Posts Tagged ‘branding’

Hindsight is 20/20

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

“For the Penn State Board of Trustees, one of the justifications for firing Joe Paterno was that, if he had coached Saturday’s game against Nebraska, a nation’s attention would be focused on a potential enabler of sexual abuse wandering the sideline, representing Penn State on a very public stage. The spectacle could have further damaged the reputation of the school. So removing him now was the sensible move.”

Read more: Read the entire story at Time.com

In the wake of his firing, we can dissect this decision from a reputation standpoint. Taking a “reputation inventory” we can look at how Penn State’s Board of Trustees handled this and how it negatively impacted their reputation. We can break their mistakes into three main areas;

1) Methodology – They fired him over the phone. Plain and simple a head scratcher right there. A coach of his stature deserves at least a personal meeting.

2) Timing – Why did they fire him at 10:00 pm? Your chances of rioting and chaos decrease during the daytime. Students will be in class and hopefully busier. This could have waited until the morning. By firing him via phone at 10:00 pm they created the spectacle they were so focused on avoiding and ended up damaging the reputation of the school anyway.

3) Make a decision and stick with it, but don’t make a decision too early – Originally it was decided Paterno would be able to retire at season’s end. That was the company line and then within a few hours he was fired. As we mentioned in a previous post, in a case like this it is vital to appear in control. Make an informed decision and stick with it. Do not change your public position multiple times.

Penn State’s Board of Trustees severely botched the firing of beloved coach Joe Paterno. We know that to be a fact. They have created a much steeper hill to climb in order for them to get out of this reputation disaster. We will be following this story closely in the next few months and blogging about how they are rebuilding, check back for more!

Mistaken Identity

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Your brand is no longer solely categorized by your company’s letterhead and a clever tagline. In today’s tech driven world, your brand is also based in your online identity package. Whether it is your website, your social media accounts or reputation harming product reviews; these aspects all combine to create your brand.

Netflix found this out today and may be wishing that their tech team coordinated a little bit better with their marketing team before their big product introduction today.

New York Magazine provides an explanation here.

For a large company such as Netflix, failure to secure domain names and Twitter handles prior to rolling out a new service is simply inexcusable. A quick (or should we say Qwik) scan of the most popular social media services would have found that their new brand is now represented by a stoner who cannot spell very well. Couple this mistake with the fact that Netflix has already been at the center of a lot of bad press lately and you have a serious branding issue.

This is a valuable lesson; take the time to review the web prior to going public with your new brand to save yourself from headaches and bad press down the road.

The Foursquare President

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Obama’s presidency has been characterized by two trends: a move to utilize the new media technologies that are available to reach the people of America, and a more transparent presidency.  Between his Youtube channel, and Twitter feed, President Obama is using social media like no other politician has before. But has he taken transparency too far?

On the morning of August 16, 2011, media outlets across the country began reporting that President Obama had started using the social media application, Foursquare, a location-based platform which allows the user to essentially tell the whole of cyberspace their location at any time.

Granted it could be Obama, himself, or his PR team (Which sounds more likely because a target on his back is the LAST thing Obama wants with the situation in the Middle East). Regardless of who’s behind the account, the fact that the President of the United States is now on Foursquare carries with it several implied branded messages.

  1. By using a social networking platform, Obama can connect with the American people more directly, and is seen as easily accessible
  2. By using foursquare to “check-in” to places around Washington, D.C., as well as the world, Obama has literally reached a new level of transparency and accountability as he is literally telling cyberspace, and everyone in it, exactly where he is (if not a good idea of what he’s doing there).
  3. By using a program that “the common man” is using, Obama is branding himself as “one of us”.

But is being “one of us” a good thing? Perhaps it’s good for some high powered executives to brand themselves as an everyday kind of person. The CEO of a home goods company would be a great candidate for such branding – after all, they represent items that the “everyday home” should have; therefore it follows that the management of such a company would also be someone who used and felt passionate about the everyday brand.

That being said, President Obama is not a high powered executive. He is the leader of the United States of America, which could potentially change things.

Should President Obama use Foursquare as a means to connect with his publics? Or is he branding himself inappropriately? While transparency in communication is becoming more expected, is there a point at which companies become too open? Where is this point?

Branding the Rapture

Friday, May 20th, 2011


We may be approaching the end of the Reputation Roulette blog….

Unless you believe Harold Camping’s prophesy that the Rapture is coming this Saturday, this is just a joke. I, for one, had never heard of Mr. Camping prior to this year and I am very sure that most of you had not either. For those of you unaware of his background, Harold Camping is the president of Family Talk Radio, a Christian Radio Station based in California. Using a numerology technique that he came up with and numbers he invented, he has predicted that the rapture foretold in Christian literature will begin this Saturday. He used the same technique in 1994 to predict the end times and I guess he was wrong. Suspect calculations and research aside, Mr. Camping has gotten his message far and wide prompting many to take action to prepare for the Rapture.

Mr. Camping’s message is far from conventional and he  previously misfired on the message in 1994, which means that it will be prone to skepticism and doubt. Even with all this skepticism and doubt, he has a courted a devoted following through his public relations strategy (whether or not he recognizes it as such). So how did a man get his message to reach not only his followers but billboards, the sides of trucks and millions of people who cannot seem to escape the news cycle’s endless reporting on this topic?

Believe the message- Do you think that Mr. Camping believes the message he is preaching? Of course he does!

This is key to making sure that his followers believe it as well. You do not want to sound disingenuous when messaging to a crowd. You must believe in your message and that enthusiasm and confidence will translate to your messaging.

Know Your Audience- Mr. Camping is not throwing a message out there and hoping it sticks. This message is crafted to touch at the base of the beliefs of his followers.  He knows what people want to hear and what touch points he needs to hit to make sure that people listen. Even though he says he is just translating God’s message, Mr. Camping has carefully constructed a well developed and targeted message to get his point across.

Call to Action- With the end of the world prediction there is a substantial risk of embarrassment and humiliation if you are wrong. He has managed to not only project this message but has created a call to action.  People are aware of the Rapture and are acting on that by projecting his message beyond his small radio station, even though the consequences for being wrong may be dire. Creating a call to action is often the hardest part, conveying an idea to someone is not nearly as hard as getting a person to act on it. People have independently created grassroots campaigns to spread his message in every corner of the country. You cannot drive a length of highway in this state without seeing at least one sign, bumper sticker or billboard will the date May 21st, 2011 emblazoned on it.

Public relations campaign aside, we find ourselves in two places on Saturday night;

a) Running from the shower of fire and brimstone coming down from the heavens wishing we had listened to Harold Camping’s brilliant prediction or;

b) Going about our Sunday routine thinking about all of the people who really believed in this message only to be crushed by its lack of delivery.

The staff at Evergreen hopes you have a fire and brimstone-free weekend and we will be ready to blog about dealing with the aftermath of a failed PR campaign on Monday.

Tweet Tweet

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Twitter is a rapidly-growing social media site that allows people to “tweet” about the current moment and give a quick status update. Limited to 140 characters, tweeters are cut short but still manage to get a message across.

In addition to following their friends on Twitter, many people also follow celebrities, who clue into their personal lives and whereabouts. It seems like almost every famous person has a personal Twitter account, from President Obama to Oprah. Recently, Lindsay Lohan tweeted to her fans about a stalker. Not only did she describe the situation, but she also posted a picture of him! Additionally, exes Chris Brown and Rihanna just started following one another on Twitter, which upset many of Rihanna’s fans. Charlie Sheen created havoc when he signed up for Twitter and posted crazy tweets, though he did reach one million followers in just 24 hours.

Twitter is not just for celebrities and fans, though. Many big companies utilize Twitter as a means of advertising and aspire that their company or product becomes a Trending Topic. Businesses can also have a promoted Trending Topic, in which they pay to be featured on the right sidebar of the website’s homepage. Clicking on a Trending Topic reveals what people are tweeting about the topic. This is a huge deal for the advertising world, because people can get instant opinions about a company or product. The value of Twitter messaging has been debated as has the reach of its advertising. Also, as we have talked about on here on a number of occasions, it does open up a Pandora’s Box of issues for your company you must be prepared to address. Ranging from security to new hires, Twitter can work as a negative or positive for your company.

Do you have a Twitter success story?

What about a Twitter nightmare?