Tag Archive for: media relations

Advertising and PR agencies like ours have changed the way we communicate, adding things like search engine marketing, social media promotions, blogging and lots of other direct-to-consumer communications. It’s to the point that literally half of our PR services have nothing to do with media relations.  In fact, it’s hard to tell where our advertising campaigns end and our PR tactics begin.  It’s all intertwined in one platform of online and offline communications.

This is great, but there’s a creeping issue of intergity as the filter of established media outlets weakens.

Consider this: last week, the Seattle Times closed, and venerable papers across the country are teetering on the edge of the abyss. And it’s not just newspapers, Best Life magazine shudders in May what I’m sure will be a series of glossy periodical closures in the next 36 months.

True, this is largely economic fallout, but there’s something more afoot as corporate self-publishing bypasses the media with RSS releases with embedded video and links, and microsites promotions become our standard form of campaigning. The balance of objectivity is in danger if becoming severely out of whack.

Good online marketers know that overly commercial messages on the Internet are useless.  But insidious spin can be even more dangerous, and not just to readers.  Nothing will kill a company faster on the Net than dishonesty.

So PR and advertising agencies turn more to RSS, microsite campaigning, social media PR and even search engine optimization, the entire profession needs to step back and take a long, cool drink of integrity.  

This new Wild West of public relations is a dangerous place. In the past, a curt “no thanks” from a journalist only hurt the ego.  As we wade directly into the waters of public opinion, the rip tide of objectivity will churn with considerably more power and wrath.

Consider this the next time you’re about to hit “post”.  We’re counting on you.

This is the second of three entries on Word of Mouth techniques for PR agencies and professionals. In the last entry, I talked about the first word of mouth tool, guerilla marketing. Today, it’s the publicity stunt. Granted, one could argue that they are very similar, but in my book there is one basic, but important difference: the stunt is about media coverage, including consumer generated media.

A stunt is an unabashed and often brazen play for publicity. Again, Red Bull has a great example: the Flutag. Otherwise normal, semi-emotionally balanced folk leaping from great heights in a hilarious, self-effacing attempt to fly on contraptions of their own design. You can’t help but look, and it makes great TV.

Stunts are easy to spot: skydivers, streakers, even the ol’DJ-on-the-billboard are stunt stereotypes. But to be successful, stunts have to do more than just grab attention. They must create compelling images, a can’t miss photo op. TV and print photo editors think of what looks good on the screen or a page, and it doesn’t always need to be outrageous.

Before baseball player Johnny Damon defected from the Red Sox to the Yankees, Gillette had extensive coverage for the launch of its new razor thank to him. Johnny agreed to shave his Grizzly Adams beard in public for a local charity. Complete with attractive female barbers (it’s a man’s razor, after all), they captured the city’s attention. Johnny’s clean-shaven face looked great on the evening news, leading all to believe that the M3Power must be one helluva razor.

But the best part of stunts these days? You don’t need the traditional media to be successful. We have YouTube. Still, it’s a crowded viral world out there. To be successful, you should the same press-savvy thinking to your viral videos as (good) PR pros have for years with the Stunt.

And in a shameless plug, check out a video of a stunt my firm, CBC, did for Nantucket Nectars back in 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series. The World’s Largest Thank You Card brought thousands together from around New England, and made it all the way to the network news. Enjoy!

Next Up: Grassroots marketing.

PR agencies spend so much time talking about PR 2.0, bloggers, online media, social media and the like, as marketers we forget that we live in the real world, too.  And often, what we do in the real world is the very fire that fuels success in online marketing and spurs word-of-mouth across it all.  

To this end, I overheard a conversation at lunch where two marketing execs were talking about what they could do to drive Word of Mouth.  Aside from the fact that they shouldn’t talk about plans in an Au Bon Pain, it was clear that these guys were confused on some of the basic tools, such as guerilla marketing, publicity stunts and grassroots programs.  The terms were jumbled together in a mashup of craziness and swag, seemingly with very little direction.  Never mind they seemed to be clueless how to translate their ideas to online or social media marketing.

For what it’s worth, I thought I’d take a shot at providing some context to the conversation.   Hey, I may be completely full of s**t; talk to 50 marketers and you may get 50 different definitions for these same words. But defining these tactical kissing cousins is the key to having a good reference point to begin a plan.

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MSN featured Nalgene as a way to buy American

MSN featured Nalgene as a way to buy American

One of the most pleasing things that can happen to a PR agency is when a high-level journalist covers a client.  What makes it better is when that coverage parrots the top-line messages you’ve been pushing for some time, and they didn’t even talk to you directly.  


This happened today when MSN featured water-bottle manufacturer, Nalgene, in the feature 10 Ways You Can Still Buy American.  In the article, they not only hit all the major high points on BPA-free bottles and the company’s heritage in the outdoors, the writer referred to the bottle as “the symbol of hip environmentalists” and went on to mention the whole range of product.

This is a vote of confidence for laying out a clear, AUTHENTIC, messaging strategy, then making sure you execute in all media relations efforts, search engine optimization (SEO) PR, in store, online, etc.  After a while, the aggregate mesage takes hold and you will be noticed for who you really are.

The recognition couldn’t happen to a nicer group.  Nalgene (in my opinion) is a company that always does the right thing, even when it’s not the easiest thing.  And isn’t that really American after all?

I came across a good article on effective media relations I thought I’d share. It’s from the Bulldog Reporter, a news source for PR professionals. It was from the blog Journalists Speak Out, which is a must read for all PR agency folk. While there’s not a lot of new information for people who work hard on packaging news with specific media needs in mind, it’s at very least a quick and easy reminder of some major do’s and don’ts for media relations agencies from Boston to Baton Rouge.

The big tip for me is the “nut graph.” You can be sure that all of our publicists at CBC will be adding this to their pitches and releases.


New Year’s Resolutions Journalists Wish PR Practitioners Would Make
By Brian Pittman

“A resolution many journalists probably wish PR people would make could be to commit to doing more homework before calling us,” says Kristin Bender, the Berkeley reporter for the Bay Area News Group-East Bay, which owns The Oakland Tribune. “It doesn’t have to be extensive. Just ‘use the Google,’ as President Bush says,” continues Bender, who is also a freelance writer and frequent Bulldog Awards for Excellence in Media Relations and Publicity judge. Read more

These days, media relations pros are finding the universe of press opportunities dwindling.  True, there’s a whole host of things your PR agency can do with online and social media marketing, including bolstering search results through smart SEO copywriting, promotional campaigns, Facebook and Twitter.  But the truth is that a huge amount of sway in public opinion is still held by the traditional media.  

Public relations pros still need to reach the national news outlets and magazines that are reporting on trends and products with great depth and authority.

But with advertising support at an all time low, these outlets have less time and space for editorial. So PR agencies need to work smarter for their clients than ever before.  Here’s Three Rules to Getting Ink that should help get bolster your media relations efforts in these times of scarcity: Read more

Boston PR firm becomes agency of record for organic produce company, Olivia’s Organics

BOSTON, MA. (Sept. 17, 2008)- After several successful collaborations, the dynamic duo of Olivia’s Organics and Cercone Brown & Co. is making their partnership official. The Boston-based public relations and advertising firm will become Olivia’s Organics’ agency of record, handling the company’s charitable outreach promotions and brand development.

“We have had great success with Cercone Brown & Co. over the years, from their promotional work on numerous Olivia’s Organics charity events to the introduction of our new Crunch Bunch line,” said Mark DeMichaelis, president, Olivia’s Organics. “We’re confident that our new partnership will only translate into more future successes.”

And Cercone Brown & Co. is not about to waste any time. This year, they will help Olivia’s Organics implement an ongoing charitable outreach project called Gardens of Goodness. The program will be launched in Roxbury, Massachusetts, where Olivia’s will work with local children to turn vacant inner-city greenhouses into flourishing, edible gardens.

About Cercone Brown & Co.
Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Cercone Brown & Co. (CBC) provides branding, advertising, public relations and promotions services to companies in a range of industries. Founded in 2001, the company has worked with leading brands that include adidas, GMAC Insurance, Hasbro, Nantucket Nectars, Orvis, Cognos, Sperry Top-Sider, K2, The Timberland Company, Vibram and ZOOTS. For more information, visit www.cerconebrown.com.

About State Garden, Inc. & Olivia’s Organicstm
Founded in 1938, State Garden is a vested member of the New England Produce Industry. Family owned and operated since its inception, State Garden has become one of the leading independent regional processors of celery hearts and tender leaf items. In 2006, the company enhanced its service offerings by expanding into the organic market with a new salad line known as OLIVIA’S ORGANICSTM. The mission of OLIVIA’S ORGANICSTM is three-fold: to encourage healthy eating by offering all-natural, organic salads; to aide the local community through the work of the OLIVIA’S ORGANICSTM CHARITABLE FOUNDATION; and to protect the environment by endorsing earth-friendly farming techniques. For more information, please visit http://www.oliviasorganics.org.


Boston PR agency helps Hasbro Inc. roll out its newest brand, NITRO XRCTM

BOSTON, MA. (Sept. 17, 2008)- Hasbro Inc., (NYSE: HAS) the world’s second largest toy-maker, has hired Cercone Brown & Co. to launch its exciting and innovative new brand. The PR agency will provide non-traditional brand development and promotional outreach as Hasbro introduces NITRO XRCTM, its new line of nitro fueled extreme radio-controlled cars.

Starting in November, the first NITRO XRCTM(Extreme Radio Control) vehicles, the NITRO XRC RICOCHET and NITRO XRC REVOLUTION MT, will be sold exclusively in Phoenix-area WalmartTM stores and nationwide HobbyTown USATM locations.

Capable of achieving speeds up to three times faster than traditional battery-operated RC vehicles and equipped with nitro fuel-powered, internal combustion engines, NITRO XRCTM vehicles are expected to attract RC enthusiasts between ages 16 and 25, a demographic that represents a new opportunity for the company.

“Cercone Brown & Co. recognizes that when it comes to capturing the attention of the Gen Y demographic, the standard marketing techniques usually won’t fit the bill,” said Brian Goldner, COO of Hasbro.  “As a PR agency who has put a lot of time into understanding and implementing non-traditional media campaigns, Cercone Brown & Co. is excited to help Hasbro construct a promotional campaign that is as exciting and innovative as the product we’re launching.”

Currently underway is the NITRO XRCTM X Demon Tour, which will help Cercone Brown & Co. and Hasbro introduce the new line. Kicked off at this summer’s Warped Tour, this multi-level mobile campaign will help Hasbro establish the NITRO XRC as an exciting new part of the Phoenix action sports culture through interactive promotional events and social media outreach.

“With the launch of this product, we’re aiming to connect with Millenials-a demographic for whom trendiness holds more importance than any other age group,” said Goldner.
“Studies show, however, that this generation is more interested in what their friends find cool than what a traditional ad might tell them is. Thus, as a brand who is still new to the scene, NITRO XRC is leveraging already-established connections to the Gen-Y demographic by packaging our product in their unique culture trappings: action sports brands, alternative music, cool locations and identifiable figures.”

The X Demon Tour will feature interactive demos at more than 70 major events and locations throughout Phoenix. RC buffs can get a taste of the action at Arizona State University football games, the Arizona State Fair, and the ASA Action Sports Tour among other events, where Gen-Y run street teams will demonstrate the vehicles’ speed and stunt capabilities and allow spectators to try their hand.

NITRO XRC will also be partnering with Walmart to conduct storefront demos at Phoenix-area stores.

Additionally, Cercone Brown & Co. will help Hasbro reach Gen-Y’ers in the place that they are most likely to be found: social media sites.  Utilizing high-traffic sites like You Tube, Facebook, Digg.com and Flickr, the NITRO XRC website features shareable X Demon Tour dates and videos, as well as a blog lorded over by two on-the-scene street teamers.

“By raising awareness of NITRO XRC through the avenues that are most unique to this demographic-popular music, brands, social media sites, major local events-we are hoping to position our brand as a truly “can’t miss” visceral experience that leads from consumer trials to word-of-mouth brand infusion and, eventually, to sales,” said Leonard Cercone, partner, Cercone Brown & Co.

The X Demon Tour will run through the end of December.

About Cercone Brown & Co.

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Cercone Brown & Co. (CBC) provides branding, public relations and promotions services to companies in a range of industries. Founded in 2001, the company has worked with leading brands that include adidas, GMAC Insurance, Hasbro, Nantucket Nectars, Orvis, Cognos, Sperry Top-Sider, K2, The Timberland Company, Vibram and ZOOTS. For more information, visit www.cerconebrown.com.

About Hasbro
Hasbro (NYSE: HAS) is a worldwide leader in children’s and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech.  Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.

Cercone Brown and Co. named agency of record for Austin, Texas’s Sabertec, an environmental technology company specializing in improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gases

BOSTON, MA. (Aug. 4, 2008)- Sabertec, an environmental technology company based in Austin, Texas, today names Cercone Brown & Co. as PR agency of record. The Boston-based PR firm will handle all media relations, digital communications, social media and event execution.

“Our companies are extremely likeminded In our belief that innovation will drive the environmental and economic change that will transform the United States and the world,,” said Bill O’Brien, CEO, Sabertec. “Their work on behalf of eco-driven-conscious brands like Nalgene and Olivia’s Organics gives us the confidence that this is a great fit for us.”

Sabertec is the maker of the Blade, a new technology that easily attaches to the tailpipe of a car, SUV, truck or hybrid to reduce vehicle air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while increasing fuel economy.

Cercone Brown & Co. recently helped Sabertec launch a promotional event for the Blade called “Drive the Change,” in which celebrities, musicians and environmental activists spoke out about air pollution in Los Angeles and their choice to use the Blade.

“For us, choosing a PR agency was more than hiring someone to increase awareness about our company, it’s finding a partner to evangelize the important change we represent,” said O’Brien.

The company’s co-founder echoed O’Brien’s words of the synergies between the organizations.  “We share a strong eco-optimism, despite the seismic changes rocking the USA and the world,” said Cercone Brown & Co. Partner Len Cercone.  “The vision and hard work of innovators entrepreneurial companies like Sabertec will be the fuel that ushers in a new era of vast, lasting economic, environmental and social reform.”

About Cercone Brown & Co.
Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Cercone Brown & Co. (CBC) provides branding, advertising, public relations and promotions services to companies in a range of industries. Founded in 2001, the company has worked with leading brands that include adidas, GMAC Insurance, Hasbro, Nantucket Nectars, Orvis, Cognos, Sperry Top-Sider, K2, The Timberland Company, Vibram and ZOOTS. For more information, visit www.cerconebrown.com.

About Sabertec
Sabertec is an environmental technology company based in Austin, TX, specializing in the development of affordable air pollution and global warming solutions for diesel and gasoline applications.  www.sabertec.org.