Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Petco's Year-End PR Disaster: Killing Their Cat And Dog Logo

If you're one of the largest pet supply retailers in the USA, how do you take off all your pet owner customers? Removing the beloved cat and dog characters from your stores logo is probably the best way. And that's exactly what they did.

PR Week reports that the pet store giant announced in early December its plan to remove the red and blue characters from the front of its stores nationwide, replacing it with simply the word "Petco" in black lettering.

The logo change is reportedly part of Petco’s rebrand to "Petco, The Health + Wellness Co" from "Petco Animal Supplies.

But many customers were having none of it.

The new, pet-free Petco corporate logo was an immediate PR disaster, trashed online and dubbed as "cold and lifeless." 

The pet store clarified that the animals - apparently named Ruff and Mews - are “here to stay.” But only in their advertising.

That didn't do much to mollify Twitter, which scathed the brick and mortar retailer.

"I don't CARE if they're still present in advertising I want them back to being present on the LOGO gosh darnit," said one Twitter user, @anoutlawed, in one of the more printable remarks.

Another wrote:

"Dear @Petco, Your new logo is cold and lifeless. Is the next step phasing out pets, until you're just "co" Cause at this point - might as well."

And another said, bluntly:  "New logo is complete garbage. Lol I dont think I've ever seen a worse downgrade. Fire whoever thought of this s****."

Cool Guy Mark wrote: "Why do you hate your customers? New logo is neutered 😞"

It's unclear what the company was thinking. and it's also unclear whether they did any research on how beloved these characters actually were before making the change public. 

The company's initial response was apparently silence, indicated by the PR Week article noting that a comment was not immediately forthcoming from the company PR department, which clearly was not the best move, especially when a magazine and online industry journal for the public relations industry calls for comment.

Chalk it up to the year 2020 taking two more victims. Unless the company backtracks in early 2021, which it surely should.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

#AbbottMediaGroup Does Social Media


One of the things AMG hears all the time is "Oh, our group can handle social media in-house." The first question we ask the one saying it is usually, "Oh, really? Then why is your last Facebook post and tweet from March, 2015?"

The sad fact is, in-house social media is often viewed as "extra," rather than an integral part of what you're group or company is doing, and it can easily drop from the radar. And many executives and business owners are too busy to do social media, or aren't skilled in crafting effective messages.

AMG not only keeps you up to date with quality social messaging, we can also provide guidance that will help you avoid costly online pitfalls and mistakes. Talk to us TODAY about letting #AbbottMediaGroup manage your online social media presence!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

That time when Shark Tank laughed a surgical mask designer off the stage [Abbott Media Group]

When you make a mistake, own it. That's a solid public relations principle far too few in business, politics, and entertainment follow, probably because it's difficult.

Shark Tank's Daymond John recently demonstrated just that principle, however, in a video and post on his Instagram feed.

On September 6, 2009, Irinia Blok, a 32-year-old American immigrant from Russia, had appeared on the ABC show "Shark Tank," then in its first season.

She was pitching her unique business idea, "Face Blok," surgical masks that are whimsically decorated. She told the sharks that there was actually demand for them in hospitals, though she had only sold a few hundred.

She was met with uproarious laughter from all the Sharks almost immediately.

Her segment, when it aired, was clearly played for laughs, with "circus clown" music heard on the show when she spoke.

The Sharks were incredulous at the concept, most even refusing to try on the masks when Blok offered. Kevin O'Leary tried on a mask featuring a pig snout, doubting openly whether anyone would wear such a thing. Daymond John mockingly wore one on his head.

She said she received 700,000 hours on her website after media coverage. But O'Leary noted that the Swine Flu epidemic earlier that year was "an epidemic that came and went," and prophetically said, "You need a new epidemic to get that kind of hit profile again."

Jump ahead to Aug. 26, 2020, when that same Daymond John posted a video of the segment to his Instagram feed titled, "hindsight is 2020." He wrote:
"As we've come to see, many entrepreneurs have visions/ideas better way ahead of the times. Sure, the ideas may seem ridiculous or even comical, at the time, but as we're starting to learn, we shouldn't dismiss them all together because one day, they may prove to be useful, such as these novelty masks. 
There didn't seem to be a purpose for them back then, but Irinia Blok was definitely on to something because look at us now... we're all wearing masks. The joke is on us now!"
The bottom line is that it's important to admit and "own" your mistakes, hasty judgements, and oversights. Kudos to Daymond John for doing that so publicly!

As for Irinia, she's doing just fine. Before her appearance on the show, in 2007, as a member of Google's graphic design staff, she had independently created the now-famous green robot logo later adopted by the company for its Android phone operating system. It became synonymous with the product in the 2010s.

She no longer sells the designer masks, but has a full-time job as design lead at Google Research/AI.

Online: https://www.irinablok.com/

Friday, March 20, 2020

Political Campaigning In A Time Of Crisis [Abbott Media Group]

With fears of the Coronavirus sweeping the nation, there seems to be little time for political campaigning.

In fact, election dates are being pushed back by months in many local communities, and political candidates may find themselves way down on the media's list of priorities.

Candidates should definitely not continue with a "business as usual" approach. But this doesn't mean they can sit at home and wait until June (or in some cases, late Autumn) to start campaigning. Actually, this delay presents an excellent opportunity - especially for non-incumbent upstart candidates - to stay in touch with supporters and continue to introduce themselves to new voters.

Of course, the new realities of the outbreak make many traditional ways of campaigning impossible for the moment. These now-forbidden staples of campaigning include door-to-door canvassing, campaign rallies, attending party meetings, and any other kind of face-to-face meetings.

However, there are still a great number of ways to reach out and remain in contact with voters, and keep candidates' names in the public eye, including extensive (daily) use of social media, speaking frequently on major issues your voters care about in print (via news releases and press statements) and short videos with tightly worded messages that convey campaign themes.

That last point is vital. You MUST have a compelling, consistent campaign message, and repeat it often. When I start working with a candidate, we first create a strong stump speech composed of a consistent list of campaign issues their voters care about, written around a short biography that is compelling and interesting. That's the basis of all future messaging, including the stump speech. Voters crave consistency, especially in a crisis.

And speaking of the crisis, candidates must comfort voters, and speak out (in the appropriate way) about how incumbents are handling it, and should be clear about how THEY would handle it.

Let me end by saying that best way to accomplish all this is to HIRE A PROFESSIONAL! I can help candidates navigate the new realities online and off, and present a consistent, compelling message that will keep voters engaged in this time of crisis. If you are one, or know one who could benefit from my services, put them in touch with me.

Stephen Abbott

Monday, June 24, 2019

New Roles For the Old News Release [Abbott Media Group]

Long gone are the days of your PR firm or your own organization simply sending out a press release to the media, sitting back, and thinking that the job of promoting product, service, or individual has been completed.

That's because the news media are no longer the sole audience of the news release.

Stephen Abbott of Abbott Media Group is skilled in using tried and true tools and techniques such as the news release, putting them to work in new ways.

AMG understands that news releases today can play several functions in the promotions process,. Releases sent to the media aren't necessarily to ensure immediate coverage. In fact, it's often unrealistic to assume that everything sent will be published.

In Abbott's political campaigns, frequent releases have served the purpose of showing that a campaign is active, has hired staff, is raising money, is engaging with voters, and is seriously contesting the race. And it must be understood that releases from political campaigns have several audiences. Not just local news media, which may or may not be covering local politics, but also political leaders, local business leaders, elected officials, and of course voters. Sometimes releases specifically targeted to these Publics make more sense than the single, standard  Release

Releases written for business can play a similar role by simply reminding local news media and others that the business is active in the community and open for business.

Releases sent to internal Publics also have a reassuring effect, and can communicate best practices within a business organization, as well as communicating new policies and procedures to everyone, not just to a select few. Effective internal Communications also build a sense of rapport and togetherness within organizations, reducing gossip and misunderstandings, as well as employee turnover.

They can also be employed to convey the new or long-held mission and vision of a group or company. These reminders, written in news-worthy, fresh ways, help solidify the reputation of the group or company within a community, and help clarify the purposes towards which they're striving. They also clear up misconceptions that could damage reputations or cloud the purpose of a company in the public's perception in the long term.

News releases, of course, continue to fill the traditional role of introducing new products and services to current and future clients and customers. They still must primarily be sharing something NEW, and be  News Worthy in order to be considered for print and digital distribution. But they also can demonstrate to clients that a business has the expertise in the field in which they operate, capable of bringing the latest technology and techniques to bear on their behalf.

Frequent news releases posted on a company or campaign website are an easy way to provide fresh content for visitors. Web content that is frequently changing and updated ranks higher in searches.

Finally, news releases can play a vital role in conveying to relevant Publics within the community that a business is engaging actively with it, playing a positive role by giving back through charitable giving and social involvement. This has the effect of building positive feelings towards the business, enhancing its reputation and making future business transactions with them more likely.

AMG and Stephen Abbott understand how to fully employ all the aspects of news releases, and use them to the fullest effect on behalf of clients. Contact AMG today for more information. www.abbottmediagroup.com.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

About That Controversial Gillette Ad - Should Corporations Engage In Social Commentary?

About the controversial Gillette ad, it's beautifully filmed and one could argue that it simply calls on men to step up and do what's right when they see men bullying and belittling women. Great. Long overdue, and there's nothing wrong with that general sentiment.

But the #MeToo movement the ad references often devolves into anti-male hate and a generalization that all men are inherently aggressive by their very nature, and need "fixing." This turns this into a politically-charged ad, and a socially polarizing one.

Should corporations be involved in political ads and "virtue signaling" about social issues at all? From a #PR point of view, these kind if ads can appeal to one side of an issue, but repel others, so they are inherently risky, and divisive.

Gillette, and its parent company Procter & Gamble, likely assumed that everyone would be on the side of not being rude to women, but the perception of the ad as an attack on all men, as some in the Me Too movement have sometimes sounded, seems to be overwhelming this benign interpretation of the ad, leading to a massive #boycottGillette effort, emerging on the social platforms Twitter and Facebook.

We have of course seen this before, as when companies such as 84 Lumber have waded into the immigration debate with a Super Bowl ad featuring illegal immigrants crossing the border.

Gillette now faces a boycott from men, their primary users, while getting praise from women. A dangerous economic strategy, and a warning for other companies that are tempted to wade into divisive political issues.

Stephen Abbott

Friday, October 26, 2018

"Newsweek" May Be Dead In The USA, But Its International Edition Keeps Political Coverage Alive [Abbott Media Group]

It's not commonly known that magazines in the US have European or international editions, often with totally different material.

While Americans get "news" magazines that are busy pandering to one side of the political spectrum, or pop culture slop about fads or TV and movie entertainers, the Europeans at least get some coverage of actual personalities and issues that are changing their political lives.

Take, for example, Newsweek, which has in recent years become a shadow of its former self, which is to say, a magazine more obsessed with attacking the political Right than reporting "news."

In their October 26th International Edition, they featured a story on Austria's young Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. While not entirely "fair" (and arguably inaccurate, at least in the description we could find, below) the eight-page cover story at least introduced readers to this fascinating political leader:
"In May 2017, when Sebastian Kurz took control of the center-right Austrian People’s Party (OVP), he remade it in his image. Lest the world underestimate the significance of this, the thirty two year-old rebranded the OVP as the Sebastian Kurz List–New People’s Party. Seven months later the conservative populist became Austria’s youngest-ever chancellor, in addition to the world’s first millennial head of state and, according to some analysts, the future of Europe. 
Like other right-wing populists ascending to power in the European Union, the ambitious Kurz has pushed a hard-line immigration agenda in response to economic stagnation and the Syrian refugee crisis. But his youthful persona and political happenstance have elevated his status and his ideas far beyond Austria’s borders."
While the truth is out about Kurz's full conversion to the "right wing" (some on the actual right wing in Europe say he's starting to cave in to European bureaucrats on a few issues, including mass migration into Europe) kudos to Newsweek's International edition for at least covering a political leader of significance. Austria's public broadcaster, ORF, took note of the coverage, as well (In German. Use Google Translate to read in English.)

Now, if only most Americans knew who he was. Or who Angela Merkel or Emmanuel Macron are, for that matter.

Don't the media elites think we can handle such meaty discussions about politics? Do they not think we DESERVE to have those discussion.

Abbott Media Group does.

To get a broader picture, be sure to read World Politics News daily. And please support Abbott Media Group's latest venture, the Abbott News Service.

Abbott Media Group can be found online at www.abbottmediagroup.com.