Monthly Archives: November 2013

Insider Look at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on Instagram

By: Kelsey Clark

Each year both male and female fans look forward to the airing of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. The annual show is typically aired in early December and taped in November. Victoria’s Secret models, as well as some high fashion models show off intricate lingerie to millions of viewers. However, the Fashion Show entails much more than models simply walking down the runway. Viewers are given an ultimate entertainment experience, as well-known singers perform alongside the models, interviews with the models are incorporated in between runway walks and cameras go behind the scenes as the models get ready. These particular characteristics drive viewer interest, making it much more than beautiful women walking in lingerie on national television. 

The taping of the show, which occurred on November 13 in New York City, received significant online attention this year, as viewers had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the designs the models wore, particularly through Instagram. The social media outlet provided an insider’s view of the entire show experience before it is aired. Below is a list of four Victoria’s Secret models, also known as “angels,” who posted photos to their personal Instagram pages during the taping of the show, allowing for maximized coverage of a special event.

Erin Heatherton posted a photo of her and two other angels with the caption, “Backstage with beauties.” Visit the rest of Heatherton’s Instagram here.

Adriana Lima posted a photo of a hair stylist with the caption “Getting ready!!!” during the early stages of the taping of the show. Visit Lima’s Instagram here.

Candice Swanepoel posted a photo of herself with two fashion assistants with the caption, “Shoe problems at #vsfashionshow rehearsals. Thanks for the help…” Visit Swanepoel’s Instagram here.  

Alessandra Ambrosio posted a photo of herself with the caption, “#backstage #selfie #vsfashionshow #shyleerosejewelry.” Visit Ambrosio’s Instagram here.

In addition to the angels providing immediate coverage of the actual show, the Victoria’s Secret Instagram account posted several pictures of the event. Some of the photos posted included, the runway prior to the show, the wings on mannequins before the angels wore them and an angel being interviewed.

The insider’s perspective viewers, fans and followers of the various Instagram accounts were given provided them with the opportunity to feel like they were at the show. Not only did fans get immediate coverage, they also received a sneak peek of what the show will entail when it is aired.

Instagram provided instant feedback of an exclusive event and allowed for fans to feel a special connection with the angels. Additionally, posting on Instagram and various other social media outlets provided significant, positive promotion for the airing. Although the show is advertised on its own across several locations, the advertisement of photos on Instagram solidifies the date and time of the show in viewers’ minds. 

This year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show will air on December 10 at 10 p.m. on CBS. Well-known artists, Taylor Swift and Fall Out Boy will be this year’s performers. Of course I will be watching, will you?

As always, I welcome all comments and thoughts.  If you like what you read, be social and share. 

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Just Another Example of Why Media Training is SO Important…

Author: Gina Mason

If you haven’t heard, Lululemon needs some PR help! Since March, the yoga-inspired athletic wear company has faced its fair share of PR problems and things don’t seem to be getting any better. Between the sheer yoga pants recall and the most recent offensive window display (that insulted a charity that raises money for women’s shelters), Lululemon’s PR team has had their hands full cleaning up one mess after another.

As if things could not get any worse for the brand, last week Lululemon’s co-founder, Chip Wilson appeared on Bloomberg TV and sparked yet another controversy by insulting women with large thighs. Wilson’s interview is just another example of why it is so important that spokespeople are properly trained to work with the media and know how to conduct themselves during an interview.

First let me start off by saying, I knew this interview was off to a bad start when he began the segment talking about “WHIL,” a 60 second method of meditation. After the description of “WHIL,” Wilson went on to say, “the only time I had to do it [meditate] was when I went to the washroom to take a pee, so we call it maximizing pee time.” Obviously, that was not the best example or choice of words, but it was quickly overshadowed by his next comment.

Then the reporter asked, “what is going on with the pants?” An inevitable question that Wilson, his PR team and all of the viewers knew was coming and quite frankly, a question that he should have been properly prepared for. At first, his answer was on the right track as he admitted that Lululemon made some mistakes and took responsibility for the issues with the pants.

However the tables turned when he uttered, “some women’s bodies don’t work with [the pants]…it’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.” Although, Wilson did not come out and say that Lululemon pants are not made for plus-size women, he implied it by saying that the “sheerness and pilling” was due to certain body shapes. (Apparently, he did not learn anything from Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jefferies when he said, “skinny is cool”).

Wilson’s interview sparked outrage among consumers and to make matters worse, led to reports of Lululemon discriminating against plus-size women by not carrying larger sizes in certain stores. As a result, many consumers are boycotting the brand and in the last week, its stock prices have gone down four percent. In hopes to repair the problem, Wilson posted a video apologizing for his statement on the Lululemon’s Facebook account and received even more backlash for seeming insincere.

This is just one example of how one simple interview can be extremely detrimental to a brand (especially, in the world of social media and the 24 hour news cycle) and why media training is so important when companies have experienced a crisis. Anyone speaking on behalf of a company should be trained, briefed and completely prepared for any and all questions. Spokespeople are the voice of the brand and need to be equipped to represent the brand in the best way possible.

What did you think of Wilson’s interview? How do you think this will affect Lululemon in the future? We welcome any and all comments.

 

If you are interested in learning more about our media training program at Indra Public Relations, please don’t hesitate to contact us. As always, if you like what you read, be social and share.

 

 

Snapchat: An Alternative To Branding

By: Ben Okun

In the wake of Snapchat turning down $3 billion in cash to be acquired by Facebook, many are criticizing the 23 year-old CEO, Evan Spiegel, for inexplicably declining such a large sum of money. After all, Snapchat is a photo-messaging app that has generated exactly zero dollars in revenue during its two year existence. So why didn’t Spiegel take the money and run? Perhaps, it’s because Snapchat represents a new kind of social media; a care-free and causal platform in which users do not feel the pressure to create a brand and can explore without leaving a single trace of their footsteps. Only time will tell if Spiegel’s gamble will pay off, but Snapchat certainly represents an intriguing opportunity.

Snapchat is a free app that allows users to take photos or videos and then send them to a list of recipients within the users’ contacts. The user sets a time limit on how long the message can be viewed for and after that time limit, the message self-destructs and is deleted from the Snapchat server. Users can enhance the photos by adding text and using a built-in paint feature. A Bloomberg study noted that Snapchat’s main demographic is adolescents between 13 and 23, and the app is often used to send “selfies,” a growing phenomenon among social media users. The same study also revealed that in recent months, Facebook has been losing traction with this same, teenage demographic, which is part of the reason they wanted to acquire Snapchat.

More traditional social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are strikingly different from Snapchat. The former are branding platforms, in which users can construct an image and persona of themselves through what pictures/videos they decide to post, tweets they send out and messages that they like, retweet and comment on. For the most part, all of the activity on these social media sites is there to stay forever. Anyone can go through your profile and dig up information or photos that you may not be proud of, or forgot that you had posted. As a result, anyone that uses social media should do so with extreme caution, because that information is a living record of their brand.

This could potentially scare teens and younger users, who just want to use social media for fun and aren’t looking to brand themselves or portray a professional image. Enter Snapchat, who has seen an explosion among this demographic. Snapchat is everything that these other social media sites aren’t; a new, cool app that allows its users to be goofballs without being held responsible. There are minimal consequences with Snapchat and although there is some debate as to whether the messages are actually deleted from the server, users can feel a sense of comfort knowing that their messages are not made public. At this age, many teens are applying to schools and looking for jobs, and Snapchat serves as an unfiltered outlet for them to express themselves and have fun. Users are able to send light-hearted messages that do not stick around and define who they are, something that is very appealing to this young demographic.

Evan Spiegel turned down a massive $3 billion from Facebook with the hope that Snapchat turns into the next big thing, an empire of its own. The jury is still out on whether Speigel’s decision is a wise one, but the one thing Snapchat does have going for it is its uniqueness. In an age where social media activity is heavily monitored, criticized and used for branding purposes, Snapchat takes a completely different route. This alternate route could spark a revolution within social media, one in which the “selfie” dominates and the brand is mostly hidden.

As always, we welcome any and all comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

The Importance of Twitter During Crises

By: Kelsey Clark

Unfortunately, the United States is becoming increasingly familiar with handling crises. Within the past year there have been multiple instances where Twitter took on a leading role in relaying breaking news to the public. Whether it be from an eye witness, a news reporter or a civilian, tweets regarding an occurring event provide detailed, insider information. Establishing a hash tag that will be posted in every tweet is important when covering an event because it allows for all of the information regarding the occurrence to be found in one place when searched. Below are two recent instances where Twitter was used to get information out to the public, while allowing for continual coverage of a serious event.

#LAXShooting

The recent shooting at Los Angeles International Airport showed how effective Twitter can be with regard to a tragic event. Several tweets from witnesses let the Twitter world know what happened right as it was happening, as well as if individuals were ok. As the main airport hub for thousands of celebrities, some were at the scene and took the time to tweet their whereabouts and personal status. One of these celebrities was Tory Belleci, host of “Mythbusters.” During the incident he tweeted, “Heard gun shots then everyone starting running for the door. Not sure if anyone was hurt. #LAX” and “Almost 4 hrs since the shooting. Still here. 2000+ people. They’re handing out water & snacks. #LAXShooting.” Belleci provided his followers with insider information, while using #LAXShooting, an established hash tag.

#BostonMarathon

The devastating bombing that occurred at the Boston Marathon became popularized by the #BostonMarathon hash tag, allowing it to become an outlet for immediate updates. Information about runners and bystanders regarding the occurrence, as well as personal health updates were posted and seen on Twitter prior to being broadcasted on television news outlets. This particular hash tag started trending rather quickly, as it provided facts early and often. Other hash tags also provided marathon runners, supporters and civilians with knowledge of safety precautions in the area while the suspects were being searched.

In addition to trending hash tags used while the occurrence took place, the Boston Marathon bombing incident initiated several hash tags to emerge following the bombing. Some of the most popular hash tags that were established in the wake of the bombing were: #BostonStrong, #PrayForBoston and #BostonHelp. These three particular hash tags provided a sense of community within the city of Boston and some of them are still used today, months after the tragic incident.  

Twitter has turned into quite a remarkable social media outlet following the occurrence of recent, devastating events. It has allowed significant progress to be made regarding the ease of communication in relaying the status of safety during incidents in the United States. Additionally, the hash tags used on Twitter have been and still are used to connect people, event updates and news reports. They provide a constant stream of information that can be viewed by millions of people, which in recent cases has provided to be invaluable.

As always, we welcome all comments and are interested in hearing what you have to say. Have you or your organization used twitter during a difficult crisis?  

Like what you read?  Be social and share. 

Fantex: The Perfect Marriage Between Fantasy Sports and Branding… Not so Fast

By: Ben Okun

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, there are 33,559,990 people playing fantasy sports in America today (http://www.fsta.org/industry_demographics). This means that there are nearly 34 million owners drafting, trading, cutting and bidding on a pool of professional athletes. Essentially, a fantasy team is an investment, in which an owner buys stock in/drafts a player and either holds on to that stock throughout the course of the season, or sells that stock/trades the player to obtain the most value possible. While many fantasy leagues do feature a cash prize for the winner, the investments that fantasy owners make in players don’t hold any real weight outside of the fantasy world.

This can all change with the potential inception of Fantex, which is “the first registered trading platform that lets you buy and sell stock linked to the value and performance of a pro athlete’s brand,” (https://fantex.com/). Fantex brings fantasy sports to life and allows people to own a small piece of their favorite player. The only athlete that has agreed to a deal with Fantex thus far has been Arian Foster, the All-Pro running back for the Houston Texans. Fantex will pay Foster $10 million upfront to receive a 20% stake in his future income including contracts, endorsements, broadcasting and other business revenue. Theoretically, investors will be able to buy stock in Arian Foster, through Fantex, that is directly tied to Foster’s brand.

Die-hard fantasy fans might jump all over this Fantex idea and suddenly think that they are investing experts. This however, would be a fatal mistake, as fantasy sports are very different from athletes’ real-life brands. Fantasy sports are based purely on a player’s statistics and performance. While an athlete’s brand is somewhat tied to those factors, much of an athlete’s brand involves off-field appeal, personality and intangibles that have nothing to do with the actual sport. Athletes that are amazing fantasy players might have no outside brand appeal at all, and those that have strong brands might not even be drafted in fantasy leagues.

While there are similarities between Fantex and fantasy sports, the differences are striking. Even though an athlete’s performance on the field can bolster their brand, there really is no correlation between the two. As a Fantex investor, you are hoping that the athlete has an illustrious playing and post-playing career, but this is almost impossible to predict. In all sports, there are Hall of Famers who retire and are never heard from again. There are also plenty of no-name, journey men that build up a powerful brand and go on to be successful in other, outside business ventures. Keep in mind too, that an athlete’s career can end at any moment due to a severe injury that could have a devastating effect on their brand.

Although Fantex provides a brand new, exciting way for sports fans to engage with their favorite athletes, I think potential investors would be wise to steer clear. A brand is so much more intricate and complicated than statistics, that there is no real way to project a brand’s future success. This, combined with the inevitable unpredictability of an athlete’s actual playing career, makes for an extremely shaky investment no matter which athlete’s brand you plan on buying stock in. Fantex seems to be targeting emotional fans that just want to root for certain players more than they already do, instead of business-savvy investors who have real knowledge of the stock market. From first glance, Fantex seems like a perfect medium to bridge brands and fantasy sports, an already booming industry. Although the connection is apparent, we are talking about two completely different things here.

There is a reason why it’s called “fantasy” sports; anyone can manage their own team and make any decisions they want with their players, without any true impact in “real life.” There is also a reason why branding (in athletes, celebrities and companies) is left to a team of public relations and marketing professionals; because they understand the landscape of the branding industry and are experts in shaping a brand no matter the circumstance. Building a brand is such a delicate process that incorporates forward thinking strategies, familiarity with competitors and a host of other outside factors that a fantasy sports expert would most likely overlook when drafting their team. This is why combining fantasy sports and branding can lead to a slippery slope, and as a sports fan, it is best to hop off the Fantex sleigh.

As always, I welcome any comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

Why It’s Important to have a Degree in PR

By: Kelsey Clark

Although it may seem like majoring in public relations may not be necessary in order to obtain a successful career in the field, in today’s world it is proving to be quite beneficial. Below are five main PR concepts a student with a degree in public relations will learn prior to entering the professional world.

The Definition

Since PR is not clearly understood by the majority of the public and it often comes with a negative connotation, it is important students learn the correct definition early on in their PR pursuit. This way, they know if PR is something they truly enjoy. The main point students learn in defining PR is that it is about building and maintaining symbiotic relationships between organizations or individuals and the public.

Types of PR

Students pursuing a PR degree learn the various types of PR work available. Just because one type of PR isn’t of interest to a student, doesn’t mean another area won’t be appealing. The types of PR include investor relations, media relations, health communication and sports public relations, to name a few. Each type of PR goes hand-in-hand with the various types of settings PR jobs offer. Some of the types of settings include an agency, a firm, a large corporation and a sports organization. Each varies in size and each deals with handling PR situations in different ways.

Basics of Writing

PR writing courses provide students with the opportunity to improve and expand upon their skills as writers throughout each year of college. Writing is a crucial component in PR, therefore gaining experience in writing within the PR field prior to entering the workforce is advantageous.

The Guide to PR Campaigns

Those beginning to delve into the world of PR learn the process of how to create and implement a PR campaign for a client. Although the acronym varies from professor to professor, a common term associated with the steps of a PR campaign is R.O.P.E., which stands for research, objectives, programming and evaluation. These four words sum up the stages of the process, which allows for students to better remember which steps need to be completed and when.

Capstone Courses

Although capstone courses do not exist at every school, they are an essential part of learning real world concepts of PR. Capstone courses that put students into teams, each considered its own PR firm, are given a client and then asked to create and execute a PR campaign, provide a first-hand experience in learning how a campaign works. Creating PR documents along the way, compiling them into a formal book and presenting all of the information to the client at the end of the semester sets up a true example of what would take place in an actual PR firm.

Students who earn an undergraduate degree in public relations have an advantage over students who earn a degree in a different subject when it comes to pursuing a career in the field. All of the above skills, learned by PR majors throughout their time in school, provide a significant base in becoming a successful PR professional.

As always, I welcome your comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.  

A Guide to Handling Internet Trolls

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       By: Ben Okun

In Scandinavian and Norse mythology, trolls have generally resided in dark caves or scary places that no one wants to visit. Today, trolls reside in some of the most heavily populated places, dominating social media, blogs and comment sections on websites. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, “internet trolls” are essentially hecklers, people who start arguments online by posting upsetting, inflammatory or off-topic messages that are deliberately used to generate an emotional response. This can be categorized as online harassment, and these trolls often harass public or prominent figures in the media. If you are a target of trolling and have received messages or comments from trolls, it is important to know how to react, so that you can keep your image and brand intact. Here are some tips to use to do away with these nasty Internet trolls:

1.  Have a Witty Response

The whole reason trolls do what they do is to generate a response and receive attention. It’s easy to just fire back at trolls in the heat of the moment, but this could lead to something you might regret later. Feeding a troll is one of the worst things you can do and getting into a back and forth war is exactly what they want. So before you comment back, think carefully about what you want to say and how you’d like to portray yourself because your reputation is on the line, especially on social media where your followers can see the entire exchange. By taking your time and composing a witty, humorous response, your acknowledgement of the troll might end the conversation and leave them satisfied, while also building your brand and getting some laughs.

Erin Andrews executed this strategy to perfection this week. One of her followers tweeted at her “Hearing @ErinAndrews voice makes me want to hang myself with dental floss… #SoAnnoying.” Andrews retweeted this message and responded “Plz say it’s mint flavored tho.” Short, sweet, thought-out (maybe) and definitely earned some laughs and respect from her followers. Most importantly, it shut up the troll. Well done Erin!

2. Utilize your Privacy Settings

Regardless of what media platform you are on, it’s always good to know the basic privacy and function controls. This goes further than making sure your username and password are secure. Many platforms allow you to block certain users from accessing your profile, posting on your forums and replying to your tweets. You can filter out undesirable material that doesn’t reflect your brand. Blocking someone is a form of privacy and you have every right to do this, because those who are blocked are still able to use the platforms, just not be in contact with you. Be sure to use caution when blocking or filtering trolls. Don’t just delete a post that is disagreeing with or criticizing your work. You don’t want to come across as biased or stubborn. In order to be a successful brand, it’s important to tolerate differing opinions and perspectives. Utilize your privacy settings to your discretion, but do not overdo them and make it impossible for people to communicate with you, especially if you are an emerging or prominent brand. Believe it or not, but not all trolls are bad!

3. Differentiate Between Trolls and Threats

I’ll say it again; not all trolls are bad! Most trolls are annoying, but some can be pretty funny. With that being said, it’s important to draw the line somewhere and be able to distinguish between a (harmless) troll and an actual threat. A lot of times trolls will say mean or disturbing things, but you can read between the lines and identify them as a troll. Anything that you feel may be a direct threat towards you personally, do not be afraid to report. Take a screenshot or save potentially threatening messages, should the situation escalate. It can also be good to retweet a threatening post, because it can gain the law enforcement’s attention and alert your followers. Having thick skin is a great quality, but no one should be subjected to threats or comments that cross the line. Showing that you can tolerate trolls should build credibility towards your brand, but never feel like you have to tolerate threats.

4. Don’t take it Personally

Congratulations! If you’re being trolled, chances are you are somewhat of a public figure and have achieved a relative amount of success, so be proud of yourself. Do not take trolling personally. Not everyone is going to like you or agree with everything you have to say. Even the most popular, beloved celebrities have “haters” or trolls out to get them. Moreover, if you’re operating a company’s account, whether that be on social media or other websites, understand that trolls are attacking the perceived brand, not you directly. Most likely, you are just an outlet for their unwarranted comments and they’re the one with issues. If you don’t feeling like responding to trolls with something clever, just ignore them and keep doing what you’re doing. Obviously, you’re doing something right if you have any sort of following to begin with, and they are probably just jealous of your success.

As always, we welcome any and all comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.