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, 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 ‘Media’ Category

  • Facebook

    Julia Kacmarek | Friday, September 19, 2014 2 Comments

    Life Moves Fast, But News Moves Faster: How To Read & Understand It In Less Than 5 Minutes

    We’ve all heard it before – the phrase that makes media pros cringe at the faintest mumble…

    “I don’t have time for the news.”

    For those of us in PR, it’s hard to think of a response other than, “Bologna.”

    Our jobs consist of following headlines hourly, so life without it is hard to imagine. But if you work elsewhere, understanding the news may seem like a tedious, waste of work hours. That’s where you’re wrong.

    The news can seem intimidating, confusing and complicated, but if you incorporate it into your daily routine, it will eliminate the dread of having to read and comprehend it all at once. Plus, knowing something about what’s going on outside of your office will impress your co-workers, friends, and even possible business partners or clients.

    Try some of these simple changes:

    • Turn On The TV in the AM: Primp for the day and listen to the morning news. Even if you aren’t actively paying attention, you will consume some of what’s going on.
    • Skip the Playlist on Your Commute: Instead of listening to the same 20 songs on your playlist tomorrow morning, try skimming the news on your bus or train ride. If you drive to work, put on NPR – it’s more interesting than the boring talk radio stereotype many associate it with.
    • Pair Morning Coffee with Skimming: Make it a morning ritual to read the news as you drink your first cup of coffee every day. If you only have ten minutes, take in the top stories with quick lists like The Daily Beast’s Cheat Sheet, which lists all the stories you need to know in condensed paragraphs.
    • Set Up Push Notifications: The Associated Press and other apps have notifications that will alert you with a short one-liner when any big breaking news happens.
    • Follow News Sites on Twitter: Follow whatever site strikes your fancy – sports, breaking news, politics, local news, etc. You name it, they have a Twitter account.
    • Subscribe to E-Newsletters: Many top news sites have daily newsletters you can subscribe to by email that will give you a synopsis of the day’s top stories. TheSkimm is one choice, but there are plenty of others out there.

    Whether you’re a lawyer, doctor, businessman or woman, or work somewhere in between, there’s simply no excuse not to be in the know.

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    Alexis Eliopoulos | Friday, February 21, 2014 16 Comments

    Beyoncé Changing The Way of Music?

    Each morning I stroll through my emails and check social media for any overnight excitement. One particular Friday morning while strolling through Instagram, I saw Beyoncé’s name in pink with the caption, “Surprise” and proceeded to watch the video announcing her latest album including 14 songs and 17 videos. I’m sorry – is this real?

    It was real, and Queen B decided to launch her album on social media without any advance warning. According to Mashable, the surprise album generated 5,300 tweets per minute and spiked more than 1,300% mentions on Facebook. As a PR professional, my immediate thought was, “Beyonce just took traditional PR and Social promotion to the next level…and killed it. Typically before an album release, artists drop their single on the radio and begin media tours for at least 2-3 months prior to the release. They hit the national TV circuit, appear on magazine covers, and try to maximize publicity for their upcoming album with tactics including highly-visible PR stunts. For example, Miley Cyrus gave a memorable VMA performance in preparation for her “Bangerz” album release. However, Beyoncé wanted to do something different.

    In the only press release issued after the album went on sale, Beyoncé said the following, “I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it, I am bored with that.” Beyoncé – and her genius team – took control of the power of social media and made a direct connection with her audience. The album sold 80,000 copies in the first three hours and continues to dominate sales. While the initial shock of this “surprise” release has subsided, it has earned its spot in history. It will not be soon forgotten, and should serve to inspire others brands to “kick it up” when it comes to how they approach product promotions and leverage social media as much as possible.

    Do you think social media will change the entertainment industry?


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    Jayne Seward | Friday, January 24, 2014 23 Comments

    Top PR Blunder Of 2013: Lululemon’s Founder Strikes Foot-In-Mouth Pose

    While perusing through Business Insider’s end-of-the-year stories, one specific headline caught my attention: Max Nisen’s “The 5 Biggest PR Blunders Of 2013”.  From Chick-fil-A’s inauthenticity to Carnival hiding at the top, Nisen hit the nail on the head with his list. But the one blunder that really struck a cord with me was his #2 choice: ‘Lululemon: Shifting the blame’. As a PR professional and Lululemon customer, this was one communication crisis from 2013 that is hard to forget.

    Lululemon founder and chairman Chip Wilson ignited a social media frenzy last November after telling Bloomberg TV that “quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work,” in reference to criticisms that Lululemon’s pants were too sheer. Numerous media outlets picked up the story, and Twitter erupted with responses to Wilson’s “fat-shaming” comments.

    Although I think we can all agree that his statement was offensive, what made the whole situation worse happened when he released an ‘apology’ for his actions on YouTube that has since been deleted from the company’s YouTube page. Many believed the apology was insincere, and ABC News noted, “It seems like he [was] saying I’m sorry I got caught, but I’m not sorry I said it.”

    In many ways, how Wilson handled the situation showed us how not to handle a PR crisis situation. Here are a few things we can take away from this situation as we begin a new year in crisis communications:

    • Think Before Speaking – All company spokespeople should think carefully before they speak – especially in our media-happy world where anything can be shared by anyone.
    • Tell The Truth – Always be honest and speak the truth to your customers and to the public. Own up to mistakes if you’ve made them, and cite specific actions you’re going to take to remedy them. Being truthful and authentic can go a long way.
    • Tell It Fast – Wilson waited four days before issuing an apology. Responding immediately could have lessened the blow in this instance, and it’s critical to act quickly when in a crisis situation.

    Business Insider also summed up the overarching PR lesson that can be learned from this quite well: “Don’t blame customers for your mistakes, and know when to shut up!”

    Do you think Chip Wilson has made the situation better or worse by attempting to apologize for the comments he made on television?

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    kandpeeps | Monday, December 30, 2013 37 Comments

    PR & Social Should Be Friends

    Relationships often start with less than 140 characters. A cleverly timed Twitter mention or a sly retweet has the potential to sprout a bond – not just personally, but professionally as well. From a PR perspective, finding ways to interact with reporters on a more personal level can be a secret to success – and Twitter can be a great way to do just that.

    Working in the rapidly changing field of PR requires media relations specialists to readily pivot their approach to communicating with reporters and adapt to new styles. The following are reasons why PR professionals should stop neglecting their Twitter account – and start using it as an important tool to interact with the media.

    They’re Already Active Users

    In a world where Facebook feels too personal and LinkedIn feels too formal, Twitter can be the perfect medium to strike up a conversation with a journalist. And according to MediaBistro, 59% of journalists worldwide actively use Twitter.

    It’s Their Pulse-Checker

    Twitter allows journalists the opportunity to reach out directly to sources that would otherwise be unreachable. Most importantly, it is through Twitter that journalists can feel the pulse of their target audience and stay on the cutting edge of their industry – and breaking news.

    Kind Words Go a Long Way

    The Internet has unfortunately enabled disgruntled readers an easier (and often anonymous) forum to vent their frustration. Comment trolls are lurking in the depths of online articles waiting for a journalist’s single misspelling, misstated fact, or opinion that doesn’t align with their belief system. On the flip side, you can offer thoughtful responses and insightful commentary to spark conversation through Twitter or via the web. Include the reporter’s Twitter handle to give credit and to make their work feel appreciated.

    Create a Lasting Relationship

    Journalists are barraged by hundreds of pitches a day filling their e-mail inboxes. Standing out from the crowd requires not only highly targeted and creative pitches, but building a trustworthy relationship with the writer so that they actually open the email you send. Does that mean you should pitch them on Twitter? Probably not – unless there is a breaking news story where you can provide an immediate source.  What it does mean is that you should develop an affiliation where he or she associates you with positive feedback or helpful insight – instead of just another pitch.

    Low Barrier to Entry

    Finally, unless the reporter has a private account or blocks your Twitter handle, the recipient will see all @ mentions from your Twitter account. This means that all well-informed responses have the potential of being seen by the reporter – no more spam blocker.

    Building a mutually beneficial relationship with members of the media is the goal of all PR professionals. Fortunately, in 140 characters or less, Twitter has made it much easier to build a rapport. It’s right at your fingertips, so give it a try – instead of always just sending an e-mail.

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    Anna McCarter | Friday, December 13, 2013 31 Comments

    A Nostalgic Look at Some of Our Favorite Holiday Commercials

    The holiday season is upon us and with it comes a new crop of holiday-themed commercials. This year, you’ll find Taylor swift and Justin Bieber making an appearance in a celebrity-filled Macy’s holiday commercial. You may have also seen the group of pant-less men “jingling their bells” in the risqué Kmart commercial. Companies put a lot of creativity (and money) behind their holiday advertisements, as it’s a key window to drive retail sales, but consumers more often remember the particularly heart-warming ads far beyond the season – sometimes for many years to come. In honor of the holiday season, let’s take a moment to look at some commercials of holidays past, which have become holiday classics.


    Who can forget the bright red Coca-Cola holiday trucks that lit up the night? As a true “Americana” brand, Coca Cola does a great job of associating their product with family traditions like waiting up for Santa – or in this case, waiting for the red Coca Cola trucks coming to town.



    In the early 1990s, Folgers Coffee pulled at our heartstrings with the “Peter Comes Home for Christmas” commercial. Folgers incorporated the

    classic scene of a person waking up to the smell of a fresh brewed pot of coffee. But on Christmas morning, the version is extra special with Peter’s surprise return home. This ad reminded us that no matter how many presents are under the tree, having your family home for the holidays is always the greatest gift. And of course, it reminded us that Folgers Coffee is perhaps “the best part of wakin’ up” on Christmas morning.

    Campbell’s hit one out of the park with their melting snowman commercial from 1998. As the snowman eats the soup, you see the snow melt away to reveal a young boy underneath. The commercial is clever, and most importantly, it makes you want to warm up with a bowl of Campbell’s soup after watching it. Their tagline says it all: “Nothing melts away the cold like a delicious bowl of hot chicken noodle soup.”

    In December, most people watch classic movies like “A Christmas Story” or “It’s A Beautiful Life” to get in the holiday spirit. In a similar way, these older commercials stir up holiday excitement and make us nostalgic for seasons past. What are some of your favorite holiday commercials from over the years?


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    redheadmeag | Wednesday, August 28, 2013 No Comments »

    Heyo! Facebook announces major changes to how contests can run on YOUR Facebook page

    Our social media Peeps could barely sleep last night. We know you’re asking “why?” In the “new changes announced every minute” world of social media, it takes a lot to get us THIS excited. But this is pretty huge!

    Late last night, Heyo broke some EPIC news: Facebook announced a loosing of restrictions on how contests can be administered on the site.  We’d like to take a moment to give solid props to Heyo on this one. When  we received the late-night email blast, we checked our fav in-the-know media sites (Mashable, TechCrunch, Business Insider) and couldn’t find the news anywhere else.  But a quick check of Facebook’s Page Guidelines confirms the news, and our world will never be the same.

    So, what’s changed, and what’s the big deal?

    Historically, in order to host a contest on Facebook, page managers were required to utilize a third-party platform. With a bevvy of affordable and easy-to-use tools out there, this one wasn’t hard to manage (unless you weren’t familiar with the rules and were penalized for hosting a contest without this important step – yikes!). By opening up this restriction, Facebook is enabling the less “socially savvy” business owners to engage with their fans in a new and exciting way on Facebook, and eliminating the need for well-designed tabs to host a cool giveaway.

    The biggest change is that no longer are page managers’ hands tied in using “Facebook functionality” as a method of contest entry. Want people to “like” a post to enter to win? Now you can! Want people to comment with feedback in order to enter your giveaway? Do it to it! And want to announce your winner on Facebook so all of your fans can see that you do in fact choose winners? THE FACEBOOK WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER!

    While you cannot use “timeline activities” for contest entry (such as  “share this post to enter”), Facebook has given page admins a great new tool in providing meaningful, engaging content to your fans.

    We’ve already got our wheels turning on how we’ll roll out contests for clients with these new changes in place. What do the changes mean to you?

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    redheadmeag | Thursday, April 28, 2011 22 Comments

    Let’s get it on…line

    As a PR person, I am a rabid consumer of media. I subscribe to 12+ magazines and get giddy the days they arrive in my mailbox. My day always begins by flipping between Today, The Early Show and the local news stations. On my drive in to work, I listen the radio every day, flipping between local stations and NPR.

    But the biggest rock of crack in my pipe (to borrow a phrase from Kel Kelly) comes from the internet. I subscribe to dozens of newsletters from media sites and bloggers to have news delivered to my inbox, all fresh and ready for me when I get in to work. My Google RSS feed should have it’s own internet zip code. And Twitter….ah, Twitter. I follow every mass media outlet known to (wo)man, use TweetDeck to separate news sources by topic so at a glance I can consume dozens of pieces of information to stay on top of what is going on. My friends share tons of news via Facebook, and Facebook Connect enables me to communicate with them about the stories they read across the internet. What a wonderful world!

    My dependence on the internet to stay up-to-date becomes most apparent on those oh-so-busy days when I find myself with several out of office client meetings, on location for news segments and knee deep in pitching. If I go a day without checking Drudge Report, Huffington Post, Business Insider, CNN, Slate (and many more) – the next day, I am shocked to realize how much has happened without me even knowing it. I can’t imagine my life without internet news to stay informed.

    What about you? Is the internet your primary news source? What is your favorite media format?

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    Kendyll Messina | Tuesday, March 8, 2011 9 Comments

    My Kindle is My New Best Friend

    Don’t get me wrong: I have real friends, but can they offer me over 810,000 instant books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, AND built in Wi-Fi? For the purpose of this post, the answer is simple: no. I received this life-changing piece of technology for Christmas and have not been able to put it down since. I’ll be honest, even as an English Communications major, I have never been easy to please when it comes to reading. So when I first heard about the Kindle I did not think much of it, and was not that impressed. Oh how naive I was…

    I started seeing the sleek design of the Kindle more and more on my daily commute. The Kindle owners were always so enthralled in whatever it was they were reading, and didn’t even seem to notice they were on a crowded, moving train. They were in their Kindle worlds, happy as can be. I wanted to be a part of that world.

    Life just hasn’t been the same since I became the proud owner of an Amazon Kindle 3. Let me explain a few of my favorite features. The device weighs in at only 8.5 ounces, which is considerably less than some paperback novels, making it incredibly easy to travel with. The font is so crisp and clear on the perfectly-sized screen – you’re free to read anywhere (even in bright sunlight, glare is no issue) – and a fully charged battery will last you up to one month- AMAZING.

    The Wi-Fi connection is stellar and the book selection in the Amazon Kindle store is far from limited. You can buy a book almost anywhere, at anytime, and it will download in seconds. You don’t necessarily have to buy books either, as there are thousands of free eBooks that are easy to download.

    Now, I realize some people are not pro-Kindle as they believe their iPad, Nook, or old-fashioned books are better. I am completely up for this debate, but in the end all that matters is that we are having a great read.

    (Especially if you are reading on a Kindle!)

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