August 31, 2016
Best Practices for Announcing News the Week Before Labor Day
Mr. Trump is known for his very successful book imparting business advice, The Art of the Deal. Based on Mr. Trump’s announcement during what normally is very quiet news week (usually reserved for layoffs or other bad news) that he will travel to Mexico, there should be a new version: The Art of the Steal – as he has clearly stolen the headlines.
Regardless of your political leanings, candidate Trump is a skilled conductor of the media in a way we have rarely seen in previous political campaigns. Yes, it is an active political season full of finger pointing and name calling (thus all bets are off), however, the timing of this trip is more than interesting.
When voters are enjoying their last beach days or that last refreshing gin and tonic before Starbucks starts pushing their infamous pumpkin spice latte, this candidate has people and news anchors paying attention in a big way.
He continues to grab the headlines with a subsequent address today on immigration — an issue that has understandably captured assignment desks’ (and voters’) attention and is directly related to the visit south of the border.
This begs the question: Is the last week before Labor Day really that quiet news week after all? Is it still the optimal time to release bad news? The answer seems clear.
In a news cycle that is 24 -7 both with traditional and online news outlets – there is a new frontier, but there are still rules of thumb to follow when thinking about how and when to issue news, good or bad:
- What kind of noise do you want to make; what headline you would like to see?
- What kind of news is it? Layoffs? An acquisition? New products arriving at retail? A product recall?
- Who is your main audience for this news?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Do you want to generate select features in key news outlets or will you be satisfied with sending a release on the wires?
- What is the downside of issuing your news at this time?
- Will your sources be available for comment (or are they on vacation?)
Answering these questions should provide PR professionals with a clear indication of best practices – to issue the news or not.
Today’s world of news changes by the minute; it is up to us to not only stay on top of these changes, but to thoughtfully consider how they impact the immediate task at hand.
Cartoon courtesy of Dave Granlud
How fitting is it that we are now hearing “The Lochte Monster” as a reference to defamed U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte who bared his soul today in his statement when he said, “It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in foreign country, with a language barrier and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave.”
Really? Who does that?
Looking at it from a crisis management perspective, this apology, clearly not written by Mr. Lochte, only serves to make this nightmare worse than the original incident. It is hollow and does not accomplish what a thoughtful statement should – own up to the bad deed, show remorse and discuss how you are going to right the situation.
A few rules of thumb about crisis management:
Immediate Timing: Crises have a life of their own and can quickly spin out of control. They create their own news cycle fueled and accelerated by social media, which is happening right now with Mr. Lochte’s so called “apology.” Lochte should have not waited so long to address this issue himself, despite what he says about waiting to make sure the legal matters were settled and his friends were back in the U.S.
Format: Hiding behind a post on social media is not only cowardly, but only serves to feed the news beast. Mr. Lochte owes it to his teammates, the Olympians still competing, his country and the country of Brazil to issue his apology in front of cameras, the same way he cried wolf with The Today Show.
Interview: Mr. Lochte should also consider a one on one interview to talk about this incident. It will probably be the toughest interview he has done in his life, but by being open, it will go a long way to starting the process of rebuilding his image and trust with his teammates, sponsors and fans.
Transparency: Mr. Lochte’s words were vague and did not address the true issues at hand. His statement showed no remorse to speak of and were arrogant at best. Even Tiger Woods, in his darkest moment after his personal revelations were made public, had the fortitude to hold a press conference, and face the media. Granted, Woods’ journey back continues, but that was a turning point for putting his past behind him.
Do Something: There are many, judging by the tone of the comments to Mr. Lochte’s statement, that would prefer him to climb into a black hole. However, Lochte could put his lessons learned to work by doing something positive – whether this is mentoring up-and-coming athletes, or setting up scholarships or a similar act that helps aspiring athletes.
It is not the first time a celebrated athlete has behaved badly. There will be many more after him. However, this is a very very sad tale indeed and we all deserve better.
Just as SoCal’s June gloom gave way to sunny summer skies, last week, CGPR’s west coast team attended AGENDA spring 2017 trade show in Long Beach, Calif.. The premier show for all things surf, skate, and street, AGENDA embodies both the history and the future of the industry, as well as the personality of our Costa Mesa/Newport Beach office.
We were able to see first-hand the latest coming from many of the brands that also call Orange County home, including Electric, Obey, Quiksilver, RVCA, Sanuk, Vans, and Volcom, among others. The international exhibitors rounded out the global presentation. It was great to see a variety of brands coming to the show from other counties, states, and countries as well.
Here’s are our takeaways from AGENDA spring 2017 on what is trending:
Reefer Madness: While the initiative to legalize recreational use of pot in California has just qualified for the November ballot, pot leaf prints made a prominent appearance in a variety of socks, T-shirts, surfboards, board shorts, skate decks, and slippers. The new company Weedmaps had a strong presence as one of the event sponsors.
Cotton is King: In strong juxtaposition to the high-tech, quick dry fabrics used in the surf world, natural fabrications derived from leather, cotton, and hemp, such as denim, muslin, linen, chambray, and the like, made a strong showing. Not only for expected items, like jeans and T-shirts, but also in the accessories department with things like footwear, luggage, sunglasses, and watches. Nixon had a strong new collection featuring leather bands, and brands like InCase and Herschel Supply Co. showed very strong, yet subdued, monochromatic collections in durable cotton and cotton blend fabrications. Additionally, the “Woods” segment of the show, where many up and coming brands are based, featured a real Americana, heritage feel and showcased product made from natural fibers, including (ironically) wood.
Outdoors is in: While the surf brands showing at AGENDA have always celebrated the outdoor lifestyle, CGPR spotted the outdoo
r influence cropping up with a number of other lifestyle brands choosing the well-known trade show as a place to showcase their wares. With brands like Caravan Outpost, James Brand, Poler Stuff, and Snow Peak having a presence, the mainstream appreciation
for the outdoor lifestyle, and activities such as camping, was very visible.
Fancy Footwear: While definitely not formal in any sense of the word, footwear brands such as Native and People, had extremely large, prominent booths, boasting the latest in high-performance leisure footwear. Using high-tech, innovative materials and the latest manufacturing techniques, casual footwear is looking very futuristic and functional. From styles that can actually be worn in the pool or street to styles that offer extreme comfort with extra cushion or molded foot beds, the newest footwear from these brands comes in a rainbow of colors and styles.
April 27, 2016
CGPR was recently in New York City with adidas Outdoor where we invited mainstream consumer outlets to its showroom to see adidas Outdoor’s fall/winter 2016 footwear and apparel collection. CGPR met with more than 60 editors from outlets including Bustle.com, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Men’s Fitness, Men’s Journal, O, The Oprah Magazine, People, Shape, Teen Vogue, themanual.com, and Travel + Leisure, among others.
Throughout the two days, we continued to see the same themes evolve from media which speaks to consumer state of mind and how outdoor activities influence apparel and footwear.
Athleisure is Here to Stay: Over the two days, there was significant dialogue about the continued presence of “athleisure”, the number of fashion brands creating their own athleisure collections, and how this is affecting the market overall.
Consumers Conscious about Wearing Style, but Being Comfortable: Media also raised the point that more consumers are conscious of wearing stylish, yet comfortable apparel and footwear.
Definition of the Outdoors is Changing: More consumers are participating in outdoor activities such as trail running, hiking, and adventure races, etc., and are taking vacations or weekend trips designed around getting people outside.
A few additional takeaways from our meetings:
- Performance Features Top of Mind: Consumers are becoming more aware of the performance features in apparel and footwear, and want products enabling them to push the limits and perform to the best of their ability.
- Comfort is huge: Comfort is every important, but consumers want it to be style that features bright colors, feminine silhouettes and cuts, color fading and color blocking.
- Value: Value without sacrificing quality or style is top of mind.
- Versatility and Functionality Reflect People’s Fast Paced Lives: Footwear and apparel needs to easily transitions from the gym, to work work, to travel and to a night on the town.
- People Care About Sustainability: Consumers are interested in products that feature sustainable elements.
- Train Running Continues to Grow: The trail running category is expanding, as more people want to incorporate different types of workouts and runs into their daily routines.
- Adventure Racing for Amateurs is Growing: Adventure races continue to be popular, e.g. Spartan Races and Mud Runs, and participants want footwear and apparel designed for this specific category.
- Light and Fast is King: Whether consumers are weekend warriors or out training everyday, people want apparel and footwear that is light and fast.
The Fashion and outdoor industries continue to intersect and we don’t see this trend abating any time soon. We love hearing about the trends from our media friends and look forward to returning in November, to present adidas Outdoor’s 2017 spring/summer line!
Our senior vice president, Nicole Kieser, had the opportunity to speak to students at Northeastern University earlier this month. The class, Public Relations Principles, focused on crisis communications during a mass casualty incident- i.e. Boston Marathon bombings from April 15, 2013. Sadly, Brussels was also part of this discussion, as terrorism is a fact of daily life in 2016.
Nicole’s career has taken her through various newsrooms in Boston, and her experience in public relations also has required her to lead crisis management for many clients.
A crisis doesn’t need to be at the level of the marathon bombings or Brussels suicide bombings for it to need attention. Any company, at any time, can face a crisis situation which can make or break their brand and their reputation. It’s how you handle the crisis that will ultimately define the company’s future success. Nicole offered a few best practices when a crisis hits to the NU students.
Expect it to happen, prepare in advance. Inevitably, all companies face a crisis, whether of their own making, or due to unforeseen circumstances. There are some very definitive steps to take to be prepared for when the crisis hits.
- Assemble a crisis team– and know their strengths. Make sure you identify spokespersons, and their roles well before there is a problem that needs solving.
- Identify communications goals- this might be difficult to prepare when you don’t know what the crisis will be, but the sooner you anticipate what might go wrong, the better you can craft your approach and your message.
- Train your spokespersons. Retrain your spokespersons. Having an initial media/ message training is great, do it again so they can practice and adjust messaging based on the crisis. Set practice schedules every quarter to keep up to date.
- Establish internal notification systems- and set guidelines for when they are activated. Does your team assemble in one place? Do you have a complete list of contacts for your crisis team to reach out to before a crisis begins?
- Draft ‘holding’ statements in advance. This will craft the messaging that has been agreed upon by the team. There will be no time for edits when the real crisis hits.
When the crisis hits:
- Stop everything for as long as possible for assessment. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. No answering media calls; no social media posts. The crisis has just become your number one priority until it’s been resolved.
- Activate your crisis team notification systems. Let them know the crisis has hit, and to put agreed-upon protocols in place. Remind your team to stay off social media, regardless of whether they are posting about a crisis. There is no delete on the internet.
- Establish a command center – if appropriate. Notify the media at this point.
- Identify leadership in charge. Brief your key spokespersons on what you know so far.
- Activate other pre-established roles for your team. Who will monitor the crisis on-line? On social media platforms? Who will be designated on-site?
- What is the headline, who is your audience? In the case of a Mass Casualty Incident- the first headline is public safety. Your audience? Everyone is your audience- first responders, hospitals, victims, the public on scene, those watching at home.
- Once you determine who your speaking to, assign key messages to your spokespersons.
- Remember the victims and their family. Respect their privacy; outreach should be personal and authentic.
- Be as honest as possible with all communications.
As the crisis continues:
- Don’t go dark! Keep the media and the public informed.
- Continue to monitor media coverage. This includes social media and the public’s knowledge.
- Redefine your headline, reassess your audience. Have these changed since the initial crisis hit?
When the crisis passes, regroup and assess. Are there areas for improvement? Did the plan work well? Continue your outreach to victims, invest in their emotions- it’s the right thing to do.
2016 SIA Snow Show Trend Preview – Climate Change, Sustainability, Conveniences of Technology and the 70s Are Back!
January 28, 2016
Fresh off attending ISPO, we look forward to digging into the U.S world of snow sports, seeing the latest technology, enjoying the expected irreverent marketing, and saying good bye to David Ingemie, SIA‘s president who is retiring after 34 years from a job that he executed with grace and humor. As we head into the show, the U.S. winter snow conditions are still playing games, challenging the best minds of apparel, gear, technology and accessories.