Welcome to the Ampersand Blog
The peeps at Kel & Partners have a lot to say. After all we are public relations and social media zealots who thrive on sharing interesting news and great stories with the public. The Ampersand Blog is really the voice of our Peeps – the kick-ass team of people that work at K&P. Whether it’s a story about the way PR works NOW, Web 2.0 and the social media universe, our families, beloved pets or quirky travel experiences, you’ll find it all right here. You may laugh, you may cry, but the best part is you’ll leave feeling “wicked smaht” as we like to say here in Boston.
Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category
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SSenai | Monday, August 27, 2012 1 Comment
A PR Lesson from McKayla Maroney
I don’t know about you, but I was completely glued to the Olympics. Who could forget seeing Michael Phelps fly across the pool to win his record-breaking 19th Olympics medal or tearfully watching Oscar Pistorius competing in the men’s 400 meters semifinal, an Olympic first for a double leg amputee?
I’ve always been a huge gymnastics fan, ever since watching my hometown girl Dominique Dawes as part of the “Magnificent Seven” at the 1996 Atlanta games. I must admit, I didn’t fall “in love” with the “Fab Five,” as this year’s all-star U.S. team was dubbed, but I still watched every moment of their performances. One of the most memorable stories from the gymnastics arena in London was certainly that of McKayla Maroney.
This girl was at the Olympic games for one reason and one reason only: to kick butt on the vault, her only event. Did you see her vault during the team finals? It was masterful. I mean, she stuck that landing like glue. It was the highest score in the whole competition. So it was only expected that she would win gold in the women’s vault final a few days later. But to everyone’s shock and dismay, she fell during her second vault, leaving her second on the podium behind Romania.
And it was on that podium with her silver medal that McKayla gave this world this gem of a facial expression, which instantly sparked a new Internet meme, “McKayla Maroney is #NotImpressed.”
Suddenly, everyone was posting McKayla’s face with important, world events, implying that very, very good (second in the world, in fact), is just not good enough for McKayla. Here are a few of my favorites:
McKayla Maroney is not impressed with the Mars landing
McKayla Maroney is not impressed with Will and Kate’s wedding kiss:
McKayla Maroney is not impressed with Ryan Gosling shampooing her hair:
The meme was starting to go wild and get a little out of control for a few days. But then, something kind of awesome happened. Despite being poked fun of by the entire Internet, McKayla had the good sense to join in on the fun, instead of being embarrassed or even angered by it. She posted this photo on Instagram, with fellow team members Kyla Ross and Aly Raisman, with the caption “Pool is closed…. #notimpressed.”
How cool is that? Instead of resisting the whole thing, McKayla turned it on its head and in the process, gained the respect of many by showing her sense of humor and, from my point of view anyways, PR savvy. She killed the #notimpressed meme in one fell swoop, simply by providing the ultimate #notimpressed face, from its originator.
I’m not sure if this was McKayla’s idea or that of some brilliant PR person behind the Olympics or U.S. gymnastics, but there’s a lot that brands can learn from Ms. Maroney about taking a potential image crisis and flipping it around.
I guess the old adage is true. Sometimes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!Read more
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AClinkman | Friday, June 1, 2012 3 Comments
Can you imagine a world without Facebook?
My eyes were glued to the TV as I watched Mark Zuckerberg ring the NASDAQ opening bell and expose his company to further public scrutiny. For many looking to make a quick buck off of the IPO, Facebook has thus far looked like a dud. With stocks plummeting, critics of Facebook are proclaiming “I told you so” and quickly writing off this American success story. I can’t wait to tell the speculators “I told you so.”
See, I’m a child of the social generation. I’m not a financial advisor, nor am I an expert on everything tech. However, when Google went public in 2004, I could have told you it would be a great investment. When Apple was on the brink of collapse, I could have mentioned that they had the capability of really kicking butt. And with Facebook going public now, I’m telling you that Facebook will be around for the next 50 years.
The main critique of Facebook is that it’s just a social networking platform that won’t be able to deliver real value. It’s an understandable stance. After GM ended its agreement with Facebook for paid ads, the very prospect of Facebook ads being worthwhile for businesses came into question. If a large company can’t profit off of its advertisements, how can a small business?
With 85% of Facebook’s revenues coming from advertisements, weakness in the system is undoubtedly a bit scary. The roughly 1 billion unique users inhabiting the Facebook-world are still hard to monetize.
With news of Facebook’s overvaluation, investors are reasonably skeptical towards Facebook’s exact worth. But should they bet against the 800-pound gorilla?
The Future (my fearless forecast)
If we take a moment to remember, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” then we appreciate that Facebook is still gaining its legs. Facebook has already shifted the world.
After all, it was Facebook that piqued my interest in Public Relations and later Social Media. It was Facebook that filled my college days with event invitations to parties. It was Facebook that started revolutions and unified people against tyrannical governments. When a government completely forbids their populace from using a social networking site, there is definitely something special.
It is Facebook that is working to determine presidential elections. It is Facebook that connects family members worldwide. It is Facebook that allows users to actively participate in conversations around the World Wide Web. It is Facebook that will continue to change the social landscape for years to come. And it is Facebook that does not yet know its own potential.
And how will Facebook do it?
The potential of f-commerce (Facebook Commerce) to track data and optimize it for individual users is mind-blowing. Businesses will be able to reach ~1B users and sell merchandise directly through Facebook. Slowly, users are accepting that Facebook caters advertisements to interest and search history. Once Facebook finds a way to remove the taboo of being a social media site and harnesses its mobile potential, it will explode financially.
With all the comparisons to Myspace’s gigantic fall from grace, there is one big reason that Facebook won’t fail. It has time.
Facebook has what all businesses seek: a user base that is incredibly loyal. As much as people dislike the changes that Facebook makes to its platform, they always stay. The prospect of a gigantic user-base and technological advancements prepare Facebook for future progress.
This preparation for the future will work well as Facebook emerges as much more than a website. Think once again of the two tech companies that come to mind first, Apple and Google. Apple is now much more than a computer company (iPad, iPhone, iPod, iMac) and Google is much more than a search engine (Android operating system, Google+, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Glasses).
Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, told investors that ‘the one company closest to being like Apple is Facebook. And just today, Apple announced a partnership to build Facebook into their iOS 6 software.
So why are we betting against Facebook?
If you are a business owner, you probably would love the ability to do these things at a fraction of the cost
- Cater ads by interest and location
- Sell items to interested parties
- Create promotions
- Find new customers
- Interact with happy and disgruntled users
- Send messages to followers
However, Facebook does not just help businesses; it also educates the user on new products and allows for feedback that traditional media do not allow. After all, we trust our peers much more than we trust advertisements.
In the end
I’m putting my eggs in the Facebook basket. I’m no financial advisor, but I do see the potential of Facebook to continue to drastically change the worldwide business environment. Does this mean that Facebook will transfer into immediate justification of the $38.00 per share? Absolutely not, but I’ll leave it at this: I’m not betting against the social giant.
It may be a hunch, but can you see a world without Facebook?Read more
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SSenai | Tuesday, April 3, 2012 No Comments »
Redefining Normal: The Bald Barbie Debate
Following a parent-led Facebook campaign called “Beautiful and Bald Barbie! Let’s see if we can get it made,” which received 150,000 likes in less than four months, Mattel recently announced plans to make a “Bald Friend of Barbie” next year. The doll is designed to help children with hair-loss due to cancer treatments feel better about themselves and will come with an assortment of accessories (wigs, hats, scarves, etc.) to play with as well.
Here’s the thing: The doll will only distributed through certain children’s hospitals, directly to “girls who are most affected by hair loss,” which has some folks, including members of the original Facebook campaign, upset. They point out that it’s just as important for “normal” children to receive the bald is beautiful message as the children who are directly affected.
I tend to agree with this. We live in a free country but so many social “norms” are still used to discriminate and judge others. Those who are different or look different are still very aware of their differences. The fact that Mattel listened to their community and created these dolls is great, and I applaud them for trying to make dolls that push norms (for example, the new tattooed Barbie). But why not go for the greater social message at the same time with Bald Barbie?
I read this story with great interest for, as you likely know, our own CEO, Kel Kelly, just shaved her head to raise money for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funs childhood cancer research grants. The effort was a huge success: she started with a goal of $2,500 that she managed to more than double post shave. What I think touched everyone so much about her effort was the fact that, as the CEO of a company, she so fearlessly and boldly dove in head first (no pun intended) into a move that will affect the way she looks for months (watch the video.) Talk about redefining normal.
As a PR person, I know the considerations companies have to make when introducing new products to the market. Perhaps Mattel thinks there won’t be a huge demand for Bald Barbie if she’s on the shelves, and maybe they’re right. I think a nice compromise might be for the Barbie to also be available online for those parents who choose to expose their children to people and things that look different.
What do you think of the Bald Barbie? Did Mattel make the right choice by limiting distribution to hospitals?
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JFinn | Thursday, February 9, 2012 2 Comments
Stay classy, New England
This past week has been hard – not just for me, but for all New England sports fans. Sunday’s Super Bowl loss was a hard hit to take – and it was to NY, which only makes it hurt more. But we have to take it in stride. It’s all part of being a true Boston sports fan. You win some, you lose some. You win big, you lose bigger.
To make matters worse, a company (who will not be named) decided to pull a PR stunt making fun of Wes Welker. On Tuesday, a mere two days after the event, 900 pounds of Butterfinger candy bars were dumped in Copley Square. A women standing next to the candy was holding a sign. The sign read: “Thank you Wes Welker”.
Now, here is my problem with this whole thing. That is just too mean. It wasn’t only Wes Welker’s fault that the Pats lost. Isn’t the motto “you win as a team and lose as a team?” Also, there is no way that is funny. Maybe I’m taking it personally because I am still getting over the loss (yes, a week later!), but I don’t see how this PR stunt can be seen positively.
Also not funny- “Bradying”. Don’t do it. It won’t make you look cool.
If I were from New York I would think differently about this whole situation, but since I am from the great city of Boston, I say back off and let us grieve in peace – no more not funny PR stunts please.
What do you think? Do you think the Butterfingers stunt was appropriate?Read more
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alosha | Thursday, January 5, 2012 87 Comments
This Is going To Be The Best year Aver.
Hi My friend’s This Is Alosha I Work Ate Kel&partners. I Came to Work here thru Best Buddies. I Want To Shear My Axperians Ate New years. My faverit Is The fiyear Works I Like To play game’s With My family New year’s Is very dafrient Holiday It Is Wear We Look for Wood To The New year & We Hope It Is going To Be The Best One & It Is All way’s Is The Best I Hope We geat Some More Of The Nice Weather Sow Far It Been The Best Winter Aver With out Snow & I Like That My favorit Is Summer Wear I go Swimming & going On My friend’s Bowt & going fishing With My friend’s from NEPVA. I Love going To Plasis & going out To Danner It Is The Best Time I Like To Se Band’s That Come To The Cape It Is Sow Mach fun. New year’s Is The Best Time To Make New Rasalushions On What you Want To Do In your Life & What your Dreame’s Are Like geating A New Job That Is Rite To you & What you Love To Do. I Love Music & I AM going To Se if I Cane Take Music Lasing’s Ate The Shcool I Weant Wear I Took Band Clasiss. I Love Music It Is My faverit I Payd Drume’s Wean I Was In The Band I Love’d going To Plasis I Naver Been. I Did go To Orlando florida A capole of Time’s With Avery One That I AM friend’s With. This New year Is going To Be The Best One Aver I AM going To Play My Music & going In To Work Wear I Love To Be Avery day I AM So very Lucky To Have This Job Thank’s To Best Buddi’s & Kel. This Is going To Be The Best year Aver.
Alosha O’BrienRead more
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Jayne Seward | Tuesday, December 27, 2011 1 Comment
A fun reminder of the clothes I ill never afford/fit into, the home décor I will never afford/fit into our small home, the recipes and crafts I am too lazy to ever make, the saying I wasn’t clever enough to think of on my own, the photos I wish I had taken but didn’t.
If you haven’t yet heard of Pinterest, the virtual bulletin board phenomenon taking the Internet by storm, you soon will. The food… the party planning… the crafts… Pinterest is slowly taking over my life (but I love it). And I’m not alone in my obsession.
The site, which launched in March 2010, is still invite-only and yet has managed to rack up over 4 million active users according to its Facebook page. If that’s not proof of an emerging social network, I don’t know what is.
For those of you who have yet to discover the addictive power of Pinterest, here’s the 411:
- Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that allows you to organize and share all the inspriational things you find on the web.
- You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.
- People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.
- A pin is an image added to Pinterest.
- A pin can be added from a website using the Pin It button, or you can upload images from your computer.
- Each pin added using the Pin It button links back to the site it came from.
- A board is a set of pins.
- A board can be created on any topic, such as My Style, Recipes For Dinner, or Wishlist.
- You can add as many pins to a board as you want.
My personal Pinterest repertoire ranges from places/countries I want to visit, sassy manicure designs, and even a board of inspiration for my future tattoo (if I’m ever ballsy enough to get one).
So whether you want to create a board on crafty DIY projects you find online, or you want to plan your imaginary wedding, I highly recommend checking out Pinterest and requesting an invite ASAP…. Or ask me for an invite! I’m more than happy to help out a future pin-oholic!
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Kendyll Messina | Thursday, December 15, 2011 No Comments »
Santa Has Elves, You Have Social Media
With the holiday season upon us, it is crunch time for most when it comes to holiday shopping. When you consider the amount of time you spend on Facebook, Twitter, and foursquare why not use your favorite social media sites to help cross everyone off your holiday shopping list?
It can be as easy as following the brand names you know your best friend likes on Twitter to see what is hot and new for the holiday season, to get some “giftspiration”, or getting a gift card to the bar your brother is the mayor of on foursquare. A lot of stores are also giving great coupons and discounts once you “like”,” follow”, or “check in” at a particular spot!
It’s super easy to “like” a page on Facebook, but did you know that a lot of pages give exclusive savings and giveaways to their Facebook fans? Check the home pages of your favorite stores /brands and look for a link to their Facebook page. “Like” them, and you could get your brand name gifts for less!
Not sure how to find the best deals on Twitter? A quick search on popular hashtags such as #deals and #coupons will show you what discounts other people are sharing and talking about. For more, just follow the professional deal seekers! A few of my favorites are @CouponTweet, @retailmenot, and @FabulousSavings.
When it comes to foursquare, all you have to do is look up the specials near your location, check in, and reap the rewards! You will find anything from a discount off your purchase to freebies!
By using these social media sites you can save time and money (which we all know is the goal throughout the holiday season!). With the help of social media there is no need to get involved with the masses of people doing their last minute holiday shopping, you can get everything done right from home ( you are more than likely going to be on these sites throughout the day anyway, right? )
When it is time to open gifts you can sit back and relax while everyone receives exactly what they wanted! Santa may have elves, but you have social media ☺Read more
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redheadmeag | Monday, December 12, 2011 6 Comments
In the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of negative backlash directed at Klout, based on an algorithm change that caused a lot of people’s scores to plummet. As for me, I’ve been a skeptic since I got my first Klout score. Now, I’m no Ashton Kutcher (gratefully) but I’ve been on Twitter for nearly 4 years and consider myself something of a Twitterholic. Imagine my surprise when I got my Klout score -– a meager 30- – and learned that I’m considered “influential” about…real estate?
Real estate? A happy renter that’s never even been to an open-house, I can’t imagine in what universe I’d be considered knowledgeable on the subject, let alone influential. (Editorial side note – a recent check of my Klout score now has me influential about PR, family and Massachusetts…perhaps thanks to those recent algorithm changes? More info in this article from Adweek: http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/klout-faces-foes-136721)
As our collective consciousness has evolved past the “my follower/friend count defines my SM self worth” stage of evolution (see posts from Ginny Pitcher and Chris Brogan for more on that), I think we all look for some metrics that will define our status as “rock star.” (I’ve always been a fan of HubSpot’s continuously evolving Twitter Grader –- perhaps because it gives me an A+?) Tools like Klout can either be validation, or useful for those starting out to figure out if they’re “doing it right.” I’m not so sure that Klout is an effective tool for either of those situations.
A recent post by Hollis Tibbetts on SocialMediaToday has a nice little case study on “gaming” Klout that I think is a pretty clear illustration of what (IMO) is wrong with the service: http://socialmediatoday.com/softwarehollis/385964/exposed-klout-scores-still-garbage-after-all-these-days.
Maybe my 30 isn’t so bad? Some interesting insights in this piece: “Why I deleted my Klout profile,” (check out the insights under #6), http://socialmediatoday.com/pammoore/389381/why-i-deleted-my-klout-profile
With the advent of +Ks, I think there’s a chance that Klout’s “influencer” metrics may be improved by some user-generated control. While the site is still technically in beta, I’ll look to see continued improvement that makes what they’re measuring more meaningful. I wonder if by the time they get there, though, anyone will consider it so.
What’s your Klout score? Are you a fan of the service?Read more
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amandeville | Thursday, December 8, 2011 1 Comment
How to use social media to get a job
Hey everyone, I’m Adam, the latest addition to the Kel & Partners team! For my first blog post, I thought I would share the social media fairytale that got me my internship, and later my job, at K&P. While the story involves a little bit of luck, I hope I can offer some good advice for anyone trying to land a job in the modern era.
When I started my job search, the first social media outlet I used was LinkedIn, the site best known for networking in the professional world. It is also a great resource for connecting with alumni from your schools. LinkedIn repeatedly sent me offers to try their premium services for a month, which included the ability to send “inMails” to people I wouldn’t otherwise be able to contact. I was a member of the Vassar Alumni group, where I went to school, so I sent out inMails to those in the PR industry. Not everyone was responsive, and one was extremely bitter about her career choice, but two turned out to be really helpful. (Don’t forget to get the email addresses of those you “Link” with so that you can contact them without a premium LinkedIn account, which can be upwards of $60 a month!)
The first alum to respond was a local who told me about Kel & Partners. He didn’t know anyone at the company, but simply knew it was a firm that didn’t give its account coordinators “scut work.” Thanks to his advice, I researched the Kel & Partners website and liked what I saw. At the time, internships were not posted on the website, but using another social media tool, Twitter, I started following the CEO, Kel Kelly. By this time it was August and I thought that I would have to wait until January before looking for an internship, but one day Kel tweeted that internship opportunities were still available! I used another LinkedIn connection, a fellow alumna and public relations consultant, who gave me some advice on what to highlight in my cover letter and resume. The most helpful advice, however, came straight from the source: Kel Kelly. Her blog has great advice about what she looks for in cover letters, resumes and interviews (go here to see it: http://www.kelandpartners.com/kelkellyblog/2011/05/). I hated writing canned cover letters for my other job applications, but on a website where the phrase “smoking [insert social media] in a crack pipe” appears multiple times, I knew some originality would pay off and was rewarded with an interview! (Note: I do not recommend hard-core drug use metaphors for all cover letters.)
My least sparkling moment was definitely the interview; no social media could save me by that point. I showed up barely on time, sweating through a wool suit in late summer heat because, for the life of me, I could not find K&P’s offices on Drydock Avenue. I told myself to remain confident, because otherwise, I would never know if I missed an opportunity because I wasn’t qualified or if it was because I couldn’t stop sweating. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long to find out that I got the internship, though one of my interviewers has not yet forgotten about my profuse sweating.
What’s great about the job I have now is that I really feel like I earned it. After two months of interning I was offered a position. It’s good to know that hard work is recognized, although using your connections in the current Age of Social Media definitely pays off. Networking is no longer about nepotism, which was how I got my first job. Nor is it about kissing ass (or maybe it is, though most of my supervisors seem to prefer sass over smooch, a phrase I will now try to copyright). When networking with LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, anyone can be a connection, so you can always introduce yourself to someone working at the company where you want to work!Read more
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SSenai | Thursday, September 15, 2011 4 Comments
To post or not to post: Social segmenting in the Internet age
A few weeks ago, Facebook introduced a wave of new privacy controls, in fact one of the biggest privacy overhauls in it’s history, that allows users to more easily and precisely control who sees what information about them. This comes on the heels of Google+ hitting the market recently with its much talked about “Circles” feature that allows you to organize your friends into different buckets and control which Circle sees what content. That shot of you in a fly suit at that fancy client lunch? Everyone, especially mom and dad, needs to see that. But that video of you stumbling drunkenly into a row of trash cans? Hmm, maybe just your friends (and your closest ones, at that).
All of this points to an increased movement toward “segmenting” on social networks, micromanaging which tidbits of information are shared with which people. Some argue that segmenting defeats the purpose of social networking altogether and I happen to agree. Beyond that, it’s just plain tedious and I have to laugh when I meet someone with all sorts of privacy mazes and roadblocks set up who claims they just “don’t have time” for social networking.
I see people segmenting constantly, especially on Facebook. Usually these people tend to be from the old-school sector but chronic “Social Segmenters,” as I call them, know no specific age, race or creed. These people go to great lengths to make sure that their personal, private self remains separate from their public, professional self.
Now, call me crazy, but I happen to believe that you are who you are no matter what hat you have on. See, I was taught at a young age that whatever you do or put on the Internet, no matter how well you cover your tracks, STAYS on the Internet. Forever. Even after you delete it, there’s some record somewhere. So rule #1 is: watch thine actions on ye olde public Internet. And #2, which is pretty much implied in rule #1 but two rules always sound better than one, don’t post anything or say anything that you wouldn’t want EVERYONE to see. When in doubt, ask yourself, am I comfortable with both my mom AND my boss or client seeing this? If the answer is no then it’s simple: Just. Don’t.
Beyond that, I think we all need to take a step back and remember that we’re not that special. I mean, yes, we are all special in our own separate ways, but no one cares about you all that much. I’ve heard people say, “I don’t really want my client knowing that I checked in to a bar at 12:01 am on Saturday.” WHO CARES? I’m sure your client was also checking into a bar on Saturday night, or perhaps smoking up with his friends or, and careful this may shock you, comfortably sleeping in her bed! It doesn’t matter. No one is a saint and everyone knows that. I’d personally rather have people see that I’m interesting and have a life but if it really bothers you, then don’t post it at all.
Another example. I’ve written extensively on my blog about my past struggles with an eating disorder and depression. And people have said to me, do you really want a future employer to be able to learn all that about you? To that I say, why not! It’s part of my story, part of who I am, and if they don’t like it, then they probably aren’t my kind of people anyways. By the same token, there are other personal struggles that I’ve consciously chosen not to share on my blog, on Facebook, or anywhere. Because while I wouldn’t mind some people in my life knowing about them, there are others that I’d rather keep it from. So therefore, no one gets to hear about them (unless, you know, we communicate by the ancient “telephone” system, which you probably have never heard of but is far more secure for you privacy freaks).
If anything, instead of personal vs. professional, you should think of it as your online self and your offline self, and I happen to believe those two selves should be very closely aligned. So where do you stand? Are you a social segmenter? Do you believe it’s even possible to separate personal and professional on the Internet? Or do you think it’s all one in the same? I’m dying to hear your thoughts and I don’t care who knows it!Read more