Inside the Profession Thought Leadership

Friday Five: Let’s Get Creative

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Most public relations professionals pride themselves on their creativity. Whether we’re crafting an imaginative pitch or planning an inspired educational campaign, being a good PR pro means being resourceful,Friday Five Logo tactical and aware in a way that allows us to create and share messages using methods that resonate with broad audiences but hit specific notes – we all know how difficult that can be.

In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five”– an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary – we look at some inspiring newsjacking, consider what one company is doing to avoiding a future crisis and discuss the creative way another brand is making sure audiences aren’t missing their message. We also talk about the newest Twitter-related social app and explore what it might mean for PR.

This Domestic Violence PSA Makes a Powerful Statement with #The Dress (Time)

In a world where public relations, marketing and advertising have become intrinsically integrated, it’s pointless to ask if the brands talking advantage of last week’s “The Dress” viral photo were more focused on one practice or the other. While many decidedly used the trendjacking opportunity for a chuckle or to highlight a product, The South African branch of the Salvation Army took a decidedly different and more poignant public engagement direction.

As stated in the Time article:

“While many brands were quick to try to co-opt the meme’s viral power, the Salvation Army’s use of #TheDress may be the most powerful yet. By using the meme in its PSA, the Salvation Army has turned a fun and bizarre optical illusion that everyone has seen, into an indictment against a society that routinely turns its back on the many women who suffer from domestic abuse.”

The impressive win is even more notable considering the tweet comes almost a week after other brands’.

Ringling Bros. eliminating elephant acts (Crain’s New York Business)

There are few more iconic symbols of the modern circus than the elephant. Even if you’ve never actually been to a circus, you’ve likely heard the name Dumbo and seen the Disney movie about the flying elephant. If you’re a fan of the majestic and exotic animals, the recent news that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be phasing elephants out of their performances will likely be bitter sweet.

According to the Crain’s article, Alana Feld, Ringling Bros. executive vice president, indicated that the recent decision was made because “There’s been somewhat of a mood shift among our consumers. A lot of people aren’t comfortable with us touring with our elephants.”

Possibly learning for the public relations disaster faced by SeaWorld after the release of the scathing “Blackfish” documentary which focused on the treatment of captive killer whales, Feld Entertainment, the owners of Ringling Bros., may be avoiding a future crisis by listening to public opinion.

Read the full article for more details on the company’s plans for the elephants.

Harper Lee Concisely Replies to Journalist (FishbowlNY)

Love it or hate it, pitching the media is a necessary evil that all PR practitioners have had to endure. We’ve all heard the stories, read the articles and are endlessly reminded by our journalism counterparts of the latest bad pitch they received, so it’s easy to forget that journalists have to pitch as well. Members of the media are often depicted as the Lois Lane-type who will put themselves in any amount of danger to land a story or are willing to sell their souls for a lead like Mattie Storin of “House of Cards.”

The point being that Journalists, like PR pros, are dedicated to “landing the story” and will often go to extremes to do so. Unlike PR people, we don’t often hear much about when a journalist’s efforts go awry or are rebuffed, so excuse me for taking a little guilty pleasure in a recent case of just that.

The article by Chris O’Shea reflects the efforts which Connor Sheets, a reporter for, went through to get an interview with Harper Lee and her final two-word response… “Go away!”  O’Shea reports that, among other things, the reporter went as far as showing up to Lee’s nursing home in Alabama to try to land an interview.

Anyone who has spent this week getting rebuffed by reporters will enjoy O’Shea’s  article.

Ad of the Day: Geico Makes Clever Preroll Ads That Are Basically Unskippable (AdWeek)

Among the things that PR people and journalists have in common is that we know how to get to the point. Cleaver headlines, eye-catching tweets, and “elevator pitches” are just a few of the things that we depend on to capture our audience’s attention before they can quickly move on. Advertisers, led by GEICO (as usual), may finally be catching on to the trick.

In a “think differently” piece of creative preroll  advertising that is probably making all other advertisers hang their heads and mumble to themselves “why didn’t I think of that,” GEICO rolled out a series of new advertisements that skirt the traditional online standard practices to deliver their entire message before viewers have time to skip the ad.

Visit the article for more about Geico’s ad strategy and to view all of the ad’s in the preroll series.

Meerkat Is The Livestreaming App Twitter Should Have Built (TechCrunch)

You may have noticed a bunch of pictures of meerkats popping up on your Twitter feed this week. Fortunately it has nothing to do with a Lion King remake, but is instead a reference to the newest app in the live streaming game.

Meerkat’s app store description is straight forward:

“Meerkat allows you to stream live video from your phone to all of your Twitter followers at once. Press ‘Stream’, and instantly your live video stream shows up in your follower’s Twitter feeds.”

Having only recently launched recorded video sharing on its platform, Meerkat seems to some like a missed opportunity for Twitter, but whether that’s true or not, we’re sure PR people and brand managers are chomping at the bit to take advantage of this new social sharing opportunity. Meerkat may be the next best way to share industry news, hold a press conference or launch a product.

Take to the comments below to let us know if you’ve used Meerkat, what you think, and where you see the best PR opportunities.

Laurent Lawrence is the associate director of public relations for the Public Relations Society of America

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Laurent Lawrence, APR

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