Reblog: Paula Deen and Her [Deep] Fried PR Strategy

January 23, 2012 at 9:00 AM (Happenings) (, , , )

This post originally appeared on my agency’s blog, RaceTalk.

For all two of you who don’t already know, Paula Deen has Type 2 diabetes. Sounds like a stretch, I know. All those deep-fried Twinkies could not have possibly had anything to do with it. What’s drawing even more attention though is that not only has Ms. Deen been tucked away in the diabetes closet for three years (more on that below), but she has also timed her announcement with a deal to promote a diabetes medication. In the words of Ad Age contributor Eric Webber, “the irony has not been lost on the public,” and while this may result in some bad press for Paula, it’s also bad press for the industry. Webber does a great job explaining why this is bit of a booboo for all of us PR kids (so read the article), I wanted to highlight a few particularly good points.

Bad timing Deen’s claim that her limited knowledge of the disease kept her from going public says one of at least three things: 1.) Her doctors lied and told her she has something WAY more exotic than diabetes, 2.) she doesn’t know how to use Google (in which case, I have a great site for her friends to check out), or 3.) she had plans to time the announcement so that she’d be a prime candidate for a lucrative spokesperson deal.

Two steps back The do-gooders of the branding industry are fighting a seemingly endless battle against the stigma that people in PR, marketing and advertising are all soulless spin doctors who are only after dollar signs. Admittedly, there are folks who are only in it for the bottom line, but it certainly isn’t standard. As Webber put it, it gives the industry a black eye.

Celebrity endorsements “But, of course, I’m being compensated for my time,” we hear from Deen when asked about how she’s benefiting financially from the partnership. “That’s the way our world works.” Again, with the making us all look like money mongrels, especially when it comes to celebrity partnerships. There’s a common assumption that celebrity spokespeople are sell-outs, but Webber reminds us that not all of them are about the contracts. Some, like Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeve, may not have agreed with Deen’s perspective.

Paula Deen, diabetes, Type 2, fatty foods

Not sure if Deen and her team have been sitting on their hands in the three years that they’ve had to plan for these announcements, or if they thought that the Boy Scout motto of always being prepared didn’t apply to them. I’m guessing at least one person involved in this strategy (or lack thereof?) is scratching his head saying “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” What do you think was going on during the planning stages?

Advertisements

Permalink Leave a Comment

January Networking Events: Where Will You Be?

January 2, 2012 at 4:10 PM (Events) (, , , , , )

We all (should) know by now how much I love talking to strangers about public relations and the like, and what better way to do that than via industry networking events? Below is a rudimentary list of goings-on this month that I’d consider attending. For some reason I don’t hear about most events until a few days beforehand, so if you know of any others, send them my way and I’ll see about adding them here.

Beantown Social, January 16 – Boston
http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2536095530/esearch?srnk=8
A free mix-and-mingle for social media folks at Sonsie, in Boston’s Back Bay. 21+. UPDATE: This event is booked, but there’s a waiting list. Who knows? If I don’t go maybe you’ll get my ticket.

Bruins Pre-game Meet-up, January 19 – Boston
http://bit.ly/xwQw1F
The Social Media Club of Boston and LPP are partnering up at the Greatest Bar for a little pre-game networking in advance of the Bruins/Devils game. Go B’s!

Boston Media Makers at NIGHT, January 22 – Boston
http://bostonmediamakersatnight2012.eventbrite.com/
Back at Sonsie for some schmoozing, pizza, and an optional regifting-tastic Yankee Swap extravaganza.

BostInno Meet Up, January 24 – Boston
https://www.eventbrite.com/register?orderid=64380364403&ebtv=C&eid=2557144488&client_token=noqueue
Like beer, networking and BostInno? Of course you do. Swing by, rub some elbows and have a good time.

Boston’s Media Best, January 24 – Boston
http://www.pubclub.org/upcoming-programs
Details TBA from the Publicity Club of New England.

3rd Annual #MegaTweetup, January 24 – Cambridge
http://megatweetup3.eventbrite.com/
A tweet-up celebrating tweet-ups. This thing is probably going to be monstrous, taking place at the Microsoft NERD Center.

How to Use Rich Media to Create Winning Campaigns, January 24 – Cambridge
http://prsaboston.org/meetinginfo.php?id=10&ts=1324659383
Head over to the Microsoft NERD Center to hear about how important it is to liven up content with media to tell a compelling story, courtesy of PRSA.

Where will you be this month?

Permalink Leave a Comment

If This Is Your Thank You Note, Don’t Bother Sending

December 29, 2011 at 6:49 PM (work) (, , , , )

I was digging through some old work Emails and found a thank you note from an entry-level candidate I interviewed a few months back. Give it a read and tell me the exact same note (with a few strategic substitutions, I imagine) has not gone to every other person who has ever interviewed her, ever:

Hi Brittany,

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. My interest in Racepoint Group is certainly solidified, and I am came away from our meeting knowing that the company would provide a great environment for me to utilize my skill sets while gaining a tremendous amount of experience. You provided me with a much better understanding about the agency, and I enjoyed learning more about the primary responsibilities of an account coordinator position. 

Best Regards,

[Named withheld out of pity]

Memorable? No. Cliché? Oh, yes. Terms I never want to see violating my inbox include “I came away” (or “I am came away,” whatever that means), “utilize” (ugh, it just sounds so dirty), and “best regards.”

At least my name was spelled properly, as was my company’s name, and I received the note within a reasonable amount of time following the interview (I received another thank-you for an unrelated interview more than a week after the fact, and it took me a while to pair a face with the name). However, neither spell check rectifies the fact that 1.) I have no idea what we talked about that may have been of interest, 2.) there wasn’t so much as a question or call to action that might encourage me to respond, and 3.) she actually sent the exact same Email to at least two more of my colleagues (we literally compared notes) – really?

We all know how lousy the job market is. Generic materials (résumé, cover letter, thank you note, et al.) aren’t going to catch anyone’s attention, and I think in PR, being genuine and memorable in your own unique – and workplace appropriate, I suppose – fashion is crucial in getting the vote of approval from your interviewers. I may be screening you for what I think is necessary to thrive in an agency environment, but more importantly, when I’m having a conversation with you, I’m deciding if you’re someone worthy of being called “my colleague.” Are you someone I can work with every day – not only professionally, but socially? Hint: a thank you note like the one posted above did not come from that someone.

Permalink 7 Comments

In the Event You Are Sending Me a Résumé . . .

August 4, 2011 at 1:57 AM (Musings, work) (, , , , , )

It’s been over 100 days since I blogged. I know, because LinkedIn reminds me every time I log in. It’s frustrating, and a little embarrassing. Given how many hours I spend looking at a computer daily, it’s easy for me to justify not wanting to spend any more time at one once I get home, but that’s no reason to be unable to post something at least once a week. So let’s try getting back to that again, shall we?

In addition to being uber busy, work at Racepoint has been great. Lots of media, writing, tweeting – you know, all that stuff that falls into an agency job description. What I didn’t expect was all the job inquiries I’ve been fielding. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I shout to BU that we’re hiring, I fully anticipate a handful of candidates recommended by my qualified friends over there. But now, there’s a new breed of job candidate I’m seeing: random internet people.</ominousmusic>

As a PR agency, we’re hiring about every 15 minutes or so, and what better way to fish for candidates who need to be social media-savvy than by fishing through social media? That’s right, I tweet job openings. Shamelessly. And often. The upside is that I get a lot of responses. The bad news is that those responses are not filtered. Whereas I knew my BU friends would never send me a lemon, on Twitter, I have no idea who’s going to be in each box of job-seeking chocolates. While there’s really no point in going into details on each #fail, I figured I’d share a couple things I’ve noticed on this short journey as an amateur recruiter. In the event you are sending me a résumé . . .

Spell my name right. Really. You want me to bother sending your information to the person who is actually responsible for calling you? Make sure you don’t mistake me for a Britney. Or Britany. Or Britanny. Or . . . oh, God. My fingers are starting to bleed just typing these.

That goes for my company, too. Do a Google search on my company. We exist. Racepoint Group. Not Race Point Group. Or The Racepoint Group. Crap, there go my fingers again.

Keep your resume to one page – and current. Unless you are detailing how you changed Poland’s opinion of Hitler through social media efforts – and, in that case, I’m not sure I want to work with you – there is no reason why your résumé should spill over a page. I have no problem reading 10pt font, and I’m pretty sure most HR folks accept that, too. Still running out of room? Maybe you should cut “Starbucks barista.” Unless you’re applying for a corporate Starbucks position, I suppose. Also, if you’re sending me a résumé in August 2011, I had better not see “Graduation expected May 2011.”

Follow directions. I hate cover letters. I sent out so many generic ones when I was job-hunting, but my best responses came from people to whom I’d just sent short, unrehearsed notes. Ability to smell fear? This is an example of a fun fact. Another one might be that you're an expert no-handed cartwheeler. Or that you like ducks.We all learned how to write a form cover letter in college, so we can all pick them out. You’re fooling no one. Thus, rather than asking random job candidates to send me their résumé and a letter of intent, I ask for the résumé and some fun facts. I don’t need a whole paragraph about how you spent a year in Zimbabwe building huts, but a bullet point would be good to know. I can always ask you about it later. Don’t have any fun facts to share? That’s okay, I guess (although you may want to seek work in a less fun environment), but please don’t ignore my request with a canned cover letter. If you do, I can assure you that I will not be sending you along to our recruiter.

I know, you learned about this at every single career panel you ever attended, but somehow, I still see these errors. I can only imagine what full-time recruiters receive, and my heart goes out to each and every one of them. What are some of the doozies you’ve encountered on the receiving end of job inquiries? Go ahead, make me feel like I shouldn’t be whining.

Tonight’s Tunes
“Virtual Insanity,” Jamiroquai
“September,” Earth, Wind & Fire
“Dancing Machine,” Jackson 5
“Canned Heat,” Jamiroquai
“Lady (Hear Me Tonight)” Modjo
“When I Get You Alone,” Robin Thicke

Permalink 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: