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Ad Age, Paid Media, PR and Earned Media

Kudos to the Council of Public Relations Firms for using paid media to promote a profession that has until recently been based on earning media for organizations.

As I tell many clients, advertising can be a very effective pr tactic.  Especially if you are trying to guarantee that your message is delivered as intended.  Crisis situations, leadership building through op-ed ads, etc.

One of the challenges that our profession faces is getting reporters to write pleasant things about the true nature of public relations.  Most times, the “s” or “f” or ”p” word is used to describe the public relations profession.  Thankfully, today we also have more direct channels via social networks to help us communicate our value beyond media relations.

But, what I really like about the Council’s approach in the October 26 paid supplement in Advertising Age is the tone of the articles.  No pleading, no convincing, no dreary academic language that obscures the point:  Brand development, marketing and public relations are blending.

Thanks for advocating for our profession by taking the road less traveled — traditional advertising.  I’m pretty certain that you’ll see a return on this investment.  The only criticism here is that I cannot link to the actual article — or in this case the ad — since Ad Age doesn’t show it on their home page.  The next best thing for the Council to do would be to have a link on its site.   It’s not too late.

Telling a story beyond the product

Sometimes it’s just a company’s inherent brand philosophy that leads to telling great stories and connecting people with the brand.  The fact is brands struggle to find their niche, their voice and more importantly, a way to be relevant and truly connect with people that goes beyond the product or service they offer.  That connection can, and does happen, in lots of different ways, ranging from corporate philanthropy to social responsibility.

One brand that’s a good example of this is Chipotle. Yep, you read it right- Chipotle, the fast-casual Mexican restaurant chain. I’ve always been a fan of theirs and whenever I find myself in one I can’t resist a delicious taco filled with that spicy, hot barbacoa. Yum! Back to the point. Chipotle is a great example of  a brand that’s built on more than just great food. They’ve built their business around the philosophy of “Food Integrity“, which basically centers around the idea that they only use organic, natural, fresh ingredients. They use unprocessed, seasonal, family-farmed vegetables as well as natural, farm-raised, hormone-free meats. You get the idea. They’ve built their brand on a philosophy of social responsibly that doesn’t offer their guests processed, chemically-ridden garbage food.

However, as we go beyond the menu, Chipotle is connecting with people in a whole new way and is reaching out to those who are environmentally conscious and, at the same time, is reminding those of us who aren’t that we should be.  Case and point- the chain is installing solar panels on 75 of its store locations. How cool is that? Talk about leading by example. According to the Denver Business Journal article, Chipotle is seeking to reduce its energy consumption during peak hours, which is generally from 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Not only will this be good for Chipotle’s energy bills and their bottom line, but it also is a great example of a brand that’s doing good for their community and the environment as a whole.

As a PR professional, I love brand like this. They have a great story to tell and the marketing, branding, public relations, social media, you-name-it possibilities are endless.  But more importantly, as a person, I’ll keep them on my list of places I like to eat, not only because the food is good, but because they’ve got their act together.  Now I only wish they had one closer to the Hartford / New Haven area…

All Things Green On St. Patrick’s Day!

The sounds of U2 rocking it out. Shepard’s pie with corned beef and cabbage. A delicious green beer. Donning your best green outfit. Dancing and smiling leprechauns. Ahh, St. Patrick’s Day. We’re all a little Irish on March 17th, aren’t we?

St. Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays that offers brands endless possibilities for various promotions and publicity opportunities. Here are two fun facts for you on this day of green.

First, U.S. News & Report published a list of the top 5 things that are green on St. Patrick’s Day. They are:

1. Beer
2. Food
3. Transit
4. Rivers
5. Parades

Second, here’s something that made me chuckle and I think many of us can relate. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!