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Led by Paul Maccabee, MaccaPR is a blog from Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

Dedicated to inspiring chief marketing and PR officers, corporate communications directors and marketing professionals, MaccaPR was named one of the "Best PR Blogs in the World" by InkyBee

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Is social media all about massive numbers of followers, likes and shares?

Posted by Christina Milanowski on Nov 24, 2014 6:12:00 AM


Marketers obsess over whether they have more Twitter followers or Facebook fans than their competitors. Clients and social media agencies are dazzled (and intimidated) by sheer size. Consider that as of last week:

  • Taylor Swift had 46.5 million Twitter followers.
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme’s “Epic Split” video had 76 million views on YouTube.
  • RedBull had 45 million Facebook fans.
  • Old Spice’s "Man Your Man Could Smell Like" video had 49.5 million views on YouTube.
  • The Dove “Real Beauty” Sketches film, which became the #1 most viewed online ad of all time in 2013, had 65 million views and tens of millions of shares, likes and comments.
But what do these numbers mean for your organization? No marketer really says, "Check out our telephone system, it can reach 350 American homes!" Listen folks: It's not all about the community size and fan counts!

SpeechLast week, Paul Maccabee and I presented on this very topic for a wonderful audience of Minnesota Women in Marketing & Communications members - thanks for hosting us!

We talked about how social channels are just that: Channels, delivery mechanisms and infrastructure. The biggest opportunity of social is creating quality, relevant content to fill those social highways for your audiences – that will inspire them to take action. Sure you have to have a decent-sized social community with whom to share content, but, from our viewpoint, it isn't all about massive numbers of followers, likes and shares.

(Source: Rebecca Zenefski)

Social Media Is the Means to Many Success Metrics

  • Traffic to your content ships (owned online sites like your website, landing page or blog)
  • Awareness of your product or service
  • Brand engagement
  • Real-time, back-and-forth conversations with your customers 
  • Customer loyalty
  • Sales leads 
  • Consumer, business or trade media relationships
  • Tradeshow or event participation
  • Donations or volunteers, if you're a non-profit
  • Relationships with referral sources and industry influencers
The list goes on! In addition to these strategic musings about social media, we addressed the art of social media with 13 visual storytelling tips and the science behind social behavior. For more on how your business can leverage social media for your content ships, take a look at our Social Media Workshop presentation.

What do you think – are followers, likes and shares the yardstick upon which we wisely measure social media efforts? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Topics: Social Media, On the Road

The New Wave of Fem-vertising: 5 Female Empowerment Campaigns We Love

Posted by Caitlin Jagodzinski on Nov 19, 2014 6:32:02 AM

Eight years ago, Unilever’s Dove brand began exploring how its female consumers perceived beauty by using real women—of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds—as the faces of its marketing campaign from agency Ogilvy & Mather Brazil. What was born from this now-lauded “Dove Campaign For Real Beauty” is today’s embrace of female empowerment as a powerful theme in advertising.

Flash forward to 2014—add in the conversational power of social media and the requirement for marketers to stand for something larger than their products–and you’ve got a wave of “fem-vertising” that's sparking spirited conversations about gender equality.

From Always and Under Armour to Pantene and Verizon, let’s take a look at some of the best examples of fem-vertising and why it works:

1. Always: #LikeaGirl

The latest campaign from Procter & Gamble’s Always feminine hygiene products swept social media by storm in June 2014 by seeking to twist our perception of the common insult “like a girl” into one of positive reinforcement for young women. The campaign, from Chicago agency Leo Burnett, posed a simple question: What does it mean to do something “Like a Girl?”


(Source: Adverblog)

If you haven’t had the chance, take a quick look at the video for yourself. 

The Always clip shows men and women of all ages re-enacting how they think it looks to run, fight and throw “like a girl.” Their reactions are exactly what you’d expect: loose arms, feeble statures and a deeper concern for their hair than the actual task at hand —except when the young girls step up to plate. The difference between the weak dispositions of adults and the fierceness of young women is jarring. It underscores the point that somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, a girl’s self esteem plummets due to the negative connotations this colloquialism holds.

With more than 52 million views and 160,000 likes on YouTube to date, the acceptance of this video is phenomenal—with floods of praise pouring in across every social channel. But why does Always’ campaign work?

  1. The brand’s exceptional storytelling is honest, inspiring and downright sobering. As with any motivational story, #LikeaGirl pulls on the heartstrings to evoke emotion in its audience. In this case, it’s the nostalgic heartstring of the once- vibrant turned self-conscious girl in all women that creates a deeper connection to the spot and the brand itself.
  2. Secondly, the Always spot doesn’t just state the issue in its storytelling, it proposes an outcome, a movement for consumers to rally behind and make their own. We see it right there on the screen – through the young boy who realizes his actions refer to his sister’s false incompetence; through the adult’s second attempt at performing like a girl.

The bottom-line is that the #LikeaGirl mission reaches beyond Always’ products to create an initiative for fundamental change in gender biases—an issue already top of mind for Always’ consumer base. We love it!

2. Pantene: #ShineStrong

PanteneSelf-esteem issues aren’t left behind with adolescence, which is where Pantene’s “Not Sorry” campaign steps in. Launched in June 2014, “Not Sorry” from agency Grey in New York asks: Why are women always apologizing?

In the same light as #LikeaGirl, the Pantene #ShineStrong campaign shows the egregious effects our choice of words can have on the way we perceive ourselves and other women.

#ShineStrong and its accompanying video work because the woman in the ad is you—at the office, with your husband, at the dentist—cutting your argument down with two simple words—I’m sorry. No nostalgic heartstrings needed here; any woman can see herself in this ad. It’s a perfect example of how holding the mirror up to society in storytelling can have a raw and powerful impact, not to mention this video’s brilliant act of doubling back to prove how unapologetic actions and responses put women in a stronger, more positive light.

"We used market research to look at what gender norms were holding women back and tried to tap into the most relevant and insightful areas,” stated Kevin Crociata, marketing director of Procter & Gamble in Adweek“This problem of saying sorry, it wasn't just something women in the U.S. were facing, but globally. After the success of the first campaign, 'Shine Strong' is something we're committed to as a brand." 

What Crociata is referring to is Pantene’s 2013 “Labels Against Women” ad from agency BBDO, which examined if gender bias still exists. The answer? Yes, which is clear from the ad’s clever juxtaposition of men and women executing the exact same task but with very different labels – for example, a man is the “boss,” while the woman is "bossy." 

(Source: Dr. Ads)

3. Verizon: #InspireHerMind

Fighting the good fight for gender equality and female empowerment doesn’t stop with brands focused on beauty or feminine products, however. Take “Inspire Her Mind” for instance—the brainchild of Verizon; ad agency AKQA; and womens’ storytelling platform MAKERS’ Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code, which is dedicated to encouraging more girls to get involved with careers based in science, technology, engineering and math.


(Source: Verizon)

The premise of the Verizon campaign is simple: encourage girls to pursue subjects of passion rather than subjects associated with the female gender. Verizon expands on its ad with an interactive landing page posing one small but mighty question: Does Dress-Up Determine Her Future?

The question was answered by traveling down one of two virtual paths to see how playtime can either break or build gender stereotypes.

Verizon’s campaign is smart and reminds consumers of the profound effects our words and actions have on today’s youth. Verizon’s position outside of the beauty category further allows the campaign to provide a unique voice in the gender equality dialogue, opening the door for the cause to reach a wider audience. For female empowerment to work, to really work, more companies with non-female consumer bases need to provide their voice to the conversation, as Verizon has done by focusing less on beauty and physicality and more toward women excelling in male dominated fields.

The battle for women’s empowerment in advertising and marketing campaigns is far from finished. Take at look at the next two examples of how controversial fem-vertisements generated negative feedback.

4. Under Armour: I Will Want What I Want

One of the biggest reactions to “fem-vertising” is the charge that the ad industry itself is famous for displaying women in a sexist light, remnants of which can still be seen in Under Armour brand’s $15 million “I Will Want What I Want” campaign, from agency Droga5.

Under Armour

(Source: Droga5)

Let me preface my hesitation with Under Armour’s series of ads by stating that this campaign is good. Under Armour has a solid mission to prove that all women face contradictory expectations, which the campaign elegantly illustrates by contrasting societal commentary with the womens’ strong physicality in the same shot.

But there’s a serious blind spot: These women – including Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn and soccer star Kelley O’Hara  are impossibly built in comparison to the ad’s general audience of everyday women. One look at model Giselle Bundchen’s abs or ballerina Misty Copeland’s calves and its easy to see how these ads, while made to empower women, could easily persuade its audiences that they’re to pursue the exact body type that “fem-vertising” is working to eliminate from the ad industry altogether.

5. Dove: Patches Campaign

Perhaps the most controversial ad to rise in “fem-vertising” however is Dove’s “Patches” campaign, an extension of the brand’s overarching “Real Beauty” initiative. The 2014 ad follows a group of women testing Dove’s latest beauty product, The RB-X Beauty Patch, a pharmaceutical device that ostensibly makes a woman feel more beautiful. The patch however, was a placebo with an alternative agenda - to unveil the deep seated insecurities women feel about their natural beauty.



But critics didn’t buy it. New York Magazine called the Dove ad “garbage,” while Gawker Media’s Jezebel called it the “Most BS ad yet.” Opponents felt that Dove’s experiment made women seem incredibly dumb, gullible and deemed the campaign off base. 

In my opinion, this Dove campaign – which generated 4.5 million views on YouTube in its first 48 hours – is one of the strongest initiatives to rise out of marketers’ women empowerment trend. Why? The real issue isn’t that Dove manipulated women into seeing their own insecurities. The problem is that women in our society still feel immensely uncomfortable in their own skin, so much so that they are willing to believe anything to feel better about themselves. So while considered “trickery,” Dove’s “Patches” hits this inherent issue right on the head.

When asked about the campaign in an Advertising Age article, Steve Miles, Unilever's senior SVP of Marketing for Dove, stated that the campaign was created to "intentionally provoke a debate about women's relationship with beauty." Case in point: Dove piqued the unsettling feeling that set critics into a tizzy. Watching a woman realize the folly of her self-doubt should never feel comfortable. In fact, it’s incredibly distressing to watch this ad, especially as a woman. That’s what makes the spot so effective. It’s this feeling of discomfort that gives "Patches" the strongest platform for debate and potential change.

Key Takeaways from Women Empowerment Ads:

So, what can marketers learn from the new wave of fem-vertisements? Here are a few tips to consider when embarking on female empowerment-themed cause marketing campaigns:

Good Storytelling Sells—Pull on your consumers’ heartstrings and you’ll pull them into your cause. It’s a key component to any solid cause marketing campaign. Evoking emotion authentically in your audience helps them connect with your ad – thus your brand – on a deeper, more meaningful level. Do it correctly and your cause will then become the consumers' cause, paving the way for conversations to spark and brand loyalty to begin.

Align Your Cause with Your Consumers' Convictions—Cause marketing can be extremely powerful, but only when it’s genuine. Hopping on any cause won’t elevate your brand nor will it help the cause itself. Focus on a mission that aligns with your company and with the passions of your consumer base. If your audience cannot see their convictions positively represented in your marketing campaign, they won’t back your cause. Period.

Make the Campaign Real; Make it Relatable—These campaigns work because they force consumers to reflect on our words and actions by holding a mirror up in a very honest and truthful way. In order for consumers to spread your mission, they need to see themselves, their daughters, their mothers and their friends in your campaign. How can your consumer base join you when the women depicted in your ads are unattainably beautiful or unrealistically perfect? Showing the unique differences in women makes these causes real and relatable. Your consumers don’t want perfection; they want to stand for the rights of real women in our society.

So, can your brand break through the clutter by breaking down stereotypes? What stereotype does your audience face?

The bottom line: There’s no denying that the positive conversations surrounding fem-vertising have moved the sales needle for Dove, Pantene and other brands; but one important question still remains: Are marketers really the best voice to advance gender equality issues, or are they just in it for product sales? Join Maccabee Public Relations for part two of this controversial topic as we dive into fem-vertising with Dori Molitor of WomanWise in  a coming MaccaPR blog post.

Screen_Shot_2014-11-18_at_1.02.14_PMCaitlin Jagodzinski is a Public Relations Coordinator with Maccabee, the Minneapolis public relations and online marketing agency. 

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Topics: Brand Strategy, Marketing

7 Lessons From A Brand Battle: Bose vs. Beats By Dre Headphones

Posted by Paul Maccabee on Nov 4, 2014 5:00:00 AM

The 2016 Presidential campaign between Hillary Clinton and her Republican challenger (insert name here) will no doubt be ferocious. But that head-to-head contest could hardly be as savage as the current brand battle between Beats Electronics’ Beats by Dre headphone line and the venerable audiophile company, Bose.

Bose vs. Beats by Dre

(Sources: Amazon, The Verge, Luxury Launches, Dr. Jays)

This past month, the media have covered football players flouting Bose’s exclusive National Football League deal as the “official sound of the NFL” by wearing Beats by Dre headphones. What followed was the NFL’s response on behalf of sponsor Bose – levying a $10,000 fee against players who defied the ban and dared to listen with Beats by Dre headphones on-camera. The NFL’s effort to defend Bose’s investment by punishing athletes for going brand AWOL boomeranged into a PR bonanza for Beats by Dre. Supported by celebrity endorsers from Kendrick Lamar and Justin Bieber to Pharrell, Serena Williams and Ed Sheeran, Beats is now conquering Bose not on quality, comfort or price, but on Beats' mastery of new marketing strategies.

So how can your company avoid falling prey to the mistakes that put the $2.5 billion giant Bose – one of the consumer electronics industry’s most acclaimed technological innovators – off its game? Here are seven suggestions for brand survivors:

#1 – Keep All Eyes On Your Visual Branding

In this age of Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and other visual branding channels, Bose has struggled to find graphic images that will reinforce – rather than undermine – its appeal to today’s consumers. Meanwhile, the marketers at Apple, which purchased Beats Electronics for $3 billion this year, demonstrate why they and the Beats by Dre team are the Leonardo da Vincis of visual iconography. 

Serena Williams - Beats By Dre

Consider: Until recently, the visual image at the top of Beats by Dre’s Twitter page featured an electrifying full-color photo of tennis superstar Serena Williams (above), her muscles rippling as she listens with Beats by Dre headphones. The image was sexy, powerful and massively cool. What’s more, that Twitter profile image is integrated visually with her “Nothing Stops Serena” video (now at 1.3 million views on YouTube), which shows her training for a match, propelled by the music in her Beats by Dre headphones.


In contrast, Bose’s Twitter, YouTube and Facebook pages had been topped by this image - a bleakly depressing, black-and-white photo of what looks like a parking lot next of a half century-old office building (above). If there is any joy to be found in listening to music through Bose headphones, you wouldn’t know it from this image of a lonely building that sat – dark, abandoned, glum – at the head of Bose’s social media channels.  Clearly this image must resonate with some executive inside Bose headquarters.  Alas, this picture did nothing for the consumers Bose might wish to attract, who are now running feverishly toward the photo of Serena Williams’ astonishing torso. The lesson? The visual look of your brand is not about you or your CEO’s affection for your storied past; it’s about images that inspire your target consumers - today.

#2 – Be Ready To Evolve Your Market Position

“Better Sound Through Research” is Bose’s marketing theme, a throwback to its late founder, MIT professor Dr. Amar Bose. This charmingly nerdy championing of acoustic research has served Bose well in the past – and the past is where Bose’s social media marketing is aimed. On its Facebook page, Bose’s “About” profile confides: “A dedication to research and excellence, it’s the Bose approach to better sound, and it has been since our founding in 1964.” If you didn’t fully comprehend that Bose was around when Lyndon Johnson was president and the Beatles were still performing, its Twitter heading hammers it home: “The First 50 Years of Bose.”

Gwen Stefani and Lil Wayne

(Sources: Coolspotters and MTV)

Compare that look back in Bose’s rear view mirror to six-year-old upstart Beats Electronics, which offers this Dr. Dre quote as its market position on Facebook, “With Beats, people are going to hear what the artists hear, and listen to the music the way they should: the way I do.” The company’s marketing gestalt is rabble-rousing, trash-talking and celebrity-obsessed (as in Lil Wayne and Gwen Stefani above). Beats by Dre associates its headphones not with acoustic technology, but with all that is physical, sweaty and exultant. In the admiring words of my 20-year-old son, a hip hop and rap fan, its market position highlights Beats by Dre’s embrace of “sex, athletes, rappers and badassery.”   Which brings us to. . .

#3 – Flip Your Competitor with Judo Marketing

When the NFL signed its sponsorship deal with Bose, the marketing warriors at Beats By Dre scored publicity points. Players flouted the deal’s “product exclusivity” language, which prohibits them from showing logos of a competitor’s headphones.

The value of the Bose sponsorship began imploding when San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick wore his Beats by Dre headphones post-game. The NFL fined him $10,000 – a punishment that generated millions of dollars worth of media coverage for Beats by Dre, with headlines trumpeting the Beats brand by name.

Beats By Dre Twitter

(Source: Beats by Dre Twitter)

“It’s marketing gold for Beats,” Zimmerman Advertising Z Sports & Entertainment agency’s Scott Becher told Advertising Age. “How many millions of dollars of exposure are you giving the marketleader by outlawing them?” Photos of NFL players wearing the forbidden Beats by Dre headphones, with the offending logos mischievously covered with tape, swept the Web. 


(Source: The Huffington Post)

Bose could have predicted this judo-style marketing attack. Ambush marketing is nothing new for Beats by Dre’s founders.  During the London 2012 Olympics (above), it was Dr. Dre (not an Olympic sponsor) who handed out his headphones painted with the UK’s colors to British athletes – sparking tweets from the players about how much they loved their Beats by Dre headphones. Yes, Dr. Dre’s sampling was a violation of Olympic Rule 40, which prohibits athletes from talking about brands on social media, which have not paid to be official Olympic sponsors – but even that violation was “on brand.”

All in all, the NFL/Bose debacle reinforced the Beats brand message and left Bose looking punitive and uncool, even if it was their partners at the NFL who did most of the damage.  

#4 - YouTube Can Be Your Brand’s Best Friend

Both Bose and Beats by Dre use music-infused YouTube videos to reinforce their brand positioning. Unfortunately for Bose, it's walking into the YouTube wrestling ring to fight against two World Champions: 

  1. Beats’ Jimmy Iovine - producer for Bruce Springsteen, U2, Tom Petty and Eminem’s movie, 8 Mile.
  2. Beats' Namesake Dr. Dre - producer of multi-media rap stars Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Eminem and others.

The sheer numbers on YouTube are telling: Beats by Dre has 261,953 subscribers to its YouTube channel, compared to Bose’s 18,259 subscribers.


But it’s the video content on YouTube which underscores Beats by Dre’s marketing savvy. Check out the Beats’ video, “Hear What You Want” (above). It enticed 4.6 million consumers to watch a clip depicting how San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick uses his Beats headphones to stay calm in the midst of rioting, Walking Dead zombie-like “fans” attacking his tour bus. The use of rapper Aloe Blacc’s song, “The Man,” is exquisite and the search optimization of the video is masterful.

Even that success is dwarfed by Beats by Dre’s 5-minute “The Game Before The Game,” which has generated a staggering 24.8 million views on YouTube. “Good Lord, Beats by Dre is getting great at sports commercials,” AdAge cooed, after Beats by Dre issued “Game Before The Game.” The video was tied to the World Cup and featured Brazilian soccer god Neymar Jr. Sure, the video is helped by a descriptor box that’s rich in searchable key words and cameos from celebrities such as Nicki Minaj and LeBron James. When you see the Hollywood-style movie poster created to promote Dre’s “The Game” video, you realize you are witnessing YouTube marketing of the highest order.  



In contrast, most of Bose’s latest YouTube videos were uploaded last May. Its signature #ListenForYourself video (above), has earned barely 24,000 views for its footage of BMX bike riders doing cycle stunts. Like your Uncle Melvin sporting a U2 T-shirt, Bose’s attempt to be “cool” by associating its brand with BMX biking teens feels forced – and the shrill, indie rock music the young man in the clip is listening to may be the only genre of music that would render a Bose headphone unnecessary. It’s worth noting that the most recent #ListenForYourself tweet posted on Bose’s YouTube page is three months old. Another Bose video featuring a BMX biker, “Do What You Love,” has managed to pull in fewer than 7,500 views and this Bose SoundTrue headphone clip with an anonymous guitarist has scraped up barely 6,800 views – all of which suggests that the content of these YouTube clips is not resonating with Bose’s audiences.

Given that Beats by Dre owns the youth-obsessed, bass-heavy world of hip-hop and indie rock, it’s puzzling why Bose isn’t fighting back by touting its superior sonics to fans of jazz, classical, folk, blues, world-beat, 60s rock and other non-rap music – an audience that may count few BMX bikers among them.  

#5 – Prepare Your Social Media Channels Before You Need Them

It’s on Twitter and other social media channels that Beats by Dre most undercuts Bose’s ability to support its headphone brand. When the NFL “We’ll Fine You If You Don’t Wear Bose Headphones” crisis hit, Bose appeared unprepared to connect with consumers via social media, while Beats was ready to mercilessly stomp on Bose online.

Consider: Beats by Dre has 635,000 followers on Twitter (below) for its flow of 20,000 tweets, while Bose has one-sixth as many Twitter followers (101,000) for a tenth as many tweets (1,761). Beats by Dre begins its Twitter profile with these engaging words: “Sound. Attitude. Culture. Join the Beats Army.” But Bose’ Twitter profile struggles with this text, perhaps written by a team of corporate attorneys: “the official account for product launches and keeping tabs on the stuff we love. . .”

Beats vs. Bose

The official Beats by Dre Pinterest page has 3,573 followers with 110 pins. And Bose? Just 31 followers for its “Bose: Better Sound For Life” page. On Instagram, Beats by Dre’s page has 1.5 million followers with 2,000 posts. Bose has earned barely 20,200 followers on Instagram, with an anemic 176 posts. Bose may have a promotable brand message against Beats by Dre, but the rapper’s social media highway is vastly better developed to get the word out to millions of consumers. We often tell our clients – build robust social media channels now, before a crisis makes you wish you’d started engaging with fans on social media earlier.

#6 – Don’t Be a Character In Your Competitor’s Movie – Tell Your Own Story

Where were Bose’s PR counselors when the brand was flailing under Beats by Dre’s attack and watching the NFL fine football players in Bose’s name for daring to listen to their competitor’s products?

“You have a tech company that’s culturally inept,” gloated Jimmy Iovine of Beat’s crisis response. “There’s no one at the company that said, ‘If you ban these guys, you’re going to look bad to the young people, and they’re going to look like superheroes, even though they’re just pure capitalists. . . you’re going to make them (Beats) look like the underdog.'”

One of the first rules of crisis communications: When under fire by competitors, consumer advocates, regulators or other adversaries, don’t play defense on your opponent’s playing field - by their rules, with their tools, using their vocabulary, in their story. If football players were determined to flaunt Bose’s deal with the NFL by listening with Beats by Dre, Bose’s PR staff would have been smarter to challenge Beats to a head-to-head sound quality and noise cancelling test – a Brand Battle Royale that would move Beats by Dre to the only playing field on which Bose could win.

#7 - Perception Still Matters More Than Reality

The most painful part of Bose’s struggle as it fights against Beats by Dre’s celebrity marketing onslaught is this fact:  Bose headphones are, probably, better than Beats by Dre’s products.

C/Net concluded that Beats by Dre noise-cancelling headphones “don’t quite measure up to” Bose’s QuietComfort 15 headphones.  The influential All Things D column chose the Bose brand over Beats by Dre, and  Inner Fidelity said of Beats by Dre Studio products, “the noise cancelling performance is pretty poor – let’s be truthful: these headphones were. . . as much designed to be worn as bling around the neck as it was to deliver thumping bass – they don’t measure up.” In the words of writer Jesse Dorris: “Beats by Dre have received, at best, mixed reviews.” Dorris concludes that the act of wearing Beats by Dre headphones is essentially “the ritual of wrapping your head in a gleaming status symbol.”


(Source: Richmond Classics)

And that’s the most cautionary lesson marketers can draw from Beats by Dre’s success over Bose: A superior product that’s handcuffed by navel-gazing, self-absorbed marketing is going to wither. A merely okay product with brilliant marketing that speaks powerfully to its audience is going to devour that technically better product.

Remember how the era of, TripAdvisor, Urban Spoon and other user-generated consumer review sites was supposed to cut through marketing BS and ensure that the highest-quality products triumphed via word-of-mouth? But as the late comedian John Pinette would say, “Nay, nay.” Instead, Beats by Dre’s domination of the headphone market proves that without up-to-date marketing – aimed at your audience rather than at your internal stakeholders, employing social media deftly, with strategies that evolve as your demographic targets change – even the best brands can be ravaged by a disruptive upstart.

The Verge

(Source: The Verge)

Of course, no matter how much better Beats by Dre’s marketing might be, the ultimate test is: How well are Bose headphones actually selling vs. Beats by Dre products? This breaking news may suggest the direction things may be heading: reports in October 2014 that Apple has removed Bose products from its online store and many of its brick-and-mortar stores. Combined with that loss of product distribution, Bose – which put its global media agency into review last spring – is at a marketing turning point. As a loyal Bose consumer, all I can say is: God help them and their superior products.

Paul MaccabeePaul Maccabee is president of Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency. 



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Topics: Crisis Communications, Brand Strategy, YouTube

PR Speed Round: Q&A with HARO Founder Peter Shankman

Posted by Christina Milanowski on Oct 28, 2014 6:00:00 AM

Peter_ShankmanPeter Shankman is a driven, successful and adventure-seeking public relations entrepreneur. You might know Peter best for those thrice-daily Help A Reporter Out (HARO) email newsletters that syndicate editorial opportunities to PR professionals across the country. Four years ago, Shankman sold to Vocus his free HARO service, which, at the time, had a user base of 30,000 journalists and bloggers and more than 100,000 businesspeople and PR professionals!

Since that time, he’s published several books including “Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World” and “Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans." He has spoken to audiences in 22 countries on social media, publicity and marketing. While on the road in Boston for his Mastermind series, his workshop for business leaders to take their companies to the next level, the MaccaPR blog had a chance to pick his brain on the topics of PR stunts, evolving media relations, NFL crisis communications and social media communities.

1. For starters, can you tell us more about you and being an “Adventurist,” as you say in your bio?

I’m a skydiver [Editor’s Note: 400 jumps so far!] and I’ve done Ironman races, distance running, and adventure racing. It all helps me keep control of my Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). [Editor’s Note: Peter actually “blames ADHD for most of his success,” according to his TEDxTimesSquare biography, and speaks often on topics of ADHD, including at the recent HubSpot inbound marketing conference.]

2. As the author of the book, “Can We Do That? Outrageous PR Stunts That Work,” what’s your favorite PR stunt or campaign of all time?


Once I coordinated an airplane filled with 150 CEOs who skydived to promote my agency. It certainly created buzz.

Also, Taco Bell got it right. In their PR stunt, they put out a 40x40 foot target in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean near Australia and announced that if pieces of the 150-ton Mir station hit it, it’d give out free tacos. The press Taco Bell generated was incredible. 

(Source: Space Ref

3. What lessons can PR people learn from the botched crisis response by the National Football League to scandals relating to Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, etc.?

The NFL needs to focus on being truthful. The NFL teams aren’t facing the facts that they have horrible reputations. The key to improving reputation is to own your mistakes. Be decent and honest.


4. How do zombie loyalists help a company’s bottom line? What tips do you have for a company starting to identify and build a base of such fervent fans?

The bottom line is to listen to your customers. Treat them well. They are people and not numbers.

The biggest mistake companies make in their marketing efforts is talking at people and not with them. Customers really are a company’s biggest marketers and, in this economy, having competitive advantages really comes down to how your customers are treated.

(Source: Amazon)


5. What advice do you have for companies wishing to attract more Twitter followers (you have 164,000+)?

Be real.

6. Many corporate CEOs would love to give a TED talk, as you have – what advice do you have for aspiring TedX speakers?

To be honest, TED found me. Having an audience is a privilege and not a right. A good speech relies on:

  1. Having a good story to tell.
  2. Knowing how to get your audience to listen, but by listening to them first!
  3. Not focusing on the PowerPoint.
  4. Focusing on teaching. A good speech is about learning.


So, there you have it! A speed round of PR creativity! To me, the story of HARO sums up Peter’s career perfectly. HARO was built on the trust Shankman earned from journalists over the years, which he paid off by delivering them sources on deadline. In each newsletter, he’d open with a personal story, showing his real side.

Bonus! 5 Tips for Leveraging HARO in your PR Strategy

Our clients, too, have benefited from being sources for HARO queries in the past. One example? Our agency recently spied an opportunity from a Wall Street Journal online editor seeking consulting stories from financial advisors. Our client Joel Greenwald, MD, a certified financial planner for physicians, jumped at the opportunity - and we shared a unique story with the reporter. Days later, Joel's name, firm and story appeared at for thousands of potential clients to read! Here are a few tips from the Maccabee team on leveraging HARO (or similar, but paid service ProfNet) opportunities:

  1. Ensure that someone on your PR team is subscribed to HARO. You can sign up via email, and following the urgent HARO Twitter feed is a good idea, too. Review the HARO newsletters at least daily. 
  2. Jump on potential opportunities quickly! This isn't to say you should respond to every opportunity. Be choosy. If you have a good story to tell, make your case... quickly. Many of the journalists' queries have short deadlines, as in, respond within 24 or 48 hours. Plus, having your response appear toward the beginning of the bunch is beneficial, before (not after) they've decided who to interview.
  3. Stand out from the other pitches. Make sure your email response is poignant to the query. Show your expertise and edit your response carefully. This reporter is likely sifting through many, many responses. Say what you want to say succinctly. Also, consider including a link or two for more context, such as a link to a blog post you've authored on that subject.
  4. Do your research. Oftentimes HARO queries don't list the publication or journalists' name. Still, you can sometimes gain hints as to who is requesting the story source. If a journalists' name or publication is given, make sure to research them before pitching. 
  5. Activate quickly. If you receive a journalist's response back, show you're timely by answering the journalist quickly. Make sure you (or your client) have the best shot at making it into the story. 

 In Peter’s final words, be sure to Have fun and have a good time!


ChristinaMilanowskiChristina Milanowski is social media director and account supervisor at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

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Topics: Interviews, Media Relations, Event Marketing

An Open Letter: Don’t Sweat the Small (Social Media) Stuff

Posted by Christina Milanowski on Oct 22, 2014 5:00:00 AM

Dear MaccaPR readers, 

I’ve just returned from the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association’s (MIMA) annual summit in Minneapolis and have a recap to share. My key take-away: please don’t sweat the small stuff... social media stuff, that is!

At last week’s MIMA summit, final keynote speaker Amy Webb of digital strategy agency Webbmedia shared a cleverly concocted look at what’s to come for the latest and greatest(?) social media network, Ello, which I’ll share below. The advertising-free, invitation-only social network Ello, like the sparkly, new social channels that came before it, not only has the power to transform your business, but also to distract you from your other channels, social media strategies and overall digital marketing.


(Source: @PCBritz)

From Ello to SnapChat and Whisper to Path, it seems like there are so many social channels to consider in our marketing strategies. These wise words from Content Marketing Institute author Joe Pulizzi, who I heard earlier this year at the Social Media Marketing World conference, continue to buzz around in my brain: “Don’t build your ship on sinking ground." (Oh wait, that quote was actually: "Never build your content ship on rented land.")


(Source: MaccaPR)

As existing and new social media sites are continually (re)invented, we must be discerning in how the changing landscape may (or may not) benefit you as a marketer. Putting all of your marketing eggs in a Facebook basket, for example, isn't as wise as it once was. Have you seen what Facebook algorithms have done to company content? You basically have to pay for ads to be seen in users’ newsfeeds. Let’s continue to be curious about the ever-changing social media world, but stay focused on the channels we can control (our blog and website) supported by cherry-picked social media sites.

We can get so caught up in this stuff. Marketers often become distracted from the work that can bring true meaning to our brands and brand audiences. This was illustrated by another MIMA Summit speaker and self-described “entrepreneurial ruckus maker,” Barrett Brooks of FizzleCo (Barrett, forgive me if I mis-tweeted your quote!):

To me, Barrett meant that we should move beyond which social channels to be active on. Instead, we'd be best served to invest our mindshare in really knowing our audiences so we can create (and publish) quality content that'll serve their wants and needs. What problems does your audience have and how can you fix them? 

As social media marketers and PR pros, can we agree to stay focused on our audiences, create great content and proceed with social media marketing carefully? With 2015 planning upon us, we counsel: choose a few social media channels and do them really well.

Sincerely, your social media friend,

Christina Milanowski


ChristinaMilanowskiChristina Milanowski is social media director and account supervisor at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

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Topics: Social Media

5 More Cures To Revive Your YouTube Video Channel

Posted by Paul Maccabee on Oct 7, 2014 5:42:00 AM

Part 2 of a 2-part Special Blog Post: See Part 1 Here


Last week, our MaccaPR Blog promised to reveal how the most underperforming YouTube channels could be transformed from dusty video repositories into vigorous sales lead generators, kick-butt customer engagement machines, high-energy web traffic referral drivers, and SEO magnets to heighten visibility for your company in search.

What’s more, we promised that rebuilding the effectiveness of your YouTube channel could be completed within 30 days for most brands – if you already followed our five previous prescriptions for healthy YouTube channels.

What follows are five more cures for what’s ailing most branded YouTube channels. You say that you "don’t need no doctor?" Check out, below, what may be compromising the health of your YouTube marketing efforts. 

6. Condition: Speaking In Tongues  

Symptoms: Your customers are confronted with videos that speak to them in Latvian, Mandarin and Farsi. Confusion reigns. A new Tower of Babel is erected.

The Cures:

  • As the geo boundary-less nature of the web turns virtually every company – mais oui, even yours! -- into an business with global reach, many YouTube channels are publishing videos in multiple languages. Use playlists to group these videos by global region or language.
  • Note how Wal-Mart flags its Spanish videos in a “Walmart en Espanol” playlist. Coke segregates its 47 Indonesian videos in this playlist below, while Chiquita Banana established a separate YouTube channel for its Japanese videos.

Coke Indonesia

7. Condition: Uncomfortable Video Bloat

Symptoms: Intel offers visitors to its YouTube channel a total of 5,452 videos (with such puzzling titles as “Upcycle Your Change” and the timely “Tech Trends for 2011”), while Cisco forces its visitors to wade through 4,809 videos. This is made more challenging by such enigmatic Cisco video titles as: “SPAN-on-Drop on Nexus 5600/6000.” Why force your prospects to claw their way through a jungle of YouTube clips that are irrelevant to their needs?

The Cures:

  • Apple’s YouTube channel only offers 57 recent, carefully-curated videos and Calvin Klein offers just 121 clips. Treat your YouTube channel like a Japanese Bonsai gardener – prune away those unnecessary videos to enable what remains to shine.

Apple YouTube

  • If your YouTube video features former executives who have since left the company – or "cutting edge" insights from 2008 trade shows – take them behind the barn and put them out of their misery.

8. Condition: Your YouTube Icon Is Buried  

Symptoms: It’s impossible to find a YouTube link on your company's website.

The Cures:

  • YouTube is currently the second most popular search engine in America, yet many of the brands we examined failed to incorporate a YouTube icon and link on their home pages. Let your YouTube channel be known!
  • Give yourself 20 bonus points if most of your customer-facing executives have added a link to your YouTube channel in the “Contact Info” section of their LinkedIn profiles.

9. Condition: Shambling “About Us” Channel Description

Symptoms: A puzzled look because the “About” section of your YouTube channel provides little information on your company, and few social media links to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. For examples, witness this lonely ‘About’ section on Levi’s YouTube channel as well as similarly empty ‘About’ sections on YouTube channels for OreoMaidenform, and even Apple.

The Cures:

  • Take advantage of this ‘About’ area by writing up to 1,000 words that reinforce your brand, encourage frequent visits and/or subscriptions to your YouTube channel, and explain the purpose and value of your channel.
  • Add social links in your channel’s ‘About’ section that invite visitors to hop over to Facebook and your other social media sites.  Although its About copy is anemic, check out how well Louis Vuitton includes all of its online/social channels from Google+ to Twitter and Google+ inside its YouTube channel description area. Similarly, DupontDKNY and American Girl display robust social media icons.

American Girl

10. Condition: Hyper-Extended Videos

Symptoms: OMG – your video is how long? Ben Kingsley’s Academy Award-winning film, ‘Gandhi,’ had every right to be 183 minutes long. But your CEO’s video about the company’s new enterprise-wide, disruptive, cloud-based, end-to-end, crowd-funded, integrated turnkey solution? That video should not become a two hour voyage. The Disney Classics YouTube channel actually opens with a single video clip that’s 112 minutes long, below. Goofy and Mickey’s social media staff should know better.

The Cures:

  • YouTube Best Practices suggest you keep your videos to no longer than two minutes in length. An extra bonus: Google ranks your videos higher if viewers watch it from beginning to end – so short videos increase your standing in search.
  • If you’ve got 10 to 30 minutes of excellent video footage on any topic, consider dividing it into three successive, more snackable segments. When playlisted together, the three clips will play serially after the previous video.


There, that wasn’t painful, was it? Learn about how a Maccabee YouTube Audit by our Online Video Doctors could improve the effectiveness of your company’s YouTube channel! Contact me by Twitter, YouTube video or… email me at!

Paul MaccabeePaul Maccabee is president of Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency. 



Topics: YouTubeSEOVideo

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Topics: YouTube, SEO, Video

10 Video Optimization Cures for Your Brand’s Ailing YouTube Channel

Posted by Paul Maccabee on Oct 2, 2014 6:36:44 AM

Part 1 of a 2-part Special Blog Post

Whenever our PR agency pulls on its rubber gloves and puts a brand’s YouTube Channel under our microscope, I’m reminded of the words sung by the Immortal Bard (John Mayer, not William Shakespeare): “I don’t need no doctor, ‘cause I know what’s ailing me.”

The world of branded YouTube channels is a disorienting universe filled with enigmatic video titles, mysteriously missing visuals, lack of search optimization and 60-minute running times, during which CEOs stare fiercely into the camera and extol their company’s devotion to “Our Brand’s Difference,” “Client Centered Solutions,” and “People Are Our Biggest Asset.”

Let’s say this together: Is there a YouTube Doctor in the House?

YouTube Search Engines

The bad news: We recently assessed YouTube channels of about 100 brands and at least 75 percent of them are approaching Code Blue, badly in need of major online surgery and optimization for search. Many are being used chiefly as a clogged repository for dozens, hundreds and sometimes thousands of aging video clips of varying lengths, languages, timeliness and coherence. 

The good news:  Most of these moribund YouTube channels could be easily transformed from dusty video archives into healthy sales lead generators, vigorous customer engagement machines, lively web traffic referral drivers, and, more than anything, SEO magnets to heighten visibility for a company in search.

What’s more, dramatically improving the power of your YouTube channel could be completed within the next 30 days for most brands.  YouTube’s parent company Google has done its part to make this easier, ensuring that YouTube videos already rank high in Google’s organic search. YouTube’s one billion unique visits each month have made it the second most used search engine in the world.  

Best of all, videos about your company and its products are shareable by your customers, so your YouTube channel – properly treated and optimized – automatically equips your customers, dealers, employees and fans to become evangelists in pushing out your video content via social media. So, as Robert Palmer once sang, Doctor, doctor, give me the news. . . .

Here Are 5 Prescriptions For Common YouTube Conditions

1. The Condition: Lackadaisical Video Titles

Symptoms: Listless, out-of-date titles that fail to accurately describe the contents of your YouTube videos. These titles often lead to viewer apathy and puzzlement. For a sense of how grave this condition can be for brands that should know better, consider two Procter & Gamble videos entitled: “CSDW 2011 Holiday Card” and “PGITI Feb 2011.” Or, can you guess what IBM’s “SXSW Cognitive Cooking: Belgian Bacon Pudding” or Starbucks’ “PSL Days” videos are about from their titles?  No, we didn’t think so – and neither can their thousands of followers.



The Cures:

  • Make your video title relevant and descriptive of what’s actually in the video, and then ask yourself the question: why would anyone not employed by our company care about a video with this title?
  • Resist putting your company or brand’s name in the title of every video, given that many potential customers will be looking for your product category rather than your company’s name. In other words, a video titled “New Ways To Shoot Photos Underwater During Your Vacation” will get more consumer engagement than one titled, “Acme’s Cutting Edge MX-2000 Camera.”
  • Ensure that your video title (100 words or less) is rich in relevant keywords. Use as many unbranded keywords in your title as you can – hey, your brand name already surfaces as your username next to the video in search, so there’s no mystery about your company’s identity.
  • Avoid inspirational video titles that worked for internal audiences, but might baffle external viewers. At your sales meeting in Vegas, the 2015 Campaign Announcement video titled: “Kicking Butt and Taking Names: Nothing Can Ever Stop Us Now – We Are The Champions, My Friend!” left the entire room whooping, slapping fives and throwing chairs. But if you want to post that video on YouTube for customers, you may want to retitle it. YouTube is littered with videos titled: “Our Partnerships,” “A World Of Collaboration,” “Teamwork Is Our Motto,” “About Our Quality Brands,” and “World-Class Customer Service” – vague phrases which are unlikely to match the keywords that prospects would enter into YouTube’s search box.

2. The Condition: Disorienting Playlists  

Symptoms: A mysterious absence of Playlists, leading to confusion and customer abandonment.  It’s sad to see the savvy marketers at Apple grouping no fewer than 47 videos under the single Playlist title, “Featured Playlist.”  And then there’s brands like Gourmet Magazine and Smuckers, which both offer visitors the dreaded “This Channel Has No Playlists” message here and here.


(Soucre: Smucker's Brand YouTube)

The Cures:

  • Organizing videos into relevant playlists by theme, product or topic not only makes it easy for your prospects to find videos they’re interested in, it encourages them to stay and watch multiple videos. What’s not to love about playlists?
  • Playlists enable your prospects to self-qualify themselves as leads. Rather than organizing playlists by your company’s internal structure or business units (a common practice in the 100 YouTube channels we evaluated), organize your videos by audience target and consumer interest or benefit.  A B2B sales prospect is more likely to search for and find a video in a playlist called “Airport Maintenance Crew Solutions“ than one called, “Institutional Division, Civil Aeronautics Products Team.”
  • Many YouTube channels have playlists with vague titles, such as “Sales Leadership,” “Human Resources” and “Customer Service,” which mean little to your customer prospects. Instead of “Human Resources,” try a playlist titled “Getting A Job at Acme” (note: use this only if your company is actually named Acme).

3. Condition: Inadequate Channel Profile Images

Symptoms: Eerily blank YouTube channel header image, with your company’s logo floating strangely in sea of grey. Among the national brands that have left their YouTube channel’s header image area blank or nearly empty: office equipment leader Fellowes,  men’s fashion brand Hart Schaffner Marx,  Nikon, the National Basketball Association, and National Guitar Workshop.

Hart Schaffner Marx

The Cures:

  • Add an image to the top of your YouTube channel! Go ahead, we’ll wait while you do it right now.
  • YouTube allows you to upload channel header art that’s as big as 2MB – so you can go way beyond depicting your product package and company logo to show images of how customers enjoy your product, and display a metaphor for your service or visuals of what your brand stands for. Some great examples of evocative YouTube channel header images include those in the YouTube channels created by Gibson Guitars, Sheraton HotelsUnder Armour and Minnesota’s Creative Kidstuff.


(Souce: Gibson Guitar YouTube)

4. Condition: Anemic Description Box Copy

Symptoms: Depressingly empty descriptor boxes or partially-written descriptions under each video: resulting in poor optimization for search and near-oblivion for consumers seeking to find you.

The Cures:

  • Add copy under each video, which accurately and completely describes what viewers will see if they click on your YouTube video. Only about 10 percent of the branded YouTube channels we reviewed did this consistently.
  • Create a Call-to-Action: Once someone watches your video, what do you want them to do next? Call your toll-free number? Download a PDF (hopefully from a landing page that will capture their email address) which complements the content in your video? Share your video with friends and co-workers? Make a comment on your video? Tell viewers in the descriptor box under each video what you want them to do.
  • Think like a newspaper headline writer, and reel your viewer in with a powerhouse first sentence – encouraging them to click your “More Info” button to expand for a full taste of your video description.
  • Use the YouTube Keyword Suggestion tool to find keyword search terms that you can use in each of your videos’ descriptor boxes.
  • Consider adding a text transcript file of the words spoken in your video – Google can’t search images/video, but it will search a ‘script’ of what’s said in your video to identify keywords tied to your video. Paste it at the end of your description box.

5. Condition: Strangely Missing Web Links

Symptoms: Viewers of your YouTube videos feel stuck, unsure of where you wish them to click through to next. Website links given aren’t live, so consumers can’t easily click through. Ennui, inerita and dislocation result. As examples, see how Doritos failed to add the http:// prefix that would make its web links go live on its “Crash The Superbowl” site. Other major brands fail to add any website URLs in the description box at all, as Burt’s Bees does here


(Source: Doritos YouTube)

The Cures:

  • Add the full URL for your website or microsite (starting with”http://”) so that YouTube translates the web address into live links once you publish your description copy.
  • Insert your website url early enough in your description box copy under the videos so that when the text is in a collapsed view, your YouTube visitor can see the full website address.
  • Don’t just restrict yourself to adding the web address for your site’s home page in descriptor box copy. Better to provide the url for the specific inside website page that matches the content of your video. If your video addresses what dentists should know about your medical office software, the url should take them not to your home page, but to the inside page which addresses the specific needs of dentists.

Is your YouTube channel already feeling energized and infused with new zing – your videos seemingly pumping iron and performing digital bench presses? Then watch for Part II of this blog post, which will contain five more common cures for YouTube channel health. . . coming next week.

Paul MaccabeePaul Maccabee is president of Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency. 



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Topics: YouTube, SEO, Video

R.I.P. For PR Spin: Ethics, Public Relations and The Imminent Death of “Spin”

Posted by Gwen Chynoweth on Sep 16, 2014 6:51:00 AM


The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has declared this September as "Ethics Awareness Month," complete with "The New Era of Authenticity" as a theme. There’s also a Google+ Hangout on PR ethics, webinars and a #PRethics hashtag. While it saddens me that any profession places a special emphasis for just 30 days on a code of conduct, the PRSA’s declaration does offer an irresistible opportunity to focus on a single word: "Spin."

Every once in a great while, a client will ask our Minneapolis PR agency to "spin" some topic for his or her company. It’s almost always asked innocently, like, "We just won this prestigious award for doing really good work, but we don’t know how to word the press release. Can you put your spin on it?"

No matter how benign a client’s intention might be, however, my skin practically crawls every time I hear the word "spin" if it’s not in the context of a fitness class, silk worms, a child’s top, Hanukkah dreidels, or something to do with yarn. In our profession of public relations, the word "spin" connotes deception, obfuscation, misdirection and other smoke and mirrors tactics to hide the truth. For a terrifically funny example of spin, watch the 2005 movie, "Thank You For Smoking."


Deservedly, the active use of spin has given the PR industry a black eye. Dating as far back as the "public be damned era" of the late-1880s, when ethics-free railroad, banking and oil industry empire builders bought Federal and state legislation to further their stockholders’ profits, publicists would massage the truth to hide the misdeeds of some of their clients.

The trend continued well into our own times, when, in 1991, a Hill & Knowlton agency executive notoriously reminded staff that, "We’d represent Satan if he paid." And just last week it was announced that former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice hired a PR agency to "fix" his damaged reputation.

(Souce: IMDb)

During countless incidents of corporate malfeasance – from the tobacco industry’s attempts to hide the danger of its smoking products, the auto manufacturers’ efforts to camouflage defective mechanisms that led to mass recalls, pharmaceutical companies’ reactions to off-label use and side effects, and corporate polluters’ hopes that citizens would simply dismiss spills, leaks and toxic dumps – PR agencies have figured prominently in spinning unspinnable facts. Someone violated business ethics and did not want the public to fully understand what happened.

Even in my own 20+ years experience in PR, an executive I once worked with demanded that my job was "to make him look good." Considering how he mistreated his direct reports, disrespected and intimidated constituents of the organization, blasted the local news media, and valued bulldozing as his favorite leadership style, I responded, "Then give me something to work with!"

Surprisingly, he didn’t fire me. But he didn’t comply with my request, either. I wound up ending my relationship with the organization shortly afterward.

Will it ever be possible to eliminate spin from our industry? My answer is a qualified "yes."

The good news is that the vast majority of PR people I know would have responded to the incident above in a similar fashion. They don’t lie. In fact, they do everything within their power to tell a client’s story factually and advise clients to always tell the truth, no matter how difficult it may be.

What’s even better is that the proliferation of YouTube, Facebook and other social media channels is forcing corporations, business executives and public figures into greater degrees of transparency, making getting away with spin harder than ever before. While this information democracy era is still in its infancy, its promise of open, honest and ethical marketing and communication is encouraging.


But humans, being who we are, will still let hubris rule at times. Until our species evolves into a science fiction-like creature of altruism and grace, we’ll need tools like the PRSA’s "Ethics Month" to inform and educate PR practitioners of the important role they play in upholding the public trust – and in encouraging their clients to act with honor and honesty, as their best selves.

(Source: PRNewser)

Gwen ChynowethGwen Chynoweth is executive vice president and chief talent officer at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

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Topics: Corporate Communications


Posted by Paul Maccabee on Sep 3, 2014 6:00:00 AM

Screen_Shot_2014-09-02_at_4.56.38_PMChief marketing officers are in love with the idea of breaking a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® event record and having their brands bask in the seemingly viral eruption of TV, radio, print and online buzz that comes from that honor. So what’s the secret behind your agency or company successfully breaking a world record for maximum social media engagement, traditional media coverage and global brand buzz? In just a few paragraphs from now, you’ll learn behind-the-scenes tips from a public relations executive with GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS, Jamie Antoniou (right).

But first – consider the most prominent example of branded world record smashing, pulled off by Red Bull, which broke multiple records (including the largest audience for a live stream advertisement from GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS) when it sponsored daredevil Felix Baumgartner’s $20 million Stratos Project freefall from a helium balloon at 128,000 feet.

Closer to earth, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS has worked recently with such brands as:

  • Tang (largest donation of toys in 24 hours),
  • Coca-Cola (longest drink pouring relay)
  • Virgin Mobile (most people crammed into a Mini Cooper),
  • POM Wonderful juice (longest airborne inflatable beach ball relay)
  • Nissan (largest indoor illuminated advertising billboard)
  • Priceline Pharmacy (world’s longest chain of selfies)
  • Italy’s Piazzagrande (world’s largest tiramisu)
  • Domino’s (most pizzas  7,539 pies  made in 24 hours)
  • British Airways (highest performance of the Harlem Shake)
  • Weetabix Breakfast Drinks (world’s fastest milk float)
  • De’Longhi (largest cup of coffee)
  • Smirnoff vodka (largest anamorphic painting)
  • Big League Chew (most people – 721 of them!  blowing a bubble gum bubble simultaneously)

We were reminded of the awe-inspiring PR and social media marketing power of a well-executed world record event this past July. Our agency helped Minnesota-based Kemps Dairy celebrate its 100th Anniversary by setting the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the Largest Scoop of Ice Cream at the Cedarburg Strawberry Festival in Wisconsin. The 3,010-pound scoop of strawberry ice cream generated 769 TV, radio and other media mentions for $1.7 million worth of media coverage. Local TV segments on Kemps' mammoth scoop aired in 181 out of 210 U.S. DMA markets, climaxed by coverage on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” and online mentions by People magazine and the New York Times.


To give you insight into what makes for a successful, record-breaking PR event, we interviewed Jamie Antoniou, senior public relations manager for GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS North America. “It all starts with which record you decide to break!,” says Antoniou. “If your PR agency or company is planning a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS event, I recommend you choose a world record that has four key elements.”

GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Secret #1: Relevancy 

“The first element is: select a record that’s relevant either to your product or to what’s hot in pop culture now," suggests Antoniou. "For an example of relevance, Colgate came to us to launch its Colgate Total Mouth Wash by breaking the world record for most people (1,142 of them) using mouthwash in New York’s Times Square, an event which was perfectly tailored and relevant to their brand."

GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Secret #2: Cause Marketing

Secondly, Antoniou advises, tie your GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS event to a cause or charity. “Kaiser Permanente has set a series of health-related world records with us, including most people vaccinated in a single venue, most blood pressure readings and most colon cancer screenings,” says Antoniou. “The visuals for these philanthropic events can be great: TV stations can pan along a shot of hundreds of people waiting in line to get their blood pressure taken. We also liked how Colgate tied their mouthwash event to a $1 donation for every participant who gargled to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which Colgate called the program, ‘A Wish For A Swish.’”


The third secret for a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS event is clarity of visuals, counsels Antoniou. “The media love to see a strong photo opportunity that shows the record being broken, in action. Smart PR agencies will choreograph their event so the visual image shows the scale of the record – in other words, the TV cameras and photographers can show the traditional side-by-side with the superlative. For example, put a standard ice cream scoop next to the Guinness World Record scoop, the tallest dog next to the smallest dog, or the largest guitar next to a standard guitar.”

“Mass participation activities – particularly fitness-related activities – do very well in attracting morning TV show coverage,” adds Antoniou. “We recently worked with NBC-TV’s ‘Today Show’ when a company produced the largest exercise ball demonstration class on Rockefeller Plaza and we collaborated with a fitness company on the most people jumping on trampolines for ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America.” Not only are there lots of participants who the TV stations can interview, but the broadcast journalists themselves were bouncing on the tramps!”

Good Morning America

(Source: Good Morning America)

At Maccabee, we’d add one more element to the construction of an extraordinary GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS event - shamelessly pursue the power of symbolism and metaphor. When our agency helped OfficeMax break the record for the world's largest rubberband ball, the 4,590-pound rubber orb was pushed onto OfficeMax’s digital scale by four stripped-to-the-waist bodybuilders – a tableau that evoked the Greek titan Atlas, who held up the celestial spheres of the world on his back.  But the bodybuilders’ herculean effort with OfficeMax’s giant ball also harkened to the iconic 1945 photo of the four US Marines raising the flag atop Mount Suribachi during the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. Those Rubberband Ball visuals helped the OfficeMax event generate a staggering 422 TV segments in 127 markets, along with hundreds of newspapers, magazines, blogs mentions and 365,000 downloads of a video at

Office Max

GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Secret #4: Simplicity

Finally, Antoniou recommends that marketers pay close attention to the fourth element of a winning GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS event – simplicity. “You don’t want to overwhelm journalists. Push out one message, one visual, one cause. My biggest peeve is with companies that try to fit too many messages into their record event – which leads to the press sending out an image of your record, but your message gets lost in the clutter. Focus everything for the news media on one shot, one image, one moment.”

So, how obvious should your logo and branding be during a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS event?

“The branding of your GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS event should look clean – it’s a delicate balance with a company’s logo, because you do NOT want to suffer death by brand,” warns Antoniou. “You don’t want your event to look too commercial or contrived to the press that attend. But if your company does not incorporate its logo into the attempt, the press may broadcast the record-breaking moment and leave out your company’s message entirely. When you did the ice cream scoop with Kemps, the logo was carved right into the ice cream itself, so the branding message was very clear in every photo taken at the event.”

When our PR firm handled OfficeMax’s World’s Largest Rubberband Ball event, we had an advantage – the giant ball itself was OfficeMax’s logo, and the ball was also wrapped with a ribbon proclaiming the OfficeMax brand. But just to make sure no one missed the company behind the world record, we also asked the two adorable children of the Rubberband Ball’s creator to wear headbands with OfficeMax’s logos on them, which literally, and quite shamelessly, branded the foreheads of these two youngsters.   

To Use a Celebrity Or Not?

When Hellmann’s Mayonnaise set the record for world’s largest picnic table (for the record, it was 320-feet long and 8,000 pounds), it employed actress Katie Holmes and celebrity chef Mario Batali to celebrate the brand’s 100th Anniversary and encourage media coverage. More recently, Colgate employed TV actress, model and “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Stacy Keibler (best known for dating George Clooney) to generate media interest for their June 2014 “Most People Using Mouthwash Simultaneously” event with GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS. So how important a marketing/PR tool is a celebrity in all this?


(Source: VidaVibrante)

None of the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS that Maccabee helped clients achieve involved or needed a celebrity hook. “In my opinion, a celebrity is extra to a world record event,” agrees Atoniou. “Essentially, the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS judge becomes the spokesperson or celebrity at your event – celebrity involvement is just icing on the cake.”

What’s more, the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS judge who officiated at Kemps’ giant ice cream scoop event, Phillip Robertson, was something of a celebrity himself. Having officiated at more than 100 Guinness Record events, Robertson has been seen on networks from CNN, CMT, Bravo, ESPN and Fox to NBC, ABC, BBC and CBS. Who needs Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise when you have the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS judge who adjudicated the World’s Largest Hamburger?

What’s the biggest mistake agencies and companies make in producing a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS event?

“Lack of organization – to pursue a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS record, you need to be organized and have an understanding of our guidelines,” insists Antoniou.  “Just because your company invests money in an attempt, you will not automatically get the record. Each record category has its own set of guidelines that you must adhere to; we standardize the guidelines so everyone can attempt the record on a level playing field.”

Lightning Round: 4 Tips for GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Marketers:

Waste Not, Want Not

Official rules from GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS actually require agencies and companies producing food-related events to refrain from throwing out the food once the World Record has been set. So when our agency helped Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s) break the record for World’s Largest Box of Chocolates with a 3,226-pound box of 90,900 Frango mints, we made sure to give away the chocolates to the gathering throng so they would not be thrown out. Similarly, Kemps celebrated its GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS event by giving away thousands of mini-scoops from the Largest Ice Cream Scoop to festival-goers surrounding the mammoth sculpture.

Do Pay Attention to the Man Behind The Curtain

You can expand your potential media coverage by inviting media to view the preparation before your GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS event. For example, we invited TV stations in Wisconsin to preview the giant ice cream scoop, even before it left its 20-degree-below-zero freezer. And we gave media a sneak preview of OfficeMax’s rubberband ball the day before the event, as its owner painstakingly applied the last of its 185,000 giant rubber bands.

Think Global, Start Local

Although media coverage for your GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS event can easily go global, Antoniou advises: “Never be afraid to go local – a single post by a prominent local blogger can generate pick-up globally. And it’s a good idea to hire a local wire service to capture your event on film, and then have them do the syndication for you.” The Maccabee agency often hires local videographers and still photographers to immortalize its national GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS events, so that no matter which network affiliates show up (or don’t show up), we have the visual content ready to distribute ourselves.

Go Online or Go Home

“Ninety percent of the companies that we work with want the video of their Guinness World Record event to ‘go viral’ via YouTube – which makes sense in terms of value of the exposure online,” marvels Antoniou. “The best you could do with a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS event eight years ago was NBC’s ‘Today Show’ or ABC’s ‘Good Morning America.’ But today? Marketers would rather get their brand featured on Huffington Post or than in traditional media outlets.”

Intrigued about the value of a Guinness event for your company? Here’s a link to the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS services for brands and corporations:

Or if you just need a lift today, check out the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS “Largest Gathering of Elvis Impersonators,” sponsored by Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in North Carolina – which climaxed with 895 Elvises crooning The King’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” Now excuse us, but we’ve got a white jumpsuit to pull on, a pompadour to slick back and a chorus of “Blue Suede Shoes” to rehearse. "Yeah, it’s one for the money..."

Paul MaccabeePaul Maccabee is president of Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency. 




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Topics: Media Relations, Brand Strategy, Event Marketing

Secret Formulas Behind Successful Social Media Posts

Posted by Paul Maccabee on Aug 20, 2014 6:54:39 AM

I recently joined our agency’s VP Jean Hill in delivering a workshop on the data-driven science behind social media before more than 50 marketing executives for a Fortune 100 client. Our #1 goal: we wanted to convince these executives that the best social media marketers think not like marketers at all – but like behavioral scientists.

SocialMediaFormulasBring any three social media marketers together over an all-you-can-eat dinner of Buffalo Wild Wings, and stand back for a furious debate over:

  • What’s the best time and day of the week to post content via Facebook and other social media channels? (Hint: it depends if you want Facebook likes or shares)
  • What’s the optimal length for a tweet? (Spoiler alert: It’s not 140 characters)
  • How will engagement be increased if you put a link closer to the beginning of a tweet rather than at the end? (Best practice? Insert that link a quarter of the way into your tweet)
  • How often should you post new content on LinkedIn or other online channels? (Answer? Way more often than you currently are).

I admit, when our agency first began guiding clients toward more effective use of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other online marketing channels – I thought all posts and links were created equal. I figured that 1,000 likes was better than 10, and that 20,000 followers were far better than 200. If 55,000 people watched your video on YouTube, I was happy. Our clients were happy. All I cared about was – did someone, anyone, absorb our client’s content.

But our clients and agency quickly learned that generating followers, likes, video views and downloads was only half the battle.

(Source: University of Georgia)

Screen_Shot_2014-08-19_at_1.33.48_PMBecause a great musician thinks beyond the notes he or she plays and the number of tickets sold in the auditorium, to consider how is the audience coming to their music and how does the musician want the audience to react when that music is delivered?

Similarly, an exceptional social media marketer thinks beyond the mechanics of posting YouTube clips, LinkedIn updates and tweets to consider two vital questions:

  • How did the audience come to see your content - via Google or Facebook? Through a click-thru on a tweet or YouTube link? From a PPC ad online?
  • What specific actions do you want them to take once they connect with your company online?

That last question is critical. As a marketer, your choice of the length, timing and format of your online interaction depends upon the ultimate goal you want your blog, tweeted content or YouTube video to achieve. Possible goals for social media-delivered content are to:

  •       Generate the most possible click-thrus to your own website or other web property
  •       Encourage more social shares to amplify your content among new audiences
  •       Generate the most possible page views and readership
  •       Generate more links back to your website
  •       Spark conversation with comments
  •       Encourage more prospects to download content such as a white paper, e-book or infographic
  •       Improve the findability of your content on search engines like Google

Not surprisingly, our clients tell us they’re hungry for precision in a social media world that can feel chaotic and uncontrollable. We’re often asked: what’s the magical hour at which a Facebook post will compel thousands to “like” your brand, how often should you post a LinkedIn update, or what’s the best length of a video that will reinforce a clip “going viral” on YouTube?  Fair questions; so we first talk about the science of social media, to wit:

1. The best length of a tweet if you desire engagement?

The secret formula of a successful Twitter post is 100 characters or less. Tweets of 100 characters or less receive a 17 percent higher engagement rate than longer tweets.


(Source: TrackSocial)

2. Where should you insert a link in your tweet?

Although the majority of marketers (including, until recently, me) put the link at the end of their tweet, data scientist Dan Zarella analyzed 200,000 tweets and determined that you could do much better. The optimal location for your link to generate click-thrus is 25 percent of the way into your tweet – a location that also ensures if someone retweets you, your link won’t be cut off at the end.


(Source: Dan Zarrella)

3. Best day to generate comments about your blog post?

Blog comments soar on Saturday, and are second highest on Sunday.  But if you want social shares of your post? Thursday is best, with the second best day being Wednesday. The worst day to blog, if you want social shares, is Sunday. (Absorb that statistic: people comment more on weekends, but don’t share as much then.)

4. Best time to post on your blog if you readership and people to link to your post?

Blog posts published around 7 am (EST) generate the most inbound links; and author Dan Zarella confirmed that 80 percent of blog consumers read their blog in the morning – so post before breakfast!

5. How often should you post on Facebook?

Less frequent but higher quality Facebook posts are the way to go. Researchers found that posting one or two times daily on Facebook generated 32 percent higher “like” rates and 73 percent more comments, compared to marketers who posted more frequently.

6. Want to persuade people to share your Facebook post?

Get them to your finish line. found that a person who reads some, but not all, of your content is least likely to share with friends and colleagues. Readers who make it all the way to the very end of your Facebook post are most likely to share with colleagues. Your goal: design your post for maximum suspense, with a climax or teaser so your audience will be compelled to complete it.

7. Want to acquire more links to your blog content?

Just add video. found you can attract nearly three times more ILDs (internet linking domains) if you add a video to your blog post, compared to if your post was limited to text. And if you add video, lists and images to your next blog post, you can generate up to six times more internet linking domain links.

8. What’s the perfect length for a blog post?

Approximately 1,600 words – which comes to about seven minutes read out loud.


(Source: Medium)

But wait! Mastering how to optimize online content for sharing, click-thrus and SEO findability is only half a marketer’s battle – what about the quality of your content? We know that hastily-written, lamely-illustrated content that’s all about your brand rather than all about your brand’s audience will not be shared or downloaded no matter how expertly it’s optimized. Similarly, brilliantly crafted, wildly entertaining and emotionally resonant content such as e-books, videos, white papers, blog posts and infographics won’t be noticed (and generate sales revenue for you) if they’re poorly optimized and weakly distributed on social.

So like those classic Reese’s TV spots of the 1980s, in which a man munching on chocolate crashes into a woman devouring a jar of peanut butter -- their collision creating the eternal miracle of Reese’s Peanut Butter candies – it’s the sweet mash-up of the science of social media optimization with the art of creating quality content that fulfills the promise of marketing for your company. So – how many rules of social media science did this blog post violate? And did this post achieve the level of quality you need to share it with your co-workers, friends and managers? We’ll sit here munching on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups until you decide. . .

Note: MaccaPR blog acknowledges the research and statistics provided above by Buddy Media, Track Social,, Social Fresh, Dan Zarella, Shareaholic, Medium and Upworthy. For more on this science of social media, read Dan Zarella’s astonishing "The Science of Marketing: When to Tweet, What To Post, How to Blog and Other Proven Strategies."

Paul MaccabeePaul Maccabee is president of Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency. 


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Topics: Social Media, Measurement