Archive for September, 2011

Where Did The Jingle Go?

By Shawn Draper

jingle by farm3 static flickrdotcom 300x225 Where Did The Jingle Go?I am a fan of the TV show “Two and a Half Men.” One of the main characters, Charlie Harper, is a jingle writer/composer. Watching the show one night, I wondered What ever happened to the jingle?

I grew up singing marketing jingles like M’m good, M’m good. That’s what Campbell Soups are M’m good And Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Meyer Weiner. Jingles were the vehicle by which brands were best identified. Where did the jingle go?

When I was working for Andersen Windows almost twenty years ago, the Andersen jingle “Come home to quality. Come home to Andersen.” was being phased out. I was disappointed when the jingle completely disappeared. At the time, all you had to do was begin the jingle and young and old alike would sing the jingle. There are other building products company jingles including GE (We bring good things to life), Ace Hardware (Ace is the place with the helpful hardware man) and Menards (“Save big money at Menards”). Why did we stop using jingles?

At a time when we are designing marketing and sales campaigns to create awareness and attain engagement with customers, the jingle seems like the perfect choice. We do not need the latest song from a recording artist to launch a new product or brand. All that does is create hits for the musician. Now is the time to resurrect the jingle. Use it within your social media channels – Facebook, YouTube – and your website, radio, and TV advertising. The only challenge you may have is finding a jingle writer. Charlie Harper is not available. The producers killed him.

What is your favorite jingle and would you like to see them return to the marketing mix?

By Christine Pierpoint

There’s a new Internet domain coming out this fall as a way to identify adult entertainment websites. The non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) regulates website domains. Last year they announced a move to create the .xxx domain as an alternative to the more common .com or .org domains. In theory, this will be a way for businesses and consumers to clearly identify adult content.

“The creation of .xxx will create a clearly signposted place where adult entertainment can be accessed and allow surfers to have a clear idea of the nature of the site before they click, rather than after,” according to a statement posted on the ICM Registry website, which is the organization responsible for .xxx domain registrations.

Regardless of the intent of the new .xxx domain, there is still the potential for brand names to be hijacked during the initial bidding for URLs. Each time a new top-level domain (such as .tv, .eu or .xxx) is introduced, new Internet ‘real estate’ is created. Depending on the equity of your brand, that real estate can be extremely valuable. For example, imagine someone leveraging a brand name like “Nike” to drive traffic to “”.

As marketers, we do have options to stop cybersquatters who may try to prompt a bidding war or otherwise cause damage to brand names. We’ve put together the following tips to help you mitigate potential risks:

  1. Trademark holders – If your brand is trademarked, there is a ‘sunrise’ period during which you can block your brand from becoming a .xxx domain. Beginning September 7, 2011, you can apply to the ICM Registry to be designated a “reserved – trademark.” Once accepted, your domain name will be removed from the pool of eligible domains. The sunrise period expires on October 27, after which time there will be a ‘land rush’ period from November 8 – 25 during which the adult entertainment industry will be able to apply for .xxx domains.
  2. Non-trademark holders – if you have a domain name that is not a registered trademark (i.e. you have to wait until the ‘general availability’ period begins on December 6, 2011. At that point .xxx domains will be registered on a first-come, first-served basis. You will then be able to register your name as a non-resolving .xxx domain. What that means is that you own that .xxx domain and thereby prevent anyone else from using it.

We’re recommending that all companies take proactive measures to prevent cybersquatting or potential misalignment of their brand with an adult entertainment website. In addition to brand names, you should also consider taking steps to protect your organization’s product names and the names of key executives or spokespersons. Opting out now will help protect against reputation management issues or potential legal battles to defend your trademarks.

This post was contributed by Christine Pierpoint, IMRE’s Vice President of Emerging Media. She can be reached at 410.821.8220.

By McGavock Edwards

Some say, “Any publicity is good publicity.” Those folks are obviously not today’s strategic public relations practitioners.

With the growth of social media, the 24/7 news cycle and a rise in citizen journalism, PR professionals will attest that what people say about a company and its products, how they say it and where they report can sometimes be anything but good. Negative sentiment – whether in the media or online – can change partnerships, damage stock value, and hurt employee recruitment and retention. It can negatively affect sales, harm overall reputation, and much more. And as a recent study by the Altimeter Group shows, brand crises, particularly social media crises, are on the rise.

Opportunities And Challenges For Brands

Sure, today’s online environment and “news of the minute” attitude provide tremendous opportunities to share company news with more people than ever before. We can engage customers and educate influencers about products, quickly and efficiently.  And, the word can spread…like wildfire.  But with opportunities also come challenges.

When an organization or its products come under fire, whether in truth or not, it’s critical to respond, always with intention and appropriateness. What’s amazing is that many companies are not simply ready. In fact, according to recent Crisis Preparedness study by Burson-Marstellar and Penn Schoen Berland (pdf) conducted with global businesses, only 20 percent are considered well-prepared for possible risk.  What’s considered well prepared?  They have a strategic crisis plan, they understand its importance and they review it periodically.

How To Approach Crisis Preparation

At IMRE, we encourage all of our clients to be prepared for issues that might arise. From an unfavorable product review to a manufacturing accident, a full-on reputation attack to a security failure, a problem quickly can become a crisis, especially if you’re not equipped.

The number one success factor in crisis communications is to plan ahead. While it’s unlikely you’ll be able to foresee every risk, having a plan of action will provide one of the most important factors in a crisis – a clear head.

While there are nuances to every situation and every organization, there are a few lessons we’ve learned over the years that every organization should keep in mind:

  1. Plan and Prep – These days it’s hard to commit resources to something that doesn’t immediately provide ROI. But smart executives know that being prepared for a crisis will provide great value – triple-fold – if ever a reputation management issue comes to play. Sometimes it’s a matter of business ultimately recovering…or not. Once you’ve committed to creating a plan, get the right people in the room – executives, communication professionals, sales managers, distribution personnel, and HR staffers – to provide a holistic view of your business inside and out. It’s also a good practice to enlist outside counsel who can assure all insights are considered and all avenues are accounted for.
  2. Acknowledge – When an issue arises, whether inside the building, out in traditional media, or online, it’s important to acknowledge the concern, especially if someone has been harmed. It’s true that legal concerns sometimes prevent conversation outside of a courtroom. But we believe it’s critical to acknowledge a concern.  This is where it’s especially helpful to have messaging (holding statements) at hand and a clear communication matrix to follow.
  3. Get the Facts – Know the facts before you speak.  It’s that simple.  It’s not okay to provide conjecture, opinion or half-truths. Even if you have to provide multiple updates throughout a situation, give out known information only.
  4. Put a face on it – It’s so easy to use “corporate-speak” and hide behind a logo or brand recognition when a crisis arises.  But remember it’s that brand you’re seeking to protect.  Know (ahead of time) who your spokespeople will be, and get them out front immediately. In planning, choose a group of organizational personnel who can speak to a variety of subjects and train them annually to be ready for speaking in public or to the media. You may also want to leverage relationships you’ve built outside of the organization.  Having someone else (an industry trade association or a topical influencer) speak on your behalf can lend third party credibility that can be powerful in a crisis situation.  But be ready ahead of time. Your corporate communications or public relations team should identify and build these critical relationships as part of an overall planning PR strategy for your company and/or product. Then you’re armed, if and when you need to make “an ask” for support.
  5. Own the message – With planning behind you, you have a playbook and you’re able to focus on the situation at hand.  Don’t let internal conflict or differences of opinion hold you at bay.  But don’t move ahead with knee-jerk reactions like Rupert Murdoch seemed to do last month when faced with the News Corp crisis mentioned here. This can cause more speculation and then rumors, instead of the facts, begin to take control. Armed with the facts and key messages, put your spokespeople to work and own the message – first to key stakeholders and then others. Only you can speak confidently about your organization and your products. So own it. Fast.
  6. Be transparent – Commit to transparency in all of your communications – before, during and after a crisis.  Today’s consumer is more curious, aware and informed than ever before, so your ability to be open and transparent could mean an easy road to rebuilding your reputation, or the ability to even repair it at all.
  7. Be available – Don’t speak and then hide.  Own the message, share it and be willing to speak again and again as needed.
  8. Put social media to work – While the growth of social media can be a thorn in a communicator’s side, its measurement is one of the best things about our jobs today. As soon as a crisis arises, get your social media team up to speed on the issue, and initiate tracking.  Working shoulder to shoulder, social media and media relations experts can see how an issue is being spread online and in the media, and uncover critical insights for how to adjust what you’re saying, how you’re saying it and where you’re communicating.  Leverage all available channels to create the appropriate response and to engage audiences appropriately. Here’s an example of how the U.S. Geological Survey utilized social media to communicate and crowd-source during last week’s East Coast earthquake.
  9. Measure and learn – After the “fire” dies down and you’ve breathed the collective sigh of relief, don’t forget what you’ve been through. Utilizing your crisis plan, tracking, coverage, and your audiences’ behavior, take a holistic look at the issue from the other side. Evaluate response times. Put a critical eye on the messaging. Update processes and procedures. Learn from the past and plan again for the future.

As you plan for all the opportunities and challenges your team faces in 2012, take some time to contemplate what could go wrong (here’s another case study to review) and prepare – strategically – to face what’s ahead.

What do you think? Do the new communications opportunities offered by social and emerging media outweigh the higher risks of engagement? What steps has your brand taken to prepare for brand crises? Comment below.

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