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 ‘Brand management’ 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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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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JFinn | Tuesday, August 30, 2011 3 Comments
And she’s off…
I am not the kind of person that sits back and waits for opportunities to come to her. I go out and get them… full force. When I started my first job out of college (a mere three months ago), I was ready to kick ass. I had experience from past internships and knowledge from previous classes. I was willing to do whatever I needed to do and I was not about to wait around. Since I’m “proactive by nature”, I’m sharing my list of tools that a proactive PR girl cannot live without:
The Five Things an Entry Level PR Girl Cannot Live Without
- Cision- The Bible of media contacts. Whenever I need to stalk someone to find their email address or create a list of all the BLANK beat reporters in the BLANK area, Cision is my go-to. It cuts my research time down significantly and has my favorite, handy export feature.
- HARO/ProfNet- Who’s writing what. I love looking at all the different stories that people are writing and being able to connect clients with hits. Although some stories are weird (why does someone need figurine dragons for a giveaway?), there are always some great fits, which make our job so much easier.
- Twitter- I am MissJRF and I am a Twitter-holic. I monitor Twitter for story ideas, relevant news, and to see what is going on in the world. Twitter lets me know what the people I am interested in are doing. Not only is it a source of entertainment but also, research has shown that Twitter is now becoming a front-runner in the quickest dissemination of news.
- Google Alerts- What is being written. Alerts are a great way to see what is being written about a topic that you are interested in. Set up these babies, sit back, and wait for alerts to come in. It is a much easier way to “search” for the news you are looking for.
- Wi-Fi- Always connected. In today’s super high-tech, connected world, a place without Wi-Fi is a PR girl’s worst nightmare. Any place where I cannot get online to check my emails or research a story might also be known as hell. And I can’t check Twitter… just kill me now.
What else do you think is a PR must have?Read more
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deedeecee | Friday, April 15, 2011 5 Comments
Pink Toes – Oh No!
Have you seen the new J. Crew ad called “Saturday with Jenna?” OMG – it is causing quite a stir! The ad was featured recently on the Today Show, and has taken center stage on talk shows, in newspaper headlines & blog posts.
The “controversial” ad, which was emailed to customers, shows one of J. Crew’s top creative directors, Jenna Lyons, painting her young, toe-headed son Beckett’s tootsies hot pink. Clearly mom and son appear to be giggling and having some fun!
The caption below the picture reads, “Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”
So why does the pink polish have some many parents & doctors seeing red?
“This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity,” psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow wrote in a FoxNews.com Health column about the ad.
Media Research Center’s Erin Brown agreed, calling the ad “blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.”
“Not only is Beckett likely to change his favorite color as early as tomorrow, Jenna’s indulgence (or encouragement) could make life hard for the boy in the future,” Brown wrote in an opinion piece Friday. “J.CREW, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the facade of liberal, transgendered identity politics.”
Really people? Really?
Personally, I find it a bit comical that people are in such an uproar about this. But we’re all entitled to our own opinions, right??
But, I have to say, I’m with J. Lo and Gwen Stefani on this one – “it’s only paint, people!” Let kids explore, be creative, and express themselves! Last week I bought my 13 year old son a pink Abercrombie shirt to match a pair of very stylish plaid shorts, and didn’t give it a second thought. You know what I think? BIG DEAL!
So what do you think? Do you feel this ad promotes gender identity confusion in our kids? What will become of poor pretty-in-pink-toed Beckett?
Would love to hear your thoughts!Read more