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Boston Globe Tour – Journey of a Story

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A few weeks ago on a Friday morning, The Boston Globe was nice enough to host a group of PR pros from the PubClub of New England. We had a wonderful time meeting all of the staffers, touring the facility, and hearing about all of the assets the paper has now. One of my favorite parts was hearing about how they are now housing start-ups in the building to help them launch new products.

 

As PR pros, our job usually ends as soon as the story is submitted by a journalist to be printed – but that is just the beginning of the life of a article at the Globe. Once a writer’s deadline hits, the story physically travels all over the building (and sometimes across New England) before it lands in the hands of readers.

 

First, it’s written in the newsroom – this part we’re familiar with. However, I thought the Globe newsroom was rather overwhelming! I had no idea how huge it was. This part of the journey usually happens at night, we’ll say around 7pm:

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Around 10pm: The stories are etched on to special plates that are used to print the paper (the room has special yellow lighting so they aren’t damaged):

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The plates, which can only ever be used once (they are recycled, don’t worry!) are created on these machines….

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And they are then clipped to and taken up this ski lift-type track to the press room (right over the heads of these PR pros!):

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Meanwhile, in the press room, rolls and rolls of paper are ready for printing. The Globe actually has a train track in their press room (not pictured) and these rolls of paper are delivered directly to the Globe via train.

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Since the rolls are so heavy (1,700 lbs each!) they are moved around by these unmanned robots:

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You can see the their tire tracks along the press room floor:

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Around 2:00 am: The first edition begins printing!

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The Globe has four working presses, but they only ever use three at a time in case one goes down. The presses are intelligent enough that they can typically fix themselves if something breaks, but they also always have repairmen on hand as backup.

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There are actually three editions of the Globe printed every day. The first edition has three stars on the edge of the page and is sent to the farthest-reaching distribution locations (Maine, Cape Cod, etc.). The second edition has two stars on the edge of the page and is sent to the metro Boston area. The last edition has one star and is sent to Boston proper. This allows edits and/or updates to be made right up until the last minute.

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And voila! The paper lands in the hands of the readers. This tour certainly was an eye-opening experience and I’ll certainly think differently about working with newspapers from now on.

Were you on the tour? What as your favorite part? If you weren’t, have you ever seen a newspaper being printed? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

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Five Lessons Learned from Rihanna’s 777 Tour

Fuse TV

In honor of her seventh album, Unapologetic, pop star Rihanna took on a major endeavor with a very Vegas-like name: “The 777 Tour,” a concert series that would have her travel to seven cities in seven countries in seven days on a plane with about 50 fans and 150 journalists in tow. While Rihanna’s star status alone guaranteed the tour being a week-long celebrity news headliner, it was quickly overshadowed by the apparent torture experienced by the fans and journalists traveling with her: jet lag; cramped spaces; the lack of proper food, toiletries, and Internet access; and little to no interactions with the singer herself after the first few days on board as she remained at the front of the plane. Needless to say, the event turned out to be a public relations disaster, one that upset even the most loyal members of her RihannaNavy fanbase and the journalism community—two outlets an entertainer like Rihanna depends on to be the brand she is today.

Although the tour has reached its end, and the terrifying, if not murderous tweets from those on the plane, stories about Australian journalist-turned-streaker Tim Dormer, and overall mutiny from journalists only live on in Internet infamy, there is a lot companies and service providers can learn from this endeavor turned disaster. After all, while hindsight is 20/20, it’s better to avoid as many disasters as you can.

 

    1. Set your priorities: While a tour of any size requires priority to be placed on things like set equipment, instruments, and wardrobe, the biggest priority for The 777 Tour wasn’t really any of these things—it was the people. While Rihanna and company are used to a hectic schedule and less-than-stellar traveling accommodations (yes, even when said accommodations are in the relative comfort of a private jet), one of the biggest priorities, if not the biggest priority, were the 200+ people who were unused to those conditions. It’s important to remember that regardless of how many times you or your company gets used to executing one type of event or campaign, priorities may change when other factors are added. Even doing something simple, like an event in an outside venue, requires just as much if not more consideration for safety than simply lighting.
    2. Anticipate problems and plan for them: It goes without saying that those 200 people not having access to many of the things it’s assumed that Rihanna always gets—like leg room and the chance to sit down and eat real food—was a very noticeable problem for the tour, one that should have been accounted for and planned. For example, maybe getting another plane for them to reach a location a bit later than Rihanna herself would have been better, allowing them to sleep a little longer, be refreshed, and better able to handle the schedule delay. Although it’s possible that any plans made for the fans and journalists that didn’t include seeing Rihanna 24/7 would have made them upset, them complaining about not being able to see her for a few hours would have been so much better than complaints about never being able to see her and feeling like they were dwelling in airplane purgatory.

      Image via Buzzfeed
    3. Remember your duties as a public figure (part 1):  Rihanna having more than 100 journalists willing to document her every move and appearance was done for a reason—having stories about Rihanna to better promote the album and give a behind-the-scenes look at her life on tour.  Their job was dependent on Rihanna being willing to take a moment out of her schedule and speak to them. The age-old lesson learned here is it’s important that if you have a company representative or are your company’s representative, your job is to commit to fulfilling your media obligations. While we now live in a world where one’s image can be created, controlled, or even changed internally, traditional media is still an important influencer in how you’re perceived. Even today, transparency and professionalism are still key.US Magazine

      Image via US Weekly
    4. Remember your duties as a public figure (part 2): For Rihanna, another duty that went unfulfilled was her remembering that the people who truly mattered were those RihannaNavy members traveling with her.  From the beginning, their experiences with Rihanna were to play a very important role in enforcing the image of her as an entertainer who connects with her fans and shaping the way others—fans, commentators, and critics alike—see her.  While 50 people won’t completely change the way over 62 million on Facebook or 26 million other people on Twitter see Rihanna, especially as Unapologetic became #1 on the Billboard charts in the United States on November 28, their chronicling the lack of interaction with their favorite performer has had to have hit home for some—if it hadn’t, there wouldn’t be so many articles about it.  Having Rihanna come from the front of the plane to where her fans were in the back wouldn’t have necessarily made everything better, but a fan being able to shake her hand, speak with her, or at worst, complain to her would have generated a much more positive impact in their experience.Again, for companies, it is important that fans see you as someone who knows what they experience, understands their needs, and reflects that in as many ways as you can.  Depending on what your company does or represents, the dynamic shared by you and your customers is one that can change almost instantly. While you can’t prepare for everything that will happen, letting them know that you’re listening to them and you recognize their needs makes all the difference.
    5. And if all else fails, apologize: Luckily, this is a lesson Rihanna seemed to put in practice as she released a formal apology on the last day of the tour explaining her absence was to make sure her voice was still strong throughout the week.While that explanation does not excuse what her fans and the press went through, and can even be seen as her being out of touch with what was going on, acknowledging the disaster her tour became allows her to better repair the damage her brand has gone through, dodge a potentially strong wave of backlash, and generate interest from other fans should she try an endeavor of this scale again.And this lesson is just as important as any of the others. Though apologizing will not always guarantee things working out in your favor, it is the first and most essential step in handling any crisis or disaster that may come save for not having one at all. It never hurts to say sorry—and to mean it.

Let’s hope that for Rihanna, using “7” that many times in a tour name will make sure the odds work out in her favor next time.What other lessons do you think can be learned from The 777 Tour? Let us know in the comments.

 

Written by Jalika Conteh, recent graduate of Emerson College’s Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) graduate program.

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Refining and Maximizing Your Pitching Strategy

As media budgets are tightening and new social media sites are popping up left and right, they are varying the ways we can connect with reporters. We as PR professionals are constantly changing our media relations strategy. Tuesday night, three members of our public relations team here at 451 Marketing, attended a panel hosted by the Pub Club of New England, where several members of the Boston media unraveled a part of that equation and lent some insights from “the other side”, about how we can improve our pitching content and strategy such as how to get that elusive product coverage. On the panel were Jim Finkle (@techwriterjim),technology and cyber security reporter for Reuters; Katie Johnston (@ktkjohnston), business reporter for the Boston Globe; Erin Kutz (@erkutz), associate editor for Xconomy.com; Lisa van der Pool (@lvanderpool), CBS Boston contributor and reporter for the Boston Business Journal and Joe Roche (@BostonNewsGuy), news assignment manager for WCVB-TV.

 

 

 Below, our team shares a few key takeaways:
  1. Deadline Awareness: All the panelists emphasized how important it is for PR professionals to be aware of publication deadlines. While PR professionals are always eager to get news out to media ASAP, even non-breaking news, it’s beneficial to do your homework and be aware of the recipients’ schedules – which can vary based on their type of media.Joe noted that while early morning is the best time to reach him with news for broadcast, the worst times are when he first gets into the office (7 a.m.) and right before they go on air.  As for the print dailies, late morning or early afternoon is the best time to capture their attention.  Lisa pointed out that the Boston Business Journal’s deadline day is Wednesday, so it’s best to avoid pitching on that day. Katie recommended not contacting the Globe at 3 or 4 p.m.  While we always double check the time before sending out a pitch, this is a good reminder to make sure we do that every time!
  2. Product News Pitching –One attendee brought up a good inquiry – since a popular announcement for clients is new product news, what is the best way to entice the media to cover them?   The panelists confirmed something we’ve heard many times: they will rarely cover straight product news.  However, there are a few ways to make the information interesting to the media:Tie the news into company strategy. Does the new product reflect a recent shift in what the company is doing as a whole?Explore other angles related to the company.  Is there an interesting story about the CEO or a non-profit initiative the company is doing?
  3. Going beyond your client list when pitching trends – When asked what makes a really strong pitch, Katie made a great point that a lot of us lose sight of when writing trend pitches. According to her, using examples in your pitch from companies or brands that aren’t your clients not only shows a reporter that you’ve done your research and know the industry, but establishes your pitch as an actual trend; rather than merely news from your client. As PR professionals, we are constantly getting pressure from clients to get media coverage and it’s easy to put our blinders on and only focus on using their examples. Katie’s advice is a great reminder that looking at the bigger picture and staying on top of industry news pays off and gives you a better shot at your pitch becoming a story.
  4. “On Background” versus “Off the Record” – One question that came up at the event was whether or not to advise clients to say things as “off the record.” As PR practitioner, our general rule of thumb is that nothing is ever off the record; however the panel seemed to be much more laid back about that question (or maybe we just had an especially lovely handful of journalists at this event!). Katie then explained to the audience the difference between “on background” and “off the record.” “On background” means that your client can offer information; however, saying upfront that it’s on background means that the journalist won’t attribute them as the source for the information. Depending on the journalist, they’ll either find a different source for the information or leave it as anonymous. When advising our clients, however, we think we’ll still stick with our “nothing is off the record” mantra and play it safe.
  5. Twitter Pitching versus Email Pitching – More often than not, the subject of how social media affects journalism comes up at these types of events. Internally at agencies, Twitter seems to be the “next big thing” when connecting with journalists, and Laura had even been to “Twitter Pitching” seminars. However, we were so glad a member of the audience asked the panelists if they like to be pitched via Twitter because the resounding answer was “no!” They urged PR pros to stick with “old fashioned” email and phone. That’s not to say that they aren’t on Twitter, though – they are there and they are listening. Most panelists use Twitter as a news source and say it’s an especially useful tool for following influencers in their beat’s space. So, note to fellow PR folks, get those execs on Twitter and talkin’!

 

We would like to thank Katie, Lisa, Jim, Joe and Erin for sharing their insights and helping us to improve the way we reach out to and connect with them and to the Pub Club for organizing such a great panel!

 

Were there any takeaways that surprised you? If you are on the receiving end of PR pitches, do you have any tips to add? Check out the event with #pubclubofne hashtag and tweet us at @451heat.

 

-Alice DuBois @aedubois, Meredith D’Agostino @ladymusic, and Laura Christo @LauraChristo

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Online Backlash to SOPA and Samuel Adams ‘Hops’ Into Social

Top Story: SOPA/PIPA and the Online Protest

Image via Google

By now, you’ve seen the infographic above and are aware of SOPA/PIPA and the rather voal calls to action from many prominent online companies.  Just in case, here’s a rundown on why many are outraged by the proposed legislation

  • What do they stand for? SOPA is the “Stop Online Piracy Act” and PIPA stands for (deep breath) Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act.
  • SOPA, in the House of Representatives, and PIPA, in the US Senate are both targeting foreign websites that infringe on copyrighted materials
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), one of the major opponents to the bills, argue that “The standard for immunity is incredibly low and the potential for abuse is off the charts.  Basically, sites can be cut off based on “reasonable belief of infringement” – so, event if the claims made against a site end up being false, the site suffers.
  • Supporters of the legislation, mainly in the entertainment industry, feel that the charges brought on by SOPA/PIPA opponents have been blown out of proportion, the definition of infringement is clearly defined, and that the legislation is crucial in protecting their digital assets.

What we found most compelling about the reaction to the two pieces of legislation were the “protests” and banding together of many of the major social and search platforms in the US.  We’ve featured some of the most prominent below (click on images to enlarge):

   

  

   

Under the Radar: Super Bowl XLVI Will Have a Social Media Command Center

If you’re a social media user, chances are you’re posting to your Twitter feed and updating your Facebook status every time you’re watching a football game. And come Sunday, February 5, millions of users will be talking about the Super Bowl via social media, about everything from the players to the score to the commercials to the parking. Parking? Well, yes. The city of Indianapolis is expecting 150,000 visitors for Super Bowl weekend and they’ll be using social media to assist visitors with everything from finding parking to discovering the best the city has to offer.

The city will be setting up a Super Bowl Social Media Command Center today and it will remain in place until after the big game on February 5. The digital marketing agency managing the command center will set up advanced search tools and analytics to determine what fans need help and then will jump in and offer assistance where needed.

We can’t wait to see how the Social Media Command Center will manage to help people during the Super Bowl weekend and if it will set precedence for events in the future. Will all large-scale events begin to follow in suit and work to assist visitors and patrons? While we can see this working really well, we can also see people taking advantage of the increased customer service and getting extra upset when they can’t be helped. You know, like when there isn’t any close-by parking and they do have to walk a mile to get to the stadium.

 

Tool of the Week: Facebook Launches Timeline App Integration Platform

When the Spotify’s Facebook integration first launched, people either loved it or hated it. Some users thought it was fabulous that they could see what all their friends were listening to. And others were not happy that their Facebook friends could get such an up-close-and-personal look at their taste in music (perhaps they were a bit embarrassed?). Well, as of last week, there’s even more activity for you to see across your Facebook timeline. Facebook is now using the “open graph” API to allow developers to create apps that share user activitis on Facebook. From Pinterest to RunKeeper to TicketMaster, there are now close to 80 apps that you and your friends can integrate with your Facebook timeline.

Is this a good thing? Well, it depends on how you use Facebook. If you don’t care what articles your friends are reading, how many miles they’re running, what artists they’re listening to, or what food photos they’re taking, then this app integration will likely just annoy you and clog your newsfeed. But if you do care, or want to share your every move on the Internet with your own Facebook friends, you’ll find yourself loving the app integration. Luckily, Facebook makes it pretty easy to keep the integration shut off and to decide who you actually want to share details with. So, unlike the Spotify integration, you won’t find yourself unknowingly sharing your Justin Bieber obsession with all of your Facebook friends. Phew.

Of course, this is only the start with Facebook’s app integration and it’s likely we’ll be seeing more and more apps join in on the Facebook fun in the future. Before long, we might never have to leave Facebook.com. Which is exactly what they want.

 

Around The Hub: Samuel Adams Beer ‘Hops’ into Social

The Samuel Adams beer company has been the subject of social media scrutiny in the past because of its social media presence, or lack thereof. But that all changed in January, with the brewer launching a Twitter account, blog and crowd-sourced beer creation contest on Facebook.

Twitter: The account was officially launched on January 19th, and between then and the morning of January 23rd they had accumulated over 2500 followers and tweeted nearly 350 times. Almost every single one of their tweets is a response to someone who had engaged them. It looks like they were waiting to get their strategy in line before entering the space knowing they would be inundated and needed to be prepared for it. This was smart because if they had joined without a plan in action they may have ruined their chance at a strong account from the get-go. And as they said themselves…

Blog: Along with a Twitter account came a brand new Samuel Adams Blog. What is extremely interesting about this is the choice of content for the first ever blog post, that was written by founder Jim Koch. For the introductory post on the blog, Koch defended harsh words about Sam Calagione and his brewery Dogfish Head written in a Beer Advocate thread recently.

This demonstrates the tight-knit bond of the beer community, where they value their craft over rivalries with competing breweries. This also shows how fully invested in the social space the company now is, and that they are willing to push out original and possibly controversial topics.

Facebook: Samuel Adams has a decent size fan page (about 134,000 fans) with a fairly strong amount of engagement, but in the past had been lacking any really unique content. This changed when they partnered with Guy Kawasaki to create the ‘Crowd Craft Project’ – a beautifully designed and executed Facebook app that lets beer drinkers help create the next Sam Adams beer.

The app lets you choose different settings for types of yeast, hops, malt, body, clarity and color to create your ideal beer. The app lets each person submit one brew, with the top beer will be announced on February 5th and it being debuted in Austin and Boston in March.

What do you think of the SOPA/PIPA online backlash? Do you have your Facebook timeline yet? Will you be tweeting during Super Bowl XLVI? Tell us what you think of the Sam Adams social strategy? Follow the feedback with #451Labs hashtag and tweet us at @451heat.

Thank’s to @maxesilver, @susie, @halleyalice for contributing to this week’s #451Labs post!

 

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FedEx Takes a Tumble

When I first saw this video of a FedEx employee throwing someone’s computer monitor package, I didn’t think there was much to it. I was dead wrong. Like my fellow members of the Y-Generation, there is nothing a like a viral YouTube video-turned-scandal to lift your spirits. However, even with all my psychic powers (that I believe are a direct result from watching Practical Magic too much), I could not have seen the public relations bomb that was about to hit this mega courier company. Eight million hits later, FedEx realized that they have a crisis at hand.

Let me give the back story: a stupid employee, in a rush for ‘outstanding’ service, simply tosses a flat-screen computer monitor over a customer’s gate, without even bothering to ring the bell first. Clearly, foolish people will always have jobs. I mean, Paris Hilton has her own business. Need I say more?

 

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FedEx took what seemed to be the ideal route: address the problem upfront, and simply apologize.

 

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Now while Matthew Thornton, Senior VP of FedEx Express U.S. Operations, did hit the necessary points in his web address, I would not call this a victory for FedEx as some of my fellow PR professionals have. Yes, Thornton was upfront. Yes, he apologized as soon as the video started to go viral. These points were all good things for FedEx. But many consumers and employees alike feel the video is too scripted and inauthentic. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t want this guy to give the speech at my wedding, no matter how many luxury homes in Spain he offered to buy me (hint, hint family and friends). The fact of the matter is that many employees and customers are taking these videos as opportunities to vent their intense frustration with the company. While this video cooled some of the fire, it hardly extinguished it. For many, Thornton’s apology pissed them off even more, because it was so contrived and, to them, not genuine. Many have stories of their own about how FedEx has done them wrong.

 

 

What seemed to really bother many users was lack of disciplinary action they believe the employee received. Thornton only vaguely alludes to the fact that the employee won’t be directly dealing with customers. So now he’s just throwing the packages around where we can’t see him? Hmmm…

Did FedEx’s apology help? Yes. Was it necessary? Of course. Did the entire situation end in a victory? Now that might be going too far. Sometimes, you just can’t win, even with a great PR team, and especially with a poor public speaker.

What do you think? Do you consider Thornton’s video a victory, or even helpful at all? Let us know in the comments section below or tweet to us @451heat

 

-Ryan Schreiner, 451 Marketing Public Relations Intern
Ryan is a Junior at Boston University