Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about how the president of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, feels about same sex marriage. In an interview with the Baptist Press he took a controversial stance and created an uproar that might have put the fast food joint in jeopardy.
Interestingly enough, this move did wonders for his bottom line. Anti-gay marriage supporters dedicated an appreciation day to the chain, giving it one of the highest grossing sales days it’s ever had.
As a public relations professional, I have to wonder: was Mr. Cathy’s public stance on such a controversial issue intentional? It came to my attention that almost three quarters of Chick-Fil-A locations are in the more conservative Southern states. Could this have been a planned PR move in order to boost sales primarily in these areas?
It’s an interesting thought. Marketing departments work hard to create relatable and attractive brand images. So the idea of starting a firestorm seems a bit risky. Maybe it’s a case where bad press can be good press, too.
So do you think this was an intentional move? Is it a good tactic for brands to create controversy in order to boost visibility and sales?
Guerrilla marketing often aims to offend people in order to gain their attention. It’s not for every organization, but it can work. Officials at the Lung Cancer Alliance seem to have a good understanding of the concept. The group recently launched a campaign that includes posters saying things like: “The tattooed deserve to die” and “Cat lovers deserve to die.”
What the..? Hey! I love cats!
Upon visiting the group’s website, you see a countdown clock until the big reveal of a mysterious disease that doesn’t discriminate: lung cancer. The clock has been removed and replaced with:
“Many people believe that if you have lung cancer you did something to deserve it. It sounds absurd, but it’s true. Lung cancer doesn’t discriminate and neither should you. Help put an end to the stigma and the disease.”
The American Lung Association has always been the top dog when it comes raising awareness/funding for lung cancer research. But this guerilla marketing campaign really put the small Lung Cancer Alliance on the map. I had honestly never heard of the group until recently. Many angry comments posted across social media sites prompted me to check it out.
Well done. I see what you did there, Lung Cancer Alliance. You let the ticked off people do your dirty work for you. Here are some excerpts from the Lung Cancer Alliance Facebook page:
Some would argue for the end of this campaign. It’s certainly not appropriate for all issues or groups. But for a small, cash-strapped non-profit trying to raise awareness about a deadly disease, I applaud the effort.
As a general rule, before I pick up the phone to pitch a media contact, I know their name, have researched the outlet, skimmed through recent stories the journalist has written and have an idea of why they would want to hear my pitch in the first place. This ladies and gentlemen, is the art of romancing the media.
It’s surprising how many PR professionals still operate with the old “spray and pray” method, thinking that quantity pitching rules over quality pitching.
In fact, I just read a great white paper by Cision When in Doubt that outlines the very reasons why we PR pros shouldn’t do that. The most important lesson you can learn in this industry is to research everything you possibly can about the outlet/beat of the person you’re pitching. In all honesty, those that skip this huge step really do damage to themselves and the company they represent. They also do big disservice to industry as a whole.
It just gives PR a bad name. We want the media to see us as a valuable resource, not as annoying spammers. I’m sure it would be maddening for a real estate reporter to continuously get pitched to cover the latest beauty product.
Researching the details is more time consuming, but the paybacks are better quality and even quantity coverage.
Aside from doing research before you send anything to or contact the media I have a couple of suggestions I’ve picked up from my experiences for when I pitch and follow up on the phone:
- Check out editorial calendars. These can be a gold mine. Even if they aren’t interested in covering your news now, it could be perfect for them at a later date. Follow up.
- When you call to follow up, instead of going straight to your pitch, introduce yourself and ask what they are working on. It could be in connection to what you’re pitching. Use your discretion if they sound hurried. By being natural, conversational and not just pushing your pitch, you earn their ear and respect.
- But be ready to deliver the main points of your pitch in less than 20 seconds. More often than not you will run into an editor that has no time for nonsense. Prepare for that.
Of course don’t leave out social media as another avenue for media outreach. It offers valuable insights into what journalists’ are writing about and their interests.
Above all, know that if you continue to spray and pray, it may take a few reporters giving you a piece of their minds before you never again forget to research before you reach out.
Mondelēz – the new brand name soon-to-replace the historic Kraft brand, is a bit of a mouthful.
In case you’re wondering how to pronounce the new brand name to be slapped on Kraft Foods’ global snacks business later this year, the company says it should be pronounced “Mohn-dah-LEEZ.” That little squiggly line above the last ‘e,’ that’s a macron – and it’s supposed to make sure you pronounce the new brand name with an “eez” instead of an “ayse.” Got that?!
Let’s go beyond the obvious recognition challenges that come with changing your brand’s name from a monosyllabic, five-letter word (Kraft), to a made-up word with three syllables and a macron, a macron! As a college-educated English major, I have no clue how a macron functions – forget the vast majority of Americans that have no idea what sound a squiggly line is supposed to help them pronounce.
Diane Brady at Businessweek raised a great point regarding the rebrand – most journalists (the people who’ll be covering your products and news, Kraft) don’t even have a macron on their keyboard (or know what it is without grabbing a dictionary). That’s a problem, because most news coverage of the new branding is already failing to include the symbol that’s so integral to the new name.
Apparently Kraft spent several weeks searching for a new name before deciding on Mondelēz. Maybe they should have spent several months looking for something newer, fresher and easier to pronounce instead?
Rebranding a multi-national company famous for producing household favorites such as Cadbury, Ritz crackers, Oreo and Chips Ahoy! cookies is no easy task. It’s also something that shouldn’t be taken lightly – we’re sure Kraft, I mean Mondelēz, has done it’s market research, but we just can’t see Mondelēz Macaroni & Cheese becoming a household name any time soon.
- Marrissa (Twitter: @marrissam)