imgres

The 411 on the New Facebook Timeline

A few weeks ago I began to notice some of my Facebook friend’s profiles were different. Immediately I began to worry because like most people I don’t like change, especially on Facebook!

Come to find out, this profile “upgrade” is the new Facebook Timeline. After doing some research, I discovered that on January 24, 2012 Facebook announced in their blog, that over the next few weeks everyone will be getting the new “Timeline”. Until recently, users were able to opt-in to Timeline which was originally announced in September 2010, however within a few weeks everyone will be switched over.

According to the social media giant, Timeline gives you the ability to browse through your entire Facebook, from your first friend to your most recent post. When I first saw it, it reminded me of an online scrapbook of your life because it shows all of your status updates, photos, friendships made, job history, marital status changes, and other information that you’ve recorded on your page since it launched.

As Paul McDonald, an engineering manager on Facebook’s Timeline said, “Timeline gives you an easy way to rediscover the things you shared, and collect your most important moments. It also lets you share new experiences, like the music you listen to or the miles you run.”

Facebook hasn’t specified how long the change-over will take, but as you prepare to be switched to the new Timeline design here are some helpful tips you should know:

  • There is a 7 day preview period during which you can review everything that will appear on your Timeline. Take this time to delete anything that you don’t want on your timeline, such as silly pictures or posts from high school when you first had your Facebook, because after the 7 days you won’t be able to delete them!

 

  • In addition to a profile picture, you now have a “Cover Image”, which is a large splash photo that you can change at any time. You can pick any photo to represent you or your life without it being the picture people see of you. Keep in mind that it is a very large space to fill so higher-resolution pictures look best! 

  • A new tool being introduced with Timeline is the Activity Log where you can see all of your posts from today all the way back to where you activated your account. You are the only one that can see your activity log, and you have the option to hide the posts you’d rather not share for privacy. 

  • You can edit individual posts so only certain people can see them and also separate your Facebook friends into groups and showcase only certain items to those groups. Surprisingly this a good privacy feature of the Timeline!

 

My hope is that after reading this you feel a bit more relaxed about the new Facebook Timeline and now have some helpful hints when it becomes your time to “switch over”! Because according to Facebook, whether we are ready for the change or not – it’s coming! Tweet us @451Heat to share your thoughts!

 

-Melissa Garabedian, 451 Marketing PR Intern

@M_Garabedian

Melissa is a senior at Merrimack College majoring in Business Marketing

superbowlXLVI2

Is the Early Release of Super Bowl Commercials Beneficial?

With the big game on Sunday, it’s almost impossible to go online without seeing something pertaining to the Super Bowl. While I enjoy hearing about the Patriots, one thing that really caught my attention has been all the talk regarding the widely anticipated Super Bowl commercials. I like Super Bowl commercials just as much as the next person, but I was surprised that I am already seeing the full commercials before the game has even happened. Did I miss something? Isn’t the point of paying 3 million dollars so the commercial will have its big debut during the Super Bowl, not weeks before on the internet? Well I really thought about this and tried to figure out the reasoning behind this new marketing strategy. While at first I was rather confused by this approach I do think it can have a positive impact for some companies, but definitely not all.

I just recently saw Chevy’s 2012 Super Bowl ad “Happy Grad,” a simple yet memorable commercial. Although it was posted early on the internet, it is greatly entertaining, which puts Chevy in a good position for when it does air. People are already talking about the commercial, which adds to the anticipation of other viewers. Instead of just being viewed during and after the Super Bowl, Chevy’s ad is being seen before the game has even started. The “Happy Grad” ad has already had 905,921 views on the popular site YouTube. The commercial will have a much longer lifespan than ads that are waiting to air on Super Bowl Sunday. This strategy has also given Chevy the advantage of having a larger return on investment by allowing their commercial to circulate for a longer amount of time on the internet and television. People will constantly be seeing the Chevy brand, giving them more incentive to buy from them. While this is a risky strategy, it works for Chevy because they have a good commercial that viewers find desirable.

While Chevy will most likely see a positive impact from releasing their commercial early, not all companies will get the same outcome. Another 2012 Super Bowl ad done by Lexus is called “The Beast.” Sounds pretty cool, huh? Well don’t let the name fool you because this commercial isn’t that special. When I began watching it, I was pretty interested, but then it became rather predictable and unexciting. I really didn’t find it entertaining and wouldn’t be too excited to see it again during the Super Bowl. While this may be my personal opinion on the ad, I think many people would feel the same way about seeing a commercial in the future that they didn’t even enjoy the first time. For me, now that I have already seen this commercial, I really don’t feel a need to pay attention to it again during the Super Bowl. I think this is a great downside to companies posting commercials that aren’t very entertaining and enjoyable before they are supposed to air. People already know what the ads are like and may not have an interest in them the second time around. Now that this Lexus ad has been around for over a week, people might even be sick of it by the time it actually airs.

YouTube Preview Image

Overall I think it’s a pretty risky strategy to post your Super Bowl commercial before the actual game. You really have no idea how people will react to your ad and once it’s out, it’s out.  Viewers like the element of surprise and seeing Super Bowls ads before the game just doesn’t have that same effect. While some companies like Chevy may see a positive outcome from posting their ad, not all will get the same response. I was really surprised to see this happen this year and while I may understand the reasoning a little better, nothing beats seeing new commercials on Super Bowl Sunday.

Do you think releasing Super Bowl ads early is a good strategy? Will it detract from watching on game day? Tweet us @451Heat to share your thoughts!

Thanks to @bonnielester530 for this week’s post!

Bonnie is a 451 Marketing Marketing Intern. She is a senior at Worcester State University majoring in Business Administration.

Tablet Post picture 2.png

Tips for a Successful Tablet Marketing Strategy

This past Christmas, my parents surprised me with an iPad2. Being the ever-diligent Communications student, I decided to do a little research on the marketing approaches that can be useful when developing a tablet app for your company or product.

According to an article by TechCrunch, there will be an estimated 90 million tablet users in the U.S by the end of 2014.   Of those tablet owners, approximately 61 million will be using Apple’s iPad.  That offers a sizeable opportunity that cannot be ignored.  Logically, marketing strategies are adapting in order to cater to these devices. 

Image from Pluggd.in

So how can your company create a successful app?

Here are a few tips:

1.  Your app should be easy to use.  The first is fairly obvious, consumers aren’t going to waste their time trying to understand an app that is unnecessarily difficult to navigate.  I’m sure everyone has downloaded and later deleted an app because it wasn’t as simple as it claimed to be.

 

2.  Your app should be free of charge.  This is an opportunity for your company to build its brand and to gain exposure, not to make money.  Treating your app as a revenue channel will only deter potential consumers from downloading the app.  When I’m browsing the App Store, I filter my results based on those that are free.  I’ve never paid for an app before and don’t plan to start now.

 

3.  Your app should be compatible with multiple tablets.  While the iPad continues to be the most popular device, you should make sure anyone who wants to download it has that option.  Don’t limit your brand’s exposure by failing to offer it to everyone.

 

4.  Your app should offer an additional benefit that your website does not.  For example, I have an app called Nike Training Club, which I use to workout when I’m at home.  Nike promotes use of this app by offering to unveil a celebrity workout plan if you use it for a certain amount of time.  The incentive of receiving my childhood idol (no judgment please), Hilary Duff’s, workout was enough to convince me to use the app more often.

 Image from Plugged.in

5.  Your app should be creative.  While this may seem to be a no-brainer, a mobile-marketer article, found that tablets offer a more interactive canvas, which allows creators to be more imaginative in how they connect with consumers.  Therefore users may be more willing to engage with a campaign than they would if it were print advertising or a TV commercial because there’s the added opportunity for interaction.

 

6.  Your app should take full advantage of the tablet’s capabilities. Tablets offer the functionality of a desktop PC with the mobility of a cell phone.  Magazine and other reader apps are good examples of how to take full advantage of this.  Because the screen is larger than that of a smart phone, consumers are likely drawn to the increased ease of reading.  In addition, the lightweight model allows consumers to bring their entire stock of magazines, books, newspapers, etc. with them without monopolizing any further space.  Apps can also capitalize on the tablet’s capabilities by encouraging direct responses from users through simple feedback channels built-in to the app.

 

These are some tips that could help promote your brand or product on a tablet.   What are some additional attributes that you look for in an app?  What discourages you from downloading an app?  Which tablet do you have? Tweet us @451Heat to share your thoughts!

 

-Katie O’Brien, 451 Marketing Marketing Intern
Katie is a senior at Boston College majoring in Communications

fedex_takes_a_tumble

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?

 

YouTube Preview Image

 

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

 

YouTube Preview Image

 

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

 

haro_logo_bk

The Buzz on the New HARO

Almost every PR and marketing professional is familiar with HARO, the subscription newsletter service that shares queries from reporters and editors looking for sources for their articles. But not many are aware that since being acquired by Vocus in 2010, HARO has added a number of new service features. HARO recently hosted a webinar, “Build Bigger Buzz with HARO” explaining their new services. Since I had never used it before, I was dying to learn all about it and signed up for the webinar.

To provide a quick background if you’re not familiar with the service, Help a Reporter Out (HARO) actually started as a Facebook group by Peter Shankman, a marketing and PR professional based in NY. He started the group because his motto was “If I can help a reporter out, I will” – which translated to the worst acronym ever (IICHARO), according to Peter. In March, 2008 IICHARO outgrew Facebook and moved to an email subscription service with over 1,200 subscribers.

Now the name has been simplified to HARO.  The service sends out three emails per day: to nearly 200,000 subscribers, 100,000 journalists, bloggers, authors, and writers internationally. For PR pros this provides a great opportunity to secure coverage for their clients, as well as connect with the reporters that frequently cover their clients’ industries.

The big news from the webinar was that HARO is launching new paid subscription services to help enhance the HARO experience. Don’t worry – the FREE version is staying.

There are 3 paid levels, which range from $19/month (standard) to $49/month (advanced) to $149/month (premium) – you can see the breakdown on the HARO subscriptions page.

With the new paid subscription services, you will be able to sort through the deluge of information that arrives in each HARO email by filtering queries by key words. For example, if you have clients in the healthcare, publishing, and high-tech industries, you can use those key words to filter what queries are most relevant to your clients. Plus, with the premium service, you can add and remove keywords at anytime.

Another cool feature is that journalists can now easily find you. In the free version, reporters only connect with those PR professionals who pitch them.  With the new enhanced services, you can create your profile to reflect your expertise in your industry, and you can have unlimited profiles based on which level of service you subscribe to. The example that Peter gave in the webinar was if you’re an expert on unicorns, you can post this is in your profile so if a reporter is writing a story on unicorns (hey, it could happen, I suppose), they will be able to easily track you down.

If you are new to the industry, like myself, and you need to pitch a reporter, the new features will allow you to research relevant information about the target media relevant to your pitch. The new HARO lets you research past queries, reporter’s beats, and find trends to help you identify the right reporter for your pitch.

If you are new to HARO, these are the five basic rules about using the service:

  1. You will get emails each day, (Monday-Friday) with queries from reporters and outlets from all over the world. Scan the emails, and if you’re knowledgeable about any of the topics, answer the reporter directly using the provided contact information.
  2. Don’t spam reporters with off-topic pitches in response to their queries.
  3. You may forward queries to friends, but do not post them on blogs or anywhere on the web.
  4. You’re not allowed to harvest the reporter email addresses in the HARO emails for any reason.
  5. Be excellent to each other.

The major differences between the free and standard levels and the advanced and premium subscriptions are that the latter two will feature a head start service. As part of this feature, the queries will be sent via email or text message before they appear in the free and standard emails. You then have the opportunity to get an early start on your pitch and send it to the reporter. However, the reporter will not get it right away – they will receive it with the other’ pitches. This is key to keeping the playing field even for the users who don’t pay as much each month.

Want to try the standard service free for a month? As part of the webinar, HARO announced a promo code to test it out; just use the code harowebinar03649 when you’re signing up. It will expire on 12/31/11 so make sure to sign up soon if you want to take advantage of the full month.

What do you think of HARO’s new services? Do you plan on signing up for any of the new paid subscription levels? Do you have a success story of your own? Please share, we would love to hear your thoughts.

 

DeAnna Jacobsen – Public Relations Intern at 451 Marketing