Inside the Profession

Friday Five: Some Brands Score While Others Fumble

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Venerable brands are often known by their “brand identity” as much as the products they sell. Consumers display acts of brand loyalty for various reasons: for their innovation, commitment to specific ideals or because they put out a consistent product. What happens, however, when your favorite brand makes an unexpected or undesired change or tries something that falls flat, insults consumers or flat out fails?

Friday Five LogoIn this week’s Friday Five – an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary –  we will discuss brand winner and losers, those brands who are remixing their offerings to stay relevant and others who are feeling the wrath of a bad decision. We’ll look at the Baltimore Ravens PR response to the Ray Rice controversy, technical difficulties during the groundbreaking Apple live event, a failed attempt at hashtag hijacking by DiGiorno and new offerings by Dunkin’ Donuts and Guinness. We’ll also look at a bizarre new product from Burger King.

How Ravens fumbled digital response to the Ray Rice controversy (All Digitocracy)

Following two TMZ videos depicting horrifying displays of domestic violence, NFL running back Ray Rice is currently public enemy number one across the United States. All Digitocracy’s Tracie Powell reports that at the same time the first video went viral, a blog post was published by the Baltimore Ravens Senior Vice President of Public and Community Relations Kevin Byrne defending Rice. Since then, Rice has been released by the team and suspended by the NFL indefinitely.

Powell explains why the unchanged blog post is problematic: “Three days after the video was released, and the Ravens fired Rice, the blog post remains, unchanged. Public relations professionals say the problem isn’t that the blog post remains active and available for public view, the problem is that it doesn’t reflect the organization’s change in policy. The Byrne Identity blog, which is owned by the team, needs to be appended, experts said, because it currently sends the wrong message during an already bad set of events.”

Read the full article on All Digitocracy.

#AppleLive Event Encountering Some Technical Difficulties (PR Newser)

In typical Apple fashion, the technology giant held a massive event to announce its new products. Prior to the event, Apple announced that fans of the brand would only be allowed to view the event simulcast via the internet browser Safari on iOS devices. When the event kicked off, glitches and crashes started to occur almost instantly.

PRNewser’s Patrick Coffee said, “…it’s tough to avoid cracking a joke when the world’s most-respected technology company finds its own messaging efforts hobbled by…technology.” Other brands, technology fans and reporters had a terrific time poking fun at Apple while they should have been discussing the new Apple Watch and iPhones.

Read the full article, including humorous tweets and screen shots, via PRNewser.

A Lesson in Crisis Communications, Courtesy of DiGiorno (Huffington Post)

On Monday after the second Ray Rice domestic violence video hit the web, many people began to criticize the NFL star’s wife Janay Palmer for continuing her relationship with Rice and marrying him. Almost immediately abuse survivors took to Twitter using the hashtag #WhyIStayed to explain various and sometimes complicated reasons why they remained in relationships with their abusers. Huffington Post’s Katrina Sands said the hashtag had been used over 92,000 times since its creation. DiGiorno Pizza observed the hashtag’s popularity and decided to contribute. The problem: they didn’t research what the hashtag meant prior to posting. Here was the result:





The brand immediately began to backtrack, deleted the tweet and offered an apology. While Sands agrees this type of ignorance is getting old, she explains how they handled this mistake properly:

“Rather than take the overused road of issuing a brief apology and then skulking in the Twitter shadows for a few days until the issue blows over, DiGiorno has spent the last 19 hours and counting individually replying to each upset tweet sent their way. Better yet, the tweets are not the copy/pasted, robotic messaging usually used to deal with unhappy customers by similar brands. Each tweet is original, responds directly to the concerns expressed by that specific user, takes full responsibility of their mistakes, and offers some of the most genuine apologies I have seen in brand management.”

Do you think DiGiorno will bounce back from this mistake? View the full article on the Huffington Post and let us know in the comments section.

What Has the World Come to When Dunkin’ Goes Dark and Guinness Goes Light? (Money)

When a brand is known for a particular attribute, it can be jarring when new products deviate from the norm. Brad Tuttle of Money shares news of the latest offenders: “Dunkin’ Donuts, a stalwart purveyor of light, sweet, mainstream coffee, is introducing a dark roast blend, while also playing up to niche dieters by adding almond milk to the menu. Meanwhile, the rich, dark, iconic Irish stout Guinness is going in the other direction with a light new Blonde American Lager.”

Are these deviations logical for these two stalwart brands?  Only time will tell if fans will embrace these new products. Read the full article on Money read about more confusing brand extensions.

Burger King invents black cheese for its black burger (Market Watch)

Burger King is mixing up its fare and trying some new ideas out in international stores. Burger King Japan has announced the Kuro burger, featuring black buns, black sauce and specially made black cheese. That’s right, black cheese!

The article states: “According to the gaming site, the buns and the new cheese addition get their coloring from bamboo charcoal, while the accompanying onion and garlic sauce is prepared with squid ink, and the hamburger patties are made with black pepper, just for good measure.”

Is the Kuro burger an innovative food product or did Burger King miss the mark? Read the full article and share your thoughts.

Rosanne Mottola is public relations manager for the Public Relations Society of America. 

About the author

Rosanne Mottola, APR

Rosanne Mottola, APR, is public relations manager for the Public Relations Society of America. She is an adjunct professor of public relations at St. John’s University, Staten Island. Mottola obtained a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communications from New York University in 2010. You can connect with her on Twitter @RoeMoPR or on LinkedIn.

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