National Coffee Day: Marketing Best Practices

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This much awaited holiday has been celebrated since 2005, although some suggest that the holiday originated in Japan in 1983. Regardless of its roots, the free beans are greatly appreciated by the masses. The major coffee retailers jumped at the opportunity to harness this holiday to employ creative marketing strategy. Dunkin Donuts chose to use the holiday to shed light on their new dark roast and offered free medium cups:

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McDonalds chose to extend their celebration by offering free small cups of coffee during their breakfast hours for two weeks leading up to September 29th.

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Krispy Kreme encouraged office workers to leave "out of the office" messages on their emails to let their co workers know they are enjoying a (free) coffee break. Customers can enjoy a 12 oz free cup of coffee, or a mocha, latte, or iced coffee for a discounted rate of $1. Their suggested message begins by stating "Did you know that the best way to be more productive at work is to take a break? It's true! I found it on the Internet."

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Tim Hortons took the celebrations one step further by not only offering a $1 cup of coffee, but also set up a scavenger hunt with envelopes containing "more than $9,000 in cash and gift cards", with location clues posted to social media. The envelopes were hidden across Buffalo, Rochester (New York), Detroit, Grand Rapids (Michigan), and Columbus (Ohio). The creative marketing strategy of the big coffee retailers highlights their commitment to not only reward consumers, but to also foster better brand recognition. For example, Dunkin Donuts' launch of a new dark roast on a holiday will link consumer's memory to their first free cup. McDonalds makes an effort to create a personal connection with consumers with the tagline "My coffee is your coffee", and Krispy Kreme and Tim Hortons engage their consumers with parallel activities unrelated to physically drinking coffee. Although the holiday seems staged to tout the coffee producer's brand, it can serve as a lesson to content marketers across many industries. A free cup of coffee that is not glorified may not be as appreciated. The social media campaigns and conversation grab the attention of the reader, while pushing new product-all to "make Monday a little easier."   **Written by Marketing intern Aneesha Joshi, International Relations major at Boston University (Class of 2015).

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Emma Watson for #HeforShe: The Power of Celebrity and Social Media for Justice

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This past weekend, British actress and U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson delivered a compelling speech to the U.N. General Women's Assembly to launch the #HeforShe campaign. The aim of this campaign is to mobilize as many men and boys as possible to advocate for gender equality. In her moving speech, Emma Watson brought attention to the unfortunate reality that "feminisim" is too often associated with "man hating," effectively halting the progression of achieving gender equality. "How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation," asks Watson poignantly. "Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too."

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The involvement of men in the movement towards improving the conditions of women and girls all over the world creates a sense of universality, that males and females must come together to address what Watson calls a "human rights" issue. She continues, saying that in order to galvanize major change, men must also break the shackles of their own gender stereotypes. "If men don't have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won't feel compelled to be submissive," she asserts. The concept of viewing men and women as two opposite entities with opposing ideals is not progressive or productive. According to Watson, men and women should define themselves as who they are, rather than what they are not, and in turn be accepting of their counterparts. The #HeforShe campaign has since garnered a lot of attention on social media, and Watson has encouraged her followers to take the pledge their support.

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The trending hashtag has taken over Facebook and Twitter in the past couple days, and the message seems to be resonating.

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Take a look at Emma Watson's heartfelt and moving speech for yourself: In the wake of the recent flood of social media conversation following the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, proponents of gender equality are especially engaged. At the moment, many twitter conversations have centered on social justice for women, and Emma Watson's call for action could not have come at a more relevant time. Streamlining the message of #HeforShe under a unique yet succinct hashtag creates a solid platform for generating widespread conversation. Social media sites are fantastic forums for grassroots campaigns to snowball into global movements for justice - as seen this past summer with the viral success of the #StrikeOutALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I hope to see the #HeForShe movement stay afloat among other current social issues, and maintain its fearless determination to spur change.   **Written by Marketing intern Aneesha Joshi, International Relations major at Boston University (Class of 2015).

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#451Cares: Volunteering at the Greater Boston Food Bank

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Three of us from the 451 team spent the day at the Greater Boston Food Bank, a non-profit organization that serves more than 394,000 people each year through a network of nearly 600 member hunger-relief agencies throughout eastern Massachusetts. Their mission is to end hunger in eastern Massachusetts and to distribute enough food to provide at least one meal a day to those in need. We spent the morning sorting potatoes with a hardworking and dedicated group of other volunteers from United Way – The Federal Reserve and Sentinel Benefits and Financial Group. After sorting through thousands of potatoes, none of us wanted to eat French fries ever again (well at least not for a few weeks). Our next project was to label seafood products. In the midst of all the potato sorting and labeling, I reflected upon how great of an opportunity it was to be helping so many people in need. 451 Founding Partner Nicholas Lowe said, “to be able to support a great cause with a great volunteer organization and help support the Greater Boston Food Bank was a magnificent experience.”

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After our morning shift, we were informed that we sorted through 6,930 pounds of food! That is enough for 5,246 meals, which amounts to serving a family of four for a year and then some. After our lunch break we were back at it packaging flavored water, labeling frozen galettes and deli meats. In the afternoon shift the volunteer team sorted through 12,025 pounds of food! 12,025 pounds of food feeds 9,250 meals. Individually, each 451 volunteer sorted through 1,041 pounds each, making 798 meals possible.

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After a full day of volunteering at the Greater Boston Food Bank, it was rewarding to know exactly how many people we helped just by volunteering for a day. "Visiting the Greater Boston Food Bank as a 451 member brings a great sense of joy and accomplishment," said Public Relations Account Coordinator Alex Molina. "It’s an amazing feeling to give back to the Boston community and know that even with the smallest task, you’re achieving a lot.” If you are interested in volunteering or donating to the Greater Boston Food Bank, please visit this link http://www.gbfb.org/how-to-help/volunteer.php. Help support a great cause!  

**Written by Justin Warshavsky, Communications major at Endicott College (Class of 2015).

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The Billion-Dollar Domino Effect: Brands’ Role in NFL Scandal

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In the wake of the NFL’s domestic abuse cases, sponsors are now being pressured to take a stand. Will all of them fall in line? Thinking of the NFL as just a sports league is to forget that the network of 32 teams boasted a profit of more than $9 billion in 2013 alone. With the onset of four high-profile domestic violence lawsuits, sponsors are now being twisted into the media tornado that has overtaken the NFL. CoverGirl was first up to be hit by public backlash when the brand featured a new ad image on its Facebook and Twitter, publicizing its ongoing partnership as “the official beauty sponsor of the NFL.” Fans were not amused. Opponents immediately made modifications to the endorsement, adding a glaring black eye to the model’s visage.

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In response, CoverGirl took to its Facebook page, stating: covergirl With their reputations and income at risk, other companies such as Visa and McDonald’s have released similar statements of guarded trust in the NFL’s ability to appropriately handle the matter.

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McDonald’s in a statement:

Domestic violence and abuse are unacceptable behaviors and have no place in sports, or anywhere. As McDonald’s is a family brand, we’ve communicated our concerns to the league, and we expect it to take strong and necessary actions to address these issues.

The only brand to drop a bomb on NFL’s sponsorship outlook was Anheuser-Busch, who made it clear that fans might not be enjoying the taste of its popular Bud if the NFL doesn’t take action.

The company released a statement, stating:

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Though some say Anheuser-Busch’s PR hyperbole might be all for show (the company has a $1.2 billion contract with the NFL and has been the official beer advertiser for the past 28 Super Bowls), the general uniformity across all brands’ public acknowledgements reminds us of this:

Despite the criticism of companies’ contrived responses and moderate stance, brands have an image to uphold and sales to make. Maintaining customer loyalty by severing ties with the NFL cannot substitute for the billions of dollars lost by decreased advertising. Until companies can find a way to make social statements lucrative, the resounding message still applies: Follow suit.

Take a look at what AJ Gerritson, co-founder at 451 Marketing, had to say on Fox News:

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**Written by Elise Yancey, Public Relations major at Boston University (Class of 2015).

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3 Tips for Great Customer Service Through Social Media

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This statistic suggests that small acts of kindness and guidance to please customers can create trusted relationships and brand loyalty. Yet, with social media becoming the new way to receive answers and solve problems, companies such as Bank of America, Home Depot and J.P. Morgan are struggling with adapting their customer service to provide appropriate online feedback. Small errors or complaints that are left unaddressed can fester, creating ruinous disasters from seemingly inconsequential beginnings. Silence is no longer an acceptable answer. In fact, 88% of customers who have complaints ignored on Facebook and Twitter are unlikely to buy from the brand in the future. Here are some best practices for avoiding these missteps and creating an engaging and helpful culture:   Take the extra step Recently, CitiBike customer Paul Young ran into an incident that could’ve easily ruined the rest of his day:

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While most companies would’ve tweeted a small message of sympathy, CitiBike took the incident as an opportunity to give Paul a much-needed surprise:

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The personalized message and timely outreach created a memorable and honest effort to help a customer, which reinforced the brand’s image for reliability and responsiveness.

  Be timely With social media, the doors are always open and the lights stay on. Having a presence on a social media platform that never sleeps means that questions are always being asked. Your brand will need to deliver answers – fast. Seamless is an example of a brand that understands the concept of how answers should be conveyed - beyond the capabilities of automatic messaging.

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Maintain helpful troubleshooting More often than not, customers place their questions and concerns on social media platforms, only to be met by silence.

Nordstrom is an example of a brand that creates trusted relationships with users and provides resources when guidance is needed:

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Even if the company can’t solve all problems, providing human support and technical guidance emphasizes a commitment to quality customer service.

Brands should understand that, whether receiving praise or blame, all messages must be handled in a timely, personalized manner. This is the most effective way to maintain a strong brand reputation. Companies should recognize opportunity in all online communication and have the social media savvy to use it. How are you providing answers to your follower’s questions? Check out these Social Media Examiner articles for more tips on how to deliver key responses to your brand’s customers:   **Written by Elise Yancey, Public Relations major at Boston University (Class of 2015).

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