create a video and a little more detail on my research. The slide share is short and you will be on your way to making your own video in minutes! (The videos did not upload correctly but you can find it at Animoto)

This application is not something to be scared of because it takes no time or effort and if you feel like you messed up or don’t like the final product, they will recreate another one for you.

The uploading process goes quickly as long as your internet connection is pretty fast (thank you McDonalds WiFi). I did not include any video because we did not take any this semester I could use so using video may also slow down the process.

I was so proud of my video I watched the 30 second clip 10 times in a row and instantly uploaded it to Facebook to share with my sorority. This is definitely easy to use and an excellent promotional tool for an organization. In under an hour (it was hard deciding what photos to use) I created an upbeat recap of our semester and it is something we can use at our rush next Spring. This video is also something we can put on Facebook and YouTube for constant promotion.

When I began learning about Animoto I was impressed but thought it would just make my photos move. This was not true. I feel like a professional and I want to turn all of my photos into videos! Making one 30 second video is not enough, it’s addicting. I love this application and I encourage everyone to try it!


Google: #1 word in my vocabulary November 8, 2010

Hello, my name is Sarah and I am an addict. A Google addict that is.

I am incredibly obsessed with Google because it is a safe place to ask a question and get answers from an official source or peer’s advice. Here is what I searched for in the last few hours:

  • Pandora (My homework study-buddy. I Google it instead of typing the simple URL hence the addiction.)
  • Sarah Howard (I know, I know… But my Facebook account disappeared and I was looking for it!)
  • Organ Donation (research for class)
  • Animoto (class)
  • Gamma Sigma Sigma (my sorority)
  • YouTube (fun/class)
  • Ozark Fitness Festival (my race results)
  • Random photos for my advertising project

And that doesn’t even include the random questions I ask that Google always answers for me like, “How do I train for a half marathon?” “What is runner’s knee?” “Why do the leaves change colors?” “Where is an earthworm’s head?” My brain works like this commercial for Google that aired during the 2010 Super Bowl:

I think about how often I search for questions throughout the day and wonder how Google is so smart and how does it return such applicable results?

A few weeks ago Kevin Grinder, of dotDIGITAL Studios, spoke to our class about search engine optimization (SEO) and how exactly Google produces such successful search results. SEO describes how a website designer produces valuable content so that Google, or other search engines, will refer searchers to your website.

In order to achieve a high-ranking on a search engine, it is important to understand how a website is evaluated. When search engines discover a new website, they send out a bot to ‘crawl’ to your website and explore it. If it helps, do as I do and envision a robot sneaking over to your website like a secret shopper to evaluate its content.

As the bot is reading the content on the website it looks for frequently used words and where they are placed within the page. Words at the top and words that are links are considered more important than the others. Bold words also gain priority status. Once the bot has reviewed the content, it reports back to its search engine by indexing the keywords.

For instance, a store that sells party supplies would have the word “party” frequently and at the top of the page. A bot would recognize this and tell the search engine that if someone searches for “party” this is a good resource to show them.

As an organization it is important to understand how this works because people often do not view the search results past the first page. Kevin recommended researching what your target market is searching for and use those keywords on your website. Knowing how to manipulating your website’s content in a subtle way can make a big difference in the number of visitors to a website.

Knowing how search engines work makes searching for things a lot more interesting and is very valuable when trying to drive traffic to a website.

Who knew search engines were so complicated and smart? I for one am addicted to their wealth of knowledge.


The midterm #election on #Twitter November 6, 2010

Filed under: social media — thisgirlsarah @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m not a big politics person, so the purpose of this post being several days after the midterm election is because I find the election period overwhelming. There are endless advertisements everywhere, including social media.

As I jumped on Twitter Tuesday night I was welcomed by a seemingly endless stream of election results. I follow several local and national affiliates, however the three dominating the election talk on my Twitter feed were the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and NPR.

Because I didn’t stay on for long I didn’t notice any specific trends, however, apparently this round of elections was revolutionary for both Twitter and the news media!Even Twitter wrote a story about how impressed they were with the success of Twitter usage for election related news.

The New York Times attempted to stand out by utilizing a visualization of the conversations occurring on Twitter as well as a streamline of tweets. The Senate races starting October 21 and ending on election day can be seen here, but below is a static picture of the visualization.

CNN also created a visual using the tweets directed at monitoring the conversations on Twitter. For instance, CNN posted several different maps of what people were talking about. One compilation answered the question, “Why are you voting” but it was not a poll or a direct question, just simply what people were tweeting about. They also used this same visual on CNN television. What a great analysis of the election’s presence on Twitter!

Lastly, the Washington Post did something no one had ever done before as well. They became the first organization to buy one of Twitter’s “promoted  trends.” This looks just like a normal tweet, but it notes that it has been paid for by an advertiser. When anyone used the hashtag #elections, it would promote the Washington post first. According to a post-election article measuring the success of this promotion, the Washington Post said it was successful in driving traffic to the paper’s website but that their main purpose was to just be at the center of the conversation.


The innovative ways in which these organizations used social media to engage with the audience though analysis and conversation proved they were accepting this new trend in resources for information.

While some people might still be in shock that many people rely on Yahoo or other online sources to receive their news, that is officially, for lack of better terms, old news.

The new trend is in social media and especially using Twitter as an outlet for delivering news. It is mobile, fast and it is here to stay. For these three news outlets to reach out to their audience in such a different way shows real progression.

Where do you get your news from?

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